What is Sin? One highlight of Jesus’ teaching ministry was His Sermon on the Mount, where He reinterpreted the Old Testament law in light of the new kingdom of God. In this next section of our devotional, we explore several key themes from His Sermon on the Mount, starting with sin. From an Africa Study Bible learn note titled “The Sermon on the Mount”:When people are accepted into a church as new believers or into a school as new students, they are taught rules and guidelines on how to live in their new community. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–7:27) is part of Jesus’ teaching about how His followers should live in the new community that He came to establish (Matthew 4:17). The rules and guidelines Jesus gives us are often very different from what our culture tells us. They turn upside down what we usually think. In Africa, we sometimes look at sin as something which is bad only when you have been caught. Some think that if you are not caught, it is not really sin. Jesus eliminates this kind of thinking. It is not only the negative things that we do, either seen or unseen, that are sin. According to Jesus, even our negative attitude or speech comes under God’s judgment (Matthew 5:21-22).How can we fulfill all these rules? Some say that we as sinful people can never reach this standard. Jesus is painting an ideal world that will come at a later time. Others say the opposite, that all people of goodwill can do this. Neither statement is true. Yes, Jesus sets a very high standard, but He speaks to those who are already His disciples, those who belong to God’s Kingdom. We cannot do it by ourselves. We can only do this if we are born of the Spirit (John 3:8). He is changing our lives in order to make us into what we already are by the grace of God. Today: Read the scripture passage for today again or read the full Sermon on the Mount. As you read, stop at each characteristic, choice, value, or attitude that Jesus said are sins. Still your heart and ask God to reveal which of these sins you struggle to overcome. Spend a few minutes kneeling humbly before God in repentance and asking Him to change your desires.
21 ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder,
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister
whether man or woman; without cause will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca, And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 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. 26Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.Adultery27 ‘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.
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.