READ: Matthew 5:21-48
THINK: God's laws and commands are not obsolete standards of the past; they are reflections of God's character, desires, standards and purposes. Because of that, the ethical and moral principles of God's laws still apply today. Just as Jesus' perfect life fulfilled all the requirements of God's law, the Holy Spirit also empowers the lives of Jesus' followers so that they too can live in a way that upholds the spiritual principles and truths of the law. (Review verses 17-20 and see 5:17 and 5:19, notes.)
RESPOND: As a follower of Jesus, what should be your attitude, relationship and response to God's law? In what ways does Jesus set an even higher standard than the one set by God's Old Testament law? While God's law laid out a lot of requirements governing people's relationships and outward actions, Jesus words in Matthew 5 focus on the attitudes, thoughts and motives behind people's behavior. How are a person's thoughts and motives related to his or her behavior and your overall relationship with God and others? How can your attitude and actions affect others thoughts and actions-for good or bad? What does it mean to 'lust” over another person? What does Jesus say about this, and how can you overcome this tendency (See 5:28 note.) What does Jesus say about how you should treat your 'enemies” and why? (See 5:39 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you guard your thoughts, attitudes and motives so that they result in actions that please Him and reflect His purity and graciousness toward others.
ACT: While it's not a sin simply to be tempted, it is wrong to dwell on ungodly and impure thoughts. Don't set yourself up for failure. Avoid situations that stir up improper attitudes and desires. This includes the images you expose yourself through various media (see 5:28 note). Also, watch your conduct to ensure that your behavior does not inspire ungodly thoughts, desires and actions in others.
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