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Sermon Notes

Please note that these are only notes, not transcripts, and as such are not identical to the recorded sermons. They also contain frequent abbreviations.

Introduction

    1. Our two texts form part of the Sermon on the Mt. in which X teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.

      1. In the Sermon X reveals the spiritual characteristics & the calling of the citizens.

        1. We must insist on this: the Sermon on the Mt. is not some liberal, hippy manifesto for a better world, nor is it instruction for the Jews during a future Millennium.

        2. No unbeliever can possibly fulfill any of the demands of the Sermon on the Mount because no unbeliever is a citizen of Christ’s kingdom.

        3. No human government has been able or ever will be able to implement the demands of the Sermon on the Mt. And that was not Christ’s aim. The Sermon on the Mt. is for life in the church; for believers and their children.

      2. Part of Christ’s instruction was to contrast the true Kingdom of God with the false notions of the Kingdom taught by the Pharisees & their followers. This is especially the case in their interpretation of the Law.

        1. You see that in, “Ye have heard that it was said …” “But I say unto you …”

        2. Christ’s application of God’s Law was stricter and more searching than the Pharisees’ conception: they taught a mere outward obedience; Christ insisted on truth in the inward parts.

        3. This was esp. the case concerning the neighbor. The Law said “Love thy neighbor,” but to that the Pharisees had added “hate thy enemy.” Thus they interpreted neighbor to mean only a friend. That excluded non-Jews such as Samaritans & Gentiles, and even excluded Jews not in one’s own circle of friends (publicans & common people). The Law became whatever the Pharisees wanted.

    2. There are few things harder for the flesh than this demand of Christ.

      1. We are fundamentally selfish creatures; we love only insofar as it brings some advantage to us; and our love ends when it becomes troublesome to us.

        1. If you analyze much of the “doing good” in society it is really a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” kind of system (Matt. 5:46, 47; Luke 6:32-34).

        2. But Christ insists that love be selfless, not for our good but for the good of the other person, whether friend or foe. Love, says Christ, must be extended to those who least deserve it. And when we love but are hated in return, we continue to love, and we never respond in kind to their hatred and cursing.

        3. The reason Christ gives for this command, both in Matt. 5 and Luke 6, is that this is the heavenly pattern: God treats His enemies this way.

      2. It is for that reason, that our behavior toward our enemies must reflect God’s behavior toward His enemies, that these two texts, in Matt. 5 and Luke 6, are appealed to by the advocates of common grace.

        1. Common grace is the theory that God loves, is merciful to, blesses and is gracious to the reprobate, those whom He has rejected in eternity from salvation.

        2. Those who hold to CG say that, altho God has not chosen to save the reprobate, He has another kind of grace, mercy, love & different kinds of non saving blessings for them. This CG does not save them, but makes their life here pleasant before He throws them into hell. Is that grace? Let us see …

 

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES”

I. The Difficult Calling

II. The Heavenly Example

 

  1. THE CALLING

    1. On one occasion, a Pharisee asked a question of Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer was that any person on my pathway who needs my help is my neighbor. But, who is my enemy? The answer is, any person on my pathway who is hostile toward me or mistreats me because of my association with Jesus Christ.

      1. Our enemies according to the Bible are not those who disagree with us politically, or those who support a different sports team, even when that disagreement causes them to be mean spirited towards us. Our enemies are those who hate and oppose us because we are Christians.

        1. The word enemy is a deeply spiritual concept; it implies two important concepts, the antithesis and the kingdom.

          1. Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mt. the existence of two kingdoms: there is the kingdom of darkness, of evil, of the world, of the devil. By nature, we all belong to that kingdom.

          2. In that kingdom the devil tyrannizes the souls of men; that kingdom operates according to the principle of sin; that kingdom aims at the glory of man.

          3. The other kingdom is the kingdom of God, or of heaven; in that kingdom X is King; in that kingdom X rules graciously in the hearts of His elect people by His Word & HS. No one belongs to that Kingdom by nature; God translates some out of the K. of darkness into the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13-14).

        2. These two kingdoms coexist in the same world. One manifests itself in the true church of Jesus Christ; the other manifests itself in the ungodly world and in the false church. But these two kingdoms do not coexist peacefully.

          1. The devil and his kingdom hate & oppose the true kingdom of Christ; the devil does everything in his power to stop the growth of the kingdom of God, to set up a rival kingdom and ultimately to wrest power from God’s hand.

          2. Of course, the devil, a mere creature, cannot succeed. The devil is an instrument in God’s hand and cannot destroy even the weakest member of Christ’s church, but it is not for want of trying on his part.

          3. This battle, according to which these two kingdoms are bitterly opposed to one another, is called the antithesis. Light is opposed to darkness; righteousness is opposed to the devil; Christ is opposed to Antichrist. The Kingdom of Christ cannot and may not befriend the Kingdom of Satan.

      2. Because of the existence of the two antithetical kingdoms, Satan’s citizens hate Christ’s citizens. Satan hates Christ; unbelievers hate Christians. And Christ describes some of the ways in which that hatred shows itself.

        1. First, our enemies curse us (“bless them that curse you …”).

          1. To curse in Scripture is not to use foul language. To curse means “to speak against.” It is to speak evil of someone, or to pronounce evil upon someone.

          2. To curse, then, is to express in words the hatred, malice and spite which one already feels in one heart against someone.

          3. Cursing is the expression of ill-will: to express one’s desire that the other person be damned [We may never say such things about our own personal enemies. We may never say. Damn you,” “Go to hell” or any other such sentiment. But that is what our enemies do to us].

        2. Second, our enemies despitefully use us and persecute us (“pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you”).

          1. Despiteful use of someone is to insult, revile, vilify a person with violent words & deeds. Persecution is to pursue someone, to chase after them to destroy them.

          2. The idea is that our enemies do not simply detest us in their heart (“hatred”) abuse us with their tongues (“cursing”) but that it spills over into cruel deeds (“despiteful use and persecution”).

          3. And Jesus makes clear, too, that these are not isolated incidents: the enemies of the people of God always hate, always curse, always despitefully use and always persecute the church. Never do they love us, never do they bless us, never do they do good to us, and never do they pray for us. And even when the enemies of the church seem to love us, speak to us in seemingly kind words, do nice things for us, their underlying attitude is hatred for God, for Christ, and therefore hatred for us who love God (Read Proverbs 26:24-26).

    2. Now, how do you treat a person who hates, curses, despitefully uses and persecutes you because you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven? The unbelieving world says, “Hate them back, fight fire with fire, give as good as you get.” The Pharisees taught the people, “Hate thine enemy.” Jesus taught love for the enemy.

      1. Just as hatred does not hide in the heart of the enemy w/o showing itself, so X describes how we must love our enemies. Love expresses itself in three ways.

        1. First, we must bless our enemies (“bless them that curse you”).

          1. To bless is to speak good or to speak well. It is to speak good of someone and to someone, to pronounce good upon someone.

          2. But when a mere creature blesses that blessing is not of itself effectual. The best we can do is to say, “May the Lord bless you,” “May the Lord do good to you.” Similarly, of course, is our cursing: we cannot actually curse anyone. Neither our curse nor our blessing have power.

          3. Therefore, says Christ, when our enemy curses us, speaks evil upon us, we respond by blessing him, by speaking good upon him, and by expressing the desire that God would do him good (I Cor. 4:12-13; I Peter 3:8-9).

        2. Second, we must do good to our enemies (“do good to them that hate you”).

          1. To bless is to speak good or to wish good, but this takes it one step further: to do good. Now a speaking well becomes an activity, a doing well.

          2. Kind deeds for an enemy might include feeding a hungry enemy, giving a sick enemy some medicine or a ride to the hospital, buying clothes for an enemy who is destitute, knowing all the while that the enemy will never repay, will never even say thanks, and if the tables were turned would not help you, but would harm you.

          3. But more than that, doing good to an enemy means doing something for his spiritual welfare. Take the opportunity to call him to repentance, explain the Gospel to him, witness to him as you give him a bowl of soup or drive him to the hospital as appropriate.

        3. Third, we must pray for our enemies (“and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you”).

          1. Our enemies will never pray for themselves so long as they remain unconverted, so, if we truly love them we will bring them to the throne of grace, and intercede for them; we will pray for their spiritual welfare. We will not only pray for recovery from disease or hunger, but for their salvation.

          2. Out of love for our enemies we will beseech our heavenly Father to bless them with the salvation which we enjoy; we will ask God to transform them by His grace from God-haters to brothers and sisters in Christ.

          3. We pray that God would use our humble & sincere efforts in blessing & doing good to our enemies; we pray because we know that God alone can make those means effectual & because we truly desire the salvation of our enemies.

      2. This calling is much more difficult than modern liberal socialism and the social gospel of liberal Christianity make it out to be. Love in the Bible is not sickly sentimentalism but immensely practical and deeply spiritual.

        1. The modern view of love is tolerance, acceptance, affirmation of all men and all behaviors.

          1. Modern love says, “Never criticize the behavior, lifestyle, religion or opinion of another person. Live and let live; all views are equally valid; accept everybody and everything.”

          2. But Christian love cannot do that. Christians who love must say, “The way you are living is sinful and is the way to hell. You must turn from that wicked way of life, and believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.”

          3. But that offends people and they complain that you were hateful to them. Say the wrong thing in the wrong place and you are called evil, a bigot, and the day is fast approaching when you will be prosecuted for “hate speech.”

        2. Notice, too, that Christ does not command us to like our enemies, but to love them; not to approve of what they do, but to love their persons; not to join them in their wickedness, but to seek their deliverance from wickedness.

          1. The goal of such Christian love is to establish a bond of friendship; love always seeks to establish a bond, but such Christian love can only be one-sided as long as the enemy remains hostile to the Gospel.

          2. The Christian comes in love, blessing, doing good, praying and calling the enemy to repentance; but the enemy responds with hatred, cursing, despiteful use and persecution.

          3. And very soon, unless the grace of God transforms the enemy, the enemy is so incensed by the Xian’s love, that he will not even receive the acts of kindness. He will tell the Xian to take his cup of cold water, his bowl of soup, his pair of shoes, his box of groceries and to get out! Even then the Xian must pray and not harbor any bitterness in his heart against enemy, and only seek his good.

  2. THE HEAVENLY EXAMPLE

    1. In the texts in Matt. 5 and Luke 6 Christ draws a parallel between what we are called to do and what our Father in heaven does. The phrase “like father, like son” (or daughter) comes to mind (“That ye may be as …” “And ye shall be the children”).

      1. First, who are God’s enemies? It is important to notice that in the Bible God has two kinds of enemies: His reprobate enemies, whom He destroys; and His elect enemies, whom He reconciles to Himself, and saves.

        1. God’s reprobate enemies are the devil, the reprobate demons and devils and reprobate human beings. These all are preordained to damnation (Rom. 9:22; I Peter 2:8; Rev. 17:8). God has eternally decreed NOT TO SAVE THEM.

          1. God’s attitude toward these enemies is one of hatred; God curses these enemies and God sends them to hell.

          2. God’s curse is the word of His wrath, His speaking against these enemies, His pronouncing evil upon these enemies because they are sinners (Luke 19:27).

          3. This hatred, this curse and this eternal punishment do not mean that God is evil, spiteful, malicious and cruel, but God’s hatred is a righteous, holy hatred of their persons and their sins (Ps. 5:5, 11:5).

        2. But God also has elect enemies. They are sinners chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be saved through the work of Christ on the cross.

          1. God’s attitude toward these enemies is one of love; God blesses these enemies, God has mercy on these enemies, God is kind to these enemies; God delivers these enemies from their sins and brings them into everlasting life with Himself in heaven (God changes these enemies into friends; Christ died for these ungodly [Rom. 5:6; I Peter 3:8].

          2. We are those enemies: by nature we are the enemies of God; we once lived as enemies of God; God has reconciled us to Himself (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21).

          3. This love, blessing and eternal life do not come from anything in us; we deserve to be hated, cursed and damned, but this love is a free choice of God to have mercy on some and not to have mercy on others.

      2. Second, what does God do to His enemies acc. to Jesus in Matt. 5 and Luke 6, and does He do these things to His elect or reprobate enemies, or both?

        1. First, God sends sunshine and rain upon all men indiscriminately (“he maketh His sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” v. 45).

          1. The evil and the good, the just and the unjust, covers all classes of men, converted and unconverted, believing and unbelieving, elect and reprobate.

          2. We see that around us: God causes the sun to shine and rain to fall upon the field of both godly and ungodly farmers. Often He sends so much rain and sunshine on the ungodly that their fields produce a bumper harvest, they have tables laden with good food, bank accounts stuffed with money and good health to enjoy these things which come from God’s hand.

          3. But does an abundance of good things (“rain and sunshine”) mean that God is blessing the ungodly in those things, that those things are evidence of God’s favor? That’s the issue with common grace.

        2. Common grace is supposed to be a favorable attitude of God towards the reprobate wicked seen in the good things which God gives to them.

          1. That would mean that God, when He gives rain and sunshine and lots of over good things to the wicked, is saying to them, “In these things, I love you; I have favor upon you, I show mercy to you” [But, at the same time, I have eternally determined not to save you; Christ did not die for you, and I will cast you into hell]. But what then is God saying to His own people when He sends so much sunshine upon them that their crops wither and die and they starve, or so much rain that He washes away their houses in a flood? “In these things, I hate you; I do not have favour on you; I express my displeasure against you?”

          2. That would mean that God, in giving good thing to the wicked, is blessing them, speaking His favor upon them and seeking to do them good. But that would be a blessing of God which does not accomplish their good, but increases their guilt, a blessing which comes to an end when they die and go to hell, and a blessing which changes into a curse.

          3. But God’s mercy, grace, love and blessing are one (There are not two, three or kinds of graces, mercies or loves of God; one for the elect, and the other for the reprobate). All mercy, grace and love of God are everlasting. They are unchangeable. They are attributes of God; they belong to His very being; they are rooted in God’s decree of election, they are displayed at the cross.

          4. Rain and sunshine, in and of themselves, are not grace, mercy or blessing.. God is always gracious to and blesses His people in giving to, or withholding from, them, rain and sunshine; God is never gracious but always curses the reprobate in giving to, or withholding from, them, rain and sunshine [So, to repeat, there is no question that God gives good things to elect and reprobate alike; the issue is: GOOD THINGS ARE NOT BLESSINGS FOR THE REPROBATE.

        3. Third, there must be a difference between how we treat our enemies and how God treats His b/c He is God and we are mere creatures. God knows who His reprobate enemies are and God knows who His elect enemies are. We do not.

          1. Even Matt. 5 restricts the comparison so that it is not an absolute comparison: God does not love, bless, do good to and pray for all men. Certainly, He does not pray for all men, b/c He does not pray. But even Christ, God in our flesh, did not pray for His reprobate enemies. He prayed against them on the cross.

          2. Christ, we can be sure, did not love His reprobate enemies, He did not bless them or do good to them. How could He when He came to do the will of God? Would He love those whom God hated; would He bless those whom God cursed; would He do good to those whom God was determined to destroy; would He pray for those whom God willed to damn?

          3. But we cannot know whether our personal enemies are elect or reprobate and so, to our dying day, and with our dying breath, we must love, bless, do good and pray for our enemies. However, we must hate God’s enemies. We must pray for the destruction of God’s enemies. That is what David means in Psalm 139:19-22. But since we can never know the identity of God’s reprobate enemies we may never hate or pray against any particular man or woman.

    2. The pattern we are called to follow is not how God treats His reprobate enemies, but how God treats His elect enemies. If we want a pattern on how to treat our enemies we only need to consider how He treated us, who were His enemies, and who are still sinful, even after He has reconciled us to Himself.

      1. This is esp. clear in Luke 6:35 where God is kind to the “unthankful & the evil.”

        1. In that passage, Jesus does not speak merely of sunshine and rain, which of themselves are neither God’s blessing or curse, but He speaks of God’s kindness and mercy.

          1. The major problem with the common grace theory is that it wants to take attributes of God – His love, His mercy, His grace and His kindness – and make them common, temporary and ineffectual. Because no matter how much you extol God’s so-called “common” grace, “common” mercy, “common” love and “common” kindness, they all end in the lake of fire.

          2. But if we define these terms we can see how impossible it is for them to be common. Love: God’s breathing after, delighting in and treasuring of His people (also for those who end up in hell?); mercy: God’s tenderhearted compassion desiring the blessedness of His people and delivering His people out of misery into blessedness (also for the damned?); grace: God’s beautiful attitude of favor toward His people and His power which transforms them into spiritually beautiful saints (for the reprobate?) and blessing: God’s effectual word of favor, speaking good of & upon His people (for the damned).

          3. And besides, where do these so-called common grace, mercy, love, kindness and blessing come from? How can God justly show these things to totally depraved, reprobate sinners? He cannot. They are not and never are in Christ! God only shows love, mercy and grace to us and blesses us in Christ. Outside of Christ there is only God’s hatred, wrath and curse.

        2. The kindness in Luke 6:35 is and can only be a saving kindness. There is no other kindness in God.

          1. That kindness is infinitely more than God being “nice” to people. Kindness is God’s gentleness, His careful handling of His delicate precious people. God is not kind to the reprobate. He breaks them with a rod of iron and He dashes them in pieces as a potter’s vessel.

          2. God’s kindness is called goodness or graciousness in other passages and is only directed toward the elect: Romans 11:22; I Peter 2:3.

          3. This kindness is shown to the unthankful & the evil, to us; we are the unthankful & the evil. We are to be merciful b/c God has been merciful to us.

      2. This saving kindness and mercy shown to us who were, and in many ways still are, unthankful and evil, comes to us from the cross of Christ, a cross which is for the elect alone, and not for the reprobate.

        1. Do you want to see kindness and mercy? Go to the cross. There God poured out His wrath upon Jesus Christ, crushing Him under His curse, so that He could be gentle and compassionate to us.

        2. If God was so good to you in sending Christ to die for your sins, not when you were good and thankful, but unthankful and evil, how much more ought you not love those who are evil and unthankful to you? And if God can still bless you, who are still unthankful and evil, how much more ought you not continue to love, bless, do good to and pray for those who are still unthankful and evil to you?

        3. And when we love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us we are reflecting in a very small way the great love, mercy, grace, kindness and blessing which God has for us. Let us do that to the glory of His name. Amen!