January 3, 2010

Sermon on the Mount, #6

Matthew 5:17-29

There is a slight break between the seven Beatitudes, vv. 3-9 and the start of their illustrations in v. 21. We have 3 divisions in vv. 10-20. Last week, we looked at the first division, which was the personal results of obeying the Kingdom Laws. We finished with v. 12. V. 12, gives two reason we are to be exceedingly glad over the insults, ridicule and slander we might receive for our stand for Christ in v. 11:

1) the great reward laid up for the righteous when they see the Lord.
2) they are identified with the great men of old.

This time we will consider the next section, vv. 13-16. Social results

The last section will be vv. 17-20. The validity of the law

Vv. 13-16. Social results. That is, the result of Biblical Christianity in society.

In v. 13, the Lord gives his people a clear choice. Either they will be persecuted for the proper application of his laws, or they will be trodden under the foot of man.

We will either be PERSECUTED for being a godly Christian, or we will be OPPRESSED by paganism for allowing our society to sink into paganism.

The Christian is compared to salt.

Spurgeon:

Thus he speaks to those whom he enrolls in his kingdom. In their character there is a preserving force to keep the rest of society from utter corruption. If they were not scattered among men, the race would putrefy. But if they are Christians only in name, and the real power is gone, nothing can save them, and they are of no use whatever to those among whom they mingle...

Let me ask: As Christians in our community, what good are we doing for the cause of Christ?

SALT

Salt is a symbol of lasting harmony because it protects food from spoiling. Without salt to preserve the rest of society, society would become utterly corrupt.

A couple years ago, Jerry invited us over to watch them butcher a couple hogs. Bettie ended up working with the hams. The ladies rubbed a lot of salt on them, and wrapped them in paper and cloth. Bettie sewed the cloth.

Salt was used in the Old Testament for covenants and sacrifices Leviticus 2:13.

Leviticus 2:13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.

Salt represents wisdom and grace in speech.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be gracious always, and powdered with salt, that ye may know how to answer every man.

Our speech and talk must be applied to the profit of the hearers. (d) Fit for the profit of your neighbour. (e) Against this is set filthy communication, as in #Eph 4:29. Geneva

Salt hurts, but it helps heals a wound.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Salt must be scattered maybe one grain at a time, for it to give a proper flavor. If it is all bunched up together, it does no good for the total flavor of the food.

Food without salt seems to have 'something' missing, and no matter how much doctoring, something it still is missing if no salt is added:

Job 6:6 Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

Unknown to themselves, modern food factories have followed Job's advice. Because of the money involved, they add salt to every processed food. That allows them to use less than the best food product; it allows longer shelf life, and retains flavor.

Without Christ, no matter how much one might try to doctor up his life with all these other things, something will be missing. Nothing can take the place of salt; nothing can take the place of Christ.

We are to be salt:

I have mentioned several times about when I first went to Linden: I was warned about the language of two men when we went to Linden, Phil Apple and Orval Crebbs. Phil and I became good friends, and I could count on one hand how many times I heard him cuss. Orval was the same way. He normally had a very foul mouth, but when I was around, he controlled his speech. As you know, he had me preach is funeral.

In fact, as I tried to organize some conservative opposition against the socialists trend of the county, none of the pagans who joined with me ridiculed or mocked my Christian stand, though very few were saved. Admittedly, we were then and we are now in very conservative communities.

More than once I have experienced people controlling their language and actions when they found out that I was a Christian. I did not have to tell them not to cuss or smoke or act ugly; they just knew that it was wrong and simply the name of Christ held them back.

Obviously, there were exceptions.

The negative aspect about salt is that when it becomes useless, it is good for nothing except to be walked on. Also, salt loses its savor through lack of use.

As Spurgeon said,

But if they are Christians only in name, and the real power is gone, nothing can save them, and they are of no use whatever to those among whom they mingle...

The Christian and church has become totally irrelevant and ignored in today's society. Because it is so irrelevant, the world has no use for it.

This last election showed the "irrelevant" nature of modern Christianity. The Christian community voted for evil, or didn't vote at all. We got the leaders we deserve.

Illustration:

Some years ago, probably in the 80s a friend of mine named Evert Sileven was telling people how to legally avoid taxes. Though the IRS admitted he was right, they convicted of conspiracy because he was making the information public.

I kept close contact with Evert Sileven while he was in prison. In fact, he is the one who motivated me to write the book on Christian Identity.

In one of his letters, he mentioned about how that, once people found out that he was a preacher, they started telling him how much they loved the Lord. One of the guards told him that he (the guard) was a faithful Church-going Christian. Bro Sileven ask him how he could be a good Christian and work in a place like the Federal Pen. The man told him that he had learned to separate his work life from his Christian life. Then, as he walked away from Bro Sileven, he proceeded to cuss out another inmate.

If Christians do not live what they profess, the Lord Himself will raise up the ungodly to oppress His people.

Continuing on with the Social results, salt in v. 13, and now light, vv. 14-16.

The faithful Christian's obedience to his Lord and King is compared to light. Not just any light, but he is compared to a light set on a hill which can be seen for miles.

Again, Christ presented nothing new.

In the Old Testament, the word shine & warn are the same: warn, means to shine or send out light, Daniel 12:3.

And they that be wise, shall shine, as the brightness of the firmament: and they that turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars, forever and ever.

Two things about Daniel 12:3:

1. Geneva note:

Wise, Who have kept the true fear of God and his religion.
Turn, He chiefly means the ministers of God's word, and next all the faithful who instruct the ignorant, and bring them to the true knowledge of God.

2. shine.. Daniel is used for an evangelizing verse, which is keeping within the context. But that is just a small portion of this meaning of shine. The same word is also used as admonish in Ecc. 4:13; 12:12. As we apply God's law-word into the areas around us and into the areas within our responsibility, we shine in the darkness of sin.

Shine... Throughout the Old Testament, the word shine is used to instruct in the total law of God–warn and instruct the people, leaders and even the civil leaders according to God's word,. Exodus 18:30, Proverbs 19:20, 2 Kings 6:10, 2 Chronicles 19:10, Ezekiel 3:18, 33:8.

Though Daniel is speaking primarily of the teachers of God's word, it also applies to every Child of God. God's word is not only applied in the area of evangelism, proclaiming and applying the law of the substitutionary and redemptive work of Christ, but applying the total of the law into every area of life and thought.

The New Testament word that means basically the same thing as Daniel's shine is light, or that which produces light. The light of Matthew 5:14, 16, means the application of the laws the King has given to govern his Kingdom.

Sinners do not like to be around faithful Christians, for their lives will admonish the sinner.

Vv. 13-16 social results

1) Clearly, the Kingdom Laws put into practice will hinder corruption. Christians will either take a stand for Christ that will change society, or they will be trodden under foot of men, and the men who trod the Christians down will not be god-fearing men.

There is no middle ground. There is no such thing as a natural Christianity. Either the Christian makes his society more godly, or he will be oppressed by his society.

Those who are unfaithful to their profession are enemies of the Cross of Christ. Those who shine will be an enemy of this world.

2) Matthew 5:16 (1 Peter 2:12, Philippians 2:15) tells us that the consistent good works for the cause of Christ are arguments for Christianity which no man can refute.

The Christian who puts the Kingdom laws into action will be as obvious as a light set upon a hill; he will not be able to hide his Christianity. He will not be an "unknown Christian," or "A secret Christian."

God's grace at work in his people will be obvious in their daily lives.

3) Matthew 5:13, 15, it is important to note that it is not some great work in the sight of men which speaks the loudest for Christ. It takes very little salt or light to go a long way.

A candle.. doesn't seem like much, and it isn't. The important thing is that the candle be consistent and that it not be hidden. It is the consistent disciplined Christian life day in and day out which will speak the loudest for the cause of Christ.

Light attracts... We were warned many times in the service that the glow of a cigarette could be seen for up to 3 miles on a very dark night. They warned that that small glow would attract the enemy from miles around to the source of that light.

Vv. 13-16 is not necessarily referring to speech, though there are many other passages that do. Christ is simply urging His people to live what they say they believe. He is calling upon us to live a life which reflects the Christ-like spirit and the works of the Lord. It is an active life for the Lord which holds back corruption in a dark world.

The world is attracted to the source of our light if it is glowing at all. They are attracted to either persecute us or to join with us.

4) light and darkness. Darkness is the absents of light. When the light goes out, darkness overtakes the world. The natural result of a Christ-like life is to hold back the darkness and corruption of society.

5) light drives back the darkness. In fact, darkness is an absence of light. There are a couple of security lights around us. The one across the road seldom comes on, but the one north of us is bright. Though it is about 1/2 mile away, it disrupts the darkness, and the sky is extremely beautiful with no light around.

Darkness was the natural state of the world; light had to be created in the beginning by God. In fact, all light is a reflection of God. Thus, the natural result of the light being extinguished or hidden is that darkness takes over in our church, in our family, on our job and in our society.

If you ever visit a cave, one of the things the guide will do is turn out all the lights so it is perfect darkness. Then he will light a match. It is amazing how much light that match will light up the cave, no matter how big the cave.

6) light exposes what is going on in the dark, and thus discourages lawlessness.

When darkness and corruption increase in society, it means that Christianity is not real. Something is very wrong with Christianity when it does not hold back darkness and corruption. In fact, it is not Bible Christianity. It may be something that looks like Christianity, but it is not what the Lord identifies as Christianity. Christianity which does not change society for God and Godliness is little more than baptized paganism.

7) Light will shine on anyone in its way whether they want to be shined upon or not. And the choice is not ours as to whom it shines upon.

8) light has a purpose, and that purpose is not to be hidden. Its purpose is to light a way in a dark path, or to attract attention or to warn as a light-house warns of danger.

God has lighted us with his grace. He did not mean for that light to be concealed. It is to be as conspicuous as a city on a hill.

I am reminded of the house on top of the mountain coming from VA into WV. It has a windmill for electricity, which is almost always turning. The house if very high, and in open view. It can be seen for many miles, especially at night when the lights are on.

Drive through these mountains and night, and one can see lights in the most unexpected places on the dark mountains.

The grace of God's Spirit that we have been given is meant to be as a light on a dark mountain.

Why light a light in a dark place just to cover it? Its purpose is to be exposed for everyone to see and to use. It is to benefit all who are under its influence.

The purpose of being a Christian is not to lock up inside of the house or inside of the Church and impress one another with our spirituality. The purpose is to take applied Christianity out into the world. When this is done, many times the wicked will be stirred to action either for or against the righteous.

Those who attend biker rallies tell of the pagan bikers asking the CMA members to handle the money, because their own crowd cannot be trusted.

9) V. 16. Actions speak louder than words. Christ is calling for actions.

Note, that they may see your good works... not hear your good words. People want to see Christianity, not hear about it.

Works cannot be argued with. Certainly, we are to speak up, but our consistency for the Lord with our actions will be what the Spirit will use to speak to those around us. Of course, our manner of dress will be the first "light" others will see. Does it glorify God or does it honor the flesh? Does our dress attract attention to our bodies, or to the spirit within our bodies?

Do we wonder why others are not influenced for the Lord like we would want?
How do our actions for the Lord speak???

10) Good works are not hidden, nor are they paraded around for others to see. The individual simply goes about his business, and his consistency is used for God's glory. He is not trying to impress others; he is only fulfilling his responsibility.

Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Therefore, they desire to put out any light which might expose their evil ways. Those who plan evil deeds first put out any lights, so they can work their evil it in the dark.

Alone in a dark alley is a fear of any person.

We live in a society bent upon evil, so they must extinguish all light. That means that every thing that represents the light of the word of God must be put out. Unknown to most Christians, there is a battle going on to the death: either Humanism will be destroyed by Christianity, or Christianity will be destroyed by Humanism.

The war is for the upcoming generations.

This battle requires a disciplined walk with the Lord in our personal and public life.
Do we spend time studying His word?
Do we pray that we might have strength and wisdom to apply it?
Do we go into the battle armed with the might of His power, or do we go in our own strength?

Vv. 17-20 The Validity of the Law

First, with this Sermon, Christ publically identifies himself as the King and lawgiver who met Moses on Mt. Sinai.

He clearly establishes that He is the Sovereign and Universal King. His word rules. He establishes that He alone is the source of all law, blessing and judgment, as he clearly establishes his total sovereignty.

In fact, all who heard him were astonished at his doctrine, and the authority with which he spoke.

Second, the religious leaders had throughly corrupted the Commandments. The Lord came to give His Commandments their proper application. He came to enforce His kingship. He came to judge and thoroughly purge His kingdom.

Third, the Lord came to give His people both the desire and power to fulfill the law and to enable them to inherit the promises of God according to the prophets.

V. 17 is one of the most misused verses in scripture. Fulfill is corrupted to say the Christ kept or fulfilled all of the law the law for his people, so his people would not have to keep the law nor be controlled by the law.

He said, think not.. Don't even let it cross your mind that He came to alter any of the Old Testament Mosaic Law.

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

This verse can be misused to say that the law brought righteousness in the Old Testament, and now with Christ, the law is no longer needed for righteousness. But such an understanding is anti-Christian.

From the very beginning, the end of the law, or the end purpose of the law of Moses as given to Israel, including the all the ceremonial law given after the Commandments, was to drive people to Christ. However, Paul tells us that Israel ignored that purpose, and set about to establish their own righteousness. They had a great zeal, but refused to submit to the purpose of the law, which was to point to the Redeemer to come.

The law was never meant to provide righteousness for the unbeliever. From the very earliest, Abraham, it was common knowledge that the Son would come to deliver his people from bondage. They corrupted even that to believe he would set up a kingdom and throw off the Roman yoke of bondage.

Sadly, many professed Christians view Romans 10:4 to say that Christ frees them from the bands and cords of Psalm 2; that is, God's law. Such an understanding is as unChristian as any thing can be.

V. 17, fulfill. According to The New Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon (4137 - pg. 518), the word means:

First, to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and, second, God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment.

V. 17 is the only place where fulfill is used with this precise meaning.

First, Christ came to give His people the desire and power to fulfill what He revealed through Moses.

Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Second, God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment. Promises as found in places such as,

Isaiah 11:1 But there shall come a rod forth of the stock of Ishai, (Jessie) and a grass shall grow out of his roots. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord, 3 And shall make him prudent in the fear of the Lord: for he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove by ye hearing of his ears. 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and with equity shall he reprove for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And justice shall be ye girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie with the kid, and the calf, and the lion, and the fat beast together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall lie together: and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock. 8 And the sucking child shall play upon the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockatrice hole. 9 Then shall none hurt nor destroy in all the mountain of mine holiness: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters that cover the sea.

According to the prophets, the law of God would one day become a reality and cover the face of the earth. Christ did not come to destroy the prophets; rather, He came to cause the words of the prophets to be fulfilled.

Ephesians 2:15 tells us that Christ perfectly fulfilled the sacrificial laws and ordinances.

V. 17, destroy... Twice in this one verse, the Lord said that He did not come to destroy the law, or the prophets. That is, he did not come to remove the requirements of the Law he gave to Moses for mankind.

Then He gives the answer to the question, "Since I did not come to destroy either the law of Moses or the prophets, what did I come to do?"

He says that He came to fulfill both.