"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW: Ch. 5 (3 of 3) - The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE

By James Fire

Chapter 5:31-48

We now conclude chapter Five in Matthew in this fourth and final part; we begin this segment by addressing the issues of divorce, oath taking, non-retaliation protocols and others as well.
Let us return to the mount where the LORD is giving His sermon, picking up at verse 31 . . .


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


Here is the standard that the LORD upholds regarding the sacredness of marriage (See Matt. 19:3-9). In God’s eyes the marriage ‘unit’ of husband and wife become ‘one’ (a singular unit) and that which God has joined together, humans should not set apart.

We know that God’s work will always produce godly fruit, and if indeed any joining brings forth godly fruit, we can be assured that such joining is God’s holy work in matrimony. If no such godly fruit is forthcoming, repentance is in order, but if this does not occur, such a marriage can never produce fruit for the glory of God.
*~While Moses did permit a writing of divorcement among the people, the LORD Jesus explained that this was due to the hardness of the people’s hearts, but “in the beginning it was not so”. He referred to Adam and Eve, and how He “called their name Adam” (Gen. 5:2), referring to their humanity in general, but specifically how they two became one (Mark 10:6-9).

The foundation and stability of any nation is the family unit. The families of any nation are the building blocks which establish the house of a country. The core of any family is the marriage, and the marriage, according to the plan and good will of God is comprised of husband and wife – there are no alternatives to this plan, no option ‘B’.

The model of husband and wife mirrors the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. Each have their respective roles – the church is to love, follow, obey and serve the LORD, while the LORD commands, leads, ministers to and loves the church to the point of laying down His very life for her!

This is why homosexual couplings and marriages cannot hope to receive the blessing of the LORD.
This option ‘B’ does not rightly reflect the relationship of the marriage partnership. Having either both males or both females, one has a model of ‘two Christs’ or ‘two churches’; an anti-thetical and unbiblical model of marriage. Of course since the legalizing of ‘gay marriage’ in this nation (and nations across the globe) a plethora of options has opened up – multiple partners, union with minors (children), even bestiality is not considered ‘off limits’ any more!

Unchecked sin and rebellion inevitably leads to confusion and lawlessness, resulting in a chaotic ‘anything goes’ mentality which in turn leads to the absolute ruin of any society that adopts it.


When the marriage and family in households are destroyed, this will eventually de-stabilize and destroy any nation’s freedom and prosperity, particularly in the spiritual sense. This is why one of the objectives in establishing a Socialist state of the Marxist sort is the ruination of the marriage (and family) so that children will become wards of the State, rather than look to their own parents as the authority and caretakers in their lives.

Needless to say, God hates divorce and the destruction it brings. In as much as any marriage is a type or model of Christ and His bride, a divorce ruins the example of this modeling and is both a mar and an affront to God’s institution of marriage.


This is why a call must be made for all parents to repent (particularly fathers!) who are guilty of selfishness and ego, to lay down their lives before God and confess their negligence in their responsibilities as husband and wife: to live their lives pleasing and obeying God’s Word, to lay down their lives for one another by yielding to the Spirit of God in all things, and to conduct their duties as parents in raising their children in the “fear and admonition of the LORD” (See Ephesians 5:1-6:9; 1 Cor. 7:1-16).

Those who have suffered through a divorce know how bitter and sorrowful an experience it can be; it seems that the children invariably blame themselves for it, believing that if they had only behaved better, their home would have been safe. As a result of divorce, children often begin to adopt rebellious ways, expressing their hurt and anger for the betrayal that they feel – how they were ‘let down’ by their parents.
The married couple themselves, who were ‘one in the eyes of the LORD’ being divorced, have in a spiritual sense, splintered themselves, causing damage psychologically and emotionally. Relationships with other (future) partners can often suffer due to past experiences and pain.

Many statistical studies have shown that children of divorced parents have a greater risk of divorce themselves than those whose parents have remained faithful. Young married couples whose parents on both sides have divorced show the highest and most likely risk of divorce.


There are situations that are not in accord with God’s perfect will, the ideals of which the Bible speaks clearly on, and Christians ought to understand what their obligations as well as their options are in such situations.
Is it right for a Christian to seek a divorce from an unsaved spouse? Or vice versa? What if both partners enter into marriage as unsaved souls, but afterwards one comes to faith; can divorce then become a valid option?

For answers to these and other questions please review the following article (Note: Not all statements made here are necessarily endorsed by TTUF) –

On Christian Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

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

Once again, we hear the LORD say, “…ye have heard that it hath been said . . .” and this of course was due to the fact that very few could read the Scriptures in those days, as they were written in Hebrew, and only the religious leaders could read Hebrew (in those days in Israel most people spoke Aramaic or even Greek). Thus they could only hear the priests and scribes read to them (mostly in synagogues) from the Word of God. Distancing the people from the Scriptures allowed for ‘editing’ by the reader and by doing so, caused misunderstandings and uncertainty among the people.

Yet the LORD Jesus came to ‘set the record straight’ as it were, and tell the people: “But I say unto you . . .” Not only did this clarify the intent of the Scriptures, stripping them of the religious and Talmudic interpretations of countless numbers of rabbis, which the leaders in Israel weighed them down with; but this also showed the people that the LORD was THE authority over what the Word meant in its literal sense. Indeed, the Word was explaining the Word!

On the issue of oath taking and swearing (as in a legal instance for example), people are not to appeal to higher authorities in seeking to legitimize one’s own statements; rather one should endeavor to be a truthful person of integrity so that their word alone carries legitimacy, without the unnecessary appeal to those authorities and powers established by God.
How often we have heard children in seeking to convince their parents of their earnest statements employed the “I swear to God” exclamation?

We Christians of all people should be truth sayers, and always couple such with grace (John 1:17) and love (Eph. 4:15).

PSALM 15:2

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart
.

ZECHARIAH 8:16

These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates
:

EPHESIANS 4:15

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ
:

Christians should be well known as those who walk (live) in truth and whose very integrity exemplifies truth.
If we are to engage in spiritual warfare (a necessity in our day and age!) then an essential piece of our armor is the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). Integrity may be seen as ‘internal truth’ and rules the life of a believer (note Psalm 15 quoted above).

MATTHEW 5:38-42
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away
.


The issue raised here is that of evil, vengeance and retaliation. Note that the smiting referred to is on the right cheek, not the left. Why is this significant? Since most people are right handed, any strike on a person’s right cheek would have to be back-handed; a gesture meant more for insult than for physical harm.

This is not to say that if we are assaulted violently because of our love and allegiance to Christ that we should “resist . . . evil” and yet Christians ought not to assume that self defense or that of our loved ones is prohibited to us. We are only obligated to conduct ourselves as ambassadors of Christ where our witness in the Gospel is concerned and any hateful response to Christ in us, should be met appropriately as such ambassadors (obviously this does not include assault and battery due to robbery, rape; marital, senior or child abuse). See Romans 12:17; also Lev. 19:18; Prov. 20:22; 1 Peter 3:9.

Under the Old Testament, the judicial system was very strict and according to just Law; the Christian is commanded to a higher standard of grace as is demonstrated in these verses. We are to “turn the other cheek” and offer our cloak when sued for our coat. On such legal matters where offenses are committed against one another, the apostle Paul had given the Corinthian church an admonition and rebuke as found in 1 Cor. 6:1-8.
Roman soldiers had the authority to commandeer a passing traveler to carry their gear while on the road – thus, compelling to “go a mile” is the obligation that any in the Empire would have to fulfill at the bidding of the military. Yet the LORD tells us to “go with him twain”.

We love and serve “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10), and as we follow Him, we are to do likewise, and exhibit grace to others (remembering that grace by definition is “unmerited (undeserved) favor”).
Peter once asked the LORD:

MATTHEW 18:21-22
21 . . . Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven
.


It was the custom and teaching of the religious leaders in Israel that one should feel obligated to forgive others no more than three times. Peter decided it would be to his merit to suggest seven times (twice that of the religious requirement, plus one to spare!). Yet the LORD Jesus ‘maxed out’ by saying seventy times seven – or 490 times! Can we then justify ourselves if someone offends us 491 times or was the LORD making another point?
It’s an interesting number that He used; where else do we see this number 490? The obvious reference is to the seventy weeks of Daniel, at the conclusion of which, the LORD returns, sets up His Kingdom and brings about Judgment Day when every wrong ever committed will be redressed with appropriate punitive actions taken – apart from those who have trusted the LORD Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior.

Of course if someone were to ask or borrow from us all that we have, we must balance this admonition from the LORD towards charity with our stewardship over that which the LORD has entrusted to us, and allow His wisdom to guide us in the depth and to the degree of charity to bestow on the needy.


MATTHEW 5:43-44
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you
;


The Roman Empire was considered the ultimate enemy of Israel, whose leaders chaffed at the idea of being a mere province, when they desired the restoration of glory to their nation as in the days of old. They wanted their Messiah warrior who would overthrow their enemies and re-establish the kingdom.
And yet here was Jesus, admonishing them to “. . . love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you . . .” etc, etc.

A message they did not relish, and so they killed the Messenger. However, we the church empowered by the Holy Spirit are able to hear this admonition and obey it – certainly not by our own power, but by God’s enabling grace.

Forgiving As The Messiah Forgave

Also consider the following:

Still Learning To Forgive by Corrie Ten Boom


The love of God is far more powerful than the hatred generated by human beings or even fallen angels; the LORD only looks for hearts yielded and willing to be used as vessels of said love, and affect the lives of those who would otherwise never know the love of God and be changed by it.


MATTHEW 5:45-48
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect
.



Just as children inherit the character traits of their parents, we too will share in the character traits of our Heavenly Father; that being the case, we will conduct ourselves similarly when confronted with cursing, hatred, violence and persecution. The natural man (unregenerate) will naturally respond favorably to love, to blessing, to benevolence; yet we who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit shall respond just as our Heavenly Father responds to the evil of this world – sending sun and rain, blessing and gifts to all, not in the sense of approval, but in unmerited favor that exemplifies the nobility, goodness, kindness and generous good will of God.
Apart from the grace of God such high ideals are impossible; only the perfect can obey such directives. This must lead any thinking person to conclude that it’s impossible to obey such lofty, actually celestial ideals as these.

I can remember my mother telling me she read the Bible with a neighbor friend of hers (before I was even born) and when she read verse 48 of this chapter, she slammed the Bible shut with anger and frustration, saying, “What’s the use? I can’t do this!”
And she was right! Within the parameters of our human condition such things are impossible – we could never be perfect even as God the Father is perfect.
Only Christ Jesus, God the Son is perfect to such a degree, and its by faith we trust that He will work that perfection (spiritual maturity) into us as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:19; 2 Peter 3:18; Heb. 6:1).

Perfection in this sense refers to a spiritual maturity in full fruition; it represents the child of God that has yielded completely to the ministry of the Spirit in the conforming of the saint perfectly to the image of the Son of God so that there is no visible distinction between the LORD and the Christian.
Have any of us arrived at this highest paramount perfection? Paul admitted he hadn’t:

PHILIPPIANS 3:11-13


11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before
,


Once the resurrection of the saints has occurred, whereupon we receive our glorified and incorruptible bodies, our redemption will be completed; we shall no longer struggle with our sin nature, because such is inherent with our natural bodies as the progeny of Adam and the fall he brought to the human race.
Yet we are not to become idle and wait for perfection to come on that Day; but like Paul “reach forth” and –

PHILLIPIANS 3:14-15


14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you
.


This is in no way apprehended by the Christian other than by the agency of the Holy Spirit and being conformed to the very image of Christ by dying to self-will and allowing the resurrected Life of Christ to reign in us, transforming us.

ROMANS 8:29-30


29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified
.

ROMANS 12:1-2


I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God
.


This is nothing short of the very sanctification of the saint, the ongoing, perpetual, never ceasing action of grace (in action) in the life of the believer that is conforming us – our character, our conduct, our words and manners to the LORD Jesus Christ, despite the ongoing pressure of this sinful world to conform us from without to the rebellious attitudes and actions of fallen humanity. This conformity is acting upon us from outside, while the transforming power of God happens within us – our minds as a result of His indwelling Spirit and grace.

Essentially then, we saints are in the mode of being perfected by process while looking forward to the Day of our redemption (of our bodies) when we shall obtain complete perfection in Christ.

ROMANS 8:22-23


22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body
.


Thus ends (finally!) our study in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter five. Let me extend my thanks for your patience in waiting for this installment as it has been some time in waiting since the last one!
May the LORD Jesus bless us with Himself, in increasing ways of His manifestation of the transforming power of His grace, in bringing about our increased sanctification and Christ-likeness to our blessing and the blessing of those with which we live out our lives! Amen!

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