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Radical Depravity in Matthew


In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that sin is born in the mind before it is enacted by the hands.

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[I]n the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that the pollution of sin has reached the deepest level of each person—the heart. The entire inner person is defiled by the moral filth of sin:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. . .  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” —Matthew 5:21–28

With these provocative words, Jesus taught that sin is deeply embedded in the soul long before any wicked deed is committed. In other words, sin is in the heart. Fallen man’s innermost thoughts and desires are deeply stained by sin. For example, Jesus taught that adultery is present in the heart before it is committed in deed. William Hendriksen writes that Jesus is “condemning the evil disposition of the heart that lies at the root of the transgression.” It is the sinful affection that produces the sinful act. Man’s problem is within his heart.

—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 245–246.



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Posted  in: Foundations of Grace · Gospel of Matthew · Steve Lawson
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