November 29, 2009

Sermon on the Mount, #4

Matthew 5:3-9

We are examining the Beatitudes. As we pointed out in the first message, the Lord with these seven points finishes the message he started in Deuteronomy 27, 28. The Hebrews of his day would have immediately recognized what he was doing as he added the 7 needed blessings to counter the 12 curses.

FIRST BEATITUDE, v. 3, Spiritual poverty.

The Lord started right at the root of the blessings of God with humility before God for salvation. One cannot enter the kingdom of God apart from the new birth, John 3. One must realize that he is utterly without hope apart from Christ. He must humble himself, become as a child and come in simple trust in Christ for his only hope of the Kingdom of God.

SECOND BEATITUDE, v. 4, mourn. how do we view sins in our lives, in the lives of others and in society?

THIRD BEATITUDE, v. 5, meekness. Meekness refers to being broken to harness, as you would break a horse for domestic use. The strength is not broken, but the will is subdued to the master.

FOURTH BEATITUDE, v. 6, hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Righteousness and justice are both from the same word, meaning integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in thinking, feeling and acting as defined by Moses. This same word is used again in v. 10 & 20.

We discussed the difference between v. 6 and vv. 10, 20 last Sunday.

FIFTH BEATITUDE, v. 7, blessed are the merciful..

Mercy can be defined as "That benevolence, mildness, or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries or to treat an offender better than he deserves."

Now we come to the, SIXTH BEATITUDE, v. 8, pure in heart.

The fourth beatitude, v. 6, was hunger and thirst after righteousness—that is, right and just actions toward others as defined by Moses.

The fourth and the sixth seem very close, and we will see more of the differences when we look at the illustrations the Lord used for each.

This beatitude basically deals with the heart.

The subject of the heart, or the seat of affection or personality or thought, is one of the most discussed subjects in the word of God. The Christian religion starts in the heart and results in outward actions.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

pure in heart... The word used here means, free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt. It is the heart where the Christian battle is either won or lost.

Three points:

1) pure from desires.. Are our desires godly? are they pure? do we want what God wants?

What is the motive behind our actions? Why do we want what we want? Why do we act like we act?

2) pure from sin. Is our heart pure from sin? What goes on where only you and the Lord dwell? What dwells in the secret recesses of the heart? The Lord illustrates purity when he deals with lust. The law says "Thou shalt not covet." The law says "Thou shalt not lust." Do we covet and lust?

Ezekiel 8:7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. 8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. 9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.

Notice David's prayer in Ps 51:10, Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. How many times have we prayed this prayer?

3) pure from guilt.. Is there known sin in our lives? Do we keep our sins confessed and forsaken? What comes to your mind when you try to pray?

Maybe a harsh exchange with someone...
Maybe a fraud or dishonest dealing...

Also connected with this word, pure, is the idea of purifying by fire or pruning:

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

According to Jeremiah 17:9, 10, only the Lord knows what evil lurks in the heart. The Lord knows, and He brings about circumstances to purify our hearts.

The average "Christian" book today emphases purity of heart and life, but they only emphases purity for purity's sake. They make no practical application of the purity which they espouse. The command to purity has practical applications:

What actions result from purity?

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

We see the boldness of the pure heart in,

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

God wants us to be pure so we can confront sin and evil around us with a clear conscience. The pure person who has a clear conscience and pure heart has boldness. He can confront sin wherever it is found. And the wicked do not like to have the light shined on their evil deeds. They do not like to have salt rubbed on their open wounds of wickedness.

See what happens if we boldly stand against false teachers who are speaking in the name of Christ. See what happens when we boldly stand against sodomy, fraud, immorality, indifference to God and his word, or those who are living contrary to God's law-word.

Over the years, I have learned that some of the most difficult people to confront with the truth are those who make a strong profession of Christ.

for they shall see God..

Of course, everyone shall see God one day, but is this what the Lord is referring to here? No! there is more to it than that.

The King of the world is speaking, and He is speaking in and to an oriental culture. We are told in places such as Proverbs 22:29 and 2 Kings 25:19, that in oriental culture, seeing the face of the king or being in his presence was a great honor and privilege. Only a select few of the king's favorites enjoyed the privilege.

V. 8 tells us that the pure in heart will be favored of the King, and they will have free access to the King as a friend. John 15:14, 15.

SEVENTH BEATITUDE, v. 9, the peacemakers.

Now his final point in this outline, peacemakers. But how did we get here?

One must be saved, and genuinely concerned over sin. He must have a meek spirit when addressing others about their sin. There must the desire righteousness and justice in his words and actions. Justice must be tempered with mercy. Yet an impure heart will hinder his actions against injustice and unrighteousness around him. He must have the previous six things if he will be an effective peacemaker. As we follow the life of Christ, we see all of these things brought together in the God-Man.

Yet we seen that he came not to bring peace, but a sword:

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

The sword he brought caused separation between the sheep and goats, saved and unsaved. The world cannot tolerate such a separation, and will fight it tooth and nail under the false claim of equality.

The peace Christ offers is peace between the sinner and the Father. He offers inner freedom and peace with one's self. He offers peace between man and man. He offers peace between man and nature, as explained in Deuteronomy 27, 28.

Peacemaker is only used here in the New Testament. It refers to those who love peace.

The peacemaker tries to prevent contention, strife and war. He uses his influence to reconcile opposing parties and to prevent lawsuits and hostilities in families and in the community. The Wise Man has 17 proverbs that deal with strife:

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

Notice that the peacemaker looks for the beginning of strife, and tries to deal with it before it gets out of hand as does water as it breaks out of a dam.

There are positives and negatives to the peacemaker:

Positive:

1) Peacemakers... The King's command is to go with the gospel of peace into the whole world.

Ephesians 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Though it is the message of peace, it will arouse hostility in those who are at war. Talk Radio conservatives preach a gospel of war and turmoil, but we are called to obedience to the Gospel of peace.

It is the gospel that has the power of God in it to subdue the world and produce peace, 1 Corinthians 1:18.

2) The peacemaker strives to prevent contention, strife and war; he uses his influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits and hostilities in the families and neighborhoods.

Our first responsibility is to work for peace between the sinner and God through Christ.

Ephesians 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Every Christian has both the opportunity and the responsibility of reconciliation. We are to reconcile people with people and people with God. All reconciliation though must be in accord with the laws of God. We should bring conflicting parties together. We are to do all we can to promote peace among our family and those we work with:

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Negative:

A) the peacemaker is not a compromiser.

There are those who feel that a peacemaker can compromise on true righteousness and justice to bring opposing parties together. We see in our Lord that a peacemaker cannot compromise with righteousness and justice. He must be true to the word of God at all times and, as our Master did. The true peacemaker will die for the truth, if necessary.

When there is a time to do battle, they do battle, but they always first look for a peaceful solution.

Ecclesiastes 3:8, [there is] a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The wise man gave a time for all things, even love and dancing, but he did not say there is a time to compromise.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (the false preachers of peace are everywhere).

B) the peacemaker is not proud.

Proverbs 13:10, Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

The reason contention is so prevalent among Christians is because pride is prevalent. Sad to say, most Christians are strife-stirrers; they promote division, contention and war between people, as they work to build their own sphere of influence and their own kingdom.

Part of the peace-making process is confronting others with what the word of God says, but the confrontation is always with meekness.

C) the peacemaker is not fearful of conflict, even war.

Proverbs 28:4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.

The law of God, when properly applied, will result in conflicts with the ungodly, but the godly man will not be looking for nor spoiling for the conflict. His desire will be peace; peace with God, peace with man.

I personally know a very well-known pastor who appears to purposely look for fights, so he can build a following. I know people who seem to enjoy a good fight over not much at all. They seem to be spoiling for a fight for no reason (not a physical fight). This verse tells us that such a person will not have the blessings of God.

Our call, as Children of the Prince of Peace, is to be peacemakers, but not compromisers.

For they shall be called the children of God.

1 Corinthians 14:33, For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Notice here that one of the marks of God's presence in a church is that the church is peaceful. God is the author of peace, and His servants will be pursers of peace. Those who promote peace are like their King.

D) One last point. A peacemaker is not a pacifist:

Even though the Lord charged his disciples with the gospel of peace, he knew things would not be peaceful. He told them to purchase at least one sword, or gun. Luke 22.

However, Solomon does tell us there is a time for physical warfare. Our King also said,

Luke 22:35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

History shows us that the Mooreish, Mohammedan hoards would have totally overrun Europe in the 1500, if it had not been for some brave Christian men taking up defensive arms at the island of Malta, 1565. Today the Mohammedan hoards are overrunning Europe by doing what Christians should be doing. Having children.

Finally, how can peace be promoted in a church?

Don't enter into or listen to gossip
Be very tolerant of the idiocentrices of others
Humility
Love and forgiveness one for another even as the Father loved and forgave us for Christ's sake.
Patience and tolerance.

It is important to note that the Kingdom of God is advanced by peaceful means, not by warlike means, which is made very clear in the 45th Psalm. I will close peacemaker with this quote from CH Spurgeon on Psalms 86:9 (T of D, Vo. 2, pg. 465-6),

"All nations whom thou hast made," and these include all mankind, since they all come of the first Adam--thy creature, and their lives are all distinct creations of thine omnipotence. All these "shall come" with penitent hearts, in thine own way, to thine own self, "and worship before thee, O Lord." Because thou art thus above all gods, the people who have been so long deceived shall at last discover thy greatness, and shall render thee the worship which is thy due: Thou hast created them all, and unto thee shall they all yield homage. This was David's reason for resorting to the Lord in trouble, for he felt that one day all men would acknowledge the Lord to be the only God. It makes us to be in the minority to-day, when we are sure that the majority will be with us. Tomorrow, ay, and that the truth will one day be carried unanimously and heartily. David was not a believer in the theory that the world will grow worse and worse, and that the dispensation will wind up with general darkness and idolatry. Earth's sun is to go down amid tenfold night if some of our prophetic brethren are to be believed. Not so do we expect, but we look for a day when the dwellers in all lands shall learn righteousness, shall trust in the Saviour, shall worship thee alone, O God, "and shall glorify thy name." The modern notion has greatly damped the zeal of the church for missions, and the sooner it is shown to be unscriptural, the better for the cause of God. It neither consorts with prophecy, honours God, nor inspires the church with ardour. Far hence be it driven.

After his comment on each verse, Spurgeon adds notes from other authors, and "Hints to the Village Preacher." His hint here is,

Ver. 9. —The certain conversion of the world as opposed to modern theories.

This is strong, but it addresses the then rising problem of modern dispensationalism. That is, the feeling that Christ can only reign through slaughter and bloodshed. That evil thinking has left a 'church' waiting for, hoping for, longing for and expecting a great bloody slaughter.

As Spurgeon pointed out, this belief has left the church with really no motivation to obey Matthew 28:19, 20; "Go forth and conquer, subdue all kingdoms for our Great King." Why should Christians take the gospel unto every creature when they believe that the only way the kingdom can be advanced is by military might?

And this is where we find ourselves today. The church as a whole, has decided that the grace of God is not sufficient to conquer the hardened sinner, and subdue him to the King of kings.

12/6/09, Snow, no service

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