[Thought questions for Christ and the Law in the Sermon on the Mount April 23, 2014]
1. Destroy or fulfill? If you make a promise and keep it, does the promise still exist? Or has it vanished? Since the law points to our errors and mistakes, what is there to love about it? Do you love the law? Are you relieved when you see traffic laws such as speed limits and traffic lights? What about God’s law? Why did David love God’s law so much that he mentions it repeatedly in his psalms? Go forward in time. Was any part of God’s law eradicated by Jesus’ coming to earth to die for us?
2. One Jot or Tittle. What did Jesus mean when He said He did not come to destroy but to fulfill the law? What does righteous fulfillment of the law do to the law? Make it unnecessary? Easy to obey? What? Through at least six thousand years, God’s law has stood the test of time. Why would anyone at this time want to ignore God’s Commandments or change one word or phrase in them? Why is the total completeness of the law so important in these final days of sin? What was Jesus’ primary concern for the law during His days on earth?
3. Murder. Have you ever heard an angry person mutter, “I wish he (or she) was dead”? How common are such wishes these days? Does God’s law say it doesn’t matter what we wish as long as we don’t carry it out? What negative emotion comes before murder? Jesus said, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (John 5:22). What is God’s treatment for the hatred that roils within us when we feel we’ve been injured or mistreated? What is the cure for all feelings of hatred that rumble in our hearts?
4. Adultery. Most people are “against” murder these days, but how many take a strong stand against adultery? Does adultery mean the same thing today as it did in Bible times? Should it? Is it a violation of the seventh commandment to feel intense sexual attraction anyone other than your spouse, even if it’s the person you are about to marry? How does committing adultery affect attitudes towards family? church? Christian friends? How can you and I develop a deep respect towards God’s model of fidelity in marriage? What does marriage free from adultery show us about our love for God?
5. Promises, promises. Why does Jesus look so deeply on our intentions and not merely our acts? Have you ever made a promise you had no intention of keeping? Is that sin? Is it possible for us to stay away from sins of wanting to do something wrong? Can we control the stream of thoughts that pour into our brains? If so, how? Have you ever raised your hand or signed a pledge card at church and later put the promise to give out of your mind? Or would it be better to avoid any kind of a commitment or promise so you’ll be free from worries about not keeping your word?
6. Retaliation. Should people be punished for committing a crime? If you said, “Yes,” or “Or course,” consider this: Is it wrong for us to “get back” at someone who does wrong to us? Was that part of Jesus’ set of rules? In Matthew 5:38-42 Jesus warns about making promises, especially when it is beyond our capabilities to deliver on a promise. Have you found this good advice in your life so far? Can we do this with self-discipline or does it take the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit to be the kind of a person who can always be believed whether he (or she) says yes or no?