"‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to ...'" (Matthew 5:21-22)

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother without cause will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool! Will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:21-22)

What does 'Raca' mean?

“Raca” is a Hebrew word indicating contempt for someone. Jesus condemns this as something the Sanhedrin—referring to the institutional temple council—can address.

Jesus is clarifying that lashing out at someone with a statement of ridicule - such as "you fool" - reflects an issue we have deep within. This indicates a level of jealousy and hatred that rots within us. This is why Jesus said:
"But anyone who says, ‘You fool! Will be in danger of the fire of hell."
This bears witness to the rotten state of our own consciousness. "the fire of hell" is thought of a physical place - like a cave with lots of fire and people chained to the walls.

The issue is anger - the opposite of mercy.

Why is anger a problem?

This statement by Jesus to his students refers to the law of love. If we love our fellow children of God, there is no question of being angry and not forgiving them, let alone hurting or murdering them.

That is to become angry with someone without sufficient cause. What cause would be sufficient? Their offending God or His representative, which is essentially breaking the ‘first and foremost commandment,’ to love God and His children with all our heart and soul.

Now sometimes we might become angry with a fellow child of God if they do something that hurts themselves spiritually. This is also “with cause.” 

Becoming angry in this way, out of love, is not the same as saying “you fool” to them. It is like saying, "please come home" - which is what God keeps asking us to do.

What does Jesus mean by 'the fire of hell'?

A more appropriate translation* of the Greek word γέεννα (geenna) in Jesus' statement would refer to "wickedness" rather than "hell" because wickedness relates to consciousness, rather than a physical location.

The fire of wickedness occurs within our consciousness, but burns for everyone around us. Having a consciousness of hatred and envy is in itself wickedness. And this consciousness itself causes a burning of self-centeredness.

What is that burning of self-centeredness? We are speaking of lust and anger. These two sensations are compared to burning because if we have ever watched a fire, we know that fire consumes everything around it.

Next time you watch a fire, look closely at how it consumes its fuel. The flames lap up around the fuel and slowly work in and torch the fuel. But it is not as if the flames are satisfied with what they consume. They remain unsatisfied. They always need more fuel to consume.

This is the nature of lust and anger. Lust, when unsatisfied, can lead to anger. When we want something (lust) and we do not get what we want, we can become angry.

Note that Jesus says:
"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother without cause will be subject to judgment."
Becoming angry "without cause" relates directly to anger and envy. Being envious means being jealous of someone else because they have what we want.

Becoming envious is our worst conscious development. It is at the root of much of the violence and harm that are done against others. Envy is one of the key reasons for our being here in the physical world, away from the Supreme Being.

Why are we away from God now?

We are here, away from God, because we became envious of Him. Yes, we wanted to have what He has. He has the power, the beauty, the authority, the fame. And we want those things. So we were sent away, tossed out of the spiritual realm - symbolized by Adam and Eve being tossed out of the "Garden."

It is the same with heaven: Yes, there is a spiritual world, but heaven is a state of consciousness.

Consider this verse in Genesis:
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
The "garments of skin" symbolize these physical bodies we temporarily occupy. We are not these physical bodies. We are the spirit-person within them. We are the drivers of these physical bodies.

This physical world is like a rehabilitation center. Here we deal with the consequences of our envy, lust and anger. One of the reasons we are here in this world is to learn to transcend enviousness. 

As we look around us we have so many opportunities to become envious of others. Others who have become more wealthy, famous or otherwise successful in the material world can become the subject of our envy.

But we are also provided the ability to combat envy. First, the world combats our envy with consequences. When we act out of envy, we typically are met with consequences of those actions. This can help us learn that envy does us no good.

Ultimately, envy is treated spiritually. By becoming closer to the Supreme Being and developing a relationship with Him.

Why is there so much suffering?

Often people ask if God is so good, how come there is so much suffering in the world?

The suffering of the world is not the result of God’s actions or decisions. The design of the world is set up to teach us and guide us, as well as offer us the freedom to make our own decisions.

As a result of that design, we are also met with the consequences of our actions. We“reap what we sow.” This means that the actions we take now will lead to particular results either here and now, or in the future.

We must ask ourselves logically, why a person would be born into a suffering situation like Darfur? Why are these kids suffering from birth? Did God just decide to punish these people for no reason?

Certainly not. As we will see later, Jesus also addresses this issue. These souls are being punished for the acts they committed in previous lifetimes. Today we experience the hell we caused to others in the past. It is a perfect system. It is a teaching system.

Depending upon the act and the situation, sometimes we receive our consequences in this lifetime, immediately. Prison or war are good examples of punishment for decisions made during the same lifetime. For those who are angry and hostile toward others, that anger and hostility may lead to a backlash of a fight or even escalate into a war. This is the immediate “hell” for these activities.

The world is also designed for love. Caring for others leads to a completely different result as well. When we care for others, this will result in being cared for - if not by others then by God. This too is the design of this world: A perfect world designed by God to teach each and every one of us our own set of lessons, simultaneously.

We might wonder why love is such an important part of Jesus’ teachings and such an integral part of the commandments that Moses revealed. What is it about love that is so important to God?

Is God love?

We often hear vague sayings such as “God is love.” Does this have any meaning?

Yes, God is the embodiment of Love. Love emanates from Him. God is also the most loved, the move loveable, and the most loving.

The real point is that God is a Person, and He unconditionally loves each of us personally. His whole Personality is tied to His love and care for each of us. The spiritual dimension is thus the place where this unconditional love governs all activity. Every one of His actions are founded upon love and compassion.

Therefore, actions of hatred, anger, and spite are simply out of context with His world. They run contrary to His Personality and nature. Self-centered activities of lust, envy, and anger oppose love. Where true love is, envy, hatred, and anger do not have a place. It is for this reason that actions against love have such negative consequences.

We were all created with an innate propensity for love. But each of us also has the innate ability to make choices. This is because freedom is inseparable from love. If God forced us to love Him that would hardly be considered real love.

Those of us floundering among the temporary physical dimension, dwelling within these temporary "garments of skin” made a choice at one point or another not to love and trust God. This decision point is the symbolic story of Adam and Eve.

So now we find ourselves here trying to enjoy as He might enjoy. Here we try to play god by trying to control and dominate others, and gather up as much money, possessions and attention as we possibly can. As the expression goes: "He who dies with the most toys wins." This aptly summarizes our attempts to "win" over our environment by trying to enjoy as a ruler - the expression of our desire to be in God's position.

God did not want to lose us, though. So He also designed a facility to allow us to learn that there is no real happiness here without His love, and no fulfillment without our loving relationship with Him. This is confirmed by Jesus' most important teaching:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27)

*Here is the translation of this verse from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"You have what it was taught in ancient times, ‘You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall face the consequences. Yet I say to you that anyone who becomes angry with his brother shall be subject to consequences, and whoever calls his brother ‘stupid’ shall be subject to judgment, and whoever speaks godlessness shall be subject to the fires of wickedness." (Matt. 5:21-22)