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Lesson for April 26th, 2014

The Law and the Beatitudes

Scripture Focus

Matthew 5:17-48; Luke 16:16; Romans 7:24


The Beatitudes are divided into three sections. Today we’ll look at the third section and Jesus’ discussion on what are called the “antitheses”—direct opposites—of the old laws.

Materials Needed

Butcher paper, black felt marker, Bibles

Connecting with the Scripture Topic

  1. Draw a “tablet of stone” on the butcher paper. Read each of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and then rewrite them the way the world thinks they should be. For instance, “Don’t steal unless you have no other choice” or “Don’t commit adultery unless you’ve tried to save your marriage and it didn’t work.”
  2. Jesus said that hate was as bad as murder and lust as bad as adultery. What other sins might be considered the same when you just think them? Write these down and share.

Sharing and Receiving Scripture

  1. How vital is it to honor God’s law, when just “thinking” a sin is wrong in God’s eyes?

  2. Thought Questions

Read Matthew 5:17-20. Are there any exceptions to Jesus’ command that nothing should be changed within the law?

  1. Yes—the Old Testament law was done away with at the cross. Love is the only law today.
  2. No—not if you want to make it into heaven.
  3. Yes—Jesus said that for the benefit of the Pharisees because they weren’t righteous.
  4. No—because Jesus came to fulfill (satisfy) the law.
  5. No—Jesus made it clear that the law is set in stone until “heaven and earth disappear.”
  6. Other...

Read Matthew 5:22 and 1 John 3:15. How can it be fair to equate anger with murder? Is murder worse because it involves another person?

  1. Sin is sin, no matter how big or how small.
  2. Hate can lead to murder, so one is the same as the other.
  3. Jesus is trying to teach that what we think in our hearts has the same weight as committing the sin.
  4. In God’s eyes, thoughts and words speak as loudly as actions.
  5. Being a victim of hate is a lot like being a victim of murder—both are destructive.
  6. Other…

Read Matthew 5:29, 30 and Romans 7:24. What new status did Jesus give adultery? How can a sinful human keep this law?

  1. Jesus wants us to obey by cleansing our hearts, not by literally losing body parts.
  2. Thinking about adultery isn’t as bad as committing the sin, but it’s still sin.
  3. Jesus wants our hearts pure so that when temptation comes, we can reject it.
  4. Only a close relationship with Jesus will deliver us from selfish desires.
  5. To get to heaven, we must be willing to give up anything that leads to sin.
  6. Other…

Read Leviticus 19:11-13. These were part of the Mosaic law. Do they still pertain to us today?

  1. In a sense, no; the Mosaic law was abolished at the cross.
  2. These laws reflect the Ten Commandments, so we are expected to obey them.
  3. Jesus isn’t as concerned about individual laws as He is about obeying the law of love.
  4. The laws show that our intentions must always be pure—this will always matter.
  5. These laws parallel the command to love God and our neighbor.
  6. Other…

Applying the Message of Scripture

Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.

  • Option 1: Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy it. List some of the ways the law was fulfilled through how Christ lived.
  • Option 2: A friend tells you that although he or she hasn’t actually committed a sin, that sin is always on his or her mind. What practical counsel would you give your friend?
  • Option 3: Reread the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. If God’s law had really been abolished at the cross and there was no moral law, what would our world be like?

Valuing Scripture in Your Life

  1. Read Matthew 5:44, 45. Ask God to clearly show you anyone in your life that you do not love. Spend time reading in the gospels how Jesus treated His enemies. Then try to follow Jesus’ example toward those you don’t love.
  2. Jesus said that hating is like murder and lusting is like adultery. If you’re struggling with either of these issues, do a spiritual checkup. Ask God to show you what needs to be removed from your life. Spend daily, deliberate time with Jesus so you can become like Him.

Next Week's Scripture Focus

Genesis 2:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3; Acts 13:14; Mark 2:23-28; John 5:1-9; Isaiah 65:17

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