“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (6/28/10): Demand #27 “Your Righteousness Must Exceed That of the Pharisees, For Every Healthy Tree Bears Good Fruit”

Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Mark 5:28-30

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

Matthew 7:17

“Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”

“The failure of the Pharisees was that they focused their moral efforts on cleaning the “outside of the cup” and neglected the purity of the heart. In this chapter we focus on the battle for that purity that goes beyond the Pharisees. As with all battles, the question of triumph looms. Will we win this battle? Therefore, at the end we will turn our attention to the ground of our assurance in God’s forgiveness, acceptance, love, and life (pg. 205).”

“When Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” he is describing the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. He uses the same word “pure” in describing what the Pharisees need: “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matt. 23:26). The impurity that Jesus cares about most is our failure to trust and love God. The heart is made for God—to trust him and love him. The meaning of impure is anything that takes God’s place or lessens the degree of our faith in and our love for God… The change of heart that creates a new treasuring of Jesus is a gift of God that we experience when the eyes of our hearts are opened to see Jesus as more to be desired than any other reality. Jesus refers to that change as new birth or repentance. It is the assumed summons of Jesus behind all his other demands.  This internal change is a gift. God demands it, and God gives it (pg. 206).”

“What is clear from Jesus’ teaching is that keeping and growing the gift of purity and the righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees is a life-and-death battle. We are not passive. Jesus gives the decisive power, as John 15:5 says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” But we experience that power in the willingness to engage in radical and persistent attacks on our own sinfulness… Taking the kingdom by force may be a way of repeating what Jesus says about the fight against lust: Tear out your eye or cut off your hand—do whatever it takes—to inherit the kingdom and not go to hell. Take the kingdom by force—force against your sin, not force against God. The battle for righteousness in our hearts is fierce… Jesus’ point is not that literally tearing out the right eye is going to solve anything. The point is not that inward desires can be controlled by external maiming. The point is how enormous the stakes are. They are so great, we must do what we have to do to defeat the bondage of sinful desire. It is astonishing how many people deal with their sin casually. Jesus demands otherwise. Fight for a pure heart with the same urgency as tearing out an eye and cutting off a hand (pg. 207-208).”

Jesus also demands that our faith be demonstrated in action…

“When he says that “a healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit,” he does not mean that no follower of his ever sins. The natural way of thinking about the present tense of a Greek verb like “bear” is “go on bearing.” So Jesus would be saying, “A healthy tree cannot go on bearing bad fruit.” In other words, a tree is cut down not for bad fruit here and there. It is cut down for producing so much bad fruit that there is no evidence that the tree is good. What God will require at the judgment is not our perfection, but sufficient fruit to show that the tree had life—in our case, divine life (pg. 211).”

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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