The Purpose-Driven Knife

The sermon I preached this past Sunday was on a text that was almost completely law. Matthew 5:21-37 is a part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount saw Jesus expanding on a few of the Ten Commandments. He showed that God wants us to obey not just the letter of the law, but to obey the law in our thoughts, words, and actions. In some ways, this is a very uncomfortable, even painful, message.

So that’s how I wanted to preach it. I wanted it to be a knife to my hearers’ hearts. After all, that’s what the law is supposed to do. It’s supposed to destroy our excuses, shatter our pride, and leave us defenseless before God. The law isn’t meant to give a slap on the wrist; it’s meant to kill.

Only then do we truly grasp how much we need Christ to bring us to life. Without the full force of the law, the gospel cannot have its full force. Without knowing we are lost and dead in sins, we can’t ever understand how Jesus found us by faith and brought us to life in the gospel now and forever. Without the law killing me and making me see I have nothing to offer to God, I could never see that it’s what Jesus did in his life, death, and resurrection that counts for me — not what I have or haven’t done.

I guess I can’t say how successful I was at trying to preach the law like this last Sunday. (Though I’m confident that God’s Word was successful!) But I do want to purposefully preach the law like this in the future. Shame on me if I don’t! God’s given me a knife to use to kill the sinful self in all my hearers, so that the Holy Spirit can bring them to life in the gospel. May God help me to do this!

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4 thoughts on “The Purpose-Driven Knife

  1. Blessings on this post Pastor. Sometimes we Lutherans forget that God’s Word is LAW and GOSPEL. We need to fell afflicted by our sin prior to be comforted. For too often we are comfortable in our sin without the afflication.

  2. The intention is right, that we all need to see ourselves as failures at being good. Whenever I hear someone ask why bad things happen to good people, I remember someone saying once its because there are no good people. We do not sin agains others, but only against God, because each person deserves far worse than anything we could do against them(not excusing sin at all, for it is against God that our sin is accounted). I wonder though, does such a sermon of condemnation need to be spoken? I am forgiven of my sin when I reach out and take the gift of grace the Lord has offered to me, regardless of if I feel the “full weight” of that sin. And who can feel that full measure? Teaching me what is sin, what is not, it does not lead me to a closer likeness of Christ. Rather teach me to read His word in the cool of the morning, to speak meaningful prayers threw out the day, and to worship Him. For I become like what I worship, and I develop a closeness to those I converse with.

    • Thanks for your comment, Wayne. I certainly wouldn’t want to ever do a sermon of condemnation in the sense that the people would hear the full-force of God’s law without also hearing the comfort of the gospel at its sweetest. I guess I go back to what Jesus said in Matthew 9:12 (and elsewhere), “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” If we never realize that we’re “sick” with sin, then the “cure” of Jesus forgiveness isn’t going to be very important to us. I want my hearers to feel the full weight of their sin so that they can feel the full comfort of Jesus removing that burden from them.

      Thanks for reading!

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