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Lesson 8: Beatitudes Part 1 (Matthew 5:1-6)

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I. Intro to the Sermon on the Mountain. (5:1-2)

a.      Intro:

i.  As the masses came to hear Jesus he went to Mountain somewhere in Galilee and sat down and began to teach them.

ii.                        What follows is the greatest message on morality the world has ever heard.

iii.                      Even today, ethicists agree that this sermon has shaped world history.

iv.                      That’s what the world would say…

v.                         This sermon is far more than mere morality or ethics.  We can’t and we won’t minimize this to mere morality.

b.      Context:

i.  This sermon speaks of kingdom life, and what the kingdom is like.

1.      See this in its context:  Matthew just described Jesus as a teacher, preacher, and healer, and now he will display Jesus’ teaching.

2.      Jesus is teaching this to self-righteous Pharisees obsessed with externals.

3.      Natural questions on the heart of every Jew would have been, “Am I eligible to enter Messiah’s kingdom? Am I righteous enough to qualify for entrance?”

4.      The only standard of righteousness the people knew was that laid down by the current religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees.

5.      If a person followed all their 1000’s of rules, could such a person enter the kingdom?

6.      Jesus’ sermon therefore must be understood in the context of His offer of the kingdom to Israel and the need for repentance to enter that kingdom.

7.      The sermon showed how a person who is actually in a right relationship with God should conduct his life. 

a.       Not to GET eternal life, but to DISPLAY eternal life.

ii.                        The sermon lays down the foundational truths of the gospel of the kingdom.  He describes what the Kingdom will be like and how the sons and daughters of the kingdoms should live and act.  There is some debate on how to view this sermon of Jesus…

1.      Is this sermon describing the Millenium?  Yes.

2.      Is this sermon a sort of manifesto and constitution of the Millenium?  Yes.

3.      Is this sermon describing how Christians should live today?  Yes.  All of these things are repeated in the rest of the New Testament.

4.      Does this sermon amplify the Law and show us our sin?  Yes.

5.      Does this sermon show the evidence of God’s grace in a person’s life?  Yes.







II.                      Beatititude #1- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (5:3)

a.       This first beatitude is the foundational beatitude and the most important.

i.  If you don’t get this, you can’t have the rest, and the rest don’t even make sense.

b.      “Blessed”

i.  It means happy.  Happy is the person who does this.  Homer used this word to describe the wealthy.  Plato used it to describe someone who is successful in business.

1.      The last verse of the Old Testament ends with a curse. 

a.       400 years pass, Jesus starts His ministry, and He begins with Good News of the Kingdom.  He starts His sermon with blessing, “Blessed are the…”

ii.                        Everyone wants to be happy.  I have never met a person who doesn’t want to be happy.  It’s what the world longs after.

iii.                      Jesus is saying that this is the pathway to happiness.

iv.                      Jesus’ message is a message of how to be happy, how to be blessed.

v.                         It’s a very relevant question:  How do we get happy?

vi.                      Note: He does not tell them to pursue happiness; He is describing how a person is happy.

vii.                    The Lord does not tell them to pursue happiness.

c.       “poor in spirit” defined.

i.  Being poor in spirit is a tremendous awareness of our unworthiness and our lack and poverty.

ii.                        Lit. “shrink, cower, cringe.”

iii.                      Essentially, this is an inward attitude that we have nothing to commend ourselves.  We are spiritually poor, needy, bankrupt.

iv.                      We are powerless.

v.                         We are like little children, or babies (*Georgia*)

1.      Jesus said you have to become like them to enter the kingdom.

2.      What did he mean?

3.      He meant we need to realize our utter and complete dependency on God.

d.      What this doesn’t mean:

i.  He is not describing a disposition or a natural tendency or a personality.

ii.                        Not poor quality of faith or financially poor.  But the spiritual needy.

1.      It’s possible to be the richest person in the world, but be poor in spirit.

2.      And it’s possible to be living in poverty, but have no need for God.  Wealthy in spirit.  Self-sufficient.

e.       There is a link between being “Poor in spirit” and repentance.

i.  This is the main point of the beatitudes and the main point of Jesus’ teaching!

1.      If you don’t repent. 

2.      If you don’t see yourself as spiritually impoverished.

3.      If you don’t see yourself as spiritually poor and needy.

4.      Then you can’t be a part of the kingdom.

ii.                        When you look towards God, are you confident, or do you feel bankrupt and naked?

iii.                      Do we feel you have something in yourself to commend you to God, or do we feel inadequate?

iv.                      Do you feel justified to approach God based on your life?

v.                         Do we march in to God’s presence, or do we crawl on our face?

f.        Being “Poor in spirit” internal and spiritual.

i.  It doesn’t look to externals…rather it looks to internals.

ii.                        We don’t look to any great family history or preachers or missionaries.

iii.                      We don’t look to our grandfather of father or mother who were Christians.

iv.                      We don’t look to where were born or what church we attend or any good deeds we have done.

v.                         All of that is like dung, Paul would say.

vi.                      Being poor in spirit means you approach God and say, “Woe is me!  I am a man of unclean lips”

vii.                    Jesus is concerned with the inner person, not the externals.

1.      The Jews were expecting a political kingdom and an external kingdom, which will come in due time.

2.      But Jesus teaches here that the kingdom first and foremost is an internal, spiritual kingdom.

viii.                  John the Baptist illustrates this:

1.      Jesus says of John the Baptist that he is the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time.

2.      Yet John lived a simple life, wore simple clothes, didn’t have possessions or a home, and had simple diet, and he preached a message that the world thought was a joke.

3.      Compare John with Solomon, who had a huge home, lots of wealth, lots of power, military power, political power.

4.      The Jews would have said that Solomon or David was the greatest, yet Jesus says that John the Baptist is the greatest.

5.      John the Baptist, in a sense will personify what Jesus message is all about.

ix.                      The happiest person will be the person who has been spiritually changed, not externally changed.

g.      How do we become poor in spirit?

i.  This is something God has to do, by grace.  But there are things we can do.

1.      We behold the holiness of God.

2.      We read and examine His Holy Word.

3.      Read what He expects of us.

4.      Read the sermon on the Mount.

ii.                        If you are not impoverished after hearing this, then it means you are still out of touch with reality.

iii.                      When a person truly comes in contact with Jesus and they will say with Peter, “Lord, please go away from me, for I am a sinner.”

iv.                      Lord, if you know about me, you will see that I have nothing to commend myself.”

v.                         Woe is me!

vi.                      That’s being poor in spirit…

h.      “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

i.  Do you feel entitled?  Then you are not poor in spirit and it’s impossible for you to enter the Kingdom

ii.                        Do you feel like God owes you?  Then you are not poor in spirit and it’s impossible for you to enter the Kingdom

iii.                      Have you repented, and do you continually repent?  Then you are not poor in spirit and it’s impossible for you to enter the Kingdom.

III.                   Beatititude #2- “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (5:4)

a.       “Blessed are those who mourn”

i.  lit. “sad, grieve, lament”

ii.                        The world hears this and mocks.

1.      This the very thing the world tries to avoid!

2.      The world spends a lot of time and energy on AVOIDING mourning!

3.      But here Jesus says that the only truly happy people are those who mourn.

4.      If you laugh now, you will weep later.

5.      Mourning precedes joy.

b.      Conviction of sin and the bad news is a prerequisite of joy and the good news.

i.  These beatitudes build on each other.

1.      When you are poor in spirit, the next thing you do is mourn.

ii.                        Everyone wants joy and happiness, and Jesus is saying that you cannot have it unless you mourn.

iii.                      The masses want happiness, but they refuse to mourn.

iv.                      Jesus is saying it’s impossible to happy without mourning.

v.                         One of the greatest problems of the church today, and of individual Christians, is that many have never really been convicted of sin.

1.      The bad news of sin, condemnation, hell, and judgment, has been massaged away.

2.      The world has taken spiritual morphine, and numbed itself.

3.      Churches refuse to preach on sin and condemnation  and hell.

4.      Mourning and lament are been seen as a curse and something to avoid.

c.       Why do we mourn and lament?

i.  We mourn and lament because of our own sin.

1.      Just examine yourself against the Word.

2.      Examine yourself in light of the Scriptures and what Jesus and the apostles expect.

3.      If you are not immediately led to mourning, there is something very wrong.

4.      Sins of omission and sins of commission:

a.       What are the things I did and said today that were sinful?

b.      What are the things I didn’t do and say?

c.       The list begins to pile up and it’s depressing.

d.      There is something in me that is prone to wander.

e.       I am conflicted in myself.  There is a war inside me.

f.        This causes the Christian to mourn.

ii.                        We mourn and lament because of the sins of other people.

1.      We see other Christians in sin, and it makes us mourn.

2.      We see people ruining their lives with sin, and it hurts.

3.      We see the affects of sin and how is destroys lives and ruins relationships and makes people miserable and relationships estranged, and we lament.

iii.                      We mourn and lament because of the world’s sin and its lostness.

1.      The world is in state of darkness.

2.      Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers and people are deceived.

3.      Billions of people live in misery.  Not physically impoverished, but spiritually impoverished and dead and miserable and wicked.

4.      And sin is compounded on sin and misery is multiplied.

iv.                      If you don’t lament your sin, if you don’t grieve over your sin, you are not born again and you are not part of the kingdom.**

d.      “for they shall be comforted”

i.  Here is the promise:

ii.                        After a person mourns and is made aware and miserable because of sin, He is then drawn to Christ, and is comforted.

iii.                      Like the song, “And then I look and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin.”

iv.                      The world’s problems are unsolvable.  The world is spinning out of control.  The global economy hangs by a slender thread.  Nuclear threat is still a threat.  People are still crazy.

v.                         But the Christian is comforted that God is on the throne.

vi.                      The Christian is comforted by the promise of God, the promise of eternal life and forgiveness of sins.

e.       The Christian is a bit of a paradox:

i.  This is a bit of a paradox.

1.      We are Serious but not morose.

2.      “Sober-minded but not sullen”  MLJ

3.      Broken because of sin, but happy because of Christ.

4.      “Cheer up.  You’re a lot worse than you think you are.  Cheer up.  God is a lot greater than you think He is.” Jack Miller.

ii.                        It’s somewhat interesting that in the gospels we never see Jesus laughing.

1.      He is described as a man of sorrows.

2.      He weeps for Lazarus.  He weeps for Jerusalem.

3.      He goes around telling people to repent and mourn because of sin.

4.      And yet Matthew says the Son of Man came eating and drinking.  Jesus was the Bridegroom and there was joy.  The Pharisees criticized Him and His disciples because they didn’t fast.

iii.                      Paul is a similar paradox.

1.      He describes himself as a wretched man, as a man who groans and laments his body and his sin. 

2.      Who wants to be delivered from himself and this world.

iv.                      Yet, over and over he is rejoicing even in his suffering and pain.

f.        Application:  Do you mourn?

i.  Do you mourn over your own spiritual condition?

ii.                        Do you mourn for the world’s spiritual condition?

iii.                      Do you hate your sin?

iv.                      Does it make you sad?

v.                         Do you hate sin in the world?  The parties.  The vanity.  The entertainment and numbness.  The addictions.  The pain and suffering.

vi.                      Does is make you lament?

vii.                    And yet…the promise is that we will be comforted

viii.                  We will have comfort in the midst of lamentation.

IV.                    Beatititude #3- “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (5:5)

a.       Again we see the utter contrast with the world.

i.  The world thinks in terms of power and influence and ability and impact and aggressiveness and self-promotion and self-assertion, numbers.

ii.                        “Be assertive!  Take the bull by the horns!  Make it happen! Conquer!”

iii.                      When Atheist philosopher Neitche came to the sermon on the mount and read that the meek inherit the earth, he said it was a lie! “Assert yourself; it’s the arrogant who take over the earth.”

iv.                      “Nice guys finish last” says the world.

v.                         The utter difference between the Christian and the non-Christian.

1.      The natural person wants to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-made.

2.      The Marlborough Man.

3.      The world mocks someone who is poor in spirit, needy.

4.      The natural person likes boasting, and confidence. 

5.      He is interested in this world, because this is all there is.  So grab all the gusto out of life you can.

6.      The Christian is totally different.

b.      But Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek…”

i.  What is meant?

ii.                        Meek lit. means “humble, modest, unassuming, gentle”

iii.                      Jesus is teaching the very opposite of what the world teaches.

iv.                      Rather than trust your own abilities and powers, rather you trust in the Lord.

v.                         Psalm 37:7, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

vi.                      Mat. 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

c.       Meekness doesn’t not mean weak, or spineless, or pathetic.

i.  It doesn’t mean niceness or someone who’s a pushover, or a wallflower.

ii.                        It really means power under control.  Like a tame horse.

iii.                      It means to be “Humble, gentle, not aggressive—but trusting and waiting on the Lord to act”

d.      Illustration:

i.  When you get pulled over for driving too fast, and the police officer tells you that you were driving 20 miles over the speed limit, and the ticket should be over $400, but he has decided to let you go, and your jaw drops and you feel like giving him a hug…here is the question:  How do you drive off?

1.      Do you squeal your tires?  Do you spray gravel and lay some rubber?

2.      Or do you drive away slowly?  Because you have just been shown the law, and you have violated the law, but you have been shown mercy and comforted.  How do you drive off?  You drive off in meekness…

e.       King David is a great illustration of this meekness and humility.

i.  God had made David king, but Saul was still in charge.  Saul was still in the position of leadership.

ii.                        But David was the rightful king.

iii.                      Over and over Saul tries to kill David, but David refuses to retaliate.  He leaves it to the Lord.  Over and over David could have killed Saul, but he refuses to touch the “Lord’s anointed.”

iv.                      A great example of meekness--He is an illustration of power under control.

f.        Moses was an example of this:

i.  He was called the meekest person who had ever lived up to that time.

ii.                        Humble before the Lord.

g.      Illustration:

i.  Doug Nichols is Founder and Director of Action International Ministries…

ii.                        It was a long time ago, in the summer of 1966, that Doug was working for Operation Mobilization and was stationed in London during their big annual conference. He was assigned to the clean-up crew. One night at around 12:30 AM he was sweeping the steps at the conference center when an older gentleman approached him and asked if this was where the conference was being held. Doug said that it was, but that just about everyone had already gone to bed. This man was dressed very simply and had just a small bag with him. He said that he was attending the conference. Doug replied he would try to find him a place to sleep and led him to a room where about 50 people were bunked down on the floor. The older gentleman had nothing to sleep on, so Doug laid down some padding and a blanket and offered a towel for a pillow. The man said that would be just fine and that he appreciated it very much.

iii.                      Doug asked the man if he had been able to eat dinner. It turns out that he hadn’t eaten since he had been travelling all day. Doug took him to the dining room but it was locked. He soon jimmied the lock and found some cornflakes and milk and bread and jam. As the man ate, the two began to talk. The man said that he and his wife had been working in Switzerland for several years, where he had a small ministry that served hippies and travelers. He spoke about his work and spoke about some of the people he had seen turn to Christ. When he finished eating, both men turned in for the night.

iv.                      Doug woke up the next morning only to find out that he was in big trouble. The conference leaders came to him and said, “Don’t you know who it was that you put on the floor last night? That’s Francis Schaeffer! He’s the speaker for this conference! We had a whole room set aside for him!”

v.                         Doug had no idea that he was sleeping on the floor next to a celebrity, that he had told a man to sleep on the floor who had a profoundly important ministry. He had no idea that this man had helped shape the Christian church of that day, and really, the church of our day. And Schaeffer never let on. In humility he had accepted his lot and been grateful for it.

vi.                      That’s meekness.  He’s just happy to be there.

h.      Again, there is a logical connection to these beatitudes.

i.  Poverty in spirit, mourning and lament over our sins, and now humility.

ii.                        In a sense Jesus us saying the same thing in three different way.

i.        Meekness has been said to be “power under control.”

i.  And I think that is true and helpful, but more than that it is a person who is comfortable with being a servant.

ii.                        When a person has a correct view of himself, as someone who has been shown mercy, who is impoverished.

iii.                      Such a person is happy to be a servant.

iv.                      When a person sees himself as a servant, he isn’t frustrated that people don’t recognize him, or promote him, or see his giftedness.

v.                         The meek person is a person who forgets himself.  He’s just happy to be along for the ride.

vi.                      He’s just happy to be a servant.

1.      I’m just happy to be here.

2.      I don’t need a place of position of prominence.  I’m content to be a servant.

vii.                    John Bunyan said it well, “He that is down need fear no fall.”

viii.                  Such a person isn’t easily offended, or sensitive.

1.      You can’t really offend a meek person.

2.      Anything you say against him, he agrees with.

3.      The opposite of a meek person is easily offended, very sensitive.

4.      But the meek person is just humbled that God has had mercy on them. 

5.      They don’t need recognition or accolades, they are content to be a servant of all.

ix.                      The meek person is a content person.  That might be the best way to describe it.  They are content.

j.        Illustration:

i.  President Theodore Roosevelt adopted as his foreign policy, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." By that he meant that if the U.S. had a strong military, it could work its will among the nations of the world.  In 1901, Roosevelt elaborated on his philosophy: "If a man continually blusters,…a big stick will not save him from trouble; and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power."

ii.                        Meekness is not weakness. 

iii.                      Jesus isn’t telling us that we are blessed when we are push-overs. 

iv.                      Rather, we don’t need to contest. 

v.                         We don’t need to defend our honor or our name. 

vi.                      We don’t need to respond to criticism.

vii.                    Behind the non-retaliation, is a confidence, strength, and trust, that God will vindicate.  God will act on our behalf.

k.      “Inheriting the earth”

i.  This is even true in the animal world:  Lambs and sparrows are no match for Lions, Tigers, and Eagles.  But look who’s on the endangered species list.  There are lots of lambs and sparrows…

ii.                        Powerful people who are arrogant won’t inherit the earth.

iii.                      Part of the reason that a person can remain meek, and even prefer to be meek, is because he or she knows that promise of the future.

iv.                      She will inherit the earth.

v.                         There is an inheritance that awaits.

vi.                      In another age, we will reign with Christ.

vii.                    We don’t have to stockpile wealth or reputation here. 

viii.                  We don’t need to amass possessions and we don’t need to safeguard our status.

ix.                      We can truly be happy to be humble, because we have a sweet inheritance coming.

x.                         This world is going up in smoke.

V.                       Beatititude #4- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (5:6)

a.       Happy is the person who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

i.  “If this verse is to you one of most blessed statements of the whole of Scripture you can be quite certain you are a Christian; if it is not, then you had better examine the foundations again.” MLJ

b.      What doesn’t it mean?

i.  We don’t hunger and thirst for happiness, we hunger and thirst for righteousness.

ii.                        There is a desire to be rid of sin. A desire to love what God loves and hate what God hates.

iii.                      This is the problem and the reason for our misery.  We don’t love what God loves and hate what God hates.

iv.                      Our problem is that we like sin. 

v.                         Even if we know it’s wrong and bad for us and makes us miserable. 

vi.                      Even if we know that, we also know we like sin.  We default to sin.

c.       It doesn’t mean that we are to seek our own righteousness as a bases for fellowship with God.

i.  He isn’t talking about a forensic righteousness:

ii.                        This is different than what Paul talks about in Romans 1.

iii.                      MLJ, “The Christian should always be a man who knows that his sins are forgiven.  He should not be seeking it, he should know he has it, that he is justified in Christ freely by the grace of God, that he stands righteous at this moment in the presence of his Father.”

iv.                      Nonetheless, some Christians may even proudly proclaim their own righteousness.

1.      “Having spent a considerable amount of time good people, I can understand why Jesus liked to be with Tax Collectors and sinners.”  Mark Twain

d.      But the person who is hungering and thirsting for righteousness is a person who has making efforts and rearranging his life to avoid sin.

i.  If he sins, he hates it to such a degree that he changes things in his life so that he doesn’t do it again.

ii.                        It is a longing to be holy!

iii.                      Darby defined it better than anyone, he said,

1.      “To hunger is not enough; I must be really starving.  When the prodigal son was hungry he went to feed upon the husks, but when he was starving, he turned to his father.”

iv.                      The happy person is a person who is starving to getting rid of his sin, and desperate for holiness.  The holy person is the happiest person.

e.       Application:

i.  Do we long to be holy?

ii.                        Do we long to be like the great saints and missionaries who have gone on before us?

iii.                      Do we long to be like Joseph, or Daniel, or Paul, or Hannah, or Mary?

f.        How do we practically starve after righteousness?

i.  We ask ourselves, “What saps our desire for righteousness?”

1.      We avoid the things that deflate my desire for holiness.

2.      There things that are obviously wrong, I am not talking about that?

3.      What are the things that make us dull?

ii.                        What the the things that take away my desire for the Word, for fellowship, for Sunday morning?

1.      What are the things that tale away too much time for the Lord?

2.      Are they games, or apps, of football, or magazines, or shopping?

iii.                      Think of it like appetite:

1.      When I eat snacks before a meal, it takes away my appetite.

2.      The same it true spiritually.

3.      What are the things that take away my appetite?

4.      This is tricky because we don’t want to lay down a lay.

5.      We don’t want to make a list for everyone.

6.      We don’t want to set up a fence of righteousness.

7.      The Christian has an enormous amount of freedom.

8.      But the principle still stands!

iv.                      “Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.” J. Wilbur Chapman

g.      The person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness is willing to make lifestyle changes.

i.  This is a person who has truly repented:

ii.                        What does repentance look like, you ask?  This.

iii.                      If we had time for ourselves and our own amusements, then we also have time for the Lord.

iv.                      They read biographies and they feel ashamed of themselves, and yet they long to be like them.

VI.                    Summary:

a.       Unhappy and cursed is the person who is spiritually rich with no need for they will have no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.

b.      Unhappy and cursed is the person who parties without Christ, because he has numbed himself of his actual need with no lasting, real party to look forward to and no comfort in the meantime.

c.       Unhappy and cursed are the proud, because they are not in touch with the reality of their sin and depravity, and will have no inheritance in the kingdom.

d.      Unhappy and cursed are those who have no appetite for holiness because they make provision for their sinful desire and their apathy is the proof they have never really repented.

e.       What is our reaction to these beatitudes?

i.  Do I find them hard?  Do I find them to be uncomfortable?  Do we long for these beatitudes?  Do we like what the King is saying?  Do we see these statements as overstatements?  Are we happy?  Do we want to be like this?  If not, in the words of MLJ, “I am afraid it just means I am not a Christian.”  “If I don’t want to be like this, then it means I am still dead in my trespasses and sins.”

ii.                        But if I feel like I am unworthy, and at the same time I want to be like that, I am unworthy, but that is my desire and my ambition, then there MUST be new life in me.  I must be regenerated..

VII.                Application:

a.      Repent and make yourself low…by God’s grace!

b.      Are these beatitudes requirements to enter the kingdom or blessings that are cultivated?

i.  If we see these statements as ethical requirements then we have turned this into Law and our effort is required to enter into the kingdom.

ii.                        If we see these statements as blessing that God has placed in us by His grace, then we can appreciate His sovereign work, and seek to cultivate these graces.

iii.                      What I mean is that only God can do this.

1.      The unsaved natural person cannot make himself poor in spirit, mourn for his sin, or be happy to be meek, and starve after righteousness.  This is a work of God.  It is an evidence of grace.  Evidence that God has worked.

2.      Repentance is a gift from God.

3.      Mourning is a gift from God.

4.      Humility and lowliness is a gift from God.

5.      Hungering after righteousness is a gift from God.

6.      These are signs of life in a person.

7.      Evidence of life.  Signs of being born again.

iv.                      We don’t work hard to get these traits to gain God’s approval, rather God’s approval and grace produces these traits.

1.      Our job is to cultivate and work our what God has worked in.

2.      In other words, when a person truly comes to God in repentance and poverty of spirit, broken over their sin.

v.                         Jesus goes after the heart.  He goes after the spirit of a person, not the externals.

c.       Ravi Zacharius was preaching at a university…

i.  “and there was a man had had a doctor friend was wan an agnostic.  She was somewhat of a famous Doctor and very skeptical of anything religious.  In fact she despised religious people.  So this man somehow convinced her to come to the University to hear Ravi give a lecture on the defense of the Christian faith.  She reluctantly attended.  Afterwards, the friend who brought her asked her what she thought and what she said was both telling and insightful. She said, “Very, very powerful, but I wonder what he is like in his private life?

ii.                        What most people are wondering these days, is not whether or not Christianity is true, but whether or not it makes any difference in your private lives?

d.      Living this message is the best means of evangelism!

i.  The world is in desperate need of seeing true Christians.

ii.                        The world does not need a new description of Christianity; the world needs a new demonstration of Christianity.

iii.                      Given the option between an evangelistic crusade, or a real Christian, give me a real Christian who lives the sermon on the Mount.

1.      “The world today is looking for, and desperately needs, true Christians.  I am never tired of saying that what the true Church needs to do is not organize evangelistic campaigns to attract outside people, but to begin herself to live the Christian life.”  MLJ

iv.                      “What my people need, more than anything else, is my own personal holiness.”  Robert Murray McCheyne.

v.                         True Christians make the deepest impression.

vi.                      Reggie Sanchez, who is doing a church plant here in our own chapel on Sunday afternoons, is a brother from Southside Church.  He has shared the gospel and has a ministry to former prostitutes in Denver.  He has taken some of them in, and they live in his home.  That’s genuine Christianity.  And it makes an impression.

vii.                    Unbelievers look at that and say, “wow, what would make a person do such a thing?”

viii.                  We need to commit ourselves to actually practice this!

ix.                      And as we do it, we will become even more poor in spirit, because we realize how from we are from it!

e.       Jesus confronts the heart:

i.  If you listen to this sermon of Jesus, and pat yourself on the back and feel comfortable, then you are just like the Pharisees and are not born again.

ii.                        One of the major purposes of this sermon is to ratchet up sin.  To ratchet up the law.

iii.                      “You have heard it said, do not commit adultery, I say to you, that if you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery.”

f.        One of the results from listening to Jesus, is that it leads us to be poor in spirit.  The expectations of the Law are crushing.

g.      Blessed are those who are crushed!

VIII.             The Gospel.

Related Topics: Christology, Ethics, Grace, Hamartiology (Sin), Kingdom, Law, Spiritual Life

Lesson 9: The Beatitudes, Part 2 (Matthew 5:7-12)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.      Jesus is describing Kingdom living:

i.  He is also describing the Christian person.

ii.                        This is the disposition and character of a true Christian.

iii.                      What happens to a Christian as he hears this is he immediately says, “Oh, I want those beatitudes” or “oh, I don’t really have that yet, but I want it.”  or “I need more of that.”

iv.                      So these beatitudes are sort of a test.  Jesus is testing people.  He is testing the disciples.  He is testing the Pharisees.

v.                         What is your reaction to these statements from Jesus?

1.      Does it interest you?

2.      Do you long for it?

3.      Does it make you uncomfortable?

vi.                      These beatitudes are evidences of God’s grace, not a checklist to get righteous.

vii.                    It’s evidence of God’s approval, not a pathway to approval.

viii.                  These are signs of life, not a means to GET life.

b.      Beatitudes (5:1–12)

i.  The poor in spirit (5:3)

1.      This person, by God’s grace, has realized his spiritual poverty.

2.      That he is nothing.  He is a worm.

3.      “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

a.       Luke 18:9-14, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

4.      A man who is humble and poor in spirit, is always interested in more poverty of spirit.  He isn’t trying to get ride of it, he wants more.

5.      Jesus is interested in the heart:

a.       He isn’t interested in behavior modification.

b.      He is interested in the heart.

c.       The true nature of a person.

d.      Christianity is fundamentally a change in nature.

e.       Becoming a Christian isn’t something we do, it’s something that happens to us and produces results, like these beatitudes.

ii.                        Those who mourn (5:4)

1.      This person is sad about his spiritual life.  He laments his sin.  He laments his flesh.  He is sad about the effects of sin and its destruction.

2.      He laments what sin has done to relationships and what it has done in the world.

3.      He cries out “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me!!”

iii.                      The meek (5:5)

1.      This person is humbled.  Happy to be a servant. 

2.      Not easily offended.  Not sensitive and always getting hurt.  Because he views himself in a low regard.

3.      Who I am anyway?  I’m just happy to be part of the family of God.  I’m just happy to be a servant.

4.      Nobody can overly-offend him or hurt him our crush him, because the cross has already done it.

5.      The cross of Jesus has said all of those things, and more.

6.      The meek person is a person who has come under the weight of the condemnation of the cross, and agrees with its verdict.  That Jesus died for sins…MY sins. 

7.      That takes the swagger out of our step, and makes us humble, and humbled.

iv.                      Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (5:6)

1.      This shows the positive side of repentance.

2.      What does true repentance look like?  It looks like this.

3.      A person who has truly repented hungers and thirsts for righteousness.

4.      He rearranges his life to not sin and to purse holiness.

5.      He makes lifestyle changes.  He totally rearranges his life and priorities to seek first God’s kingdom.

6.      This is the most clarifying statement of repentance I have ever read.

7.      This crystallizes the Christian life for me.

c.       Now we will look at the next four Beatitudes.

II.                      Beatitude #5 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (v. 7)

a.       Definition:

i.  Lit. “merciful, sympathetic, compassionate, pitiful”

b.      The merciful person views people in a different way:

i.  People have been duped by Satan.  He has blinded their minds.

ii.                        They are spiritually blind.  Spiritually deaf.  Spiritually dead people walking.

iii.                      And it’s sad.

iv.                      In the same way it’s sad to walk through a children’s cancer ward.

v.                         In the same way it’s sad to walk through Auschwitz or Dachau.

vi.                      In the same way it’s sad when you see a man on the street in a wheelchair with no legs asking for money.

vii.                    Our hearts want to help.

viii.                  Only now we see all people without Christ like that.

1.      We see a rich man living in pomp and pleasure, with no need of Christ, and we see him as spiritually dead, miserable.

2.      We see all people outside of Christ in a state of condemnation.  Slaves of sin.  Slaves of hell.

ix.                      Jesus, when He was hanging on the cross, said, ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

1.      They are duped.  They blinded.  They are under a delusion.

2.      The Christian feels pity on them.  Wants to relieve their suffering with the gospel of grace.

3.      If we never feel pity on the lost we will never try to reach the lost.

4.      If we never see their utter need and misery, both now and fast approaching, we will have no interest in evangelism.

5.      The key to effective evangelism, is that we feel pity on the lost.  We view them differently than we used to view them.

c.       The merciful person has been transformed:

i.  He’s been changed from an Ebenezer Scrooge into a Jean Valjean.

ii.                        The Good Samaritan displayed mercy on the injured man.  Jesus said he had “mercy.”  The whole point of that story is that Jesus, is the Good Samaritan.

d.      God is described as merciful:

i.  One of the greatest attributes of God is that He is merciful.  He pities us.

ii.                        Ex. 34:6, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”

e.       There is a difference between mercy and grace.

i.  Grace is a favor that is given to a person not on the basis of performance.  It’s unmerited favor.

ii.                        Mercy is more related to pity.  Wanting to relieve a situation.

iii.                      Grace looks at sin as a whole, mercy looks more upon the sad consequences of sin and wants to relieve it.

iv.                      Grace is usually associated with sins.

v.                         Mercy is usually associated with misery.

f.        The opposite of this would be stingy:

i.  Illustration:

1.      Maybe you saw this week in the news The Applebee’s receipt, which was posted earlier this week to Reddit, includes handwritten notations referring to an 18 percent tip added to the bill (for groups larger than six). “I give God 10% why do you get 18,” who then scratched out the tip and added a zero in its place. She also wrote the word “Pastor” above her signature.

2.      That’s a great example of the opposite of what Jesus is talking about.

3.      It’s interesting that people who are generous tippers usually worked as waitresses or waiters.

4.      Ask them if it’s nice to receive mercy?

5.      If anything we should tip MORE when the service is bad.  Because it illustrates the gospel.

ii.                        The opposite of showing mercy is someone who is exacting.

iii.                      Who keeps a record of wrongs.  Hold’s grudges.

1.      They may pride themselves in being great tippers, but they’re bitter with a family member.

iv.                      Or, they keep a mental note of exchanges.

1.      “They gave me a nice gift, but we gave them a nice gift last year, so we are even.”

v.                         Someone who has been shown mercy, is generous, doesn’t keep a record or a mental balance sheet.  They don’t do mental accounting and weigh the balance.

g.      Jesus said “You love little because you have been forgiven little.”

i.  The Man who didn’t forgive debts:

1.      Mat. 17.

h.      Application:

i.  The good news of the gospel leads to mercy and generosity.

1.      Jesus has forgiven your debts.

2.      Jesus has dealt with you on the basis of mercy, not works.

3.      Jesus did not weigh your good works with your bad.  If He had, you wouldn’t be here right now.

i.        The promise: “for they shall receive mercy”

i.  What does this mean?

1.      It doesn’t mean that I only receive mercy and am only forgiven when I forgive others and show mercy.

2.      It doesn’t mean that our salvation is contingent on our mercy and forgiveness of people who have hurt us.

3.      Then it would be a works-based mercy.

ii.                        No, it means that a person, by God’s grace, who has truly encountered God’s mercy, and displays that mercy to others, is a walking illustration of God’s mercy.

iii.                      Jean Valjean showed mercy, because he was shown mercy. (Les Miserables)

iv.                      It changed him internally.

III.                   Beatitude #6 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (v. 8)

a.       Definition:

i.  Lit. “clean, innocent, spotless, unalloyed”  Purity in heart refers to moral uprightness and not just ritual cleanliness.

b.      The Pure in heart have a change on the INSIDE:

i.  “pure in HEART”

ii.                        Jesus is concerned with the heart.

iii.                      Blessed are the poor in spirit.

iv.                      The root problem is our heart.  It’s desperately wicked.

v.                         From the heart comes murder, and evil thoughts, adultery, blasphemies, Jesus says.

c.       The pure in heart desire more holiness.

i.  Holiness is a prerequisite for entering God’s presence.

ii.                        The pure in heart pass this test, so they will see God and experience intimate fellowship with him.

d.      The pure in heart are single-minded:

i.  The “pure in heart” exhibit a single-minded devotion to God that stems from the internal cleansing created by following Jesus.

ii.                        The pure in heart has a single-minded devotion to the glory of God.

1.      If it will bring glory to God-she does it.

2.      It’s a heart that desires to see Jesus magnified and exalted and praised.”

e.       The pure in heart are happy.

i.  This is the opposite of what the world thinks.

ii.                        The worldly person thinks that holiness equals sadness.

iii.                      “The holy person is the miserable person.” They think.

iv.                      Jesus says it’s the other way around.

v.                         “The happiest person is the holiest person.”

vi.                      “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: …to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

vii.                    The happy person keeps himself from being stained by the world.

viii.                  She avoids the system of the world which is antichrist.

ix.                      She is the happiest person of all.

x.                         George Muller, “one of the greatest blessings in my life was walking with God with a clear conscience.”??

xi.                      There is a freedom and an lightness that comes from purity.

f.        The opposite of this is guilt and a conflicted heart.

i.  Someone who is not pure in heart has one foot in the world and one foot in the church.

ii.                        This is miserable.  Taxing.  A burden.

g.      The promise: “They will see God.”

i.  This is true now and will be literally true later.

ii.                        The Christian can perceive the evidence of God.

iii.                      They see God in nature.  They see His handiwork and His design.

iv.                      They see him in world history.  Sovereign and moving among the nations and its leaders.

v.                         They see him in their own lives.

vi.                      They can trace the hand of God, evil in tragedy and pain and suffering.

vii.                    “In any suffering, or in any other event for that matter, God is doubtless doing many things, perhaps thousands of things, millions of things, even if we can only detect two or three or a handful." D.A. Carson

viii.                  The pure in heart are constantly seeing God, in a sense.

ix.                      A day is coming when we will see God face to face.

1.      All impurity will be dissolved, and we will see God face to face, no longer dimly through a glass, but clearly.

h.      Application: How do we get a clean heart?

i.  They feel guilty.

1.      Romans 7 Paul says “For I delight in the Law…but there is another law in me.”

2.      Here’s the kicker: No one can make their hearts pure:

a.       Prov. 20:9, Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?

b.      The pure in heart are mourning because they know that they are not totally pure in heart.

c.       However, mourning our impure hearts actually leads to a purity of heart.

3.      Currently, for the Christian, there is a conflict, a war, a tension.

a.       We want to be free from sin, and yet, we delight in sin.  There is a tension.

b.      We don’t sin because we hate it, we sin because we like it.

4.      This duplicity is the opposite of being pure in heart.

5.      Unhappy is the person who is divided and has impurity in his heart.

ii.                        We can try to make ourselves pure…but good luck with that.

iii.                      You will frustrate yourself and give up.  Guaranteed.

iv.                      If we think this is something we produce, we will end in misery, and we will never see God.

v.                         The only way this can happen is for God to intervene.

vi.                      God needs to create a new nature.  A new life is needed.  Our with the old, in with the new.  You must be born again.

vii.                    If God has done this to you.  If you have been born again, then your responsibility is to cultivate this. 

viii.                  Work out what God has worked in.

ix.                      Make every effort in holiness and purity.

x.                         Rearrange your life to be pure.  All the while realizing that it is God who works in you these qualities.  It is always His work.

IV.                    Beatitude #7 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (v. 9)

a.       Definition:

i.  Lit. “someone who makes peace”  someone who actively works to brings peace and reconciliation where there is hostility.

b.      First of all, God is a peacemaker.

i.  I’m not sure it’s an overstatement to say that we are most like God, when we are making peace.

ii.                        The story of the Bible is a story of God making and providing peace through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

iii.                      “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.” Unknown

iv.                      In fact, Scripture tells us that God is the “God of peace,” and the cross is his paramount peacemaking work!

c.       Peacemakers make peace.

i.  When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he was not referring to those who merely keep peace. He was referring to those who make peace—those “who end hostilities and bring the quarrelsome together.”

ii.                        “This beatitude,” explains David Turner, “is not about being a passively peaceful person but about being an active reconciler of people.”

d.      The world we live in is a world of murder and war and violence and conflict.

i.  Why?

ii.                        One answer: sin.

iii.                      Despite what psychologists will tell you, despite what many of the brightest minds will say, the reason the world is the way it is, is because we have sin deep inside our hearts.

1.      They will say the problem is economical.

2.      The problem is social conditions.

3.      The problem is big business.

4.      The problem is religion.

5.      The problem is education.

iv.                      Our greatest need, is the need to deal with this sin.

v.                         There has always been a temptation to deal with the world’s problems in other ways.

1.      If we could just get this person elected, then that would solve problems.

2.      If we could just pass this legislation, than we could solve the problem.

e.       The New Testament calls for all believers to live in peace with one another and with all people:

i.  Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)

ii.                        If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom. 12:18)

iii.                      Live in peace [with one another]. (2 Cor. 13:11)

iv.                      Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thess. 5:13)

v.                         Furthermore, they learned that all believers—not just those in positions of leadership—are called to intentionally and actively pursue peace:

vi.                      Let us pursue what makes for peace. (Rom. 14:19)

vii.                    Strive for peace with everyone. (Heb. 12:14)

viii.                  Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11)

ix.                      So flee youthful passions and pursue . . . peace. (2 Tim. 2:22)

x.                         Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Col. 3:15)

f.        The opposite of peacemaking is criticism and fault-finding.

i.  Someone who is divisive:

1.      Careless with words.

2.      Complainers.

3.      Grumblers.

4.      Gossips.

5.      A trouble-maker.

6.      Critics.

ii.                        Alex tells the story of visiting a friend’s farm, “I noticed that some of the chickens running around were missing feathers. Some even had open sores on their skin. When I asked the reason for this, the farmer casually replied, “Oh, they like to peck at one another.”

iii.                      That’s exactly the way some people treat one another: They like to peck at others! They love to find fault, criticize, complain, and condemn. In fact, anyone who has served in a church has encountered petty complainers and faultfinding critics who act more like pecking chickens than Spirit-filled believers.

iv.                      Faultfinding critics have an amazing ability to gather a flock of contentious complainers, and they can wield fearsome destructive power in a church. They seem to think that they are doing God and the angels a great service by pointing out and criticizing others’ faults.

v.                         Scripture, however, says otherwise.

1.      James admonishes us not to “speak evil against,” or “grumble against one another” (James 4:11; 5:9).

2.      Paul warns us not to “pass judgment on one another any longer” (Rom. 14:13).

3.      Titus 3:2 instructs us “to speak evil of no one”—believer or nonbeliever. God doesn’t want his Spirit-indwelt children to be known as people who slander, criticize, and bad-mouth others.

vi.                      If we desire to display Christlike character, we have to control any kind of critical, judgmental, complaining spirit.  It’s not from the Holy Spirit.  It’s the opposite of a peacemaker.

vii.                    The World Trade Center in New York City took six long years to build, but it was destroyed in only 90 minutes on September 11, 2001. In a similar way, a local church that has taken a lifetime to build can be devastated in a few months by a sinful firestorm of complaining and quarreling.

viii.                  Grumbling (or complaining) is not constructive or edifying to the family of God.

ix.                      Like a contagious disease, grumbling generates conflict, confusion, and unhappiness that quickly spread throughout a church body until all are infected with discontent.

x.                         J. A. Motyer points out that, “Nowhere does the self-centered heart of man more quickly take control than through the machinery of criticism.”

g.      The peacemaker is not concerned with the self-life.

i.  The best way to understand this is in terms of understanding the self-life.

ii.                        The opposite of the peacemaker is the person who is self-focused.

iii.                      They are concerned with their own rights, their own lives, their own needs, their own feelings.

iv.                      For instance:

1.      In a family, you might have tensions.  You might have disagreement.  You might have conflict.

2.      The reason for conflict is because someone feels he or she is not getting fair treatment.  Or their rights are being overlooked.

3.      They are concerned about defending their rights, their voice, their opinion.

4.      They are zealots for themselves.

5.      The reason for family disputes, invariably, is because people feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.  Something has happened to THEM, they they don’t like.

a.       Something was withheld from THEM.

b.      Something was said to THEM.

6.      When that attitude of the self-life prevails, the result is conflict and animosity and hurt feelings.

7.      A peacemaker looks at what is best for the family.

v.                         The peacemaker is someone who sees himself as a worm.  He is poor in spirit, he has mourned over his sin and laments it, he is happy to be a servant, and now he is freed up to focus on others!

vi.                      The pathway to becoming a peacemaker starts with being poor in spirit, lamenting yourself and your sin, seeing yourself as a servant, humble and meek.

vii.                    This is the foundation for becoming a peacemaker, like God.

h.      The peacemaker understands all people struggle with sin.

i.  They see themselves as having this tension in themselves, and this gives them compassion on others.

ii.                        Why is this person such a jerk?  Well it’s because he is a waging a war in himself to put the old man down, just like I am trying to do.

iii.                      “Why did this person have an affair?  What a slime ball!”  The peacemaker says, “it’s amazing that doesn’t happen more often.”

iv.                      If someone says something negative and harsh about an unbeliever, the peacemaker gently says, “Well, we are in need of Jesus.  They are under the yoke of sin and Satan.  Why expect regenerate behavior from unregenerate people?”

i.        The peacemaker is wise with words:

i.  He is quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”

ii.                        There are many things he hears, but doesn’t repeat, because it’s not beneficial.

iii.                      He is always thinking in terms of what will help people, and build up people.

iv.                      He doesn’t pass along bad reports.

v.                         He doesn’t gossip because he is concerned with the health of the body.

vi.                      He doesn’t sow seeds of suspicion and doubt.

j.        The peacemaker absorbs the conflict and suffers long (on behalf of others).

i.  I am NOT saying there aren’t times when conflict needs to happen.  Conflict can be good.

ii.                        I am talking about the unnecessary conflict.

iii.                      Peacemakers consider the needs of the group, not their own preferences.

iv.                      Peacemakers absorb

v.                         The elders are a personal example of this, for me.

1.      We have seven alpha males in one room for two hours a week.

2.      These men are not pushovers.  These are not week men.

3.      And yet, according to the example and teaching of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a humility and a submission one to another.  It’s amazing.

4.      This goes against the flesh.

5.      This goes against the natural tendency of “My way or the highway!”

6.      These elders absorb things so you don’t have to.

7.      These elders endure sleepless nights so you don’t have to.

8.      I have learned a lot about Biblical Christianity because of our elders and our elders meetings.

vi.                      Examples of peacemaking:

1.      “This person really grates on me.  Rubs me the wrong way.  I’m struggling with this person.”

2.      The peacemaker says, “Well, look at all the good he does in this area.”  “Look at his family, they love him.”  “He is a hard worker.  He’s not perfect, none of us are.”

3.      That’s peacemaking.

4.      We make excuses for one another, in a sense.  We recognize the humanity and the struggle with sin that we all have.  We make room different personalities and different perspectives.

5.      The peacemaker suffers long!

k.      Application for LBC:

i.  We celebrate 50 years this next month as a church.  Sometime this year we will have an official celebration.

ii.                        Never a split.

iii.                      You know why?  There have been peacemakers here.

iv.                      Have their been disagreements?  Absolutely!

v.                         Has their been tensions?  Absolutely!

vi.                      Have their been strong emotions of conflict?  I am sure!

vii.                    But peacemakers absorb the tension to keep the peace.

V.                       Beatitude #8 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (v. 10-12)

a.       Happy are those who are persecuted…”

i.  He states the last beatitude in verse 10, and then elaborates in the next few verses.

b.      The natural progression of the beatitudes:

i.  If you a person who is poor in spirit, who laments his sin, is meek like a servant, has rearranged his life to pursue righteousness and holiness, is merciful and pure in heart and is a peacemaker…then you will discover opposition.  You will be persecuted.

c.       Jesus is saying that opposition and persecution are a normal part of the Christian life.

i.  Stott, “Since all the beatitudes describe what every Christian disciple is intended to be, we conclude that the condition of being despised and rejected, slandered and persecuted, is as much a normal mark of Christian discipleship as being pure in heart or merciful. Every Christian is to be a peacemaker, and every Christian is to expect opposition.”

ii.                        2 Tim. 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

d.      Here is how this works:

i.  If you pursue righteousness, you will face opposition.

ii.                        1 pet. 4:4, “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.”

iii.                      For instance, If you follow Jesus’ to hunger and thirst after righteousness, then you will seek to practice self-control and sexual purity.

iv.                      People who do not value those things, will see your life as a condemnation on their own behavior.

v.                         They will either press you to conform, or belittle you, or call you holier than thou, or call you legalist.

vi.                      A holy life, a life of the Beatitudes, tends to convict people of their own unrighteousness.

e.       Opposition should be “for righteousness sake.”

i.  Not tactless behavior, but righteous behavior.

ii.                        1 Pet. 4:14, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

iii.                      As in v. 10, the only persecution that is blessed is that which stems from allegiance to Jesus and living in conformity with his standards.

f.        Persecution should be “because of Jesus”

i.  It’s no longer trendy to follow Jesus in any meaningful way.

ii.                        Biblical Christianity is seen as exclusive, sexist, fill in the blank.

g.      Forms of persecution:

i.  #1- Name calling and belittling:

1.      “You Christians are cannibals!”  (re: Lord’s Supper)

2.      “You misogynists Christians don’t allow women pastors!”

3.      “You bigoted Christians don’t accept homosexuality as normative!”

4.      West Wing TV show example

a.       This week someone sent me a clip of the TV show West Wing.

b.      This is a fictitious show about the President of the United States and in this particular scene he is in some kind of a press conference he goes on a tangent about how Christians believe that homosexuals should be stoned and Christians are hypocrites.  It was a powerful diatribe and monologue and the end result left Christians looking arrogant, power-hungry, hypocritical, and stupid.

c.       And of course the example of the Christian used fits that bill pretty good.

d.      It’s a mockery of righteousness.

e.       A mockery of Jesus and what He taught.

ii.                        #2- Physical abuse and death.

1.      We don’t see this in America, but all over the world we hear of stories of Christians.

2.      Haddon Robinson tells the story,

a.       Several years ago, I helped lead a tour in Turkey of the churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. On the last night, we were in the city of Izmir and were having dinner at one of its nicer hotels. Our guide had been in the United States at least ten years and spoke English flawlessly. As we were eating, he began to ask us questions, serious questions about the Christian faith. I said to him, "If you're a follower of Islam, and if you died tonight, would you be sure you could stand in the presence of Allah?" "No," he replied. "There are five things that Muslims should do. I've done two out of five."

b.      Then we began to talk about the gospel. We talked about it long into the night, and before we left I said to him, "Look, you're serious about our conversation, I know. It would not be faithful of me not to ask you if right now you'd like to put your trust and confidence in Jesus Christ." He said to me, "You don't know what you're asking me. Do you know what would happen if I did that? If I announced it to anybody, my wife would leave me. My family would disown me. My boss would fire me. I may want to leave to go back to the United States, and the government would not give me an exit visa. I'd give up everything. You go back home tomorrow. I would not expect you would support me, and I would starve to death in my own culture."

h.      There is a reward:

i.  “Rejoice and be glad…”

1.      The words describe intense happiness and joy.  Like something that brings you so much joy you jump, scream, skip, cry tears of joy.

ii.                        Two reasons to rejoice:

1.      #1- You have a great reward in heaven.

a.       This world is not all there is.

b.      Things are about to get REALLY good for the Christian.

2.      #2- You’re in good company.

a.       That’s what happened to the prophets.

VI.                    Application:

a.       What do you get when you get a person poor in spirit, broken over their sin, happy to be a servant, starving after righteousness, committed to holiness, merciful, pure and holy in heart, who is making peace…then that person will be persecuted.

b.      We are to be absolutely different from the world.

c.       Let us give ourselves to the application and implementation of these beatitudes.

d.      Let’s us cultivate a mercy and a pity on people.

e.       Let us cultivate a purity and single-mindedness of heart.

f.        Let’s us cultivate a peacemaking, peacekeeping attitude and absorb discomfort for the sakes of our church and our families and our marriages.

g.      Let’s us cultivate a healthy understanding and expectation of persecution and opposition because we are Christians.

h.      Blessed are such people.

VII.                The Gospel.

Related Topics: Christology, Ethics, Grace, Hamartiology (Sin), Kingdom, Law, Spiritual Life

Lesson 10: Salt, Light, And Law (Matthew 5:13-20)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       The Logical connection to the Beatitudes:

i.  Christians have an influence in the world:

1.      John MacArthur is right when he says you can boil down this section of salt and light with one word: influence.

ii.                        The kind of Christians who actually live the beatitudes are light salt and light to the world, they will have an influence in the world.

iii.                      True Christianity, as displayed in the Beatitudes, has a tremendous amount of influence.

iv.                      This section of salt and light is actually quite simple and straightforward:

1.      The influence of our lives is directly related to our disposition and character.

2.      A holy life makes the deepest impression.

    1. “A holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine.” D.L. Moody.
      1. Genuine Christians will have an influence on people around them.**

II.                      Salt of the Earth (5:13).

a.       The Influence of Salt (5:13).

i.  Christians who live the Beatitudes are the salt of the earth.

1.      What does being “salty” look like?  It looks like the Beatitudes.

ii.                        What was salt used for in Bible times?

1.      There were dozens of uses for salt.

2.      Every home, however poor, used and still uses both salt and light. During his own boyhood Jesus must often have watched his mother use salt in the kitchen and light the lamps when the sun went down.

3.      Salt and light are indispensable household commodities.

a.       The function of salt is largely negative: it prevents decay.

b.      The function of light is positive: it illumines the darkness.

4.      Of the many things to which salt could refer to, its use as a food preservative was probably its most basic function.

5.      I want us to avoid assuming that all possible uses of salt were in view here.

a.       We may today think of salt primarily as a spice giving flavor; but given the amount of salt needed to preserve meat without refrigeration, it is not likely that many ancient Jews considered salt primarily as enhancing taste.

b.      This has been misapplied to say that Christians are to “spice up life” for people.


b.      Main point of this metaphor: Jesus’ disciples will prevent moral decay in the world.

i.  This means that the world decays like rotten fish or meat, but Christians slow the process.

1.      Christians are a kind of moral antibiotic.

2.      They bring a Moral clarity.

a.       William Wilberforce—who led the abolition of slavery in Great Britain.

3.      Christians are like a restraining influence on society.

a.       If the church doesn’t preach about the immoral trends of sexual freedom and abortion, to name a few, then who will?

ii.                        This means that there is a sanctifying influence that Christians have.

1.      1 Cor. 7:14, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

2.      There is a sanctifying influence the believing spouse has on the unbelieving spouse.

3.      The believing spouse acts as a sort of salt and light in the marriage.

4.      Your unbelieving husband may not want to hear the gospel every day, but he can’t NOT be affected by your life.

a.       Isn’t this what Peter tells the wives in 1 Peter 3.

c.       “Don’t lose your saltiness!”

i.  I’m not a chemist, but I know sodium chloride is a pretty stable chemical compound, which is resistant to nearly every attack.

ii.                        Nevertheless, it can become contaminated by mixture with impurities, and then it becomes useless, even dangerous.

iii.                      Desalted salt is unfit even for manure.

iv.                      For effectiveness the Christian must retain his Christlikeness, as salt must retain its saltiness.

v.                         If Christians become assimilated to non-Christians and contaminated by the impurities of the world, they lose their influence.

vi.                      The influence of Christians in and on society depends on their being distinct, not identical.

vii.                    Dr Lloyd-Jones emphasized this: ‘The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.’

viii.                  If your life is not different in a righteous way, you will have no credibility.

d.      The less salt that Christians have, means less preservation for the rotting culture.

i.  The more decay in society means that society looks less and less like Downton Abbey and more and more like MTV’s Cribs.

ii.                        Illustration:

1.      Haddon Robinson tells the story about the French culture of the early 1700s was in the process of decay.  The King had a motto: “After me the deluge.”  He was absolutely right, it was a prophetic voice.  That exactly what happened and France was ripped apart by the French Revolution. 

2.      Just 20 miles across the channel, the English culture had the same rot.  Historians have described at length the moral corruption of English culture.  And yet, England did not go through a revolution. Why?  Why was it spared?  Was it their Navy?  Was it their suave diplomats?  Their politicians?  Their police force? No.  The country was spared, as historian and President Woodrow Wilson put it, because in 1703 a man called John Wesley was born in England!

3.      Wesley was born again, lived out the Beatitudes, and proclaimed the gospel!

4.      And the Nation was preserved.

e.       Salt of the earth—not honey of the earth.

i.  Many Christians want to appease the world.  Make friends with the world, which is antichrist.

ii.                        Helmut Thielicke (Thay-Lick-E) takes this on when is says that when you look at some Christians, ‘one would think that their ambition is to be the honeypot of the world. They sweeten and sugar the bitterness of life with an all too easy conception of a loving God … But Jesus, of course, did not say, “You are the honey of the world.” He said, “You are the salt of the earth.”

iii.                      Salt bites, and the unadulterated message of the judgment and grace of God has always been a biting thing.’

f.        Here is how this works:

i.  You have a group of unbelievers and they are discussing immoral things, maybe they are cussing?  Maybe they are gossiping?  Maybe they are degrading women or men?

ii.                        And the Christian walks up and makes they all uncomfortable.  They stop talking.

g.      If you live out the Beatitudes, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you won’t need to work at being salt, you ARE salt.

i.  There will be a bite.

III.                   Light of the World (5:14-16).

a.       The Influence of Light (5:14–16).

i.  Christians who live the Beatitudes are light of the world.

ii.                        Jesus is making the same point twice.  Salt of the earth and light of the world are saying the same thing, with slightly different emphasis.

b.      When Jesus spoke of salt, He was saying the world is decaying.  When Jesus spoke of light He was saying that the world is in darkness.

i.  Think of it like the sun and the moon:

1.      The sun produces light, the moon reflects light.

2.      Jesus is the Light of the World, and Jesus says that his disciples are the light of the world.

ii.                        Jesus disciples will live lives of purity and righteousness, and will shine and stick out in this dark world.

iii.                      Jesus is not calling us to monasticism or some kind of a retreat from society.

c.       How does this work?

i.  Jesus isn’t telling his disciples to let their light shine, only when they are with each other.  No, He is telling them to let their light shine in the dark places.

ii.                        It may not be your call to be in full-time ministry, rather, Jesus is telling His disciples to let their light shine, wherever they are.

iii.                      Let you light shine as a mother.

iv.                      Let your light shine at your work place.

v.                         Let your light shine in your neighborhood.

vi.                      Don’t withdraw at the workplace.

vii.                    When the opportunity knocks, don’t be a coward.

viii.                  Fear God more than you fear man!

ix.                      Use opportunities to glorify God.

1.      If someone asks “how are you today?”  you tell them, “Better than I deserve.”

2.      If someone spills their drink on you, you say, “I love grace…don’t worry about it.”

3.      Make people a little uncomfortable.  Create awkward situations!

4.      Say randomly, “God is so good.”  And watch people’s reaction.

5.      You don’t need to close the deal every time you are with someone.

6.      Jesus left people in tension.  He left people curious.  He left people thinking.

x.                         Light is worthless if it doesn’t shine.

d.      What happens when a culture has no salt or light?

i.  Romans 1 happens.

ii.                        When the salt is worthless then the meat rots.  It decays.

iii.                      How many Christians are Christians by name only?

iv.                      They are worthless at making any kind of influence in the world.

v.                         They are so much like the world, they are like tasteless salt.  Good for nothing.

vi.                      They talk a lot.  They may even criticize other Christians for being too rigid, but their lives are so worldly that they have absolutely no moral influence.

vii.                    They are camouflage Christians.

viii.                  Jesus is saying you shouldn’t be camouflage, you should be blaze orange.

ix.                      You should stick out like a soar thumb.

x.                         Illustration:

1.      Deer (Copper) with a blaze orange vest.

2.      “If you are not an enigma to people, then you should seriously question your salvation.”  MLJ.

e.       Warning:

i.  There is a subtle danger I want to warn you about.

1.      It’s something I have seen happen, and has especially gained steam more recently.

2.      There have been a few different movements in Christian circles that have arisen lately that are movements aimed at redeeming culture. 

3.      And it concerns me a bit.

4.      There has been a lot of interest and talk of redeeming and restoring culture.

5.      Redeeming and restoring politics.

6.      Redeeming and restoring the arts.

7.      Redeeming and restoring the business world.

ii.                        And the thinking goes like this, “If this is the Kingdom of God, then lets bring the Kingdom of God to earth.  Let’s increase it.  Let’s make heaven on earth.”  “Let’s change society and make this a better place.”  “Let’s do kingdom work.”

iii.                      The two extremes:

1.      We try to legalize Christianity or try to build the kingdom here.

2.      We check out of society and become reclusive.

f.        The solution to this is that we focus, not on redeeming culture, but focus on the Great Commission.  Focus on getting the gospel out!

i.  That’s the mission of the Church.  And when the Church forgets this, and gravitates to other things, that’s when the Church fails.

ii.                        And interestingly enough, what happens when people believe the gospel and get saved, is they instantly become salt and light.

iii.                      And, in some cases, that actually changes the culture.

g.      For Instance:

i.  We had the privilege of hearing from Ron Risse, a veteran missionary from Indonesia, good friends with Chuck Harrison, who invited him to come share at Mission’s Fellowship last week.

ii.                        He came to our small group and shared, and we asked him questions.

iii.                      What was his method:  Translate the bible, so they can hear and share the Good News, then when people got saved, they started New Testament churches.

iv.                      What happened was utterly fascinating!

1.      The gospel changed the culture.

2.      It changed marriages.

3.      It changed medicine and health.

4.      It changed their farming.

5.      The culture was lifted from the oppressive darkness, and light shone!

v.                         The gospel produced salt and light, not the other way around!

1.      Ron didn’t go in focusing on changing the culture!  It just happened.

h.      Moral of the story is this:

i.  If you focus on the Great Commission.  If you focus on the Gospel.  If you focus on the New Birth, then God will produce people who live the Beatitudes and live like salt and light.

ii.                        But if your focus is on the being salt and light, if your focus in on redeeming culture and restoring culture, you end up creating Pharisees and self-righteous zombies.

iii.                      So I say, “Don’t worry about being salt and light!  Just live the Christian life and it will happen!”

IV.                    Jesus and the Law (5:17-20).

a.      Jesus Christ approves of the OT Law (5:17) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets…”

i.  Jesus is responding to people misunderstanding his ministry.

1.      People thought Jesus might have been some kind of a renegade.

2.      Like during the French Revolution there were people who wanted to change the calendar, change the week from a seven-day week to a ten-day week.  They renamed the streets, they wanted to eliminate the past, and start something totally different and totally new.

3.      In a similar way, there were many people who were thinking that this Jesus was starting something totally different or totally new.

4.      What’s Jesus going to do?

a.       Will he re-write history?

b.      Will He totally change and challenge what we have been taught?

c.       Will He ban the OT?

d.      Will He start a different Kingdom than what Daniel prophesied about?

e.       Will He rename the city of Jerusalem to “Jesusville” or “Christtown”

5.      Jesus is saying, “No! I am not starting something totally new.  My ministry is based upon the Law.  I am not abolishing anything the Law or the Prohpets said…rather…I have come to fulfill them!

ii.                        The Law is still useful.

iii.                      The Law should not be abandoned.

iv.                      The Law should still be taught.

1.      However it needs to be interpreted in light of Jesus’ fulfillment.

v.                         The Law is good:

1.      Over the 2011, 4th-of-July weekend, a group of motorcyclists gathered in Onondaga, New York, to ride in protest against the New York state law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. One of those riding in protest was a 55-year-old man from Parish, New York. During the ride, police say, his 1983 Harley Davidson spun out of control, and he flew headfirst over the handlebars. His head struck the pavement, and his skull was fractured. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

2.      The police and the doctor treating the man said afterward that if he had been wearing a helmet, he probably would have survived the accident. The group organizing the protest ride said that while they encourage the voluntary use of motorcycle helmets, they oppose mandatory helmet laws.

3.      Whatever the case for or against laws concerning motorcycle helmets, you cannot miss the irony of this accidental death: the man died protesting a law that—if he had obeyed it—would have saved his life.  Craig Brian Larson.

vi.                      The Law was a good thing, even f it didn’t save, the intention behind it is good.

vii.                    The Law is good, not bad.

b.      Jesus Christ fulfills the OT Law (5:17b). I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

i.  First off, what a statement:

1.      No sane person could say this.

2.      Imagine if I said this, and was serious.

ii.                        What does this mean? I think it means at least four things.

iii.                      #1- It means that the OT points to the Person of Jesus for fulfillment.

1.      It all points to Jesus:

2.      Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper:

a.       The hands are outstretched—pointing to Jesus.

b.      The beams and architecture points to Jesus.

c.       The viewer is drawn to Christ in subtle and overt ways.

3.      Jesus says in Luke, that everything in the OT point to Him.

4.      He fulfills it all.

5.      Think of it like “to fill full”

a.       The Old Testament was the sketch, and Jesus is the sculpture.

b.      The Old Testament was a pencil doodle, and Jesus is painting.

c.       The Old Testament was like a type-writer, Jesus is like a computer.

i.  One commentator made this comparison…

ii.                        “The technology and idea of a typewriter was eventually developed into an electronic, faster, and far more complex computer that does word processing. But when you type on a computer, you are really still using the old manual typewriter's technology.

iii.                      Obviously, the computer far transcends the typewriter.

iv.                      Everything that a typewriter wanted to be when it was a little boy (and more!) is now found in the computer.

v.                         This compares to the law. Everything the law wanted to be when it was young (as revealed to Moses) is found now in Christ and in the life of the Spirit.

vi.                      Thus, when a Christian lives in the Spirit and under Christ, that Christian is not living contrary to the law, but is living in transcendence of the law. It is for this very reason that life lived primarily under the law is wrong.

vii.                    When the computer age arrived, we put away our manual typewriters because they belonged to the former era.

viii.                  Paul's critique of the Judaizers is that they are typing on manual typewriters after computers are on the desk!

ix.                      He calls them to put the manual typewriters away.

x.                         But in putting them away, we do not destroy them. We fulfill them by typing on the computers. Every maneuver on a computer is the final hope of the manual typewriter. "Now that faith/Christ has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law"—but not because the law is contrary to the promises; rather, it is because the law is fulfilled in Christ and the Spirit in a manner similar to the way a typewriter is fulfilled in the technology of a computer. And I am profoundly thankful for both!  Scot McKnight

iv.                      #2- It means Jesus is the theme of the OT.

1.      He fulfills the Law in the sense that He was the Lamb of God.

2.      He fulfills the Law in the sense that He is our Sabbath Rest.

3.      He fulfills the Law in the sense that He was predicted:

a.       Psalm 22, Mic. 5:2, Hos. 11:1, Jer. 31:5, Is. 40:3, Is. 9:1-2, Is. 53:4.

4.      He fulfills the Law in the sense that He fills it full.

a.       The next sections of anger and lust and divorce and oaths and retaliation and love, display the true desire behind the Law.

b.      The Law was good, but it didn’t produce holy lives.

c.       All of these things were stated in the Old Testament, but they never really happened in the way that God inteneded.

d.      “These laws were like empty jars, and Jesus comes along and fills them…He fills full the Law, as He fulfilled the Law.”

v.                         #3- It means He perfectly lived the Law and perfectly followed the Law.

1.      Again, imagine someone saying that fulfilled the Law.

2.      They perfectly followed the Law.  This is an astounding claim and an astounding implication…

vi.                      #4- It means He is the perfect interpreter of the Law.

1.      Jesus is saying that His teachings are on par with the OT.

2.      This is QUITE a statement!

c.       Jesus Christ affirms all of the OT Law (5:18). For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

i.  “Truly I say to you”

1.      He speaks out of His own authority.

2.      There is NO RECORD anywhere of a Rabbi speaking of His own authority.

ii.                        “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

1.      Jesus teaches that the Scriptures are inspired.

2.      Every word. Every comma is inspired.

3.      The OT will be around as long as the universe is around.

a.       Heaven and earth will pass away before God’s Word does.

4.      “Not one jot or tittle”

a.       Like a comma or an apostrophe.

5.      Not even a comma is insignificant.

6.      EVERY part of the Old Testament matters, and still matters!

7.      Only now, we need to interpret the Law through the lens of Jesus.

8.      This is one of the greatest statements in the whole Bible about Jesus’ view of Scripture.

9.      Stop and capture the significance of this statement.

iii.                      This is a great argument for the truth of Scripture:

1.      “This is what Jesus believed…”

2.      Some people have a difficult time with some of the stories in the OT.

3.      Like the story of Jonah being on a whale for three days.

4.      Not only does Jesus say He agrees with it hear, but He specifically mentions Jonah and the fish, concurring with it.

iv.                      Bottom line:  Jesus agrees with and believes all of the OT.

d.      Jesus Christ ramps up the Law (5:19-20).

i.  Starting now all the way through v. 48, Jesus will show a greater righteousness.

ii.                        If you relax these commandments, there will be consequences:

1.      If you misread, reinterpret, ignore, or deny the OT, there are consequences.

2.      “When the Bible tells us something about how we should live, like sex, money, power, it always does it like this: it says, God created us, and therefore God in his Word in the Bible is giving you directions for how you should live according to your own design. It’s not busywork. It’s like when the owner’s manual comes to a car and says something like, “Change the oil every so many thousand miles,” it’s not busywork, it’s saying that’s how the car was designed, [and] if you violate that you will actually hurt the car. So the Bible does say sex is for a man and a woman inside marriage to nurture love and commitment in a long-term permanent relationship of marriage. Which means polygamy, it means sex outside of marriage, it means homosexuality are considered violations of God’s will, but also violations of our own design…” Tim Keller

3.      If you relax the Law, there are major consequences, to society and to the individual.

iii.                      Don’t relax the OT commandments:

1.      If you are a doctor speaking to a room of people who have cancer, don’t tell them they have a bad cough.

2.      There is a tendency to relax the diagnosis.  It might even feel merciful.

3.      But don’t relax the Word.

iv.                      The Law is like math.  It matters.  It’s isn’t arbitrary or random.

1.      Sloppy math is deadly math.

2.      “close enough” doesn’t cut it.

3.      It’s like accounting or engineering.

4.      You can’t relax the facts.

5.      A person can’t say, “I obeyed the Law close enough.”  You either did or you didn’t, there is no middle ground.

e.       “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

i.  The rest of chapter 5 and the rest of chapter 6 elaborate on this little verse—verse 20.

ii.                        The Pharisees externalized the Law.

1.      For them it’s all about the motions, all about the behavior.

2.      They developed a system of laws around the Law.

3.      They had laws to keep them from laws.

a.       They developed a system of procedures and duties, but it was void of the heart.

b.      It was a burden on people, and it was oppressive.

i.  Mat. 23:4, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger….”

ii.                        23:25, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

4.      The Pharisees manipulated the Law.

a.       They invented laws to get around the law.

b.      They were not righteous, they were religious.

c.       They were not poor in spirit.

d.      They were proud, self-righteous, arrogant.

e.       They were religious zombies.

iii.                      Jesus is interested in the heart:

1.      Thursday was Valentines Day.  Bringing flowers to Lonnalee: 

a.       “Oh sweetie, why did you do this?”

b.      NOTE:  Men, there is a right answer and a wrong answer to this unforeseen question.

c.       The wrong answer would be: “Well…it’s my duty…it’s the right thing to do…It’s what good husbands do on fake money-making holidays like Valentines Day. ”

d.      NOTE: The right answer is: “Sweetie, how could I not? I thought of you. I delight in you!  I delight in doing this.  Where else would I rather be?  What else would I rather be doing right now, than being with you?

e.       Same action—but very different.

2.      Jesus is saying that the Pharisees are doing the rights things, but internally their hearts are not righteous.

a.       Mat. 15:8, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…”

b.      That’s the kind of external religiosity that God rejects.

3.      The Duty of Delight.

a.       The enjoyment of the heart, coupled with the act of obedience, is what Jesus is after.

b.      This sense of delight in the Law, is the kind of righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees and Scribes, who are just going through the motions.

c.       This kind of heart obedience characterizes the kingdom.

d.      This is what the Millennium will be like, and this is what true Christians will be like in the meantime.

e.       It will be a gradual increase in obedience, and an enjoyment to obey.

iv.                      But the point, I think, is that Jesus is basically telling everyone that that are hopeless.

1.      The Law is good, but following it with vigor doesn’t get you anywhere.  If anything, it creates a false sense of security.

2.      Jesus is showing the gap between what God actually requires, and what we can actually do.

f.        Jesus ramps up the Law.

i.  The Law is meant to crush us:

1.      Jesus ramps up the Law:

a.       The demand for higher righteousness is meant to wound us:

b.      If you read the Law and pat yourself on the back, you are unsaved.

ii.                        It’s like weightlifting.

1.      I should preface this by saying, “I am not a frequenter of the gym.  I know this comes as a shock.  I am not well-known at the Buck Center.”

2.      There have been times when I have used the weight machines where you put the pin in and adjust it to the proper weight.

3.      That is how the Old Testament law worked. That's how it still works. We think we can lift the weight of obeying God—that we can be really good. We try it a little, and we succeed. But when the time comes for the sustained, heavy lifting of daily obedience, we can't budge the burden.

4.      Living the Law was and is, unsustainable.

V.                       Application: What is our relationship to the Law today?

a.      If Jesus fulfilled the Law, how should view it?  Are we still under it?  Does it still apply today?

i.  This is a HUGE question, and I don’t want to pretend to try to answer it fully here, but let me take a stab.

ii.                        The BIG Question(s):

1.      Does the OT Law still apply to us?  How much of the Law still applies to us?

2.      How much of the Old Testament still applies today?

3.      If we lived in OT times we would stone people who committed adultery and people who worked on Saturdays?

4.      Should we still sacrifice animals and not wear different fabrics together?

5.      Can we pick and choose the parts of the Law we like and the parts that no longer apply?

iii.                      One solution to these questions is given by breaking up the law into three areas:

1.      Three uses:

a.       Civil--

b.      Ceremonial--

c.       Moral--

2.      Some interpret this as implying that God fulfilled the civil law, and the ceremonial law, but we still need to follow the moral law.

3.      This is an clever suggestion, but the problem is that the Law is never divided up.  It’s a package, and God never splits it up like that.

a.       You can’t pick and choose.

b.      You can’t divide up the Law into different sections.

4.      So while this is somewhat ingenious, I don’t think it accurately solves the question.

b.      Three things to keep in mind and hold in tension:

c.       #1- The Law is good, but This Law was for only that Nation of Israel—we are not Israelites.

i.  God dealt with a nation, with a specific land, specific priests, we are done with that, that’s old news.

ii.                        Today we are under a whole new principle, a whole new law.

iii.                      We are not Israel, we are a people, a new man (Eph. 4)

iv.                      One day, God will deal with Israel as a Nation again, but not now.  Now He is working in and through the Church, which is male-female-Jew-Gentile.

d.      #2- Paul says that we are no longer under the Law.

i.  Gal. the Law has come to an end. (Gal. 5)

1.      We are under new ground.

2.      Jesus has brought the whole system to an end.

3.      Now we have a new Law, the Law of Christ.

4.      The New Covenant repeats the same things as the Law.

5.      In fact, the Spirit is doing what the could never do.

6.      So if want to do the Law, you actually need the Spirit.

7.      Jesus becomes the New Lawgiver.

a.       “You have heard it said but I say”

8.      Galatians explains this in detail.

a.       The Law was a schoolmaster that showed us our sin.

ii.                        Many Christians (Covenantal) are bringing people back under the Law.

1.      Some folks would actually like to see the OT of Israel re-instituted in public Policy.

a.       They do this because they think we are the New Israel, we have replaced Israel, and we are the Kingdom of God, and we will eventually Christianize the entire world, so let’s re-establish this OT Law.

2.      Tithing--

3.      Sabbath--

iii.                      We are not under the Law, we are under grace:

1.      Are some parts of the OT obsolete?

a.       Mark 7:19—Jesus declared all foods clean.

b.      Acts 10-11—Rise up Peter, kill and eat!

i.  The dividing wall of hostility is over.

c.       Heb. 7-9—Jesus started a New Covenant.  He is our New High Priest.  He is our New Sabbath Rest, or better and more perfect Sacrifice.

2.      We are no longer under the Law!

a.       And if we put ourselves back under the Law, even though the Law is incredible, we lose a LOT!

e.       #3- The Law is useful to lead us to Jesus.

i.  The Law is our schoolmaster:

1.      Gal. 3:24-25, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian…”

2.      Are we against the Law?  Paul would say no!

3.      The Law was great, but it was powerless to save and to sanctify!

a.       Don’t think you can save yourself by obeying the Law.

b.      Don’t buy in to the deadly idea that your good can somehow outweigh your bad.

ii.                        The Law wounds us and shuts our mouths and lead us to Jesus:

1.      Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

2.      Phil. 3:4-9, “…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—.”

iii.                      The Law is useful to show us righteousness:

VI.                    The Gospel:

a.       The Giving of the Law (10 Commandments) came after the redemption from slavery in Egypt.  The same is true in the Christian life; after redemption (not before) comes obedience to a new Law, the Law of Christ.

Related Topics: Christology, Evangelism, Kingdom, Law, Spiritual Life

Lesson 11: "But I Say To You..." Jesus' Six Commandments (Matthew 5:21-48)

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Related Topics: Grace, Kingdom, Law

Lesson 12: The Practice Of Righteousness (Matthew 6:1-18)

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This lesson on Matthew 6 was preached by Lars Anderson in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 3/3/2013.

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Lesson 13: Mammon or Jesus? Crisis Of The American Christian (Matthew 6:19-24)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Recap—Things to keep in mind as we go through this sermon on the mountain.

      1. Seek the Kingdom!
        1. One of the key statement in this sermon is: Mat. 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom…”
        2. This is the overarching priority of the Sermon on the Mount.
        3. There are two things that can rob you from seeking first His kingdom:
          1. Money.
          2. Worry.
        4. They are to seek perfection (5:48) and the kingdom (6:33).
          1. As they do this, there will arise some competing concerns and challenges.
          2. Wealth and worry.
      2. Jesus is interested in internals, not externals.
        1. Jesus challenges our priorities, our vision, our security, and our very lives in this section.
        2. Jesus warns against public prayer that is merely external.
        3. Jesus also warns against an external life that is just concerned with material things.
    1. Outline:
      1. Two Kinds of…

II.                      Two Kinds of Treasures (6:19-21)

a.      Earthly Treasure (19).

i.  What is earthly treasure?

1.      This is a broad term.  It includes a lot.

2.      It could be anything from applause from people, recognition, status, earthly security, property, possessions, money, clothes—which were expensive, but could be ruined by moths.

ii.                        Earthly treasure doesn’t last.

1.      Clothes were extraordinarily expensive. Silk was worth its weight in gold.  Only the wealthiest could afford it.  It was mostly for royalty.  Some people would save for years to reach the status of purchasing and wearing some purple silk.

2.      But the larva of the moth could destroy it in one night’s sleep.  Or someone would just break in to your house through the clay wall and take it.

3.      It doesn’t last.  It’s fleeting.

4.      All this world has is going up in smoke.

iii.                      Earthly Treasure has a tendency to distract your heart away from God.

1.      It will pull your heart away from God.

2.      When the stock market crashed in 1929, J.C. Penney lost almost all of his material assets. Worry and anxiety set in. He became physically ill and deeply depressed. As a result, he had to be hospitalized.

a.       His earthly treasure had consumed him and distracted Him from a different kind of treasure.

3.      Penny became so sick that on one particular night he thought he was dying. When he woke up, he realized he was still alive. As he walked down the hospital corridor that day, he heard singing coming from the hospital chapel. The words were “God will take care of you, through every day, o’re all the way.”

4.      That marked a complete life turnaround for him, actually.

iv.                       Earthly treasure appeals to our base nature, and pulls us away from God.

1.      A couple years ago I tried my hand in the market and attempted to trade stocks.

2.      I quickly learned that, (although not quickly enough) not only was I incompetent, it was a major distraction.  I would wake up in the morning in a cold panic and look at the futures market.

3.      My heart became divided.  I found my heart pounding harder for the Dow Jones than it pounded for the precious gospel entrusted to me.

4.      I’m not saying those who invest and trade need to follow my lead.  Obviously some people do quite well in the market.  But trading, for me, was wrong, and it divided my heart.

5.      Money has a tendency to create problems…

a.       Marriage counselors say that the number one issue in marriages is money.

b.      There may be heavy hearts in here right now because of the way some have gained money and used money.

c.       People have been DESTROYED by money!

d.      Money can ruin you.

e.       Money has the power to ruin your life, your marriage, your future!

f.        Satan sticks his claws into us regarding money than maybe anything else.

g.      Money tempts us into pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, self-indulgence.

6.      Puritan Richard Baxter said, “When men prosper in the world, their minds are lifted up with their estates, and they can hardly believe that they are so ill, while they feel themselves so well.”

v. Earthly treasure has a tendency to foster greed and covetousness.

1.      Money, possessions, land, are all good things.  They aren’t bad things.

2.      But our flesh has a tendency to love ourselves and prefer ourselves more than we love God and more than we love our neighbors.

3.      A little boy was walking to church with two quarters in his hand, one for the offering and one for a candy-bar after church.  When he was crossing the street he tripped and fell and one of his quarters went rolling out of his hand and went right down into the sewer, ker plunk.  He told his dad what happened and his father asked him if he “put the other quarter in the offering.”  The little boy said, “No, God’s quarter went down the sewer.”

a.       Truth be told, God’s quarter usually gets thrown down the sewer.  He is usually the last one to be given to.  He gets the left-over’s.  Our priorities lie else ware. And that’s exactly the point Jesus is making.**

b.      And the end of the day and at the end of our lives, the monopoly money gets put back in the box and it goes up in smoke.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.

4.      Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells of a farmer who reported happily to his wife that his best cow had given birth to twin calves, one red and one white.  He said, “You know, I have been led of the Lord to dedicate one of the calves to him.  We will raise them together.  Then when the time comes to sell them, we will keep the money from the one calf and give the money from the other to the Lord.”

5.      His wife asked which one he was going to dedicate to the Lord, but he answered that there was no need to decide that now since he was going to treat them alike.  Several months later he came into the kitchen looking very sad.  When his wife asked what was troubling him he answered, “I have bad news.  The Lord’s calf is dead.”  “But you had not decided which was to be the Lord’s calf,” she objected.  “Oh, yes,” he said.  “I had always determined that it was to be the white one, and it was the white one that has died.”

vi.                      Earthly Treasure tends to be accumulated—turned into greed.

1.      A 2012 article from The Atlantic observed that over the past 100 years and how we have turned luxury products into necessities.

a.       In 1900, less than 10 percent of families owned a stove, or had access to electricity or phones

b.      In 1915, less than ten percent of families owned a car

c.       In 1930, less than ten percent of families owned a refrigerator or a washer.

d.      In 1945, less than ten percent of families owned a clothes dryer or air-conditioning.

e.       In 1960, less than ten percent of families owned a dishwasher or color TV.

f.        In 1975, less than ten percent of families owned a microwave.

g.      In 1990, less than ten percent of families had a cell phone or access to the internet.

h.      The article concluded by noting, "Today, at least 90 percent of the country has a stove, electricity, car, fridge, clothes washer, air-conditioning, color TV, microwave, and cell phone. They make our lives better. They might even make us happier. But they are [never] enough."

i.        Derek Thompson, "The 100-Year March of Technology in 1 Graph," The Atlantic (4-7-12)

2.      Our hearts are prone to wander.

b.      Heavenly Treasure (20).

i.  What are treasures in heaven?

1.      Treasures in heaven should be defined very broadly.

a.       It’s basically anything you can take with you into paradise.

i.  Holiness, humility, love to the saints, discipleship, faithfulness to the Word.  Souls won to Christ. 

ii.                        Righteous deeds of love and selflessness.

2.      Your growth in prayer.

3.      Your growth in evangelism.

4.      Your growth in holiness.

5.      Your attempt to faithfully share the gospel with your friend.

ii.                        Heavenly Treasure are never corrupted, lost, or stolen.

1.      It’s a guaranteed investment.

2.      They are treasures that don’t get taken away.

3.      They are true riches.  They are better.

iii.                      Heavenly Treasure pulls your heart towards God and away from the worldliness.

1.      If I am invested in something, I take a vested interest in it.

2.      If I am investing in the market, then mostly naturally I will want to follow the news of the market.

3.      If my life is dictated by the ups and downs of the Dow Jones, S&P, and the NASDAQ, then I will wake up every morning and check the paper and read the news.

4.      This is the normal behavior of anyone who is vested.

5.      But if my investment is in heaven, then so is my heart!

c.       Here’s the Main Point:  Where’s your heart?

i.  Your heart is the center of your affections and commitments.

1.      How you use money says a lot about you and your heart.

2.      What you think about says a lot about you. 

3.      What you daydream about says a lot about you.

ii.                        If this passage is a heart monitor, then the American Church is on life-support.

1.      This passage is a rebuke of American materialism.

2.      It is the responsibility of the Church to call out and identify the cultural idols that lure and tempt and tease the Lord’s people.

3.      It is the responsibility of the Church to call out the idolatry that creeps in to the church unnoticed.

4.      Let’s not pacify the words of Jesus here.

5.      He is confronting and exposing the hearts of Christians and churches.

iii.                      Where is our heart!?

iv.                      Where are our affections!?

v.                         Where is your treasure!!!!!

III.                   Two Kinds of Eyes (6:22-23)

a.       What does this example of “eyes” mean?

i.  Jesus is really saying the exact same thing as He said in vv. 19-21, but he is expanding it a bit using a slightly different metaphor.

ii.                        The heart has to do with the emotions and priorities.

iii.                      The eye is illustrative of the whole person.  It represents the entirety of a person.

iv.                      He compares our eyes to a lamp.  And says that if your eyes are good, your whole body is filled with light and if your eyes are bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.

v.                         If we lose our vision, or if our eyes go bad, then everything goes gray or black, and we stumble and flounder.

vi.                      But if we see things as they are.  If we see things clearly.  If Jesus is our vision, then it will inform all of our life.

vii.                    A.W. Tozer asked, “What do we value most? What would we most hate to lose? What do our thoughts turn to most frequently when we are free to think of what we will? And finally, what affords us the greatest pleasure?”

viii.                  Jesus is our spiritual optometrist.

b.      Bad eye:

i.  The bad eye is blind to the things of God.  Blind to God’s Kingdom.

ii.                        If your eye is always looking to materialism it will blind your whole life!

iii.                      If your eye covets, then you are blind.  And an idolater, Paul says.

iv.                      If you have one eye on material riches and another eye on the kingdom, you have double-vision.  Divided interests.

v.                         It is blinded by material possessions. 

1.      It is blinded by money. 

2.      It is blinded and distracted by the pleasures and entertainments of this world.

vi.                      When it looks at an opportunity for God, it doesn’t see it.

1.      It looks, but it can’t see.

vii.                    When it looks at an opportunity to store up treasures in heaven, it sees right through it.

viii.                  When it looks at an opportunity to speak up for Christ, witness for Christ, suffer for Christ, serve for Christ, it misses it, because he can’t see it.

ix.                      His eyes are blind, and so is his whole life.

x.                         Blinded and distracted and ignorant of what really matters.


xii.                    The bad eye is lulled and distracted by the worthless TV shows that make you dumber and more worldly every time you watch.

xiii.                  The bad eye is lulled and distracted by every kind of entertainment and amusement that keeps you and your family away from prayer and the Word.

xiv.                  If you eye is gazing and obsessed with the next car, or the next iPad, or the next purchase, you have bad vision.

xv.                     Covetousness and greed blinds people to a kingdom vision.

      1. A.W. Tozer said, "Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that you can take two small ten-cent pieces, just two dimes, and shut out the view of a panoramic landscape. Go to the mountains and just hold two coins closely in front of your eyes--the mountains are still there, but you cannot see them at all because there is a dime shutting off the vision in each eye."

c.       Healthy eye:

i.  The healthy eye can see the things that matter.

ii.                        The healthy eye can perceive what really matters in life.

iii.                      The healthy eye is single-minded and focused on eternity.

iv.                      The healthy eye sees an opportunity to store up treasure in heaven.

v.                         The healthy eye sees an opportunity to speak up for Christ, witness for Christ, suffer for Christ, serve Christ, and he does it, because he sees it.

vi.                      His eyes can see, and so His whole life is directed and led by a clear vision Christ and His Kingdom and what really matters.

vii.                    He sees things in light of eternity and he sees things in light of making Jesus look good and attractive and compelling, as He is.

viii.                  “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” Jonathan Edwards.

1.      In other words, may my vision be Christ and His kingdom!

2.      Lord, give me spiritual eyes!

ix.                      Good eyes at work

x.                         Good eyes at home

xi.                      Good eyes in self-discipline.

xii.                    May God grant us good eyes so that Jesus is our vision.

d.      Main Point:

i.  “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”

ii.                        Jesus and His Kingdom are to be our Vision!

iii.                      If He is not, then we will stumble through this life completely missing the things that matter, like souls, and sanctification, and salvation.  Church, discipleship, fellowship, and love.

IV.                    Two Kinds of Masters (6:24).

a.       The third illustration that Jesus uses is that of a Master and Slave.

i.  Slaves in Jesus’ day did not work for two different masters. 

ii.                        A slave was the property of the master. 

iii.                      He did the bidding of the master day or night. 

iv.                      It was a full-time, all-consuming job. 

v.                         He did not have the luxury of doing something else. 

vi.                      He was totally dedicated with single-mindedness to his master.

vii.                    “Master” speaks of something that requires total allegiance and loyalty.

1.      Jesus dials in on our loyalties…

a.       All of us are loyal to something.

b.      All of is idolize something.

c.       Everyone has an ultimate loyalty to someone or something.

d.      We all idolize something.  Either God, or something else.

e.       Our loyalties tell us a lot about ourselves.

2.      Is it possible to love both material things AND God?

a.       Jesus says no.

b.      One of the two will ultimately be neglected or prioritized.

b.      The Bad Master: Mammon.

i.  I like the word Mammon, even though no one uses it.  It’s slightly broader than just “Money.”

1.      The word essentially means money.  “worldly wealth” like property, stocks bonds, cash, real estate. 

2.      The NIV just translates is as “Money” with a capital “M” because it is an idol.  A competitor with God.

3.      His point is that we can’t have it both ways.  Our hearts have but one home.

ii.                        Warnings about Mammon and Money in the Bible.

1.      Col. 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

2.      1 Tim. 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

3.      2 Peter 2:3, “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

4.      Luke 14:18-20, “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”

5.      Luke 8:14, “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

6.      Luke 12:15-21, “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

7.      Luke 18:24-25, “Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

8.      Psalm 49:16-17, Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.”

iii.                      The Master of Mammon is a mirage.

1.      Mammon makes you feel powerful.

2.      Mammon makes you feel secure.

3.      Mammon makes you feel independent and self-sufficient.

4.      Mammon feels good, tastes good, and looks good.

5.      Mammon is your best life now.

6.      Mammon is tied to shopping.

a.       There is a cycle of shopping, buying, consuming, accumulating, discarding, and more shopping.

b.      “In a discussion about what lies at the heart of American culture, scholar David Henderson says, "America's favorite tourist attraction, beating out Disney World and drawing nearly ten times as many people as the Grand Canyon, is the Mall of America outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, a shopping mall complete with more than four hundred stores, an amusement park, and a full-size roller coaster." In 2011, what some have called the "mecca of materialism" drew over 40 million visitors, while Disneyland drew just 16.1 million and the Grand Canyon just 4.2 million.

c.       David Henderson concludes, "America is a land of compulsive shoppers …. The mall is our home away from home and our national pastime."

d.      There is a cycle of shopping, buying, consuming, accumulating, discarding, and more shopping.

i.  And all of that complexity keeps us from the simplicity of One Master.

iv.                      Mammon ties us down:

1.      Property and wealth and pleasure have a tendency to tie us down.

2.      They can consume us and rob us from time and emotional energy.

3.      The person who has nothing is FREE.

4.      They don’t stay up at night wondering if someone will rob the boat they don’t own.

v.                         Mammon is a threat to discipleship to Jesus.

1.      “Many perceptive observers have sensed that the greatest danger to Western Christianity is not, as is sometimes alleged, prevailing ideologies such as Marxism, Islam, the New Age movement or humanism but rather the all-pervasive materialism of our affluent culture. We try so hard to create heaven on earth and to throw in Christianity when convenient as another small addition to the so-called good life. Jesus proclaims that unless we are willing to serve him wholeheartedly in every area of life, but particularly with our material resources, we cannot claim to be serving him at all.”  Blomberg

vi.                      Mammon can kill you (and your soul.)

1.      In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.

2.      Collectively, these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the United States Treasury, and for years newspapers and magazines had been printing their success stories and urging the youth of the nation to follow their examples.

3.      Twenty-seven years later…

a.       (1) CHARLES SCHWAB—the president of the largest independent steel company—lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life, and died penniless.

b.      (2) ARTHUR CUTTEN—the greatest wheat speculator—died abroad insolvent.

c.       (3) RICHARD WHITNEY—the president of the New York Stock Exchange—was released some time ago from Sing Sing.

d.      (4) ALBERT FALL—the member of the President’s Cabinet—was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.

e.       (5) JESSE LIVERMORE—the greatest bear in Wall Street—committed suicide.

f.        (6) LEON FRASER—the president of the Bank of International Settlement—committed suicide.

g.      (7) IVAR KRUEGER—the head of the world’s greatest monopoly—committed suicide.

4.      Quotes from the rich:

a.       John D. Rockefeller, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness. I would barter them all for the days I sat on an office stool in Cleveland and counted myself rich on three dollars a week.”

b.      W. H. Vanderbilt said, “The care of 200 million dollars is too great a load for any brain or back to bear. It is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.”

c.       Andrew Carnegie, the multi-millionaire, said, “Millionaires seldom smile.”

vii.                    We have competing masters…

        1. Our money says we trust in God, isn’t it ironic…
        2. Our national sin is that we trust, worship, and serve our money, not God.

c.       Good Master: Jesus

i.  The point that Jesus is making is painfully clear.  Jesus demands single-minded devotion.

1.      You cannot have two masters.

2.      It’s either money, or it’s Jesus.  But don’t pretend it’s both.

ii.                        Jesus is calling for a spiritual audit:

1.      Look at your bank account…

a.       What is it you prioritize?

b.      Dining, lattes, shopping?

2.      Look at your time and recreation account…

a.       How do you spend your time?

b.      Entertainment, leisure, pleasure…

3.      Look at your ministry outlet account…

a.       When do you serve?  Who do you serve?

b.      The point of this is not to crush us with more guilt.

c.       But we need to let the words of Jesus sting…because they do!

4.      Jesus is saying that there are competing forces, competing masters, and your life will display one or the other.  A mixture of devotion is a mirage of deception.

5.      You can’t have it both ways.

iii.                      Is Jesus better than money and possessions wealth and pleasure?

1.      That’s the (million-dollar) question.

2.      “You cannot serve God and Money”

3.      Money and possessions are a rival god.

4.      At the heart of this passage is this question, “What will bring you the most pleasure?  God or things?”

5.      Phil. 3:7-11, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

6.      Mat. 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

d.      You cannot serve God and Money:

i.  What Jesus is NOT saying:

1.      He is not saying it’s wrong to be rich.

2.      He is not telling them to give away riches or not make a profit.

a.       Paul acknowledges the rich people in the church in Ephesus. 

b.      He doesn’t rebuke them for being wealthy, and he doesn’t tell them to give all their money away.  But he does tell them to be generous to God’s people and the poor.

3.      He is not saying you cannot be rich and be a Christian and money is bad.

a.       Yes. Jesus isn’t rebuking rich folks.

b.      It is not a sin to have money, it’s a sin to serve money!

        1. Money is morally good.
          1. “Money is fundamentally good and provides many opportunities for glorifying God, but also many temptations to sin.”  Grudem “Business for the Glory of God:  The Bible’s teaching on the moral goodness of business.”
          2. Is money the root of all evil?
            1. 1 Tim. 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
        2. Money can be used for good.
          1. This is an understatement.
            1. The Creator God intended material things to be enjoyed appropriately and used constructively.
            2. You can do an enormous amount of good with money.
            3. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have generously used their wealth to alleviate suffering and hunger and Malaria.  This is good.  It’s not neutral, it’s good.
            4. “Nevertheless, most all people who are able to save and invest experience the temptation drastically to overestimate their genuine needs and/or to try to secure their futures against all calamity. Meanwhile, the truly destitute of the world continue to grow poorer.”  Blomberg

e.       There is one main point to this message that Jesus is preaching.  And it’s this:  Jesus needs to be prioritized above everything else.

i.  What are your priorities?

ii.                        Where are your priorities?

iii.                      Our Highest Priority NEEDS to be Jesus and His Kingdom.

iv.                      Hunger and thirst after righteousness.

v.                         Rearrange your lives to be focused on the Lord.

vi.                      What are your priorities?

vii.                    What should your priorities be?

viii.                  You can’t have it both ways:

1.      “I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.  Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.  I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust.  I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.  I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation.  I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell.  I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.  I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please.” D.A. Carson (commentary on Philipians)

f.        Challenge for LBC and for us as families and individuals: Confess the sin of materialism as a heart issue.

i.  Let’s reject it in our church building.

1.      We spend money on ourselves or our churches.

2.      50 million dollars spent on buildings?

ii.                        Let’s reject it in our families.

1.      Take an inventory:  Where has materialism blinded you?

2.      Examples:

a.       Women—is it in clothing.  Design.  Fashion.

b.      Men-- Technology.  Hunting gear.  Gadgets.

c.       Or is it in homes, furniture, cars, savings and retirement that looks more like hoarding than it does prudence.

d.      It’s amazing how easy it is to justify spending on ourselves or our family.

e.       It’s cloaked under the guise of “I’m providing for my family.” “I’m just showing love to my kids.”

iii.                      What’s the solution?

1.      Simplicity and contentment:

2.      Let’s reject materialism by being simple and being content.

iv.                      Let’s reject materialism by being sacrificial and generous.

1.      We can think about money and ask ourselves two very different questions:  God, how much do you get?  Or God, how much do I keep?

2.      It’s all His anyway.

3.      Let’s spend money in such a way that tells that world that God, not Mammon is our idol.

V.                       The Gospel:


Related Topics: Cultural Issues, Finance

Lesson 14: Consider The Lilies: Trusting God Instead Of Controlling God (Matthew 6:25-34)

Related Media

I. Recap:

a.       Two kinds of treasures.

b.      Two kinds of eyes.

c.       Two kinds of masters.

d.      Main Point: Jesus needs to be prioritized and valued above all else.

i.  Pleasure, earthly security, wealth, and status all need to take a back seat to Jesus.

ii.                        The Master of Mammon is incompatible with the Master Jesus.

iii.                      It’s one or the other, but it won’t and it can’t be both.

e.       The result of proper priorities.  The result of a single-mindedness to Christ.  The result of all this is a freedom from anxiety and worry.

II.                      Intro:

a.       One main point:  Don’t be anxious, but trust the Lord.

b.      This entire section has to do with “worry.”

i.  It is mentioned 6 times.

ii.                        The word is actually ties to insomnia.

c.       Good worry and bad worry:

i.  Good worry is more like a concern.

ii.                        Bad worry is self-focused.

iii.                      I should be concerned that this sermon shows us Jesus and confronts us with truth,

iv.                      I shouldn’t worry if people like it or not.  My reputation.  Accolades.  That’s a self-focused worry. 

v.                         It is this self-focused anxiety and worry that Jesus confronts and rebukes.

III.                   The Realm of Anxiety (6:25-29).

a.       “Therefore I tell you”

i.  This section is tied to the previous section on money.

ii.                        This is the result of the previous section.

1.      The result of seeking worldly treasure.

2.      The result of having your vision blinded by money.

3.      The result of serving the god of Mammon…is worry and anxiety.

4.      BUT…

5.      The result of seeking treasures in heaven.

6.      The result of having a clear vision of eternity and have eternity stamped on our eyeballs.

7.      The result of rejecting the idol of Mammon and trusting in a better Master…is peace.



iii.                      “Therefore”

1.      If we haven’t come to grips with the pervious section, we are hopeless when we get to this section.

b.      “don’t be anxious about your life…”

i.  Jesus lays down the main point and principle:  Don’t worry about your life.

ii.                        Jesus is saying the exact same thing he said when he talked about earthly treasures: Don’t depend on them.

iii.                      Jesus is warning against the same sin as the pervious section: dependence on earthly things.

c.       The Lord rebukes worry:

i.  In the same way that it’s impossible to serve Money and God at the same time, it’s impossible to worry and trust God at the same time.

ii.                        If you are worrying, you are not trusting.

iii.                      The person who worries is basically sinning the sin of unbelief.

iv.                      The person who worries is essentially saying, “God, I don’t trust that you are competent or have my best interests in mind.”

v.                         “I know better than you do.”  Or, “I’m not totally convinced that you know best.”

vi.                      And so instead of trusting God, we try to control Him.

vii.                    Instead of peace and serenity and, we nervous with anxiety.

viii.                  We will either try to control God or Trust God, but we can’t do both.

ix.                      Worry and trust are as incompatible as the Master of Mammon and Master Jesus.

x.                         Luke 10:41, “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

xi.                      Phil. 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

d.      Consider the Birds (v. 26) “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

i.  Consider the birds:

1.      They don’t sow, they don’t reap, they don’t gather…

2.      The Father feeds them.

ii.                        You are more valuable.

1.      Said the robin to the sparrow:

2.      ‘I should really like to know

3.      Why these anxious human beings

4.      Rush about and worry so.’

5.      Said the sparrow to the robin:

6.      ‘Friend, I think that it must be

7.      That they have no heavenly Father,

8.      Such as cares for you and me.’

e.       “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

i.  It’s an argument of absurdities.

ii.                        Anxiety is nonsensical.

iii.                      One statistician said that an average person's anxiety is focused on :

1.      40% -- things that will never happen 

2.      30% -- things about the past that can't be changed 

3.      12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue 

4.      10% -- about health, which gets worse with stress 

5.      8% -- about real problems that will be faced.

iv.                      A woman who had lived long enough to have learned some important truths about life remarked, "I've had a lot of trouble -- most of which never happened!" She had worried about many things that had never occurred, and had come to see the total futility of her anxieties.

f.        Consider the Lilies-- “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…”

i.  The Lord clothes the lilies.

ii.                        The Lord cares about the lilies!

iii.                      Take a nature walk and consider the lilies.

1.      This is divine instruction to be a birdwatcher.

a.       There are probably billions of birds on the earth.

b.      They are all provided for. They sing in the mornings.

c.       They don’t give a care to the world.

2.      The Lord cares about His creation.

3.      I will never forget when I was in seminary at Denver Seminary, we had a visiting speaker who was a theologian of high esteem.

4.      I don’t remember his name, but I remember a story he told.

5.      He told of one day when he was at the seminary, it was a nice summer day, and he went outside to the campus lawn, and noticed some flowers.

6.      He laid down on his stomach and starting looking at this flower.

7.      He considered the lilies…and he did it…for four hours.

8.      Spurgeon: ‘Lovely lilies, how ye rebuke our foolish nervousness!’

iv.                      You don’t have to have a PhD in Applied Theology to know that God takes care of his creation.

1.      Take your kids on a nature walk.  Become an ornithologist!

2.      Slow way down…and…consider…

v.                         You are more valuable than lilies.

1.      The Lord cares for His creation and He cares for you!

g.      There is a textual connection in these two passages between materialism and complexity and anxiety.

i.  The more things you have, the more complex your life will be.

ii.                        The more complex your life is, the more reason to worry.

iii.                      The gospel of Jesus brings a simplicity.

iv.                      There is less of a focus on things.  Less of a focus on Mammon.  And more of a single-minded focus on Jesus which brings a measure of simplicity.

v.                         Single-mindedness to Jesus equals more, not less, simplicity.

vi.                      At the airport, Hugh Maclellan Jr. saw an acquaintance who looked troubled. “What’s the matter?” Hugh asked. The man sighed. “I thought I was finally going to have a weekend to myself. But now I have to go supervise repairs on my house in Florida.” Dejected, he sat waiting to take off in his private jet.  Here’s a man with everything he needs, and with resources that most people only dream of, yet he can’t even enjoy his weekend because he is enslaved by his possessions.” Alcorn

h.      There is a connection between mammon and anxiety:

i.  “Materialism is the mother of anxiety….People lay up treasures on earth rather than in heaven not only because of greed and selfishness, but also because of fear and insecurity. Yet putting our hope in earthly treasures does nothing but multiply anxiety. Why? Because earthly treasures are so temporary and uncertain.”  Alcorn, Randy

ii.                        There is a reason these two sections are connected…by the word “Therefore.”

iii.                      My wife and I have lived in the same house for twenty-five years. For the firsst nine years, we had an ugly, old, orange carpet. We didn’t care what happened to it. Finally it wore through to the floor, so we replaced it. The first day we got our new carpet, there was an accident that burned a hole in it. Any day previous to that one we wouldn’t have cared. But now our emotional energy was poured into regret and anxiety about the carpet. It takes time to hover over our things, and that time must come from elsewhere—from time we might spend cultivating intimacy with God, from time in his Word and prayer, time with family, time visiting the needy, time with people who need Christ. Every item I add to my possessions is one more thing to think about, talk about, clean, repair, display, rearrange, and replace when it goes bad. I can’t just buy a television. I have to hook up an antenna or subscribe to a cable service. Then I buy a DVD player and start renting or buying movies. Then I get surround-sound speakers and a recliner so I can watch everything in comfort. By then my neighbor has purchased a bigger screen TV, so it’s my turn to upgrade.  Alcorn, Randy

i.        It’s a sick cycle of complexity:

i.  Do you know what the best selling genre of literature in the world is?

1.      Amish Romance Novels.

2.      I can see why!  People want simplicity!

3.      Put your bonnet on, Churn some butter, sing a hymn, and go to bed.

j.        The Realm of worry (Three areas of worry).

i.  Anxiety about the body.

1.      We worry over the length of our lives and the state of our health.

2.      We are a culture obsessed with body image.  Body perfection.

3.      We are worshippers of the body—our own, and others.

4.      We give our time and energy to our bodies!  We serve it like faithful worshiper.

5.      Our body is a temple—not a god.

ii.                        Anxiety about food.

1.      Jesus mentioned anxiety about food.

2.      We worry over what we will eat and drink, over diets and fats and carbohydrates.

3.      Some of this is good.  Because we are surrounded by so much junk and processed oil.  We live in Fast-food nation.

4.      But the opposite is true too!  It’s possible for many people today to obsess over organic.  Losing sleep over anything that might taint the body!

5.      There can be a great deal of anxiety surrounding food.

iii.                      Anxiety about clothes.

1.      Style, fashion, and design are overrated, are frivolous at best in the long-term, and vain at worst.

2.      We worry about being in fashion or out of fashion.

3.      Not that design, and beauty, and clothing are arbitrary.  And I am not suggesting we should take all thought out of it and all wear the same clothes.

4.      But let’s be honest, the opposite is true.

5.      We are concerned with being individuals!  Image.

6.      And so we put more thought into what we look like on the outside while we are laden with dirt on the inside.

7.      That’s the kind of Phariseeism that Jesus rejects!

8.      Not only is it backward, it’s also time-consuming!

9.      And so you are left with a day that is frittered away with the details of body, food, and clothes, with no time for prayer, Bible-reading, or hospitality.

k.      Could it be, that the reason for at least some of the anxiety in the world, is because of the complexity of our lives?

i.  Harvard psychologist and researcher Daniel Gilbert says, “The human is the only animal that ….thinks about the future …. [Human beings] think about the future in a way that no other animal can, does, or ever has, and this simple … ordinary act is the defining feature of our humanity.

ii.                        The average adult spends 12 percent of the day thinking about the future, roughly one of every eight hours. We can imagine events years into the future …. If more than several minutes are involved, no animal can keep up with us.

l.        We think about the future, but WHAT do we think about the future?

i.  Is it a future where God is in control?  On the throne?  Sovereign?

ii.                        Or is it a future where I am in control?

iii.                      Is it possible that part of the reason we worry is because we try to control God instead of trust God?

m.    We live in a day when tranquilizer pills are wildly popular.

i.  One pharmacist I talked to said about half of the prescriptions that come out of his office are tranquilizers.

ii.                        I am not against prescription medication!

iii.                      In her article titled "Listening to Xanax," reporter Lisa Miller chronicles "how Americans learned to stop worrying about worry and pop its pills instead."

iv.                      According to psychologist Robert Leahy's book Anxiety Free, "The average American child today exhibits the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient did in the 1950s."

v.                         As psychologist Robert Leahy puts it, "We live in the Age of Anxiety …. We've become a nation of nervous wrecks."

n.      Could there be a connection between money and anxiety??

i.  Is the realm of anxiety a possible indication of the root of anxiety?

ii.                        Is Jesus on to something when He mentions the body, food, and clothes???

o.      Main Point:  God abundantly takes care of creation, how much more His disciples.

IV.                    The Root of Anxiety (6:30)

a.       What is the root of anxiety?

i.  “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

ii.                        Did you catch that?

iii.                      The root of anxiety is unbelief.  Period.

1.      Anxiety is connected to “little faith.”

2.      It is connected with faith (trust).

iv.                      In other words, the root of our anxiety is that we trust something, or someone more than we trust God.

v.                         In the same way that Mammon and Jesus are two competing Masters, so is Worry and Jesus.

vi.                      You can’t serve God and Money at the same time—it’s impossible.

vii.                    And you can’t Trust God and Worry at the same time—it’s impossible.

viii.                  You will idolize one or the Other.

b.      There is a connection between idolatry and Anxiety.

i.  When we worry, we replace God with a lesser God. An unstable god.  A capricious god.

ii.                        Idolatry is way to understand all sin.

1.      Luther on idolatry:

a.       The Ten Commandments begin with the command to not have any idols.

b.      Why does this come first? 

i.  Because the fundamental motivation for every other sin is idolatry.  We never break the other commands without breaking this one first.

c.       Lying:  why do we lie?  We wouldn’t lie unless we first made something—human approval, reputation, power over others more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God.

c.       Identify your idols.

i.  Idolatry is not merely bowing down to a statue or a piece of wood.

ii.                        Definition: “When you look to some created thing to give you what only God can give you that is idolatry.  An idol is anything in your life that is so central to your life that you can’t have a meaningful life if you lose it.” (Keller)

iii.                      How can you identify an idol? (Three ways)

1.      What do you enjoy daydreaming about?

a.       Where are your strongest affections?

b.      Dream home.  Potential relationship.  A man or a woman desiring you?

c.       An idol controls your life, your emotions.  It absorbs your heart and imagination.

2.      What do you spend your money on?

a.       Clothing, children, status symbols like cars and houses boats?

b.      Kent Hughes was a pastor at College Church in Wheaton ILL for many years; he told story of going waterskiing with a friend of his who had a huge, beautiful ski boat.  And on the side of the boat it had the words, “Mat. 6:33”  “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you…”

c.       There has got to be a better verse…

3.      What do you fear?  What are you anxious about?

a.       When you pray for something and don’t get it?  Do you respond with frustration?  Anger, tears, despair?

b.      What devastates you?  What could devastate you?

c.       What about uncontrollable emotions?

i.  Is there something SO important, that if it doesn’t happen or it does happen, it makes you sooo mad, or soo sad?

ii.                        What makes you angry? Anxious?

iii.                      That’s an idol.

d.      Look at your nightmares.

i.  What do you fear the most?

ii.                        What, if you lost it, would make life not worth living?

iv.                      Examples of idols:

1.      Is your idol Mammon?

a.       Greed.

b.      Materialism--Bigger home--Bigger car

c.       Security

d.      Pleasure?

2.      Is your idol:

a.       Beauty—Body Image?

b.      Romantic love.

3.      Is your idol control?

a.       So you micro manage.  When things don’t go your way it’s devastating.  You tend to get really frustrated.

b.      The reason for the frustration is because your idol isn’t doing its job.  It’s a false god, and it’s fake!

c.       You try to control God instead of trust God—and so you are anxious.

4.      Tim Keller tells the story of a woman names Anna.

a.       She desperately wanted to have children, the doctors told her she couldn’t, but she eventually did get two healthy kids.  But here dreams did not come true.  Her overpowering drive to give her children the perfect life made it impossible for her to actually enjoy them.  She became overprotective, fearful, anxious.  Her need to control every detail of her children’s lives made the family miderable.

b.      Her idol was to have to have the perfect family, but it never delivered.  The idol didn’t satisfy.  In fact it actually caused all kinds of emotional issues in her kids.

c.       Anna, who was runining her children’s lives did not “love her children too much,” but rather loved God too little in relationship to them, as a result her kids were crushed under the weight of her expectations.

d.      “If I really knew God’s love—then I could accept less-than-perfect kids and wouldn’t be crushing them.  If God’s love meant more to me than my children, I could love my children less selfishly and more truly

5.      Achievement.

a.       “My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre.  Always pushing me, pushing me.  Because evn though I’m somebody, I still need to prove that I’m somebody.  My struggle has never ended and probably never will.”  Madonna

b.      “Achievement is the alcohol of our time.”  Mary Bell

i.  Parents wanted their kids to be the best.

6.      Influence.

a.       This is a deep sin of evangelicals.

b.      They want the world’s approval.

7.      Health

8.      Popularity.

9.      Family.

10.  Power.

11.  Success.

a.       Successful life

b.      Successful church.

12.  And so we have workaholics, perfectionists, chronic indecisiveness.

13.  These behaviors all stem from our idols.

a.       But these idols never deliver, they never satisfy, they never bring joy.

d.      The root of anxiety comes from unbelief about God.

i.  You are trusting something else, other than God.

V.                       The Remedy of Anxiety (6:30-34).

a.       Don’t be anxious--

i.  “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

b.      The Gentiles seek after these things…

i.  The “idolaters” seek after these things.

ii.                        =the polytheists.

iii.                      The Gentiles give their time and energy and worry about these things…but not you…

1.      Those without God give their time and energy to these things.

2.      Unbelievers worry about these things because they don’t have God.

3.      They don’t have a heavenly father who knows all their needs.

4.      Their practical atheism drove them to take control of their destinies.

5.      God, is the ultimate source of trustworthiness.

6.      God, not money, not and our own right hand, is the Ultimate source of trusthworthiness.

7.      R. Mounce says, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”

iv.                      It makes sense that the Gentiles are anxious.  It makes sense that unbelievers are anxious, but not you!

1.      Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of a capricious and despotic deity who constantly had to be appeased. In its modern, irreligious garb, pagan anxiety displays a great preoccupation with physical exercise and diet without a corresponding concern for spiritual growth and nutrition. Verse 32a recalls the logic of 5:47; v. 32b parallels and recalls 6:8b.

c.       You don’t need to be anxious:

i.  The Gentiles obsess over these things.

ii.                        Your heavenly Father knows what you need.

iii.                      “He was asking, “Do you trust your Father or not?”—not with a slap in our face, but with an arm around our shoulder. Jesus was not belittling his disciples; he was encouraging them upward.” Holman

iv.                      Trust and Obey:

1.      There is, in the life of the fourteenth-century German Christian Johann Tauler, a remarkable story that shows something of the attitude Jesus was looking for in his disciples. One day Tauler met a beggar.

a.       ‘God give you a good day, my friend,’ he said.

b.      The beggar answered, ‘I thank God I never had a bad one.’

c.       Then Tauler said, ‘God give you a happy life, my friend.’

d.      ‘I thank God’, said the beggar, ‘that I am never unhappy.’

e.       In amazement Tauler asked, ‘What do you mean?’

f.        ‘Well,’ said the beggar, ‘when it is fine I thank God. When it rains I thank God. When I have plenty I thank God. When I am hungry I thank God. And, since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?’

g.      Tauler looked at the man in astonishment. ‘Who are you?’ he asked.

h.      ‘I am a king,’ said the beggar.

i.        ‘Where, then, is your kingdom?’ asked Tauler.

j.        The beggar replied quietly, ‘In my heart.’

v.                         The spiritual life of the kingdom has come!  It is among us!  The Lord is king!

d.      The Remedy:  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

i.  The remedy is to think about and be preoccupied with the coming Kingdom.

1.      The gospel.

2.      Our number one priority--Seek first His kingdom and Righteousness:

a.       How?

b.      Kingdom—

i.  Seeking first the righteousness of the kingdom implies obedience to all of Jesus’ commands and shows that the thesis of 5:20 continues to be advanced.

ii.                        “and His righteousness”

1.      This does not mean justification.

2.      It is a practical righteousness that is basically a conformity and submission to the will of God.

3.      Such a life could lead to persecution, etc.

4.      It’s a restructuring of our lives.

5.      Example of Nehemiah.

6.      Examples:

a.       The Church

b.      The Church-Plant

c.       Sending

d.      Going.

e.       We are people on mission.

f.        Bible studies at your work place.

iii.                      The results…             

1.      The result of seeking worldly treasure.

2.      The result of having your vision blinded by money.

3.      The result of serving the god of Mammon…is worry and anxiety.

4.      BUT…

5.      The result of seeking treasures in heaven.

6.      The result of having a clear vision of eternity.

7.      The result of rejecting the idol of Mammon and trusting in a better Master…is peace and more simplicity.

8.      “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” George Muller.

9.      Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of what is today known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, gave this excellent advice: "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God's] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about."

e.       “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

i.  Jesus is saying that tomorrow will have trouble.

ii.                        There is no magic bullet to escape trouble in this world.

iii.                      Don’t naively live like once you get a promotion, you won’t have any trouble, or, once I get married, I won’t have trouble, or once I retire I won’t have trouble.

iv.                      Tomorrow will have cares no matter who much worry about it today.

v.                         AND…it will sap the single-minded enjoyment of Christ TODAY!

vi.                      It’s like filming your kids opening presents and fumbling with the buttons, and completely missing the moment.

f.        Warning:

i.  This does not mean that Christians should not work hard.

1.      We should sleep like a Calvinist and work like an Arminian.

a.       Or, in the words of Augustine, we are to “Work, as though everything depends upon us, and pray, as though everything depends upon God.”

b.      Paul says, “I worked harder than all of you, though not I, but Christ in me.”

2.      This doesn’t mean that food and clothing will appear out of thin air while we sit and watch TV.

3.      We cannot sit back in an armchair, twiddle our thumbs and mutter that ‘my heavenly Father will provide’ while we do nothing.

4.      God uses means.

5.      We have to work. As Paul put it, “If anyone will not work, let him not eat.”

6.      Luther writes: ‘God … wants nothing to do with the lazy, gluttonous bellies who are neither concerned nor busy; they act as if they just had to sit and wait for him to drop a roasted goose into their mouth."

7.      Hudson Taylor learnt this lesson on his first voyage to China in 1853. When a violent storm off the Welsh coast threatened disaster, he felt it would be dishonouring to God to wear a life-belt. So he gave his away. Later, however, he saw his mistake: ‘The use of means ought not to lessen our faith in God, and our faith in God ought not to hinder our using whatever means he has given us for the accomplishment of his own purposes.’

8.      The point Jesus is making is not that his disciples should be lazy and give no care to their needs, like the birds and the grass, but rather that God is abundant in His providential care.

a.       Just look at nature.  God’s cares for His creation.  How much more, His creatures.

ii.                        This passage does not mean that Jesus disciples won’t endure hardship.

1.      This isn’t some kind of Disney “Hakuna Mattata”

2.      We may be free from worry, but not free from trouble, persecution, and hardship.

VI.                    Application:

a.       Replace the idol of anxiety with God.  And while we are at it, let’s replace the idol of materialism and mammon with God as well.

i.  Let the grace and favor of God be more important to you than anything else!!!

ii.                        Sheer willpower doesn’t work.  Simply identifying idols and feeling bad isn’t enough.

iii.                      Our idols need to be replaced.

1.      Remember, these things are most likely not even bad things, they are most likely good things are taking the place of preeminence in your life.

2.      Identifying is part of it. Acknowledging the sin is part of it.  Turning away from those idols are part of it.  But they are not enough.

iv.                      Let the grace and favor of God be more important to you than…

1.      Food

2.      Clothing

3.      Your body

4.      Acceptance from other people.

5.      Having perfect kids.

6.      Having your health.

7.      Having things.

8.      Design and beauty.

9.      Shopping, accumulating, and discarding.

v.                         Let the Words of Christ, and the grace of God, be more important to you than the hurtful thing someone said or did to you last year.

b.      The way out…the answer…the remedy…is turn your gaze upon Jesus…look full in His wonderful face…and let the words, and things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

c.       You can only have one idol.

i.  It’s either Christ Jesus—which will lead to peace and simplicity.

ii.                        Or it will be Mammon—which will lead to anxiety and complexity.

VII.                The Gospel:

Related Topics: Discipleship, Faith, Finance, Spiritual Life

Lesson 15: The Golden Rule Of Relationships (Matthew 7:1-12)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       This section is about relationships.  Sin has so infected us, and jacked up our relationships, and Jesus zeros in on it in this section.

b.      It’s actually a tricky section of Scripture, in terms of outlining.

c.       The logical connection between these paragraphs are tough to see at first.

i.  “What does judging people have to do with prayer and what does that have to do with the Golden rule?”

ii.                        Some people think Matthew is just cutting and pasting things together...

iii.                      Some people see this sermon as a collection of sermons with little relation to no relation to each other.

d.      I think the best way to view this passage (7:1-12) is to view it through the lens of verse 12.

e.       He is dealing with relationships in these 12 verses.  The Golden Rule of Relationships.

f.        I see the first six verses focusing on the negative aspects of a self-righteous, judgmental spirit.  And the next six verses, 7-12, focus on an attitude that is humble, trusting, and loving, like the Golden Rule.

g.      What is the Golden Rule?

i.  The golden rule not only summaraizes our passage, it summarizes the Sermon on the Mount.  And it not only summarizes the Sermon on the Mount, it summarizes the Law and the Prophets.

ii.                        It’s the end of the section (inclusio) that started in Mat. 5:17.

II.                      The Golden Rule Gone Wrong (7:1-6).

a.      Don’t be a judge (7:1-2).

i.  Don’t be like the Pharisees, who judge.

1.      The Pharisees were hypocritical, self-righteous, and arrogant.

2.      Their motive was not to help people, or love people, but to condemn them.

3.      Key point: What Jesus is forbidding is this Pharisaical, self-righteous, hasty, unmerciful, prejudiced critisism.

4.      The critical spirit.

5.      It’s the opposite of someone who is poor in spirit and meek.  A peacemaker.

ii.                        Judging put ourselves in the place of God (7:1-2).

1.      When we Judge we are putting ourselves in God’s place.

2.      When we judge, we are acting like God.

3.      But we are not the Judge, we are the judged.

4.      Jesus is telling his disciples to resist the temptation to put yourself in the place of God.  It’s crazy.

5.      Don’t be a self-righteous critic.  It’s nonesense.

6.      We are not superiour to others.

7.      When we judge we are placing ourselves above others.

8.      If we don’t practice what we preach...

iii.                      Illustration:

1.      By the very nature of the business, L.A. County traffic cops receive plenty of complaints about their work. After all, most motorists don't think they deserve a ticket. Each complaint gets documented and placed in the officer's personnel file.

2.      But, surprisingly, over the past 20 years, L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Elton Simmons has made over 25,000 traffic stops and cited thousands of motorists with traffic violations without a single complaint on his record. When his supervisor Captain Pat Maxwell started looking through Simmons' file, he was stunned. Maxwell found plenty of commendations but not a single complaint.

3.      It was such a shocking story that a CBS News crew was assigned to follow Simmons in an attempt to learn his secret. First, they noticed Simmons' "pitch-perfect mix of authority and diplomacy" without a trace of arrogance or self-righteousness. Of course Simmons still hands out plenty of tickets; they just don't come with the standard guilt trip.

4.      Here's how Simmons described his approach: "I'm here with you. I'm not up here" (he motions his arm up towards the sky). One thing I hate is to be looked down on—I can't stand it—so I'm not going to look down at you."

5.      A driver who got a ticket from Simmons agreed. The driver said, "You know what it is, it's his smile. How could you be mad at that guy?"

6.      "Apparently, you can't," concluded the CBS News team. "Time after time, ticket after ticket, we saw Officer Simmons melt away a polar ice cap of preconceptions. And his boss [claims] there's a lesson in there for hard-nosed cops everywhere."

iv.                      Don’t put yourself “Up here!”

1.      We watch the news and we comment on the “stupid” people.

2.      We read a political article and note “how ignorant people are.”

3.      Waiter spills your food, “incompotent waiter.”

4.      We natually think more of ourselves than we ought!

v.                         What this does NOT mean:

1.      This has got to be one of the most well-known, most quoted verses in the world.

2. of the most misused, taken out of context, verses. Ever.

3.      This verse does not mean we are not to use discernment.

4.      This verse does not mean we are to never criticize anything.

5.      The world today loves this verse because they see it as a pass for their wickedness.

6.      They think they are clever when they quote Scripture as a justification for their own behavior.

7.      How many of us have been in a conversation when we are talking with an unbeliever and they quote this verse like its a trump card.

b.      Jesus’ Disciples are called to test everything!

i.  Use your brain and use God’s Word.

1.      “The biggest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment.” MacArthur.

ii.                        How do we test? 

1.      With Scripture.

2.      Acts 17:11, “{The Bereans} received the word daily with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

iii.                      A few years ago I mentioned the Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

1.      A self-proclaimed miracle worker.

2.      He kicks people in the face and says God told him to do it.

3.      I watched a sermon where he literally kneed a man with a cancerous tumor in the gut because God told him to do it.

4.      He cusses and runs around the stage.  It’s sick.

5.      Almost ANYTHING goes in these churches except rational truth and Bible exposition.

6.      Heb. 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…”

7.      “We increase our scrutiny of people like Hugh Hefner, and we decrease our evaluation of people like {Todd Bentley} just because he comes in the name of Jesus,” Tullian Tchividjian told The Good News. “Hugh Hefner is not nearly as dangerous to the church as someone like this.”  “I would pay much more attention to those people who have stood the test of time. I would pay very little attention to anyone who comes and says, ‘God told me something that he’s never told anyone else, and you can’t find it in the Bible.’ It’s a lie, it’s that simple.”

iv.                      Leadership Magazine:

1.      Interviewed a very influential pastor.  Asked him all kinds of questions about his ministry and the types of churches they are producing.

2.      This influential pastor said, “If people aren’t laughing within the first five minutes of coming in to the building we have failed.”

a.       Really?

b.      Blessed are those who mourn…

c.       Self proclaimed pragmatist—“if it brings people in, it must be of God.”

d.      Unapologetically building the “ministry” with entertainment.

3.      Is entertainment how we should build the Church?

v.                         Christians ARE to discern and evaluate. (Not in a self-righteous way, but in Berean way.)

1.      Jesus commanded that we judge false teachers and false teaching.

a.       Mat. 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

b.      We are called to expose false teaching and false teachers.  The wolves who sneak in.

2.      The apostles of Jesus commanded that we judge false teaching and false teachers.

a.       Gal. 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

b.      2 John 2:10-11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

c.       1 Thess. 5:21, “...but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

i.  This flies in the face of many churches that discourage doubt, discourage evaluation.  Where testing everything is seen as a “lack of faith.”

3.      Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for not judging sin.

a.       1 Cor. 5:11-13, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

b.      Paul is rebuking the Corinthian Church because they had become passive and because they DIDN’T judge!

4.      Jesus tells his disciples to confront sin.

a.       Mat. 18:15-17, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

5.      Mat. 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

a.       It’s somewhat ironic that the passage on “not judging” is immediately followed by a verse that says to “judge the dogs and pigs.”

b.      We are commanded to discern and judge the pigs and the dogs!

c.       Don’t be gullible (7:6).

i.  Jesus swings to the other extreme here.

1.      He warns His disciples against be critics like the Pharisees.

2.      But then He warns from the opposite extreme of being a gullible sucker.

3.      Both problems still exist by the way.

ii.                        Dogs:

1.      Dog’s in Jesus’ day were not pets.

2.      The thought of sacrificing a holy sacrifice of a Bull and then taking part of that holy sacrifice and throwing it to the dogs to eat, would be the height of desecration.

iii.                      Pigs:

1.      Were unclean.  Jews hated pigs.

2.      Antiochus Epiphanes desectrated the Temple by placing a pig on the altar.

3.      Both dogs and pigs were unclean and were scavengers.

4.      If you came between them and their food, you would get trampled.Jesus gives a balance to this teaching on self-righteous judgmentalism, when He exhorts His disciples to have discernment.

5.      If you threw your pearls before a pig, he wouldn’t recognize its value.

6.      God’s Holy Word is like a string of pearls.

iv.                      It’s noteworthy that Jesus did not always give all of His teaching to everyone.

1.      He spoke in parables to reveal the truth to those had ears to hear, and to conceal it from the self-righteous.

2.      When the gospel is mocked, the Word of God is abhored, and people refuse to listen, then you stop sharing the gospel.

3.      You stop casting the pearls of God before the swine.

4.      It may be time to take the pearls of God elsware.

5.      Plenty of people need the pearls.

6.      Plenty of people are willing to handle the pearls and think about the pearls and talk about the pearls.

7.      Showcase the pearls to them.

v.                         This doesn’t mean we stop praying for the hard-hearted.

vi.                      This doesn’t mean we stop loving the hard-hearted.

vii.                    This doesn’t mean we don’t try to show the pearls to our neighbors and friends and co-workers!  We do!

viii.                  But when antagonism comes, take the pearls to the poor in spirit, not the pig in spirit.

ix.                      The Two Extremes:

1.      One extreme is that we are gullible, spineless, and naive.

2.      The other extreme is that we are self-righteous critics who look down our noses at others.

3.      Neither extreme brings about the Goldren Rule.

d.      Don’t be a self-righteous hypocrite (7:3-5).

i.  Jesus humerously illustrates hypocrisy with the speck and the log.

1.      Jesus has already warned of hypocrisy (6:1-18)

a.       The clasic warning is in Luke 18:11.

b.      When you have a high view of yourself, you have a low view of others.

2.      Hypocrites can’t see reality!

ii.                        Jesus is saying that self-righteousness leads to a faulty view of ourselves (7:3-5).

1.      We can’t see the giant log in ourselves!

2.      We are blind to our own sinfulness!

3.      So the self-righteous person rejects the gospel because they don’t believe they need it.

4.      Meanwhile they are annoyed with the petty sins of others!

5.      If you are here today and you sense no real need for Christ, then you have a giant log in your eye and you don’t even know it.

e.       So what do we do?  What’s the solution?

III.                   Application: Apply the Beatitudes!

a.       I want to do a little review here, because this is direct application for how NOT to be a judge.

i.  The opposite of this judgmental critical hypocrisy is someone who is poor in spirit, mournful, and meek.  Someone who is a peacemaker!

ii.                        So, the application for NOT being judgmental. 

iii.                      For not being a self-righteous critic comes back to the Beatitiudes.

b.      If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be poor in spirit.

i.  Do you feel entitled?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

ii.                        Do you feel like God owes you?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

iii.                      Have you repented, and do you continually repent?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

1.      “When a Christian sees prostitutes, alcoholics, prisoners, drug addicts, unwed mothers, the homeless, refugees, he knows that he is looking in a mirror. Perhaps the Christian spent all of his life as a respectable middle-class person. No matter. He thinks, Spiritually I was just like these people, though physically and socially I never was where they are now. They are outcasts. (Spiritually speaking) I was an outcast.”  Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy (P & R Publishing, 2007), p. 60.

c.       If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to mourn. (Blessed are those who mourn)

i.  We mourn and lament because of our own sin.

1.      Just examine yourself against the Word.

2.      Examine yourself in light of the Scriptures and what Jesus and the apostles expect.

3.      If you are not immediately led to mourning, there is something very wrong.

4.      Sins of omission and sins of commission:

a.       What are the things I did and said today that were sinful?

b.      What are the things I didn’t do and say?

c.       The list begins to pile up and it’s depressing.

d.      There is something in me that is prone to wander.

e.       I am conflicted in myself.  There is a war inside me.

f.        This causes the Christian to mourn.

5.      This takes a little of the swagger out of our judgmentalism!

ii.                        We mourn and lament because of the sins of other people.

1.      We see other Christians in sin, and it makes us mourn.

2.      We see people ruining their lives with sin, and it hurts.

3.      We see the affects of sin and how is destroys lives and ruins relationships and makes people miserable and relationships estranged, and we lament.

iii.                      We mourn and lament because of the world’s sin and its lostness.

1.      The world is in state of darkness.

2.      Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers and people are deceived.

3.      Billions of people live in misery.  Not physically impoverished, but spiritually impoverished and dead and miserable and wicked.

4.      And sin is compounded on sin and misery is multiplied.

5.      If you don’t lament your sin, if you don’t grieve over your sin, you are not born again and you are not part of the kingdom.**

d.      If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be meek:

i.  This person is humbled.  Happy to be a servant. 

ii.                        Not easily offended.  Not sensitive and always getting hurt.  Because he views himself in a low regard.

iii.                      Who I am anyway?  I’m just happy to be part of the family of God.  I’m just happy to be a servant.

iv.                      Nobody can overly-offend him or hurt him our crush him, because the cross has already done it.

v.                         The cross of Jesus has said all of those things, and more.

vi.                      The meek person is a person who has come under the weight of the condemnation of the cross, and agrees with its verdict.  That Jesus died for sins…MY sins. 

vii.                    That takes the swagger out of our step, and makes us humble, and humbled.

viii.                  What is meant?

ix.                      Meek lit. means “humble, modest, unassuming, gentle”

x.                         Jesus is teaching the very opposite of what the world teaches.

xi.                      Rather than trust your own abilities and powers, rather you trust in the Lord.

xii.                    Psalm 37:7, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

xiii.                  Mat. 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

xiv.                  Meekness doesn’t not mean weak, or spineless, or pathetic.

1.      It doesn’t mean niceness or someone who’s a pushover, or a wallflower.

2.      It really means power under control.  Like a tame horse.

3.      It means to be “Humble, gentle, not aggressive—but trusting and waiting on the Lord to act”

xv.                     Illustration:

1.      When you get pulled over for driving too fast, and the police officer tells you that you were driving 20 miles over the speed limit, and the ticket should be over $400, but he has decided to let you go, and your jaw drops and you feel like giving him a hug…here is the question:  How do you drive off?

a.       Do you squeal your tires?  Do you spray gravel and lay some rubber?

b.      Or do you drive away slowly?  Because you have just been shown the law, and you have violated the law, but you have been shown mercy and comforted.  How do you drive off?  You drive off in meekness…

e.       If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be peacemakers!

i.  The New Testament calls for all believers to live in peace with one another and with all people:

1.      Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)

2.      If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom. 12:18)

3.      Live in peace [with one another]. (2 Cor. 13:11)

4.      Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thess. 5:13)

5.      Furthermore, they learned that all believers—not just those in positions of leadership—are called to intentionally and actively pursue peace:

6.      Let us pursue what makes for peace. (Rom. 14:19)

7.      Strive for peace with everyone. (Heb. 12:14)

8.      Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11)

9.      So flee youthful passions and pursue . . . peace. (2 Tim. 2:22)

10.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Col. 3:15)

ii.                        The opposite of peacemaking is criticism and fault-finding.

1.      Someone who is divisive:

a.       Careless with words.

b.      Complainers.

c.       Grumblers.

d.      Gossips.

e.       A trouble-maker.

f.        Critics.  Fault-finders. 

iii.                      The peacemaker is not concerned with the self-life, but the critic judge is!

1.      The best way to understand this is in terms of understanding the self-life.

2.      The opposite of the peacemaker is the person who is self-focused.

3.      They are concerned with their own rights, their own lives, their own needs, their own feelings.

4.      For instance:

a.       In a family, you might have tensions.  You might have disagreement.  You might have conflict.

b.      The reason for conflict is because someone feels he or she is not getting fair treatment.  Or their rights are being overlooked.

c.       They are concerned about defending their rights, their voice, their opinion.

d.      They are zealots for themselves.

e.       The reason for family disputes, invariably, is because people feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.  Something has happened to THEM, they they don’t like.

i.  Something was withheld from THEM.

ii.                        Something was said to THEM.

f.        When that attitude of the self-life prevails, the result is conflict and animosity and hurt feelings.

g.      A peacemaker looks at what is best for the family.

5.      The peacemaker is someone who sees himself as a worm.  He is poor in spirit, he has mourned over his sin and laments it, he is happy to be a servant, and now he is freed up to focus on others!

6.      The pathway to becoming a peacemaker starts with being poor in spirit, lamenting yourself and your sin, seeing yourself as a servant, humble and meek.

7.      This is the foundation for becoming a peacemaker, like God.

iv.                      The peacemaker absorbs the conflict and suffers long (on behalf of others).

1.      I am NOT saying there aren’t times when conflict needs to happen.  Conflict can be good.

2.      I am talking about the unnecessary conflict.

3.      Peacemakers consider the needs of the group, not their own preferences.

4.      Peacemakers absorb

v.                         Stop the criticism and judging!

1.      In September 2011, The New York Times ran an article about a small town in Missouri called Mountain Grove. Gossip and rumors have always existed in this tight-knit community, but before the days of anonymous social media sites, people traded stories at the local diner called Dee's Place. At Dee's Place you could usually find a dozen longtime residents who gathered each morning to talk about weather, politics, and, of course, their neighbors.

2.      But of late [the article reports], more people in this hardscrabble town of 5,000 have shifted from sharing the latest news and rumors over eggs and coffee to … a social media Web site called Topix, where they write and read startlingly negative posts, all cloaked in anonymity, about one another. [Unlike sites like Facebook, which require users to give their real names, Topix users can pick different names and thus remain anonymous.]

3.      And in Dee's Place, people are not happy. A waitress, Pheobe Best, said that the site had provoked fights and caused divorces. The diner's owner, Jim Deverell, called Topix a "cesspool of character assassination." And hearing the conversation, Shane James, the cook, wandered out of the kitchen tense with anger.

4.      His wife, Jennifer, had been the target in a post … which described the mother of two, as among other things, "a methed-out, doped-out [addict] with AIDS" Not a word was true, Mr. and Mrs. James said, but the consequences were real enough …. Now, the couple has resolved to move. "I'll never come back to this town again," Ms. James said in an interview at the diner. "I just want to get … out of town."

f.        Summarize:

i.  The Two Extremes:

1.      One extreme is that we are gullible, spineless, and naive.

2.      The other extreme is that we are self-righteous critics who look down our noses at others.

3.      Neither extreme brings about the Goldren Rule.

IV.                    The Golden Rule Gone Right (7:7-12).

a.       Jesus moves from talking about being a critic to talking about prayer:

i.  I think He does this for two reasons:

1.      We need God’s help to follow the Golden Rule.

a.       We need God’s help to not idoloze money.

b.      We need God’s help to not worry.

c.       We need God’s help to not be a self-rigteous judge.

d.      We need God’s help to get over our self-prone superiority complex.

e.       We need prayer to do this.

2.      Jesus is describing how God models the Golden Rule to us.

a.       He is good to us.

b.      He doesn’t give us a rock when we ask for bread.  He doesn’t trick us or despise us.

c.       So this section on prayer needs to be interpreted in light of the Golden Rule in verse 12.

d.      All that being said, this is one of the most enocuraging sections in all of the Bible regarding prayer and God’s tender loving kindness towards His children.

b.      God never tires of us (7:7-8), “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

i.  This isn’t a blank check.

1.      God isn’t a Magic Genie who is dicated by our prayers.

2.      That would make us God, and God our servant.

ii.                        When Jesus says, “ask, seek, knock” he is saying we should never grow tired of asking because God never gets tired of hearing and answering.

1.      In other words, “Don’t be shy! Ask away!  God is a Good Father.  He loves to give good gifts more than you do to your kids!”

2.      Jesus is not suggesting vain repetition.  He has already rebuked that in chapter 6.

3.      We shouldn’t drone on and on with many words as if that helps.

4.      His point is that God never tires of us.

iii.                      God is good, and you can ask Him!

1.      James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

2.      1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

3.      “If you don’t spend much time in prayer it is almost proof positive you don’t know Him…If you knew Him you’d ask!”  John Piper

a.       Imagine being a leper…and not asking the Doctor for antibiotics.

b.      The Samaritan woman at the well:  Jesus said, “If you knew who I was you would have asked me…”

iv.                      God is good, and He models to Golden Rule to us when we pray.

1.      God has practiced the Golden Rule to us.

c.       God is like a Good Father (7:9-11), “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

i.  Something we must continually battle until the Lord returns are misunderstandings of God.

ii.                        Eph. 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

iii.                      “You then who are evil”

1.      Jesus is not speaking of specific fathers who would do this, but of all fathers.

2.      Jesus is making a catagory diliniation between the heavenly Father (who is holy) and earthy fathers (who are evil)

3.      But even sinful human fathers like myself, would never dream of tricking our kids with a live snake for their food.

4.      We would do anything for our kids.

5.      And yet, even this STRONG love isn’t to be compared with God’s love for His children.

6.      God will infinitly outdo us in love and benevolence.

iv.                      Jesus Christ has been the supreme example of the Golden Rule.

1.      Jesus suffered and died in our place.

2.      Jesus loved us by denying Himself.

3.      Jesus put our needs before His needs.

v.                         The point: If God loves us like this, then we should love others the way that we would like to be loved.

d.      The Golden Rule (7:12).

i.  The logical flow of the Scriptures here go like this:

1.      Don’t be a self-righteous judge with a superiority complex.

2.      Rather be like God, who has loved you like a Generous Kind Father.

3.      In light of that, you now have the emotional strength to happily apply the Golden Rule.

ii.                        The Golden Rule is positive, not negative.

1.      This type of ethic was not invented by Jesus.  Other teachers and Rabbi’s said similar things.  But they always stated it negatively.

2.      Confusius, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

3.      The stoics, “What you do not want to be done to you, do not do to anyone else.”

4.      Jesus comes along and totally turns it around.

iii.                      The Golden Rule is a summary of the Sermon on the Mount:

1.      The Golden Rule here not only summarizes our section, it summarizes the entire Sermon on the Mount up to this point.

2.      “This truth settles a hundred different prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases.” J.C. Ryle

iv.                      The Golden Rule summarizes the Law and the Prophets:

1.      Mat. 22:39, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

2.      Lev. 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

3.      Rom. 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

4.      Gal. 5:14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

5.      Mat. 22:37-39, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

6.      Mark 12:28-31, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

v.                         Love is the New Commandment that Jesus gave:

1.      John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

2.      Rom. 5:5, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

3.      1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

e.       Illustration:

i.  Coach John Gagliardi, of Saint John University, is the winningest coach in college football history with an astounding 421-117-11 record. To say that he's done it in an unconventional way is an understatement. His "winning with no's" approach is noteworthy: No blocking sleds or dummies; no scholarships; no spring practices; no compulsory weightlifting program; no whistles; no "Coach" (players call him John); no tackling in practice (players wear shorts or sweats); no long practices(typically an hour and a half or less).

ii.                        Donald Miller comments on the genius of his approach, "Players are asked to treat their teammates in the way they would like to be treated, with kindness, graciousness, and altruism. The players work as hard as they want to work, and when they come to practice they do exactly as the coach asks them to do, not because their positions are threatened, but because they care about one another, work as a team, and love their coach because they sense his love for them.", and Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What, (Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 139; submitted by Scott McDowell, Nashville, Tennessee

f.        What is love?

i.  Selfish criticism isn’t love.

ii.                        Gossip isn’t love.

iii.                      Venting about people isn’t love.

iv.                      Placing yourself in the place of God and evaluating others motives isnn’t love.

v.                         Thanklessness isn’t love.

V.                       Bottom Line Summary:

a.       Who are we? 

i.  It is utter nonesense to act like self-rightouess critics in light of all God has done for us.

b.      God is a good father, who loves His children, and constantly is doing what’s best for them.

c.       Let’s imitate Him and fulfill the Law and the prophets and do to others what we would want done to us.

VI.                    The Gospel:

a.       Maybe you are here today and don’t really feel the need for Christ? 

b.      Maybe you are here today and don’t feel much urgency to be reconciled to God?

c.       Maybe you are here and don’t really sense your sinfulness?

d.      Let me tell you then, that you have a giant log in your eye!

e.       You cannot see it, because you are not poor in spirit!

f.        You cannot sense it because you are not broken over your sin and mourned!

g.      You cannot feel it because you are not meek.

h.      If that is you, confess your self-righteousness which has blinded you for your need of Christ.

i.        Make yourself low, and come to a Good Father, who gives the gift of life and forgivenss of sins to those who ask.

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Lesson 16: Sermon On The Mount: Decision Time (Matthew 7:13-29)

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This lesson on Matthew 7 was preached by Jonathon Newcome in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 4/14/2013.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life

Lesson 17: Jesus The Healer (Matthew 8:1-17)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Get ready to become more and more fascinated with Jesus.

i.  Isn’t it good to be in the gospel’s just listening to Jesus, watching Jesus, learning from Jesus.

b.      The first great section of the Gospel has been concluded.

i.  It has dealt with the beginnings of the good news, the birth and early years of Jesus, the inauguration of his ministry, and the manifesto of his kingdom.

c.       The sermon on the mountain ended with Jesus calling people to make a choice.  There are two options:

i.  Repentance or hard-heartedness.

ii.  The narrow road or the wide road.

iii.                   The rock foundation or the sandy foundation.

d.      In these next two chapters (8 and 9) we see Jesus demonstrate his authority.

i.  The sermon on the mountain ended with a segue statement on Jesus’ authority.

ii.                        The crowds were astonished by His teaching and in particular, His authority.

iii.                      Jesus was not like other teachers.  He didn’t need to quote others.

iv.                      “You have heard it said, bit I say!”  And this authoritative teaching is what stood out to the listeners.

v.                         However, people still doubted the legitimacy of Jesus, so Mathew now launches in to prove this authority.

vi.                      He does it in a number of ways, but in our passage, Matthew shows the authority of Jesus in his power to heal.

vii.                    His Word’s carry the weight of authority.

1.      8:3, 8:8, 8:13, 8:16.

2.      This reminds us of the power of the Creator, who spoke the universe into being with a word (Gen. 1)

3.      He is mighty in word AND deed.

e.       Outline:

i.  BI: Outcasts and outsiders love Jesus.

II.                      Jesus Heals a Leper (8:1-4)

a.       “behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him...”

i.  Leper was a generic term for skin disease.  So it could have been a number of things.

ii.                        But if it was leprosy in the proper sense, Hansen’s disease, this story makes more sense.

iii.                      By Jewish law he was an unclean man. 

1.      The priests would determine is the skin disease was lereperous or not, but if it was, you would have to be seperated from those who are clean.

2.      But the real issue is the isolation.  He would live alone.  He would die alone.

iv.                      And if you ventured out, you had to cover the lower part of your face and yell as you walked along, “Unclean! Unclean!”

v.                         Skin disease is one thing, but seperation from your community, your family, your life, is another.

vi.                      Evidently he has heard aboiut Jesus healing ministry and because he is desperate he comes and kneels down in front of Jesus.

vii.                    Feel the emotion of this!

1.      This is desperate and miserable and lonely suffering man!  His family has left him.  His friends have left him.

2.      This is a man who has been born into sin and is living with the results of sin.

3.      The Curse has cursed him!

4.      Sickness and death have him by the throat!

5.      And in a moment of brave desperation he comes before Jesus.  He encounters Jesus!  He has heard about Jesus, and now he sees Jesus!

6.      And he says...

b.      “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

i.  Notice and learn from this lepers question.

ii.                        He doesn’t dictate to Jesus what to do.

iii.                      He doesn’t test Jesus.  He doesn’t presume.  He doesn’t name and claim and demand healing.

iv.                      He lays before Him, in humility, his request.

v.                         He knows Jesus can heal.  He believes Jesus can heal.  He wants Jesus to heal.  But he rests in the sovereign providence of Jesus and leaves it to Him.

vi.                      “Lord, if it be your will.”

vii.                    Are we comfortable with His will?

1.      Oftentimes we pray in such a way that says, “If it be your will” but inwardly we resent anything other than our own will.

viii.                  This is a great way to ask God!

c.       “I will; be clean”

i.  I don’t know if there is a more encouraging verse in all the Bible.

ii.                        I am willing!

iii.                      Normally a person would be contaminated and made unclean, but not Jesus.  At the touch of Jesus the defiled becomes cleansed!

d.      “And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”

i.  He is not only willing He is capable!

ii.                        Other diseases needed to be ‘healed’, leprosy and leprosy alone needed to be ‘cleansed’.

iii.                      The problem was that folks with leprosy did not get healed! There was no known cure.

iv.                      So there is an appropriateness in the fact that the first mighty act of Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, is the cleansing of a man with leprosy.

v.                         We not only need to be healed, we need to be cleaned.

vi.                      And He is willing!

e.       The Messianic Secret (8:4)

i.  Why keep this a secret?

1.      There has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about why Jesus does this over and over.

2.      Why does he tell people to not tell anyone, but go to the priest?

3.      Why not proclaim it from housetops?  Why not tell people to go show and tell?

4.      Different thoughts:

a.       The gospel writers added this in for some reason.

b.      Jesus didn’t want to be known as a political figure.

c.       Jesus is gaurding against confusion about the primary message.

i.  He doesn’t want to be known pirmarily as a healer

ii.                        He is not just a healer, he is the savior!  And his healing serves to validate the saving.

iii.                      During Jesus’ ministry he is constantly telling people to keep a secret, but then after his death and resurrection.  After He had made provision for forgiveness and peace with God, he tells them to tell everyone.

iv.                      Before the cross—“Keep your mouth shut”

v.                         After the cross—“Don’t shut your mouth” 

5.      Today, we are people with a message.  A unique message.  That Jesus is Lord and He is Savior.  Receive peace with God through Jesus Christ.  Settle with Him outside of court!

6.      He is a Healer, but His healing serves to illustrates His saving and His cleansing.

ii.                        Why go to the priests?

1.      Jesus said this would be a testimony to the priests. And so it was, for in the entire history of the nation there was no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Num. 12:10-15). One can imagine the dramatic impact when this man suddenly appeared at the temple and announced to the priests he had been cured of leprosy!

2.      Here perhaps nothing more is implied by Jesus’ words than that the newly cleansed leper should not be distracted from his responsibility to follow the procedures of the law (as set forth in Lev 14:1–32).

3.      He could easily have been so overjoyed, telling everyone what had happened, that he would not have obeyed God’s commandments. Until Jesus’ death and resurrection, the sacrificial laws remained God’s will for his people; Jesus never encouraged anyone to contravene them during his lifetime.

4.      Indeed, someone greater than Moses is here.

III.                   Jesus Heals a Gentile (8:5-13)

a.       The Centurion comes to Jesus and pleads (8:5-6)

i.  This man was a Roman soldier.  A Captain and leader of men.

ii.                        It’s inetresting that every mention of a Centurion in Scripture is positive.

iii.                      He is a leader of a century of people, or about 100 people. 

iv.                      His servant is in misery, and he loves his servant, and He asks Jesus to come and heal Him.

b.      Jesus says He will come and heal his servant (8:7)

i.  “I will come and heal him.”

c.       The Centurion responds to Jesus (8:8-9)

i.  He obviously understands the Jewish customs well enough because he tells Jesus to not come to his house, which was forbidden, but to just say the word.

ii.                        He displays humility.  He ackowledges Jesus superiourity. He displays faith.  He also calls Jesus Lord. 

iii.                      In others words, He recognizes what the Jewish Religious leaders of the day refused to recognize.

d.      Jesus comments on the Gentile  (8:10-12).

i.  A number of interseting things happen here:

1.      A Gentile man is desperate.

2.      Jesus breaks custom by interacting with him.

3.      Jesus heals from a distance.

4.      The man Jesus heals a Gentile.

5.      The Gentiles are offered inclusion to the Kingdom of God.

6.      The Jews are warned of exclusion is they don’t repent.

a.       The gospel was ‘first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’.  But both Jews and Gentiles males and females are called to respond with faith and repentance to Jesus Christ.

b.      This was both staggering and appalling to many of the Jews!

c.       We don’t need to repent!  They thought!  I’m in the right group!

ii.                        But Jesus rattles their false sense of security .

1.      Jesus was surrounded by people who thought that because of their ethnicity and heritage that they were sons of the kingdom.

2.      Jesus was surrounded by people who thought that all was well with their souls, when all was not well.

3.      Jesus was surrounded by people who flattered themselves with the notion that hell was for the outcasts, but a great feast awaited them.

iii.                      So Jesus goes for the juggular of any kind of false sense of security.

1.      Those who thing they will automatically gain entrance because of their religious backgrounds would not find entrance.  Instead they would be cast into judgment.

2.      As Bruner provocatively warns, “Hell is not a doctrine used to frighten unbelievers; it is a doctrine used to warn those who think themselves believers.”

3.     Jonathan Edwards, “Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it.”

iv.                      Today we have a similar problem.

1.      We have millions of people who wrongly assume that because they have prayed a prayer or stood up in an Easter service to receive Christ, or been baptized, or walked an isle to the altar, of signed a card to become a Christian, that they are sons and daughters of the kingdom.

2.      Others assume that because they have grown up on the church, or their parents were missionaries, that they are sons and daughters of the kingdom.

3.      As we saw last week in the Sermon on the Mount, “not everyone who claims the name of Jesus will be saved!  He may say, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

4.      The lesson from the outsider Centurion is instructive!

5.      Lay yourself low before the King!  Acknowledge your sinfulness and lowliness and acknowledge His power to heal and to save and call upon His Name!  He has the power and authority to save!

e.       The servant is healed (8:13)

i.  That very moment the servant was healed.

ii.                        The healing isn’t in proportion to his faith, it isn’t caused by his faith, the healing is in response to his faith.

iii.                      It’s not our faith that saves us or heals, it is the object of our faith that saves and heals.

iv.                      Matthew’s point is not “what an incredible Gentile,” but rather, “what an incredible Jesus.”

v.                         It’s the authority of Jesus that is powerful.

vi.                      It’s the compassion of Jesus that is comforting.

vii.                    It’s warning of the hell of outer darkness that is terrifying.

IV.                    Jesus Heals a Woman (8:14-17).

a.       Here Matthew records another vingnete of Jesus healing people.

b.      Jesus enters Peter’s house and sees his Mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.

c.       Jesus touches her hand, and the fever left.

i.  The healing is immediate.

ii.                        The healing is total.

iii.                      The healing results in service.

d.      She gets right up and starts serving.

e.       Later that evening demon-possessed people and other sick people are healed.

f.        Behold, Jesus the Healer.

V.                       Application:  We are help the outcasts and the powerless.

a.       None of these three groups, the leper, the Roman, or Peter’s mother in law, could have entered the Temple courts.  In a sense they were on the margins.  They had no religious status.

b.      Just look at Jesus’ genealogy!

c.       Jesus is a friend of sinners and He is a friend of the outsider and the outcast!

i.  He came for the Jews AND the Gentiles.

d.      He came for sinners, and spiritually speaking, that’s ALL of us!

i.  If you don’t get this, then Jesus will be nothing more than a magician to you.  He will be nothing more than someone who does some neat tricks.  You will simply be a spectator not a particpiant.

ii.                        The point Matthew is making is that Jesus has come for outcasts, and WE are the outcasts.

iii.                      The one theme throughout chapters 8–9 is that all these people were helpless to address their own need.

iv.                      All of them needed someone outside themselves to help them.

v.                         Our helplessness, whether recognized or not, is the great equalizer before God.

vi.                      Jesus loves helpless people.

vii.                    Blessed are the POOR in spirit and those who mourn.

viii.                  Because that’s the place of blessing.

ix.                      These people would have never gone to Jesus is they were not in need.

e.       Who are the powerless or the outctast today?

i.  The sick.

ii.                        The elderly.

iii.                      The lonely.

iv.                      The disabled.

v.                         Jesus says when you throw a party, don’t invite the popular and the impressive and the educated and the folks who know their manners.  Invite the fringe folks.  Invite the rough-around-the edges folk.  Invite the univited and the unpopular.

f.        Pracically:

i.  Teach your kids to pursue the outcast.

ii.                        Pursue the lonely.

iii.                      Befiend those with no friends.

g.      The Messianic Secret is also instructive for us.

i.  Our message is NOT that Jesus is just a great healer.

ii.                        Our message is that Jesus is a Great Savior.

iii.                      And we are to share this people with anyone who is poor enough in spirit to hear it.  Anyone willing to listen.  Any who recognizes he or she is a spiritual outcast.

h.      Church planting:

i.  We are looking at starting another site which will eventually turn in to its own church.

ii.                        This creates room here and it will create room there.

iii.                      We need people to go and we need people to stay.

iv.                      Those who go provide opportunities for those who stay and those who stay provide opportunities for those who go.

v.                         We are all people on mission.

vi.                      Let me say it again.  Every single one of us has a mission from God to reach people.

vii.                    It is no different if you go or stay.  We have a Great Commssion to make disciples.

viii.                  One thing to keep in mind as we make disciples is to be people who reach out to the outcasts.

ix.                      As we fulfill the Great Commission.  As we learn to be disciples of Jesus, it’s as though the Word of God is telling us to keep an eye on the outcasts.

1.      At your workplace—pursue the outcast.

2.      At your college—pursue the outsider.

3.      At your school—pursue the outcast.

4.      In your neighborhood—pursue the outsider.

5.      Invite them to your home, invite them to church, show them love.

VI.                    Application: Six things to keep in mind if you are sick.

a.       How do we procress sickness?  How do we not despair?

i.  The most trying times in my life and my marriage have centered around health.

1.      And our trials have been nothing in comparison to others.

ii.                        Many of you could say the same.

1.      Many of you suffer with your own health, or are suffering with the health of someone you love...

2.      This is real.

iii.                      Praying for Daniel Losey.

1.      Daniel is 9 years old and he needs a heart transplant.

2.      This is weighty.

iv.                      Praying for Daniel Good.

1.      Trench foot in China.

2.      Young man serving the Lord, and gets sick.

3.      This is a trial.

v.                         Both of these families are incredible.  They are trusting God.  They are clinging to his promises.

vi.                      Psalm 61:1-2, Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I…”

vii.                    I am burdened and my heart is heavy as I, with the elders, try to shepherd folks through sickness.

viii.                  How do we do it?

ix.                      How do we process this?

b.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.

i.  These people would have never come to Jesus if all was well.

1.      Jesus would have never been precious to them!

2.      I bet the leper was praising God that he had leprosy because He never would have met Jesus.  It brought him to Jesus!

ii.                        Their sickness made them poor in spirit and needy.

iii.                      Their deperation was GOOD and designed by God.

iv.                      The worst thing that could happen to a person is to sense no need for Christ.

v.                         The worst thing that could happen to you is to sense no deperation for Jesus.

vi.                      Tim Keller gives a good illustration on the purpose of sickness (and suffering).

1.      Do you remember when your mother used to say, "Don't eat candy before meals?" Why did she say that? Because she knew it would ruin your next meal. The trouble with eating candy is that it gives you a sugar buzz, and then you don't feel hungry. Candy masks the fact that your body needs proteins and vitamins. The sugar buzz from candy masks your hunger for the real nutrients that you don't have.

2.      Things like sex, power, money, and success—as well as favorable circumstances—act like spiritual sugar. Christians who have these spiritual candies may say, "Sure, I believe in God and I know I'm going to heaven," but they're actually basing their day-to-day joy on favorable circumstances. When the circumstances change, it drives us to God, because when the sugar disappears, when the candy gets taken away, we're forced to pursue the feast that our souls really crave. We'll hunger for the spiritual nutrients we really need.”

3.      Sickness has a way of taking off the mask.

vii.                    When we lose our health its as though God is pulling back the mask!

1.      We suddenly see things more clearly!

2.      We become poor in spirit.

3.      We are needy, and Christ is rich.

4.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.

viii.                  When Paul was sick, it led Him to Jesus.

1.      Here is Paul.  The cheif of the Apostles.  The Mouthpiece for Christianity.  And he is sick.  He is in misery.

2.      Sickness taught Paul us that God’s grace is sufficient.

3.      2 Cor. 12:7-10,  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

c.       Sickness is not always healed.

i.  In the early Church many stayed sick for long periods of time.

1.      Galatians 4:13-15 Paul was ill

2.      2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul was afflicted

3.      Philippians 2:25-30 Epaphroditus was ill (A.D. 60)

4.      1 Timothy 5:23 Timothy was ill (A.D. 62-3)

5.      2 Timothy 4:20 Trophimus was ill (A.D. 64).

ii.                        Ryle says, “There is a proverb that says, ‘A man’s home is his castle;’ but there are no doors and bars which keep out disease and death.”

1.      You cannot escape it.  It is among ALL people.

2.      We all get sick, and we all die.

iii.                      Matthew quotes Isaiah 53 and says that this was a fulfillment of a prophecy, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

1.      This verse should not be used to justify healing on demand.

2.      While it’s true that healing is part of the atonement, some folks have misused this verse to name and claim healing.

3.      It’s also true that our resurrection bodies are included in the atonement as a promise, but we obviously don’t have that yet.

4.      So the cross is the bases for our healing AND our saving, BUT that’s doesn’t that all of the benifits of the cross will come before the Lord returns.

iv.                      We see accounts of three different people getting healed, then later a bunch more.  But we never see entire villages healed.

v.                         Even in Jesus’ day, many paralytics stayed on their beds, many blind remained sightless, and many demons remained unexorcised.

vi.                      Jesus did as many miracles as necessary to validate his identity and his message, that the deeper spiritual need of mankind might be addressed.

vii.                    Why are some healed and other not?

1.      The short ansewer is that we don’t know.  God is God and we are not.  God is does all things well, and we don’t see the big picture.

2.      The longer answer is that we are between two worlds.

a.       Already/Not Yet.

b.      The Kingdom God has arrived with Jesus, but it is not yet.

viii.                  Nonethless, How should we pray for healing?

1.      First of all, it is good to pray for healing.

2.      James 5:14-15,  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

d.      Sickness enables us to minister and have compassion on others.

i.  Our sicknesses enable us to have compassion and minister to others.

1.      Food poisoning…(new way of cooking chicken)

ii.                        2 Cor. 1:3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer…

e.       Sickness can be a means of God disciplining us.

i.  1 Cor. 11:30, “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”

ii.                        Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”


iv.                      Luke 15:16-18- the Pridigal found himself eating pig food.  God using this trial wake him up.

v.                         Heb. 12:5-12, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

f.        Sickness can make us more sanctified.

i.  The misery of illness can purify our faith, as Peter says.

ii.                        The story is Job is insightful:

1.      Job 5:17, “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

2.      Job learned to trust God in the midst of tremendous suffering.

iii.                      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Gulag Archipelago “Bless you prison, for ever having been in my life.”

iv.                      James 1:2-4, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

v.                         Rom. 5:3-5, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

vi.                      In other words, the sickness you have can not only be used of God, but designed by God.

1.      God the Almighty, as we see clearly in the Scriptures, it totally and comprehesivly sovereign over all things, which includes your sickness.

2.      Charles Spurgeon, “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.  The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

3.      This is a mountaintop truth that will encourage you.

4.      This is a Rocky Mountain top truth that cannot be assuaged.

5.      If you are in Christ, even though you suffer with illness and infirmities, God in Christ is for you, not against you, and He is not aloof in what He allows and doesn’t allow in your life.

6.      He is a good Father with good purposes and good plans.

g.      Sickness breaks the heart of Jesus.

i.  The Story of Lazarus:

1.      Jesus delays in coming.

2.      He waits four days.

3.      John emphasizes this by pointing out that Lazarus had been dead and buried for 4 days.

ii.                        The sisters are distraught.

1.      In their minds.  What’s done is done.  They have seen this before.  People get sick, then they die.  It’s sad, if Jesus was there earlier He could have healed him.  They knew he had the power to heal.  Why was he so slow?  Was he aloof?  Was his mind somewhere else?

2.      Why didn’t He use His power to heal?

3.      Is the heart of Jesus cold?

iii.                      Jesus weeps (11:28-37)

1.      Jesus is broken over the reality of the situation.  He sees the curse of sickness and fruit of sickness and this death and He weeps!

a.       This is the fruit of Sin.  Sickness and now death.

2.      Jesus is tenderhearted and he weeps!  He mourns with them.

3.      Jesus is not far from the brokenhearted.

4.      Here is a glimpse of the heart of our Lord.

b.      He is not unaffected or unmoved with our infirmities and sicknesses and death.  He weeps.

b.      Britt Merrick story:

i.  Calvary Chapel Bible teacher in Santa Barbara CA.

ii.                        Daughter Daisy gets a cancerous tumor in her stomach when she is about three years old.

iii.                      Just died at 6 or 7 years old.

iv.                      He gives a sermon a few days before she died saying how hard it’s been and the despair, etc.

v.                         The turning point for him was when he stopped asking “Why?” and started asking “Who?”

VII.                The Gospel.

Related Topics: Christology, Evangelism, Soteriology (Salvation)