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A Study, Sermon On The Mount #2

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Jesus Teaching

               Jesus As Teacher 

Jesus as a teacher accomplished His greatest work. He brought words that the world had waited thousands of yesrs to hear. Words of confort, words, of hope, and most of all words of salvation from sin. If he had only come to work miracles and wonders we possibly would never have heard of Him. There had been many miracle workers before Him yet they did not bring lasting hope to a lost world like Jesus did in His teachings.

The Sermon On The Mount is the greatest sermon that ever was preached. It has set the standard for the Christian religion. I hope you enjoy studying it with us.

            A Study Of The Sermon On The Mount #2

                  By, James L. Thornton

 This is the second part of our Study Of The Sermon On The Mount. In the first study we covered the introduction of The Sermon On The Mount and The Beatitudes. In this Study #2 we will take up with the 17th verse of Matthew 5, go through the 48th verse. Jesus is contrasting the laws which the Pharisees enacted with the New Law Of The Kingom which He had come to establish.

~~~~~~~~~~~Contents~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Introduction
2. The Permanency Of God’s Word
3. Greater Righteousness
4. The Letter And The Spirit
5. Jesus Deals With Anger
6. 3 Degrees of Anger, 3 Degrees Of Punishment
7. The Sin Of Contempt
8. The Ministry Of Reconciliation
9. Jesus’ Teaching On Adultery
10. Jesus’ Teaching On Divorce
11. Jesus’ Teaching On Oaths
12. A New Law On Revenge
13. Love Even Your Enemies

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1. Introduction:

Jesus has finished giving the moral tone of the kingdom He has come to set up. In the beatitudes He has set the standard for those who expect to occupy that kingdom. In this section of Sermon On The Mount, Matthew 5:17-20, He is beginning to set the course of His ministry. First He establishes the permanency of God’s Word. Then He contrasts His Kingdom with the prevailing religion of their day.

Jesus did not want the people of His day to misjudge Him, or have the wrong opinion of Him. So twice in this sermon he made this statement, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.” “Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace but a sword.” “Do not misjudge me.”

2. The Permanency Of God’s Word:

Matthew 5:17. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

His teachings and actions were very different from the customary and accepted idea of the Messiah at that time. No doubt He aroused Jewish fears. He seemed to threaten both the Mosaic Law and the Temple. “Think not…” Do not misjudge me—“I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Verse 18. N.I.V, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.”

The Law as given to the Children of Israel consisted of three parts, the Moral, the Judicial, and the Ceremonial.

1. The Moral law consisted of the Ten Commandments. The Moral principal was laid down by God once and forever.
2. Then there was the Judicial Law which indicated how men were to behave in relationship to others.
3. Finally there was the Ceremonial Law concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices and all the ritual and ceremony in their Temple worship.

Jesus was emphasizing that the Old Testament was the Words of God given to men and therefore must come to pass. They will be fulfilled; almost all of the Old Testament has already been fulfilled.

Most of it was fulfilled in Christ. He became the sacrifice. He was the High priest. He was the Temple. By His death on Calvary He has fulfilled all the types and shadows in the whole Ceremonial Law. He was the escape goat which was led into the wilderness bearing the sins of the people.

The Prophets --- John 5:39. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

What about the Judicial Law. This was primarily and especially for the Nation of Israel as God’s Theocracy (a government ruled by religious authority). As the Nation of Israel took Saul to be their King or Ruler many of these Laws changed or was simply nullified. Israel is no longer living under a Theocratic government. The Church took this place. So the Judicial Law has likewise been fulfilled.

That brings us to the Moral Law which is different. Here God is laying down something which is permanent and perpetual. It’s a Relationship which must always exist between God and man, written with the finger of God in stone. All through the New Testament it teaches that sin is a transgression of the Law. So the Moral Law still applies to us.

Matthew 5:19. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20. For I say unto you,..”

Just think of it. This man of Galilee weighed the religious leaders of His day in His balances, and found them wanting. “For I say unto you,”

Who ,or what, gave him the right? If two Jews of that day quarreled, and one of them could claim, “But the law says...,” the argument was ended.

But Jesus said I say unto you.” There was a new age when Christ came. The writer of the letters to the Hebrews 12:18-21 spoke of the sights and sounds of Mount Sinai. Yet He spake of something greater. 

Hebrews 12:22. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

There was a new law when Jesus came. The old law inscribed on tables of stone; the new law written on the tables of the heart.

 Matthew 5:20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.  

Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is going to be populated with people whose everyday living is holier than the standard which religion has set. The Pharisees kept the letter of the Law but had lost the Spirit of the Law. Jesus had looked into their hearts and it was not right.

Matthew 23:2. Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
 

Jesus is saying I have not come to reduce the demands of the Law but to enforce the Spirit of the Law.  

3. Greater Righteousness:

Matthew 5:20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus is telling those who were present on the Mount that except they demonstrated “righteousness” (right living to the laws of God) that exceeded the Scribes and Pharisees, that they could not become a part of His kingdom He had come to establish. The scribes and Pharisees neglected a great part of the moral laws of God. His kingdom would set a higher standard.

4. The Letter And The Spirit:

Matthew 5:21-47, Here Jesus proceeds to give 6 instances of the way in which the law of His Kingdom fulfills, and therefore supersedes, the Mosaic Law. In this section (vs. 21-47) he describes the true nature of sin—where and when it originates in our lives. He teaches in these verses that it is not altogether action which brings sin, but motive, feelings, and thought.

He is God manifested in the flesh presenting the Truth of God. He speaks with Divine Authority. But I say unto you..,” It has all the power of Heaven behind it. it became the eternal Word of God, forever written in Heaven.

This portion of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-47) follows the verse which tells us that our religion must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. In these verses He does not hesitate to say, “But I say unto you.”

He claims the authority of God and this claim is continued throughout the entire New Testament. It is important that we realize the authority with which this Sermon is given. Jesus was not a mere teacher of the Law. He was not a mere Man, not just another Prophet. He is infinitely more than that He Is God Made Known In The Flesh. 

5. Anger;

Matthew 5:21: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

You have heard of old time.” This precept originated in God’s precept to Noah.
Genesis 9:5. “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
6. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

It was reinforced in the Sixth Commandment to Moses (Thou shalt not kill). This law from God has never been repealed. The murderer would be brought to trial by the state government and the punishment carried out by it.

Jesus goes on to say, 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

The Scribes and Pharisees were intent upon keeping the law but had omitted (neglected) the spirit of the law. Jesus call it, “weigthtier matters” (Matthew 23:23), More Important Matters.” Jesus was not condemning the Pharisees for their practice of the rules of conduct which they had laid down, they were strict rules.

Jesus is saying to the Pharisees, “You are pleased with yourselves because you have not taken the life of a man. But do you realize that if hatred has developed in your heart, if you have chastised your brother in anger, you have murdered him in God’s way of thinking. You say, I have never committed adultery, but do you know if you even look with lust in your eyes, that is adultery.”

Sin took place in your heart before action took place. It is what you think and desire, it is the state of your heart that is important. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

We may keep all the commandments and a hundred more, and yet be hard, unkind, impure, jealous, mean, selfish, and complacent, such were the Pharisees.

But you do not become a Christian by just refraining from some things and doing others. The Christian is a person who has a particular relationship with God, and one whose supreme desire is to know Him better.

6. 3 Degrees Of Anger, 3 Degrees Of Punishment:

The State also has varying degrees of punishment which it also administers. But Jesus deals with the Law of Anger. And the Law Of Reconciliation. Jesus pointed out the birthplace of sin—in our heart. Anger leads to action unless it is reconciled.

As no human court held one liable for mere anger, our Lord’s thoughts are turned now to Divine Law. Anger is murder in the heart. The angry heart is as much in danger of the Judgment of God as the murderous hand.

God had pointed this out to Cain when he became angry with his brother Able.
Genesis 4:5. “And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7. If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.”

We know the end of that story as Cain allowed his anger to become action as he killed his brother Able. So we see that this is the principal Jesus is dealing with here.  Anger leads to bitterness, bitterness leads to contempt, contempt leads to hot words and name calling—many times blows follow and sometimes shots are fired, and death results.

There are inner feelings which must be brought under control. The writer of Hebrews dealt with bitterness, “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” Hebrews 12:15.

To live as Jesus is asking us to live in The Sermon On The Mount, we must love Him with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all of our mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves. This fulfills the Law.

This is not a part-time job. It is not achieved by religious observance on Sunday—we must come because we love Him. To be this kind of Christian demands all the time and attention we have. In the remainder of The Sermon On The Mount, Jesus is emphasizing this. 

7. The Sin Of Contempt:

Matthew 5:22.  “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

When our despite of someone comes forth in scornful words we are in danger, Jesus is saying, “Don’t resort to name calling.” We do not gain esteem or raise our standing by debasing someone else, however hateful they are. 

“You idiot,” “Thou fool.” “You scoundrel.” It carries contempt for a person’s heart and character. We are standing at the door of doom.

“Raca”…… “Empty-Head” --- “Air – Head” –“Vain – Headed,” That is an expression of a malignant heart…. like the bitter sarcasm of Michael to David. (Samuel 6:20-23)

“Thou Fool” …… “Thou Rebel against God.” –“Apostate,” Whoever does this is in  danger of Hell Fire. This is the Law that Jesus brought.

The ancient court of Israel could not deal with the murderer in heart, but God will judge them seeing that the consequences of an angry spirit are so terrible. Our Lord is insisting that it is so important to lose no time in seeking reconciliation with a person whom one has injured. So important in fact that the very holiest act must be put off till the reconciliation be made.

8. The Ministry Of Reconciliation 

Matthew 5:23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

There is an altar for a gift, thank God for the altar, but upon this altar we must first offer ourselves. Personal sacrifices, personal possessions, personal feelings, the altar and the gift is recognized as the heights of religious activities.

Able, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Samuel, David, Solomon, all offered personal offerings. Is there anything which takes precedence over the giving of the offering? Yes, even as holy as it is in our approach to the altar we must first look into our heart and search for anger, hard feelings, animosity, or hatred.

A man comes to the altar with the highest motives, to present a gift—or maybe just to meditate in prayer. God will bring to his mind his brother has something against him. There has been a difference of opinion—there has been an argument, hot eords followed—maybe it hasn’t gotten that far yet. Now he is at Church trying to worship—but this thing is on his mind—he can’t feel the Spirit, it’s time to “leave thy gift at the altar and go thy way; FIRST BE RECONCILED TO THY BROTHER.”

This brings to the question, which takes precedent, The Gift Or The Reconciliation?” FIRST BE RECONCILRD.” Reconciled = to change from enmity to friendship—to change their attitude—the change being to effect peace. Many time we have to make the first step 

Search our hearts, soul searching (1 Corinthians 11:27-32), don’t rush the process. Allow God time to speak to us. It is at these moments that God prompts our memory of our shortcomings and our failures. Don’t resist this spirit allow God to deal with us.

There at the alter while searching our heart, if we remember (God will bring this to our mind) that a brother or sister whom we have wronged, berated, slighted, or as Jesus says, “oughted,” or Perhaps they have “oughted” us, we cannot have true worship while we, or they, hold wrath, anger, hatred, or “ought” in our hearts.

These things rob the costliest gift of all its value. “Leave thy gift..” “Go thy way:” seek out the wronged or “oughted” person, and “First be reconciled to thy brother.”

Resentful feelings must be banished, there is a danger in postponing reconciliation. Paul says, “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). 

Matthew 5:25. Agree (come to agreement) with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

We are all on our way to the Judgment—we must appear before the Great Judge. Therefore we must seek forgiveness from those whom we have offended. And we must forgive those whom we have offended while we are on our way during the journey of life.

“Agree with..” (Come to terms with). And that not with a merely formal reconciliation, but reconciliation based on a permanent kindly feeling towards him. Sort of a plea bargaining. Quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him…” It is human nature to put off reconciliation, but Jesus warns us against procrastination, Quickly 

As time goes on the heart becomes harder towards reconciliation. These things are a malignancy in our heart. Whiles thou are in the way with him;” Life is uncertain, and opportunity is passing. With some we only travel a short time with, don’t let them drift apart from us without seeking reconciliation. The opportunity may never arise again until we meet them at the Judgment Bar of God.”

Jesus tells us that if it be carried beyond that limit of time within which the quarrel can be made up, then mercy will be entirely absent, after that only justice remains.

“Lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge..” The “adversary brings the sinner to the bar. “And the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” “Verily I say unto thee Thou shalt by no means come out thence, until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

Then how can the uttermost farthing be paid, when we cannot now pay our share of the debt?

9. Jesus’ Teaching On Adultery:

Matthew 5:27. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust  after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Jesus continues His teaching on what takes place in the heart before it become an act of the body. We want to use as an illustration the sin of David with Bathsheba.

Matthew 5:28. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh (Does Not Turn His Eyes Away, But, To Gaze, To Stare,) on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Many times one may in-advertingly, by accident, or at a glance, see a woman, or a man, in a compromising posture. This many times is almost unavoidable, but the idea Jesus is portraying one must turn away from that quickly. Jesus uses the word “looketh” which carries the idea that one continues to look, to stare, to entertain certain thoughts, he is going so far as to desire her, and to have immoral contact with her.

In 2 Samuel 12. David fell into that trap.
When David saw and looked on her, with certain thought in his mind and feeling in his heart, he had virtually done the deed of which we have record. David should have immediately turned his eyes away. Sin lies in intent and purpose, whether it be actualized in outward fact or not. Hence our lord's strong words. (Matthew 5:28.)

The eye is the most common inlet of temptation. “And when the woman saw the tree was good,” ect. (Genesis 3:6).  Achan first saw, then coveted, and then took (Joshua 7:2).  

David at this time had forgotten his prayer, “turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” (Psalms 119:37) We see, therefore, how dangerous a thing it is to suffer the eyes to wander. Job made a covenant with his eyes. Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should i think upon a maid?”

Now Satan has David in his snare. He has lusted with his eyes.  “And lust when is has conceived it brings forth sin” (James 1:1). We all are familiar with the consequences of David letting his eyes control his heart.

Our Lord came into this world, endured the shame and suffering of the cross in order to deliver us from this present evil world, to redeem us from iniquity, to separate unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, that we should be Holy and without blame before Him in love. We have a task to do, “Mortify the flesh.”

11. Jesus’ Teaching On Divorce:

Matthew 5:31. “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

When we come to a subject or passage like this we see the value of a systematic study of the teaching of scripture (a verse by study of a book or chapter). Otherwise we would never bring this lesson up. This is the kind of subjects most preachers tend to avoid. Thereby many may be guilty of sin and never realize it, having never heard teaching on it. We should not study some parts of the Word of God and ignore others.

These verses that we are now considering are as much the Word of God as anything else which is found in scriptures. Some things are easier to teach or preach than others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ concerns every part of our life. Every thing we need to know is provided for us—we have clear teaching and instruction.

The Sermon on the Mount is not a collection of sayings of our Lord. Nor can we say that each subject He deals with, are mini Sermons, each to stand in their own context. But The Sermon on the Mount is a masterpiece in which our Lord progresses towards introducing the Kingdom of God.

This statement we are to consider today is one of six statements made by our Lord in which He says “Ye have heard but I say unto you.” In these statements Jesus is showing the relationship of His Kingdom and the Law of God given through Moses.

Remember He began by saying that He was not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. In fact He says, Till Heaven and Earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass till all be fulfilled. Our Lord is saying that He did not come to correct the Law of Moses, because it was given by God Himself. Our Lord’s purpose, in these six statements was to correct the false interpretation of the law which was being taught by the Pharisees and Scribes.

In our verses today He is concerned with exposing the false teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees on Divorce. When our Lord says; “You have heard,” He is referring to the Pharisees and Scribes false interpretation of the Law. “But I say unto you,” He is giving the correct interpretation.

We are going to approach this subject under three headings.
1. We want to be clear as to what the Law of Moses really did teach about the matter of Divorce.
2. We want to understand what the Pharisees and Scribes taught about it.
3. We want to know what Jesus says about divorce.

1. What the Law of Moses really taught concerning this problem.

Deuteronomy 24:1. When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

The first thing we should notice under the Mosaic dispensation, the word adultery is not mentioned. The reason for this is that the punishment for adultery was death. They were stoned to death, so there was no need to mention it. The marriage was thus ended by death.

The whole object of the Mosaic Law was to control divorce. In those days men held a very low and poor esteem for women. They had come to the point that they believed they had the right to divorce their wives for every kind of reason. If a man, for any reason whatsoever, was anxious to get rid of his wife he did so. For any excuse he could think up—it was good enough and he divorced her. Jesus wanted them to know that the freshness and charm of a first marriage cannot be repeated. Jesus also sanctioned weddings by attending one recorded in John 2.

Of course the ultimate cause of it all was nothing but lust and passion. The women had no such right. They were held in entire subjection to their husbands. Jesus came to change all this, and gave women certain rights they had never had before.

Notice how, in this section of The Sermon On The Mount, our Lord brings this subject immediately after He dealt with Lust. In fact in the King James Version it is all in one paragraph.

So this Law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4, was to control divorce which had gotten very chaotic. The situation was grossly unfair to the women and led to great suffering on
the part of both women and children.

The law laid down three great principals Deuteronomy 24:1-4. First it limited divorce for certain reasons. It permitted divorce when there was some natural, moral or physical defect discovered in the wife. For these reasons only, uncleanness.

All the various excuses which men had been using were now prohibited. Before a man could divorce his wife the excuse had to fall under uncleanness. Then He had to prove this and establish it in the sight of two witnesses. The Mosaic Law, instead of giving a divorce for almost any excuse, greatly limited divorce.

The Second Thing, about the Mosaic Law, a man must give her a bill of divorcement. This was to protect the woman. Before the Mosaic Law a man simply turned her out and she was at the mercy of the whole world. With no means to support herself and her children many became beggars or prostitutes in order to survive. ---Very degrading--- Many became slaves or vagabonds to roam endlessly --- Great suffering ---

Divorce now was made something formal, something serious. In this way the seriousness of marriage was emphasized. Divorce was a solemn step and not something to be undertaken lightly in a moment of passion when a man suddenly felt he disliked his wife and wanted to get rod of her. 

The third thing about the Mosaic Law a man who gave his wife a writing of divorcement was not allowed to marry her again. This writing of divorcement gave the woman the right to marry someone else. The second husband could also give her a writing of divorcement. She is free to marry again but not to her first husband. (Deuteronomy 24:4)

God is saying that marriage and divorce is not a game of ‘Ring around the roses, ‘Spin the bottle’ or ‘Chose your partner.’ Now this is a far cry from what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching. “It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.”

2. Now let us consider what the scribes and Pharisee taught. They said that the Law Of Moses commanded, even urged a man to divorce his wife under certain conditions. Now of course the Law never said anything of the kind.

The Law of Moses never commanded a man to divorcé his wife. What it said was if you want to under certain conditions you can. The Pharisees and scribes actually taught that, if a man ceased to like his wife, or for any reason found her to be unsatisfactory to him, that in a sense was “uncleanness.”

Matthew 23:24. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Many terrible injustices were again being done, too many women who were being divorced for unworthy and frivolous reasons. The only factor which really mattered to them – Give her a writing of divorcement. This made it legal, this was in keeping with the Law they said. 

Here again we see the way the Scribes and Pharisees got around the very reason for this Law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4. They strongly emphasized the point of the writing of divorcement. Give her a Bill of Divorcement.

But once again they omitted the weightier matter. The reason which God said gave them the right of divorce. –Uncleanness—the Scribes and Pharisee had thus perverted the Law, or using the Law in such a way as to allow their own selfish or lustful purpose.

Such is the danger of, as some Preachers do, of taking one Scripture, or one sentence from the Bible and establishing a Doctrine from it. You can take portions of the scripture and prove any point you want to make. Paul says “Rightly dividing the word.”

The result of the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees the very object of the Mosaic Law had been hidden and nullified. Divorce was back in the same sad condition as it was before the Law. Jesus came to set the record straight.

To get a full interpretation of this statement we must turn to,
Matthew 19:9. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

The Pharisees and Scribes were trying to trap Jesus. They said to Him “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” In this question they are really giving themselves away. Our Lord’s answer goes back beyond the Law of Moses to the beginning. Back when God first created woman to be a help meet for man. The pronouncement was made “They twain shall be one flesh.”

Jesus said in Matthew 19:6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Marriage is not a civil contract, in which the state government sets the rules. Nor is marriage a sacrament in which the Church or Religious Institution set the rules. Marriage is something in which two persons become one flesh.

There is an indissolubility about it, and our Lord goes back to this great principle.
Matthew 19:8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 

When God made woman for man that was His intention that was what He indicated, and that is what He ordained. Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Jesus reminded them of this ancient principle in the following verses.
Matthew 19:4. And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 19:7. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Jesus tells us that is also God’s original view of marriage. We must always keep this in the forefront of our minds. God’s intentions originally was One Flesh.

This leads us to the Second Principle. God never commanded anywhere anybody to divorce. God’s Word speaks of the indissolubility of marriage and of the Law of Love and Forgiveness. Jesus is saying that we must get rid of this legalistic approach in which a person exercises all the legal rights which the law allows.

Our own rights and privileges must stand in the background when dealing with our marriage. As unworthy and undeserving sinners we have all been forgiven by the Grace of God. That thought should control our view of everything that happens to us with our dealing with others.

Jesus emphasizes that the only legitimate cause for divorce is fornication. Unfaithfulness by one of the marriage partners is the only cause which Jesus says gives one the right for divorce.

1 Corinthians 7 –Paul deals with Church members who had an unsaved partner. The Husband is saved and the wife is still pagan. The Apostle Paul taught these people that the husband was not to leave his wife because she was unconverted.

Today we hear of many divorces granted on the ground of incompatibility. If ever two people were incompatible it would be if one was unsaved and the other a Christian. Paul says this is not a legitimate cause for divorce.  

Incompatible = Incapable of coexisting harmoniously; discordant; miss-mated,   disagreeing in nature; conflicting ideas. None of these are a Biblical reason for divorce. 

1 Peter 3:1. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2. While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6. Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
7. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

The word used in our King James Bible Conversation means manner of life. The way you live, the way you act. Peter exhorts them, if your husband is obstinate and rejects the Word of the Gospel, stop talking about it, stop preaching to them, and just live a Christian life before them.

The Husband was to be won to the Lord, not by nagging but by Holy living. “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” How carefully the unsaved watch Christians, Chase, pure, fear, reverence.  

“Who’s adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.” You cannot gain your husband by the outward adornment, especially worldly adornment like they wore before you were saved, immodest, gaudy and conspicuous.

You can easily nullify your Christian Testimony by your appearance. What you wear speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.” The Roman women of that day were addicted to ridiculous extravagance in the adornment of the hair.

1 Timothy 2:9. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 

You cannot adopt the latest style of hair dress and think it will give you a better access to someone you wish to lead to the Lord. “Let it be the Hidden man of the heart.” We want to confront a person with the Saviour, not with world. When you dress like the world and act like the world, the world thinks you to be people of the world. That’s when the Gospel they bring falls on deaf ears.

1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

An exhortation to Christian Husbands, God has no exhortations to the unsaved except to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian Husbands are to deem the helpmeets which God has given them precious and are to treat them with honor.

Peter is saying “Giving honour:” “To assign to” “To portion off.” Husbands should keep a special place of honor in their hearts for their wives. They should treat them with special regard, courtesy, respect, and kindness.

“As unto the weaker vessel.” Not physically as strong as he is “And as being heirs together of the grace of life. Jesus died for her –“Being fellow-inheritors with you of the Grace of Life.” That your prayers be not hindered.” United prayer times. “In order that no satanic inroads be made into your prayers.”

In conclusion on our Lord’s teaching on Divorce.
Matthew 5:31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Our Lord here shows Himself to us as the Great Law-Giver. There was temporary legislation for the Children of Israel because of their peculiar circumstances. The Mosaic penalty for adultery was death by stoning. Jesus annulled this Law, He repealed it. He abolished death by stoning. From that time onwards men and women are not stoned and put to death for adultery. Those were old laws which were annulled when Jesus came to establish new laws which were more humane.

11. Jesus’ Teaching On Oaths:

Matthew 5:33. “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

In this part of The Sermon On The Mount Jesus is dealing with basic honesty, truthfulness, and integrity. In Proverbs 6:16-19 Solomon says there are 7 things that the Lord hates, and two of those are “a lying tongue,” and “A false witness that speaketh lies.”

In The Sermon On The Mount the Lord is concerned with guiding the smallest details of our lives. In these verses He is directing our communication one with another. We may ask; “Is it profitable for us to be studying this simple matter of our speech and how we should be speaking to one another?” “Aren’t there more important things to study?”

“Shouldn’t we be studying about the second coming of the Lord?” “Or the Godhead?” “Or some of the other great mysteries of the Bible?” All of these are great subjects and worthy of our attention, but God, in His word, is concerned about everyday principals of Holy Living. 

Paul said, 1 Corinthians 13:2. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

All through the Bible writers invariably have laid down doctrine mixed with various details of life. In Ephesians 1, 2, and 3, Paul, in some of his grandest writings, carries us to great heights about God’s ultimate purpose for His Church. He talks about things that took place before the foundation of the world. He speaks of the exceeding greatness of His power, that in ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace. That we may be able to comprehend the breath, length, depths, and heights of His love. Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end.” 

Then Paul come back to earth and looks us in the eye and says, Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)  Everything that a Christian does is important because of what he is, and because of his effects upon others. We are being watched and everything we do is important.

So therefore I feel that it is profitable for us to spend some time with these principals which our Lord laid down in The Sermon On The Mount.

“Again ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, thou shalt not foreswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” 

Again our Lord was dealing with the Scribes and Pharisees and their false teaching. These exact words are not found anywhere in the Old Testament—so they were misquoting the law.

Leviticus 19:12. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

The Pharisees had only used part of the verse. “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” Jesus is correcting this false teaching and replacing it with true teaching.
Matthew 5:34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

God in all of these statements was placing a bridle upon man’s proneness to lying. People have a natural tendency to lie, because of Adam’s fallen nature. The very reason that God gave the Ninth Commandment was because men had this tendency to lie.
Exodus 20:16. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Today the Court of Law calls it perjury, lying under oath. One can go to jail for this offence. Once again our Lord is concerned with the way the Scribes and Pharisees got around the Law by their misinterpretation of the Scripture.

The very object of this Mosaic Law was to restrict oath taking on serious and important matters.
Leviticus 19:12. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

In Moses’ day they were taking oaths for the most trivial kind of matter. So to make them aware of the seriousness of oaths, God enacted this legislation. The spirit of the law was to promote truthfulness in the Children of Israel.

To get around the ‘Spirit of the Law’ ‘Truthfulness’ The Pharisees extracted certain of the Letter of the Law. They allowed that certain oaths were not binding. An oath taken in the Name of the Lord (Leviticus 19:12) was binding.

To break this oath was to forswear one’s self or to commit perjury. However, an oath taken in the Name of Heaven or Earth was not binding. The same was true when one would swear by his own head.

So in this manner the Scribes and Pharisees had reduced the Law of Moses to a matter of perjury only, or breaking an oath made in the Name of the Lord. But instead of enforcing greater fidelity to oaths, Jesus sweeps away the whole process of swearing.

Matthew 5:34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

Jesus is saying that oaths are a token of the loss of truthfulness. If lying had not become a habit, there would be no need for oaths. The very taking of oaths presumes that men frequently lie and will not tell the truth unless they are compelled to do so.

Jesus is saying that His followers must be completely truthful. Their simple assertion should be sufficient.
Matthew 5:37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

James gives us the best Commentary on what Jesus said.
James 5:12. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Matthew 5:37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Oaths results from the evil which is present in the world or from the “Evil One.”
We as Christians should always speak as in the presence of God, we are His People.

1. Truthfulness is a duty we owe to ourselves: Untruthfulness takes away the esteem and confidence of others. It brings us under constant suspicion, so that we are not believed or trusted when we are truthful.

Untruthfulness blinds the moral and spiritual eye, and weakens the moral fibers. It becomes a source of weakness, a point where the character may break down.

First Piece of our Armour:
Ephesians 6:14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

2. Truthfulness is a duty we owe to society:

Lying is an anti social sin, destructive of the social bond. Truth is essential in all of our transactions in business, in all our conversations with each other. Society would dissolve into chaos if no one could trust the other person.

3. Above all we owe absolute truthfulness as an obligation to God:
Psalms 51:6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 

If we follow these principles which our Lord laid down there would be no need to prefix our statements with ‘I swear….’

Matthew 5:34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

12. A New Law On Revenge:

Matthew 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 cloke 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.”

We want to call this part of The Sermon On The MountThe New Law On Revenge.” In Verses 38-42 we have the fifth illustration of the way in which Jesus’ interpretation of the Mosaic Law differed from that of the Scribes and Pharisees. 

The world of Jesus’ day was under The Law of Retaliation. The Mosaic Law, the Code of Hammurabi, and the Roman law, these all required that the wrongdoer should Get As Good As He Gave.”

In Jesus’ time the Romans extracted the equivalent in money by the courts as recompenses for injury. That practice may have represented some advance in humane treatment—but the principal of revenge remained, and the Law of the Kingdom Of Heaven took direct issue with it.

Jesus in these verses proposes a change in the way men seek revenge. He gives four instances which we will consider in depth.

1. A blow on the right cheek was an insult with the back of the hand, so the palm of the hand could return with a blow on the left cheek.
2. To sue for a coat was the taking court action to protect his rights. To yield the outer garment the cloak was to go to the limits of real suffering. For the cloak was bed covering by night as well as a garment by day.
3. To be compelled to go a mile refers to the Roman soldier’s custom of forcing the people of a conquered nation to carry his baggage and equipment one mile. We use the phrase “Second Mile” to mean working harder than necessary, or being kinder than is expected. But it is much sterner doctrine than that. Can we see the picture of a Roman Soldier saying to a Jew at the end of a long hard day in the field, “Here, get this on your back and come along?”
4. The borrower in the fourth instance is perhaps a beggar insisting you give. In each case Jesus insists that His followers must not resist the evildoer. What does such teaching mean? And who can hear it? Our imagination shrinks away from it.

Our everyday feelings, our speedy recourses to Law and our dependence on force flatly contradict this teaching. Jesus has in mind the man who was injured. Such a man’s concern for justice is never pure. Behind his concern for justice lies a mean controlling spirit called vindictiveness.

“Revenge is Sweet” is an old Proverb, not true it’s bitter. Revenge is poison, strife breeding strife in endless circles. The children of the Kingdom must show good will and not resist through violent means. 

Jesus obeyed literally His own precepts on the night of His betrayal when Peter was defending Him against the evildoers. John 18:11. “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

Many of His followers literally followed His example. Here is Paul’s advice.
Romans 12:17. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
       Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt
       heap coals of fire on his head.
21. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The Song of Moses:
Deuteronomy 32:35. “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”

Only in God’s hand is justice safe and sure, for in Him it is held in an eternity of love. Only God is able to meet out justice in a controlled manner.

Matthew 5:38. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:”

The Old Testament statement “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth is found in Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. The main intent of the Mosaic Law was to control excesses.

In this case it was to control anger and violence and the desire for revenge. We are all too familiar with this truant in human beings and we are all guilty of it. If any harm is done to us, the immediate natural instinct is to hit back and not only that but to do more than hit back. That is what men and women were doing then and it is what they still do.

A slight injury, and the man injured will have his vengeance including bodily injury to the other and he might even kill him. This whole tendency to wrath and anger is retribution and retaliation is there at the very depths of human nature. This is one of the ugly results of the fall of man, and of original sin of the third human Cain.

The object of this Mosaic legislation was to control and reduce this utterly chaotic condition to a certain amount of order. This is a great fundamental principle, from chaos to cosmos.

God, the Author of Salvation, the Author of the way where by mankind can be delivered from the bondage and the tyranny of sin. He has ordained that there should be a check upon sin. The God of Grace is also the God of Law and Order. God will ultimately destroy evil and sin and all its work entirely. But He is also in the meantime controlling it and has set a bound upon it.

We find this in working in the Book of Job. The Devil cannot do certain things until He is given permission. The Devil is under the control of God. God has set bounds on him. The standard of conduct like this may seem at first sight extravagantly high. But we must never content ourselves with aiming lower.

1. If we do not aim at the Spirit and temper which He recommended here, ‘we are not yet children of
    God.’ (Matthew 5:45)
2. If we do not aim at such a life “What do ye more than others?” (Matthew 5:47) One of the ways with which God is controlling Satan is through laws.

God gave this law, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which insists that a principle of equality must rule these matters. So if a man knocks out another man’s eye, he must not be killed for that. “An eye for an eye” “One tooth for one tooth” The punishment must fit the crime and not be in excess of it.

The object of the Law was not to urge men to take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and to insist upon it every time. But it was simply meant to avoid this horrible excess. This terrible spirit of revenge and demand for retribution was to be checked and held within bounds.

Perhaps the most important thing is that this Law took the punishment out of the hands of individuals. Judges were set up for the purpose of Law and Order. When disputes and matters of disorder arose the people had to take them to those responsible authorities for judgment.

The Judges were to see to it that it was an eye for an eye and so on. The same is true in the Laws of our land. The Law is carried out by the Magistrate or Judge who has been appointed to do so. Every man does not have the right to take the Law into his own hands, and do anything he likes.

Now Jesus was dealing with the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. Their main trouble was that they tended to ignore the fact that this Law was for Judges only to go by. They made it a matter for personal application. Not only that, they regarded it, as a matter of right and duty to have ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!’

To them it was something to be insisted upon rather than something to be restrained. “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil:… (Matthew 5:39) I told you that Jesus Himself literally followed His own teaching at Calvary. Many of His followers walked in His footsteps in regards to this statement.

Now we want to arrive at an interpretation we can feel comfortable with. In interpreting any Scripture there are four main things that should always be kept in mind and not violated.

1. If our interpretations ever make the teachings appear to be ridiculous or leads us to a ridiculous
    position, It is of necessity the wrong interpretation.
2. If our interpretation makes the teaching appear to be impossible it is also wrong. Nothing our Lord
    teaches is ever impossible
3. If our interpretation of any of these things contradicts the plain and obvious teaching of scripture at
    another place, again it is obvious that our interpretation
has gone astray. Scripture must be taken
    and compared with scripture. There is
no contradictions in Biblical teaching.
4. Always try to find the Spirit of the Passage and not Letter only. Not that we depreciate the Letter,
    but it is the Spirit that we must emphasize. Also we must
 never forget the “W” Boys --- Who, When,
    Where, Why and What.

We hope to bring all of this into our interpretation of this passage. Some say that evil is not to be resisted in any sense. Now Policemen resist evil; therefore you must not have them. The same is true of Soldiers, Magistrates, Judges and Law Courts.

They say there should be no punishment for crime ‘resist not evil.’ It would be a very simple thing to show that if that is carried out in every respect. We would arrive at an interpretation which is not only ridiculous but impossible. 

First of all The Sermon On The Mount must be taken in the order in which it was preached and presented to us. It did not start with this injunction, but with the Beatitudes.  The first main principle is that this teaching it not for nations or governments or even for the world. Indeed I will go further and say that this has nothing to do whatsoever with a man who is not a Christian. To whom then is He speaking?

The first verse gives us the answer –Who--
Matthew 5:1. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Then let us reread the verse in our lesson:
Matthew 5:39. 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.

They are the people whom He has already described in the Beatitudes. The first thing He said about them was that they are ‘Poor in Spirit.’ These have come face to face with God and have become aware of their condition. “Undone” (Isaiah 6:5.)

They are those who are mourning because of their sins. They are meek and their spirit is the direct opposite of the spirit of the world. The world wants to retaliate to strike back. They are opposite of that spirit. They are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Now these particular injunctions which we are studying are meant only for such people. Turn the other cheek, go the second mile, give up his cloke also, give of his substance. This is utterly impossible for anyone who lacks the qualities described in the Beatitudes.

Our Lord never asks a man who is but a natural man, who has never been born again, to live a life like this for he cannot. We must be new men and born again before we can live such a life.

The second principle is until a man comes under grace, he must be kept under the Law. For the world, and for a Nation, and for Non-Christian the Law still applies, and it is the Law which says ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’

I believe in Law and Order. God has ordained it. This is the way in which He keeps Satan in check. God has set bounds for him. Human Government is a Divine Institution, instituted by God for the purpose of Law and Order.

Without this we would have anarchy, lawless confusion. In Romans 12:1-21, Paul had been dealing with the subject of the responsibilities and duties of Christians in the Body of Christ. Then in chapter 13 He abruptly goes into a discussion of the Christians obligations to the human government under which he lives.

Romans 13:1. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Human government is a permanent institution brought into being by God for the regulation of human affairs. The various offices of civil authority, as officers of The Law, are appointed by God. The incumbents in those offices are not always ordained by God. 

Romans 13:2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Jesus has already dealt with this in Matthew 5:25-26 when He says they will pay the uttermost farthing.

Romans 13:3. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

“Paul tells us in 1Timothy 1:9 that the Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient….” Therefore it is ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ until the Spirit of Christ enters into us.   

But something higher is expected of us, but not until I become righteous. I must deal with the desire for revenge and the Spirit of retaliation. We have studied how that the Mosaic Law was given to control violence and the natural urge towards revenge. Satan uses the natural man to promote violence.

God gave laws and gave man the knowledge to help enforce these laws through human government. In Romans 13:1-7 Paul explains the function of Human government working under God to control evil.

My Lord has said “If any man would be my disciple, let him deny himself (and all his rights to himself and all the rights of self) and take up the cross, and follow me.”

“I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn the other also.”

Turning the other cheek. “Jesus is speaking about an offensive form of contempt in the world of His day. The ancient or Jewish man liked to express his emotions openly. Everyone knew how he felt. If he blessed, he would let his hands rest upon the head of the person whom he sought to commend to God, instead of merely blessing him in words. Again, if he wanted to curse or insult a neighbor, he would use more than words or looks.

With the back of his right hand he would sometimes flick or strike the right cheek of the man he wished to express scorn or hatred, as though he meant to sweep him rudely aside. Who among us has not been pushed aside or overlooked. It was a gesture which was meant to convey utter contempt for his worth. Jesus is not referring to a blow intended to knock a man down or stun him. Not the case of a quarrel ending in a fight. What Jesus has in mind is insulting behavior. “Whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek.” Whosoever shows contempt for you in such an openly insulting fashion, do not retaliate.” (Hastings speaker’s Bible)

The Greek word ‘Rhapizo’ which Jesus used in this verse is used one other time in the New Testament. (Matthew 26:67) Where Jesus is before the High Priest. ‘Rhapizo means to strike with a rod – To strike the face with the palm of the hand or the clenched fist.

Matthew 26:67. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.

Peter was there and heard and took to heart, what he heard.
1 Peter 2:18. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
19. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

 Here we have the portrait of the suffering servant. His face so pummeled by the hard fists of the mob that it did not look like a human face anymore. His back lacerated by the Roman scourge so that it was one mass of open, raw flesh trickling with blood. His heart was torn with anguish because of bitter, hurting remarks thrown at Him. 

Peter remembered the body of our Lord after the scourging. The flesh so dreadfully mangled that the disfigured form appeared in His eyes as one single bruise. Something took place at Calvary. The Blood of Christ heals our sin. “By whose stripes ye were healed.” We cannot limit this to healing of illness in the body. It has far more meaning.

The Greek word used here is not confined in its meaning to physical healing. In
Luke 4:18 it refers to the alleviation of heartaches.
18. “He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted,…”

In Hebrews 12:13. (it means to make right; correct; amend one’s conduct.”    
13. And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

In Matthew 13:15. (It speaks of Salvation)
15. “…. and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”    

13. Love Even Your Enemies 

In the last section of The Sermon On The Mount we found that the main intent of the Mosaic law was to control excesses of anger and violence and the desire to for vengeance. Man has an inherent desire to retaliate against the person who has injured him. Satan will use that mean spirit in anyone who will allow him to. God has a restraining hand upon Satan. God restricts his actions.

In the section we will study next Jesus brings a new law to the world. A law so much different from what the world was use to that it can be explained only by having the same spirit that Christ possessed. And we will find that our relationship to Him hinges upon being obedient to this law. A new law of love. Love Your Enemies:

Matthew 5:43. “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 is the sixth instance in which Jesus gives of the way in which The Law Of The Kingdom fulfills, and therefore supersedes the Mosaic law.

We must start with the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. They said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy.” Now nowhere in the Old Testament can we find such a statement.
Leviticus 19:18b “…But thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

Gradually over the years this word ‘Neighbor’ had come to mean only an Israelite. So the Jews were taught to love Jews, he’s your neighbor. At the same time they were taught to regard everybody else as an Alien. The Scribes and Pharisees had expanded this feeling as not only an Alien but an enemy. They went so far as to suggest that it was their business, almost their right and their duty to hate all such people.

We only have to read a small portion of ancient history to find the hatred and bitterness which divided the nations. The Jews regarded all others as dogs and many Gentiles despised the Jews. There was this terribleMiddle wall of partition diving the world and causing great animosity among them. Much of the story in the Old Testament is written in Blood. I myself had to come to terms with this.

Now many people take these verses we are studying today where Jesus says, “Love your Enemies……” They want to misinterpret it and say that God is a God of love, and everybody is going to Heaven because God it love and because God is love He can never punish.

This is foolish thinking. It is to deny the teaching of Scripture from beginning to end. God punished Cain. He destroyed the ancient world with a flood. He punished the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He punished the Children of Israel when they were rebellious.

The whole teaching of Jesus Himself is that there is to be a Final Judgment with the wicked being cast into a Lake of Fire. We must accept this Judicial Principle. God is Legislative, God is the Executive, God is the Judicial Branch of World Government. God is still judging the Nations.

People like the Moabites and the Amorites, the Midianites, and the Amalekites had deliberately rejected the things of God, They were weighed. And God, as God and as the righteous Eternal Judge pronounced Judgment upon them, God gave the orders.

It is God’s prerogative to do that, His exclusive right. But the Pharisees and Scribes did not draw that distinction. They took this Judicial Principle and put it into operation in their affairs and their daily life.

Thus they justified themselves in hating their enemies, hating anybody thy disliked or anyone who was offensive to them. But I remind you, that nowhere in the scriptures can we find justification for hating anyone.

 You may ask, then what about David in Psalms 69, when in very strong language He calls curses down upon certain people. And Paul also pronounces curse upon certain ones.
(Galatians 1:8-9 and 1 Corinthians 16:22)

Again we must regard all these various injunctions as always Judicial and never something personal. The Psalmist along with Paul is not writing so much about himself as about the Church. They are speaking of things that are being done to God’s people and God’s cause. David never took issue against personal insults. Paul committed his antagonizes into the Hands of God. (2 Timothy 4:14)

Matthew 5:44. 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;

We could call this verse the very climax of Christian Living. In fulfilling this verse we rise to the very heights, the pinnacle of a Christian Experience. In fact when this verse is fulfilled in us we have just become ‘The Children of God.’ We could call this verse,The Christian Experience in action,’ Doing more than others.

In the previous paragraph, Matthew 5:38-42, is only asking us not to take action against those who take action against us, Passive. Don’t hit back, don’t seek revenge, give up your cloak, Go the second mile and give to the Beggars. Oh how our Lord knew how to search out the heart!

According to Matthew 5:43-48. Jesus is not only asking us not to do anything to them, He asking us to do something for them.
Don’t hit them ---- Love Them
Don’t curse them –Bless Them
Don’t seek revenge – Do Good to Them
Don’t wish the worst to come upon them – Pray for Them.

Romans 12:20. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

The Christian life is not just a life of ‘refraining’ or ‘Abstaining’ from certain acts or deeds. More than all of this, and I want to emphasize the duty, the value of refraining and abstaining. The Christian life is a positive life, a life of commitment and a life of action.

The Title of the Fifth Book in the New Testament is “The Acts of the Apostles.”
It is the story of the Church in Action. Luke gave no complimentary close, no post scripts, no identifying initials, only a period.
It is as though he ran out of paper or ink or time to write, not something to say, because the story is still being unfolded, because the Church is still in Action.
‘Still loving, still blessing, still praying and doing well.’

Matthew 5:44. 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.

First of all our treatment of others must never depend upon who, or what they are, or what they do to us. How we treat people must be entirely controlled and governed by our view of them and of their condition. There are people who are evil, foul and unjust, nevertheless God sends rain upon them and causes the sun to shine upon them. Their crops are fruitful like the crops of the good people. They have certain benefits in life which are common to all men. 

God does not bless the Christian Farmer only, nor at the same time does He only bless the efforts of the unjust. Why does God do this? The answer to this is because God loves them. And God is not dealing with them according to what they are or what they do to Him.

John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

What made God Do This?
Was it because the world loved Him?
Was it because the world was lovely?
Was it because the world was loveable?

God loved us in spite of ourselves. God’s love was totally outside of our action or love toward Him. 

Now in this paragraph Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus is telling us that our feelings towards others must be governed by that same principal. Not just to love those who love us, but to love our enemies. Not to just do good to those who do good to us.

I hope none of us has an Enemy,
Is there someone who ‘Bugs’ you?
Someone who rubs you the wrong way,
Someone who digs you,

Every time you see them, Every time you hear their voice, Every time some one calls their name, something rises up in you. Someone at work, a Boss, a neighbor,
an in-law or a Church member.
Matthew 5:44. 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;

Our prayers for God to save the world are fine, but we need to be specific in our prayers, pray with a purpose. Pray for that person who is ‘Bugging’ you. Pray for those who ‘rub’ you the wrong way. Call out their name to God. Pray for that person at work who despitefully uses you – ‘Save Him Lord.’ Pray for the employer or Boss that persecutes you. ‘Lord fill him with your Spirit.’ I wonder if someone prayed for Paul the persecutor. ‘Lord save him,’

Pray for the neighbor who pulls his fallen limbs over into your yard or dumps his trash in your driveway. Maybe you have an In-law you cannot get along with. Pray for Him or Her. Pray for that Church member who will not speak to you. Jesus prayed for the man who was driving the nails in His hands. “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”

I do feel like someone prayed for Saul of Tarsus. There was nothing in him that one could love. 1Timothy 1:15 …… “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

Someone must have prayed for John Newton, ‘Despicable.’ Once he was master of a Slave Galleon. ‘Jesus died for him’

“Amazing Grace!
How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”

First we must die out to self. The Christian lives on a higher level than the world. He
belongs to a different kingdom. He is a new man, a new creature, a new creation.
That’s how he can love his enemy.
 

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By, James L. Thornton


 

 

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