【Bible Study】Matthew 05: Be Perfect, As Your Heavenly Father is Perfect
Bible Study: Matthew
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 01: God Is With Us
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 02: Our Powerful Jesus Christ Displayed in Human Weakness
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 03: Jesus is the one fulfilling all righteousness
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 04 Part 1: Overcoming Temptation and Living a Victorious Life
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 04 Part 2: Jesus' Ministry and Victory
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 05: Be Perfect, As Your Heavenly Father is Perfect
- 【Bible Study】Matthew 06: Two Kingdoms And Two Pursuits
Brothers and sisters, we need to learn how to read the word of God. I we don't study the Bible in wisdom, we will get into big trouble. In this chapter, there is some misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the verses which cause people to stumble. For example,
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)
Lots of people misunderstand this verse. Some lazy people use this verse to borrow money from others and take it for granted. One of our sisters also had got a dilemma. A pastor wanted to send his son abroad for further study, but he didn't have enough money. He just asked our sister to give his son's financial support for she is quite rich. Before this sister came to our church, she didn't know how to read and understand the word of God wisely, so when she saw this verse, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you", and she just gave the pastor a huge amount of money to support him. If we read the Bible in this way, we will get into big trouble. In this chapter, there are many verses that are hard to understand and we need to read them in wisdom to know the will of God.
We need to seek for what God wants to tell us when we read the Bible. The main message of this chapter is be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Many people like to talk about eight blessings, but without wisdom, they will probably be trapped by their misunderstanding. Take one verse for example, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". You will find that in many churches, lots of people show their mercy by going to hospitals and paying visits to patients. Previously, one sister shared with me her experience when she went to a prison to minister to the drug-addicted. What is mercy? How to show mercy? Do they show mercy in God's way or in their own way?
I have seen various ways people show their mercy. To be honest, I used to do a lot of work to show mercy on people. My church members couldn't find jobs, have problems with their tenants or bosses, so I tried my best to help the needed. I show much mercy on them but I didn't receive any mercy from God. Why? Because I never follow God's word and I used my own way to minister.
After that, I came to realise that all these problems can only be solved in spiritual ways. Brothers and sisters, please keep in mind that if we failed to get good results in our ministries, it means we haven't fully understand the verse, and there must be something we didn't get right. If we never check the results and insist on our own opinions, we will probably be stumbled by our misunderstanding of the word of God.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. (Matthew 5:17)
Brothers and sisters, nowadays, there are lots of talks about abolishing the law. Many people say tithe is only the law from the Old Testament, but now we live all by grace so there is no need for Christian to tithe any longer. But they don't know what Jesus said about the Law in Matthew Chapter 5. Let take a look at the verses from 17 onwards, and you will find the standards of Jesus actually is even higher than the Law.
Even if you have fully obey to the Law, but it doesn't mean you have met the standards of Jesus. But if you have fully satisfy all the requirements of Jesus, you will definitely fulfil the law. We Christians must see through all the things in the world. If we are clear, you will know what blessings and curses are, and we will choose the way of life, choose the way of blessings instead the way of death and curses.
If we have fully restored the image of God, you know what will happen? We will meet all the requirements of the Law. In the fact, the salvation we receive is not gained by following the Law. We can live out the image of God by the holy spirit and Jesus Christ. Because when we live out the image of God, it will be much easier for us to meet the requirements of the Law.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-20)
Compare to the salvation through Jesus Christ, the Law is at a lower level. Brothers and sisters, we must not cancel anything from bible, nor the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen. And if we cannot surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers, we will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. It is a serious thing. But the problem is how we can surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers, and how we can fulfil every rule of the Law? By our own works? Definitely NO! What makes us live out the image of God, fulfil and even surpass the Law is our faith in Jesus Christ, and through him, the holy spirit will empower us to live out the image of God and obey to the word of God.
Today, we must be very careful of some cheap gospel. "You don't need to do anything, no need to tithe, no need to attend the weekly summon and pray meeting...No need at all and you can still receive grace from God. Wow! But is it the truth? Brothers and sisters, we must keep in mind that if we don't obey to the word, we will be cursed. Don't get confused by those false beliefs. The grace through Jesus Christ is not so cheap. Do not change the standards of God. Even a small thing of the word of God cannot be omitted. Take tithe for example, some people just think they don't have to follow this commandment, because God is full of grace regardless of whether they follow the rules or not. When it talks about praying with tongues, many say ," that is an unimportant spiritual gifts and we should pursue the excellent one. Speaking with tongues is no use." But let me tell you, without getting a small spiritual gift, we cannot upgrade to a higher level. People who only focus on Love, but if they don't practise other spiritual gifts, how can they show Love of Jesus to others, just by saying some comforting words. But if we have command of those so called "small" spiritual gifts, we can use these to show our Love with the power of God; healing the sick, set free the oppressed, to use down to earth solutions to resolve people's problems. We need to know that no matter what the spiritual gift is, as long as it is mentioned in the Bible, as long as it is from God, we all need to have it and practise it, step by step, instead of only focusing the big one but ignoring the others.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. （Matthew 5:13)
We are the salt of the earth, and we should have saltiness. We are Christian, and we are supposed to live out the image of God, and we can demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ. When you want to show compassion on those needed, we can help them by healing and deliverance, by reverting the miserable situation, they can experience the real power, the true freedom from kingdom of heaven.
Without the holy spirit through the faith in Jesus Christ, we cannot fulfil the Law, we cannot live out the image of God, and we can not demonstrate the real power of God. But if we invite the holy spirit to help us, God will empower us, enable us to follow and obey to his word, and to live out the image of Jesus Christ.
There are lots of myths in the chapter. When we talks about anger, we always associates it with this verse.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Does it mean that getting angry is always a mistake, meaning the angry person is eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil? Some one asked me a very interesting question, "pastor, you tell us not to tell good and evil, so when we see our brothers and sister do something inappropriately, should we tell them and point out their mistakes? Isn't it called telling good and evil?" Let me explain what is telling the knowledge of good and evil, which means you judge something according to your standards. But if we think and judge according to the God's word, it is not telling the knowledge of good and evil. In new testament, Apostle Paul corrected lots of false doctrine with harsh word. He rebuked the Galatians harshly, "you, fools, I am surprised that you are being so quickly turned away from God's word." Didn't Paul burst into anger and speak the vulgar word to the Galatians? But thanks to the book Galatians, the purity of Gospel can kept till now.
So what does 'angry' mean here?
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
In this verse, it is said "your brother of sister has something against you," and this verse tells us not to be angry when you have some conflicts of interest, or you may be taken advantage or got offended by someone. If we know the world is just a temporary dwelling place for us , will you still care about those small, tiny, little and unimportant things?
We need to build a whole godly thinking system. Don't be concerned about the gains and losses. Someone takes advantage of us, or is ungrateful to us, and just take it lightly. If we have deep insights about the life, and know that life is meaningless, we won't be bothered by all these things.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
Many people stumble and are very confused about these verses. One brother shared with me that at the sight of some beautiful ladies, he cannot help staring at them. He asked me if it is called committing adultery, but I think such behaviour is very normal. If a man doesn't like to see beautiful girls, it will be quite weird. Another sister told me that when she way praying, her mind was overwhelmed with lots of promiscuous images, and she tried every means to rebuke the demon but the harder she pray, the more images flooding into her mind. Then I realised it wouldn't work out if we keep praying in this way. After that, I just told her not to focus on this problem any longer and no need to take it so seriously, and finally she felt much better and those things cannot disturb her any longer.
Brothers and sisters, what is most important is that we need to pursue our destiny. A person who are not interested with destiny will definitely be indulged in sinful things. But if one wants to fulfil the destiny, to be more like Jesus, this person will do good work with their hands and form good habits. Gradually, they will lost the appetites for those unclean things.
We can from these verses that Jesus holds a higher standard than the Law in terms of committing adultery. But how could we attain the standard? The answer is through the power of the holy spirit, so that we can put to death the misdeeds of our body and that is why we always keep praying with tongues, which let the holy spirit pray for us, to conquer the weakness of the flesh.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
The main point of these verses is that we need to overcome our sins with strong determination. Jesus has set the perfect example for us by taking the cross to fulfil his destiny. We should crucify our flesh and conquer our misdeeds by the holy spirit.
When we think like Jesus, we have the godly systemic thinking, what we pursue is God's kingdom and righteousness. If we keep our eyes on the eternal inheritance in Jesus Christ, will we be attracted by the earthly things.
Brothers and sisters, let us enter our destiny, pay our efforts and even take pain to overcome the weakness. When we start to desire to live out destiny, you will find lots of things won‘t bother you, and they will become so unimportant to you.
It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32 )
Brothers and sisters, we must know that the laws in the Old Testament are not as high standards as those of the New Testament. What our Jesus Christ wanted to emphasise is destiny. A person of destiny will see through everything on the earth. It is not an important matter to marry or to divorce. Not important at all!
Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:36-37)
More often than not, people like to explain, defend for ourselves, and if they feel they cannot persuade others, they will wear an oath, "if it were not the truth as what I said, I would rather get punished severely! These word will incur the evil one, and there is no need, no point for us to prove and explain in this way. If it is the fact, just say 'yes'; if not, just say 'no', no matter whether they believe or not. Don't take our opinions so seriously. Brothers and sisters, if we see through and lay down all these worldly things, you won't be get bothered easily.
Let's look at another verse:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. （Mathew 5:38-42)
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, what's your reaction? Angry, offended? But if we have the image of God, it will be a small thing. But many people don‘t have the image of God, they start to curse others. But brothers and sisters, let me tell you, if you choose to live out the image of God, see through all these things, God will definitely be in control. It is not a big deal when some one slapped; nothing at all!
Today, we are living for God. Some times, people will do us wrong, despise us, and say all evil things against us, and you may feel bitter, offended and humiliated. But Jesus Christ let us be glad and full of joy; for great is our reward in heaven: for so were the prophets attacked who were before us.
Today, we need to live out the perfection of our God, with full of righteousness, compassion in our heart, and walk humbly with God. One day, God told you he wanted to destroy the men of Sodom, and if there are still 10 righteous persons in the city, what will you say? If you says, 'yes, God, they deserve to be destroyed', and you will not pass God's test, because God doesn't want to destroy man, he hopes us to plea, to intercede for them, and he wants people repent so that he can bless them.
Let's continue to look at the next few verses.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:46-48)
As Christians, we need to transcend the Law by obeying the word of God, and we will live out the image of God. We don't lack anything, so shouldn't we give what we received freely. We gain the power from God, so that we overcome the doors of hell and crush Satan under our feet. Won't we become a rich, healthy and prosperous person. The purpose of our life is to give what we get from God and bless people in this generation. Brothers and sisters, please be mindful the blessing starts from our feelings, if you think life is meaningless, you will be blessed, because happy are the poor in spirit: for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. But if we pay much attention to our life, pursue money, pursue the world , and once you get them, you just thought you were somebody, how could you get access to the kingdom of God. Jesus said, "blessed are those who are the meek", because if we see through all these things in the world, we will not be interested in living.
When we lay down all these earthly things, we will come to desire the kingdom of God. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
If we don't feel sad, bitter in the world, we don‘t need to be comforted. We enjoy the world life every day, and as result, we go to hell happily without any awareness.
When we lay down all these worldly things, we will come to desire the kingdom of God. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
If we don't feel sad, bitter in the world, we don‘t need to be comforted. We enjoy the world life every day, and as result, we go to hell happily without any awareness. We won't be comforted by God until we mourn, cry and suffer a lot, and only God's can truly satisfy us.
This world is not our home; it is only a dwelling place for us. These are all small things if people take advantage of us and look down upon us. We are living a hard life in this world, so we may feel bitter, sad and frustrated from time to time, but God will comfort us, help us, and teach us to see through all these things. However, if we lead a happy and peaceful life in this world, we will be blinded and can not see the truth of life.
“Blessed are the meek”, this will be very misleading. People are inclined to take compromising as a way of being meek. Meek persons are those who have a humble attitude and receptive heart. They are not stubborned and stiff-necked so that God will pour his blessings to them. I have noticed that many parents disciplined their kids in a very soft way but as a result, they cannot manage them because kids must know what is the punishment and consequences, for those who had been spoiled all have a terrible life. To be meek, it doesn't mean you will give in to any behaviour, or compromise by reducing the standards; similarly, if you pamper someone's flesh, that is not love. So we must be very clear that we need to be humble in mind, and receptive to God's word instead of just being a nice person who like to please everyone.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will pursue and be filled and satisfied with godly things. Nowadays, few Christian feel hungry for God's word, and they just turn a deaf ear, show little interest in good, helpful sharing of Bible. We need to keep thirsty for righteousness, the righteousness of God, and we will be definitely filled.
Blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers. To be honest, these verses are very important but people often misunderstand them. For example, what does "peacemaker" mean? Are those nice person, always saying yes to everyone. No, these are not peacemakers. To be a peacemaker, it requires a character of keeping the unity, the unity with God, the unity of church, by insisting and following the word of God and removing those worldly, fleshly and carnal thought out of people's mind. If you are a peacemaker, you need to renew people's mind and make them overcome their flesh so that they can be called the sons of God,
If we hold on to God's word, and follow as what He said, the devil will intensely opposes us, but we won't fear because blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for ours is the kingdom of heaven. If we hold firmly to the word of God, and take courage to transform our people, we will be definitely persecuted, insulted, spoken falsely because the devil will by all means attack us, hinder us and stop us. If you are under such circumstances, don't fear and you should know you are on the right way and it is very normal to be faced with persecutions.
We are the ones who are blessed, we should rejoice and be glad, for our reward is so great. Not only us, Jesus Christ and the prophets in history who spread the pure doctrine of gospel also suffered persecution. People living in the flesh persecute the ones living in the power of the Spirit. We may be hated by many people, and it is very normal.
Are we really suffering? If we see through all worldly things, we will not be disappointed and affected by what people did to us, and will be a person in heaven, fulfilling the destiny and calling from God and be the blessings for all nations. Be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.
May God bless you all!