Intro. Jesus said, "You have heard that it has been said, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate your enemy.'" We showed where the law said to love our neighbor, but could not find where it said hate your enemy. But this is what the Pharisee's were teaching. They said your neighbor was a Jew, and any non-Jew was your enemy.
I. "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO GOOD TO THEM THAT HATE YOU. PRAY FOR THEM THAT DESPITFULLY USE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU."
A. The Pharisee's in their teaching had ingored certain passages. They were guilty of selective teaching of the Word. Paul told the elders of Ephesus that he had declared to them the whole counsel of God.
B. Some of the passages in the law that the Pharisees overlooked or ignored that dealt with enemies. 4 "If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him." 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it. Ex 23:4-5
(NIV) 4 If you see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help him get it to its feet. Deut 22:4
C. Jesus confirms this, "Do good to them that hate you."
1. Again in the Old Testament there are examples that can be found that illustrate this teaching.
a. Saul admitted to David:
Thou [art] more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
b. After the death of Saul David said:
Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, [which is] lame on [his] feet.
c. There was the case when Ben-Hadad the king of Syria sent his troops to capture the prophet Elisha. They had encircled the city of Dothan where Elisha was living. Elisha prayed that God would smite the troops with blindness and he led the blinded troops to Samaria the the capitol city of Israel and delivered them to the king of Israel who asked Elisha when he saw them:
"My father, shall I smite [them]? shall I smite [them]?"
And he answered, Thou shalt not smite [them]: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.
And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.
d. Job in protesting his innocence from the charges being made agsainst him said:
If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: this should be an iniquity to be punished by the judge, for I would have denied the God that is above. I have not allowed my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.
e. Last week we looked at some of the Psalms where David was praying for judgment on his enemies, but in Psalm 35
False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge [things] that I knew not.
They rewarded me evil for good [to] the spoiling of my soul.
But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing [was] sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
I behaved myself as though [he had been] my friend [or] brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth [for his] mother.
f. Solomon said:
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
D. 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.
1. Jesus is saying that the Father is our example.
2. We are to seek to be like Him.
3. Our Father sends the rain on the just and the unjust. He doesn't just send rain on those that fear and serve Him.
4. There are many avowed enemies of God that are still provided for by God.
II. "FOR IF YOU ONLY LOVE THOSE THAT LOVE YOU, WHAT REWARD DO YOU EXPECT FOR THAT?"
A. Jesus is saying that loving those that love you does not distinguish you from the world. Worldly people do that.
1. What the world does not do is to love their enemies.
2. They do not bless those that curse them.
3. They do not pray for those that persecute them.
B. Luke tells us that as they were nailing Jesus to the cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
1. We are told that as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord lay not this sin to their charge."
2. Many people believe that this had such a profound effect on Saul who was standing by and holding the coats of those that were stoning Stephen, that this became as a goad that he was trying to kick against, as Jesus said to him, "It has been hard for you to kick against the goads."
C. Peter wrote in his first letter:
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:
D. If you only greet your brothers, do not the sinners do that also.
E. What Jesus has declared by implication, is that we should be doing more than non-christians.
1. As children of the Father, I should be manifesting the characteristics of our Father.
2. Jesus certainly did this.
a. He said, "I did not come to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me."
b. He said, "The works that I do, I do not of Myself, but the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works."
3. John wrote in his first letter:
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
F. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
1. Just in case you have been thinking as we have been looking at what Jesus said, and have been thinking, "If I try hard enough, I can maybe do that. I can turn the other cheek, I can bless those that curse me, I can refuse to look at another person and lust after them. I can love my enemies."
2. If you cast aside the law of Moses and seek to live by an even higher law of love to attain to righteousness by your works. Jesus destroys all hopes by this last declaration, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
3. If you think that you can be righteous by trying to live by the standards that Jesus set and your own diligent efforts you will end up as Paul did in Romans 7
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].
Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would do, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
a. Paul tells us the purpose of the law, "That sin by truly understanding, might become exceeding sinful."
4. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." That should once and forever cause us to give up any idea of attaining to a degree of righteousness by self effort, and cause us to cast ourselves wholly on the goodness and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we might attain to the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
5. Paul wrote to the Romans:
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.