You Do Not Want God To Judge Your Heart

When Jesus preaches His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He does not present an easier law. Instead He hammers the crowds and His disciples with the truth that God demands perfect  obedience.

Consider the six “you have heard it said…but I say to you” statements in Matthew 5:20-48. Then try and figure out how the following two statements, which function as bookends of that section, make the law any easier: “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:20, 48). How is this easier or gentler?

I have heard some say that Jesus makes it very clear what is most important. Love, love, love! We just need to love God and love each other. They argue that when Christ summarized all the law with two commands, He was teaching us that following rules is not nearly as important as heartfelt surrender to love God and neighbor. We hear this kind of talk all the time today, but so did John Calvin. Calvin responded to these arguments by saying, “as if we could think of anything more difficult than to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength! Compared with this law, everything could be considered easy.”[1]

I used to think the bad news of Christianity was all the rules and the good news was that Jesus came and told us to love each other. Thankfully, one day it finally dawned on me that loving God and neighbor was not the sum of the gospel; it was the sum of the all laws (Gal. 5:14). The good news of Christianity is not that Jesus made the rules easier or that God will judge me based on my heart intentions. Neither of these things are good news. The truth is Jesus will come again to judge all the heart motives of the living and the dead and this is really bad news because our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). We do not want Him to judge our hearts! We need saved precisely because of our hearts! The good news of Christianity is that although we have not loved God and  neighbor, God sent His son to propitiate all of our failures to love God and neighbor.


[1] Quoted by Michael Horton in a White Horse Inn Article,  The Law & the Gospel

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