Trinity 6
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
July 3, 2016
Central Passage
Matthew 5:20-26

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Here are two teachings from Scripture: 1) Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And, 2) the righteous shall live by faith.

If you’re trying to live the righteous life by what you do and say, then you have failed before you began. That’s what the scribes and Pharisees did. They tried to be righteous by what they said and did. But it’s not a righteousness of flesh that is true righteousness but a righteousness of the heart that is true and godly.

So does that mean we give up on the flesh? Of course not. It is taught by the apostles that the flesh is to be subdued, contained, and controlled. The flesh is to be disciplined. Not according to the Ten Commandments, though that’s where we start, but according to the righteousness of faith.

For we have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? The life we lived we lived to sin, but the life we live in Christ we live to God. So how can we hate and bicker and fight and smear the reputation of others? How can we counteract the love of God by participating in the hatred of men?

Beloved, it’s not your lustful thoughts that are your most sinful. It’s not your petty theft or your lying lips. These things are but evidence of true evil, true sin. Our true evil is that we don’t love our enemies as ourselves. This evidences our weakness of faith. We don’t even love our friends like we love ourselves. We don’t settle ourselves with our accusers – that is, we don’t seek peace and pursue it – instead we accuse our accusers and rage against others for taking what we think is ours: our country, our church, our money, our time.

Without faith you cannot please God. But faith is not a commodity, and ingredient to pleasing God. Faith is God-pleasing. And faith does not produce the unrighteousness of men, sin – which is self-love – does that. Faith produces the righteousness that God requires.

But what is faith? To long have we classified faith as simple belief in Jesus; as some cognitive, mental knowledge of God. This sort of definition of faith, which is not wrong but neither is it complete, leaves out the heart and body and deals only with the mind. That’s why we have co-called faithful Christians who attend services often and talk about God and Jesus yet live lives of filthy talk and ungodly actions. For them faith is nothing more than head knowledge of the events of Christ. They use their knowledge of Christ and His forgiveness as an excuse to be anti-Christ and hold grudges and promote themselves and ignore the needs of others. These are infant Christians who again and again need to be told the basics of the faith, never moving on to maturity, often needing rebuke but chaffing under it; often choked out by the wickedness of this world and the weakness of their own flesh. This shallow faith is easily overcome by Satan who seeks whom he may devour.

The Law teaches us what we must do, what must be done, but offers no way to do it. The Law condemns, though it is good, teaching what must be done. It is faith -  that active, living faith given us by the Holy Spirit – that teaches us how to be obedient to our Father in heaven. Faith teaches us how to be submissive to the Scriptures. Faith teaches us how to treat others as we ourselves desire to be treated. Faith teaches us to receive others as Christ has received us. The Law teaches us that we must love, but faith teaches us how to love.

This is why we pray after the blessed Sacrament that by it our Father would teach us to love one another. The Sacrament teaches you how to live the life of faith, the live of love. Listen to Him.

The Christian’s behavior is not based on the Ten Commandments, which is curb for evil men and a mirror for us sinners, and a guide to the weak, but never are the Ten Commandments the end-goal of righteousness. Rather faith produces the righteousness that God requires. Our behavior is based on our faith, the faith of Jesus.

You have a heavenly Father who has ordained that you not be held accountable for your sins and wickedness, for your self-love and hatred of others. You have a heavenly Father who sent His only-begotten Son to take away your lack of faith, your hatred, your anger, your fear, and to give you His faith, His love, His peace, and His contentment. That you would be free of that which brings death and instead be filled with the live-giving Spirit.

The life-giving Spirit who overflows your cup and gives you more heavenly sustenance than you need or want. He gives in abundance.

So stop counting the times you’ve helped so-and-so. Stop counting the times so-and-so has betrayed you or hurt you or born false witness against you. Stop measuring the righteousness of others by how they have treated you or yours. Stop counting the dollars or hours you’ve given to the church or to your family or to the poor. Stop peddling that satanic lie that you can forgive but cannot forget; that satanic lie that says you forgive but you no longer love. Such is that shallow faith that has been overcome by the cares and changes of this life. Repent. Repent and believe the gospel. You belong to a forgetful God who forgets your sins and remembers them no more. You belong to the God who is love and in His love humbled Himself under the cross for you.

We are the children of God. And the Son of God did not pour out His blood for us – for the whole world – in as-needed quantities. He poured out His blood so that it continues to fill the chalice of the Church to this day. He did not give His body in and as-needed manner, but gives it so that it feeds all the children of God throughout the whole earth, and has for generation upon generation.

You have been buried with Christ through Holy Baptism. You are dead to sin. This does not mean that you don’t sin or that you have achieved some perfection that not even the apostles claims to have achieved. But it does mean that sin no longer reigns in your mortal body. It does mean that the life you live is not lived to sin, as a slave to sin, but is lived to God as a slave to righteousness. There is no condemnation for we who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation. So stop living in fear and stop peddling fear to others. Instead live in love and start peddling love to others.

But this is hard and requires discipline, training. So it is written that we should train ourselves and our children in righteousness. This discipline is that of a daily grind. You cannot use yesterday’s righteousness for today. You cannot look to yesterday’s love to cover the lack fo love today. So many Christians become dull and dead in their love not because they don’t want to love or that they deny the gospel or the righteousness of God by faith, but because they try to live today on yesterday’s love. They begin to count the times and begin to count the cost. And in doing their eyes are removed from Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, and they begin to look at themselves and at others and first resentment grows and then gives birth to hatred, which leads to death.

But you were not baptized into hatred but into love, for God is love. You were not baptized into unrighteousness but unto righteousness, the righteousness of God. You were not baptized unto death but unto life, having a clean conscience before God by the power of the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. And the life you live you live to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Who Himself did not consider the cost but lay down His life for you to give you His life, His love, His sonship.

And behold, you are heirs with the Son of God; heirs of His kingdom. And through Him and by Him and for Him, to the glory of God, you are given eternal life.

+ In Nomine Iesu +