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139 - Oaths, Revenge and Enemies

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
March 25, 2023 1:00 pm

139 - Oaths, Revenge and Enemies

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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March 25, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 139 - Oaths, Revenge and Enemies (25 Mar 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City


You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, Jesus said, and everybody knows this, you must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Does that make you feel hopeful or defeated? Oh, that's a pretty high standard. I'm not sure I can jump over that bar. Well, no.

How can we do that? What did He mean and what is perfect anyway? And He commanded it. So let's find out today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning.

This is More Than Ink. Welcome to our dining room table. I'm Dorothy. And I'm Jim.

And we're just glad you're here with us today. We are reading our way through Matthew 5, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. And last week we were talking about Jesus begins His commentary on the law by drilling deeper than just external behavior, right?

He says, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you're not getting into the kingdom. And He proceeds to speak like a king with great authority. With great authority, yeah. You've heard it said, but I said...

But I'm telling you. And you have to understand, that was a very unusual speaking thing for someone to do, because normally you would say something and then you would start quoting an endless list of other great thinkers of history and actually rabbis and so and so says, so and so says, so and so says, and that's how you proved your case. But instead of Jesus saying so and so says, He says, I say.

It's very presumptive authority. And they will actually make a comment of that at the end of the Sermon on the Mount saying, I saw authority here, which I haven't heard before. Well, Jesus actually even makes reference to that in a couple of the things we're going to talk about today. And He says, you've heard it said to the ancients of old and the commentaries right? And the commentaries.

They added and so we'll get to that when we get there. So Jesus isn't putting away any of the law. He's saying the law is the law and nothing's going to change in it, not one jot or tittle, everything's going to be the same.

But let's just dig a little deeper here. And we brought up the idea last time that the law is really not just about behavior, but behavior, your behavior does betray the state of your heart. And the issue with the law is the state of your heart.

We talked about having your heart circumcised. So and we also talked about this in terms of as He's defining the law here and expanding the law about the fact that bad behavior like murder, that's the end of a process. The beginning of the process is your heart being wicked and hateful and angry. So when He's talking about exceeding the righteousness, we're talking about this process of sin, where it starts, where it begins and where it ends. The end being your action.

But the begin upstream is a wicked heart. And that's where Jesus is going to dwell today when we talk about the different behavioral aspects of the law. And He has made this audacious comment in five words He said in verse 17, I didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, to walk in complete obedience, both externally and internally, and even fulfill the demands for a sacrifice for sin.

So what good thinking Jew would say, I'm fulfilling the law completely because it's a claim to say, I do the law perfectly too. Right. Well, Paul actually made that claim at one point.

I did it all. So there's some very bold things being said here. And a lot of people who are critics of the Bible, critics of Jesus say, well, I don't mind the fact that He's a good teacher.

Well, okay. You read this, you go, He's more than a good teacher. He's making some very bold claims about authority and how He's saying it. No wonder He attracted an audience. Because even these days, if somebody says something that people regard as outrageous, they start talking about it immediately and then they tune it up and hear some more.

Right? So that's kind of what Jesus was doing here. But I say to you, but I say to you. Let's get on it. Well, let's continue on that.

We went through a bunch. So we're coming into chapter five at verse 33. I guess I'll read for it. Can I read? Yeah, I'll read. So a new portion of the law let's talk about.

So 33. Okay. Again, you've heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn. But I say to you, do not take an oath at all, either by heaven for it's the throne of God or by earth for it's His footstool or by Jerusalem for it's the city of the great King and do not take an oath by your head for you cannot make one hair white or black.

Let what you say be simply yes or no. Anything more than this comes from evil. Huh? This is important. Don't make promises you can't keep. Right. Well, you know, it occurs to me people who add an oath on to making a promise are people who are probably not well known for keeping their word. Well, right, because they have to make some extravagant promise.

Because they've got to attach it to something else because you can't really trust what I say. Oh, no, you know, cross my heart and hope to die. Right. Which is like, may God strike me dead if I don't do this. Well, no, why don't you just do what you say you're going to do? Exactly.

Yeah. And so that's what he's getting to. He's getting to deep issues of integrity in terms of who you are and what you say. Well, how many times do you hear somebody say, well, by God, I swear. I'm like, well, you are not God. Are you calling down the righteousness and faithfulness of God in order to witness to your faithfulness? Yeah, almost like God endorses what I'm going to do. And God does endorse. In fact, there's a hint of this also in the Ten Commandments when he talks about, you know, don't take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Right. You know, so at least the Jews at the time of Jesus knew that if they're going to do something and they had to add an oath to it, you don't swear by God because that seems to violate one of the Ten Commandments.

So they don't do that. But we'll attach something about what he's made. We'll talk about heaven. We'll swear by heaven. We'll swear by earth. We'll swear by Jerusalem. And in another passage, we'll swear by the temple. Yeah, right.

Which God allowed to be torn down stone from stone. So it's like God standing above us making those saying, you know, you don't have any right over these things. Why do you make a promise and then invoke all these things and think in some way that's going to endorse from my throne what you're saying or your ability to carry through in your promise?

No. In fact, you look kind of silly. You look like someone whose word isn't worth anything. So you've got to pull in all these other things that are going to make your word happen.

That's just kind of nutty. So Jesus very clearly at the end says, look, here's my advice to you. Let your yes be yes.

Let your no be no. That's how it's written in other translations. And so just make, you know, and you know people in your life who have great integrity. I mean, what they say is what they do. They're not two different things.

They're not hypocrites in that particular sense. And so when they give you a word about doing something, you know, you just stand there and go, okay, it's going to happen. Well, that's because God's word is concrete and whatever God says becomes reality. Yes. So if we are known as people who are like our Heavenly Father, which is kind of where Jesus is driving. That's what he's getting to. Saying, you know, let God's word dictate reality for you.

You don't need to add anything to it. Right. And so if you are a son of the Father, and which means you're going to exhibit the same traits, same characteristics. And when God speaks, things happen without fail. Well, then when you speak, they should happen without fail, if you are actually a son of the Father.

And the only way we can say that is if something God has already said. Yeah, yeah, that's right. But you know, we live in a world today, as they did in that time, you know, whenever you have fallen people around who they twist and deceive, they'll say one thing and do something else for their own selfish purposes.

And you just get sick and tired of people saying one thing and not carrying through and actually deliberately deceive. Oh, yeah, I'll do this. Trust me, you know, do this.

Well, you know, case in point is when you and now you can do it on any book you choose. But when you go to testify in court, you used to put your hand on the Bible, right? And then swear, I'll know only the truth, right?

And then get in the witness stand and proceed to lie and lie. So, you know, those notes mean can mean nothing. Right, right. So he's saying, let your yes be yes, you know, be no be like God, your father when who when he speaks, things come as a result.

There's a faithful follow through in reality is truth. Yeah. Yeah. So you know, don't take an oath on your head.

You can't make any hair white or black. I mean, we doing? Oh, no, cross my heart and hope to die.

No, no, just let your yes be yes. Anything more than this comes from evil. Well, what is the evil?

That's really fascinating. That's a strong term. Pride is a lifting up of self in the place of God. Yeah, yeah, it's, that's a really strong term.

And that's why when I read this, I think is this a big deal? But he says anything more than that this we're talking evil here. We're talking evil because it really is a claim to Godhood. It is like I'm a buddy with God and I say this and God's gonna back me up on this.

You don't want to do that. That's why and you know, if you keep that in the forefront of your mind, listen to the Listen to the Ten Commandment when I read it. Okay, he says, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Vain means vanity, selfless perspective, for the Lord your Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Right? That's strong.

I'm going to claim the name of God or to be acting in his name and then just do something that serves myself. Yeah, exactly. It's a serious deal. And yet, in our culture, and I think in theirs too, is looked at as like a minor aside. So what? So you deceive a little. I heard someone say one time that to take the name of the Lord in vain is to take God's name and apply it fraudulently to myself. Yeah.

That really stuck with me. Yeah. But also the vain word right there in that Exodus 20 for the Ten Commandments, it means not only selfishly, but it means for purposes that are yours, not God's. Right. That are opposed to God.

If they're your purposes and not God's, then they are opposed to him. Yeah. So it's like that. That's bad. We need to press on.

Okay. Verse 38. You want to read for us? Verse 38. You've heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, which is true.

The scripture says that. But I say to you, do not resist the one who's evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

Give to the one who begs from you and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Ah. So someone does you a harm, let's say.

When we talk about retribution or all that kind of stuff, how do you return that harm? And so he's right. When he's quoting the Old Testament, he's quoting out of Exodus 21. And let me just read it for you.

Yeah, please. If there is harm, then you shall pay life for life. Right.

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. So you suffer harm. And that distinctive line in Exodus 21 is to say, you can't over-retribute. Right. It's a limitation. It's a limitation.

So you can't, if somebody knocks your eye out, you can't go kill them. Exactly. And say that's equal payback. And that was going on in their culture. It's going on in our culture today. That's right. I'm going to escalate this.

You heard me, so I'm going to kill you. It's way out of proportion. And so that's actually a good commandment in Exodus. But it doesn't say that you must take an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. It limits the retribution.

Yeah. So they really took it for a different thing because they saw this as an obligation. If you suffer harm, then you're obligated to return that harm in some kind of way. But Jesus says this is not an obligation. You don't have to return harm for harm.

No. In fact, in these cases he says, don't resist the one who's evil. So we're talking about people who are legitimately doing bad things. To you. To you. Not on behalf of another. He's talking about to you.

To you. And that personal harm is a big deal because if someone was bringing personal harm to like a family member or someone beloved, you would resist. But if they're bringing it to you, you go, eh, right. So he's saying, let's get practical. He says, so if someone slaps you on the right cheek, which by the way, there's a little bit of physiology involved on your right cheek from a right-handed person, it means that they're slapping you with the back of their hand. Right. Which is just an insult. It's just an insult.

That's what we're talking about. So we're not talking about physical combat. We're talking about insult. So if someone insults you grotesquely, well, then let them insult you again by turning your other cheek.

Let them hit the other side as well. So again, it's a choice not to pursue your personal, the personal insults that come from you and bring harm in response to that. And it's interesting too. He says, if anyone, you know, if they want to take your tunic, well give them your cloak. Well, that's a big deal because that was forbidden in the Old Testament.

And I had to go look this up. Oh, to take someone's cloak? Yes.

Yeah. Because and in the particular case in Exodus 22, you're talking about if you give a loan to someone and they give you, they give you a pledge is what they call it. Like I will give this back to you.

They give you something of value. Well, the pledge many times was a cloak. So here's what he says in Exodus 22. If ever you take your neighbor's cloak in pledge, like I'll pay you back here, hold my cloak and I'll give it. Well, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down.

Right. For that's his only covering. And it is his cloak for his body. In what else shall he sleep?

And if he cries out to me, I'll hear, I'll be compassionate. So he's talking about here the fact that this cloak and Jesus is saying here, yeah, give him that thing, which actually could bring you into harm overnight is you sleep out in the cold without it, without a covering without a coat. So it doesn't say that he's paid back the pledge by no by nightfall.

It just says, you know, that's a value and and out of compassion, out of mercy. Right. Right. Not really out of faith. Yeah.

Yeah. And it's, you're asking a lot for someone when you basically take their only way of keep themselves warm at night as a guarantee that they'll pay you back what they exactly. Well, and then after that in 41 he talks about what Roman soldiers would do. You know, if they asked you to carry their equipment, you'd have to do it for a mile. He says, oh, don't just stop with them.

I'll go two miles. And in the process of doing that, you can transfer them what was, what was an obligation where he manipulates you. It's an obligation. You can turn it into an opportunity for a free act of love.

That's what he's talking about. So just go beyond, go beyond and don't refuse those things. And again, this is on a personal context. Right. If someone's harming you, you can choose to do this and turn the situation upside down. So it's not any, any like funny followup that then he moves into loving your enemies.

This is connected. Because he says, now let's read on to verse 43, you've heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Well, God never said that. Yeah. He said, love your neighbor, but he never said hate your enemy.

He did. That's not in there. But I say to you, so that might be a place where the commentators along the way, the rabbis had kind of added that.

Well, if this is true, then that must also be true. Verse 44, but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father who's in heaven. For he makes his son to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?

Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Okay. We'll come back. We'll come back to this.

Hold that thought. So you got enemies in your life, right? And he goes back to Leviticus 19 18 and I'll read it for you. You shall not take vengeance or bear grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

I am the Lord. So it's the gap there. He says, you shall not do it in terms of your own people, in terms of Israelites. So they would say, well, then that means our enemies like the Canaanites. Right. We can abuse them all we want. We can abuse them all we want. Right. And that's just fine. In fact, that's actually part of Islam as well.

You treat the people inside your culture one way and the people outside a completely other contemptible way. But Jesus is saying here, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You don't do that. Because God doesn't do that.

Right. And he makes an excellent argument for how you can prove that God doesn't do that. And he talks about sun and rain, which comes from God.

And we're talking farmers here and they're saying, you know, our productivity, our wealth comes from the sun coming up and from the rain coming on our land. And he asked, does God actually take evil people and withhold the sun and the rain from them? And the answer is no, he doesn't. So in a real pragmatic, observable way, God loves those who are even evil, his enemies, by giving him the productivity of sun and rain.

That's an astonishing thing. He just pours out this gracious gift. He gives. On all mankind, not because they deserve it, because they require it for life.

Exactly. And God is a life giver. And, you know, this makes me think again, because I'm studying Romans. Paul says in Romans five, while we were weak, helpless, useless, while we were his enemies, while we were still sinning, God sent Jesus to purchase our salvation.

While we were still professed rebels. Actively in rejection of God, he loved us so and sent his son. So, you know, Jesus, of course, may have had that in mind, but he doesn't say it here. He just says, be like your heavenly Father who pours out this gracious goodness toward everyone. Toward everyone. Just because it's life giving. And like you said, let your good works give glory to the Father.

When people see you do this, they'll say, man, where did you come from? Well, and how can you respond that way? Yeah. And then it opens the conversation, because God the Father. Because God has been like that with me.

Has been like that toward me. Exactly. And that's our end to a culture that wonders where we come from.

And that becomes very relevant in our day to day lives, right? Rather than throwing the garbage back over the fence that your neighbor threw on your side. And I'm citing a particular example in our neighborhood.

Well, there's that, yeah. But pick it up, put it away, and throw a flower over the fence. Give graciously, because God does. So if you're going to be like your Father, do what he does. Which is, he gives lovingly to those who are professed enemies of his.

That's an astonishing, and that will indeed provoke a little curiosity in people's part. Like, why didn't you strike back? Why didn't you bring retribution? Those people are avowed against you. Don't you know that they're your enemies? Why wouldn't you strike back at them?

What are you doing? Well, God treated me when I was against him and with love. Well, and then Jesus gives them an example that they all can relate to, right? Don't even the tax collectors do that. Only love people who love you, right?

Everybody loves to snooze around with their friends, right? And if you only greet the people who are related to you or your brothers, the people who have common interest with you, even the wicked people, the Gentiles, the outsiders do that. How are you any different? Which brings me back to my comment of last week that God's purpose for us is to be distinctive. Right. And here he's saying, you're not going to be distinctive if you hate your enemies, but you will be distinctive if you love your enemies and you'll be reflecting the heart of God.

Okay. So that's when he comes to this conclusion. Therefore, because of that, you must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. I know you're just yanking at the bit to talk about that. So go ahead. I'm giving you an open door. What I think about is, there's in the culture that we live in here, the religious culture here, people will use this statement in verse 48 saying, well, if we were supposed to be perfect and he commands it, that means that it's possible for us to make ourselves perfect.

And you better try really hard by keeping them off. And you better do everything possible, but it means it's attainable if he commands us to do that. It's not what he's saying right here. What he's saying is that God's standard of righteousness includes again, your heart status as well as your behavioral status. So if you think you're in, if you think you're moving down the road toward righteousness from God's perspective, you're totally wrong because he's going to look and say, well, you did okay in this area, but the state of your heart still stinks.

You need to complete the process and be dealing with what's in your heart. And we already talked about before that when you talk about controlling your heart, it's like, well, I throw my hands up in the air and I go, how am I supposed to control my heart? I hate when I hate, I lust when I lust.

I mean, these things just come out of nowhere. Well, but still, but still God's standard of righteousness for the citizens of his kingdom is that not only your behaviors are pure and sinless, but your heart is pure and sinless. That is the standard. So you need to be perfect in that sense as your heavenly father is perfect. Oh man. So are we talking about being sinlessly holy when he says be perfect as your father is perfect? What does that word perfect mean? What does that word perfect mean? Yeah.

Yeah. Well this, he's just saying you're leaving out a huge part of the equation is what he's saying. You're not complete. So the perfect word means tell us it means to get to the end so that there's nothing left out. He says, you guys have stopped short.

You've left out. You're not at the end of the process. You're not considering the state of your heart.

Right. Because you have not grown up to be all that God intended you to be until your heart is also purified. And that can only happen when God rewrites his law on our heart and places his holy spirit inside of us to give us this internal counter pressure in our heart that says, but I want to be like God. I want to love like God. I want to love what he loves and how he loves.

Right. So it's not a matter of redoubling your efforts to make yourself good, but now in the realm of your heart, it's not like having a new year's resolution where you say, you know, I'm going to be more loving and I'm going to start loving my enemies. You know, and you're not going to be real successful at that. That's not going to work out really well for you because the domain of your heart is a place that's extremely hard to control. Well, and Romans five says that only happens when God pours out his love within our hearts because of what he's accomplished for us. God does this. This is a realm that God is in the middle of and you're missing the total picture he says in 48. You're coming up short if you're not keeping that in mind.

And you know, there was lots of comments. You mentioned this last time about being circumcised in your heart, not just externally. And so God is very concerned about the state of your heart. That's actually the core of it. And that's what Jesus is saying here in 48. You've come up short, you're dealing with behavior, you're not dealing with your heart.

Well, how am I supposed to do that? You know, throw your hands up to God and say, God fixed my heart. And that's what he does. And we own that only happens through faith in the righteousness of God fulfilled in Christ who became our sacrifice on our behalf. Right. So, you know, I would encourage you readers, if you want to read more about this read, well, you can read all Romans, but it started chapter three, where Paul begins to unpack, you know, but there by works of the law, no flesh will be justified.

Right, right. But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested. This is this is Romans 321. Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, believe, right? What do we believe that his blood paid the price for my debt? Yeah, right. But his death on the cross substituted for my own death that was do me because of my sin, my rejection of God. So yeah, Jesus is is kind of setting the stage for all of that.

Yeah. Remember he said, I came to fulfill the law and to make it fulfilled for you. Right, right.

And to amp it up just one more notch. Remember when that that guy came to Jesus said, what's the greatest right? It was a trick question, actually. But Jesus came back and said to love the Lord, your God, you know, with all that you are all your heart, all your first part and your neighbor is yourself. So so can you conjure that up? Right?

No. And then Paul when he wrote to Timothy, in First Timothy, one, five, he says, Look, the aim of our charge is love is love that issues from a pure heart. How do we get that and a good conscience and a sincere faith, right? So God's in the business of changing our heart, not just our behaviors. And the law is meant to indict the state of our heart by indicting our behaviors and say, Look, this is how you're acting. And do you know that there's a direct connection between your behavior and the state of your heart. And that's why Jesus says, when you look at people, you know, look at what they do, because that's an right, that's an indelible connection to the state of their heart. But it's the heart issues that are in measure here. So if you're only concerned with changing your behavior, you've not gone all the way, right, we got to be concerned about the state of our heart. So let me just offer one final thought. And this is from Romans eight, Paul says in verse three, for what the law could not do, because it was through the flesh God did, sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and offering for sin.

He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Yes, everything's different now. Everything's different. Well, I'm glad you're with us. We are out of time. And we're going to continue this marvelous look into the law. And we'll do that again next time on More Than Ink.

There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself. And you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. You ready to fly?

I don't know what I'm gonna say, but we'll find out. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Rhythm City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-25 14:17:00 / 2023-03-25 14:29:23 / 12

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