Devotionals Sermon on the Mount

Conviction and Reconciliation

For every problem or conflict there is a solution … the same is true for every sin. Normally we would say, faithfulness in the Scriptures and dedication in prayer is great spiritual medication to overcome sin … yet sometimes it takes more than just knowing what God requires and seeking empowerment from the Holy Spirit. There needs to be taking God’s Word (the teaching) and applying it practically. It is the same as a preacher presenting a well-crafted sermon, but unless there is an application, “This is what God says, now go and do this to rectify the problem to cease the sin and live a repented lifestyle”, we fail. Jesus’ teaching was good exposition but He included application … “go and do this!” How does one stop the anger before it translates into the act of murder? Notice the flow of action … and remember this teaching is for the people of God.

1) You are a practicing Christian.

Mt 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar.”

The picture is of the religious Jew who was at the temple offering his gift or sacrifice. He was going about his worship activities. He was religious. He was trying to appease God and keep himself spiritually healthy. We may be exactly like this person. As we will see, he was doing most things according to the Law. We could well be doing most things right according to the Gospel. Christians are not religious. Christians are Christian … or if you like, Christians are Gospel. There is a huge difference. The former is one of works and the latter one of faith and love. The Christian may not always get everything right but the Christian ought to be aware when he or she does wrong … sins.

2) You remember a relational problem between yourself and another believer.

Mt 5:23 “and there remember that your brother has something against you.”

(1) Remember means information that has returned to your memory … and you remember that thing. This happens when a believer has some issue with another and tries to avoid it by being busy or engaging in a religious activity … and the Holy Spirit brings the matter to your mind. This is known as conscience! The Spirit of God has this unique habit of convicting the child of God of their sin. We can duck or dive, we can run and hide … but He finds us! The Psalmist says to God:

Ps 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

He goes on to declare that wherever he seeks to go or hide God is there. God is the Omniscient One. He searches the heart and knows the mind, the thought! And should the believer think there is no relational sin, the Psalmist gives direction:

Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

May I suggest that few, if any are found guiltless.

(2) The phrase “something against” is also very interesting. The concept of “against” would normally mean something pressing against you or held against you. Here it means something pressing “down upon” you. Here’s the conscience thing again. The matter between you and the fellow believer actually “presses down upon” you heavily causing unhappiness, depression, anxiety … and the Spirit of God wants you to known the issue is a sin matter. He makes you feel uncomfortable and irrespective how much you occupy your mind by doing other things, even religious things, He will not allow you any peace of mind until you do what is right in God’s sight!

(3) Dealing with the issue at hand. Now you are aware your sin has caught you out! To Israel Moses says:

Nu 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

The same is true for you and me as believers! Our sins will find us out! That is the function of the Holy Spirit! One of His tasks is to purify us for a holy dwelling for Himself. He will as it were … “hound you until He convinces you to make the wrong right!” The sin is yours but through the sin there is relational dysfunction:

Mt 5:23 “and there remember that your brother has something against you.”

The person offended is not happy with you and the Spirit wants you to make it right … immediately!

Mt 5:24 “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

The “gift” here could either mean “a sacrifice” or “other gifts” that might be required from time to time, brought to the temple with the intent of worship in the form of a sacrifice for sin or a gift as a thanksgiving offering. We cannot be sure of which this gift was … but what we do know is that the guilty person needed to act swiftly and immediately.

(i) Stop your religious hypocrisy… leave your gift there in front of the altar. How can you worship God with a sinful heart? How can you offer a gift to God when you offer anger towards your fellow believer? How can you pretend to love God and yourself and hate your brother? It’s like you or me attending Church, offering tithes and doing some sort of ministry whist another believer is hurting because we have sinned against them causing personal anger and they are angered? That is hypocrisy! Withdraw from temple worship and sacrifice … for us … withdraw from ministry and worship.

(ii) Go and be reconciled. The concept here is a “change of mind”. This means there needs to be confession of your sin; obtaining forgiveness and repenting of that sin against the fellow believer. Today some Christians push the reconciliation button coupled to justice. Jesus says … reconciliation requires confession, forgiveness and repentance.

(iii) Once the hurting believer hurts no more, worship resumes. Friendship in Jesus has been renewed. Naturally this is a public event because sin against another believer hurts the body. Let me say it again … publically Christians reconcile as sin is confessed, forgiveness is obtained and repentance is practiced.

(4) Urgency is required.

Mt 5:25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 

Mt 5:26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

It is one thing to prevent standing before the judge in a law court on earth. It is another thing to stand before the Judge of all the earth. The urgency is to make right with the fellow believer on earth and be ready and prepared to stand before God on Judgment Day.

Search our hearts O God, convict us of our sin so that we seek pardon and live in repentance. Amen.

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