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This sermon was preached by Pastor Davis

Love Your Enemies

March 13, 2011

I  Introduction

1. The Christian life, as we are fond of pointing out, is more than just a change of destination. It is a change of behaviour. It is a change of loyalties. People brought to faith in Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are called to live in ways that those not so indwelt are able to live.

a. This is what Galatians 5:22-23 is about … .

b. See this in Colossians 3:1 – Since you have been raised with Christ… .

c. See it in Ephesians 4:1 – walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called – a calling that is from before the foundations of the world, which was purchased for you by the eternal Son of God, … so be united, … .

d. See it in Romans 12:1 – In view of God’s mercy … .

2. Where all this takes us this morning is here: the difficult calling of the child of God, as difficult as it is – is attainable for the one who has God the Holy Spirit living in him/her to bring him/her to victory. God does not give us the instructions He gives us to frustrate us. He calls us to a great calling and He equips us to do as He instructs. The kind of living we see commanded in these texts is a powerful work of the Holy Spirit. We have let slip into our thinking that the Holy Spirit’s work is to give us spectacular gifts and miracles and signs and wonders. Perhaps so – but we need to come to realize that the wonder will be when the Christian community lives like Galatians 5:22-23, Colossians 3, Ephesians 4 and Romans 12.

3. We are in a text of Scripture this morning that is one of the most difficult texts of Scripture to come to grips with. I am convinced that the reason it is difficult to come to grips with is because we are so prone to not want to do what it says. We, like the rest of the world, can’t see how it is possible to live in this world and love our enemies the way that Jesus instructs us to in this passage. But dear child of God. Do you believe that God the Holy Spirit is able to bring you to the joyful obedience of the command of Jesus that we find ourselves looking at here? Can He do it? Of course. Does He desire us to live in such a way? Of course. Then why in the world does He not do it? Because we do not want Him to.

4. This topic is one that has very many issues attached to it that could keep us going for a very long time. I don’t think we can possibly cover all the questions and ramifications that this matter raises in our minds and in our daily living. But let me begin here with two things that might help us in our understanding and obedience of this principle.

a. First of all, Jesus here, is not speaking to governments. This instruction is to followers of Jesus and there is no government anywhere that has, as part of its mandate, that it be made up entirely of believers. The Scriptures are clear that the governing authorities are given the task, by God to punish wrong doers (Romans 13:1-7). The state, police agencies, cannot say to law breakers that we turn the other cheek. If there are no consequences to criminal behaviour then there will be no society fit to live in. God has ordained the authorities to do what Jesus, in this text, prohibits individuals to do. It is not disobedient to call the police when your house is broken into. It may be wrong to sue the one who broke in.

b. Second, it is not spoken to churches. Churches also have been given the authority, by God, to discipline its members when they sin and refuse to repent. A church will cease to be a church in the New Testament sense if it uses Luke 8 as justification for doing nothing about the sin in its ranks. Matthew 18 and I Corinthians 5 are clear that churches cannot tolerate unrepentant sin in their ranks.

c. Third, how should we deal with those times that Jesus Himself seemed to have broken the very rule that He set down here?

i. Mark 11:15-17 – And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. [16] And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. [17] And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” – Jesus was angry. He was furious. Sure doesn’t look like doing good to those who hate you does it?

ii. Mark 10:13-14 – And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. [14] But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. – The disciples shooed the children away – why should the Master be bothered with children? And Jesus was furious and he let them know it. That sure isn’t turning the other cheek is it?

iii. Matthew 23:13-36

iv. But then see Him at His trials. He keeps silent. He does not scream for justice or point out the illegalities of his hearings, and there were many illegalities.

v. The difference is that Jesus got angry and took action when He was defending other people. In fact, that is what the cross is. It is an act of intercession for those who are in danger. He is rescuing others BY turning the other cheek and doing good to those who mistreat Him. He is dying for His enemies.

vi. This loving of our enemies never means not getting angry at sin. And it never, never means standing idly by while helpless defenceless people are abused. It means that when YOU are hated and falsely accused … you do not take matters into your own hands and seek justice for yourself.

(1) John MacArthur tells the story of two Mormons who were scheduled to meet a couple of his people. So he went to the home of his members and when the Mormons came he let them have it. This doesn’t mean it is right to abuse Mormons. It simply means that as a pastor he was not violating what Jesus commanded. Good shepherds defend the sheep. Sometimes that means taking the rod and clunking error real good.

(2) It is no good parent who will not defend his children from those who would abuse them. It is no good husband who would not fight to keep his wife from harm.

II  Who are Our Enemies?

1. Let’s start with a little exercise. Do you have any enemies? Think of someone you would consider to be your enemy. Have you thought of someone? Now then – is that person a believer? Then you did not do what I asked you to do. Other believers are not your enemies. One of the ways that we are called to handle such behaviour from the world is to band together and pray for one another, pray with one another, stick together and work together. If we are Galatians 5:15 Christians, we will never do anything for Christ. We are not one another’s enemies.

2. This love for enemies is simply an explanation of who our neighbour is. Neighbours are not only those we get along with, like or agree with. They may be those who oppose us, hate us, misuse us. And even when that is who our neighbours are, we are to love them. See Luke 10:25-37

3. Your enemies, according to Jesus here are those who:

i. Hate you – verse 27

ii. Curse you – 28

iii. Abuse you – 28

iv. Strike you – 29

v. Beg from you – 30

vi. Steal from you – 30

vii. Dear ones, if that is the kind of treatment you get from professing believers then we have a very serious problem in the Christian community. If you are guilty of any of those things toward others then you need to repent before God and go to the other person and say you are sorry – and mean it – for this is not Christian behaviour. If you are enemies of people whose faith is in Christ and wh are trusting Him to save them from their sins, then you are committing a great act of evil wickedness. John the Apostle says you are not a believer at all, no matter what you say or think.

viii. Why would people be like that to you? Because of things you have done to them? Of course not. They would be like that because of the Gospel. They hate you because you follow Jesus Christ. And that’s not right is it? That’s not fair. That’s a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And as soon as we start to think like that we have wandered away from the teaching of this text. Jesus here is talking about how we as believers are to respond to unjust hatred. He is talking about people who hate us for no good cause. See I Peter 4:12-16.

4. So – your enemies are those who oppose you because you embrace and live for Jesus Christ.

a. “But I don’t have enemies as they are described in this verse.” Yes, you do – You do because you have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who suffer today for daring to say they are Christians. And, even if you are not outrightly suffering you do have enemies. You must. The Bible says that all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. This is the truth – so, the only way you will not endure some difficulty because of the Gospel is if you do not live a godly life in their presence.

III  What Does it Mean to Love Our Enemies?

1. The next verse explain what this means. When Jesus says “love your enemies” he is not talking about feeling a certain way about them. He is talking about how we treat them.

2. Verse 27 – To do good to those who hate us

a. Buy from his shop and give him a good tip.

b. Shovel his driveway. Visit him when he’s sick. Pray for him. Tell him you prayed for him. Buy him a gift certificate for some store … . “Pastor, they’ll throw it right back in my face.” Yes, they might. And isn’t that the kind of people Jesus is referring to here?

c. Romans 12:21

3. Verse 28 – To bless those who curse

a. Speak well of him to others – ah dear ones, here is where it gets personal – the gossip. Someone has slandered you, lied about you, lied to you, hurt you … . And what will you say about him when you are in conversation with others? You would never take revenge. You would never think of hurting him physically – but given an audience, you wouldn’t hesitate to tear him to little bits with your words. That, dear ones, is evil. What we are supposed to do is invoke God’s blessing upon them. They have hurt you and scorned you … and so you go to your place of prayer and ask God to bring them to see the wrong they have done and to help you not to harbour hatred toward them. And when their name comes up in conversation you will not malign their reputation anymore than what they do themselves. You will speak well of them as much as possible without telling a lie. See Acts 7:60. This does not mean that you cannot warn them about the wrath that awaits them. It does not mean that you cannot let them know that what they are doing is wrong.

4. Verse 28 – To pray for those who abuse us

a. “I keep praying for you but you keep showing up”. No not that kind of prayer. Pray for their salvation, for their prosperity, that they will change, that they will stop their hatred and abuse and come to saving grace and come to it through you. Pray to love them. Pray to know what good to do for them. And tell them that you pray for them.

b. This does not mean that you can never pray that God take them out of the world …

5. Verse 29 – To turn the other cheek to the one who strikes us

a. To be slapped in the face was a great insult and what Jesus is saying is that when you are insulted, you will not go into hiding. You will remain at your place and be where you are able to be insulted again. You allow yourself to be a laughing stock – if that is what your work etc. require

6. Verse 30 – To give to the one who begs from us

a. Perhaps a borrower

b. This does not teach that you give to the beggar at the expense of your own children or paying the rent … .

c. This says nothing about legitimately refusing to help some people who simply should not receive from you. If a man will not work he should not eat (II Thess. 3:10). What this is teaching is that you must not refuse those who are truly needy simply because he is your enemy. There may be some legitimate reasons to refuse him, but one of them is NOT, that he hates you.

7. Verse 31 – To treat them as we would like them to treat us

a. The Golden Rule. And what Jesus is saying here is that the Golden Rule does not just apply to those we like or are friends with. It applies even to our enemies.

b. We can view this one as the summary of the whole list of what Jesus says here si the picture of loving our enemies.

IV  Why Should We Love Our Enemies?

1. Verse 32 – Any pagan can love their friends

a. This is where we started this morning. We have been made new creatures in Christ. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit so that we can demonstrate the power of God in our lives. Anybody can love those who love them. That does not take the power of God in a person. The difference between people who really know God and those who do not is not just their final destination. Dear ones – show the world that you have had a life changing encounter with the Almighty that has really turned you around. Don’t wait for others to do it first. You show the way.

b. We should love our enemies because we can.

2. Verse 33 – The benefit it brings us

a. Jesus is not saying that if we love our enemies they will love us back. He is saying that you love your enemies even though they hate you and God will credit that as a good work done for Him. He will not forget. Why love your enemies? Because God will not forget your act of obedience. Because you will have the joy of knowing that God is pleased with you. And for the believer there is nothing greater than that. So you have two choices here. You can do as the world and your own inclinations say and get the satisfaction that revenge and hate give to people. Or you can sacrifice now knowing that God smiles on such an act of real Christian love and will not forget.

3. Verse 35 – The reward awaiting us

a. What God has in store for those who love Him cannot be outdone. You want revenge? You refuse not to gossip about the miserable people that enter your life? You will only give to those who can give back? … You have your reward. And it is a very cheap counterfeit reward compared to what God will give you when you finally meet Him. He rewards those who are faithful and obedient. And that should be enough motivation for the Christian. Look up dear ones. Look ahead.

b. Do you really believe that living the Christian life is worth it? Then show it by living like this.

4. Verse 36 – The example before us

a. God loves His enemies. Need an example? Well, there was you … .

i. Romans 5:10 – For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

b. We want them to know the Father.

c. We want this great enemy loving God to be glorified.

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