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Love Your Enemies, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 31, 2024 3:00 am

Love Your Enemies, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat.

And if he be thirsty, give him water to drink. Beloved, can I say this to you? Your enemy is your neighbor. That's what the Old Testament teaches. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. The average American would probably say that freedom basically means being able to do whatever you want. And most likely, that same average American would not list loving his enemies as something he'd ever want to do. You can see then how that kind of love, loving those you don't want to, would set a person apart. John MacArthur shows you why you need to stand out in how and whom you love. And he looks at what it takes to experience God's blessing in all your relationships.

The title of our series, Love No Matter What. And now with a lesson, here's John. Matthew chapter 5, and we are examining verses 43 to 48. Matthew presents Jesus Christ as King. Matthew's purpose then in all of the pages and chapters and verses of his gospel is to present the kingliness of Christ. If he is a king, then what are the rules of his kingdom?

What is the manifesto of the monarch? What are the standards by which those in his kingdom live? And we have the incomparable Sermon on the Mount presenting those very standards. And the key note that I wanted you to remember all through this is that the standards of the kingdom of Christ are not the standards of the world. In fact, Jesus sets them in contrast with the system of his day. He shows how inferior Judaism is to the true standards of his kingdom. And we've already talked about the fact that the Jewish people had taken the divine standards of God and lowered them to their own level and then by keeping their substandard rules identified themselves as righteous with a righteousness they themselves had invented.

In other words, they lowered the standard and accommodated themselves to it. Jesus comes and lifts it back again. He doesn't change the Old Testament.

He doesn't set it aside. He reaffirms it and says, your standard is here, God's is up here. And He's done it by a series of six contrasts. He contrasted first of all in verse 21 and following their view of murder with His, then their view of adultery with His, their view of divorce with His, their view of swearing with His, their view of retaliation with His, and finally their view of love with His. And here we are at the apex really, people, because the Apostle Paul was exactly right under the inspiration of the Spirit when he said, the greatest thing is love. And Jesus saves this for the ultimate contrast. Jesus saves this for the final statement, that the epitome of the disparity between the standards of His kingdom and the standards of His day can be seen in the difference between the nature of loves of the two.

That's the final contrast. Yours, verse 43, you have heard that it has been said, which is simply an introduction to those rabbinical teachings passed down to them. Your system has said, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy, but I say unto you, love your enemies. Now you see there the disparity, don't you, between a low-level substandard religious ethic and that which is God's. Let's go back and review very briefly the tradition of the Jews.

Verse 43, it all starts out, good, thou shalt love thy neighbor. That sounds good and that's always the way it is with any system that wants to infiltrate the truth. Any system that wants to become a substitute for the truth must contain a portion of the truth. Therein lies the deceit. Therein lies the subtlety. That's why we find in Ephesians 4 that spiritual babes are tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Because whenever there is an encroachment upon the truth by Satan, he invariably wants to maintain something of that truth to provide a common ground to lead people into the perversion. And so it all starts out so well, thou shalt love thy neighbor.

But as I told you, there are two problems. They left out something and they added something. They left out thou shalt love thy neighbor, what's the rest of it?

As thyself. And they added, and hate thine enemy. They left out as thyself because of pride and they added hate thine enemy because of prejudice. They didn't feel they wanted to love anybody as themselves.

And they wanted the right to be justified in their vitriolic hatred toward everybody who wasn't a part of their little group. So conveniently they dropped something and conveniently they added something and thus they came up with a perversion of God's standard. And that's precisely what Jesus attacks. And what Jesus is saying to these Pharisees and scribes and those who agreed with the system is that your system, no matter how intellectually convinced you are, your system is inadequate to redeem you. You are not God's people.

You have not met the standard. You are sinners. And consequently He offers Himself as the Savior, knowing full well that no one comes to a Savior that He does not know He needs. And so really it's a message about sin. They thought that because they didn't murder, they weren't sinful. They thought that because they didn't commit adultery under their definition, they weren't sinful. They thought because they divorced and made sure they did the paperwork, they weren't sinful. They thought that because when they swore by the name of God they kept their word, they were okay.

And they thought because they retaliated equivalently that they were all right. But Jesus says you've missed the point. If you hate somebody, that's as good as murder. If you look on somebody, that's the same as adultery. If you divorce for non-biblical grounds, that's evil. And if you don't keep your word, no matter what you swear by, you've sinned.

And so He undercuts their whole security. And here He says, you think you love and what you love is everybody in your little group that agrees with you. And then you have license to hate everybody else.

And you're not even willing to love the ones you love the way you love yourself, which leaves room for your self-indulgent pride. That's the Jewish tradition. Now we move from that to the second point that we're looking at, and that is the teaching of the Old Testament. From the tradition of the Jews, we see implied behind us the teaching of the Old Testament. What did the Old Testament teach? Did the Old Testament say anywhere hate your enemy? No. Did it say love your neighbor? Yes. Well, what is the sum of the teaching of the Old Testament?

Well, we kind of got started in it last time. Let me just remind you of this. There is a statement in the Psalms in Psalm 139 where David says, I hated them with a perfect hatred. That is the only justifiable hatred in the Bible. That is the only justifiable reaction to an enemy in the Bible. And it is based upon the same heart attitude, the same mentality as Psalm 69, 9 where David says, the reproaches that have fallen on you have fallen on me.

Zeal for your house has eaten me up. For example, the Bible says it is wrong to be angry, but there is such a thing as righteous indignation. True? Jesus said we are not to be angry with one another, and yet Jesus made a whip. What's the difference? Jesus never got angry with people who personally offended him, but Jesus got angry with those who defiled the glory of God. We have the right to react in indignation when God is dishonored, but not to react in retaliation over personal injury. Now the same thing is true in regard to this kind of thing with our enemies, with hatred. We should have a perfect or a righteous hatred for those who are the enemies of God. And David said, I hate them with a perfect hatred.

And right after that, do you remember what he said? And God, he said, search my heart, try me and know me, know my thoughts, that there is no wicked way in me. In other words, God, I hate them with a perfect hatred. And if you search my heart, you will know that my motive is your glory, not my own personal injury. There is a place for that.

There is a place for zeal for the holiness of God and the sacredness of His truth and His person. And the Old Testament will tolerate that, but it will not tolerate any kind of evil attack, any kind of bitterness or anger or resentment or hostility towards someone who brings against us a personal injury. We have no place for personal hatred out of pride or prejudice, no matter what has been done to us. You see, the Jews define neighbor in a very narrow way, but the Bible defined it in a very big way. The word neighbor is the issue.

The Jews said, neighbor is the one who believes the way we believe. And you remember I told you how they cursed the rabble mob who didn't know the law. And they despised the ignorant Galileans who were they from that isolated place. It was just their little group. But hate your enemy never came from God's truth in the Old Testament. They put it as an accommodation to their pride and prejudice. What did the Old Testament really teach about loving your neighbor?

How broad is that term? Let me show you. Look with me at Deuteronomy 22. Deuteronomy 22. We're going to spend a few minutes in the Old Testament because I want you to see that God hasn't changed His perspective. Deuteronomy 22.

Now here we're dealing with some of the Levitical law, some of the codes for Israel's behavior, and this is a very practical and simple one. Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray and withhold thy help from them. Thou shalt in any case bring them again to thy brother. In other words, if your brother has an animal that gets loose and goes astray, you want to immediately come to assist. The point being, you meet another person's need, all right? Verse 2, if your brother be not near unto thee or if thou know him not. Maybe it's somebody you don't even know.

You don't have any idea who it is. And you shall bring it then to your house and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it and thou shalt restore it to him again. Let's say you find a stray couple of sheep or an ox somewhere and you really don't know to whom it belongs at all. You take it, feed it, care for it as long as it's necessary. Be sure you do that until the person comes and says, say, I lost a couple.

I've got them right here. And then you take them and give them back. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass and so shalt thou do with his raiment if he loses his cloak. And with every lost thing of thy brothers which he hath lost and thou hast found. Now that's the general principle about lost and found. When somebody loses it, you don't own it because you found it. You just keep it until he comes to get it. And then you give it to him.

Now notice that this is meeting somebody else's need. Verse 4, thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox, fall down by the way and withhold thy help from them. Thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again. Sometimes the burden would become heavy, the animal would become tired and he'd just fall down. Well, one fell would have a little tough time getting that animal back up again and so you were to come to his help. Now you say, well what does this have to do with anything?

It's talking about your brother here. All right, turn to Exodus chapter 23 and we go even earlier in the writing of Moses and we see the same principle in Exodus 23 verse 4, only this time it takes on a completely different identification. Exodus 23 verse 4, if thou meet thine enemy's ox, you say, uh-huh, there's my enemy's ox. Loose, or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. Now notice, same exact principle as Deuteronomy 22.

Only Deuteronomy 22 used what term for the individual? Brother. How big a term is brother?

How big a term is it? The syllogism of this simply says that brother has to include what? Enemy.

That's the point. Verse 5, if thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under its burden and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. Somebody who hates you and his animal falls down, the normal reaction is, serves you right, buddy.

Hope your animal dies and you've got to put the whole load on your wife. You know, that retaliatory spirit. He says, no, you go and help. Even if it's your enemy. In other words, the standard never changes. The term brother is big enough to include whoever happens to have a need. You see the point? That's where we determine the meaning of neighbor. Neighbor is as big as need, that's all.

And when the Bible says love your neighbor, it simply widens up the whole thing, as Psalms tells us, the commandment of God is very broad, to encompass anybody who has a need no matter how they feel about you. That's the issue. Now we're not talking about nation against nation in war. We're not talking about a criminal justice process.

We're talking about the day-to-day routine of human relationships. Look further with me, will you, at Job 31. Job 31, verse 29. And Job has some people telling him that he's a sinner. He has some diseases and some problems in his life and he is really being used by God as an illustration. He hasn't really done any sinful thing to bring this upon him, but all of his counselors think he has and so they're forever telling him that he's a sinner.

He says, and here's his illustration. If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me or lifted up myself when evil found him, in other words, boy, I had a great time. I just loved it when he fell into evil. The implication is if I did that, then I would have sinned. I mean you'd have a right to accuse me if I had ever rejoiced at the destruction of somebody that hated me. Now that touches a nerve of human behavior because when there is somebody who is your enemy and they fall into problems, the first reaction is that you love it. You just love it.

And the worse the problem, the better you like it. That's human nature. Job says, but I didn't do that or I would have sinned. Neither have I suffered, verse 30, my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul. I've never allowed out of my mouth any evil thought toward someone. And boy, we do that a lot, a lot with our epithets and our curses and our condemnations.

Job says, I didn't do that either. I never rejoiced when they fell into calamity. I never wished them evil. Verse 31, if the men of my tent said not all that we had of his flesh, we cannot be satisfied. In other words, we've never longed for the flesh of an enemy. We've never been dissatisfied enough to want more injury or harm to come to someone.

No. You see, the attitude of Job, and by the way, Job was in the patriarchal period, so this really takes you clear back to the earliest years of God's dealing with man. And the attitude from the very start was one of love and forgiveness, not wishing evil even on an enemy. Go further with me into Psalm chapter 7, the seventh Psalm, verse 3. And David, in a sense, is praying a similar prayer. O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there be iniquity in my hands... What kind of iniquity, David? If I have rewarded evil unto him who was at peace with me... In other words, if I was unkind to my friend, yea, I have delivered him who without cause is my enemy. In other words, if I have sinned by being evil to one who was good, or if I have sinned by being evil to one who was evil to me... David really pinpoints two things. It's wrong to be evil toward those that are good to you. It's even wrong to be evil toward those that are evil to you. If I have done that, he says, let the enemy persecute my soul and take it.

Let him tread down my life on the earth and lay my honor in the dust. He's justifying himself to God here and he's saying, God, I've looked at my heart and I have never given back evil for good and I have not given back evil for evil either. You see, the Old Testament never justifies hating an enemy. That's a sin. Job recognized it as a sin and so did David. In the 35th Psalm, so that you'll understand further what God's heart is on this, verse 12, David says of his enemies, they rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. In other words, it hurt me on the inside. They gave me back evil for good, my enemies did.

But as for look, here's a righteous man. When they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth. Now what did sackcloth speak of? Well, it spoke of remorse and sorrow and mourning, didn't it? When a Jew put on sackcloth and ashes, he was in mourning. He says, when I was good to them, they were cruel to me, but when evil fell upon them, I mourned over them.

My heart broke over them. This is the Spirit of Jesus who hangs on the cross and looks at those who spit on Him and says, Father what? Forgive them, they know not what they do. This is the heart of Stephen who lays beneath the bloody stones that are crushing the life out of his body and cries out to God, lay not this sin to their charge. This is the magnanimous, unbelievable, supernatural forgiveness that comes here from the heart of David who has been given evil for good and yet when his enemies suffer, his clothing is sackcloth. And he says, I humbled my soul with fasting and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. In other words, David says, I fasted and I mourned and I prayed for my enemies when they fell into calamity. Verse 14, I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother.

Notice that? And here David brings together in our thoughts Deuteronomy 22 and Exodus 23, and he says, my enemy is my brother. My enemy is to be my friend, at least in that sense. I bowed down heavily as one who mourneth for his mother.

Now I'll tell you something, people. When a man can weep over his enemy like he weeps over his mother in calamity, he has learned a dimension of love that is far beyond the human level. And that's the teaching of the Old Testament. In my adversity, verse 15, they rejoiced and they gathered themselves together. They had a party and they tore at me and they ceased not. They gnashed upon me with their teeth, but that was never my heart toward them.

Oh, this is such a basic truth. Look at Proverbs for a moment, 17.5. In Proverbs 17.5 it says this, Who so mocketh the poor reproacheth his maker? And he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished. When you rejoice over evil fallen on someone, you'll not be unpunished. That is a sin, even though that person be an enemy. Proverbs 24, 29. Say not, this is the command, Say not, I will do so to him as he has done to me. As he hath done to me.

Don't say that. Don't be a retaliatory person. Don't strike back at your enemy. That's the opposite of what we know as the golden rule. And then finally in Proverbs 25, 21, I think we find the sum of it all. Proverbs 25, 21. Listen carefully. Very simple, very profound. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat.

And if he be thirsty, give him water to drink. Beloved, can I say this to you? Your enemy is your neighbor.

That's what the Old Testament teaches. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. And John's lesson today on loving your enemies is part of his series titled, Love No Matter What. Now, these lessons, I'm sure, are giving our listeners a lot of help, solid direction for dealing with enemies. But John, what about when the person causing problems doesn't really rise to the level of enemy? Difficult people, not enemies, but people like that that fill our neighborhoods and schools and jobs, even our church families. John MacArthur Yeah, I've known a few like that at the church. I've known a few like that down the hall in ministry, and I've certainly lived next door to some people that were anything but good neighbors. Obviously, the responsibility that we have toward difficult people becomes the test of our, I guess you could say, the test of our gospel compassion. It's pretty easy, especially when you think about a neighbor or somebody that's in your life, because the irritation doesn't go away.

I mean, you can have somebody get in front of you in traffic and act in a stupid way and endanger your life, and that happened once from that guy. But when the guy lives next to you or sits next to you or is a thorn in your flesh from the vantage point of the fact that he's the chairman of the deacon board in the church or he happens to be in your family because he married one of your kids, that makes the challenge all the more difficult. But therein, honestly, lies the real test of our love, and I think that's what you find in the words of our Lord where he says to Peter, forgive 70 times seven. There are very few people in your life that you will ever have to forgive that many times. But when there are people in your life that you have to forgive that many times, then you have to forgive them that many times.

I think there are people that I could forgive five or six times, and that might be – I might need some divine intervention to get to the seventh and let alone the – Dr. Gerry Breshears You've forgiven me at least that many times. Dr. George Koob Yeah, so I think we need to understand that we're called to give the world what Christ gave the world and what God gave the world, and that is love and to proclaim the glorious gospel. I want to mention a book today that might help you with those problem people. The title of the book is Anxious for Nothing.

This is a best-selling book, has been for decades in our ministry. Again, the title Anxious for Nothing. It helps you to deal with problem people. It helps you to deal with the anxieties that they can create. I kind of present that there are five categories of problem people that you're going to face – the wayward, the weak, the wicked, the worried, and the worrisome. And learning how to come alongside to help those people and to help yourself to help those people is really important. So I'd love to have you get a copy of Anxious for Nothing. There are all kinds of insights into replacing worry with loving compassion. And this is something of a classic book, by the way.

We know it's been helpful because it's proven that over the decades. So we want to send you a free copy of Anxious for Nothing just for contacting us for the first time, limited to those who have never contacted us before. Do it today.

That's right, friend. If you know someone who battles anxiety from dealing with difficult people, Anxious for Nothing supplies answers and encouragement from God's Word. To get your copy of this classic book called Anxious for Nothing, contact us today. And again, the book is free if you're contacting us for the first time. Call us at 800-55-GRACE or request your copy when you write to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.

You can also email your request to letters at Again, Anxious for Nothing is free if you're calling or writing us for the first time. If you have contacted us before, the book costs $10.50 and shipping is free. To order your copy, call 800-55-GRACE or go to our website I also encourage you to check out the series of articles on the subject of anxiety at the Grace to You blog.

That series is titled Attacking Anxiety, and it contains practical insight on how to defeat anxious thoughts and how to experience true peace. And while you're at our website, remember you can download any of John's lessons for free. There are 3600 total sermons available, MP3s and transcripts, including those from John's current study, Love No Matter What. Our web address again, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Remember to watch Grace to You television Sundays on DirecTV channel 378, and be back tomorrow for another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 13:01:20 / 2024-02-21 13:11:53 / 11

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