What If Jesus Was Serious – Inside Out Righteousness

What If Jesus Was Serious – Inside Out Righteousness

Jesus’ message in Matthew 5-7 really changed my life. I started to take Jesus at His word
after I chose to follow Jesus. I would have been probably more of a cultural Christian up
to that point. My life didn’t really line up to what I said I believed or who I said I
followed, but then I took the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount so seriously I
memorized all 3 chapters. More than that, I asked God to help me start living it out!
So years later you can imagine my excitement when I got to go with my daughter Trevi
to the filming of the Sermon on the Mount. We were actually extras in the crowd!

So we filmed this in February 2021 in the height of the pandemic and in 20 degree

We are in the very last scene of season 2 which can also be seen in the recap just before
episode 1 of season 3! So in some ways, you could say that we are in two seasons of The
Chosen! We love the show The Chosen!

The filmmakers do such a great job of capturing the humanity of Jesus and the emotions
of experiencing love, peace, and forgiveness.
If you haven’t seen The Chosen, you need to do so! It is so well done! Season 1 is on
Netflix and I think season 2-3 are on Amazon Prime or you can download the Angel
studios app to watch it. (By the way, Angel Studios has a new film featuring John Burke!
It’s called After Death if you want to go check it out!)

Building off of last week when we said- God’s desire for transforming the world starts
one heart at a time. We want to unpack that today. This morning the big idea we are
working from is this- If Jesus was serious about heart transformation, then our
thoughts, motives, and intentions are deeply significant.
And Jesus begins to unpack transformation by using some of the 10 commandments and
real life scenarios to poke, prod, and bring God’s restoration to the human condition.
So He uses 6 vignettes prefaced with a popular rabbinic refrain “You have heard it
said…” to take an OT Law/principle which everyone there is very familiar with and help
people see it with a renewed lens. . But we will see unlike the teachers of his day, his
authority is unmatched. Today we’re looking at what Jesus says about anger, contempt,
sexual lust, and honesty. This is also the section of the sermon that people have found
the most difficult to take Jesus at His word. His interpretation of these well known
commands make the law seem unrealistic or even impossible. But as we said last
week He’s not talking about perfection, but rather the progression of the heart. And in all
reality we could spend a series on each of these, but our hope always is that you would go
back, read, reread, and apply to your life what Jesus is saying to you about your thoughts,
motives, and intentions.

In fact you will probably come to the conclusion that God cares just as much about the
condition of your heart and mind more as your words and actions. Because your truest
self, your outside life, is dictated by your inside world. And again, a reminder at what
Jesus is after, the goal of this series- the message of the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus
saying, “The kingdom of heaven is here. And if you want to follow me (the king) this
is what life will be like.”
So let’s dive in:
If Jesus was serious, then anger left unchecked is more destructive than we realize.
let’s look at this together:
21 “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.’ 22 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. 25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who
is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary
may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you
may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid
the last penny. (Matthew 5:21-26)
● “You shall not murder”… Jesus is quoting Exodus 20:13. Basic but then he goes
expanding and zooming in on this issue to the spiritual molecule- ANGER.
● “Raca” was quite literally a 4 letter word in Jesus’ language of Aramaic. It means
“empty headed” or “worthless” in American it’s the same as “Idiot” but when
you’re really mad. In essence it is seeing others with contempt.
● “In danger of hell fire”. When you and I hear ‘hell’ there’s a ton of baggage and
imagery that comes with that, from Dante’s inferno, horror movies, and terrifying
church experiences. But ‘hell’ is the greek “Gehenna” or “Valley of Gehinnom
where centuries before when Israel was at its worst, a wicked king Ahaz in a
horrible and detestable act, sacrificed his children and leads many in the nation to
do the same to the god Ba’al. That valley became synonymous with evil. Later it
became a trash heap for Jerusalem where trash would burn in a constant
smoldering fire. This is not explaining away hell, because throughout the Gospels
Jesus has a lot to say about hell, here and now and in the life to come. And we
don’t have time to unpack hell today but I think 95% of Christians have totally
misunderstood hell. Soon we will do a teaching on it. You can find more in John

Burke’s book Imagine Heaven and the new one Imagine the God of Heaven. Help
others understand the true beauty of life after this life by purchasing now and get
the audiobook for free!
● But this valley was a metaphor or word picture for evil reaching a boiling point of
judgment. But here Jesus is saying, “you’re in danger of the fire of hell” and
he’s talking about NOW, not later. That anger left undealt with, unrepented,
and unearthed will destroy your view of people. It will destroy your
relationships. It will cause some pretty serious consequences. It will be HELL
on Earth for the person who never deals with it.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your
brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Jesus is teaching from Galilee which was a long way away from the Temple (days of
journey) and he gives this extreme example of getting all the way to the temple about to
make your sacrifice and realize that you have unresolved issues with someone in your
life, he says leave it and go make things right.
It was a way of illustrating what the OT says over and over- God doesn’t care about your
lip service and your label or good deeds, if you have wronged someone and not made it
right. If you have resentment in your heart towards someone. It is blocking your
relationship with God.
Further driving home the point from a few weeks ago that our relationship with God is
inextricably linked with others.
God sees what we often don’t, and that is that unchecked anger leads to contempt. Where
we no longer see the humanity in others, they become practically invisible.
“In anger I want to hurt you. In contempt, I don’t care whether you are hurt or not. Or at
least so I say. You are not worthy of consideration one way or the other. We can be angry
at someone without denying their worth. But contempt makes it easier for us to hurt them
or see them further degraded.” -Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
If you’ve ever said something like, “I don’t resent them. I honestly don’t think of them.
They can live or die, it’s all the same to me.” Then you are in the danger zone of contempt. Where now, anger has become septic and you no longer see people as made in the image of God but rather as invisible nothings that you are “better”
But no one is ever invisible to God. No one is unworthy of His attention and love.
In verses 25-26, Jesus uses the Gentile scenario of debt imprisonment to tell his listeners
to work out their issues. That if you feel stuck, it could be that maybe there’s a place
where you have not made amends, you’re harboring anger, or you’ve swept things under
the rug. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers” NOT the peace-fakers
Give Application:
Reconciliation – When we face conflict, we can choose to make the other person our
enemy, or we can choose to make that person a friend by doing everything in our power
to make sure that they know we love them. To ensure we live as peacemakers, Jesus
gives us two different, seemingly contradictory commands. In Matthew 5, Jesus declares
that the one who has hurt someone should approach the one he offended, but in Matthew
18, Jesus says that the one offended should approach the one who did the offending. So
which is it? Was Jesus confused?
I think Jesus knew we would both be reluctant so as long as one of us trusts Jesus at His
word and obeys His guidance, we will be on the path towards peace.
According to Jesus, if someone hurts us or if we hurt someone, we should sit down in
front of that person, face-to-face, to talk through what happened.
As soon as you recognize that emotion (it’s keeping you up, it triggers you randomly, etc)
Take it to Jesus.
If we can overcome anger in our heart, we will avoid actions which might bring pain and
destruction to our relationships. We may not murder someone, but how many times have
we killed relationships? This is not the way of Jesus.
If Jesus was serious, then sexual brokenness and familial brokenness starts in the
mind and heart.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 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)

Jesus brings up another commandment- You shall not commit adultery + You shall not
covet your neighbor’s wife. In Jesus’ time many Jewish sources warned against lust and
emphasized women’s seductiveness. But Jesus here emphasizes that the responsibility of
lust is laid on the one lusting, in this case MEN. Yes, we know in today’s world it can go
both ways. But Jesus in this teaching 2000 years ago, is giving men their talking to. He is
saying then and he’s saying today, that so much of the sexual brokenness, abuse, and
objectification of women, begins with the way men tend to view women, reducing them
to sexual objects
Jesus doesn’t say “blame women” or “blame culture” He says “Look in the mirror and
deal with your lust.” And if the anger part didn’t get you, then the lust one certainly did.
And at this point if we are not careful we checkout thinking Jesus is being unrealistic or
just idealistic. But he’s dealing with core human experiences and bringing rightness or
righteousness to them.
The Bible has a lot to say on the beauty of sex and love, particularly in marriage between
a man and woman. There’s a whole book about it called Song of Solomon. Jesus is not
downing sexual desire, he’s bringing guardrails to it. Jesus is not talking about the
physical and physiological reaction that happens when we see attractive, particularly
sexually. He’s not attacking attraction, attraction is not a sin. Jesus is dealing with what
happens after.
● He’s talking about the second look, the lingering scroll, the thoughts, and fantasies
that develop in your mind and heart.
● What Jesus is talking about with lust is not JUST about the look, but the intention behind the
look. It is looking with the intent to use them as an object to fulfill your sexual fantasies.
● Jesus would state clearly today that Pornography in all forms is so destructive to society. It
is destructive to our mental, relational, and sexual health. It makes us dehumanize each
other as objects of self-gratification instead of beautiful image bearers of God.
When we over indulge we dehumanize the person on the other side of our lust. On the
flip-side please don’t be so extreme that you fall into the trap of demonizing them.
Men, out of fear of lusting, don’t even look at women, or think women are trouble. Then
women, on the flip side, feel dehumanized, or like they are the enemy, the ones in danger
of causing men to stumble. We’ve got to get this narrative right. It’s not about not looking
at people, but seeing people through the lens of their Creator, as those with dignity and
If you can win the battle in your mind, you will not fall emotionally or physically.

I have had too many conversation with too many people who never expected to cheat on
their wife or have an emotional affair at work or spend time watching pornography on
their computer, but it all began with that lingering lustful glance. Trust Jesus at his word.

When I was in college, the Sermon on the Mount changed my life. This passage inspired
me to take my thoughts captive and honor God with my mind. Just like any other
American, I was raised in a hyper-sexualized culture that sees sex as equivalent with love
and sees other people as the means to my happiness. I could easily get caught up in
looking for a girl to be there for me and my needs rather than someone to serve and learn
to love unconditionally as Jesus loves me.
So any time I saw a beautiful woman and the enemy sought to tempt me to take a second
glance , I chose to pray a blessing for the young woman and then to pray for my future
wife and that I might become a man who honored women the way a true man should.
And I would quote Matthew 5:8 – “The pure in heart will see God.” I took this as a
promise from God that if I would die to my selfish thoughts and sacrifice in that moment
then God would let me experience more of His peace, love, guidance, and hope.
So back to that hillside with Jesus. Imagine being on that hill and hearing Jesus say these
29 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. 30
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
Can you imagine being the first people on the planet to hear this? Just like this morning,
no one’s looking to the right or left because Jesus just let off a grenade that hit everyone!
Now, Jesus again is using hyperbole to drive a point. He’s not advocating self-mutilation
or even hurting yourself with shame but rather he’s saying, deal with your issues now.
Paul was so real with us understanding EVERYONE can easily fall victim to this, it’s
almost the universal temptation. So he says run away from sexual perversion because
you’re not strong enough to stay there and think you’ll outlast the temptation 1

Corinthians 6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are
outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Before you
bring hell on earth for yourself or for others.
And anyone who has dealt with the effects of sexual abuse, misconduct, or addiction will
tell you it is hell.
Speaking of hell on earth, have you been through a divorce? Do you know someone close
to you who experienced divorce?
Jesus speaks on the subject:
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of
divorce.’ 32 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)
Unfortunately this verse has been used more for prescriptions of when divorce is ok,
when Jesus was describing the rampant unfair divorce issue in that culture. Whole
theologies have been made from these 2 verses when Jesus again was after the matters of
the heart.
In that day and age only men had the power to issue a certificate of divorce, outside of
infidelity. Rabbis over centuries crafted lists of when it was ok and no-joke one of those
stated “that one could divorce a wife if he did not like her cooking.”
So Jesus goes after the men in particular then again, A great example of how Jesus
was seeking to protect and provide for women where they have been oppressed and
overlooked. But today both men and women can take this seriously. He’s likely using
hyperbole again here saying- other than the extreme cases where the other partner has already irreparably broken the marriage covenant (infidelity, abuse, etc), then don’t let your HEART go there. He’s saying to his FOLLOWERS don’t be so flippant with another human life that you would so quickly discard them and move on. Basically stating- you’re already guilty of cheating with how quick you gave up. Jesus saw 2000 years ago what sociology and psychology tells us today, about the detriments of broken homes. Jesus 2000 years ago was looking out for the economic, emotional, and spiritual well being of women and children. But those ramifications still exist today

Notice how he couples the sneaky disease of lust with the epidemic of divorce
If Jesus was serious, then the follower of Jesus must choose integrity in our words.
33 “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.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an
oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his
footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by
your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is
simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37)
In Jesus’ time among Gentiles and even some Jews, oaths invoked the witness of a deity,
people would swear by other gods as to not bring God’s name into disrepute if something
went sideways.
Jesus is saying don’t bring anything or anyone else into this, it’s all God’s creation
anyways and it belongs to him (Isa. 66:11). Jesus is saying- be as good as your WORD.
Ecclesiastes 5:5- 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.
If Jesus was serious about heart transformation, then our thoughts, motives, and
intentions are deeply significant.

One time when I was in Los Angeles I was at a breakfast where our pastor was sharing
our vision for the church to potential leaders. He shared about resourcing our efforts. One
of the men there asked: “Well is this a ‘law church’ or a ‘grace church’?” He was implying
that tithing (giving 10% of your income to God through your local church) is an Old
Testament and archaic idea. Our pastor responded:
We are a grace church!
The law said “Do not murder” but grace said “you should not even have anger in your
heart towards another person”
The law said “Do not commit adultery” but grace said “you should not even have lust in
your heart towards another person.”

The law said “Give 10%” but grace says “you can 15, 20, 25%, or even more! Grace is
never less than the law.”

I love this idea. Grace is not less than the law. Grace says: we don’t have to live like
everyone else. We can live a new version of being human – a more generous, more
compassionate, more integrated version of being human. We don’t have to give into
division or anger or lust or brokenness or dishonesty. We can rise above it all with God’s
help and out of gratitude for all He has done for us!
So let me ask you: do you see how impossible what Jesus says is the healthy way to live
is for us?

How can he expect us to pull this off?
He is casting a vision of a new version of humanity which we can experience if we
surrender our life to Him and let Him forgive, lead, and guide us. He wants us to
recognize that we can only pull this off when we live in surrender to Jesus and His
Lordship/leadership in our lives? We can treat others with love and dignity in our hearts
and actions when we remember how Jesus moved toward us when we were His enemies.
Are you willing to ask Him to help you to live more like Jesus? To think more like Jesus?
You will become a better son, daughter, friend, parent, spouse, CEO, employee, student.
It’s about being formed more into His likeness. Jesus doesn’t just want to patch us up, He
wants to restore us to our TRUE humanity. And this is what His Kingdom is made of,
people who live out their design as image-bearers, sacrificially loving and partnering with
one another to fill the world with God’s image.You will experience more of God’s
presence, peace, love, and guidance in your life. You will need to sacrifice, surrender,
and die to self, but you will never regret doing so.

I read a truly disheartening article reporting the results of a survey of Americans and
spirituality which indicated that only 4% of Americans would describe themselves as
having a biblical worldview. This means only 4% of us seek to live with Jesus truly at the
center of our lives. Now, that percentage is 13% of those in a nondenominational church
like ours. That is certainly better, but it’s not as Jesus invites us to be.

It’s no wonder some of us here have struggled to believe in God. So many of those who
call themselves Christians are not actually living as Jesus calls us to live. It’s why so
many of those who call themselves Christians are seen as judgmental, political, and
hypocritical. If you are here exploring God, I hope you can see through that to see who
Jesus really is and who He is calling us to be and who we can be when we truly follow Him.

About this survey, George Barna says: “If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of
how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus. Sadly, few people
consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason
that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems
from what we think – our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. Although most people
own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have
little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful
response to the challenges and opportunities of life. We’re often more concerned with
survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance.”
What if we were the ones who decided to do something about this?
What if we asked Jesus to forgive us for any of these areas where we have fallen short?
(And we all have areas where we have fallen short)
What if we accepted Jesus’ forgiveness and live knowing we are forgiven?
We would experience more of heaven on earth and bring more of heaven to earth in our
homes, in our neighborhoods, where we work, and among our friends and extended
As we do every week, I want to encourage you to take this message to heart. Dig Deeper
with your roommates, family, or your group. [gatewaychurch.com/diggingdeeper].
I want to encourage you to take advantage of this moment and connect with Jesus in your
heart and mind. Ask Him to help you surrender. Ask Him for forgiveness. Ask Him for
guidance. Ask Him to show you your next steps in your life to grow, to serve, to heal, and
to belong.

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