BUT I SAY TO YOU THAT
EVERYONE WHO IS ANGRY WITH HIS BROTHER SHALL BE GUILTY BEFORE THE COURT
(Mt 5:28,34,44; 3:17; 17:5; Deuteronomy 18:18,19; Acts 3:20, 21, 22, 23;
7:37; Hebrews 5:9; 12:25) (Genesis 4:5,6; 37:4,8; 1Samuel 17:27,28;
18:8,9; 20:30, 31, 32, 33; 22:12-23; 1Kings 21:4; 2Chronicles 16:10;
Esther 3:5,6; Psalms 37:8; Daniel 2:12,13; 3:13,19; Ephesians 4:26,27)
(Mt 5:23,24; 18:21,35; Deuteronomy 15:11; Nehemiah 5:8; Obadiah 1:10,12;
Romans 12:10; 1Corinthians 6:6; 1Thessalonians 4:6; 1John 2:9;
3:10,14,15; 4:20,21; 5:16) (Psalms 7:4; 25:3; 35:19; 69:4; 109:3;
Lamentations 3:52; John 15:25)
Oh, what divine dignity there is
in this majestic Person whose ipse dixit is to shift all the sayings of
the ages! He claims authority to speak, even though he should contradict
all the Rabbis and all the learned men that went before him: “I say
But you are saying "I have never
murdered anyone". Jesus says "Wrong. If you've hated you are guilty."
The OT law dealt only with outward
actions, but citizens of the kingdom of heaven must beware of
sinful inward attitudes. In fact, the attitudes
Jesus calls for can only be fulfilled by those with a New Heart and His
Spirit, for otherwise they are an utterly impossible standard which
climaxes in the highest of all impossible standards to "Be perfect as
your heavenly Father is perfect." Only citizens of the Kingdom of
heaven, genuine believers, can obey Jesus' instructions and commands,
doing so not because of outward constraints (not "under Law") but
because of an inward life ("under grace") enabled by the indwelling
Spirit of the Living God. You might argue that the Holy Spirit is not
even mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount and you would be correct. But
from the character of the life Jesus calls for, it is unarguably clear
that one cannot practice such behavior apart from the Spirit’s
empowerment (see Romans 8, notes begin on
The phrase "but I say" is
not to suggest that the Law was merely external but was always intended
to be kept from the
heart. And so we see this sentiment in the first and
great commandment (Mark 12:30) in Deuteronomy where God commands Israel
And you shall love the
LORD your God with all your
heart and with all your
soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you
today, shall be on your
heart (Deut 6:5, 6)
This call in the Old Testament
to love is the essence of fulfillment of the Law as Paul explains in
Love does no wrong to a
neighbor; love therefore
is the fulfillment (fullness, with emphasis upon completeness) of the
law. (see note
The point is that Jesus was not
saying anything new or different than had already been plainly stated in
the Law. He is in no way diminishing the Law. He is showing that the
keeping of God's Law has always been an issue of a heart out of which
flows that person's loving obedience for God and his fellow man.
"But I say" uses both the
first person singular of the verb for say (lego) and the first person
singular pronoun (ego) "I" for emphasis. One might
paraphrase to bring out the emphatic character as "I myself say."
The point is that He emphasizing His authority as on a plain with the
Law and is not merely speaking content. Stated another way, "But I say" is a way Jesus
equated His Word with the authority of Scripture and thus with the
authority of God, which is valid in view of the fact hat Jesus is "the Word" (John 1:1).
In fact, indirectly by introducing the sentence in this manner, Jesus
Indeed at the end of the Sermon
The result was that when Jesus had
finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching for He
was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their
scribes. (Mt 7:28, 29-notes)
Jesus did not rely on the words of
other men as did the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is not speaking words
that contradict or conflict with the the Law and the Prophets, but
fulfilling those words, giving them the true meaning God had intended.
Similar Jesus is not altering, diminishing or depriving even the least
of the commandments of their authority (Ro 5:19
Jesus is correcting the perversion of the Law by the scribes and
Pharisees who had devised 613 manmade rules that only tied heavy burdens
on the people who were told that "Keep all 613 prohibitions and
commandments and you will be pleasing to Him and satisfy His demands for
righteousness." The problem of course was that their external rules left
the heart unchanged, still more deceitful than all else and desperately
sick (Jer 17:9, cf Ge 8:21).
The KJV has the phrase "without
a cause", a phrase not found in most of the modern versions
= wrath) means to be or become angry,
furious, enraged or provoked and is used in the NT of human and satanic
anger. (See Topic
Orgizo describes a brooding, simmering anger that is nurtured and not
allowed to die. It is seen in the holding of a grudge, in the smoldering
bitterness that refuses to forgive. It is the anger that cherishes
resentment and does not want reconciliation.
Orgizo - 8x in 8v - Matt
5:22; 18:34; 22:7; Luke 14:21; 15:28; Eph 4:26; Rev 11:18; 12:17. The
NAS renders it as angry(4), enraged(3), moved with anger(1).
The Scribes and Pharisees taught that anything short or murder might be
allowed. Jesus brings the Law back to the matters of the heart
teaching that the danger of anger was that it was expressive of a
murderous intent in the heart and such a one was in danger of the
judgment. Jesus says that anger merits execution, because
the fruit of anger is murder.
Anger is what we feel when we
believe that we have been wronged by someone. It springs from resentment
over an offense and contempt for the individual. It results in an
adversarial relationship that has the potential to disrupt fellowship
and worship alike.
One is reminded of God's warning
to Cain about his heart attitude (it was not Cain's offering
which was the problem but it was the attitude of his heart!) and how
when it was left unrestrained, "pounced" on him and led to murder
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are
you angry? (Hebrew charah = to glow or grow warn, to blaze
up and be hot or burn, be kindled, be incensed - a verb perfectly
picturing this emotion "blazing up" into a full blown fire) And why has
your countenance fallen (this suggests that anger hid itself in Cain’s
eyes and with a fallen countenance he avoided looking anyone in the eye
preventing others from seeing through the eye gate into his heart!)? If
you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not
do well, sin (this pictures Sin as an evil king that wants to reign in
our mortal bodies, exactly what Paul admonished Roman saints about in Ro
6:12, 13, 14-
is crouching (picture of a stealthy panther lurking, ready to spring) at
the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (If this is
God's desire then we know that He made provision for Cain to obey God's
will for God's commandments always include His enablements)." And Cain
told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field,
that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (Genesis
4:6, 7, 8)
- Anger is an emotional arousal caused
by something that displeases us. In itself, anger is not a sin, because
even God can be angry (Dt 9:8, 20; Ps 2:12). The Bible often speaks of
anger “being kindled” (Ge 30:2; Dt 6:15), as though anger can be
compared to fire. It is difficult for us to practice a truly holy anger
or righteous indignation because our emotions are tainted by sin, and we
do not have the same knowledge that God has in all matters. God sees
everything clearly and knows everything completely, and we do not. The
NT principle seems to be that the believer should be angry at sin but
loving toward people. The fire of anger, if not quenched by loving
forgiveness, will spread and defile and destroy the work of God (Ed
note: and the testimony of God's people). According to Jesus, anger is
the first step toward murder (Mt 5:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26), because anger gives the devil
a foothold in our lives, and Satan is a murderer (Jn 8:44). Satan hates
God and God’s people, and when he finds a believer with the sparks of
anger in his heart, he fans those sparks, adds fuel to the fire, and
does a great deal of damage to God’s people and God’s church. Both lying
and anger “give peace to the devil” (Eph 4:27-note).
Horace wrote that “Anger is
momentary insanity.” But that is not to say as do our law courts
today that the angry person is not responsible because clearly they are!
John writes that...
The one who says he is in the light
and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. (1John
Everyone who hates his brother
is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life
abiding in him. (1John 3:15)
If someone says, "I love God," and
hates his brother, he is a liar (he is not a believer); for the one
who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he
has not seen. (1John 4:20)
Paul exhorts citizens of the
Kingdom of heaven to give a proper opinion of their heavenly Father and
enabled by the Holy Spirit to...
Let all bitterness and
wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put
away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another,
tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has
forgiven you. (Eph 4:26, 27-notes)
To sum up, let all be harmonious,
sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit not returning
evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for
you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
(1Pe 2:8, 9-notes)
AND WHOEVER SAYS TO HIS
BROTHER, (RACA) 'YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING,' SHALL BE GUILTY BEFORE THE SUPREME
COURT (SANHEDRIN) (2Sa
6:20; James 2:20) (Mt 10:17; 26:59; Mark 14:55; 15:1; John 11:47; Acts
Good for nothing (see
(raca an Aramaic word equivalent to Hebrew rebq = empty
one, worthless, term of utter vilification) refers to a vain or
worthless fellow and was used as a term of contempt used by the Jews in
the time of Christ. English synonyms with a similar idea include nitwit,
blockhead, numbskull, bonehead or brainless idiot. "Raca"
expressed contempt for an individual's intelligence.
Supreme court (4892)
(sunedrion from sun = together + hedraios =
sedentary, as one seated in a chair - see
Sanhedrin) describes an assembly or council
and in the present context describes the Jewish Sanhedrim, the council
of the seventy (not counting the high priest) who tried the most serious
offenses and pronounced the severest penalties, including death by
stoning (see Acts 6:12-7:60) (See ISBE article on
The Sanhedrin was formed in imitation of the seventy elders appointed by
Moses (Nu11:16ff.) The members were selected from the chief priests,
former high priests, and the chief priests or heads of the twenty–four
courses or divisions, elders, and scribes or lawyers.
Sunedrion -22x in 22v-
Matt 5:22; 10:17; 26:59; Mark 13:9; 14:55; 15:1; Luke 22:66; John 11:47;
Acts 4:15; 5:21, 27, 34, 41; 6:12, 15; 22:30; 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28;
24:20. The NAS renders it as Council(m)(17), council(2), courts(m)(2),
MacArthur adds that raca...
has no exact modern equivalent.
Therefore in most Bible versions, as here, it is simply transliterated.
A term of malicious abuse, derision, and slander, it has been variously
rendered as brainless idiot, worthless fellow, silly fool, empty head,
blockhead, and the like. It was a word of arrogant contempt. (MacArthur,
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament
Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
Why is simply saying "raca"
or "you fool" a sin that makes one guilty enough to even go to
hell? The answer in short is that every man is made in the image of God
and God does not say "raca" or "you fool". Instead what God does is say
I love you and to show you how much I sent my only begotten Son (John
3:16). Paul also explains how God sees us and how he responds in light
of what He sees (remember we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is
perfect!) writing that...
while we were still helpless,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will
hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone
would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more
then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the
wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we
were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more,
having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (See notes
Jesus is saying that in effect our
"cutting words" carry out the "assassination" of the
person using the weapon of the tongue and those words that proceed from
a heart filled with animosity, enmity or anger. When you call another
man or woman made in the image of God, you are in effect taking the
place of God and when you say "raca" or "you fool" you are holding them
with lower esteem than God Himself does and thus it is a grievous sin.
Isn't that what one "says" when they murder another person? They are
saying in essence that "Your life is worth less to me than it is to
God!" And thus the murderer "takes the place" of God.
Jesus exposition helps one
understand Solomon's teaching that...
Death and life are in the power of
the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)
AND WHOEVER SAYS, 'YOU FOOL,'
SHALL BE GUILTY ENOUGH TO GO INTO THE FIERY HELL (GEHENNA)
(Psalms 14:1; 49:10; 92:6; Proverbs 14:16; 18:6; Jeremiah 17:11) (Mt
5:29,30; 10:28; 18:8,9; 25:41; Mark 9:47; Luke 12:5; 16:23,24;
Spurgeon comments that...
Christ here shows us that the
commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” deals with anger, with angry
words, with words of cursing,
with words of derision, for all these are killing things, hurting and
wounding things, and the passion of anger is forbidden under the
command, “Thou shalt not kill.” Men have not thought so, but it really
is so, for he who is angry with his brother is a murderer; there is the
spirit, the essence of that which leads to murder in the passion which
breeds malice and revenge. The law is spiritual; it touches the
emotions, the thoughts, the desires, as well as the words and actions of
men. If I desire ill for a man, I have within me that which would desire
his death; and what is that, after all, but murder in the heart? How
strict is this law, and yet how just and right!
(moros) conveys the root meaning of one who is mentally dull,
silly or stupid (English = “moron”). There are a number of synonyms
including blockhead, bonehead, dimwit, dork, numbskull, and the list
goes on and on. Jesus seems to characterize calling someone a fool as a
more serious reproach than a "good for nothing"
Moros - 12x in 12v - Matt
5:22; 7:26; 23:17; 25:2f, 8; 1 Cor 1:25, 27; 3:18; 4:10; 2 Tim 2:23;
Titus 3:9. The NAS renders it as fool(1), foolish(7), foolish things(1),
MacArthur notes that moros...
was sometimes used in secular Greek
literature of an obstinate, godless person. It was also possibly related
to the Hebrew mārâ which means “to rebel against.” To call
someone You fool was to accuse them of being
both stupid and godless. The three illustrations in this verse show
increasing degrees of seriousness. To be angry is the basic evil behind
murder; to slander a person with a term such as Raca is even more
serious, because it gives expression to that anger; and to condemn a
person’s character by calling him a fool is more slanderous
still...Jesus’ prohibition is against slanderously calling a person a
fool out of anger and hatred. Such an expression of malicious animosity
is tantamount to murder and makes us guilty enough to go into the fiery
hell. (MacArthur, J:
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament
Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
Hell (Gehenna) (1067)
from Hebrew gay = valley +
Hinnom = a
deep narrow ravine south of Jerusalem once associated with the pagan god Moloch and
his disgusting rite of infant sacrifices [cp modern practice of
abortion!], 2Kings 23:10; 2Chr 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31, 19:5, 6, 32:35; Ezekiel 16:20;
23:37 clearly prohibited by God in Lev 18:21, 20:2, 3, 4, 5) is literally the
valley of Hinnom, the valley where the filth and dead animals of
the city were cast out and burned and where there were trash fires
and perpetually burning rubbish, all a fit symbol of the future
home of all unrepentant, unregenerate wicked men and women. It was a
foul, forbidding place where the fire, smoke, and stench never ceased.
It is thus fitting that gehenna is where sin and unrepentant sinners
will one day find it's "resting place".
Gehenna - 12x in 12v - Mt 5:22,
29f; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5; Jas 3:6
Both Raca and fool
heart of the law against murder, one by slaying a person's
intelligence and the other his character.
It is interesting that Jehovah
does have the right to use moros for He knows the heart and thus He
declared to treacherous (adulterous) Jerusalem and Judah...
'Hear this, O foolish and
senseless people, Who have eyes, but see not; Who have ears, but hear
not." (Jer 5:21)
Thus There are times when the
Scripture does consider men as fools. Jesus said so Himself, declaring
"You fools and blind men;
which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the
gold? (Mt 23:17)
addressed the rich man who had laid up for himself goods on earth but
not heaven declaring...
'You fool! This very night
your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have
prepared?' (Luke 12:20)
the psalmist explains that...
The fool has said in his
heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed
abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. (Ps 14:1) (See
Solomon presents a contrast be one
who fears God and the fool writing that...
The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs
These examples from
Scripture all have in common a stubborn rebellion against God, which is
not what Jesus is referring to. For a man to call another man "you
in a sense to put himself in the place of God. Jesus is specifically
speaking against the deliberate belittling of someone's person because
of the animosity and hatred of our own heart. That He says is as if we
had murdered them!
Have you ever been guilty of
If we are
honest, most of would have to say we are guilty of his crime against our
fellow man. Jesus' words give us pause to consider carefully what we
speak with our tongues. Our words are generally an accurate barometer of
our true spiritual condition. What is your "barometric reading" beloved?
It follows that it is of little surprise that the New Testament
repeatedly presents such clear teaching regarding the danger of
"You brood of vipers, how can you,
being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that
which fills the heart.
The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the
evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. And I
say to you, that every careless (literally "not working" -
describes a word that produces no good effect, and is not
calculated to produce any) word that men shall speak, they
shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your
words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
"Do you not understand that
everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is
eliminated? "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come
from the heart,
and those defile the man. For out of the
come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false
witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat
with unwashed hands does not defile the man." (see notes
BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN;
do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the
devil an opportunity... Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth,
but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of
the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve
the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. (see notes
The International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia has an interesting entry which says in part that
is generally explained as expressing
contempt for a man's intellectual capacity (= "you simpleton!"), while
more (translated "thou fool"), in the same verse is taken to refer to a
man's moral and religious character (= "you rascal!" "you impious
fellow!"). Thus we have three stages of anger, with three corresponding
grades of punishment:
(1) the inner feeling of anger (orgizo), to be punished by the local or
provincial court ("the judgment");
(2) anger breaking forth into an expression of scorn (Raca), to be
punished by the Sanhedrin ("the council");
(3) anger culminating in abusive and defamatory language (More), to be
punished by the fire of Gehenna. (ISBE)
One should be careful not to
misinterpret Jesus as declaring that it makes no difference whether we
kill with words like gossip or stab with literal knives of cold steel.
What Jesus is teaching is that both activities reveal the same animosity
of one's heart to his or her neighbour.
Sinclair Ferguson wisely concludes that...
Jesus recognized that we cannot be
trusted in our judgment of the seriousness of careless speech. We treat
the damage we do with our lips very lightly because we do not see the
corpses we leave behind. That is why Jesus invades our moral slumber by
telling us how serious this is in the sight of God. He uses language we
readily understand: anger incurs judgment; using terms of contempt
(like raca) is worthy of condemnation by the highest court (Mt 5:22-note);
calling someone a fool fits us for hell. Jesus is probably not placing
these sins on a scale of seriousness in the kingdom of God; He is simply
stressing vividly that they are far more serious than most of us assume.
In fact, our insensitivity to their real seriousness is indicative of
the dullness of our spiritual senses. (Ferguson,
Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth)
Freeman's Manners and Customs of the Bible has the following
summary of Mt 5:22:...
The Jewish teachers had heretofore
taught that nothing except actual murder was forbidden by the sixth
commandment. Thus they explained away its spiritual meaning. Christ
showed the full meaning of this commandment; according to which we must
be judged hereafter, and therefore ought to be ruled now. All rash anger
is heart murder. Our “brother” here indicates any person, status
notwithstanding, for we are all made of one blood. “Raca,” is a scornful
word, and is evidence of pride: “Thou fool,” is a spiteful word, and
denotes hatred. Malicious slanders and censures are lethal poison. (Freeman,
J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. Manners & Customs of the Bible. 1996. Whitaker
History of a Murder - The beginning of strife is like
releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
The newspaper reported a tragic incident of violence that took place in
a South American country. A peasant killed his best friend while they
were arguing about political differences. When asked why he did it, he
replied with these chilling words: "We began peacefully, and then we
argued. I killed him when I ran out of words."
This tragedy calls to mind Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5 about the close
connection between anger and murder. First He stressed the seriousness
of anger (Mt 5:21, 22). He warned that malicious anger, like murder, would
be punished by God. Then He gave practical advice designed to defuse
anger in a person who has something against another (Mt 5:23, 24, 25, 26).
We should all take a close look at our inner rage. We might think we can
control it. Unfortunately, though, our feelings of hostility often
control us and cause us to do things we would never do while thinking
clearly. That's why unresolved anger needs to be seen as a time-bomb
that can explode, destroying ourselves and doing irreparable damage to
others. True, not all anger is wrong. But all wrong anger needs to be
acknowledged and confessed before it leads to "murder." –M R De
Haan II (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
When I have lost my temper,
I've lost my reason too;
I'm never proud of anything
Which angrily I do. –Jackson
He who conquers his anger conquers a
J C Ryle...
These verses deserve the closest
attention of all readers of the Bible. A right understanding of the
doctrines they contain lies at the very root of Christianity. The Lord
Jesus here explains more fully the meaning of His words, "I came not to
destroy the law, but to fulfill." He teaches us that His Gospel
magnifies the law, and exalts its authority. He shows us that the law,
as expounded by Him, was a far more spiritual and heart-searching rule
than most of the Jews supposed. And He proves this by selecting three
commandments out of the ten as examples of what He means.
He expounds the sixth commandment. Many thought that they kept this part
of God's law, so long as they did not commit actual MURDER. The Lord
Jesus shows, that its requirements go much further than this. It
condemns all angry and passionate language, and especially when used
without a cause. Let us mark this well. We may be perfectly innocent of
taking life away, and yet be guilty of breaking the sixth commandment.
He expounds the seventh commandment. Many supposed that they kept this
part of God's law, if they did not actually commit ADULTERY. The Lord
Jesus teaches, that we may break it in our thoughts, hearts, and
imaginations, even when our outward conduct is moral and correct. The
God with whom we have to do looks far beyond actions. With him even a
glance of the eye may be a sin.
He expounds the third commandment. Many fancied that they kept this part
of God's law, so long as they did not swear falsely, and performed their
OATHS. The Lord Jesus forbids all vain and light swearing altogether.
All swearing by created things, even when God's name is not brought
forward--all calling upon God to witness, excepting on the most solemn
occasions, is a great sin.
Now all this is very instructive. It ought to raise very serious
reflections in our minds. It calls us loudly to use great searching of
heart. And what does it teach?
It teaches us the exceeding holiness of God. He is a most pure and
perfect Being, who sees faults and imperfections, where man's eyes often
see none. He reads our inward motives. He notes our words and thoughts,
as well as our actions. "He requires truth in the inward parts." Oh!
that men would consider this part of God's character more than they do!
There would be no room for pride, and self-righteousness, and
carelessness, if they only saw God "as He is."
It teaches us the exceeding ignorance of man in spiritual things. There
are thousands and ten thousands of professing Christians, it may be
feared, who know no more of the requirements of God's law than the most
ignorant Jews. They know the letter of the ten commandments well enough.
They fancy, like the young ruler, "all these have I kept from my youth
up." They never dream that it is possible to break the sixth and seventh
commandments, if they do not break them by outward act or deed. And so
they live on satisfied with themselves, and quite content with their
little bit of religion. Happy indeed are they who really understand
It teaches us our exceeding need of the Lord Jesus Christ's atoning
blood to save us. What man or woman upon earth can ever stand before
such a God as this, and plead "not guilty?" Who is there that has ever
grown to years of discretion, and not broken the commandments thousands
of times? "There is none righteous, no! not one." Without a mighty
Mediator, every one would be condemned in the judgment. Ignorance of the
real meaning of the law is one plain reason why so many do not value the
Gospel, and content themselves with a little formal Christianity. They
do not see the strictness and holiness of God's Ten commandments. If
they did, they would never rest until they were safe in Christ.
In the last place, this passage teaches us the exceeding importance of
avoiding all occasions of sin. If we really desire to be holy, we must
"take heed to our ways, that we offend not in our tongues." We must be
ready to make up quarrels and disagreements, lest they gradually lead on
to greater evils. "The beginning of strife is like breaching a dam." We
must labor to crucify our flesh and mortify our members, to make any
sacrifice and endure any bodily inconvenience rather than sin. We must
keep our lips as it were with a bridle, and exercise an hourly
strictness over our words. Let men call us precise, if they will, for so
doing. Let them say, if they please, that we are "too particular." We
need not be moved. We are merely doing as our Lord Jesus Christ bids us,
and, if this is the case, we have no cause to be ashamed.