Jesus pulls no punches in His Sermon on the Mount. He directly addresses the ways we tend to drift from His way of life. In this episode, Whit, Blake, and Casey explore Matthew 5:17-30, what it means for Jesus to fulfill the law, and the pitfalls of anger and lust.
We often think rules or commands are bad, a constraint to our freedom. But God gives commands to help His people flourish.
When you order furniture, it comes with an instructional manual. We never look at the manual and think, this is so oppressive. We’re thankful to have some direction so that our furniture can be whole and functioning properly.
Just like giving people expectations in a relationship, God gives His people expectations, and it’s within these boundaries that true life is found. The law becomes a conduit through which grace flows, a narrative thread woven into the fabric of scripture, guiding humanity toward wholeness.
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, I have not come to abolish the laws but to fulfill them.”
This word fulfill means to fill something full. Jesus didn’t seek to abolish the wisdom of the past but to deepen and amplify it, infusing it with new relevance.
Like giving basic commands to children, the law serves as a foundation for character to be built with the hope that it evolves and matures with time.
Matthew 5:20 says, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
So, do we have any hope of actually fulfilling this law? Are we set up to fail?
There is a call here, but it’s a doable call. Jesus is getting at a deeper righteousness. Righteousness is a community in which all relationships are right; it’s individual and communal.
The scribes are Pharisees are technically obeying the rules, but their hearts are not aligned with God’s.
He did not come to give more rules to follow but a way of life that we will have to put into ongoing practice.
Jesus presents a tension between the real and the ideal. He puts forth the ideal while also recognizing we live in a broken world. Jesus assumes a messy community, one full of complicated relationships and situations.
Far from a call to legalism, He challenges us to surpass mere adherence to rules, beckoning us towards a righteousness rooted in the alignment of heart and action.
In much of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays out the original command and then gives His interpretation of that command, speaking as an authoritative voice on the law.
In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus addresses anger.
One common deception we fall prey to is the myth of comparison. We paint a caricature of anger, envisioning it as explosive outbursts or physical violence, and convince ourselves that as long as we don’t fit this mold, we’re not truly angry.
But anger wears many masks, from the fleeting brushfire of thymos (explosive anger) to the simmering resentment of orgízō (longstanding anger).
It’s the latter that Jesus is specifically talking about, the bitterness and long-lived anger intentionally kept warm in the recesses of our hearts.
Anger is a secondary emotion. Emotions aren’t something you can necessarily control all the time. They’re bodily responses you have.
Jesus is not saying that emotion is a sin. Certain situations demand a righteous anger. The question is, when you have that fire in front of you, what are you going to do with it?
The tension of sin is, I hate that I do this but I’m unwilling to do what needs to be done to get rid of it. Ignoring anger and resentment is often easier than addressing it, but this path does not lead to the flourishing life Jesus wants for you.
Identify the basis of your anger and the path forward. This could involve having some uncomfortable conversations or setting some boundaries.
Addressing anger with someone is an opportunity for growth and understanding in the relationship. Approach the conversation with empathy, patience, and a willingness to listen.
It’s often helpful to remove yourself from your emotions: “I am not my anger.”
The enemy will give you a lie that will keep your flesh holding on to anger. Regardless of the justification, holding this anger is detrimental to your mental, spiritual, and physical health.
Releasing anger is a process that takes time and practice. Sometimes, it’s necessary to work through it with a trusted mentor or counselor.
In Matthew 5:27-29, Jesus addresses lust.
Lust, at its core, is the desire to take for ourselves, to prioritize immediate gratification over divine will. We want what God wants to give us, but the real test is waiting to receive it in His timing.
Here, again, we often misguide ourselves with comparison, thinking lust is an issue for people with a sex addiction or who have to look at pornography every day.
When we consume can form us or deform us.
Matthew 5:29 says, “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.”
This could look like deleting your social media accounts, switching gyms, not watching certain TV shows or movies – whatever it takes to ruthlessly eliminate things that cause you to sin.
It might be hard, even painful, but the end result is so worth it. What kind of life do you want? One that is relevant to culture or the life that is true life?
Often, we are more comfortable in a familiar captivity than an unfamiliar freedom. We want to be happy but we also don’t want to change. Change is hard and scary.
But the same Jesus who is telling you to do this is the same Jesus who’s going to give you power to do it.
Jesus is offering a freedom from anger and lust—a path illuminated by surrender to God’s transformative grace.
So, let us confront the lies we tell ourselves, dismantle the illusions of entitlement and justification, and embrace the life that is truly life—a life marked by purity, integrity, and unwavering trust in the One who fulfilled the law.