THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 7-31-05
LESSON TITLE: "GREAT LESSON FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"
Isn't it great to know God and to have the privilege of gathering together and praising His name on this wondrous Lord's Day? Thanks for joining us on this His special day. We are so happy to have you this morning for this time of offering to God. How blessed we are in this country to have the freedom to assemble this day and to give this time to our Creator. It is my hope and prayer that we will each do our part to make this time of worship acceptable in God's sight and according to His Will!
Now as we begin to focus our thoughts on God, will you bow with me before His throne in prayer.
As always, it is our privilege on this program to praise God together in song! So let me encourage you to join in with the congregation at this time as we lift our voices up in the first song of the morning. The name of the hymn, "I Will Sing The Wondrous Story!"
(SONG # 1)
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, we read, "pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Notice that the inspired writer tells us about the will of God in this passage! So what is God's Will in relationship to prayer? We are commanded to "pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks!" Now is this possible? The answer is yes, for God would not ask something of us that was impossible to accomplish. However, we should not misunderstand the point which this writer is trying to make. It would not be possible to pray 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so this idea of "without ceasing," can not mean that we pray every moment of every waking day. But what a great lesson it does teach.
I think what is great about this message is that it gives us a clear perspective of what a Christian life must be like. We must be a servant of God, striving to be like our creator. And yes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The fact is Christianity is not something we can put on and take off. It is not something we can just use when we want it and discard when we don't. It is not a fair weather or casual thing. Rather, it is a complete way of life which fills our every waking moment of every day. As Paul said in Romans 12:1,2, it is a life of being "transformed" from this world. It is an opportunity to serve God with a daily sacrifice and commitment toward His throne.
So as we consider the idea of "praying with ceasing," we need to put it in the context of the Christians way of life. We are to ever be focused on God and striving to do His will. We must always have a righteous, godly and prayerful attitude and spirit before the throne of God. And in the fact that we have given our lives completely over to God, we are then living a life of ceaseless praise, devotion and commitment to our God. And what a blessing it is to be a child of God who is focused completely on the Will of the Creator.
So how about your life? Are you committed to a daily walk with God and a continued service toward you Maker? If not, why not choose today to give your life more fully to God and to see that in all things He is placed as the first and greatest priority in your life.
Our study of the morning will again focus on the, "Great Lessons From The Sermon On The Mount" As far as the specific message of the day, we will consider the teaching of Jesus which proclaimed, "Love Your Enemies." So please stay with us and after our next song, I will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "Almost Persuaded."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
I'd like to begin by asking this morning, how many of us want to be sons of God? Well we might even go to our text in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 45, and the Bible says, "You may be sons of your Father in heaven." No doubt everyone tuning in desires to be a son of God if you love God and if you're desiring to follow His precious truth and His Will. But as we look at our text today, we learn of something that is required to be a son of God, to be a daughter of God, to be a child of God, of the Father in heaven. And so we want to study together there from Matthew 5 again one of the great lessons from the Sermon on the Mount beginning in verse 43 to see what it is that God tells us causes Him to see us as a true child, a true son. Beginning in verse 43 the Bible says, "You have heard it said of old, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." Well our first reaction to that is you've got to be kidding! Can God really expect us to do that which is unnatural? That when someone does something wrong or ugly to me or against me that I'm going to actually in turn do good to them. Well that's exactly what God is saying here and He actually does it by first addressing first of all that which would have been said by those of old. In fact, He uses there in verse 43 some concepts that are actually derived from some teachings of the Old Testament. One being there in Leviticus chapter 19. Another being found there in Deuteronomy 23. In those two passages we find the idea again that is presented of loving the neighbor as well as hating those who are not of God.
Now as we put those together we see a Jewish concept, a Jewish idea, a phrase that was brought about and comes together to really identify here what was said by the Jews. What did they teach? Well they taught "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But Jesus then adds to that in verse 44. He says, "But I say to you..." Certainly when we think about Christ, we think about God in the flesh, the son of God, the Messiah, the one who had been prophesied about, we think of as well the one who came, who tells us there in John 12 that we will be judged by His words, judged by the words of God. He id God. Judged by the words... He said, "I came to bring you life. I came to bring you the way, to bring you truth." So it is the very word of Christ that we need to listen to and hang our most, our innermost thoughts and desires to do what He has asked us to do.
So again then, what is it that Jesus adds? He adds these concepts. He says, "Love your enemy." He says, "Bless them." He says, "Do good to them and even pray for them." But He doesn't stop there. He doesn't just say, "Well, do these things in general. But do them even though your enemy has done something toward you." Notice here the idea that Jesus says an enemy will do against us. Notice there first of all that He mentions that they might curse against us, speak against us in a blasphemous way or even in an improper, an illicit or a way that is certainly unbecoming of one who loves God. As well here, it says there are those who hate us, those who really do all that they can to hurt us and to bring us down and to destroy us in some way. And then furthermore, He mentions those who spite you. Certainly when we think about someone who would do something spiteful against us, would we want to do good toward them? What about one who persecutes us, that continues to speak against us, or to hurt against us or harm us in some way with words or physically? Again, persecution. What does Jesus say? He says, "Love your enemy." He says, "Bless them that curse you." He says, "Do good to those who spitefully do things against you and pray for those who persecute you, who hate you, who dislike you, who spend their waking moments doing that which is harmful against you, or trying to bring you down literally in life or at least in the eyes of those around you."
So now we learn a great, great lesson that Jesus says is a requirement that we love. Certainly when we look at the book of 1 John, we see that God is love. We see that as God is love, we are to as well demonstrate love, not only to God but to our brethren, and not only to our brethren, but here the idea is given that we as well must love our enemy. We must love those who do all manners of evil against us, who would again do all that they could to see that somehow we are discredited, that we are harmed or that we are brought down.
Now if you'll continue with me again in verse 45 we have where we began, the idea of being... that you may be sons of God or rather more specifically sons of the Father in heaven. So what must I do in the eyes of God to be one who is a son of His? Well, He states here that I must love my enemy. I must love them. I must do good to them. I must bless them. I must pray for them, although they curse me. They hate me. The do spiteful things against me and they even persecute me. I do good. Why? Because Jesus did. What about Christ? What about the example that He left us? What about the endurance that He had even on the way to the cross or before the cross as He was beaten? What about His willingness to still love His enemies and to do good to those who were doing wicked against Him? In fact, probably one of the greatest examples we have of this is after all had been done, after they had cheered it on, and they were thankful that He had suffered and He was bleeding and He was dying, and now as He hung on the cross, they were still spitting and cursing and mocking Him in every way, belittling Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, as He died on the cross. What is it then that He said? "Father, forgive them..." There we have it, love. Love your enemy. No matter how bad it gets. How many of you have been crucified by your enemy and yet you love him? None of us have. How many of you have been beaten by your enemy or maybe been spit on literally or cursed? Well again, most of us have not and we still dislike people. But the question is do we turn around though and treat them like an enemy or do we treat them like a brother? You see, we've got to love. We've got to be the bigger man, the bigger woman. We've got to be the bigger person in this life and exemplify the life of Christ in us, do what He would do and that means we return good for evil.
I want you to notice what verse 45 goes on to say because it identifies to us that this God that we now are sons of, this Father in heaven, He does good. He sends good on us and on all men. So if God will send the rain and the rain blesses me as His child, but yet it blesses my neighbor possibly who hates God, even God does good to all men, even those who are His enemies. That teaches us as well we are to do good to all men even our enemies. We are to do to others as we would want them to do to us whether they are brethren or whether they are those that we do not know or those that we dislike or even those whose actions we hate because they are contrary to God. We must love them and act accordingly.
Now I'd like you to go on with me in another verse in Romans, in fact in Romans chapter 12. It shows us an example that Paul now gives from actually the great writer, that is Solomon, wrote back in the book or Proverbs chapter 25. But here Paul uses it in a little bit different way in the book of Romans. He uses it to again teach us the very lesson of the day that we must love our enemies. Then he uses it as well to tell us a reason as to why it is profitable that we love our enemies. We've mentioned a few things already. Certainly that we love God. We strive to be like Christ, and we certainly allow them to see God in us. But what is it that Paul states here in relationship to Romans chapter 12 beginning if you will in verse 20? He says, "Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink." Then he adds there, "For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Have you ever had someone that you are mad at? You're so mad that you can see red or there is smoke coming out of your ears. Then they do something good toward you. What does that do to you? It makes you even madder, doesn't it? What that is telling us here in a positive way is that when we do good although bad has been done to us, what happens? It teaches that person a lesson that is greater than anything we could ever do or say. Why? Because what it does is show them that we're greater, we're bigger, that we're willing to do all that we can to first put God where He needs to be in our lives and not to do those things that would again lead us away from His service, lead us away from that which is proper in His eyes. In fact, if you back up to verse 19 there in chapter 12 of Romans, He even talks about the fact that vengeance is mine. I will repay. He tells us that we don't have to worry about it. We don't have to worry about getting angry or allowing our anger to become wrathful or doing those things that bring sin about in our life. We don't have to worry about it. Why? God will take care of it. We don't have to worry about that enemy who says ugly things or does things or persecutes me or does spiteful things. We don't have to worry about getting back at them. We just do what we should do. We show the love of Christ and we do good and guess what. God will take vengeance. But overall, what is it that we are striving to do? What is it that we are striving to accomplish? What it is that we are striving to accomplish is that we might help them to know God. That we might help them as we drop back to verse 16 of chapter 5 to glorify the Father through our actions, that they might see Him and not us.
Now I want you to notice the final verses there, verse 46 and following, he adds an example now, an example of all that He has said. He says, "Really what is it Ray, if you love those who love you?" He says, "What reward do you have because even the tax collectors do the same?" Another example in verse 47, "If you greet your brethren, Ray, what do you do more than those again, the tax collectors and the publicans, those again who are sinners?" You see, we are no different. If we only do that which is common or that which everyone else is doing, how do we really show ourselves to be different and servants of God? Everyone loves those who love them. Everyone returns that favor in a family even though they are sons of God or sons of the world. So what makes us different? What makes us different is not only do we love in that situation or in those situations where one loves us and they treat us right first, but we love even when someone doesn't love us, even when someone hates us, who is our enemy, who does spiteful things against us, who persecutes us, who does all manner of wrong against us. We still love. That's what makes us different. That's what makes someone stop, and whether it is at the moment or not, and think that person is different. That person is like God. That person for some reason is not acting like I am or the rest of the world. And what if they ask you the question, why are you different? What makes you different? How are you able to do that? To the glory of God, we can then praise His name and clarify why we do what we do.
The final verse there, verse 48, at least of our discussion today, states that we must be perfect just as the Father in heaven is perfect. The concept there of completeness. God certainly is complete and perfect. He has matured to the point that He needs to be and He continues therein. You and I must do the same, and one area specifically is in loving our enemies and in doing more than everyone else so that we might show ourselves to be even more as far as that secular realm, as far as the way we treat others, that we are even more and greater in life and in these areas as God would have us to be.
So I encourage you today to think about your enemies, to show love now to them, and to treat them in a way so that they can see God in you, so when they see God in you they will want to know Him and as they know Him, they will have the same privilege and opportunity as you and I have to be His children to be saved and to someday have an eternal home in heaven with Him.
(SONG # 3 - "Each Step I Take!")
May I again take this opportunity to thank you for joining us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and thus a blessing to us all. Please remember that you are invited back to join us every first day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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So just who do you love in this life? May we all learn to not only love those who are easy to love, but to love all mankind just as God commands. Furthermore, may we never forget our enemies - for Jesus said, "Love your enemies!"