The Names of God: El Shaddai

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The first time we see the name of God El Shaddai is when we come to …

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

We see two of the names of God in this text. We see YaHWeH (translated LORD (all caps)) which is the “I AM” name of God. Then YaHWeH tells Abram:

I am the Almighty God

which is אֵל ‘El שַׁדַּי Shadday which means “Most Powerful God”. God uses this name when He is conveying the thought that our God is able to fill our needs. Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai is one of my favorites. In it she sang:

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-elyon na Adonia,
Age to age you’re still the same,
By the power of the name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka Na Adonai,
We will praise and lift you high,
El Shaddai.

Through your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of Your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by your might,
You set your children free.

Why Did God Now Present Himself To
Abram As El Shaddai?

Our text today is not the first time YaHWeH came to Abram. Our God came to Abram while he was in Ur of the Chaldees. The name Abram means “exalted father”. When he was born his father Terah (whose name means “to breathe”) looked at Abram and had high hopes for him. He thought that Abram would – as mamma used to say – “do his family proud”, make a name for himself. He would have a large family, and he would be well honored as the father of a mighty clan.

But life often squashes our dreams.

Abram was 75 years old and had yet to have any children at all. His wife Sarai was a good woman, but she was unable to have any children. Sometimes things just are. Sometimes dreams fail. Sometimes we don’t measure up, and look back over our lives, the broken tracks, and begin to despair or be depressed.

Then YaHWeH came to Abram. We read:

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The Eternal I AM gave Abram three “I WILL” promises, all of these statements promising that Abram would have children. The GREAT I AM told Abram, in essence, “If you follow Me, and go where I say go, I will repair your broken dreams and your crippled life. I will look after you, and protect you where ever you go! I will give you children. Follow Me!

People often ask me “why do good people suffer”, to which I reply:

There is none good, but God” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)

If you are asking me why we as humans suffer (for Job truly said {5:7} “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”) it is because we live in a fallen, sinful world. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God loves us. Trials many times stop us, break our pride, bow our knees, and lead us to look up. That’s where Abram was. As C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts to us in our pains”. Abram was at the end of his rope – and there he found God holding the rope! Abram followed God without hesitation.

Abram waited for a child. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Now back to our text:

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Abram was 75 years old when God came to him and promised him many children. But now he’s how old? Ninety nine years old. Twenty four years have passed. Abram has gotten older, Sarai has slowed down, and it seems as if God has forgotten him. Yet our God never forgets. When time passes, we are often tempted to believe that God has forgotten us, or that He has welshed on His promise. Yet the Scripture declares:

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.

Our God is faithful. He keeps His promises. He never forgets what He has said. As God came to Abram on this day, I believe the Lord looked in the heart of that old saint. Our God does not see as the world sees, but looks on the heart. God told the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7):

the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

God looked at Abram and saw his heart. There was doubt there, in that old saint’s heart. God started by telling Abram “I am El Shaddai – mighty, able to provide”. Then God told Abram:

Genesis 17:4-6 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

God not only reaffirmed His promise to Abram, but renamed him “Abraham” which means not “exalted father”, but “father of many nations”.

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

God Does Not Need Our Help To Fulfill His Promises,
But We Must Walk With Him!

After introducing Himself as The Almighty God (אֵל שַׁדַּי El Shaddai) God told Abraham:

walk before Me, and be thou perfect

“Walk Before Me” (פָּנִים paniym) means walk in My presence”. If you want to be blessed of God, dear ones, you need to “walk” or live your lives as if God is PRESENT. Too many believers live their lives as if God is in another room, or another country. God tells His children:

Hebrews 13:5 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for {God} hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

For 24 years God has watched over Abraham. God knows the best time to fulfill His promise. When time passes we often begin to doubt the promises of God. Yet God tells us to rely on Him. He is EL SHADDAI. He says:

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

God also tells Abraham “you are to be PERFECT (תָּמִים tamiym, to be “Whole” or “Complete”)”. I will speak more on “being perfect” this coming Sunday in the Red Letters series we are going through. To be “perfect” we are to keep our eyes on the One Who saved us. To be “perfect” we are to do what God tells us to do when God tells us to do it.

We are not to live our lives foolishly as the lost world does. We need to live our lives imitating God, doing His will, and trusting His faithfulness.

The Great Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

Whether we know him as Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai, or Lord, or by whatsoever other name he has been pleased to manifest himself, that title becomes the ground of our confidence, and is the means of fostering faith in his people’s minds, when they come to understand its meaning. To a trembling people the Lord enlarges on his wonderful names. I think he also does it to excite our wonder and our gratitude. He that loves us so much as Jehovah: he that can create and destroy; he that is the self-existent God; he, even he, has set his heart upon his people, and loves them and counts them precious in his sight. It is a marvelous thing. The more one thinks of it, the more shall he be overwhelmed with astonishment, that he who is everything should love us who are less than nothing. It is the Holy One who has deigned to choose, and to love unholy men, and to look upon them in grace, and save them from their sins. That you may bow low in loving gratitude, God lets you see who He is.”

We are “perfect” not when we are sinless. We are “perfect” when we keep putting our broken lives in the hands of El Shaddai. Walk in God’s presence.
Imitate Christ!

Many who profess Christ as Savior and Lord live much like Naomi did. In the Book of Ruth – truly a Book of Blessing – the believer Naomi loses her husband and Ruth her husband, who was Naomi’s son. Naomi was destitute. Naomi says to Ruth:

Ruth 1:20-21 …. Call me not Naomi (which means “Pleasant”), call me Mara (which means “Bitter”): for the Almighty (El Shaddai) hath dealt very bitterly with me. [21] I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD (Yahweh) hath testified against me, and the Almighty (El Shaddai) hath afflicted me?

Abraham thought that El Shaddai had let him down. Naomi thought that El Shaddai let her down. God did not let either of these precious broken people down. In the Book of Ruth God comes through for Naomi and Ruth, just as God – the EL SHADDAI – comes through for Abram. God knows when the time is right to fulfill His promises to us. Let us trust the faithfulness of God. Let us remember the admonition:

James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

God Does Not Need Our Help,
No Matter How Well Intentioned It Is

God tells Abraham that He is going to bless him with a child. How did Abraham respond? We read:

Genesis 17:15-18 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

As God told the Prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 32:27 (KJV) Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Abraham believes that what God has promised is impossible – so Abraham does what we have ALL been guilty of at one time or another.
He tried to help El Shaddai!

Abraham had a child by Hagar, his Egyptian maid. Ishmael’s name, means “God that hears”. Abraham thought that his union with Hagar would bring about the blessing of a son to raise. Now in his 99th year Abraham is, in essence, saying to El Shaddai:

I’ll help You out, Lord. I know You appreciate it!”

No, God does not appreciate it. In fact, the birth of Ishmael would come back to haunt Abraham’s children many years later. God does not need our help. God wants us to pay attention to what He has told us to do, to DO what He has told us to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

King David knew better than El Shaddai, and put the Ark on a cart.
Uzzah died because of his foolishness.

Jonah decided the Ninevites weren’t worth witnessing to.
El Shaddai made sure Jonah got to see the inside of a whale.

Judas Iscariot focused more on money than on El Shaddai..
Judas hung himself.

Every time we fail as believers to “walk in El Shaddai’s presence” we hurt ourselves. Quit listening to the flesh, to the world, to the chatter of darkness. Walk before El Shaddai, be in His Presence. The Psalmist David – often afflicted – wrote with confidence:

Psalm 91:1-10 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High

{ עֶלְיוֹן ‘elyown} shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty {שַׁדַּי Shadday}. 2 I will say of the LORD { יְהֹוָה YaHWeH}, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God {אֱלֹהִים ‘elohiym}; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Our God is The Most High (El Elyon)
Our God is Almighty to Provide (El Shaddai)
Our God is Triune (Elohiym)
Out God is the ever Present I AM (YaHWeH)

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen!

Posted in Names Of God Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Overcoming Darkness

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Matthew 5:38-42 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Introduction

It was a week or so ago that we studied the Biblical Lex Talionis, the Law of Tooth and Claw. Jesus summarizes it this way:

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

The first time the Law is quoted is in:

Exodus 21:22-25 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

We illustrated that the Law initially and specifically has to do with the death of an expectant mother and her prematurely born child. We noted also that the Law was given to limit the response to be taken to literally make the punishment fit the crime. God did not want His people being cruel. Nevertheless crime was to be punished. Though crime was to be punished, vengeance and grudge carrying was never to be normalized among the people of God. The Law specifically stated:

Leviticus 19:16-18 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.

In the Old Testament YaHWeH (the Great I AM) commanded His people be light and unity in the midst of a dark and lost world. Jesus preaches on the mountain He reminds His Church that we are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Light cannot be darkness. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil

What Did Jesus Mean By “Resist Not Evil”?

IA Church was going to have a picnic at a local park one fine Sunday morning. The Church felt that this would be a good way to reach out to the lost. The members planned, and set the date for the next Sunday morning. The only problem was no one told Sally. Sally was an old, somewhat cranky member of the Church. She was not invited to the planning sessions because of her demeanor. She missed the Sunday that the picnic was announced, and when she heard of the picnic she assumed she had purposely been uninvited. On the morning of the event a little boy from the Church stopped by Sally’s house to invite her to come. Answering the door and hearing his invitation, Sally snapped at him. “It’s too late now. I’ve already prayed for rain”.

“Resist not evil”. The word translated “resist” is the Greek ἀνθίστημι anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee) which means “to set oneself against”. What did Jesus mean by “do not set yourself against evil”?

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to ignore the Devil. As the Light of the world we are supposed to actively resist the devil and his fallen followers. The Scripture says:

James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. RESIST (anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee)) the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom RESIST (anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee)) steadfast in the faith …

We are to resist the devil by walking with God, and doing His Word. We are not to let the devil in any way control our lives.

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to ignore the darkness around us. We are the light of the world. When Jesus – the Source of all light (John 8:12) – went into the Temple and saw the money changers there, the Bible says:

Matthew 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus not only chased the money changers out, but He often corrected the Pharisees and Scribes. Jesus never compromised the Word of God, but always did as His Father directed (see John 14:7-10). We as God’s Church need to actively stand against darkness in our community. We must shine for Jesus! We must!

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to condone and cloak sin in the Church. When the Apostle Peter was being hypocritical the Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 2:11-14 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth that when there is evil in the Church to “put it away” (1 Corinthians 5:13). When Ananias and Sapphira lied to God Peter called them on it publicly, saying:

Acts 5:3-5 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

So what did Jesus mean by “resist not evil”. What Jesus meant was you cannot fight darkness by becoming darkness. You cannot fall to darkness in your methods. As the light of God every Christian is to avoid “fighting fire with fire”. We approach the darkness as LIGHT.

When Insulted, We Do Not Insult In Kind

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

The word translated “smite” is the Greek ῥαπίζω rhapízō, (pronounced hrap-id’-zo), which means “to slap in the face with the palm of the hand, to box the ears”. In the ancient world to slap someone was to show extreme contempt for that person. The slap did not injure the body, but was meant to scar the soul. When Jesus was questioned by the High Priest prior to His crucifixion “one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand” (John 18:22). Jesus questioned the need of the slap, but “turned the other cheek”.

When we as Christians are insulted, we are not to insult in kind. This is similar to what the Lord tells us in:

Proverbs 24:28-29 Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive [not] with thy lips. 29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

When personally insulted we are always to remember that we are to be “the light of the world”. When the government forbade the Apostles from preaching Christ:

Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

To “turn the other cheek” does not mean you cannot defend yourself if you are assaulted. It means you are not to trade insults with the darkness. You represent the Light of God, dear Church. Be the Light! Remember the admonition:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is what Jesus our Lord did, even on the Cross of Calvary. The Scripture says:

1 Peter Chapter 2:20-23 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:

If you are insulted, be the Light. Let Christ shine through you. Don’t let the world drag you into the pit of darkness!

Surrender Your Earthly “Rights” To Be The Light

Matthew 5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

The word translated “sue” is the Greek κρίνω krínō, (pronounced kree’-no) which means “to go to law against, seek a judgment against”. According to the Mosaic Law it was the right of every Israelite to have their cloak:

Exodus 22:26-27 If thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment (cloak) to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: 27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.

The person who is Christ’s child is to be reliant on God for our blessings. Our lives are not enriched because of our “stuff”. Our lives are enriched because we have a Heavenly Father Who loves us, and has adopted us through the Precious Blood of Christ.

It’s just stuff!

Do not let your “stuff” rule your lives. Jesus said in another place:

Luke 12:15 … Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Our primary calling as Christians is not our “earthly rights” nor our “earthly stuff”, but that we are the Light of God. We are to live so as to earn the smile of our Savior. Shine for Jesus. Shine! The Apostle rebuked the Corinthian believers for sullying the name of Christ in court.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Don’t let “stuff” dim your light! Be the Light. Follow the Law of Christ.

Support Your Earthly Government As The Light

Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Russian author Leo Tolstoy who wrote the book “War and Peace” said:

“Christianity in its true sense puts an end to the State. It was so understood from its very beginning, and for that Christ was crucified.”

He based this on Jesus’ principle of “turn the other cheek” and “resist not evil”. Yet Christianity does not “put an end to the State”. As God’s Light we are to pray for our government, and uphold its laws as long as they do not invalidate the Law of Christ. How does this apply to this particular text?

Israel was occupied by Rome, an invading force. The average Israelite hated this. What they particularly hated was Roman Law. Under Roman Law a soldier had the right to command you to carry a pack, or a weapon, for up to one mile. This is exactly what happened to Simon the Cyrenian:

Luke 23:26 And as they led {Jesus} away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Jesus told us to support our government. Though our Kingdom is not of this world, we are to shine for Christ as good citizens while on this planet. We are told in:

1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

Shine where you are. Shine as the Light of God, being good citizens – as long as that Law does not violate the Law of Christ. Go the extra mile. Richard Wurmbrand (a.k.a. Nicolai Ionescu) was a missionary for Christ in the Communistic Soviet Union. He wrote:

I have seen Christians in communist prisons with 50 pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering form cold, – and praying with fervor for the communists . . . Afterward, the communists come to prison too. Now the tortured and the torturers were in the same cell. And while the non-Christians beat them (the former torturers), Christians took their defense. I have seen Christians giving away their last slice of bread (we had at that time one slice a week) and the medicine which could save their lives to a sick communist torturer who was now a fellow-prisoner.”

Help The Needy As The Light

Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

The Lord was not telling us to become easy marks for welfare minded people. The Scripture is very clear:

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Every week I receive calls from able bodied people who want me to pay their utility bill or their rent. Many call me on high priced mobile phones – while watching cable television all day long. If you will not work, you shall not eat. However, as the Light of God we must examine each case – and give to those who are truly in need and not just lazy. We do not fulfill wants and wish lists – but also do not turn away someone genuinely in need. Help others, but always be mindful that you are to be the Light of the world. Share Christ with others. Help your brothers and sisters in Christ. This was the pattern of the early Church:

Acts 2:42-47 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Let’s be the Light that Christ calls us to be. May the Lord lead us all to shine for Him. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Sin Is No Joke

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Matthew 5:27-32 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

This Is One Of The Tough Passages Of Scripture

When I pastored in North Carolina I was in a decidedly more “liberal” area of ministry than I had ever been in. One day I went to see our Director of Missions. The Director of Missions among the Southern Baptist Churches is not the “boss” of the local Association, but an adviser to the Churches, a helper to the pastors. As a new pastor in this Association I found that preaching the harder texts of scripture were often not well received. So I asked the Director of Missions what he thought my approach in the pulpit should be. What he told me was, “As I grow older, I think it would be better if we just heard comforting messages.”

I’m sure that all firemen wishes that every fire they had to respond to was just an out of control barbecue grill.

I’m sure that all policemen wishes that every shooting they had to respond to was just an eight year old with a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.

I’m sure that every prison warden wishes that the most violent offender he had to oversee was the vagrant, or the person with too many unpaid parking tickets.

I’m sure that every factory worker wishes the heaviest thing they have to pick up would be feather pillows.

As a pastor and a preacher of God’s Word I wish every word I could utter to you would be comforting and easy. But as John MacArthur once said, and I paraphrase him here:

The pastor is to be the waiter, not the chef. It is his job to deliver the meal without messing it up.”

I pray I can deliver His Word today without “messing it up”. Jesus spoke these words. He spoke these words to an Israel who had began to minimize sin. Jesus emphasized how horrid it is to minimize sin by saying:

Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

I don’t think Jesus literally wanted us to poke out an eye or cut off a hand. But Jesus often used shocking language to get His point across. God despises adultery. Unrepentant adulterers go to hell.
Better to lose an eye or a hand than go to hell!

God considers sin an abomination, a darkness, an aberration. All sin – sexual sin included – is despised by God. Jesus is speaking to His Church, a Church that He expects to be …

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

We are to be “light” as God defines “light”, regardless as to what is going on around us. Jesus is speaking to a Church that has been influenced by Roman license and Pharisaical hypocrisy. Jesus does not want His Church to be religious, but righteous. Not self righteous like the Pharisees. Righteous.
God honoring.

In America we laugh at sin on sitcoms. Comedians on television make light of what God says is dark. We often hear people on television saying things like,

If no one gets hurt, and you’re both adults, what’s the harm?”

Yet God says that there is a harm in sin. He tells us:

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
Death passed upon all because of sin (Romans 5:12)
When you sin, you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17)
The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4)
Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death (James 1:15)
Sin reigns unto death (Romans 5:17, 21)

Sin is not a laugh track on television. Sin is not amusement. God did not design us for sin, but to walk with Him. God despises sin because the devil has sold it as a harmless amusement. But it is not harmless.

Sin Minimizes God’s Best For Us

Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

God loves us, and wants the best for us. He doesn’t want us to be “religious” but to love Him and love others.
That includes your spouse!

Do you know that in all this Book, this Bible, I found the word “religion” and “religious” a total of seven times – and only once in a positive manner. The Law of God was given to us as a mirror by which we were to examine ourselves in the light of God’s standard.

“Adultery”, which is sexual sin that targets Biblical marriage, is never in our best interest.

God’s standard on sexual sin is found in texts like Leviticus 20:10,

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death

In our world today that seems terribly harsh. But God established marriage as a bond between a man and a woman, a bond that was to remain stable throughout the lifetime of both.

The Pharisees took the relational Law of God and twisted it. Under the religious laws of Jesus’ day the Israelite male was told that “if you see another woman that appears more attractive that your current wife, then you can give that wife a bill of divorce, and go marry that new woman”.

Women were routinely being abused and used because religion gave the authority to do so.

As Jesus addressed marriage and divorce from the mountain, those most upset with the Lord were not the lost. Those most upset were not the Roman citizens. Those most upset were the Pharisees, the religious crowd.

The Pharisees had turned Judaism into a cloak to use women. They turned the Mosaic Law into a unwitting helper in hypocritically covering up sin.

And Jesus said NO!

Later on in His ministry – and not long before Jesus was crucified on Calvary – the religious crowd came to Jesus. They had been stewing on what Jesus taught from the mountain, and finally they decided to challenge Him. We read:

Matthew 19:3-9 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Notice how the Pharisees asked the question.

“Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife
FOR EVERY CAUSE?”

Are there Biblical reasons for divorce? Yes, there are. There are valid reasons for divorce. Jesus addresses one today. You read it earlier. He said:

Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Sexual infidelity in a marriage is a clear reason for divorce. If your spouse will not stay faithful to you, then Biblically there is a reason. There are other Biblical reasons for divorce. But Beloved, we are not looking for reasons to be divorced. If you are the light of the world you are to love the wife or husband you have right now. You are meant to grow old together. If you have previously divorced and remarried outside of the will of God there is nonetheless forgiveness available from God.

God forgave King David for murdering another man to take his wife
2 Samuel 12:13
God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one, He will do for all.
Romans 2:11-16

Be aware however that David suffered for his decision. Any divorce causes suffering. It is not God’s intent that you suffer, but that you excel.

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The Biblical marriage is when two people – a man and woman – make a commitment before God for life. The two grow old together. There is a deep seated joy in growing old together. I was at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro the other day talking with another veteran. Sherry was with me. As we talked, he shared with me that he and his wife had just finished 50 years of marriage. As the two that become one grow old together, the love deepens. We take care of one another. There is a joy and a stability in the marriage that stays the course.

God did not give us sexual appetites so that we could wander about, going from bed to bed. The Pharisees condoned “legal divorce” if a man wanted to be with a younger woman. Yet this is not God’s way.

In Ephesians chapter 5 – a text I often use in premarital counseling situations – the Lord shows us how He regards marriage. He starts the chapter with:

Ephesians 5:1-3 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints

If you are loved of Christ, love others – especially your spouse – in the same, sacrificial way. This particular chapter ends with:

Ephesians 5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Jesus loves His Church. Men, we set the standard. Love your wife as Christ loves the Church. Care for the wife God has given you. If you do not love your wife sacrificially then you are harming yourselves. Put away the porn. Put away anything that stands between you and love for your wife. God will honor and bless this marriage if you let Christ be in its midst.

Being Light Means Living Honorably

Matthew 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

The Pharisees were bad about giving their word, then reneging on that word. They just didn’t do what they said they would do. One of their favorite ploys was – when they were called on their failure to follow through – they would say “Well, I didn’t swear I would do it”. They would then point to the Law of God, and quote where God said:

Leviticus 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Numbers 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

But the light of the world – God’s people – should always do as they have said they would do. The Bible tells us to:

Ephesians 4:23-25 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

Ephesians 4:15 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Those who are God’s children are to be “the light of the world”. We are to keep our commitments and our promises because we belong to Jesus. Jesus always kept His promises. Jesus has given as many as believe in Him the promise of eternal life. Praise Him, our God is faithful to His Word:

Exodus 34:6 … The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth

God does what He says He will do – always. As the light of the world we are to do as we say. When others see your life, do they see you as faithful, or untrustworthy?

Are You In The Light?

As Jesus spoke these “Red Lettered” words, He was speaking to His disciples, to those who loved and would follow Him. Are you following Jesus? If not, then today is a good day to commit to following Him.

2 Corinthians 6:2 … behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Your lives will not be blessed until you commit to following Him. Let Jesus have your life. Follow Him by faith. Do as He says. For in this, God will truly give you rest.

May Christ and His Spirit enable you to hear His Word this very day.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Names of God Series #2: El Elyon, the Most High God

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Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Last week we studied the most divine name of God, YHWH or Yahweh, which is a name that focuses on God’s description of Himself to Moses at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:14). We also discussed the name of God Elohiym, which is the plural of El, the basic name of God. The Triune Name of God Elohiym is found in the very first verse of the Book of Genesis:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God (Elohiym) created the Heaven and the earth.

This makes Elohiym one of the earliest names of God in Scripture. The first part of Elohiym – El – is the singular form of the name of God. Many scholars believe that El means “The Powerful or Strong One”. When the Father of faith Abram was 99 years old and still childless the Lord appeared to him:

Genesis 17:1-2 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD (YaHWeH) appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; (Shadday El) walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

In Genesis 17:1 God pairs El with Shadday which means “the God Who is mighty to provide”. We will eventually study El Shadday – though not tonight. In the Bible the name of God El is often paired with other terms to describe our God. Let’s look at El Elyon.

In the Old Testament El Elyon occurs 28 times – 19 times in Psalms. Elyon (Biblical Hebrew עליון) means The Supreme, the Highest”. There is nothing greater than our God.

El Elyon (God Most High)
[Pronounced Ell Elly-Own]

Genesis 14:1-3 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2 That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

The Kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela revolted against the forces of a confederation of four other kings in the Valley of Siddim where the Dead Sea is. For twelve years the five kings served the larger four kingdom confederacy. Finally the five kings decided to break free. The problem is, they were not strong enough. We read:

Genesis 14:10-12 And the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. 11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

The reason that the Bible records this series of battles and defeats is to show us that our God is the Most High God.

Last week we talked about Abram (whom we call Abraham) and his nephew Lot. Lot was a believer in God. Yet at some point in his walk with God Lot stopped trusting the Most High God. Lot became idolatrous. Lot’s idolatry is seen in his behavior. In the previous chapter we read:

Genesis 13:7-11 And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Idolatry is the worst of all sins. When El – our Mighty God – gave us Ten Commandments, the first two of the commandments were against idolatry.

Exodus 20:2-6 I am the LORD (YaHWeH) thy God (Elohiym), which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods (Elohiym) before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD (YaHWeH) thy God (Elohiym) am a jealous God (El), visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Idolatry creeps in, and can creep into even the Christian heart. The Bible calls Lot “righteous Lot” (2 Peter 2:7). Lot was saved by faith in God. He trusted himself to the God of Scripture just as Abram (Abraham) did. Both Lot and Abraham were righteous because of their faith in the Gospel. Yet idolatry crept in.

Lot looked up he did not look up to God (El) nor to the Triune God (Elohiym), but looked up at his own riches.

Abraham was willing to trust God in Lot’s decision, and Lot followed the way of greed, which is a form of idolatry. We as believers in Christ are to heed the Scripture:

1 John 5:19-21 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Colossians 3:3-5 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 {Put to death} therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Lot put himself in a bad spot because of idolatry. Settling in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot made himself a target. This is why we are told:

Genesis 14:12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Lot lost everything because of idolatry. He lost his freedom, lost his goods, lost his land. When we chase after idols we lose the blessings of God. Our God is The God Most High, El Elyon. He is worthy of worship.

Deuteronomy 32:8 … the most High (El Elyon) divided to the nations their inheritance

The devil and his followers try to take God’s place. They say:

Isaiah 14:14 … I will be like the most High (El Elyon)….

Idolatry Destroys. Follow El Elyon To Victory

Lot’s idolatry got him in trouble. But Abram loved El Elyon. The Bible tells us:

Genesis 14:13-15 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother {fellow countryman} was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

This is a beautiful picture of faith.

Four mighty nations had defeated five other nations. In this terrific battle the five nations fell, and Lot with his household was taken captive. The Bible tells us that faith is to believe that God is El Elyon, the Most High God, regardless as to what is going on around us. The devils try to take the place of the Most High God. The backslidden Christian follows idols, which are an abomination to the Most High God. But the faithful believer – like Abram – looks upward.

If Abram is following the Most High God – El Elyon, the One Who establishes the nations – then the four nations he goes to battle with are going to fall. God is in control. He is the El Elyon – The Most High God.

As Abram returns from the battle – 318 trained commandos against four nations armies – he brought back all of the goods along with Lot, his goods, the women and the people besides (see verse 16). The five kings come to meet with Abram – five royal figures that Abram ignores. But then a mysterious king previously not mentioned steps in. We read:

Genesis 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And {Melchizedek} blessed {Abram}, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God {El Elyon}, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God {El Elyon}, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And {Abram} gave {Melchizedek} tithes of all.

Who is this Melchizedek, King of Salem. The name Melchizedek means “King Of Righteousness”. The Book of Hebrews discusses him in:

Hebrews 7:1-3 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Gary Staats in his book A Christological Commentary on Hebrews (2012), p. 71: wrote “[The writer of Hebrews] is identifying Melchizedek as a king of righteousness and a king of peace. He thus becomes a beautiful type of Jesus Christ who is also the final King of righteousness and the final King of peace.”

Many believe that Melchizedek, King of Salem is an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ. When Melchizedek came to Abraham He is described as the priest of the most high God (El Elyon). In the New Testament Jesus our Lord declared to the Pharisees:

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

I believe that this moment in time when Melchizedek met Abraham (Abram) is when the father of faith saw Jesus. Others may disagree with me, and you are free to do so. But I believe that in Melchizedek, Abram met Jesus. Abram’s response was to give Melchizedek tithes of all that he had. By honoring Melchizedek, Abram was honoring El Elyon, the Most High God. When the five kings tried to get Abram to compromise with them, that wonderful old man said:

Genesis 14:22-23 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God {El Elyon}, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

Abram was not tempted to idolatry in the area of riches. So many people in America today are tempted with idolatry, especially worship of money. Our God – El Elyon – is the sole Possessor of Heaven and Earth. He owns all things. He is the Most High God. He owns our lives. He owns our stuff.

Someone has asked me, “Preacher, do we have to tithe a portion of our goods to God? Wasn’t the tithe a part of the Law? Wasn’t the Law fulfilled in Christ?” Beloved, Abram gave tithes of all that he had. Abram – or as we call him Abraham – is the Father of our faith. Abraham tithed many years before the Law was given through Moses. The tithe was incorporated into the Law, just as was the commands not to murder, commit adultery, or to steal. But the tithe was pre-Law of Moses. If your God is money – and many people worship the God of money – then you are like Lot. You are NOT following El Elyon, the Most High God. If you have been given Grace, if you are unconditionally saved by faith in Christ, then you owe everything to El Elyon. As the Psalmist said:

Psalm 57:1-3 … Be merciful unto me, O God {Elohiym}, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God {Elohiym} most high; unto God {El Elyon} that performeth all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God {El} shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

Jesus warned us that:

Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon {money}.

We who believe in Christ do not tithe of all our goods because the Law says so. We tithe because God is El Elyon, the Most High God in our lives. Money is not our God. Stuff is not our God. That is the dangerous path that Lot walked, and suffered for following. No Beloved, we who are His by the Blood of Christ do not worship idols. We trust God. He is our most High God. We will follow Him, trusting Him and Him alone, until the day He takes us home!

A man once went to his pastor and said “How can you say that God is the owner of everything. After all, I worked for everything I have!” The pastor replied, “Ask me that question again in a hundred years”. Think about it. God owns it all. God will get it all. God asks that we not make idols. That we give Him as El Elyon:

one heart
one day out of seven
one tenth out of a hundred

God deserves more than we give Him. Let us give Him our all – for He is, indeed, the El Elyon – the God Most High! May Jesus Christ touch your hearts to surrender to Him this very day. Amen!

Posted in Names Of God Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged

New Or Old Creatures?

Old Or New Creature Cover

We all did silly things when we were young children. For instance, I know of a little boy who was very naughty. He climbed out of his crib. He wandered into the bathroom and found – ahem – something unflushed in the toilet. He carried that back to his room and proceeded to decorate the walls and his crib. When mother came in I don’t believe she was impressed with his fashion sense!

When I was around 7 years old my brother Mark and I wanted to play a joke on our Aunt Edna. She is such a sweet woman, and has such a gracious disposition. I and my brother found some worms and, smashing them, put them on Aunt Edna’s doorknob. We didn’t get a whipping (and Mamma believed in whippings) but we did have to clean that mess off!

As children we touched the hot stove and, feeling the burn, learned not to eagerly touch it again. That is what growth is all about. We grow. We learn. We change into something a little wiser and more careful.

As it is with the physical child, so it is with the spiritual child. Every Christian who is indeed a Christian must be born again from above. Jesus told us:

John 3:3 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

A person who has not been spiritually reborn by looking on Jesus Christ in faith cannot see (εἴδω eídō, [pronounced i’-do] perceive with any of the senses, get a knowledge of, or understand) the Kingdom of God. A person who is born of the Spirit (John 3:5-6) by faith in Jesus Christ is a different person. We are, as Peter said:

1 Peter 1:23-25 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

We who are saved no longer play with corruptible things. We do not find sin to be a trifle. Though

the whole world lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19)

We honor Christ by forsaking sin. Jesus Christ was the …

satisfactory payment for our sins (1 John 2:2)

so we walk in the …

light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7)

knowing that …

Jesus is righteous, and everyone that does righteousness is born again (1 John 2:29). Whosoever is born of God does not lightly or habitually commit sin … we are born of God! (1 John 3:9).

It is simple to profess with your mouth that you are a Christian. The proof, however, is that you are not like you were. The Apostle put it this way:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Being “New” Is Not A Self Help Program

Christianity is not a twelve step program nor a self help program. Though I have great respect for Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs, these programs focus on the adherent making themselves better – along with others in the program – one step at a time. Many religions follow the same pattern. But not Christianity. Christianity starts out by describing everyone as “dead”.

Ephesians 2:1 … you were DEAD in trespasses and sins

Colossians 2:13-14 … And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

The Bible says of the Christian that we are NOT bad people made good. No!
We are DEAD people made ALIVE.

This is the state of every unbeliever on the face of this world. People are born into this life physically alive but spiritually dead. Before Christ came into our lives we could not see or perceive the kingdom of God. Though we enjoyed the blessings of God:

Matthew 5:45 … {our Heavenly Father} makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust

Spiritually dead people do not think about God.

Psalm 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

Add to this the truth that the devil and his agents actively hide the Gospel from the walking dead. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The devil hides the Gospel through false ministers
Who add to, or take away from the Gospel message.

Those separated from God by sin are dead to God’s Word. They are spiritually dead. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). The Scripture declares:

Romans 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is {the enemy of} God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Salvation is like that which happened at Lazarus’ tomb. Our Lord Jesus stood outside of Lazarus’ tomb and cried,

Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43)

We do not commend Lazarus for jumping out of the tomb, bound head and foot in the mummy’s rags. Lazarus, though dead, heard Christ’s voice and moved toward Him Who is Life and Light. Even so, the spiritually dead hear the Voice of Christ. Without merit for themselves they come jumping out of the tomb of this sinful world. Jesus made you new.

Revelation 21:5 {Jesus Who} sat upon the Throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” …

Dead people need life. Jesus Christ gave us life. “In Jesus is life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). We are no longer dead creatures, dear Christian. We are now “made near to God by the Blood of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

New Creations Are In A New Relationship To God

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Before I was saved by faith in Christ, I tried to do all things in my power to live my life. Life was all about me. I was the center of life’s stage, the star, the cast and crew, the everything. I lived for myself. I thought I was all right. But I wasn’t. I did not know God. I was my own god!

Those who do not know God through Christ are strangers to God. Imagine this. You wake up in the morning and, in addition to your family, you find someone you do not know in your home. What do you do? You call the police. Why? Because it is a violation of the Law for someone I do not know to be uninvited in my home.

And so it is with God.

In our world today as in the ancient world, people thought “well, I’m good enough, so I’m going to Heaven when I die”. They were wrong. If God does not know you – or if all you know “God” is, is as “God”, then you are a stranger to God. Strangers do not belong in God’s Home which is Heaven. Let me say that again:

Strangers do not belong in God’s Home,
Which is Heaven.

Jesus knows us because He raised us. The Lord Jesus warned:

Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me {on Judgment Day}, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Do you know Jesus? Did He make you new? If so, He knows you and you know Him –
blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Whoever believes on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are in a new relationship to God. Before Christ we were condemned as transgressors of God’s Law (1 John 3:4). Once we came to Christ, casting our lives on Him, He purged our sins by Himself:

Hebrews 1:3 … when {Jesus} had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 10:9-10 … Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Believing on Jesus Christ, God took us from a state of spiritual death and into the Family of God. We are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:14; Philippians 2:15). The Apostle spoke in incredulous voice, saying:

1 John 3:1-3 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

As new creations in Christ we are

fellow citizens with the Saints (Ephesians 2:19)
and of the household of God.

We are joint heirs with Christ,
and heirs of all that God owns (Romans 8:17).

New Creations Are In A New Relationship
To
Those Around Us

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We as children of God are called to follow the Royal Law of the family. Two commandments are always foremost in our hearts and minds. They are:

Mark 12:30-31 … And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Christ calls us to a radical love of all that we come in contact with. As Jesus loved the unlovable, so are we called to do the same thing. We do not love the sin of the world.

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Our want to’s change when Christ makes us alive. “Old things are passed away, behold, all things are new”. We are new in our responsibilities. We look for opportunities to do good around us.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

You were saved by faith in Christ to live in God’s Kingdom, both NOW and into ETERNITY. Live as if you are His. Put away the old darkness that you used to live in, and live as light in the power of God.

Ephesians 4:1-3, 17-24 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. … 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Evangelist Paul Washer wrote in The Gospel’s Power & Message:

The proof or validation of genuine conversion is that the one who professes faith in Christ perseveres in that faith and grows in sanctification throughout the full course of his life. If a person professes faith in Christ and yet falls away or makes no progress in godliness, it does not mean that he has lost his salvation. It reveals that he was never truly converted.”

We are not saved by our works. But once saved. We. Work. We. Shine. We are different from the lost world. We are children of God, born of love, loving God and others, as long as we shall live.

As A New Creation, I Have A New Destiny

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I am disturbed by the number of Christians who are disturbed by physical suffering and death. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t like to suffer any more than you do. But we inhabit frail and fallen bodies. Bad stuff is going to come our way. Beloved, we are not in Heaven YET.

How did the Apostles deal with suffering and death? The Apostle Paul suffered terribly. He wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:24-29 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

How did the Apostle deal with all this suffering? He looked HEAVENWARD. He focused on all things through the lens of his destiny. He writes:2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. …

2 Corinthians Chapter 5:1-4 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

The destiny of every believer in Christ is Heaven. I like how the Apostle describes our present bodies. Did you notice he called our bodies “our earthly house of this TABERNACLE”? Do you know what a Tabernacle is? It is a TENT. The body we have right now are TENTS. When Sherry and I were younger we used to go camping with our children. We put up tents. No matter how nice you make a tent it is just temporary.

I remember one time camping with my family in England’s Peak District, a beautiful mountainous range. It rained dogs, cats, and bullfrogs that night. We huddled inside our tent, wrapped up in sleeping bags, and stayed dry, though water flowed all around us. Oh, how I wished for home that night! A tent can be a place to stay, but it’s not home.

Beloved, the bodies you have are not your homes. They are tents. Some are more patched than others. Some have a few more wrinkles than others. Some are a little leaky. Some are pretty new. But every one of us are living in tents right now. It’s like that old song:

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh lord you know I have no friend like you

If heaven’s not my home then lord what will I do

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Dear Christian, we are heading home. We are Heaven bound. That is where our destiny lies. Not here, but there. Until the day that the Father calls us home we are to walk as lights and as the Children of God. We are to share Christ and be Christ to as many as we can. We are to live, joyfully live, for our Lord. But one day we must depart. We must. These bodies are but tents, tabernacles, temporary abodes until we receive the full promise of God. That day is coming if you know Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you do not, today is the day to call on Him and be saved!

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit! Amen!

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Murder And The Heart: Red Letters Series #7

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Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Matthew 5:21-26 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I was talking to a married lady one day, and noticing she seemed upset, I asked “Did you wake up grouchy this morning?”. She told me “No, I let him sleep.

It seems that her husband has a “heart” problem.

A politician running for office (I won’t say who) stated “2900 children die from gun violence every year”. That is tragic. What is more tragic is that the same politician does not acknowledge that 125,000 children die by abortion worldwide each day, and 3000 of these are performed in America. Each. Day. 3000. Yet this politician – along with many others – is for abortion.

It seems our nation has a “heart” problem.

What are the solutions to what ails our country? Some say that it is one political party or the other. Others think that we can throw more money at it and make it go away. Some suggest that the solution is in a better justice system, increased imprisonment, or some sort of social reform. The truth is, the problems we face cannot be fixed unless we stop addressing the symptoms and go to the cause or the heart of the matter.

Mankind Has A “Heart” Problem

As Jesus sat on the mountain teaching His disciples sitting at His feet, our Lord began to address the forces that caused Israel to be in bondage to Rome. Why was God’s nation, a nation He led through the Red Sea, a nation that spawned heroes such as Moses, Joshua, King David, the Prophet Samuel – WHY WAS THIS GREAT NATION BEATEN AND NOW THE LAPDOG OF ROME? Why was this great nation under a puppet King called Herod? Why did a Roman governor called Pilate have any authority whatsoever against God’s people? God fought for Israel, and at one time caused the sun to stand still and another time to move backward for His people. Why had God abandoned Israel?

Israel had a “heart” problem.

God had not abandoned Israel. Israel abandoned God. God has not abandoned America. America has abandoned God. Many local Churches have abandoned God. We are too proud to kneel at His feet. We are too proud to sit and hear His Word.

America has a “heart” problem.

New And More Laws Will Not Fix The “Heart”

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment

There is and never will be a more perfect written Law than the Law of Moses, the Law that God gave to Israel on Mount Sinai. The Mosaic Law has three divisions: moral, civil, and ceremonial. The moral code reflected the conscience that God places in every human. The civil code was for Israel alone. The ceremonial code was also just for Israel, but this code taught of the Coming Christ. We studied what Jesus said last week:

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Jesus would later tell us in …

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

And at the end of His ministry on earth Jesus said:

Luke 24:44 … These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

God gave a perfect written Law to Israel.

The Apostle said in Galatians 3:21, “if there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law {of Moses}”.

The Bible tells us “the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23).
The Bible tells us “by the Law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
The Bible tells us “the Law is holy” (Romans 7:12).
The Bible tells us “the Law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14).
The Bible tells us “the Law is good” (1 Timothy 1:8).
But the Bible also tells us this:

“The Law is NOT MADE for a righteous person”
1 Timothy 1:9

The Law was made for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and the sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers (heterosexual sinners), for them that defile themselves with mankind (homosexual sinners), for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons …” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

The Law defines sin. Murder is a grievous sin. Jesus does not dispute that murder is a sin. He does not eradicate or erase the Law. He acknowledges it.

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment

The Law, this Perfect Law, defines the problem. Murder is a violation of the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17). Before the Mosaic Law was ever given the Lord told Noah:

Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

To murder someone {Hebrew רָצַח râtsach (pronounced raw-tsakh’)} is to steal something that belongs to God. God owns the soul of us all. God said:

LISTEN UP! Every SOUL BELONGS TO ME!
Ezekiel 18:4

Your soul belongs to God.
Whether you believe in Him or not, your soul is a gift from God.

If you are a Christian “you not your own – you do not belong to you! YOU ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE!” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

This is why God’s perfect Law was so harsh with murder. God said:

Numbers 35:16-18 And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 17 And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 18 Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

Murder Begins In The “Heart”

The reason no written Law will fix what ails us is because murder, like all sin, begins in the heart. Jesus brings this out. He said:

Matthew 5:21-22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you,

The most perfect Law said “murder is hated by God. If you murder, you steal a life. If you murder, you will forfeit your life.” But then Jesus says, “Let’s not address the SYMPTOM. Let’s address the PROBLEM”. Here’s the problem:

Matthew 5:21-22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment

Murder starts in the heart. It begins by being angry without a cause. Being angry for foolish things. Being angry because YOU don’t get your way. Being angry because someone else doesn’t agree with you. Being angry because your heart, like a wild stallion, is not under the control of the God Who loves you. Being angry because you have made yourself your own idol.

When we are born into this world, we are born because God gave us life. But we are born broken. The Bible says of our hearts:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

God can see your hearts. God can control your hearts (Jeremiah 17:10). But you must give your hearts to God.

One day the Pharisees chastised Jesus for allowing His disciples to eat without first washing their hands. Under the Law a person who touched something unclean was to wash their hands (see Leviticus 15:11). The Pharisees considered all things unclean, and so disparaged Jesus for allowing His disciples to eat without washing their hands.

Matthew 15:16-20 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

What defiles a person before God? It is what is in the heart. Out of the heart comes … MURDERS. That’s what Jesus is saying in our focal text. Read it again:

Matthew 5:22 I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Murder starts in the heart. Anger without a cause – a God sanctioned cause – leads to murder. It starts in the heart. Then it comes from the mouth. “Raca” is original to the Greek text, but it is not a Greek word. Many suppose it comes from the Aramaic Reka, which means “empty headed” or “foolish”. To call someone Reka is to make that person less than God made them. To call someone “thou fool” (moronos) is the same as saying “you are damned” or “you are going to hell” (see Psalm 14:1; Luke 12:20).

Every life has value. God made you in His image to walk with Him. Every person, whether in the womb, on their feet, or in the long term care facilities – every person is valuable. God made you for Himself. God gave you life to live with and for Him.

And no one has the right to devalue or diminish a person.

Granted, there are many sins that God commands we avoid. We saw several today in the book of 1 Timothy. But no written law is going to fix anything. No Constitutional adjustment or amendment is going to fix the murder problem in America.

The heart must be fixed. The heart must be filled with Godliness and righteousness. This is only possible through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Is The Fulfiller Of The Law,
The “Fixer” Of The Heart

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Do you belong to Jesus? Have you believed on Him for salvation? If so, then no one has to chase you to make you serve the Living God. You want to approach the altar, a wonderful figure of serving God. And if Jesus is in your heart you know that you are to love as you were loved. God has taken from you that stony heart of the lost. The Apostle spoke of those who

Romans 2:15 … shew the work of the law written in their hearts

God promised His Old Covenant saints that one day the Law of God would be more than on tablets of stone, on parchment, on paper. He told Israel that the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ would come. He said that through the Christ:

Jeremiah 31:33-34 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Hebrews chapter 10 quotes from this prophecy in Jeremiah, then tells us:

Hebrews 10:19-25 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Has Jesus possession of your heart? Then love is planted in your heart. God the Holy Spirit influences you. And you value every person for Christ’s sake. You have had a heart transplant. You belong to Jesus.

Jesus Christ is “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36). Jesus Christ is “a Lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). It is the …

Blood of Christ, Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. {Who purged our} conscience from dead works {so that we can} serve the Living God” (Hebrews 9:14)

My heart belongs to Jesus. Does yours?

This wonderful Savior,
This sinless Redeemer,
This marvelous incarnation of God among us,
This precious Son of God
This Jesus.

bids you come to Him. Kneel at His feet. Realize that He is the only Solution for what ails America. Jesus Christ is the only Solution for what ails EVERYONE. We need Him. We need to fall in love with Him. We need to heed His Word – the Red Letters!

In closing I’ll share a parable I heard from Pastor John MacArthur. He said:

There’s a tale told about a certain rabbi whose name was Simon Ben Eleazar, and Simon Ben Eleazar was coming from his teacher’s house, and he’d just had a lesson at the feet of this great teacher, and he was feeling uplifted in the thought of his own scholarship, and he was so pleased with his own erudition, and he was so thrilled with his own righteousness, and his own goodness, and his own holiness. And as he was walking along he came across a very low, rather ugly common man who passed by and greeted him. And the rabbi did not return the greeting, but said, “You, Raca, how ugly you are. Are all the men of your town as ugly as you?” To which the man replied, “That I do not know, go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly is the creature He has made.

God made you to walk with Him. Come to Him. Come to Jesus. Give Him your broken heart, and He will make your life anew. Oh, that God the Spirit would open your hearts to the wonder of Christ today! Amen!

Posted in General, Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached

YAHWEH and ELOHIYM: Examining The Names Of God (1)

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Photo by Alexis Antonio on Unsplash

Psalm 113: 1-5 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. 3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high?

When Charles Wesley (one of the leaders of the early Methodist Church) read this Scripture he was led to write one of my favorite songs. “Blessed Be The Name” is in our Baptist Hymnal:

O, For a thousand tongues to sing, blessed be the name of the Lord!
The glories of my God and King, blessed be the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the Name, Blessed be the Name,
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Blessed be the Name, Blessed be the Name,
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Blessed Be The NAME Of YAHWEH!

The opening sentence “Praise ye the LORD” is literally:

Halal Yahh Halal

from whence we get our English Hallelujah. The people of God are told to praise the name of YAHWEH! One of the most famous names of God in Scripture is YAHWEH (though some refer to it as YEHOVAH or JEHOVAH). This is the most sacred name of God in Scripture. Pastor John Piper wrote:

God’s name is almost always translated LORD (all caps) in the English Bible. But the Hebrew would be pronounced something like “Yahweh,” and is built on the word for “I am.” So every time we hear the word Yahweh, or every time you see LORD in the English Bible, you should think: this is a proper name (like Peter or John) built out of the word for “I am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.”

YAHWEH is the God we praise, the God of the scripture. Though this name of God is sometimes translated JEHOVAH, the consensus among Biblical scholars is that the first translation of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה YHWH was, in the 6th century BC, most likely YAHWEH. So I use YAHWEH instead of JEHOVAH. Either way you pronounce YHWH this is the most holy name of God in Scripture. YAHWEH reveals certain things about our God.

  • YAHWEH is the eternal I AM. The God of scripture is never “I WAS” or “I WILL BE”. One of the first questions a child asks about God is:

Who made God?”

The proper response is “no one made God. God is self existent. He is the Great I AM. God never ends, and never began. Though Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) He did not begin existence at that manger in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ is the “Son of God become flesh for our salvation”. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 8:23-24 … Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

  • YAHWEH is absolute reality and utterly powerful. In a world where feelings are often elevated above all else, God is in control. He knows what is best for us, and controls all things to bring forth the best outcome. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 116:1-4 I love the LORD {YAHWEH}, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD {YAHWEH}; O LORD {YAHWEH}, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

It is the EVER PRESENT LORD Who is our Protector and King.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD {YAHWEH} is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

In a politically correct and progressively wrong world the Christian trusts not in “feelings” but in the Eternal and Great “I AM”, the YAHWEH!

  • Everything in the universe is dependent upon YAHWEH. Nothing happens by blind fate or chance. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD {YAHWEH}”. Nothing happens by “luck”, but all things are by the LORD. He is the first cause, the last cause, and every cause in between. My salvation is certain because my faith is in the certain and sure “I AM”. The Psalmist confidently declared:

Psalms 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD {YAHWEH}.

I suspect the Apostle Paul had this precious Psalm in mind when he wrote the Church at Rome:

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Salvation and blessing do not come by my hand, but by my God’s hand. I was saved the day I called “upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2). My salvation is sure because my God is sure. My God is able to …

keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
(2 Timothy 1:12)

… to keep me from falling (Jude 24)

I am frail, but God is constant. Our God is the absolute standard of truth. The Bible says:

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Some people think that there is a god of the old covenant and a god of the new covenant. This is patently wrong. The old covenant was given to us by the unchangeable and immutable “I AM”. Jesus said of this old covenant:

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Both covenants – old and new- are written through and about an immutable God Who never changes. Our God is the great “I AM”.

Who Is Like Our ʼElôhîym

Psalm 113: 5 Who is like unto the LORD {YAHWEH} our God {ʼElôhîym}, who dwelleth on high?

YAHWEH is not the only name of God in Scripture. YAHWEH speaks to God’s eternity. YAHWEH made all things, yet is made of none. He alone is self existent. But God’s name is also ʼĕlôhîym, which is the earliest name of God found in Scripture.

The earliest name of God found in Scripture is not YAHWEH, but ʼĔLÔHÎYM.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God {אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, pronounced el-o-heem’} created the heaven and the earth.

ʼElôhîym is a plural in the Hebrew text. If this name were applied to a mythological god like Apollo, Zeus, Mercury, et.al, then it would be translated “gods”. In this world there are many gods and goddesses that seek to take the place of the true ʼElôhîym. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 For though there be {many} that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Though ʼElôhîym would be a plural if applied to an idol, the God of the Scripture is One God. God told His Old Covenant Israel:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD{Yahweh} our God {ʼElôhîym} is one LORD {Yahweh} : 5 And thou shalt love the LORD {Yahweh} thy God {ʼElôhîym} with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

God is one. God is ʼElôhîym, a compound Unity.

  • ʼElôhîym is our Father. When we pray, we pray:

Our Father Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name!

ʼElôhîym is our Father Who is in Heaven. Jesus gave us another name for God – “Father”. He is the Head of the family of righteousness, those who are born again by faith in Christ. Our Father in Heaven is our Provider and Protector.

Matthew 6:8 … your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him …

ʼElôhîym our Father watches over the saved, lovingly providing our needs.

  • ʼElôhîym is our Jesus. The Father speaks to us through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:2), Whom He has appointed Heir of all things. All things belong to Christ.

All things were made BY Jesus (John 1:3)
All things were created BY Jesus FOR Jesus (Colossians 1:16)

The Father says of Jesus …

Hebrew 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

  • ʼElôhîym is the Holy Spirit of God. It is the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. Jesus promised us, “The Holy Spirit lives with you, and will be IN you”.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The Holy Spirit guides and empowers our prayers. We are commanded to be …

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching …

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost

We As Believers Are To Live Our Lives Praising YAHWEH ʼELÔHÎYM

The Old Testament priest would never rush into the Holy of Holies, nor never run into God’s Presence. Yet so often Christians rush into God’s Presence to demand something. We are not, in our urgency, to rush into His presence. We are to love the LORD God Who loves us so. The Apostle put it this way:

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts

Let us magnify the great “I AM”, the wonderful Triune God Who gives us life and eternal life. Let us magnify Him in all we do. May God the Holy Spirit impart this Word of Truth into our hearts and lives. In Jesus name. Amen!

Posted in Names Of God Series, Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Lex Talionis

Lex_Talionis_Cover

Exodus 21:22-25 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

When Studying Scripture, Context Is King

It is always good to read Scripture in context!

A “Feud” is a battle between two families, often ending in bloodshed. Nearly everyone has heard of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, whether you have ever read it or not. Quickly explaining the plot, Romeo and Juliet were a young couple who fell in love with one another. Their families (the House of Capulet and the House of Montague) were at war with one another, and forbade the couple from marrying. Both Romeo and Juliet end up dead, and their deaths cause the families to reconsider their feud, and to seek the peace.

There have been feuds between families and people since the beginning of human history. Nearly everyone has heard of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud (1863-1891), two families of West Virginia and Kentucky. More than a dozen were killed on each side of this feud, with several imprisoned and one executed by the state for murder. Closer to home for us all is the Greene-Jones feud (1863-late 1880s), two mountain clans from North Carolina and Tennessee. The feud eventually spreaGod will avenge His people. We are not to do so. Beloved, every life has value. Every life is precious. Even that tiny baby yet residing in its mother’s womb. We who belong to Christ have been given life so that we can speak life and love. We are not given life so that we can kill. Let us love. Let us reach out and do as Christ would have us do. Let us be the Light that Christ wants us to be.d – like a cancer – into remote areas in Virginia and Kentucky. The feud caused the death of 30 people and at least one child. The feud was only ended when martial law was enacted, and the Tennessee State Militia was deployed.

The feud began over the killing of a pig.

Many of the feuds and bitter rivalries that have occurred in American history are wrapped up in a religious overcoat. Those holding grudges loved to cite the Biblical Law of Tooth and Claw (aka. Lex Talionis):

Exodus 21:23-25 … thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

The reasoning for many feuds was “God said it is all right for me to avenge my neighbor’s offense. I am only responding to what the Lord God said.” The Scripture is taken and applied out of context.

Scripture Is Not Scripture
If It Is Taken Out Of Context

You cannot twist scripture to make it say what you want it to say. If you do, you are not studying (nor benefiting by) the scripture. The Bible commands:

2 Timothy 2:15-19 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The Christian saved by faith in the Blood of Christ pleases God when he or she “rightly divides the Word of Truth”. And Beloved, the saved want to please God!God will avenge His people. We are not to do so. Beloved, every life has value. Every life is precious. Even that tiny baby yet residing in its mother’s womb. We who belong to Christ have been given life so that we can speak life and love. We are not given life so that we can kill. Let us love. Let us reach out and do as Christ would have us do. Let us be the Light that Christ wants us to be.

To “rightly divide” scripture is to read it in context, then do it as a command from God.

READ and DO.

But we must be very careful to read the Scripture in CONTEXT. If we take the Scripture out of context and twist it to suit our preferences then we become like Hymenaeus and Philetus, two early Church members who taught that the resurrection was already passed. Their teachings – much like the teachings of the so called “Prosperity Preachers” of our day,

Oral Roberts
Joel Osteen
Bruce Wilkinson
Zig Ziglar

eventually lead to the overthrowing of the faith of some. I was in a Church years ago when a guest speaker said “If you can raise you hand, you can be saved.” Not contented to stay there this false prophet went on to say, “If you want to be saved, raise your hand”. He then pronounced the entire room saved.

This is blasphemy!

He never preached at my Church again.
On another front, popular speaker Joel Osteen said:

God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.”

So what’s wrong with this? Frankly, it deceives and discourages. The person who remains in poverty or homeless, though he names and claims this “blessing” and does not receive it, begins to feel that God does not care for him. That person hearing profane and vain babblings {which} increase unto more ungodliness never hears the glorious Gospel of salvation. That person is likely to walk away from God, and die in their sins. Does God “want us to prosper financially”? If He does, then NOTHING can stand against the will of God.

NOTHING can thwart the Will of God!

Job 42:2 I know that Thou {O Lord} canst DO EVERY THING, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”

Isaiah 14:27 For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out,
and WHO SHALL TURN IT BACK
?”

God will avenge His people. We are not to do so. Beloved, every life has value. Every life is precious. Even that tiny baby yet residing in its mother’s womb. We who belong to Christ have been given life so that we can speak life and love. We are not given life so that we can kill. Let us love. Let us reach out and do as Christ would have us do. Let us be the Light that Christ wants us to be.Our Lord Jesus declared “for with God NOTHING shall be IMPOSSIBLE” (Luke 1:37). If it is God’s decreetive will that every Christian wouldprosper financially, to have plenty of money, then every Christian worldwide would be very well off. Yet this does not happen because the statement is biblically false. Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

Mark 14:7 (Matthew 26:11; John 12:7-8)
ye have the poor with you ALWAYS

And God told His Old Testament Israel:

Deuteronomy 15:11 For the POOR SHALL NEVER CEASE OUT OF THE LAND: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

God allows poverty so that His people can reach out and help. Those who are going to Heaven one day are those who are generous with their giving to the needy. Jesus specifically said this. He said:

Matthew 25:35-45 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

The Sheep who live on the right hand of the Great King/Shepherd Jesus are those who SHINE FOR HIM. God said we would always poor among us. Who should be helping these poor? WE WHO ARE SAVED. The stepbrother of our Lord Jesus declared:

James 2:14-16 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

God allows poverty – even among Christians
– so that we can shine for Him.

1 John 3:16-19 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 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? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

Is it God’s will that all be rich? Absolutely not. It is, instead, God’s will that WE who are HIS mobilize to help those in need as if they were our brothers and sisters. Jesus gave to us, so we are to give to others. We were left on this earth after being “born again of the Spirit”, by faith in Christ Jesus:

1 Peter 1:18-23 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Examining The Mosaic Law Of God

So let’s return to our focal text IN CONTEXT. To whom was it addressed? The Lex Talionis is part of the Mosaic Law, a covenental Law that God gave to His nation Israel. God told Moses

ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt SPEAK UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.” (Exodus 19:6).

God specifically addressed this Levitical Code to His nation Israel. We are told in Leviticus 26:46,

These are the statutes, judgment, and laws, which the LORD made between Him AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL in Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses

The Apostle Paul declared of the Israelites that the “covenants, and the giving of the Law” was to them only (Romans 9:4). The Mosaic Law contained three major divisions:

The Ten Commandments
The Ordinances or Civil and Dietary Laws
The Ceremonial Laws

The Mosaic Law did several things:

  • It taught the holiness of God, and the sinfulness of man.
  • It taught the need of Grace and salvation, that no one could earn righteousness through their own abilities.
  • It led the Jews to realize that all needed a Savior. The blood sacrifices of the Law were only temporary remedies.

Galatians 3:18-26 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

As the Jew followed the ceremonial animal sacrifices year after year, they were constantly reminded that all fall far short of God.

Hebrews 10:1-4 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) are repeated in the New Testament in various ways. These Ten Commandments are often considered universal commandments. Why? Because every person in their hearts knows that murder is wrong. The Bible says:

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Murderers shall go to eternal damnation. Those who commit sexual sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The Apostle Paul quoted many of the Ten Commandments to the Church at Rome, a Gentile body of believers:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Paul expected believers in Christ to fulfill the Ten Commandments – for when we love as God calls us to love, we keep these Commandments (Exodus 20:12-17; Deuteronomy 5:16-21; Matthew 19:18-19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20). The Apostle Paul warned against violating the eighth commandment (Thou shalt not steal – Ephesians 4:28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 13:9), and against the tenth commandment (Thou shalt not covet or be greedy – Ephesians 5:3-5; Romans 13:9), and the general teaching of the New Testament supports the Ten Commandments as universal truths that transcend Israel. However the Blood Sacrifices, ceremonial feasts, and circumcision are specific to Israel alone.

In fact, our text for today is specific to Israel alone – though it does have a contemporary teaching.

Lex Talionis And The Value Of A Life

The Law of Tooth and Claw or the Lex Talionis is a law that God applied to the nation of Israel. God wanted His people – a people from whom He would bring the Messiah – to understand the value of every life.

Exodus 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child ….

This text has often been used by the “Pro-Choice” abortionists to downplay the death of unborn children. Yet that is a terrible twisting of the text. In the previous context of this Israeli statute we are told:

Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

God made man and woman in His image, and in His likeness (Genesis 1:27). All life is valuable. All life! God told Noah when he left the Ark:

Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Life belongs to God, Not to us!

God says all souls are mine (Ezekiel 18:4). None of us earned nor deserved the life we were given. God gives us life as a gift, and we are entrusted to guard that life and to be good stewards of that life until our lease is up. No one has the right to take another person’s life – unless that person is guilty of taking another person’s life. God said:

Exodus 21:14-16 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. 15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. 16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

Life has value. Parents were considered sacred because they were entrusted will raising a young life up to worship the Lord. For a child to attack his parents was to commit a capital offense. Life is so very valuable. All life belongs to God.

So now we come to two men struggling with one another. In their battle they inadvertently “hurt a woman with child”. They did not intend this action. The Scripture said:

Exodus 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow

The literal Hebrew says “her child or offspring (יֶלֶד yeled, yeh’-led) be born” and “no injury occur” – that is, the woman has a premature birth and neither her nor the child are injured, then:

Exodus 21:22… he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

A fine is levied on the offenders by the husband for the unnecessary suffering inflicted. However, the Law continues:

Exodus 21:23 … And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life ….

The Lex Talionis demands that the death of the mother or of the child be punished by death. The Lex Talionis was not a Law in Israel that gave every person the right to avenge themselves. It was a Law that recognized the value of all life. It stated:

Exodus 21:23-25 … And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

This Law established a limit on what could be done to an offender, and required that punishment in kind be administered among the Children of Israel. This Law was an Israeli Statute, and never applied to the Gentiles.

However it does show us something that we can apply to our contemporary America.

God does not support nor honor the death of children, even the unborn.
The taking of a child’s life was punished by death in Israel.

There are numerous places in the Scripture where the fetus is considered a real human being (Psalm 51:5; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15). The Lex Talionis was not a blanket statement to support feuding. In fact, the Bible specifically forbids vengeance in both Old and New Testaments:

Deuteronomy 32:35 To Me belongeth vengeance and recompense;..

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.

Proverbs 24:17-19 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;

Romans 12:17-19 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Luke 6:27-29 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

God will avenge His people. We are not to do so. Beloved, every life has value. Every life is precious. Even that tiny baby yet residing in its mother’s womb. We who belong to Christ have been given life so that we can speak life and love. We are not given life so that we can kill. Let us love. Let us reach out and do as Christ would have us do. Let us be the Light that Christ wants us to be.

May God the Holy Spirit guide you as you feed upon His Word!. Amen!

Posted in Exodus, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Jesus, The Fulfiller Of The Law

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Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Is The Fulfiller Of The Law

As Jesus speaks from the mountain to His Church He now addresses “The Law”. Our Lord is speaking of the Mosaic Law, the Law that God gave to Moses for Israel from Mount Sinai. As Messiah and the One Mediator between God and Man:

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

It is Jesus’ responsibility as God’s Representative to “fulfill” (πληρόω plēróō, pronounced play-ro’-o), but NOT “destroy” (καταλύω katalýō, pronounced kat-al-oo’-o) the Law of God. Over the years the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees have stood in the place of mediator, telling Israel “when God said this what He really meant was that“. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees took God’s Law and twisted it, presenting it to the people in their image. As Jesus speaks from the mountain He says:

“I have not come as Messiah to dissolve or destroy God’s Law. I have come to (plēróō) “fill it up to the brim”, to give you not a humanist interpretation of God’s Word, but to tell you what the Godhead is saying.”

It is important that every person understand the Laws of the country they are inhabiting. The Law of any country

establishes standards
maintains order
protects the liberties and rights of citizens
and punishes offenders

Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The Law was not redefined by any human teacher, whether liberal or conservative. Jesus said not one jot or tittle shall pass from the Law till all be fulfilled. The Law was written in the Hebrew language. The jot is the tenth and smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and it looks much like an apostrophe. The tittle is a tiny extension of a pen stroke, the addition of which changes the letter into another letter. What Jesus is saying is that not one tiny bit of the Law will cease. The Law of God must be fulfilled – and Jesus is the fulfiller. Jesus said:

Luke 16:16-17 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

God told the Old Covenant believer:

Deuteronomy 6:1-7 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

The Jew was expected to DO the Law, not to redefine it.

But over time religion took God’s Law and twisted it, making it into that which God never intended. Jesus said the Law was until John the Baptist – the redefined Law of the religious leaders. That old redefined Law is no more. Christ now comes to fulfill – to give the most clear and truthful presentation of the Law – a Word from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Why Did God Establish The Law?
Was Anyone Ever Saved By Keeping The Law?

God gave the Law to Israel at Mount Sinai specifically because they would not follow Him by faith and love. God loved Israel and rescued Israel

Israel the nation actually began when a man named Abraham believed God – and God counted this for righteousness:

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

There was no written Mosaic Law to follow when God saved Abraham (see Genesis 15:6). A person is saved not by keeping the Mosaic Law, but by believing in and surrendering to The God of Heaven. The Apostle says:

Galatians 3:6-8 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

It was God’s intention from the beginning of time to save whosoever would believe in Him. No one is saved by keeping any Law. The Apostle Paul in quoting Habakkuk 2:4 said:

Galatians 3:9-14 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The Law was given to an Israel who had hardened their hearts to the leading of God. The Law was given as a mirror to show us that we are sinners. The Law was given to convict us that we needed a Savior. Now the Savior has come. The Savior is speaking from the mountain. He is not erasing the Law, but He is fulfilling it.

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Law spoke to the Jewish nation declaring “You all need the Messiah, the Savior”. Rather than hear the message the scribes and Pharisees used the Law as a means toward salvation. They redefined the Law, but did not see Christ in the Law. The Law, with it’s animal sacrifices and circumcisions, reminded Israel daily that the nation as a whole needed the Messiah, the Christ.

Religion took the true nature of the Law
and remade it into man’s image.
Pharisees missed the point of the Law.

The Law said “You are a sinner”.
The Law said, “God loves you”.
The Law said, “You need a Savior, and God is sending One”.

When Jesus healed a crippled man at the pool of Bethesda, saying:

“Rise, take up thy bed, and walk”
(John 5:8)

Did the Pharisees praise God the Son for this wonderful miracle? No. They told the healed man:

It is the Sabbath day: It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed!”
(John 5:10)

When a man with a withered hand needed to be healed, were the Pharisees pleased that Jesus healed him? No, for the Scripture says:

“{The Pharisees} watched {Jesus}, whether he would heal {the crippled man} on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.”
(Mark 3:2)

When a woman with a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years comes to Jesus while He was teaching in the Synagogue, Jesus:

Luke 13:12-14 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

This poor woman was relieved of her suffering. God was glorified. The Messiah was revealed. And the Pharisee was indignant because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 7:22-24 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Religion made the Law of God into a cold, heartless thing. The Law was given by a Loving God to a people that should have loved Him and one another. The heart of the Law of Moses is love to God, and love to others. The Apostle said:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Our Jesus Fulfills The Law Of God

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

  • How does Jesus fulfill the Law? The animal sacrifices provided a teaching and a temporary atonement for sin. When Jesus came:

Hebrews 9:11-15 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The Old Testament believer under the Law had to sacrifice an animal “without spot or blemish” to cover his or her sins. This was a shadow of the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He came to this earth to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). Jesus fulfilled the sacrifices of the Law in Himself. We who believe in Him have our sins covered so that we can, with clear consciences, serve the Living God.

  • How does Jesus fulfill the Law? The Jew had a High Priest who made sacrifices for them. But Jesus fulfilled the Law in that He is our High Priest forever:

Hebrews 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

The High Priests of Israel were sinners – as you and I are. But Jesus Christ is no sinner. He is God incarnate, the Son of God Who ever lives before the Father, representing us as His people.

  • How does Jesus fulfill the Law? The Mosaic Law had food laws that set Israel apart from the other nations, clean and unclean foods. The Bible says that with Christ coming these Laws are no more:

Mark 7:18-23 {Jesus} saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Are You Under The Law Of Christ
Or The Law Of God?

Our Lord Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Law. However, this does not make the Christian lawless. We are under the Law of Christ, a law based on love. We are to love one another as Christ loves us. The Apostle said:

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

We who are saved are under the law of liberty. We are to obey God, to love God with all that we have, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

James 2:8-13 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

We who are born again by faith in Christ follow the leading of the Holy Spirit of God and love. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Beloved, you are either the Law of Moses or under the Law of Christ. If you are living your lives under the Law of Moses you will never see God. If you are living your life under the Law of Christ then you too, just as Abraham, will one day be with Christ in eternity.

Salvation is of the Lord.

Salvation is not of my works, but of Him Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Oh Beloved, if you are not loving as Christ demands, then you are not saved. But if He has saved you by His love, then He has planted love for God and love for others in your hearts. This is the proof of salvation. May we all have a real, saving faith in Jesus Christ our Lord!

In His name and for His glory. Amen!

Posted in Luke, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Being Salt And Light (Red Letters Series #5)

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Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

As God the Son sits on the mountain, His disciples sit at His feet. Jesus tells those who follow Him that they must be salt and light to this present world. As Jesus says this, He establishes Himself both as Lord and God over His people. Salt and light have one thing in common:

Salt and Light exist to be USED.
And as salt and light are use, they are sacrificed for others.

Salt Exists To Serve

The world exists to serve itself, and the lost person continually seeks his or her own blessing. American society is driven by a “me first” attitude. Sadly, many Churches have succumbed to this mentality. Billy Graham once wrote:

Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer. Then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. “

We as Christ’s Church are not to live to suit ourselves, but we are to live so as to honor and glorify the God Who saved us. There is nothing more useless than salt that cannot be used. One of the earliest uses of the word “salt” in the Scripture is found in the Book of Genesis. Abraham and his nephew Lot had so much blessing from God that their herdsmen began to fight among themselves (Genesis 13:7). So Abraham, that blessed believer in Christ (John 8:58), decided to be salt.

Abraham was the elder of the two.
He could have sent Lot away, and Lot would have had to go.

So Abraham told Lot:

Genesis 13:9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Lot looked at the land with his eyes, and saw the land toward Sodom and Gomorrah was the most beautiful (Genesis 13:10-11). Now please consider this: Lot was a saved individual. The Scripture names him as “righteous Lot” in the Book of 2 Peter:

2 Peter 2:4-9 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Lot is a “righteous” man according to the Scripture. Yet Lot is not living as salt should live. He chose the direction of Sodom to take his family, choosing based not on the glory of God but his own self interest. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom daily:

Genesis 19:1 … there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom…

Every great city in the ancient world was walled round about, and guarded by towers and watchmen. At night the gate(s) of the city would be closed, and none would be allowed to enter. They were the original “gated communities”! When the sun rose the gates of the city would be open, and merchants along with powerful people would go to the gates to do business. Every traveling salesman would stop at the gates of the city to deal with the “movers and shakers”. Lot was such a person. He sat in the gate. He was in a place to be influential, to be salt to his community.

Yet Lot failed at being salt.
He compromised with the decay.
He became a man pleaser, and ceased to please God.

God sent two angels to retrieve Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah before the cities were destroyed. Abraham loved the Lord, and God forewarned Abraham that Sodom would be destroyed. So Abraham prayed for Lot. He prayed until God promised to take Lot and his family out of Sodom. Though God would take Lot and his family out of Sodom, it would be harder to take SODOM OUT OF LOT AND HIS FAMILY. Our Lord warned us:

Luke 14:33-35 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Lot had spent very little time living his life so as to please his Savior. Lot sat in the gate daily, and could have made a difference. Yet he did not. He stayed silent, unsalty, and men cast it out! If you live your lives to please people and not to please God then the darkness grows. Sadly, if you fail to stand for Jesus, in time you will fall for the world.

God calls His people to be “living sacrifices”. We read:

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Lot was supposed to be a “living sacrifice”.
Abraham was a “living sacrifice”.
You are called to be a “living sacrifice”.
Are you?

When God established the sacrificial system for Israel the Lord told His people:

Leviticus 2:11-13 No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire. … 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.

The sacrifice was not to be burned with leaven (which is symbolic of sin). The sacrifice was also to be offered with salt. Why was that? Was it because God somehow ate the offering, and needed it salted like we need our food salted? No! It was to teach the children of Israel the message that Jesus is teaching the Church today.

If you belong to God, you are to be a Living Sacrifice.
You are to in a salt covenant with God.
You are God’s salt on this earth.
Wherever God places you or allows you to go, you are to stand for Him.

Lot did not do this. He compromised his faith. Though he was called “righteous Lot” he was not visibly representing the Lord Who saved him. As a result Sodom was going to be destroyed. When these angels went with Lot to his home the men of the city decided to try and sexually assault the angels (Genesis 19:4-5). In Genesis 19:5 the text literally states these Sodomites demanded of Lot, saying:

Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may “know” them.”

The word “know” is the Hebrew יָדַע yâdaʻ, (pronounced yaw-dah’). Here it is used liked it is used in:

Genesis 4:1 … Adam knew yâdaʻ, (pronounced yaw-dah’) Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

The Sodomites wanted to sexually “know” these angels. Rather than declare this to be sinful and inappropriate behavior Lot suggested an alternative:

Genesis 19:6-8 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Notice Lot’s decline. He first of all addressed these men as “brethren”. He had so compromised his faith – his saltiness – that he had been accepting these poor lost souls as if they were righteous. The Bible says:

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Salt is a PRESERVATIVE. Society is PRESERVED when God’s people stand up and lovingly address evil. We must share our faith in Christ. We must stand against the tide of darkness and sin, presenting the Lord Jesus as:

John 14:6 … the way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father (nor can be a brother of ours) BUT BY JESUS!

How horrible the treason that compromises the faith. How horrible the father who will allow his daughters – the children of his wife – to be offered as molested things rather than stand with God against evil. Though Lot was “righteous” by faith in God, he had lost his saltiness.

And Lot paid the price.

The Bible tells us that as the angels took Lot and his family from Sodom prior to its destruction:

Genesis 19:26 {Lot’s wife} wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Lot lost his wife because he was not salt. He lost his daughters to sexual sin because he was not salt. Beloved, we must be salt. Jesus said:

Mark 9:50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

Believers in Christ maintain their saltiness by fellowship one with another. We exhort one another to be salt, and stand together against the unsaltiness of the world.

Hebrews 3:12-15 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Light Exists To Shine

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Jesus doesn’t say that we are to try to be the light of the world. Jesus says you ARE the light of the world. We are to be like Jesus. Jesus said:

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus was the Light of the world. He did as the Father asked Him to do. He was forever doing “My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). He is light. If we follow Jesus, we are to be light. We are not to be like the world, nor like the self righteous Pharisee, but LIKE JESUS. The Scripture says:

Philippians 2:12-16 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

We who are genuinely saved are NOT to be in the darkness of this world. We are to be Christ’s lights. We are to shine in the darkness. God gave us life and light so that we can share His Gospel and His love with a darkened world. We do not compromise with sin nor the darkness. The Scripture says:

1 John 1:4-9 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The Christian does not normalize sin, but confesses it to God. We place any and all sin in our lives under the Blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. We reject sin as darkness, incompatible to God’s nature. We cannot walk with God and walk with sin. We cannot live in Jesus and live for the devil, too.

Did you notice that – in the story of Abraham, Lot, and Sodom’s destruction that God never came to Lot to discuss the pending judgment. God came to Abraham, a man who was salt and light. Had Abraham not interceded for Lot I suspect Lot would have died with all of Sodom. What a tragedy it is that any Christian could die under the hand of God’s judgment. But Beloved – it can happen.

The wages of sin is death. Sin is defined by the Bible, not by humanity. Sin has no place in the believer’s life. We are to be distinctly Christian, so much so that the darkness can clearly see who we are.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Christian, Shine! Shine for Jesus!

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit.

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,