3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:3–6, NKJV).
God accounted Abraham’s faith to him for righteousness (v. 6). All who have the faith of Abraham are his seed and heirs (Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:8-9, 29). The nature of Abraham’s faith has long been disputed. Was his faith “faith only?” No, for James said Abraham’s works (obedience) completed his faith (James 2:21-24). His obedient faith was accounted for righteousness, as is ours. Such faith does not earn or merit the blessing, for we are sinners saved by grace (Rom. 3:23-24; 4:1-5). The apostle Paul used Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:22, where its context gives us valuable insight into the nature of Abraham’s faith (Rom. 4:18-22). Abraham believed “in hope,” trusting God’s promise of a son, even though he and Sarah were past the age of having children. Instead of doubting God’s word, Abraham “did not waver” but was “strengthened in faith,” assured God would fulfill His word. And He did. “Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age” (Gen. 21:2). Abraham’s unwavering, active, obedient faith was accounted for righteousness. Like Abraham, our trusting, obedient faith will be accounted to us for righteousness.
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Romans 4:5–8, NKJV).
Justification is acquittal from sin’s guilt; to render innocent and free from sin’s penalty of eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Today’s passage explains justification is synonymous with forgiven by God. When forgiven, our sins are “covered,” removed from God’s sight (remembered no more, v. 7; Heb. 8:12; 10:17; washed away to exist no more, Acts 22:16). This forgiveness occurs by faith, not by the works of law (v. 6; Rom. 1:16-17; 3:21-26; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 2:16). Note that the sinner’s faith is “accounted for righteousness” so that his sins are not imputed to him (v. 5, 8). Just as Abraham’s faith was imputed to him for righteousness, our faith is imputed to us for righteousness (Rom. 4:3). The “works” of Romans 4:7 are works of law, i.e., law-keeping. Righteousness by works (law-keeping) can only occur through sinlessness (which would remove the need for grace, Rom. 4:2, 4). But Abraham sinned and needed grace like us all (Rom. 3:23-24). Faith, not works, was reckoned to him for righteousness. (1) This passage does not say God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us. The sinner’s faith is imputed for righteousness (Rom. 4:5). (2) This passage does not say obedient faith attempts to merit salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). Obedient faith (like Abraham had) is the faith that justifies the ungodly (James 2:17-24; Rom. 4:5). Trust and obey Jesus, and your faith will be accounted for righteousness. You will be forgiven (Mark 16:15-16).
28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matthew 7:28–29, NKJV).
Those who heard Jesus’s message were astonished when His sermon on the mountain concluded. Utter amazement swept over the Galilean crowd who, with rapt attention, had listened to the Teacher from Nazareth. They had not heard teaching like this before. Jesus taught authoritatively from within Himself, not like the rabbis in their synagogues who leaned upon previous experts in the law to support their premises. Jesus spoke truth with the authority of heaven, independent of what men opined and postulated. His words bore the voice of heaven’s power (not the impotent regulations of men). They still do. Jesus competently and boldly taught the righteousness of the kingdom because He possessed the authority (power, the right) to do so. He is God with us, the Word who became flesh, full of grace and truth (Matt. 1:23; John 1:1-3, 14, 17). To honor the Father, we must hear (receive) the teachings of His Son, Jesus (Matt. 17:5). We stand in awe of the truth Jesus taught and its power to save the lost and secure the saved (Matt. 4:23; 9:35). So may we ever submit to the authority of Jesus Christ and be counted righteous by faith instead of futilely trying to establish our own brand of righteousness (Matt. 5:20; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:1-3). The Master Teacher has spoken. He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Matt. 13:9, 13-17).
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NKJV).
Kingdom citizens are the Father’s children who receive “good things” from His hand in answer to our childlike prayers (Matt. 7:7-11). Whether we are falsely judged or suffer any other ill-treatment, God’s children do not “return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9). The Law and the Prophets taught Israel to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; Isa. 1:21-23). Solomon’s proverb reminded them (and us) not to deal with others out of vengeance or to “settle the score.” He wrote, “Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work’” (Prov. 24:29). This “Golden Rule” urges every disciple of Jesus to look inward before acting outwardly. Our words and treatment of others should reflect how we want others to treat us. For example, our judgments will be righteous, not hypocritical (Matt. 7:1-5). We will love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us for our faith (Matt. 5:43-48). We will turn the other cheek and not retaliate (Matt. 5:38-42). We will recall our Father treats us with all kindness, mercy, and love. And in turn, we will reflect the nature of our Father by giving “good things” to others (Matt. 7:11-12).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, NKJV).
Jesus has given us multiple reasons not to be drawn away from the righteousness of the kingdom in Matthew 6:25-33) by temporal cares, including (1) Our value to the Father (Matt. 6:25-26), (2) Worrying does not improve our condition (Matt. 6:27), (3) God proves He provides for His creation, so trust Him to provide our needs (Matt. 6:28-31); and (4) God knows our needs (so seek first His kingdom and righteousness, unlike the Gentiles who do not know God, Matt. 6:32-33). Finally, today’s passage assigns distracting cares (which take us away from kingdom righteousness) to the uncertainty of tomorrow (Matt. 6:34). We have today, with no promise of tomorrow. Therefore, address today’s problems; Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow that may not come at all. The answer to anxiety is not detachment from personal responsibility. The resolve to meet daily duties with the focus of faith that relies on Him (“if the Lord wills,” James 4:15) replaces worry with contentment. The most important things to those who follow Jesus are the heavenly treasures that endure long after our physical life with its needs have ended. God provides for our needs on earth. How much more abundant are the eternal treasures He gives us in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Do not worry; Have faith in God. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and your reward will be far greater physical goods (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31–33, NKJV).
Jesus drives to the heart of the matter. When physical goals and concerns consume us, we start asking the wrong questions. Worry (anxious care) distracts us from God, who knows and supplies our needs. When we seek (crave intensely) physical needs (food, drink, and clothing) before and instead of spiritual needs (the kingdom of God and His righteousness), we are like the faithless Gentiles (those who have no hope and are without God in this world, Eph. 2:11-12). Our primary craving must be the rule and reign of God in our lives and righteousness by faith through the gospel of Christ. We trust God to give us the things that are necessary for our temporary journey on earth. At times we struggle to keep these spiritual priorities in place. The world presses us to conform to its values and expectations. Let us be strengthened in faith and trust the Lord to provide our daily bread as we live for eternal things that will not pass away (Ps. 37:25-26; 2 Cor. 4:17-18).
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:22–23, NKJV)!
The eye is a wondrous mechanism. Our Creator’s wisdom, knowledge, and power are on full display as we ponder this marvelous organ of the human body. Without the eye, our entire body is dark. When vision is obscured, what was once brilliant is blurred, without contrast and focus. Blindness leaves one in a world of darkness. We should not take our eyes for granted. Jesus used the simple fact that our eyes illuminate our bodies to imply a greater spiritual truth. When we direct our eyes toward heaven’s treasures, we focus on things above (Matt. 6:19-21; Col. 3:1-2). With clear eyes and faithful intent, let us present our bodies “as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13, 16). But, when our eyes are attentive to this present age, the evils of the world obscure the light of truth (1 John 2:15-17). When the darkness of sin grabs our attention, we present our bodies “as instruments of unrighteousness to sin” and become slaves of sin, leading to spiritual death (Rom. 6:13, 16). Jesus warned, “Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35). We can deceive ourselves that we are walking in the light when we are really in darkness. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the light of the world, and focus on laying up heavenly treasures by following Him (John 8:12; Matt. 6:20-21).
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NKJV).
Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, which included preaching the gospel of the kingdom (of which His sermon on the mount is typical, Matt. 5:17-19; 4:23; 5:1). In Matthew 5:20-48, He contrasted the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven with the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus did far more than just teaching Jews how to be faithful Jews. He taught Jews (and subsequently, Gentiles, Matt. 28:18-20) how to be “perfect” (complete) as citizens of the kingdom, His church. Today’s verse speaks explicitly to the nature of our love toward others, whether friend and foe (Matt. 5:43-47). In the Scriptures, the word “perfect” (teleios) means “complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.)” (G5046). The Father is complete in every respect, including His love (Matt. 5:45). He is the ultimate example for His children’s character and conduct. Would you please notice we must choose to “be perfect” like the Father? Jesus calls us to willingly choose to be like the Father in word and deed toward (1) Our brother (Matt. 5:21-26), (2) Lust (Matt. 5:27-30), (3) One’s spouse (Matt. 5:31-32), (4) Our integrity (Matt. 5:33-37), (5) Retaliation (Matt. 5:38-42), and (6) Our love of others (Matt. 5:43-47). May we devote ourselves daily to this worthy endeavor.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also (Matthew 5:38–39, NKJV).”
The scribes and Pharisees perverted the Law’s stated penalty against crime by turning it into their justification to return in kind when personally wronged (Exod. 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21). The Law’s just punishment became their excuse to retaliate against others out of personal vengeance. Thus, they misapplied the Law’s prescribed treatment of wrong-doers while ignoring the Law also said, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (Lev. 19:18).” Jesus rejected their manipulation of the Law of God to claim personal retaliation. The righteousness of the kingdom compels us to do the following: (1) Be generous when others mistreat us (do not resist, turn the other cheek, relinquish instead of litigating, go the extra mile, and “give to him who asks,” Matt. 5:39-42). (2) Help those who seek our assistance (“from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away,” Matt. 5:42). Our righteousness must exceed the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). So, seek peace and pursue it (1 Pet. 3:11). Love your neighbors instead of retaliating against them. Be a peacemaker, and be blessed as a child of God (Matt. 5:9).
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:8–11, NKJV).
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His apostles (which He did, Acts 1:3-4, 8; 2:1-4). The Spirit would (1) Teach them and give them a remembrance of all the things Jesus said (John 14:25-26), (2) Testify of Jesus through the apostles (John 15:26), and (3) Guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit revealed the gospel to the apostles, inspired their proclamation of it, and confirmed its divine source by accompanying signs and miracles (Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 1 Cor. 2:5, 10-13; 14:37; Heb. 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit continues to work today, convincing the world “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” by the New Testament of Christ, the powerful word of God He revealed, inspired, and confirmed. Using the word of truth, the Holy Spirit convicts the world (1) Of sin, providing the remedy in Christ (Acts 2:36-41; Titus 2:11-13). (2) Of righteousness because Jesus is reigning in righteousness at God’s right hand (Rom. 1:16-17; Acts 2:33-36; Heb. 1:8-9), and (3) Of judgment because Jesus has overcome the evil one (John 12:31). Let the Holy Spirit work in your life by receiving and obeying the word of truth He gave the world through the apostles of Christ.