Blog / Book of the Month / Obedience and freedom / Matthew 5:21-37 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday February 12th, 2023 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Obedience and freedom / Matthew 5:21-37 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday February 12th, 2023 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Obedience and freedom / Matthew 5:21-37 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday February 12th, 2023 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119; Deuteronomy 30
Theme: “Obedience and freedom”
Intr – Do you like to obey?

           This is a word that, I think, sometimes sounds heavy in our ears. Reasons why don’t like this word that much might include: obligation, submission, restriction of freedom.

        But that is not the case. Except for situations where you have evil people and/or evil regimes, what we can observe from the point of view of our Faith, is that Obedience is Freedom.

 1 – Defining (Dis)Obedience

“In the dictionary, to obey[1] means “to act according to what you have been asked or ordered to do by someone in authority, or to behave according to a rule, law, or instruction” and to disobey[2]  means: “to refuse to do something that you are told to do.”

Yes, obeying was there in the beginning, but we insist in disobeying. It is in our flesh, we inherited it from Adam and Eve. The Bible and our Confessions call it Original Sin[3], which is the tendency to disobey God and, by extension, the instituted authorities. Disobeying, in other words, means “wanting to be equal, having your own will, using your free will” and in the case of Adam and Eve (and all of us) be equal to God.”

Disobedience is destructive and corrupts many things in society. The thought of this process of disobedience usually begins by distrusting the love and care of the authority in front of you. In human beings, it is common to hear things like: "I will not obey because so and so is not so good after all". "My parents also make mistakes similar to mine; so I will not obey." "Teachers are not as good as I thought."[4]

We are disobeyers. It is in us, because of sin. And we know where the first and ultimate reason for that comes from: Eden. The sin of Adam and Eve’s disobedience was attempting to be equal to God

Isn’t this what we do so many times? We want to be god. We decide, we define. We plan. We adjust. And then we want God to comply, to obey, to be the sidekick who will stamp our plans with a big “approved”. If we are sincere we will detect it here and there in our lives. And then we get angry when things don’t go the way we planned.

This type of thinking and attitude contributes to the “death of God”. When it was said by Nietzsche in the XIX century, it was not about atheism. It was about the Christian society and Churches themselves sort of “killing God.” That means: When God becomes a side kick, one of many alternatives for life, a good option among many other good options in life; or a name to call only in need, then God is probably dead. For then we don’t even need to have a God to have a Church. People’s desire to feel good; their positive thinking sand their affirmative faith making things happens are enough. Isn’t it true that you enter some churches today, or watch them online, and it looks like if Jesus didn’t exist, that Church would exist anyway?[5]

We are disobeyers. We need the Law of God, then, pointing that in us. Pointing our desire to be Him and act like him. This is what his Commandments do as well.

“Today's texts tell us about God's Law, obedience and disobedience to this law. Psalm 119: 1-8 shows how good the law of the Lord is, and those who seek and keep it are blessed as they receive blessings for keeping the law. Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 reinforces and emphasizes that if you follow the law of God, you will go well, but if you do not, you will go badly in this life and eternity. The Gospel of Matthew 5:21-37, in turn, relates Jesus himself, explaining in practice the details and consequences of those who do not observe the law of God in contrast with the Scribes and Pharisees. The Scribes and Pharisees read and studied the Law and the Prophets and also accepted that "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35)[6]. Still, they do not believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Scriptures (John 5:39), so, they starting to disqualify and question his redemptive work, his divine condition and Jesus' ability to fulfill the law perfectly. In other words, they did not want to follow and to obey Jesus.

And Jesus goes further on parts of the Divine Law than the scribes and Pharisees were talking about. He describes the depth that lies behind divine law. About murder and anger, sin is not simply to boast that one has not killed anyone, but in fact, we begin to kill someone when we are angry and hate someone wishing their death. Regarding adultery and lust, it is not only the physical act but the desire and the intention to adulterate is sin itself. About oaths, he emphasizes that the human being is flawed and does not fulfill what he or she, says in contrast with the promises and their fulfillment by God. God fulfills his promises 100% and perfectly. That is why it is risky to make promises in the name of God or in the name of heaven because their fulfillment will be imperfect. And Jesus carries on talking about  revenge that is a deeply human way of acting; and Jesus puts forth another way - the way of love, forgiveness and fraternal coexistence.”[7]


 This is God’s Law, confronting our sin. It’s a mirror, a relentless mirror.

When one looks to God’s commandments, I may seem that they exist to forbid us everything that is cool, nice and attractive in life. However, the truth is: God gave them not to restrict your freedom, but for your own good. For example; What do you do when you receive advice of orientation from these people?

_Your doctor / _Your Mechanic / _Trusted Friend

I kind of know what you usually do. “There are certain people that when they talk and guide other people we listen to them more because we trust and see the truth in them, right? Consequently, we do certain things, even if we don't understand them quite well, because we trust and see truth in it. Maybe at some point we have said something like this: "if this guy that I admire and have studied, lived, and gathered life experience is saying so; “let’s do it”. When it comes to God then…even more! He created us, saved us and still protects us in many ways - when he advises and says something, it is surely for our good.”[8] To obey is to be Free. When we trust Him, place our faith and hope in him, obedience is Freedom.


However, Commandments remain law. They are for our good, they point the way; they protect us. But ultimately, they show how much we fall short of fulfilling them. This is when we are driven back to the Gospel. To the obedient Servant, who gave His life on the Cross. That is what we need. God Himself, as the structure to which we see the World. God’s Word, God’s Means, God’s Love. Forgiveness. New Life. Trust. Confidence. Life in Him.

He gives us the freedom to obey. And obeying is freedom. Think about an airplane: because it obeys every law of the physics related to flying, it can soar high and go anywhere in the world. If it fails to obey, it stays grounded in one place only.

We don’t obey in order to be saved, but because we are saved we now are free to serve God and our neighbour. And this obedience is freedom, taking us to new places and new opportunities to let Christ’s light shine through us, and bring this freedom in Christ to many.[9]


Cc - Dear friends, to obey The 10 commandments is hard. It is actually impossible to do perfectly on this side of heaven. Nevertheless, they are giving for our good, for our blessing. For ou Freedom. Thanks be to God that in Christ, the perfect obedient Servant, we are forgiven, saved and free. Free to serve, obey and live.


[3] Augsburg Confession, Article II
[4] Rev. Paulo Brum. “Obeying is the best way”. Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany – February 16th, 2020
[5] This is what we need to avoid in our life. That I have a reason to believe in my God, but I don’t have a reason for everybody else to do the same.
[6] John 10:35 -  If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken. (ESV)
[7] Rev. Paulo Brum. “Obeying is the best way”. Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany – February 16th, 2020
[8] Rev. Paulo Brum. “Obeying is the best way”. Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany – February 16th, 2020
[9] Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification  before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.(Augsburg Confession, VI)



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