THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS - PART I
(I have been ill including a stint in the hospital. But I post these things on Facebook but I will now try and post them here as well. Thank you for your patience.)
Matt.5: 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Oh how many ways can these words make application in our earthly lives? To say they direct us to be different is an understatement. Different, peculiar, remarkable. All of them should depict a disciple’s life. And yet we still play cops and robbers just like the world. Please understand this about which I have said many times. We have come to a place in evangelicalism where we live and move and have our being in this fallen culture. We no longer even realize there is another realm much less enter into it from time to time. We are clueless and have no energy or stomach for searching out the things of the Spirit.Everything, and I mean everything, about the truth that came from our Lord is diametrically opposed to everything good or bad in this world. So when so called men of God join hands with an earthly nation, or when a fallen government invites a so called man of God to pray at the inauguration, or when a church displays a banner representing a fallen nation, then you will know the church has played the harlot. When oil and water mix you know one of them is not what the label says.
If, let’s say hypothetically, there is a realm in the Spirit in which followers of Jesus can live and walk who would desire such a thing? Being prosperous and safe and well fed, the church sees no need for such ethereal talk.
Rev.3: 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
A man is born blind. He is told from birth that all men are like he is. So he lives his life assuming his experience is everyone’s experience. So when we raise our children in the lukewarm church and teach them that this is what a believer looks like they assume that this is the only way. Most will never read about disciples of the past or the great revivals or deeper devotional which challenge our beings. So they matriculate quietly and take their place among the spiritually benign.
Breaking out of prison entails more than rearranging the furniture in your cell or cleaning up that same cell. It requires a desire to be free which is relentless. It requires risking your life. And to break free of that which we are all, to some extent, still ignorant about requires a faith which hungers and thirsts for Him on levels deeper than we could ever imagine.
So this is the lesson. To love your enemies must be the wellspring which flows from a heart that knows Him and the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection. Therein is the ultimate key. To understand and obey the teachings of Jesus we must first seen and find Jesus in ways that must change us.
Matt.5: 38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
This portion of Scripture from our Lord’s lips should represent a significant foundation for a true disciple. It is counter to all we have been taught by the surrounding culture. It is counter to all we have been taught by the western church. And who among us have seen this practiced by anyone? They are smooth sounding words and make form a nice Hallmark card but to make them a driving force of the heart is light years from that kind of sentimentality. And this is where we can see just how far the “church” has morphed from believing and obeying the words of Jesus into an earthly institution which has a form of godliness but denies the power therof.The local ecclesiastical organizations now cling to their doctrines, their organizations, their redundant weekly gatherings, and their political clout. And it is almost beyond belief that millions upon tens of millions of professing believers in Jesus can meet systematically within a fallen culture and yet are known primarily for their conservative voting block. How can this be? How can professing followers of Jesus be invited to the counsel of the ungodly, and to stand in the way of sinners, and to sit in the seat of the scornful? That which the Spirit expressly told us to avoid is now treated as a sign of respect from the world?
This has happened through a systematic rejection of the literal teachings of Jesus. It is now a widespread phenomenon that churches and believers will vehemently stand for the inerrancy of Scripture while openly live in defiance of its teachings. Make no mistake, to understand His teachings and to come into obedience to His words is no small task. So when you see church members laughing and smiling and going to and fro from a church building, and when you see them enjoying the same basic life practices as the rest of their neighbors, and when you see a complete lack of repentance and tears or a remarkable searching for the power to live according to the words of Jesus, then you know they are not following Jesus, and are in fact now ignorant of His teachings except for a select few they can remember just through human memory.
I would like to delve further into this “love your enemies” concept later, but just a cursory reading of these eleven verses present to us a colossal indictment. Not only are we actively disobedient to their truth, but they also represent an expansive problem that runs rampant throughout the church. We have bastardized His words and made them fit nicely into a well rounded western lifestyle. And that, my friends, is not only a great tragedy. That is the spirit of antichrist.
Matt.7: Judge not, that ye be not judged.2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
This does not mean discernment or the calling our of false teachers. This refers to us condemning others, lost or saved, while not showing that same energy about our own sin. In fact, if we acknowledged our own shortcomings before Christ we would be far less apt to condemn others. These Scriptures deal with how we can be so condemnatory toward others while being so gracious and understanding toward our own weaknesses and sin.Many in the so called “discernment community” water down these verses. They claim God wants us to judge everyone. But somehow they use their own interpretation in order to keep these verses at arm’s length. Rarely does a discerner show any real humility. Rarely are they openly broken over their own sin. They use the verses “But he that is spiritual judges all things” as the kryptonite which renders these teachings powerless. As usual it is all semantics.
But this teaching from the lips of our Lord is vital to any kind of a spiritual walk before Christ. Any hint of self righteousness poisons the whole loaf. The issues of the heart far outweigh the issues of the flesh. In fact, the compromises of the heart almost always lead to compromises of the flesh. And self righteousness is a mainstay that lies within most sin, and judgment of others is the food that nourishes self righteousness.
Eph.2: 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Jn.3: 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
So please take me to the teachings of Jesus where we can rail against liberals or the president or the gays or anyone who is in and of the world. And where can we condemn our brethren? So many are eager to ascend the moral throne of judgment and judge others when all of us have murdered people with our thoughts. And which man can claim he never lusted after a woman in his mind, and which woman hasn’t entertained some form of covetousness?You see, the emperor has no clothes. We are all unprofitable servants who not only must run to Calvary’s cleansing flow, but who must live under that flow. There will come a time for judgment and condemnation, but that will come from the Righteous Judge and not any human being. Until then we are lanterns of God’s gospel grace who refuse to rob the Holy Spirit of His ministry and are living sacrifices for Christ and His mission.
Matt.7: 12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
How often do you hear these words? As we solidify our doctrinal prowess we skip lightly over some incredible truths like this one. Think about the implications of such a mandate. Men call it the “golden rule” and with that we are satisfied. But to understand these words and to embrace them as eternal truth is a profound challenge. But to incorporate them into our lives and actually live by them is a colossal challenge, so much so, that the church has long since rendered them as a nice saying rather than a sacrificial and self denying life path.You desire to be under that law? Well Jesus said that this truth IS the law. We get caught up with the moral tenants of the Law of Moses and yet to love the Lord and to love your neighbor is the entire essence of the law. And if you join the “love your enemies” with this verse you have quite a mountain to climb. The church considers someone who does not commit adultery or does not get drunk or use drugs and who is a good earthly citizen and frequents a local assembly as being a disciple of Jesus. But if we actually read His words we will see that there is much more to it than walking according to some outward rules.
Do we understand that Jesus desires and commands us to love others and do good to them? That is God’s heart, and to be frank Jesus loved His enemies and blessed them which cursed Him. The enemies were us and the blessing was the cross. That is an example we will never equal however that is what our Lord desires of us.
Mk.3: And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
Legalism. It is rooted in self righteousness and it forms certain cliques. Perhaps most of us have dabbled in that kind of religious selfism. It breeds judgment and condemnation. There are many avenues of legalism. Some demand no television or women having long hair and men having short hair or a vast array of other issues. It even reaches into salvation where men teach that you must be baptized or you must speak in tongues or you must meet on Saturday to be saved. It has always been the tendency of fallen heart to humanize God’s sacrifice and attach man made doctrines to the already finished work of Jesus Christ.But none of these tenants can ever add to the sterling redemption completed at Calvary and offered to every sinner by faith alone. All legalisms do a severe injustice to the grace of God. You cannot lay hold of the grace of God through human works, and in fact human works poison the gospel. Does that mean you can receive the grace of God and live anyway you want, some ask. The answer is yes. What!? Yes, hypothetically you can, but you won’t. When you are born again by the Spirit of God your desires will change immediately and they will continue to change as you live.
But we who live in the Spirit do not follow a list of do’s and don’ts. We do not follow the Law of Moses. The reason we strive to live a life, holy and acceptable unto God has nothing to do with legalism or law or any laundry list of moral tenants. No, we live by the guidance of the Spirit who breaks the Bread of the Word to us and who breaks the Bread of Life to our hearts and minds.
To put it plainly, we follow Jesus.