Loving Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-48

43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Introduction

Some people approach the bible with a cafeteria mind set…they pick and choose the passages they like and they pass over the ones they don’t like. A good example is Romans chapter one. A lot of so called Christians leaders are passing over Romans one because it condemns homosexuality. Romans one is not in the political correct version.

Jesus never sugar coated anything. If you can’t handle the Truth, you don’t need to hang out with Jesus–He is the TRUTH SPEAKER, for He Himself is TRUTH.

Jesus said, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  They had heard it said but they did not read it from OT scripture for nowhere in scripture are we commanded to ‘hate our enemies.’ This was yet another instance where the Jews had perverted the law.

The way the Jews circumvented the injunction to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR was to define NEIGHBOR. A NEIGHBOR to a Jew was a fellow Jew; to a Pharisee, it was a fellow Pharisee. This, in their thinking, gave them the right to hate all Gentiles or in the case of the Pharisees, anyone who wasn’t their kind, or like them. The Jews were notorious at despising others. In Jesus own life and times, the Jewish hatred for the Samaritans was off the charts. Any racism you have seen in America pales in comparison. We are talking about pure hate: the Jews wished them to be dead.

If you don’t understand what I have said in the introduction: you will not understand what Jesus is teaching…You will not get the message.

Transition

Here is today’s message in a nutshell: God loves everyone and He expects us to love everyone

I. GOD LOVES EVERYONE

Jesus said, He, [the Father] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

We call this common grace…God is good to everyone. Paul said to the Jews in Romans two…

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? {Ro.2:4}

God is good to all because He loves all…FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD.

2 Peter 3:9 clearly states.. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

II. GOD DOES NOT LOVE AS MAN LOVES

The Greeks had four words for love but Jesus used ä-gä-pä’-ō which is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. I call it “The Love From Above.” It is not a merited love. A-gä-pä’-ō is the ability to love the unlovely. This is illustrated in several places in the OT but one of favorite stories is of the prophet Hosea. His wife Gomer was unfaithful. To put it bluntly, she was a tramp who had no morals. She had relations with men without number. We could call her a harlot which sounds better than the modern word. Hosea was a good man and he felt a tinge of guilt about loving such a wayward woman. God told him, “Go ahead and love her. I know how you feel. Israel has also played the harlot and I still love them.”

A-gä-pä’-ō is not only UNCONDITIONAL, it is based on the character of the one who loves, not on the one who is being loved. Joseph’s love for his sorry lowdown good for nothing brothers was based on his character, not their’s: they didn’t have any character.

Do our enemies deserve our love? NO! Are they going to love us back if we love them? Probably not! A-gä-pä’-ō is not a requiting love…you don’t always get it back. This is what makes it so unique. Eros is highly conditional and demands love in return. Agape simply loves with no strings attached.

III. GOD EXPECTS US TO LOVE AS HE LOVES

Look at the last verse… Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Does Jesus actually expect us to be perfect? The Greek word is te’-lā-os which means complete, consummated, finished, mature or perfect. What is our goal as followers of Christ, as believers? Isn’t it to be like the Father. This verse had been grossly misunderstood. No one is perfect. None of the apostles reached a state of perfection. This is simply a challenge from Jesus for you and I to be like the Father who loves everyone.

This brings us right back to verse 44… But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven

There are three things that Jesus tells us to do in regard to our enemies… [1] LOVE them [2] PRAY for them [3] TREAT them cordially [greet them].

One and three are hard for all of us; the place to start is with two…PRAY FOR THEM. Prayer is an antidote to bitterness. Prayer will release the poison of bitterness, ill will and envy. We cannot and will not love our enemies if we refuse to pray for them.

You say…I DON’T HAVE ANY ENEMIES! Yeah, right and I am a nuclear physicist. Your first enemy is PRIDE. You don’t need to pray for it, you need to confess it. The logic to such wrapped thinking is…“I such a good person, no one would dislike me.” Listen Einstein, Jesus was much better than you and He was hated by thousands then and millions now.

Whether or not you are sane enough to be aware of your enemies, you have them. When you get ready to be real, pray for them. Right now, you need to pray for yourself.

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Psalm 19–God’s Glory

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Introduction

As you can see in verse one, the theme or subject of this Psalm is the GLORY OF GOD. I don’t know about you, but “glory” is a hard word for me to wrap my mind around. The OT word for glory came from a word that means ‘heavy.’ It came to mean heavy in terms of ABUNDANCE, RICHES, HONOR, SPLENDOR and REVERENCE. Again, the word ‘Splendor’ is hard for me to define. Mr. Webster says that splendor is magnificence, grandeur, impressiveness, opulence, luxury, riches, lavishness, ornateness, glorious in beauty and elegance. My best analogy is Solomon in all his glory: his opulence, lavishness, ornateness, and elegance took the Queen of Sheba’s breath away. To my knowledge, no film or movie has ever come close to recapturing the glory of Solomon’s reign.

There are two ways to look at God’s glory. First there is His innate or inherent glory which is the sum total of all His attributes: holiness, goodness, mercy, omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. And then there is the glory due Him. You and I are to give Him glory. You see this ascribing Glory to God all through scripture and the prophets all tell us that when judgment comes, God will get glory from men.

God is a jealous God and He will not allow us to give His glory to idols or other things…

“I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. ” [Isaiah 42:8,11]

Speaking of worshiping idol or other gods, the LORD said through Moses… “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Timothy Keller says…Idolatry is foundational to what is wrong with the human race, and I agree.

I want to call your attention to what Paul said in Romans 1…a chapter in the bible that many folks want to remove.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Most Scholars agree that every man has two witnesses: CREATION and CONSCIENCE. Even those in the most remote places on earth have these two witnesses so that people are without excuse. But what have we discovered about these primitive tribes when we discover them: they are worshiping idols instead of God… Paul said…

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

I rejoice tonight that God has revealed HIMSELF to mankind in CREATION, CONSCIENCE, SCRIPTURE, and the INCARNATION [CHRIST]. Of this final and perfect REVELATION, the writer of Hebrews says…

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

I. GOD’S GLORY IN CREATION

First: God glory is obvious; it is not hidden. All you have to do is walk outside on a clear night and look up. You have to know there is a CREATOR. When you see a GARDEN, it is obvious that there is a GARDENER.

Second: God’s glory is constant, day unto day and night unto night…it is always there to behold.

Third: God’s glory is communicated without words. Deep in the heart of man, there may be a hidden longing to see the glory of God. Why do people visit Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon? Is it to boost their self-esteem?

Fourth: God’s glory is universal. The witness of CREATION can be seen all over the earth.

The revelation of God’s glory is demonstrated by the SUN.

  1. The Sun is a revealer…a light that enables us to see.
  2. The Sun is a healer… Human skin can make large amounts of vitamin D when lots of skin is exposed and the sun is high in the sky. Your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. The part of the sun’s rays that is important is ultraviolet B (UVB).
  3. The Sun is an life giving energy source.
  4. The Sun is the center of our solar system, everything revolves around the Sun.
  5. The Sun works relentlessly day and night.
  6. The Sun has a universal and constant influence whether visible or invisible.
  7. The Sun is too glorious to behold…you cannot look at it with the naked eye.
  8. The Sun is a consuming fire.
  9. The Sun cannot be seen for it’s glory. Actually the sun is as black as tar. You and I have never seen the sun, we see only the atmosphere surrounding the sun.
  10. The Sun is amazing. One million earths could be put inside the sun. It seems impossible but the sun makes up 99% of the mass of this solar systems. All the planets are dwarfs compared to the sun. The sun is a nuclear power plant. The temperature on the inner atmosphere of the sun can reach 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

II. GOD’S GLORY IN SCRIPTURE

FIRST: The word of God is perfect [v.7]

SECOND: The word of God is Trustworthy [v.7] The Hebrew word is ‘aman’ and it means firm, sure, lasting, confirmed, established, sure, verified, and reliable. The word can make a simple man wise.

THIRD: The precepts [mandates, commands] are right giving JOY to the heart.

FOURTH: The commands of the LORD are radiant {Hebrew…bar–clean, pure or clear}. They give us light and guidance.

FIFTH: The decrees {Judgments} of the LORD are firm [true, right}. God knows what He is doing and His word can be trusted.

III. GOD’S GLORY IN MAN

God’s glory in man is properly seen in the incarnation: Jesus was the PERFECT MAN.

John 1:14…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 1:3…The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

But what about mankind in general; is God’s glory revealed in us?

Psalms 8:6-6…What is mankind that You are mindful of them, that You care for them. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.

Hebrews 2:6-8… “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”

Romans 8:18… I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

The GLORIFICATION of the Saint…Colossians 3… Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Under Attack

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

1 Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
    listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer
    it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from you;
    may your eyes see what is right.

Though you probe my heart,
    though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
    my mouth has not transgressed.
Though people tried to bribe me,
    I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
    through what your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to your paths;
    my feet have not stumbled.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
    from my mortal enemies who surround me.

10 They close up their callous hearts,
    and their mouths speak with arrogance.
11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
    with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion hungry for prey,
    like a fierce lion crouching in cover.

13 Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
    with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
14 By your hand save me from such people, Lord,
    from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
    may their children gorge themselves on it,
    and may there be leftovers for their little ones
.

15 As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
    when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

INTRODUCTION

David had to deal with opposition all his life. As a boy, his brothers excluded him; they scolded him, made fun of him and did nothing to encourage him. David cut his teeth on adversity. After Samuel anointed him, Saul became his arch enemy. After he became king, he was surrounded by enemies: they were without and within.

David was not a perfect man but he was a passionate man and he has a lot to teach us about worship, praise, prayer and dealing with adversity. PSALM 17 tells us what David did when he was UNDER ATTACK.

I. He Sought The LORD in Prayer {He looked up}

Anytime I get in trouble; I pray and that is exactly what David did, He sought the LORD in prayer. There are a dozen Hebrew words for ‘Prayer’ and four of them are used in Psalm 17… Hear me, Lord, my plea is just; listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—it does not rise from deceitful lips.

  • Prayer {tĕphillah} intercession or supplication
  • Hear {shâmaʻ}
  • Heed {kä·shav’} give heed, incline, attend
  • Hear {‘azan} to hear, to listen, to give ear

David was not a perfect man but he was a praying man. He prayed with passion. He has a lot to teach us about prayer. I tell folks every time I get the opt, do not try to develop a prayer life without using the Psalms. I use them every day.

In a sense, we are all under attack. Paul said in the Ephesian letter… 1Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Count them with me, one, two three four, five times Paul uses the word pray or prayer. PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE. [Also verses 6-9 are about prayer]

II. He Searched His Own Heart {He looked in}

Note verse 3-5… Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed. Though people tried to bribe me, I have kept myself from the ways of the violent through what your lips have commanded. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.

I did attend one session of the SBC yesterday and I listened attentively to the Presidential address. I was convicted. There is no doubt, I have failed miserably as a witness. I do agree that soul winning should be a priority and it has not been with me. It is difficult to keep the main thing the main thing. When I am under attack, I invariably search my own soul. GOD USES OUR ENEMIES…to humble us, drive us to Jesus, but also to teach us. We can actually learn from those who want to destroy us.

III. He Surrendered His Enemies to the LORD {He looked out}

Note verse 2… Let my vindication come from You; may your eyes see what is right. Also 13-14… 13 Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked. 14 By your hand save me from such people, Lord, from those of this world whose reward is in this life.

There is a pitfall we must avoid: we cannot take revenge on those who do us wrong. “Vengeance is mine, says the LORD, I will repay.” It is never up to us to make people pay. A get even mentality will destroy you. There are several things to consider when someone attacks you or your character. Their motive is one of them and who knows there motive other than God. HURTING PEOPLE ARE HURTFUL. Helping the hurting can be dangerous. An injured dog will bit. When all is said and done, only the LORD knows all the details. Just give them over to the LORD. He will do any settling up that needs to be done.

III. He Set His Hope On The Future {He looked ahead}

The heart of this Psalm is about the vicious nature of David’s enemies {9-12}. David’s enemies are vicious, “Out to destroy him.” They are not playing games, they are going for the jugular. They have no compassion and they show no mercy [v.10]. They are cold and callous. They are like vicious lions, ready to rip you apart.

David prays in verse 14… By your hand save me from such people, Lord, from those of this world whose reward is in this life. But the key is verse 15 As for me, I will be vindicated and I will see your face;  when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

David is looking to a future time when God’s presence will overshadow all David’s enemies.

Psalm 16–Living Hope

Psalm 16

miktam of David.

Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Introduction

This is a happy Psalm where David celebrates God’s infinite goodness. You should note the repeated us of the personal pronoun “My.” My God, my LORD, my lips, my delight, my portion, my cup, my lot, my eyes, my heart my tongue, my body. The goodness of God has affected every part of David’s being. David is living a dream: things are far better than he ever expected.

David was able to live life to its fullest because of his confident faith in God. He was gripped by the living hope of something beyond this life, something beyond the grave…as he puts it, “Eternal Pleasures” or pleasures forever more. Solomon’s words come to mind from Ecclesiastes 12… Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.” I think every human heart cries out, “There has to be more, what could it be?”

Although David did confesses, The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, which is his way of saying, I am very happy with what the LORD has given to me; he did face hardships. I admit, some of those he brought on himself but life can become difficult, even for the most dedicated believers.

Everyone needs something to look forward to and as Thomas Brooks said, “Hope can see heaven through the thickest clouds.”

We will follow a simple outline tonight: David’s Prayer [v.1-2], David’s Perplexity [v.3-4], David’s Pledge [v.5-6] and David’s Praise [v.7-11]

I. David’s Prayer [v.1]

Psalm 16:1–Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge.

II. David’s Proclamation [v.2-4]

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.

Three wonderful TRUTHS here:

  1. We have no good thing apart from Jesus.
  2. We have great delight in the fellowship of the Saints
  3. Those who refuse to worship God will suffer more and more. David vowed not to worship another god, he would not even mention their name. God was David’s portion, lot, life and God does not change. David knew that His life would get infinitely better whereas those who pursued their own interest and served other gods would become infinitely bitter.

III. David’s Profession of Faith [v.5]

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

Three things I want you to see here:

  1. The LORD Himself was David’s Portion. This could be David’s provision [daily ration] or his inheritance; his part, his share. David said, “the LORD alone is my portion.”
  2. The LORD was David’s Cup {Pleasure, refreshment}
  3. The LORD was David’s Lot [small pebble] used to make decisions. The LORD was David’s destiny.

IV. David’s Praise [v.6-8]

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Three things to Note:

  1. David is delighted in what the LORD has done for him.
  2. David’s eyes are always on the LORD,
  3. The LORD is David’s advocate, at his right hand, just like an attorney in a court of law. David’s confidence is not in himself but in Him who is at his right hand.

V. David’s Hope [v.9-11]

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

This is a phenomenal passage of scripture that is quoted twice in the N.T. Peter uses this passage on the Day of Pentecost…

24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

David, as do I, looked forward to the JOY of His presence and the ETERNAL PLEASURES awaiting him on the other side of the grave. I heard a quote when I was just a boy and it stuck in my brain. It is by Earl Nightingale…

The Architect of the universe didn’t build a staircase leading to nowhere.

I don’t know what heaven will be like exactly but I do know that evil will not be present: no sickness, no pain, no rejection, no loneliness, no depression, no despair, no hunger, no thirst, no unmet needs, and on and on I could go but I still cannot fathom the eternal aspects of heaven. I just know it is infinitely better than like here on earth. I can never be content in a world with prisons, hospitals, abortion clinics and funeral homes.

Integrity At Work

A psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?  Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

Introduction

This is a Psalm of David: I do not know the occasion. Some think he wrote this Psalm after he moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and set up a replica of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle or Tent was first known as the Tent of Meeting. It was a Tent outside the camp where Moses meet with and communed with God. A lot of folks look at this Psalm as a list of qualification that one must meet in order to enter the place of worship. If you list them, there are Twelve in all…

  1. Walk is blameless
  2. Does what is righteous
  3. Speaks the truth
  4. Tongue utters no slander
  5. Does no wrong to his neighbor
  6. Cast no slur on others
  7. Despises the vile
  8. Honors those who fear God
  9. Keeps his word even if it hurts
  10. Does not change his mind
  11. Lends money to the poor without interest
  12. Does not accept a bribe

We have one word in our dictionary that encompasses everything on this list: It is the word INTEGRITY. The closest word in Psalm 15 to integrity is the word BLAMELESS. Matter of fact, the NASB translates it ‘Integrity.’ It is the same root word used to describe the character of Job…He was blameless and upright [Job 1:1]. It does not mean that Job was perfect or that David was perfect; the word means whole, entire, complete, entire, sound. It is the term used to describe wood that has been turned on a lathe. It is sound, to open cracks or checks. It is integrated, held together by conviction and principle. A man of INTEGRITY cannot be bribed, his word is his bond, he despises dishonesty, fears God and honors those who fear God. He cast no slurs on his neighbor nor does them any wrong. He speaks the truth always and he puts principle before profit.

Transition: What does integrity have to do with worship?

Everything! Timothy Kellers says in his book, SONGS OF JESUS, [p.142]. The character of our praise and worship is to be glorious and glorious worship is exuberant and never halfhearted. It is awesome and brilliant. It never points to the speaker or singer who is leading worship. Worship should never be trivial and pretentious. My fear is that these two words are very descriptive of our worship: it is trivial and pretentious. When did you last hear a glorious shout or a real genuine confession of sin? You can’t.

I know you have heard of the REVIVAL AT MOUNT CARMEL. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest of fire. They took two bulls to use as a sacrifice: one bull was given to the prophets of Baal and Elijah kept one for himself. You know the story, the prophets of Baal put their bull on the altar but there was no fire. They prayed to Baal all day but no fire. Elijah prepared the altar, placed the wood on the altar,cut the bull and put it on the altar, put the wood, and then he had the soak the altar, wood and bull with water. I Kings 18:38 says, “Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!” You want to know why we don’t have REVIVAL…too much bull. We need the fire of God to fall and consume all the bull, all the sham, all the pretense.

All this is introduction but don’t be alarmed, the sermon is very short. Let me say three things and I will close…

1. We do not have to be perfect to worship but we must have integrity or there will be no true worship.

We may impress others with all this phony bologna but God turns His head; He wants no part of our pretense, our fake worship.

2. We do not have to be perfect to have an intimate relationship with Christ but there will be no real intimacy until we get honest.

3. We do not have to be perfect to be a good neighbor but we have no chance of being a good neighbor without integrity.

The only way to relate to other human beings in a positive way is to be honest and truthful. Liars make horrible neighbors and you sure don’t want to go into business with a liar.

Jesus On Divorce

Scripture: Matthew 5:31-32, 19:1-11

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Introduction

[1] The first thing I want to say is: I would love to skip this passage. Divorce is a sensitive issue and I don’t like discussing it but my conscience doesn’t allow me to pick and choose my subject matter. [2] I am an advocate for children and I do take sides: their side. Divorce is hurtful to adults but it is doing untold damage to our children. I read somewhere the other day that the divorce rate is right around 6 out of ten. It is hard to get statistics these days but I know for a fact, there are a lot of divorces. Adrian Rogers once said, “When the good ship holy matrimony left port there were ten couples on board. One jumped ship before they got out of the harbor and two more at see. When it came back into port, there were two happily married coupled and two who tied themselves to the mast to keep from jumping.[3] I will not be condescending in my remarks: I am married by the grace of God. If we go by Jesus standard, that lust equals adultery, I am guilty as sin. I have no right to look down on anyone. So if you have gone through a divorce, I’m not up here to hurt you. [4] What I’m going to do is emphasis the consequences to divorce. I try to do is prevent Divorces by making folks aware of the consequences. Mother use to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is the reason, we have to talk about it. When don’t want these young people to be misguided.

I. LEGAL DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN RIGHT

Jesus mentions the “certificate of divorce.” The Jewish religious establishment, even the Scribes, Pharisees and Priest were using the law of Moses to get quick and easy divorces. Legally, they could divorce a woman for burning breakfast. They were justifying their lust by using legal channels. Jesus throws them a curve; He goes back to the garden of Eden and God’s original plan which of course, they were violating. If you are legally married, I am thankful but there is more to marriage than a certificate on the wall and going through all the legal channels to get a divorce doesn’t make it right.

II. WE MUST CONTINUE TO LEFT UP THE PERFECT STANDARD

Look at Matthew 19:4-6… At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

God’s perfect ideal is one man with one woman for life. I remember hearing a story about an old maid who getting worried; she went to the preacher with her concern…”Preach, I’m not getting any younger, I need a husband.” He said, “Now sister, calm down, God has a plan, one woman for one man, that is God’s plan and you can’t improve on it.” She said, “I don’t want to improve on it, I want to get in on it.” Many problems can be worked out if we are willing to work. Marriage is a triangle…man-woman at the base and Jesus at the top. The closer man/woman get to Jesus, the closer they get to each other. BUT when the third party is not Jesus or a counselor, you have serious problem because the one who is fooling around has no desire to work through the problems.

We have to understand and confess: any divorce is failure because it doesn’t not measure up to God standard. Don’t misunderstand what I just said. I didn’t say that all divorces are wrong, I said they all indicate failure. We either married the wrong person or we have failed in the marriage itself.

This doesn’t mean that there are not situation that warrant divorce. One of my favorite books is THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY by Dallas Willard. Dallas made a blanket statement as a young man that he came to regret…He said, “Divorce is always wrong.” That is not what I said, “It is always a failure to meet God’s standard,” is what I said. Later Willard met a woman who was married to a homosexual. He deceived her, he courted her, pretended to love her, married her, consummated the marriage on their wedding night and never touched her again. {Page 173, The Divine Conspiracy} He would bring his partners home with him from work and they would have sex with her in the same house. Unfortunately, she kept it all to herself and tried to make the marriage work but her soul was being destroyed. Finally she told some one and they got her to a qualified counselor and she got out of the marriage.

Drugs would be a similar situation. No husband or wife can support a drug addict. There are not enough pills and unless you are rick, not enough money to keep and addict going. They will take you down. It is rare that I counsel divorce but I have done it and in both cases, it involved drugs. I may be selfish, but I do not want my grandchildren subjected to the drug life nor the people who perpetuate that culture.

III. THE FINAL QUESTION

The Pharisees said, “Why then “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?

Jesus answer… “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 

In the CEV, Jesus answer is…Because you are heartless. We have divorce because we are sinners, totally depraved sinners. I don’t want to beat you up over a divorce, I just want you to confess with me that we are totally depraved sinners and we cannot live up to God’s perfect standard which means….WE NEED JESUS.

Human Depravity

Psalm 14 New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. Of David.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
    but the Lord is their refuge.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When the Lord restores his people,  let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Quotes

In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. ~Horatio Bonar
“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.” ~Malcolm Muggeridge
Man was created a little lower than the angels and he has been getting lower ever since. ~Phyllis Diller
No clever arrangement of bad eggs will make a good omelet. ~C.S. Lewis

Introduction

There are some things that I do not doubt…not ever: [1] The existence of the Infinite One [2] The presence of evil in this world and [3] The depravity of man.

There are two ways at looking at Psalm 14 {53 states basically the same thing}. One point of view is that of the devout atheist–THERE IS NO GOD, NO INFINITE BEING. The creation we see has no CREATOR. We are here by chance, everything is random. Nothing has purpose or order. Listen folks, YOU ARE AN UTTER FOOL IF YOU BELIEVE SUCH NONE SENSE. There is not much doubt, the world is filled with fools. But the second point of view is probably the one that applies most to our day and time…literally in the Hebrew it reads…THE FOOL HAS SAID IN HIS HEART NO GOD. The “There is” was added by English translators for context. So, we have a message here for the Practical Atheist, the person who says “No” to God. It’s like a waitress offering you dessert at a restaurant and you say “No thanks.” It simply means you do not want dessert. Some folks want nothing to do with God. It is not that they do not believe He exist, it is that they want no part of Him.

Transition: I struggled to come up with an outline but here goes…

I. THE PERCEPTION OF A FOOL

The English word ‘fool’ comes from a Latin word that means “bellows,” suggesting that a fool is a blow hard, someone filled with hot air. The Hebrews had three words for ‘fool.’ One meant to be dull or stupid, one meant to be totally unreasonable and the other meant to be brutish like a stubborn animal and it carried with it the stupidity of an animal who becomes its own worse enemy by its stubborn behavior {goat}. The word used here is “Nabul” which you of course are familiar with. Nabul was the wealthy farmer who insulted David. His wife Abigail had to intervene in his behalf.

A fool sees the world differently from you and I or God. I view everything through the lens of God’s word: the bible shapes my world view–therefore evolution, homosexuality and abortion are all wrong and unacceptable but those who reject God and His word take a different view. I see the folly of their view but they don’t. How can they not see that abortion is wrong? Their rejection has lead to spiritual blindness.

Paul said in Romans 1… 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

II. THE PRUDENCE OF GOD

Look at verse 2-3… The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

So what is God’s perspective? Well it is from above so it is higher and since we all give an account to Him, it is the perspective that counts. The LORD says that man is corrupt, there is no one who does good, not even one. The Hebrew word for ‘corrupt’ is ä·lakh’ [remove the k and what do you have, alah]. It describes milk going sour. It refers to something tainted. [Illustration: Tea bag in hot water] The fall in the garden tainted us: we are capable of doing good things but we are not capable of doing good things for the right reason. We can produce no righteousness that God will accept {Spurgeon calls man’s righteousness ‘fig leaf righteousness’}, acceptable to man but not to God.

This brings us to the bottom line: everyone needs Jesus. God has this thing planned out to the detail and it is fixed so that no one goes to heaven a part from Jesus. There is only one remedy for our sin: Jesus!

III. THE PATH OF THE WICKED

No only do the unbelievers have a different world view, they have a different life style. They don’t think like us and they don’t act like us. Look with me again at verse 4-6…
Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
    but the Lord is their refuge.

There are four things to note: [1] The Unrepentant Evil doers are ignorant–they know nothing. Again, this goes back to Romans one and the judgment of darkness. They are spiritually blind and cannot see the truth. [2] They use people. As verse 6 suggest, they are brutish, they take advantage of the weak and helpless. [Illustrated: disputed land line.] Some of us are too poor to afford a lawyer so we let the brutes have their way. [3] The unbelieving wicked never pray. I asks God for help every day but they never pray. [4] They have a repressed dread that they never talk ab out. I would not know this if it were not here in the word of God. I am looking forward to the return of Christ; they have a secret dread that He will return.

IV. THE PRAYER OF THE SAINTS

David uttered… Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! David looked forward to the day when salvation would come from Zion and it did. Jesus fulfilled this scripture for sure and yet there is more; the restoration of God’s people is also coming. I think this will happen when Christ returns and rules the earth. What a day that will be. [Illustration: God’s Not Dead: 2]

Conclusion

You don’t want to die without Jesus!

Hannah

Scripture: I Samuel 1:2-18


2 Elkanah had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

1“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

1Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

Introduction

Believe it or not, I do not have a good track record with MOTHER’S DAY sermons but I have gotten a little older and hopefully a lot wiser. I may have stated that backwards: I have gotten a lot older and a little wiser. As you know, our oldest daughter is named after today’s bible character HANNAH. It is spelled the same way front or back and I’m sure you know that it means GRACE. Our church in Hebrew would be HANNAH POINT.

I think Hannah is a great example for young mothers and an inspiration to all mothers. Since I want to share a little personal testimony about my mother: I’m simply going to point out a few biblical facts about Hannah.

1. HANNAH’S PROBLEM

Hannah was not in an ideal situation: she had two problems: she was barren, which was frowned on by that culture. For a woman, children were everything. And she had a rival. Her husband had another wife and that is never good. There is no kitchen or bedroom big enough for two women. Although Abraham and Jacob practiced polygamy, the LORD never consented to it. His ideal for marriage is found in Genesis 2:24, That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Jesus took it a step further… Matt. 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” The bible records history as it happened…tells the truth about sin…Polygamy always caused problems. No woman should have to compete for her husbands affections.

2. HANNAH’S PLEA [PRAYER]

Hannah wanted to be a mother and that always helps. Unfortunately, some women have babies but they have no desire to be a mother. Our culture is in serious trouble. For the last 50 years the federal government, influenced by the Progressives [who are anything but progressive] and feminism have worked feverishly to get the woman out of the home and into the work place and they have succeeded. Next to preaching the gospel, being a mother is the highest call in the universe and our government has done everything in its power to push the mother out of the home. Our welfare system is anti-family and Antichrist. Hannah wanted to be a mother: she did’t ask God to make her a CEO and this woman changed the world. These women like Hillary Clinton and Margaret Sanger will be forgotten. In they survive at all, it will be in infamy. Hannah’s motherhood still has power ramifications today.

3. HANNAH’S PEACE

When Eli saw Hannah praying fervently, he thought she was drunk. Goes to prove he had not seen very much real praying. Note Hannah’s defense:

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Now look at Eli’s promise…

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

Now look at Hannah’s response…

Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

Hannah believed the word of Eli…she took it as a word from God…she believed and then she had peace…long before she became pregnant.

4. HANNAH’S PRACTICE [SACRIFICIAL LOVE

Hannah did something that is hard for a parent to do: Abraham did it and Hannah did it but many parents never commit their child to the LORD. [My Mother]

6. HANNAH’S PRAISE [I Sam.2:1-10]

Sink Or Swim


Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for He has been good to me.

Introduction

This is an amazing Psalm: all of David’s Psalms amaze me. Charles H. Spurgeon said of David Psalms, “Whenever you look into David’s Psalms, you will somewhere or the other see yourself. You never get into a corner [with sorrow or trouble], but that you find David in that corner. You never get so low that you can’t find David below you and you never get so high that you can’t find him above you.” This Psalm is a perfect example: David goes from despair to exuberant joy; from perplexity to praise; from sinking to swimming.

Transition: what caused this dramatic turn around?

David always turns to the LORD in times of trouble. He pours his heart out to God in humble prayer and in the midst of this prayer, he invariably gets into worship. You see this clearly in this Psalm: it begins with the focus on “Me” [David] but the focus shifts to the LORD as David looks up in faith and worship. True worship has a transforming power.

This Psalm is divided into three stanzas making the outline simple:

I. David’s Sorrow [Condition] 13:1-2

II. David’s Supplication [cry] 13:3-4

III. David’s Singing [Consolation] 13:5-6

DAVID’S SORROW–CONDITION

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Note David’s four questions, all beginning with HOW LONG?

[1] How long will You forget me LORD, forever?

[2] How long will You hide Your face from me?

[3] How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?

[4] How long will my enemy triumph over me?

The first thing I want you to notice is the emphasis on David…forget me, hide from me, my thoughts, triumph over me. So David’s original focus in INWARD, on himself. Then I want to ask a question: have you ever felt forgotten, isolated or alone?

The LORD says in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” All humans, even a mother, are capable of forgetting but not God: with Him it is impossible to forget us. Unfortunately for me, I have been on both ends of the forgetting. I have been left out: I know the sinking feeling you have when you’ve been forgotten. BUT I have also been guilty of forgetting. My honest confession are never adequate: no one wants to hear me say, “I’m sorry but I forgot.” That tells them they are not important.

The second question: How long will you hide your face from me also contributes to our despair; it is as bad as being forgotten. When someone hides from you; it is a pretty good indication that they don’t want to be around you. God was not actually hiding. David’s emotions were playing tricks on his mind and this leads me to the third question.

HOW LONG MUST I WRESTLE WITH MY THOUGHTS. The KJV reads, How long shall I take counsel in my soul? This is interesting. The soul is made up of three things: our mind [thinking], our emotions [feelings] and our volitional will [doing]. If we are not very careful, the feelings will become dominant. This is our default setting–the feeling are dominant. David was listening to his soul, to his feelings and feeling are not reliable or dependable and seldom are they accurate. One of the first things we learn in our sanctification is “Do not trust your feelings.” Jeremiah said, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately [sick] wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

Don’t listen to your soul, do not take it’s counsel.

The last question is: HOW LONG WILL MY ENEMY TRIUMPH OVER ME? David said “enemy” as in one and he may have been referring to Saul. Primarily, we do have one enemy, namely Satan but we have many lesser enemies. I’m not talking about people: not even democrats or Muslims. I am talking about the ones who enslave us like PRIDE, FEAR, LUST, GREED and VANITY. Of course we do face an evil without as well as one within. There is an evil embedded or entrenched in culture and there is an evil embedded or entrenched in our flesh. The GOOD NEWS is that CHRIST will subdue all our enemies.

Then there is David’s Supplication [cry]

 
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

One thing is certain: David realizes he is only one step away from death and he knows that his only hope of salvation is the LORD. David is doing the only thing he knows to do, PRAY. He is crying out to God. More than anything else, he wants guidance [light]. David is perplexed, he doesn’t know what to do next; he desperately needs to hear from the LORD. David has no doubt: if God doesn’t come through, David’s enemy will triumph over him because he has the advantage in power and resources.

Finally, David’s Singing [Consolation]

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for He has been good to me.

It is almost as if David hit a switch, suddenly in verse 5, the focus is UPWARD. He looked INWARD in verses 1-2, then he looked OUTWARD in verses 3-4 and now he looks UPWARD. When you look in, you are going to get depressed. When you look out, you will get distressed but if you look up, you will be impressed. The absolute worse way to live is to focus on yourself. You have yet to meet a happy person who constantly thinks of themselves.

Notice the pronouns now: Your unfailing love, Your salvation, the LORD’s praise, the LORD’s goodness. WOW, what a change of heart! What a transformation. The key is to focus on the LORD, not ourselves or our enemies. You can do too much introspection. Something are better to swallow than to chew because the more you chew them, the bigger they get. Forget yourself, your regrets, your sorrows, your problems and focus on the love of Jesus and His infinite goodness. I can talk about what’s wrong with me all day but you will not be edified but I can talk about what’s right with Jesus and you will be lifted up.

The Heart Of Sin

Murder Begins in the Heart

21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. 23 So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him to the court, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny.

INTRODUCTION

Everything we are going to say in the next few weeks springs from Matthew 5:20… For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. Today’s message is a homiletic nightmare but bear with me.

I. JESUS AND AUTHORITY ON THE LAW

Fast forward to Matthew 7:28-29

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Jesus is not changing the LAW, the LAW is perfect. Nothing wrong with the Law, it was man’s perversion of the LAW. The Jews never really practiced the LAW, they looked for loopholes so they could say they were obeying the law when in reality, they were not.

You have heard that it was said to our ancestors…Jesus did not say, “It is written.” If what the Scribes and Pharisees had been teaching was purely scripture, Jesus would have used His normal phrase, “It is written.” Jesus is not refuting the LAW, He is simply clearing up some misunderstandings about the law. The Jewish religious leaders had misinterpreted the LAW and therefore had misrepresented the Law. Jesus is setting the record straight.

II. THE LAW HAS TWO SIDES/ASPECTS

The law has two aspects: like a coin, it has two sides. On one side, we have the LETTER of the Law and on the other side, we have the SPIRIT. The Pharisees and Scribes focused on the LETTER and completely missed the SPIRIT.

Let me illustrate: Jesus said, You have been taught that MURDER is wrong and will be punished but there is more; you will also be judged for ANGER. Murder is the legal aspect but Anger is the spiritual aspect.

This is illustrated in the story of Cain and Abel…

Adam and Eve had a son. Then Eve said, “I’ll name him Cain because I got him with the help of the Lord.” Later she had another son and named him Abel. Abel became a sheep farmer, but Cain farmed the land. One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the Lord, and Abel also gave an offering to the Lord. He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the Lord the best parts of it. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but not with Cain and his offering. This made Cain so angry that he could not hide his feelings.The Lord said to Cain: What’s wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling. But you did the wrong thing, and now sin is waiting to attack you like a lion. Sin wants to destroy you, but don’t let it! Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go for a walk.” And when they were out in a field, Cain killed him. [this is the first murder]

Where did Cain’s sin originate? In his heart, in his attitude. His anger and jealously turned to hate and he murdered his own brother.

The Pharisees and Scribes didn’t worry about the heart [they could conceal the heart], they were only concerned with the externals, the LETTER of the LAW but Jesus reminded us that God is concerned with the heart and will hold us accountable for bad attitudes whether we act on them or not.

III. SIN ALSO HAS TWO SIDES OR ASPECTS

Just as the LAW has two aspects, so does sin. If you think people are confused about the LAW, just wait till you hear about SIN. Sins two aspects are SOCIAL and SPIRITUAL. These are my terms but I think you will understand them. The first two of six examples that Jesus will use are MURDER and ADULTERY. Just as murder originates in the heart with anger and jealously, adultery originates with lust.

The SPIRITUAL aspect of Sin is ANGER and LUST. This is what God sees and we are held accountable. This is where we get the proverbs like “Sin is a sin,” and technically speaking, lust is equal to adultery. The fact that you don’t act out your lust does not mean that God will let you off the hook. In His eyes, lust and anger are the problems and we will be judged accordingly.

The SOCIAL aspect deals with the actual act of either murder or adultery. From the social standpoint, I can honestly say, murder is worse than anger and adultery is worse than lust.

Anger and lust hurt us and they are offensive to God but they do not hurt others until we act them out. Trust me, I have been hated but never murdered and I am thankful. I can live with your anger but murder is a different subject.

Do you see what I’m talking about? Do you see the difference? Spiritually, all sin, in attitude or action, is sin and it hurts God but until we act out our sin, man is spared of pain.