@LeeWoofenden Convenient how you cut out the real context there. Jesus is telling US how WE may recognize false and evil teachers. Jesus doesn't need it. A little further in Matt 9:4 "4But Jesus, knowingfn their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?"
I thought we'd built our way up to that but maybe we missed it. I'm not proposing a system for us to follow. Our hearts are wicked and deceptful. God judges them, not man. Thus we have civil ethical laws to make sin objective. But sin is only objective to God. You are getting closer in your analysis off the smoker though.
Lets turn it to an opposite case. One man helps a granny across the street. A second man does the same. The first man is sinning, the other is not. Nothing in the act was wrong, it was very nice in both cases. But the first was doing it for his own glory and the second was doing it for God. "They honor me with their lips but their hearts are far away"
Every thought, every intent and every action that results is either in line with God's heart or it is not. There is no neutral when it comes down to it. It is often mixed, but no one part is neither one or the other. Our carefully constructed rationalized minds recoil at such a thought because it destroys our self righteousness
@Joshua Jesus looks at both the heart and the actions that flow from the heart. In Matthew 9:4 Jesus saw what was in their hearts in connection with the words they spoke. And Jesus gives many commandments about what we should and should not do. It simply isn't true that Jesus pays attention only to what's in the heart, even if what's in the heart is the key to the quality of the words and actions.
You simply can't get away from the fact that the Bible, including Jesus Christ, heavily emphasizes our actions.
@Joshua What our rational minds recoil at is the teaching that "I am the vine, you are the branches . . . apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Nothing we do that is good is ours. We want to take credit for it, but we cannot, because without the Lord acting in and through us, we wouldn't be able to lift a finger to do anything good.
So yes, if we do good works "for boasting," in order to build up our own glory in our own mind and in the minds of people who see our actions, then our good works are not good works viewed spiritually, even if they are viewed civilly.
And yet, if we neglect to do good works, we have rejected the presence and work of the Lord in and through us, and we have therefore rejected both the Lord and salvation. Faith without works is dead. Intention without works is dead. If we "intend" to do good but never act on it, we will be among the goats who are sent to everlasting punishment.
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@LeeWoofenden I'm fine with most of that. But again, we were building. Its really not even the conscious "intentions" afterall but the intentions are simply outpoorings of what is in our heart. "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." or pride, idolatry, selfishness, greed, conceit, covetness and rebellion.
My point is in the end you can boil down any act to its essence and there will be one or the other. It is an internalizing of the principles of the law rather than following an outside objective rule. This is the writing of the law on the heart that is spoken of from David to Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Stone heart/fleshly heart. Circumcised heart/uncircumcised.
@LeeWoofenden I never rejected that actions aren't important. But they are important not because they are actions but because they are even stronger intentions. When one lies a number of sins may be taking place. Selfishness, pride, greed. But that was coming out of the heart before the words came out and is what is making the lie a sin.
2 hours later…
@Joshua "The heart" is a metaphor for love. In particular, our predominant or reigning love--what we love most of all. And the four basic choices are God, the neighbor, the world and its wealth and possessions, and self. Whichever one we put first, that will determine the spiritual quality, and in great measure even the outward quality, of what we do--though as discussed, we can do good things outwardly for hypocritical reasons.
@Joshua The actual commandment is not exactly "Thou shalt not lie," but "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." The commandment has within it the stipulation that the false witness, or "lie" in ordinary terms, that is condemned is lying against the neighbor. In other words, in order to do the neighbor harm, deceive the neighbor for our own benefit at their expense, and so on. "Lying" in the Bible is really shorthand for that.
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