The Sermon starts off with what may be described as a paradox of blessings. Many Jews considered it blessed to be rich, happy and well thought of by others. But often the opposite is true.
Re 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.'
But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
That is, blessed are those who realize they are poor in spirit. For in rebuking the church of Laodicea Jesus said, "You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." Rev 3:17
To be poor in spirit draws one to God, for "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Ps 34:18 and "this is the one the Lord esteems: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at His word."Is 66:2 Often these attitudes are lacking to various degrees among those who are materially wealthy or otherwise rich in the eyes of the world.
"Blessed" means "Fortunate", as we see the Greek being translated in Acts 26:2 where Paul says, "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews"
Yet what is fortunate about each of these statements in the Sermon on the Mount has to do with the future, which elsewhere in the New Testament the Christian experiences as "hope" - that feeling of anticipation of a future event of which one has faith will come to pass.
What is the "mourning" of he alludes? It is not worldly sorrow, like one's regret over the loss of material things, or like Judas who felt regret for what he did, but did not repent but rather committed suicide. It is written, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2Cor 7:10 In fact an example of godly sorrow can be seen in the context of this verses in 2Corinthians. For Paul writes, "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it— I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us." 2Cor 7:8,9 He wrote this concerning their inappropriate toleration of sexual sin.
Sometimes God intentionally tries to make you sorrowful for your own good. Sometimes we also need to do that intentionally as well. Do you have the kind of sorrow that leads you to repenting from sin, or does such correction only produce worldly sorrow, bitterness or anger?
The "meek" are the humble.
"Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Is. 41:17, Lu. 18:1-8) Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God's goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Gal. 5:23)"Online Bible LexiconInterestingly also is that the same Greek word used here for "meek" (praus) is also used for "gentle" in Peter's instruction to Christian women.
1Peter 3:3,4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle (praus) and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
In the next chapter Jesus will say, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" Mt 6:33a Likewise Isaiah prophecies saying, "Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." Is 55:6,7
If a person is looking for something to eat, it's because he's hungry. Satisfying one's hunger may take some effort. Thus seeking after the LORD's righteousness is not a purely passive activity. In Jesus' day people would literally follow him around, sacrificing their time and other activities in order to be instructed of the LORD.
Seeking after the LORD is not in vain. It will inevitably be worth the effort.
"Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you." Hosea 10:12
The mercy spoken of here (eleew) means to "feel sympathy with the misery of another, esp. such sympathy as manifests itself in act, less freq. in word." Online Bible Lexicon
the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’ Zec 7:9,10
Ps 24:4 "Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart ..."
Clean hands refer to one's behavior and actions, whereas a pure heart speaks of one's desires, intentions, and motivations. A pure heart is that which is free from evil desires, having only good intentions and godly motives.
While developing a pure heart is progressive, it is nonetheless something which the Christian is actively pursing, as Peter writes, "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever," 1Peter 1:22,23
And thus a significant part of developing a pure heart incorporates
1. fleeing from the lusts of the flesh, and
2. spending time with likeminded Christians.
3. spending time in the Word of God
"Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." 2Tim 2:22
Peacemaking is not to be confused with those who surrender to the enemy for the sake of peace, nor should we compromise the truth. It does not say, "Blessed are the compromisers". Trying to make peace between man and God will inevitably cause conflicts as Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."Mt 10:34 Worldly peace is not what Jesus is offering. But through faith in Christ he offers peace with God and consequently peace among those who are in Christ. For "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" Rom 5:1
"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Rom 14:19 And furthermore, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Heb 12:14
As I said, this is the kind of effect one should expect when attempting the reconcile man with God. The Bible teaches us that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2Tim 3:12 Of course people are persecuted from many other reasons, and mostly not for the reasons alluded to here. But if one walks as Jesus and his apostle and the prophets, this is what one can expect from the world. And why does the world hate such people. Perhaps primarily for this reason. Jesus said, "the world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7 and "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20
Mark notes that Jesus adds, "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." Mark 9:50 Thus they are "salt" in the sense that they have salt in them.
Salt itself can't actually lose its saltiness due to its very nature. But it turns out "If" here is third class conditional in Greek grammar. Meaning he's referring to a purely hypothetical situation, and not one which ever necessarily occurs. That is if, hypothetically, salt were to lose its saltiness it would be thrown out.
However one could imagine that which is identified as "salt" (alleged Christians or community of Christians) losing its saltiness. If right doctrine were "watered down", it would lose its saltiness, as in fact it had through the centuries of various flavors of "Christianity".
The metaphor of salt and light is one of purpose or usefulness. We may forget that we are here to serve God, but if we lose our usefulness then judgment is incurred.
Paul writes, "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life"Php 2:14-16
This is not to say Christians should boast of their good deeds. Much to the contrary. Further on Jesus discourages such boasting. But the fact is that if you are acting as a light in a dark place, you will inevitably be placed in a position of public scrutiny. People look to those who are active in doing good deeds, placing them on a pedestal.
The LORD says in Isaiah 58:10, "if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday."
The Law has application to the Christian life. But it is the spirit
of the Law which those born of God naturally live by. Paul gave an example
of the application of the Law in 1Cor 9:9 "For
it is written in the Law of Moses: 'Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading
out the grain.' Is it about oxen that God is concerned?" in which
he quotes Deut 25:4, but he applies it to preachers getting paid
for their ministry, as also he does in 1Tim 5:18 . Christians are
not to ignore even the least of the commandments of the Law, but rather
to get at the heart of it, inferring applications appropriate for children
The righteousness of the Pharisees was one of following the letter of the Law rather than the spirit of the Law, which often resulted in applications violating the spirit of the law. But how are we to interpret this surpassing righteousness? Certainly the positional righteousness we received through faith in Christ, which is the forgiveness of our sins, does indeed surpass the legalistic performance based righteousness of the law as Paul has elaborated greatly upon. However is that what Jesus means? For the emphasis in these chapters concerns one's behavior and not simply one's status before God.
I think rather that Jesus is referring to the righteous behavior which is inevitably associated with being born of God. For under the New Covenant once one is born of God not only is there forgiveness of sins, but also an inevitable effect on their behavior,
This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Heb 10:16,17
As Jesus is speaking of the spirit of the Law one has to be careful not to interpret his commands in a literal legalistic sense, else one can miss the spirit of what he is saying. For he is not replacing one law with another law, but rather he is revealing the essence of the law.
The Law speaks of things more or less overtly, such as murder and adultery being physical acts. But there are non-physical forms of these which though not necessarily being reckoned in the same degree or treated in the same manner, are nonetheless in the same categories. As such, Anger is in the category of Murder.
To have a contemptuous hatred towards one's brother is akin to murder. But what does Jesus mean by "remember that your brother has something against you"? Who is the guilty party? Does this mean that "your brother" is angry at you and therefore a murderer? Or does it mean that the thing he has against you is your illegitimate hatred of him and therefore you are the murderer? For the verses following speak of you being taken to court apparently for something you've done wrong, not unlike the phrase "answerable to the Sanhedrin" in verse 22. The context seems to support this second interpretation, the burden of reconciliation being on the guilty party.
Likewise, in exceeding the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, one needs to forgive such as seek reconcilation, the spirit of this is also seen in the parable of the unforgiving servant of Matthew 18, and in the Lord's prayer. "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Mt 6:12
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.Sexual Lust is in the category of Adultery. To lust in one's mind after a married woman is adulterous. I also infer that if after an unmarried woman it is more generally fornication. This would also generally include masterbation, as mental lust is involved.
Concerning the right hand and right eye, what is meant is "if it were true that..." (This is how the first class conditionals in the Greek are to be understood ["Greek Grammar beyond the Basics" Wallace pg. 690]) This is not to say that it is true, and in fact in this case it is not true. For it is not the members of our body that lead us astray, but rather the innate sinful nature within us, which is not so easy to get rid of as simply cutting off a member.(Wouldn't it be nice if we could simply go through a surgical procedure and be done with sin!) But what is communicated here is the seriousness of sin so as to invoke conviction of sin and fear of judgment.
The fact that he speaks of going to hell in this context reveals that sexual lust alone, apart from the act, can get you thrown into hell.
This is elaborated upon in the following passages: Matt 19:3-9; Mark
10:2-12; Luke 16:18
The exception clause, found only in Matthew, I deal with in the on the web page "Marriage, Divorce and Adultery"
Laws of Divorce in the Law of Moses:
In living a righteous lifestyle exceeding that of the Scribes and Pharisees, the Christian cannot get divorced nor remarry for any and every reason.
But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either
by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’
anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Why make unnecessary oaths? For example, parents often with good intentions make promises to their children to give them a sense of security, but of which they know they may or may not be able to keep. Don't play God and teach your children to play God. Such is a common motivation in making oaths concerning things which we have little control over. By doing so people put themselves in the place of God, which is the root of all evil. To swear by this or that - even by your own head and foot is foolish, for even these are not yours but God's.
'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' Ex 21:24 This is the basic concept of justice. Often we forget this as the popular philosophy today concerning the justice system is of reform rather than punishment. Thus, for example, people will argue for or against the death penalty based upon whether it "works" by deterring further crime, rather than viewing it as simply a just punishment for the crime committed.
While the Bible advocates the application of justice, on an individual level there needs to be a degree of toleration of abuse. However, I don't believe that such "toleration" should be the decision of those assigned to execute justice. For it's easy enough to tolerate an abuser when you're not the victim. (A message to liberal judges) But rather such toleration should be the decision of the victim. The Bible speaks much of this toleration of suffering.
"if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1Peter 2:20,21However this is not to say that justice should never be sought on one's own behalf. The idea of toleration is simply to behave as God does. For throughout the Bible we see that God is merciful, but puts a limit on his toleration of abuse.
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Romans 2:4,5However, one should not take the law into their own hands.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." Romans 12:19Rather one should defer to the authorities whom God has assigned this task. (Romans 13:1-6)
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
There is no actual command in the Bible to hate your enemies. But the Jewish Talmud, which is a sort of commentary on the Law, says nothing of love to enemies. For the religious leaders didn't really understand the spirit of the law. The Jews at the time were generally prejudice. It even took a while for the apostles to get over their prejudice. They came to look on members of the same tribe as neighbours as even Jews everywhere. But they hated the Samaritans who were half Jews who lived between Judea and Galilee, and of course Gentiles as well. But as children of God we should consider who are God's enemies and how has He treated them. For we all were God's enemies and how did God treat us?
Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"So we should love our enemies, but this is not to say that we need to like them. God loves those whom he may eventually send to hell. But that is not to say that he likes them. Else he would not require them to change. Though Jesus spent time with sinners, he didn't simply talk about whatever they wanted to talk about, playing their games. He talked about sin, repentance, reconciliation with God and proper behavior. Jesus also loved the Pharisees who had him put to death. But the way he loved them was by humilating them. So also the Christian idea of the practice of "love" is not the same as what the world's impression may be.
But on the other hand this is not to say that one should be unfriendly. For here Jesus associates this love with greeting people. Though I would imagine one's enemies may not be so friendly in return.
Matthew 5:48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (NKJV)
This is both prophetic and imperative. The tense being used in the Greek is future. But just as in English, a future tense can also be used as an imperative. True that it is inevitable that one day we will be perfect concerning our attitudes and behavior, just as God is perfect. But we should also strive to that end even now.
Let not Christians be lead astray into thinking Jesus is just speaking of ones position or standing before God. Rather he is speaking with regards to ones actual behavior as we note from the context. There's a bumper sticker that says, "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven." That statement is false. Christians are more than just forgiven.
"He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1John 2:4-6 (NKJV)In accordance with this command Jesus will now spend two chapters speaking on "A Behavior Devoid of Hypocrisy"
For the next 18 verses Jesus will be speaking on this subject, the issue being one's motivation for doing righteous works. It is not that he is saying we should abstain from acts of righteousness which are seen by others, for one can imagine very few which don't involve other people, but given the fact as Jeremiah says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jer 9:27, one should try to avoid unnecessarily making their good deeds public.
How you have decided to give is not the business of other Christians."Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2Cor 9:7 So as you are able, make your giving private. Avoid announcing to others your acts of charity, and if people ask you, try to put them off - perhaps quoting what Jesus says here.
Jesus is speaking by way of hyperbole. He is not against public prayer itself, but rather he speaking of motivation. However it is not uncommon even in the Christian community of some to be loud about their Christianity in public but subdued in private.
It is not inappropriate to seek for rewards. "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11:6 And Jesus speaks much of rewards to those who follow him. But seeking praise from men is idolatry compared to seeking praise from God. John 12:43 "for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."
In prayer it is probably good not to treat God like He's an idiot! People have all kinds of bizzare ways of talking with God. For example some interpret the idea of "calling on the name of the Lord" to mean simply to chant "O Lord Jesus" over and over again. What if I said I'll call you up, and you answer your phone, but all you hear is your name being repeated again and again. What good is that? And God is not like some kind of machine that you use just the right technique or say just the right words or push the right buttons and you get some candy out of it. God is a personal being who is insulted if you treated him as the pagans do their idols.
And what's the point in praying things that you neither really mean nor may even understand? Talk to God from your heart, for "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."John 4:24 I reckon it even inappropriate for unbelievers to be coerced into praying things that aren't really on their hearts nor singing Christians songs that they don't really believe. These are not in the spirit of truth. People should not speak vainly but honestly, especially when they are talking with God.
And "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." Ec 5:2
Praise & Submission
Acknowledge His PositionSupplication
"‘Our Father in heaven,
Acknowledge His Holiness -
His contempt of the presense of sin
hallowed be your name,
Acknowledge His Lordship (It's a kingdom, not a democracy)
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Ask for necessary provisions
Give us today our daily bread.
Deal with Sin
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ‘
Despite the context referring to private prayer (vs 6) the corporate word "our" is used throughout. For even in private prayer the individual Christians prays for the benefit of the whole. "In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Rom 12:5 So when you pray for yourself, pray likewise for all other Christians as well.
Here God is addressed as "Father" which was a new way to address God. For up to that point He was addressed mainly as Lord. In fact calling God your own Father was reckoned blasphemy at the time. "For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." John 5:18 Of course Jesus was uniquely the Son of God. But Christians are sons in the sense of adoption. For "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will." Eph 1:5 In fact Christians are not only adopted but are also born of God. For "everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" 1John 5:1 This new relationship with God given to us through Jesus Christ gives us the right to call God our Father. And likewise "Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Heb 2:11
The first thing Jesus presents in this prayer list is acknowledging and indeed affirming the holiness of God, which appears to be the most outstanding characteristic of God.
Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy , holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
It's a kingdom, not a democracy. "He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 For as Jesus will note in the next chpater, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Mt 7:21 And just as Jesus said, "I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." John 6:38, likewise for the Christian. The Christian life is lived in service to God. In everything we do we must ask the question as to what God would want us to do as well as what he wants us not to do. (i.e. 1Thess 4:3 and the like)
As for the kingdom coming on earth, there are three dispensations of the kingdom of which I elaborate upon at http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/kingdom.html
This is not a prayer for luxuries but for necessary provisions. And notice its brevity. For as Jesus had just stated in verse 7,8 "when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
But then why pray at all? Because God wants us to exercise our faith by acknowledging our dependence upon him and that what we have comes from him. This attitude also results in being thankful, which also keeps our hearts from being corrupted, as it is written of the unthankful, "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." Rom 1:21
So today pray to God concerning those things which you normally take for granted.
This principle is perhaps best illustrated in Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant Now unless there is significant ignorance on their part, realize that Jesus is not saying that if you forgive those who refuse to repent, God will forgive you even if you refuse to repent. Rather the principle is "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Col 3:13b So just as the forgiveness of our sins is contingent upon our intention to repent, likewise is God's expectation as to how we treat others. For even in the parable we note the servants expressed their intention to repent of their debt.
So "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3 For that's how a child of God behaves. For more on forgiveness see http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/forgive.html
By "temptations" Jesus is referring to trials of one form or another. And there are times when God will in fact lead us into temptation, but He himself doesn't tempt us.
Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.And trials offer some positive benefits But if we don't pray for deliverance from trials we may receive more than our fair share of them. Even Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Mt 26:39 and likewise Paul requested that the Christians "pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith." 2 Thessalonians 3:2
But if we do enter into a temptation make no excuses. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1Cor 10:13
A Christian's service to God is to be modest, unassuming, exhibiting no pretensions, boastfulness, or ostentation. Jesus indicates there is virtue in giving the appearance that you're doing less for God than you're actually doing. For the flesh would have us give the appearance that we are doing more for God than we are actually doing. So part of the struggle with the flesh is walking humbly with God. More generally there are those who like to make a big show about the restrictions they place upon themselves, just to impress others. The spirit of Biblical fasting should be one of humility. Yet often those who are legalistic end up communicating a different spirit.
The Lord speaks more on fasting in Isaiah saying "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" Is 58:6,7 Seems fasting is less about ourselves and more about others. That is we are to not be ostentatious about the sacrifices we make for others.
So if your heart is where your treasure is, then if your treasure is stolen or corrupted so will your heart be stolen and corrupted. So better to invest in the things which are eternal. See Investing in an HRA Besides, this verse also gives us a clue as to how to change our heart's desire. For if your heart is where your treasure is, then if you want to change your heart away from sinful things, don't invest yourself in them. And if you want to change your heart to godly things, then invest yourself in them. This is particularly effective against greediness. The most effective way to overcome greediness is by practicing generosity. Though your heart may not be in it at first, inevitably it will be.
Mt 6:22,23 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
"The eye is the lamp of the body" in that our perception affects our whole behavior. If you cannot perceive what is true, just, and holy, then your lifestyle will be characterized by darkness, both mentally and morally.
But realize also that people who are spiritually blind are not innocent
victims, but have become that way by responding to what God has revealed
to them in an inappropriate manner.
"They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts." Eph 4:18
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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 men are without excuse. 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." Rom 1:18-21Let this also be a warning to us, who claim to be children of light. For if we don't respond properly to what God reveals to us, our spiritual maturity and effectiveness will be hindered.
A person who loves money cannot love God. And besides, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income." Ecc 5:10 Consequently "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1Tim 6:10
The "Prosperity Gospel" has elements of this in its obsession over health and wealth. Money should be viewed not as an end, but as a tool - not as master, but as slave. God, on the other hand, is not to be viewed as our slave but our Master. This is often not the case for those who keep asking God for stuff with little intention of obeying His commands.
Therefore "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Heb 13:5 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Php 4:6,7
But realize also that not worrying is not the same as doing nothing. It doesn't say, "do nothing". It says "Don't worry". Though at times, in fact, inaction is the right action. That is, not to get caught up in the things of this world. The idea is not so much "don't worry" as it is "don't let worldly concerns distract you significantly from spiritual concerns." "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs— he wants to please his commanding officer." 2Tim 2:4
"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." 1Cor 7:29-31
As a general observation the Psalmist writes, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed." Ps 37:25,26 What is promised is not luxuries, but necessities in order that one make seek God relatively free from distraction. The general principle is that if a person seeks God, God works in such a way as to help free that person from other distractions. Now that may mean that He may actually remove certain things which cause distraction. But He also provides for actual needs as well. Each day does have trouble of its own. But such things are managable for those who seek God. This is the general principle Jesus was teaching.
When he says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." he is speaking in a proverbial fashion. This is not a prohibition but rather he's speaking of a general principle much as these two proverbs say:
Proverbs 26:4 "Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him."Jesus is speaking of the expected consequences in judging others. Consequences of which He himself experienced as he actively judged others, telling them of their sin. And as I had noted recently Jesus said to some unbelievers, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7 So if you want the world to love you, don't say anything bad about it. But don't think in doing so you're walking as Jesus did.
Proverbs 26:5 "Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes."
In fact besides Jesus' example, Paul also commands Christians to judge others. Paul writes, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'"1Cor 5:12,13
If you judge others, they will naturally judge you. This is simply human nature. Just try it yourself. Tell someone what's wrong with them, and almost inevitably they will tell you what's wrong with you. That's one thing Jesus was talking about. So be prepared to accept criticism when you correct others.
But secondly make sure that your own sin is not distorting your perspective concerning other people. That is "first take the plank out of your own eye." For the innocent are often subjected to slanderous accusations by those who feel they are morally superior, but who in fact have been blinded by their own sin. Such is the case throughout the gospels concerning the Pharisees and religious leaders against Jesus.
The way the Jews would understand this is not to share spiritual things with Gentiles or Samaritans. But Jesus was not so racist. Rather he was speaking of the unspiritual. For was it not the Jewish hypocrites in the religious community who ended up trampling him and tearing him to pieces? But he does try to share with them spiritual things to a degree here and Matt 23 even more explicitly as well as in John chapter 8. One could argue in fact that the real reason Jesus was crucified was not because of his claims about himself so much as his humiliating the religious leaders.
Once again I point out that this is not a command, but a proverb. This figure of speech should be understood as "Generally speaking, if this, then that", rather than be interpreted as a command. It speaks of a principle, but as a truism it is wise to follow and not to give mockers more spiritual truth than they need. Though you'll end up giving them more than they want. And when they end up mocking you sometimes the best response is none at all. What is further implied here, and what indeed we see in Jesus' ministry is to spend most of your efforts on those who are receptive.
Here are some pearls to swine proverbs:
Proverbs 9:7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Proverbs 9:8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.
Mt 7:7-11 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
These are to be taken in the same context as 6:24-34 in the seeking of his kingdom and righteousness and not as in the Prosperity Gospel's false concepts of viewing God is our slave. Jesus is not speaking of a law that God is obligated to obey and by which we can manipulate God for our selfish ends. Rather he is presenting God as our Father who has our best interest in mind. Granted there are many fathers today who don't understand their own role and view themselves as simply slaves to their children, and rather than raising them they simply give them whatever they ask, whether it's good for them or not. But God is not that way.
Jesus is speaking not of a law, but a proverbial truism, a general principle. Generally speaking if you ask for something which is good for you, God will give it. Though God may withhold it if he has something better in mind. The subject of our asking should be good gifts and not bad gifts. But the unspiritual may end up getting things backwards in their asking, and whining enough God may indeed give us what might be perceived as bad gifts. For Israel complained against God and doubt His goodness whining for meat in the desert, and God gave them quail, along with a disease and leanness of spirit, because what they needed was discipline and humility. That was the good gift he gave them. So ask for that which is actually good for you and generally God will give that to you. The emphasis here is not that God is our slave, but rather that God loves us.
And if you need wisdom to know what good thing to ask of God, God will not find fault with your asking if you do so sincerely.
This verse ends his dissertation on living according to the spirit of the Law. This is the summary principle of the Law and Prophets. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" has come to be known as the "Golden Rule", and The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Gal 5:14
The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Rom 13:9Perhaps this is also why Christians don't study the Old Testament as much as the New, seeing as much of it can be summarized in a single sentence. But then again, consider that through the Law and the Prophets God expressed his ideas of loving others. So if you want to learn to love others, then it would be good if you studied the Law and the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets is all about loving others.
The Christian faith is philosophically narrow and as such it is common for people to deviate from the truth. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 Some would claim this to be narrow minded along with much of what the Bible says. But that's the way it is. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."Acts 4:12
Jesus said that few find the way to salvation.Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’" Luke 13:23-27 Even among those claiming to be "Christian" it may be few will be saved, let alone outsiders who don't even seek the Lord and those of other religions. Therefore make every effort to enter in while you have a chance.
One of the things which Christians are instructed to do is the be watchful concerning a number of things. In this case Christians should be on their guard against false prophets. False prophets are those who teach significant misapplications of God's Word. The apostle Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus saying, "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." Acts 20:29-31 In fact much of the content of the New Testament letters, Paul, Peter, Jude, John, etc, deals with false teachings. Thus to be prepared to identify such things one should get familiar with the New Testament letters. But also they can be identified by the effect they have.
Mt 7:17-20 "Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
And this goes both ways. One can identify those born of God by the fruit they bear as well. For more see also:
The Parable of the Sower
The Barren Fig Tree
It is vain to call Jesus Lord if we don't treat Him as Lord by doing what He says, else such an exercise of "faith" has no salvific value. If a person even prophecies and purportedly does miracles, does that mean that such a person is saved? No!
"I never knew you" This cannot be said of those who hypothetically were born of God at one point and then lost their salvation, since Jesus could not have said of such people "I never knew you". Rather these people were never saved to begin with. "Knew" is ginosko, which is personal, relational knowledge. It is interesting that he doesn't say, "You never knew Me", although this is quite apparent as well. But didn't God know them? Not in the sense of having established a personal relationship with them as He has with his children. Eternal life is knowing God personally.
John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
What is a sure foundation? "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."1Cor 3:11
Only application oriented faith saves, and one which established upon Jesus Christ. Those who don't apply the word are doomed to destruction. This is an identifying mark between those in the Christian community born of God and those born of the devil. Whether the foundation of one's faith is based upon Christ (the rock) or not may not be evident at first, but will be revealed as trials come (as also in the parable of the sower).
The Pharisees taught simply mindless rules and regulations without understanding the purpose behind these, and they would quote one another rather than speaking authoritatively. But Jesus taught as the author and creator who understood the sense and spirit behind the Law. He could reveal the big picture while the others were caught up in details. The Pharisees were like engineers who tried to reverse engineer a complex design without understanding what they were doing. While Jesus was the original designer and spoke from that perspective.
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015