Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P41 (05-11-21)
Have you thought about what it means to apply God’s word, to obey His commands? What kind of commands were given to the Jews under an Old Covenant system. They had the ten commandments. How well did they do in obeying them? What about us, who never had the law to begin with, but we try to obey those same ten commandments? Do we do any better? Now, it is good that we desire to obey them, for the commandments are good, just and right. So here does the problem lie? With us.
Then Jesus comes along, being born into this world as a man, the second Adam. He says things to the Jews that make the ten commandments look simple in comparison. We think we are pretty good in comparison to Adolf Hitler, for example. ’I never murdered anyone”, you say. But Jesus says if you even just hate your brother, you already committed murder in your heart. If you lust after someone, then you are already committed adultery in your heart.
Then He says things like this, “to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And He says to not judge, to turn the other cheek, walk with somebody two miles if they, your enemies, ask you to go one mile. He tells us to bless those who curse you and to pray for them that say all kinds of things against you and revile you and persecute you. Then we read His definition of love in Ephesians 13. Now try to be perfect like that, to always be patient, always kind, alway long-suffering, never rude and to never let your love fail.
So, ultimately we have to conclude that the law deceived me into thinking I could obey the law. Instead the law put me to death, because now I am at the point of realizing, “I cannot do it.” That is exactly what God wants you to realize about yourself, that you were born dead spiritually, without the life of God in you, and that is the reason you cannot do it. That is also the reason why Jesus came so that you will not remain in this state of condemnation, but have the choice to receive new life. In other words, Jesus took away your sins over 2000 years ago at the cross, and then was raised from the dead in order that He could put the same resurrected life in Him into you.
What kind of life did Jesus have? The life that we never had, God’s kind of life, where God is perfect love, who completely fulfilled the law for us by His love. Therefore, once we have His life in us, then we can allow His life to be lived in and through us. That is the meaning of the parable of the vine and the branch. Apart from Him we can do nothing. We cannot love in the energy of our flesh. We cannot produce the kind of love God requires of us. So instead, once we are born again, with the Spirit of God living in us, we depend on the Spirit to reveal truth to us, respond to that love and act on it. We believe what He says is true, and based on that truth, we walk in that truth. So the fruit is produced by Him through us. We bear the fruit, relying on Him to produce the fruit, for He is the only one who can.
We have learned what it means to put into practice what Jesus has done for us. Jesus manifested His love to us, and then He says to us to do likewise. Let us now look at some scriptures.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Can you believe that? Does it not say in the scripture that God came to redeem the wicked? We have to understand that. It says to be merciful just as your Father is merciful. Elsewhere in scripture He says He is not looking for your sacrifices but He is looking for mercy.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mercy is an attitude that should be in the heart of a Christian. That will never be in your heart any more than it was in the hearts of those whom Jesus was talking to. What He was saying to them is an impossibility. There is no way without Christ Jesus living in you to begin to obey these things He is talking about. We talk about the ten commandments. Try these on for size. There is no way in our own strength, that if someone hit you, that you turn the other cheek. If someone hit you in the face, you want to take his head off. To love your enemies? It is hard enough to love your friends. And to bless those who curse you? To sit down and say bless you? Not this blib talk, but in your heart, to bless someone who has mistreated you? Impossible. To someone who takes your cloak, who steals from you, to say “Praise God.”? I want to get it back. These are impossible for a natural man. It is also an impossibility for a saved man in the energy of his own flesh. If I lend something to somebody, I expect payment back. I certainly have to come to the point in my life, to say, “I do not expect that. To love your enemies, to do good to them and to lend to them without expecting anything back? It is tough enough to lend to a friend without expecting anything back. But to an enemy? I do not know how to do that.”
We then see that Jesus Christ is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. So it says to be merciful just as your Father is merciful. That is a hard passage. It is hard enough for me to comprehend. I wonder how hard it would be for a legalist to believe. God’s words says His ways are not our ways and our ways are not His ways.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
I see now why He says that. God did not come to reward the righteous, for there aren’t any. He came to justify the wicked. That is so hard for the natural mind to comprehend. So when you are looking at the application, or obedience, is the fact that everything that Christ commanded us to do is an impossibility for us to do. Then why did He command it? It is something to do. But did He not say apart from me you can do nothing? It allows us to see that this is the attitude of God and also to see that I do not have that attitude. But also to see, “Come unto me and I will give it to you.” These are the kinds of passages that keep us abiding and realizing that in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing in me like this. He says, “I know that and that is why I came to live in you. You cannot live this life. Only I can.”
The only example of anyone on earth who can consistently be merciful to others, and who is merciful, to be lending and giving without expecting anything back, including my own life, of loving my enemies, of blessing those who curse you, praying for those who mistreat you, is Jesus Christ. Someone strikes you on the cheek, give him your other cheek. The only person you will see that occur in all of history is Christ Jesus. He says, “You cannot do that, but I can. But if you abide in me, I will let you have the privilege of seeing those attitudes manifested through you.” Or as it says in regard to a vine and branch, to bear fruit, not producing, but bearing.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Look at all the judgment and condemnation we do to other Christians. The Christian army is the only army in the world where we shoot our wounded. Look at all the judging and condemnation that takes place. There is a world of difference between hating the sin and hating the sinner. There is a world of difference in being able to look at a person and say, “What you are teaching is not in accordance with the word of God, but I love you and Jesus died for you. There is a world of difference in that. There is a world of difference between that and taking vengeance and a judgmental spirit and a spirit of condemnation out on people, that is mean and vindictive.
We get letters from people, always said to be in love, yet hard, mean and vindictive statements. We had people who certainly did not agree with the teaching of grace. They would call up to try to get us kicked off the radio station. In every one of those, would a person who truly understood the grace of God, would he call up a radio station and try to get a legalist kicked off a radio station? No. I would not bother with it. Jesus said there will be wheat and tares that grow together. In the final analysis, He will be doing the harvesting. It is not my job to do that.
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
There is room for all of those things. Do I approve of it? No. Do I think it ruins people? Yes. But is that my responsibility? No. My responsibility is to proclaim what I know is true, and let the chips fall where they may. The results are in the hands of God. The same thing with freedom. In a free country, never attack. You do not find a free republic, a free country, attacking a communist country? You find countries who were in bondage attacking free countries. Free countries have always had to be defended and fought for.
When you come into a relationship experiencing freedom in Christ, do not expect acceptance. Do not expect everybody is going to say “Praise God. What do you have?” You will always have opposition. Those in bondage will be the ones who will continually try to destroy you. You are not trying to destroy them and that is why it is difficult to understand them. But you have to realize they will try to destroy you. That is why you cannot compromise. That is why there is no room for commingling law and grace. That is why Jesus said you cannot put old wine into new wineskins.
16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
That is why you cannot have a little law with grace. You have to have one or the other. When you come to the side of grace, you have become an enemy of the legalist. When I say an enemy, an enemy attacks. So we have to understand that. That is not judging people but it is judging what people are teaching and what they believe.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
He is not talking about tithing here. He is talking about dealing with your life.
39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
When I first read this passage, it hit me right between my eyes. Why do you look at someone else’s sin, when you have a log in your own?
42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
In other words, before you start criticizing, take a look at your own critical spirit. Check out what is going on inside of you. Check out your anger. Check it up against 1 Corinthians 13. Am I being patient with this person? Am I being kind to him? Am I keeping record of his wrongs? Am I trusting the best? If that is not going on, you have a plank in your eye, and so do I. Before I am ever in a position to try to remove something out of someone else’s;. eye, or to help someone with a speck, I have to get a log out of my own. There again, it is down to the point, instead of being preoccupied with what everybody else is doing something wrong, although we should be alert to the proclamation of what is true, you also have to look at your own attitude and your own heart. You have to be able to ask yourself, “Am I functioning in love? Or, am I functioning out of vengeance, vindictiveness or bitterness myself? Until I get rid of that, I am in no position to deal with another person’s problem.”
1 John 3:18
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Now turn to Luke 6:46. Jesus asked that question, and people were not acting in that way, not carrying out what they know to be true.
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
He went on to explain about putting the word of God into practice, acting upon it. It does you no good to stand there. It would be like you and me walking up to this crevice and see this big canyon below us, and there is a bridge that goes across, the one like Tarzan walks on. We look at that and we want to get to the other side, but there is that bridge. You sit there and say, “I studied engineering and bridge building, and I tell you that thing will hold you.” “You know, I have a little experience myself. And I think it will hold us too. The more I look at that thing, the more convinced it will hold us.” “Yes, I think it will hold us both the same time.” “I do too.” “Me too, Bob. Me too, Bob.” We could stand there until we have beards to our ankles and never get to the other side, just fully convinced that bridge will hold us. What faith does, is once we become convinced the bridge will hold us, you step out on it and start walking across it. That is when you put what you say you believe, you put into action.
Now, when you are talking about Christ, you are not talking about stepping out on a shaky bridge. You are stepping out into the arms of God, who has demonstrated His love, mercy and grace to us in its fullness. It is the stepping out that makes the reality of this real. So when we do not do that, it is like a man building a house on sand. When we heard His words and put them into practice it is like a man building a house on bedrock.
47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
We are talking about a foundation. The foundation has to be based upon truth, but then once that truth has come, then put it into practice. When it says rest, put it into practice. How do you do that? Rest. Realize Christ Jesus will do exactly and precisely what He said. Jesus will complete the work He began in you.
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
As Jesus said.
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
It is interesting that here He is commanding to do what He says, yet with a full awareness that that is impossible to do. It ties into what Jesus said when the apostles finally came to Him and asked, “What is the work of ministry?” “To believe in the one who was sent?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Only through trusting in Jesus are you going to pull this off. There is a world of difference between what you do and what you think. I came to renew your mind. The Spirit of God, living in you and me, is what gives us the ability to understand the word of God, to have our mind renewed.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Let us look at the difference between a psalm in the Old Testament and a admonishment on new Testament.
59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. 60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Here is David saying, “I will obey your law. I will hasten and I will not delay to obey all your commands.” Does that not sound familiar? This was David who ended up with Bathsheba. This is the kind of a statement that came when Moses brought down the ten commandments. They all said, “We will do it, Lord. Give them to us and we will obey them.” Was there heart there? Is there something happened that is good? Yes. “I have considered my ways and it is the pits.” The heart is there to want to obey God, to be like God’s. That is the kind of heart God is looking for. That is why David is called the man after God’s own heart. These guys wanted to do instant obedience. There are people walking around like that, deceived enough to think they are doing instant obedience, but have no clue in regard to what He is talking about in regard to mercy, love, not judging, forgiving, turning the other cheek, and all of those things. Hoping the best, trusting the best, thinking the best, not keeping records of wrongs. That is God’s criteria. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Do not worry about the ten commandments. Worry about loving one another. That is where law is fulfilled by.
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
So we look at that and say, “I am in deep trouble.” Now, that was in the Old Testament, without the Spirit of God living in them.
Now look at Philippians 4:8, where Paul is speaking to people who have been regenerated, born again with the Spirit of God living in them.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
What will truth do? Set you free. Also think about whatever is right, noble, pure, lovely and admirable. We do not need the supreme court to figure out what is right and wrong. Anybody can figure out what is right and wrong. People are talking about loving one another whether heterosexual or homosexual. Who ever came up with a thing that it is right to be loving each other outside of marriage anyway, in sexual marriage? Where did that come from? That is an old-fashioned thought. You know when things are right and wrong. Anybody engaged in such activities knows full well what is right and what is wrong. As a guy you can be huffing and puffing like a big bad wolf, saying: “I am just so in love and I am in love.” You go forth into that act and then see how anxious you want to get home. I am stepping on toes. I am talking frankly from a human being standpoint. That is not love. That is sex. We know deep down in our heart what is right and wrong. In the heat and passion of the moment it seems so right, but after the climax, you know full well what is right and what is wrong. Let us be honest with each other.
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Why does He say to think about these things? If you think about them and act upon them, that is the way you are going to live your life. It does you no good to say: “Lord, I considered your ways. I am going to obey your commands.” It is when you come to the point of saying “I can’t. I can’t walk in those statutes.” He says, “I know, but I can.”