Razing Cain: How Christ Crucifies a Heart of Anger (Matthew 5:21–26)

sermon05Razing Cain: How Christ Crucifies a Heart of Anger

This Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:21–26, where we saw the first of six lessons Jesus gives us about the law of Moses applied to his new covenant disciples.

Interpreting the sixth commandment, “Do not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17), Jesus stressed the importance of making peace with those whom we have sinned against. In Sunday’s sermon we looked briefly at how Jesus applied Moses Words, but more importantly we considered a multitude of applications found in Jesus Words.

You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources are listed below. Continue reading

Circumcising the Heart: Eleven Things Jesus Teaches Us About Anger

angerIn Matthew 5:21–26 Jesus outlines his interpretation and application of the sixth command, “Thou shall not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17). And though Jesus words are only six verses in length, we can learn at least eleven truths about anger from Christ’s wise words.

1. Anger is a matter of the heart.

As the cliche goes, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. And in Jesus first of six “antithesis” he clarifies that the point of command, “thou shall not murder,” is not really an antithesis at all. Rather, the command to not shed another’s blood is meant to awaken the heart of someone prone to anger. In other words, it is misguided to believe the Lord only cared about the heart in the New Testament.

The Lord has always cared about the heart. Each of the ten commandments were instructed to train the hearts of the Israelites. Deuteronomy 10:16 called upon the Israelites to “circumcise their hearts.” And the common indictment against Israel, under the old covenant, was the problem of their hearts (cf. Isaiah 29:13; Psalm 95).

Hence, Jesus is not giving a new commandment here, but reminding his disciples what the intentions of God were, are, and forever will be. In the law, God called his people to not murder so that it would awaken in them a desire to love, serve, and protect their neighbor. Therefore, Jesus rightly recalls the laws original intent and that the sixth command addresses a heart of anger. Continue reading

From Cain to Covenantal Continuity: Three Quotes on Matthew 5:21–26

kiwihug-284614-unsplash.jpgWhen reading Matthew 5:21–26, the first of six illustrations from Jesus on how to read and apply the Law of Moses, there are a number of interpretive factors to consider. In fact, we need to consider the meaning of the “anger,” the relationship of the Law-covenant to the Jesus’s fulfillment, and the way Jesus employs imagery from the first recorded murder.

In these three quotations from Charles Quarles, Jonathan Pennington, and Dale Allison we get a grasp on how the lexical, epochal, and canonical contexts should contribute to our understanding Jesus’s teaching. Continue reading

Walk in the Way of Wisdom: Be Slow to Anger

James, a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, writes: “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (1:19-20).

Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of teaching the Open Bible Study at my church, Ninth and O Baptist.  The assigned topic was “Anger,” and I taught from James 1:19-27.  After surveying the complexities of anger throughout Scripture we landed here because of James’ short, yet powerful, admonition to throw off the filthiness of anger and to embrace the word which can save your soul (v. 21). 

There is much to be heard in James about anger, but it is apparent that he is not writing anything novel.  He draws heavily on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and the wisdom of the Old Testament.   Below is a list of Proverbs that surely informed James understanding of anger and speech, wisdom and foolishness, and the intricate relationships between them.  They call us who want to walk in the way of wisdom to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  Read them slowly and ask: Does my life display wisdom or foolishness? 

(The italicized words are the verse, ESV.  What follows the “=” attempts to synthesize the proverb).

Proverbs
12:15
The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice = listening quells anger

12:16The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult = foolish anger is not hidden

14:17 A man of quicker temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated = sudden anger is foolish

14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly

15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger = anger provokes more anger

15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention = patient assuages anger

15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city = those who possess the earth through force, violence, and oppression are in the end small men

19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook an offense = anger ruins reputations, while controlling anger gains honor

19:19 A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again = anger is not a isolated incident; it is a pattern, a way of life, a means of gaining ground in life

19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

20:2 Whoever provokes [terrible king] to anger forfeits his life = anger + power = death for the object of wrath

21:14 A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath = anger is assuaged through by payment

21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

22:24f Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with wrathful man; lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare = the result of anger is a snare (i.e. entrapment, bondage, and death)

25:8 What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end when your neighbor puts you to shame? = Hasty accusations fail to gather all the facts and result in personal shame

27:4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? = the characteristic that makes anger so dangerous is the fact that what may appear controlled is in fact intractable

28:20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

29:22 A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression = the damning effects of anger are far reaching because one man’s anger promotes sin in the lives of others

30:33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife = the fruit of anger is strife (i.e. division, discord, and the separation of relationships)

Ecclesiastes
5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools…be not rash with you mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and your are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.

7:8-9 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient spirit is better than the proud spirit;
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools
= anger is complicit with foolishness, the fool becomes angry; anger is not like something spilt on the hand or something stepped in by the foot, which can easily be removed or cleansed. Anger roots itself deep within the soul of the (wo)man and becomes lodged. It ensnares! Anger is a way of life, not easily discarded and one that arises in all sorts of unbecoming ways, proving a man’s folly.

May we flee folly and run to the all-wise one, Jesus Christ!

Sola Deo Gloria, dss