I. YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT HAS BEEN SAID, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AND HATE YOUR ENEMY.
A. Now we know that the law said, "Love your neighbor."
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.
B. But where does it say to hate your enemies?
1. This is what the Pharisee's were teaching the people.
2. As the Children of Israel were passing through the land of Moab, Balak the king of Moab hired Balaam to put a curse on them. When he was unable to do so, Balaam advised the king to lure the people into idolatry.
3. Later God commanded,
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
a. This seems to come the closest to a command to hate your enemies.
Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. but this is not a command, just a statement of David.
5. In some of the other Psalms of David known as the imprecatory Psalms, David prays for evil things to happen to the enemies of God.
a. David prayed:
Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.
As a snail [which] melteth, let [every one of them] pass away: [like] the untimely birth of a woman, [that] they may not see the sun.
Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
Let their habitation be desolate; [and] let none dwell in their tents.
Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
b. These prayers are for justice, they are judicial, not individual.
c. The idea is not, "Defend me Lord" but defend your name against those who have blasphemed you.
4. The Pharisees in their teaching took this one step further, they taught that your neighbor was a Jew, and you were to love them, but you were to hate anyone who was not a Jew. They referred to the Gentiles as Gentile dogs. They made it individual you were to hate anyone that was your enemy.
II. "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES."
A. What Jesus is saying is exactly opposite of what the Pharisees were teaching.
1. We must be careful that we do not misinterpret what Jesus is saying and draw false conclusions.
2. Jesus is not saying that we should not hate sin. It was His love for people that caused His hatred of sin, for He could see what sin was doing to them that were engaged in it.
3. Sin made Jesus angry.
a. The man with the withered hand in the synagogue in Caesarea. Jesus looked at the Pharisees with anger.
b. The denouncement of the Pharisees in Matthew 23
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Woe unto you, [ye] blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
[Ye] fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
[Ye] fools and blind: for whether [is] greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
[Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
[Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
[Ye] serpents, [ye] generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
c. This awesome denouncement by Jesus of the Pharisees was not for their saying insulting things to Him.
d. It was because they were hindering those who sought to come into the kingdom. Back in verse 13 "You shut up the kingdom of heaven. You will not enter, and you hinder men who seek to enter."
B. We love the sinner, but we don't like what they are doing in opposition to God.
1. Note that David did not say, "Do I not hate those that hate me, but do not I hate those that hate Thee."
2. It comes back again to this ugliness that we call self.
III. JESUS SAID, "IF ANY MAN WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY SELF, TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME."
A. All of our troubles in life stem from our love for and concern for self.
B. What does it mean to deny self?
1. George Muller wrote, "There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Muller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure die to the approval or blame of even my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied to show myself approved unto God."
2. My chief concern is not what man is thinking or saying about me, but what does God thinks of me, Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
C. How can I do this?
1. I need to face the issue honestly. I have to quit making excuses for myself.
2. Whenever I notice myself reacting to something that has been done to me or said about me, that has caused me to feel hurt or betrayed, as soon as I feel the defense mechanisms rising I need to ask myself the following questions:
a. Why does this upset me?
b. What is my true concern at this point?
c. Is their a godly cause at issue, or just my own feelings are hurt because I have been rejected or misunderstood?
d. Often at this point if you are quiet, you can hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to you saying: "It is just your ugly self-centeredness and pride." Then we must be honest and admit it.
3. David declared, "You have searched me and known me Oh God, you know everything about me. Such knowledge is to wonderful for me, I cannot attain it."
a. Jeremiah tells us that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things. He asks, "Who can know it?"
b. David said he cannot attain it, Jeremiah asked, "Who can know it?"
c. Self knowledge is the hardest knowledge to come by and if you ever discover it, you will find that it is the most painful knowledge to acknowledge.
4. Your life is controlled by self.
a. It is appalling how much self is involved when we meet people, we want to make a good impression on them so they will think highly of us.
b. It comes in the preaching of the gospel. Why am I concerned that I preach a great message? For the glory of God, or my own glory?
5. Think for a moment of how much misery, mental torment, unhappiness I have because of one thing. Self.
D. One of the main reasons for Jesus coming into the world was to free us from the self life.
1. We see in His life, a selfless example.
a. He said that He came to not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him.
b. Jesus said, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."
c. Paul tells us that though He was in the form of God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God yet He emptied Himself.
2. He lived the perfect life of contentment and peace, because His life was fully committed to living not for self, but for the Father.
a. It was manifested before the cross. "Nevertheless, not what I will, but Thy will be done."
b. It was manifested on the cross.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously: