THE MARKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, Part 2

[SW340] 8/18/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

The Marks of His Righteousness, Part 2

 Text: Matthew 6:16-34

What are the marks of God’s righteousness in a believer? When you are filled with His righteousness, your eye is single — you are focused entirely on Him! But Jesus says those whose hearts have not yet been changed are focused on themselves and their needs and desires. 

Heed His words, see the poverty-stricken condition of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it! He surely will, and blessed will you be!

In this passage, Jesus Christ utterly destroys the underpinnings of the prosperity and success gospels that are so popular in today’s church, so that these false gospels collapse into the dust. Amen!

Verses 16-18 —

Those who fast in order to be noticed by others have their reward in full — they are noticed by men and praised for their righteousness. They disfigure their faces with ashes or makeup, so men see that they are fasting. 

When they fast, they do not wash, nor anoint their heads with oil (so their hair looks disheveled), to make it obvious that they are fasting. Their outward act of righteousness mean nothing to God, because they are doing it for man’s praise. They will receive no reward from Him. They will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

But those who are filled with His righteousness anoint their heads with oil and wash their faces when they fast. We fast in secret because we do not want our fasting to be noticed by men, but by our Father who is in secret (hidden). Our eyes are on Him whom we love with His divine love! And He sees us, and rewards us with eternal life, here and now! And when our earthly tents fall away, we go to be with Him!

Verse 19 —

Many store up for themselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Preachers of the prosperity gospel tell believers that God wants them to have lots of money, and many possessions. It is an ear-pleasing message, and they have many followers! 

But what is the focus of such a gospel? Earthly treasures! Their followers’ eyes are on riches for themselves, not on Christ! The greedy sin nature in them is still alive and well, their hearts are yet poverty-stricken, and they are in danger of losing the true treasure, eternal life, unless they heed, see, and cry out for Him to change their hearts!

Jesus says, Do not store up these things for yourself. They will rust and decay and be stolen. Thus, the prosperity gospel is destroyed, in a few simple words from the Lord. And the success gospel, which says that God wants you to be successful, is simply a variation of the prosperity gospel. If you are successful, you will be rich with earthly treasures. Both gospels play to the sin nature’s greed.

It is as James warned the believers from the twelve tribes, who were scattered because of persecution, and were greedy for personal riches —

James 1:11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away (be extinguished, like a fire).

Verse 20 —

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for those treasures will not be destroyed or stolen. When you are filled with His righteousness, you have sought and received true riches — the infilling of His Holy Spirit, intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son, and a purified heart.

Then your eyes are on Him alone! He will use you greatly to bring many souls to Himself, and set many captives free! And when you stand before Him, He will say to you —

Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”

Oh, the joy of my Master! That is the true reward, beloved! That is the true treasure! Store up treasures in heaven, by being filled with His Spirit and His righteousness! Blessed will you be!

Verse 21 —

Jesus boldly teaches that where your treasures are, your heart will be, also. Where is your heart? What are you seeking? 

Are your eyes on Him, or on earthly treasures and pleasing yourself? See the poverty of your heart, and cry out to Him to change it. Then, your eyes will be on Him alone, and blessed will you be!

Verse 22 —

The eye is the lamp of the body. It is the means by which we see, it lights our way. Spiritually, if your eye is clear (single, focused entirely on Him), your whole body will be full of light. 

What light? His light! It will shine from you, because His light has filled you. The Father and the Son are light; there is no darkness in them (1John 1:5)! And you now have their divine nature in you! There is no longer any darkness in you — your sin nature has been crucified (Galatians 5:24). Hallelujah!

You are filled with Christ’s righteousness! The Father, the Son and the Spirit fully indwell you (John 14:23)! 

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the radiance of your shining (Isaiah 60:3)! Blessed are you, for you have heeded His words, seen the poverty of your heart, and cried out for Him to change it! And He has done it!

Verse 23 —

But if your eye is bad (evil), your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you (what is shown to be in you) is darkness, how great (how much) is that darkness! Your eyes are not focused on Him but on yourself and on worldly desires for honor from men, success, and riches. How great is the darkness that is in you! It is so great that it has filled you and blinded you!

Oh, may you heed, for then you will see His light shining on you, and you will cry out, and He will remove the darkness that is in you, and fill you with His Spirit and His light and His righteousness, just as He did me! 

Verse 24 — 

Jesus says no one can serve (be in bondage, be a slave to) two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or will be devoted to one and despise the other. 

You cannot serve God and mammon (earthly treasures). You either serve God, or wealth.

If you serve wealth, you love wealth. It is your god. So, you hate God, in comparison to the god of wealth. If you are devoted to the god of wealth, you will despise God, in comparison to the god of wealth, upon which your eyes are focused.

Oh, beloved! Do you see the falseness of the prosperity and success gospels? He is showing you! See, heed and cry out! He will change your heart, and fill you with His Spirit and His righteousness, and your eyes will be on Him alone, and you will serve Him alone!

Verse 25 — 

For this reason — because you cannot serve both God and the god of wealth — Jesus says to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

If you worry about such things, you reveal that your eyes are on earthly treasures, so you can have the drink and food and clothing that you crave. Your eyes are focused on your desires, your self, and not on the Lord. Your heart has not yet been changed. Heed, see, cry out, beloved!

Life is more than food, drink and clothing! Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit have obeyed Jesus’ command to stay (Luke 24:49) and wait (Acts 1:4-5, 8). They have passionately sought and have been filled with Christ’s life, and He is the Bread of life! They have passionately sought His living water! They have passionately sought to be inwardly filled with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, so they are temples for the Holy Spirit! Have you become His temple?

Verses 26-30 —

Jesus shames believers who worry about (take thought of, are anxious about) what they will eat, what they will drink, and what they will wear. He shows you your heart!

The birds of the air do nothing but live, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than them, to Him?  

Can you add a single hour to your life by worrying? He knows the number of your days, beloved. He sits above time, so He knows the end from the beginning —

Isaiah 46:10  Declaring the end from the beginning, 

And from ancient times things which have not been done, 

Saying, “My purpose will be established, 

And I will accomplish all My good pleasure . . .” 

And why are you worried about clothing? The lilies of the field do not toil, yet they are arrayed more gloriously than King Solomon in all his glory. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?

You of little faith, Jesus says. Don’t you trust your Father? Your worrying reveals that you are not yet able, because your eyes are focused on your desires. 

It was the same with His disciples (and with me) before they experienced their own personal Pentecost and were filled with His Spirit. They thought His kingdom was of this world, and that He was going to free them from Roman rule! That was their desire. 

But His desire was to purify their hearts, and establish His kingdom in them! Thanks be to God, when He fills you, He establishes His kingdom in you, and your eyes are focused on Him alone!

When you cry out for Him to change your heart, you will no longer take thought of such things. He will fill you with His Spirit, and your eyes will be focused on Him. You will no longer be littlefaiths, but will be blessed, indeed!

Verses 31-32 —

Jesus commands, do not worry. Those who do not believe into Him worry about such things! They eagerly seek (intensely crave) all these things! Your Father knows that you need food and drink and clothing. 
Verse 33 —

But seek after (passionately pursue), His kingdom and His righteousness to be established in your heart! And all that you need will be added (given) to you, by Your Father in heaven.

When your eyes are on Him, and He has filled you with His Spirit and His light and His righteousness, you will not crave what the world craves! The self-centered gospels of prosperity and success will mean nothing to you. And you will be light in the darkness, His witnesses here! Hallelujah!

Verse 34 —

Do not focus your eyes on tomorrow. Look to Him! You will, when you are filled with His Spirit and His righteousness!

You may say, why is it wrong to be anxious and take thought of tomorrow? Many Christians whose hearts are not yet changed do such things. Many of them are so anxious and fearful that they seek psychiatric help and are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Their eyes are not yet focused on the Lord, but on their natural circumstances. Oh, if they would just heed, see and cry out, the Lord would change their hearts, and they would no longer be anxious about anything!

Tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient to each day is its own wickedness That is the original Greek-to-English of, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Each day will have evil in it, for there will be evil in the world until the day of the Lord. He is not the author of evil, but hearts that reject Him are under the thumb of the evil one, Satan, a created cherub who fell from heaven because of his pride. 

But if you heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it, He will! Beloved, He will deliver you from false gospels, and from your sin nature, and He will fill you with His Spirit, His righteousness, and His divine nature! Then, your eyes will be on Him alone, and blessed will you be! 

Lord Jesus, may hearts respond to  your words, and the gospels of the god of wealth be exposed. Amen!

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THE MARKS OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, PART 1

[SW339] 8/11/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

The Marks of His Righteousness, Part 1

 Text: Matthew 6:1-15

What are the marks of one who is filled with the Holy Spirit and the very righteousness of Christ? And what are the marks of one who is self-righteous? Jesus Christ continues the Sermon on the Mount, revealing your heart to you, just as He did with me! 

Paul writes, None are righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). That is why we need a Savior, to reconcile us to God, and a Sanctifier, to fill us with the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ. 

Heed His words, see the poverty-stricken condition of your heart, and cry out to Him to change it! Blessed will you be, if you do it! He will fill you with His Spirit, and His righteousness, and your heart’s motive will be to glorify Him, and not yourself. 

In these verses, notice the phrases Jesus uses —  noticed by men, honored by men, seen by men. In today’s church, there are those who boast about the number who attend their church, the beauty and vastness of their buildings, the money they raise, and the good works they do — not “God works,” but the same kind of good works that any benevolent organization does. They seek to be noticed, honored, and seen by men!

Verse 1 —

So Jesus says, Beware of practicing (doing) your righteousness before men, to be noticed by them. If you seek to be noticed and admired by men, for all of your good deeds, you reveal your heart’s motive! It is your righteousness you want people to see. 

O believer, you will have no reward with your Father in heaven. You have received your reward from men — their praise of you, their honor of you. But God is not praised and honored by what you are doing. So your actions mean nothing, in God’s eyes. 

Verse 2 —

So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

What reward do you have, if you seek to be honored by men? You will be honored by men, but not by God. You want everyone to see your righteousness and honor you! You want them to say, Wow! How generous you are! And that is your reward in full. You will receive no reward from your Father in heaven. Your motive is that men honor you, not God.

Verses 3-4 — 

But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

When you are filled with God’s righteousness, and you give to the poor, your right hand will not know what your left hand is doing. You will not trumpet (announce) what you are doing, nor will you keep a personal record of what you give. You will just give, secretly. 

And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Why? Your motive is His divine love, with which He has filled you. When that is your heart motive, all that you do is done by and for Him, working through you. It is the mark of His righteousness, in you. And what is your reward, from your Father?

Matthew 25:34   “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

But when you are giving so men will notice, honor, and see you, though you address Jesus as your Lord, here is your reward —

Matthew 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

O believer, seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Matthew 6;33)!Then, there is no motive in your heart other than God’s divine love with which He has filled you, and you bear the marks of His righteousness, and you will be blessed of your Father in heaven! 

Oh, blessed will you be if you heed His words, see the poverty-stricken condition of your heart, and cry out for Him to fill you with His Spirit, His love, His righteousness! 

Verse 5 —

When you pray, do not  be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. 

They do these things so men notice and say, “Oh! What a fine prayer!” They love to do it! So, they have their reward in full — the praise of men, but no praise from God.

Why? They pray for themselves, to be seen by others. The Pharisee, in Luke 18:11 and forward, was not praying to God at all, but telling God how good he was! But the tax collector who stood some distance away, pounding his chest in mourning, crying out for mercy because he saw the condition of his heart, was justified (made righteous by God). 

He exalts the humble, not the one who exalts himself —

1Peter 5:6   Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. 

If you humble yourself by acknowledging the state of your heart and crying out for Him to change it, He will fill you with His righteousness, and blessed will you be!

Verse 6 —

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 

If you are filled with Christ’s righteousness, you will go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret (not physically seen). You pray in secret, and you pray to Him. And your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you, for you are serving Him, and not yourself.

 What do you pray, when you are filled with His righteousness? You will see it in verses 9-13. 

Verse 7 —

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

When you are filled with Christ’s righteousness, you know your prayer is heard! There is no need to ask over and over again. The man born blind, who now sees because Christ healed him, says —

John 9:31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.”

The only prayer the Lord will hear from a sinner or a sinning believer is this — “I repent! I see my heart! Only Your Son can save me from myself! Please forgive me and receive me!”

Do you pray in order to be seen by men? Then He will require the same prayer from you.

Verse 8 —

So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 

If you are filled with His righteousness, you know that your Father knows what you need before you ask Him! So you do not pray, “Give me, give me, I need, I want!” You know He will meet your needs, for you have heeded Jesus’ words, seen the condition of your heart, and cried out for Him to change it! With great passion, you have sought His kingdom to be established in you, and His righteousness to fill you, and He has done it! Blessed are you!

Verse 9 —

Pray then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 

Earlier I said I would show you how you pray, when you are filled with His righteousness? You pray for your Father’s kingdom to be established in human hearts, and His righteousness to fill every human heart!

Our Father who is in heaven! Father of us, in the heavens! Abba! My Father!  

Let Your name, Your holy character and reputation, be venerated, revered, greatly respected and honored.

Verse 10 —

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

I am asking you to establish Your kingdom in every human heart, just as you have done in me. 

I am asking You to fill every heart with Your Holy Spirit and Your righteousness and Your divine love, so everyone will be able to say 

Psalm 40:8  “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”

I am asking You, my Father, to establish Your kingdom here on earth, so Your will is done just as it always has been in heaven, where Your kingdom is established, and Your will is always done. 

Your kingdom is not of this world, but a kingdom that is already established in heaven, and a kingdom that you establish in human hearts — 

John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Luke 17:20   Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst (within you).”

Verse 11 — 

Give us this day our daily bread.

Those who are filled with His righteousness ask our Father to give us this day our daily bread. He is our Provider, not only of the bread we eat, which is life-giving in the natural, but the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, and the Bread of the Word of God, which nourishes our spirits. We depend on Him entirely.

Verse 12 — 

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And we pray, Father, forgive us our debts (unintentional sin that does not violate God’s Law). We are filled with Your Spirit and Your righteousness, so we no longer willfully disobey you, but we freely acknowledge that we may offend someone, and not realize it. Forgive us of such things, in the same way that we have already forgiven others.

If you are a believer who is willfully disobeying God, have been warned to repent, and continue to sin, He will deal with you the same way He deals with unbelievers. Do not test Him! Just as with unbelievers, you must immediately turn away from your sin, repent from your heart, ask Him to forgive you and most importantly, ask Him to change your heart1

Verse 13 —

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Father, do not let us succumb to temptation.  Everyone is tempted, but when you are filled with His righteousness, you are able to resist temptation, because He has purified your heart! 

You are fully submitted to God, which is a mark that you are filled with His Spirit and His righteousness. You have drawn near to God. He is in you! Your hands are cleansed, your heart has been made pure! Listen to James’ exhortation of the Jewish believers scattered because of persecution —

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 

8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Do not let us succumb Who is the tempter? Satan, just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, in Matthew 4:1-11, and just as He tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 3:4-5. He has not changed. 

Why do you ask this of your Father? Because His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen! This is not in early manuscripts, but it is surely true! 

Verses 14-15 —

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

You may say, Why do I have to forgive others when they sin against me? Don’t I have the right to be angry, to hold a grudge, to take legal action against them? 

I ask you this — didn’t God forgive you, though He had every right to punish you? 

Beware! You reveal your heart’s poverty! Remember that anger’s root is hatred, just as with murder. And your hatred means your sin nature is alive and well, and your heart has not yet been changed.

When you have been filled with His righteousness, there is no longer any hate in your heart. So you freely forgive!

Beloved, you must allow the Lord to change your heart, to take out the hate that makes you stubbornly refuse to forgive others! I see it in many believers. But If you do not forgive, your Father will not forgive you! 

Do you understand what Jesus is saying? When you stand before Him in the day of judgment, He will judge you and find you guilty as charged, and it will be for you as it was for the one in Matthew 18. He was forgiven a debt he could never repay (just as God forgave you when you believed into Christ). But he would not forgive his fellow man for a small debt. And so his impossible-to-pay debt was no longer forgiven, and he was thrown into hell. He would never be able to pay “every last cent!”

Oh, beloved! Heed Jesus’ words! See your poverty-stricken heart! Only he can change it, filling it with His Spirit and His righteousness and His love, filling it with His divine nature! Then you will be able to obey Jesus’ command that you be His witness here — that you walk as He walked in this world, and that you be like Him in this world! 

If you ask Him to change your heart, He will do it! Then, blessed will you be!

BE PERFECT?

[SW338] 8/4/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Be Perfect? 

Text: Matthew 5:38-48

Be perfect? Yes! Jesus Christ says to you, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is a command from Him to Christians. Something must happen in our hearts, after salvation! He will show you your heart today, so you cry out for Him to change it. Then, blessed will you be!

Verse 38 —

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. This law, from Exodus 21:24, concerned a man who strikes another man’s pregnant wife, causing her to give birth prematurely, so that her baby dies. And if she dies, it is life for life (see Exodus 21:23). 

But this law was twisted, in order to make it an excuse for taking revenge against someone who does any kind of wrong toward you. It was interpreted that way so there would be a legal excuse not to forgive, and a legal excuse to strike back.

Verse 39 —

So Jesus teaches the truth to God’s people, including Christians. But I say to you, do not resist (oppose) an evil person, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 

You say that to me, Jesus? You can’t be serious! I can’t do that! If someone hits me, I will hit them back! I have the right to do it. They hit me first!  

That is the sin-stained human heart speaking. But you will turn the other cheek to the one who slaps you, when your heart is filled with the perfect love of God, beloved! 

Did Jesus strike back? Did God punish you in the way you deserved to be punished? No, your Father in heaven was struck by you on His right cheek when you sinned against Him. 

But He turned His left cheek to you — His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent to bear the punishment you deserved, on a cross. Jesus was struck, indeed! But He did not strike back. Instead, He offered Himself on your behalf. 

Jesus calls you to do the same, to offer yourself entirely to Him, to ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and God’s perfect love! But you will only do it if you heed His words, see your poverty-stricken heart, and cry out for Him to change it. Then, He will make you perfect in that same way — selfless and self-giving — so you are His witnesses here! Heed! See! Cry out! Then, blessed will you be!

Verses 40-42 —

If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, give him your coat also. Give him your shirt, which is closest to your body, AND your outer garment. Walk away naked, rather than protest your treatment. It is a command from Jesus Christ.

That’s not fair, Jesus! I have my rights! I should counter-sue! You want me to give him even more than he asked for, even my last stitch of clothing? Beloved, was Jesus not naked, when He hung on a cross for you? He did it out of selfless, perfect love!

Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

That’s not fair, Jesus! I was forced to go. I didn’t want to go. I was forced to carry a burden for someone else. I didn’t want to do it. And  you want me to go farther than I was forced to go? 

Did Jesus not go to a cross for you? He was not even forced to do it, but willingly carried the burden of your sin upon Himself —

John 10:14-15, 17 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep . . . 15 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

Go and do likewise. But you cannot, unless you heed His words, see your heart’s poverty, and cry out for Him to change it by crucifying your sin nature and filling you with His Spirit and His love.

Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

That’s not fair, Jesus! What if he doesn’t pay me back? I need my money for the things I want! I, I, and I! Do you see it?

Beloved, you are commanded to offer yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). When you obey His command, you die to your self-interest and self-centeredness, and yet walk away from the altar alive — changed in a moment of time, filled with His Spirit and His perfect love! 

Was Christ self-centered when He gave up His rights to Himself, in order to die on a cross, be raised on the third day, ascend to the Father, and pour out His Spirit? When you give up your rights to yourself, in view of God’s great mercy toward you, He will see to it that you live, but you will live for Him, and not yourself! 

I tell you the truth, that altar does a great work! Sin is burned out. Desire for revenge is burned out. Lust is burned out. When it is done in that moment of time, you walk away from the altar, completely free and completely His! You don’t give a hoot about your rights. You are no longer focused inwardly upon yourself, but outwardly, as Christ was, upon His wayward people and a lost and dying world!

Verses 43-45 —

Jesus says,You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy (those who are actively hostile toward you).

Love your neighbor is surely from the Law of Moses. But “hate your enemies” is taken out of context by those who want to justify the hate in their hearts. Here is the Law —

Leviticus 19:18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”

So where did “hate your enemies” come from? Israel was instructed not to pray for the peace of such ones. There was nothing about hate in that command. 

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you?” That’s not fair, Jesus! I can’t love someone who used me and abused me! You are right. You can’t until you are filled with His perfect love. 

And when you are filled with His love, you will become sons of your Father in heaven, O believer. You are saved, but if you sin by hating your enemy, you are not His son, but a slave to sin, and will not remain in the house forever (John 8:35). 

Your Father in heaven causes the sun to rise on both friend and foe, and causes the blessing of rain to fall on both friend and foe. Why? So that His foes may see Him, and turn from their wicked ways! I saw! I turned! Praise God!

If you bless those who curse you (Romans 12:14), because of God’s divine love that has filled your heart, blessed are you! He has freed you from being a slave to sin, including the sin of hatred.

Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you. Then you will be sons of your Father in heaven. You will love with His perfect love. Then, you will say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” just as Jesus did from the cross (Luke 23:34). Then you will be like Him in this world! Blessed will you be!

Verses 46-47 —

Jesus says, For if  you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors (who cheated everyone who came to them) do the same? If you greet (embrace) only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles (unbelievers) do the same?” 

But how can I love those who do not love me? How can I embrace people who cheat me? Why can’t I just love those who love me? The operative word is “me.” As long as “me” is in the equation, you can’t love those who do not love you, and you can’t embrace those who are not your brothers. 

Did God not express His perfect love toward all humanity by sending His Son to die, so we may be reconciled to Him and have eternal life? Was His Son not cheated, mistreated and unloved by those who should have recognized that He had His Father’s eyes? 

Did God not raise Him? Did Jesus Christ not pour out the Holy Spirit so you may cry out for your heart to be changed? When He changes it, the “me” in you is forever removed! He will do it, if you heed, see and cry out! Then, blessed will you be!

Verse 48 —

Jesus concludes Chapter 5 of the Sermon on the Mount with this command — Therefore, you shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.

This is directed at you, O believer! And you will again say, That’s not fair, Jesus! I can’t be perfect! You are right — you can’t. 

But when He fills you with His Spirit, He will fill you with His perfect love, and then you will love as He loves. You will love with the same love the Father has for the Son. That is the only way you can obey all of His commands in Chapter 5. 

The Apostle John writes — 

1John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Jesus prays for you, in John 17:26 —

John 17:26 “ . . . and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

When you are filled with His Holy Spirit, Christ indwells you fully, the Father indwells you fully, and you are filled with the perfect, divine love of God. Then you are able to be perfect as He is perfect, loving His perfect love. There is no longer any “me, I, my” or “that’s not fair” in your heart. You will truly be His witnesses here (Acts 1:8). 

Do not misunderstand the Lord. When you are His witness, you will call all men to repent (just as He did), and your Spirit-filled words will convict your hearers regarding sin, the righteousness of God in sending His Son, and the coming judgment. If you do not warn, you do not love with His perfect love!

Jesus, may your church heed Your words, see the poverty of their hearts, and cry out to You, for you will surely fill them with Your Holy Spirit and Your perfect love! Then, blessed will they be! Amen.

TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS

[SW337] 7/28/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Truth in the Inward Parts

Text: Matthew 5:33-37

What does the Lord seek, from those who believe into Him? Truth in the inward parts, in the innermost being. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clarifies the meaning of the Law of Moses. His purpose is to reveal our hearts to us, so we cry out for Him to change them by filling us with the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13)!

In the past, I had only a partial understanding of this portion of the Sermon on the Mount. I thought, What is this about oaths? And what is the deeper point of it? So I prayed and asked Him to reveal it to me. Later that day, as I stood beside my kitchen stove, He said to my heart, “Truth in the inward parts.” You will see it in Psalm 51, which was David’s psalm of repentance after he sinned with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband to be killed in battle —

Psalms 51:1   Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; 

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2  Wash me thoroughly (as a launderer washes clothing) from my iniquity 

And cleanse me (purify me inwardly) from my sin.

3  For I know my transgressions, 

And my sin is ever before me.

4  Against You, You only, I have sinned 

And done what is evil in Your sight, 

So that You are justified when You speak 

And blameless when You judge.

Psalms 51:5    Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, 

And in sin my mother conceived me (as a son of Adam).

6  Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being (truth in the inward parts), 

And in the hidden part (of me) You will make me know wisdom.

7  Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean (pure); 

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

David was a man after God’s own heart, as Samuel tells King Saul —

1Samuel 13:14a “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart.”

Nathan the prophet called him out on his sin, and He repented from the heart. David knew what he needed. He saw the condition of his heart, and cried out for the Lord to change it. The Holy Spirit abided with David, but did not dwell within David, for Christ had not yet come to die, rise, ascend and be glorified (John 7:39).

But now Christ has come! You are forgiven of your past sins and reconciled to God by believing into Him. And if you obey His command to stay (Luke 24:49) and wait (Acts 1:4-5, 9), He will cleanse your heart inwardly and fill your heart with His truth, just as David prayed in Psalm 51! Then you will have what the Lord commands — truth in the inward parts!

Now, back to today’s passage. Jesus rebukes God’s people then and now for the outward oaths they take. The scribes (experts in the Law of Moses) and Pharisees,  outwardly made promises, but inwardly their hearts were hardened, and they used the Law of Moses cleverly, twisting it for their own purposes, rather than opening their hearts to it. 

Verse 33 —

Jesus begins a strong rebuke of God’s people, for the Law of Moses has been twisted by them. Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, You shall not make false vows (perjure, swear falsely), but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord (literally, “you shall deliver on your oaths to the Lord”). 

Jesus is referring to the third and ninth of the of the Ten Commandments —

Exodus 20:7   “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

Exodus 20:16   “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

And also —

Leviticus 19:12 “‘You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane (wound, drive a wedge into, bore into) the name of your God; I am the LORD.’”

To swear falsely is to lie. My brothers and sisters, when you lie, you take the Lord’s name in vain, and thereby profane His name (His reputation and character). This is His character —

Numbers 23:19  “God is not a man, that He should lie, 

Nor a son of man, that He should repent; 

Has He said, and will He not do it? 

Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

You may say, Whew! I am glad I always tell the truth! But don’t get too comfortable. Jesus is speaking of far more than outward truthfulness. Do you have truth in your inward parts?

Here is the first test the Lord asked me to give you, O believer — Do you say, “I love you, Lord,” and yet disobey Him? Then you do not love Him, and have not told the truth (see John 14:23-24). Heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it, just like I did! Blessed are you, if you do it!

And here is the second test — Have you committed adultery? Or have you divorced your wife to marry another woman who caught your eye? Then you have not told the truth. You have broken your promise. You have sinned against God, profaning His name.

That is why the third and ninth commandments, like the others, are deadly serious. I will tell you that He is most often wounded in the house of His friends (Zechariah 13:6).

Jesus continues to press in. He will continue to press into you, too, until you cry out for Him to change your heart. Then, the sin nature in you is crucified and you are filled with the Spirit of truth (John 14:17)! Heed His words, see the poverty-stricken condition of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it!

Verses 34-36 —

Of the commandments to keep vows, Jesus says this — But I say, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by (toward) Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. Nor shall you make and oath by your head (swearing by yourself), for you cannot make one hair white or black. 

So, if you have no power to change the color of your hair, you certainly have no power to change the condition of your heart so you have truth in the inward parts! Exactly the point Jesus is making! You can’t do it, but He will, if you cry out to Him!

Jesus specifies these particular forms of oaths because they are the oaths the scribes and Pharisees use. I had to do some research in the commentaries. It is because the rabbis and scribes and Pharisees had developed an impossibly intricate, absurd set of rules about oaths.

For instance, swearing by heaven was not binding (you could not be held to such an oath), nor was swearing by Jerusalem, but swearing toward Jerusalem was binding. As usual, they wrote such rules for their own benefit, so they could be seen as wise and would be sought after for their counsel, but also, so they could cunningly crafted so they themselves could twist them for their own purposes and benefit. 

Jesus rebukes them again, later in Matthew —

Matthew 23:16   “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 

Matthew 23:19 “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 

Matthew 23:21 “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”

The truth God wants is truth in your inward parts. The Pharisees strain out a gnat and swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24) with their oath-taking methods — their oaths are outward works that disguise the poverty of a human heart! 

But when you ask Him to purify your heart and fill it with His truth, you will fulfill Jesus’ command to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). I do not mean that the Lord will fill you with “facts,” but He will make you the very embodiment of truth because the Spirit of truth will be in you, large and in charge. It is the only way to have truth in your inward parts!

Filled with His truth, there is no question as to whether you will be a true witness of the God of heaven, the God who created the earth, the God who established Jerusalem, the God who sent His Son, who is the Great King! Never again will you profane His name because of an impure heart! You will be His witness here 

Acts 1:4, 5, 8 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

I tell you the truth, beloved. That is the only way that you will have His truth in your inward parts. Until then, every vow you make is outward. And you will break outward vows, just as I did until the Lord filled me with His truth!

Verse 37 —

Jesus concludes with this — But let your statement (word) be “Yes, yes,” or “No, no.” Anything beyond these is evil. 

Jesus repeats “yes” and “no” for emphasis. But there is no “let” in the original Greek. You cannot change your heart so your yes is yes and your no is no. It is something you must ask Him to do, in you! 

That is why Jesus adds that anything beyond your yes or no is evil (of the evil one, Satan). Why? Satan is happy when you profane the Lord’s name. He is happy to have you retain your sin nature, for it gives him an opening to devour you —

1Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

Again, what does God seek?

Psalm 15:1  O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? 

Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

2  He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, 

And speaks truth in his heart.

Psalm 51:6  Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being (the inward parts), 

And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Take no oaths at all! Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit! He will purify your heart! He will cleanse you inwardly! Then your yes will be yes, and your no will be no because you will have truth literally within you — truth in your inward parts!

Jesus Christ puts His finger on your heart today. He whose name is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11) will answer you, if you heed His words, see your heart’s poverty, and cry out for Him to change it. Then, you surely will be supremely blessed beyond anything you can think or imagine!

Amen, Lord Jesus. He or she who has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to every believer!

ADULTERY

[SW336] 7/21/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Adultery

Text: Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus Christ now addresses adultery and divorce — two sides of the same coin. Both are issues of unfaithfulness. Both are the result of lust in your heart.

You cannot hide the contents of your heart from God. He sees everything that is in it —

Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

I thank God that I cannot hide anything from Him! Why? If I agree with what He sees, and ask Him to change me, I will have nothing to try to hide!

God’s purpose for humans, from the beginning, is that we enter into a holy, intimate relationship with Him. But ever since Adam sinned, that relationship is impossible unless the human heart is entirely changed by Him.

The Lord gave the Law to Moses so His people would see their hearts, and understand their need for Him to entirely change their hearts. It was never meant to be simply a legalistic series do’s and don’ts, but a revealer of the spiritual poverty of the human heart.   

But then and now, many see the Law as do’s and don’ts, and attempt to be outwardly obedient while the sin nature still reigns in their hearts. It is impossible! Then and now, many twist the Law to justify their sin. Then and now, many try to hide what is in their hearts, as if they can fool God.

Jesus is about to reveal your heart. I pray you let Him do it. Blessed are you, if you heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it!

Verses 27-28 —

Jesus says, You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. That is the seventh of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). The penalty for adultery, in the Law of Moses, and when Jesus walked the earth, was death (Leviticus 20:10). 

You may say, Whew! I have never committed adultery! But don’t get too comfortable.

As with Verses 21-26, Jesus has repeated what the Law says, and then says, But I say! He will show you that committing adultery is a heart issue.

What does He say? Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Just looking and lusting is enough to call it adultery, even though you have not yet acted on your lust. It is in your heart! You are unfaithful to your wife, and to the Lord!

The sin nature, alive in every believer whose heart has not been changed by God, worships the god of self. And the god of self demands and lusts after sex, material things, power — even for blessings from God. We want what we want, and we want it now, regardless of our disobedience! 

And so, we commit spiritual adultery against God. We worship the god of self, instead of the God who created us. In doing so, we sin against God.

When God first chose Israel to be His people, He took them into the wilderness. They soon looked to other gods and lusted after what they thought those gods could do for them. The god of self reigned in their hearts. 

The Lord had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and was leading them to the promised land. Yet they were always asking, “God, what are you going to do for me? I don’t like to have to tramp around in this desert. We don’t like that manna. It is the same old same old. We want meat, varieties of foods like we had in Egypt. We want to go back there!” 

Paul warns the church at Corinth — 

1Corinthians 10:1   For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

1Corinthians 10:6   Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

As it was then, so it is now. The god of self rules and reigns in many in the church today. “God, what are You going to do to make my life easier, to make me rich, to make me successful, to make me the envy of everyone around me? What are you going to do to make me happy?” 

The god of self will reign in you until you heed Christ’s words, see that you have been worshiping the god of self, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out Christ to establish His kingdom in you by filling them with His Spirit. It was the same for me, until I saw and cried out, beloved.

But then! Oh, then, your flesh (sin nature) with its lusts and desires, is crucified (Galatians 5:24). There is no longer lust in your heart. You are no longer unfaithful to God or to others. 

Have you obeyed Christ’s command to stay and wait until you are filled with the Holy Spirit?

Verses 29-30 —

Jesus now recommends extremely harsh action to those who commit adultery, or any sin. Why? Sin is deadly, beloved, and if you refuse to receive His words, you have chosen hell as your ultimate destination. Heed His words —

If your right eye makes you sin, tear it out and throw it (intensely cast it away) from you, for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell! 

That’s pretty radical, Jesus! You are talking about a hell that most of us Christians don’t think exists. And you are saying that if we don’t tear out our sin and intensely throw it from us, our whole body will be thrown into hell! 

But Jesus continues to give harsh instructions —

If your right hand makes you sin, cut it off and throw it from you, for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell! 

Lord Jesus, unless you do something in my heart to remove the lust, I won’t have any body parts left, or I will simply give up and be hell-bound! Ah! That is what He wants you to see!

He has not come to condemn you, but to show you your heart, so you will cry out for Him to change it.  

There is forgiveness for you, if you repent! The woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged by the scribes and Pharisees into the temple court, where Jesus was teaching. They wanted to force Him to go against the Law of Moses, which required that she be stoned to death, but Jesus responded this way —

John 8:7, 9 . . .“He who is without sin (sinless, never having committed sin) among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 

John 8:10-11 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on, sin no more.”

He knew the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees. He knew their sin natures were alive and well. Because of His words, they saw their hearts, were ashamed, and one by one, they went away. 

The woman now saw her heart — she was not “without sin.” But Jesus did not condemn her. He commanded her to sin no more. It was a command to repent, and to do what is impossible for any of us to do, until He changes our hearts.

I wonder if she was in that upper room at Pentecost. I know that when He did not condemn me for my many sins, but forgave me and by His words, showed me my heart. I cried out for Him to change it, and had a personal Pentecost, so my sin nature and the god of self died. Lust was gone from my heart forever. He said, Go. Sin no more. And He has made it so. Glory to God!

Verse 31 —

I will say here that many commentators look at these verses in a legalistic way. That is, they say God’s purpose for marriage (one flesh) is dishonored by divorce. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s will. That is true, but they miss the underlying cause of adultery, divorce and sexual immorality — the lust in the poverty-stricken human heart!

Jesus speaks. It was said, Whoever sends his wife away (i.e., divorces her), let him give her a certificate of divorce. This was according to the Law of Moses, from Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Why was that law given? Jesus answers 

Matthew 19:8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart (spiritual destitution of heart) Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.”

The Israelites’ hearts were hard. They did not obey the Lord. Their hearts were covered with a thick sheath. So, their hearts were unresponsive, unyielding, and rebellious. It is the same today, for many of God’s people, including the church. 

At the time Jesus walked the earth, even the most outwardly religious of the day, the Pharisees, twisted the Law of Moses on divorce in order to satisfy their lusts. It was the Law, and they were doing the Law, they reasoned. So they were right before God. But their hearts were hard and full of lust. It is the same today for God’s people, including the church.

Some of the Jewish leaders and Pharisees made false accusations against their wives, to get rid of them. Why? A younger woman had caught their eye (see Malachi 2:15), so they sent the older wife away in order to marry a ”newer model.”  That is adultery, for they lusted after a woman. And that is why Jesus began this series of verses with a condemnation of adultery, in the presence of the scribes and Pharisees.

Verse 32 —

Jesus knows all human hearts. So He continues on the law of divorce saying, But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity (sexual immorality) makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

If a married woman commits sexual immorality, what is the condition of her heart? She is in spiritual poverty, still controlled by the lustful sin nature! 

And in those days, if the accusation was false, she had no recourse. She was sent away by her husband. The one sent away was sent into poverty, for she no longer had a means of support. Her only choices were to marry again, or to become a beggar. But if she married again, she committed adultery. And whoever married her also committed adultery. 

Why? Marriage is for life, a reflection of God’s design and command that we be spiritually married to Him forever, beloved — joined at the heart! But the Lord does allow divorce under very strict circumstances:

  Violence against a wife  (Malachi 2:16, Deuteronomy 27:24)

— Abandonment by an unsaved husband (1Corinthians 7:15)

For all other circumstances, heart change in one or both parties is the cure for a troubled marriage. Beloved, if you heed, see and cry out, the Lord will do it. Then, blessed will you be!

He will fill you with His Spirit, and you will gladly be faithful to Him, and walk with God the Father and God the Son in intimate, continual fellowship! Glory to God!

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw often said that he was the richest man in the world. He lived in humble financial circumstances. But he testified that the richness that he possessed was this — the indwelling presence of the living God, because his heart had been changed, the sin nature crucified, the god of self dethroned. He had the richness of eternal communion, even here and now, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! 

Lord Jesus, may today’s hearers respond to Your truth, that they may become rich in the same way! Amen. So be it!

SESSION 22 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 16 

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I teach today. This final chapter of 1Corinthians appears, at first, to be a collection of unrelated instructions. But I see that the underlying theme is giving honor and being obedient to the Spirit-filled leaders of the church in Jerusalem, and those whom Paul plans to send to them. Why? To honor such leaders is to honor Christ!

So, if I were to give this a title, it would be, “Honor Christ.” 

Verses 1-2 —

The collection is for the saints (the church) in Jerusalem, who are impoverished  because of severe persecution from their fellow Jews. They are shunned and banned. No one will hire them, so they have no money. But the collection is made not only because of their poverty, but because Christians honor Christ when they honor their Spirit-filled leaders —

Hebrews 13:17   Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

The collection is not to be randomly taken, but is to be done on the first day of every week — Sunday. Paul commands the believers at Corinth to save through the week, according to their ability, so the collection can be gathered BEFORE Paul comes. If it isn’t done until he comes, they should be ashamed of themselves.

This is practiced throughout the churches. Paul writes to the Romans, reminding them that other churches are making a contribution —

Romans 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.

The  spiritual things in which they share are salvation and sanctification (the infilling of the Holy Spirit) through Jesus Christ, who was a Jew by birth (though fully God). So, material blessing is a means of honoring the source of their spiritual blessings — Jesus Christ, and the Jewish apostles who were the first to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.

Verses 3-4 —

Paul speaks of his upcoming visit, instructing them that when he arrives, they may appoint emissaries with letters, to bring their gift to Jerusalem. 

But the emissaries that are chosen may go to Jerusalem with Paul, if that is suitable. It will depend on whether his visit with the believers at Corinth is completed by the time the emissaries are ready to travel. 

Verses 5-7 —

Paul assures them that he is coming, after he goes through Macedonia. He has not visited the churches there for several years, though all reports are good. Indeed, they are remaining steadfast in the faith, and they send in collections over and above what is expected. So, on his way to Corinth, he will visit them — probably from spring through early summer.

Verses 8-9 —

Another reason why he wants to go through Macedonia is this — a wide door for effective, fruitful ministry has opened. But as it is today in ministry, there are many adversaries and great opposition to the gospel (see Acts 19:23-24 for an example). Since he will have opposition, he will need to spend significant time there, in order to further the gospel.

Paul wants the believers at Corinth to understand that when he comes to them, his visit may well be lengthy. He has wanted to visit them, simply because he loves them with God’s divine love. He wants to fellowship with them, as well as to determine whether they are now obeying his instructions.

But we know that this visit will turn out to be painful. Surely, Paul has an inkling that he might find the church at Corinth to be still in disarray, in spite of his instructions in 1Corinthians. He has already chided them because he faced opposition even from some of them — both from believers who questioned his apostleship, and from false teachers.

So, Paul alerts them that he may need to remain with them, possibly spending the whole winter in Corinth. When he has completed his work among them, he informs them that they may send him on his way (indicating financial help from them) to his next destination.

He does not want to see them just in passing, but hopes to remain with them for some time, if the Lord permits. Paul is governed by the Lord’s will, not his own! Would that this could be said of all of today’s church leaders, and all Christians!

Verses 10-11 —

Paul now gives instructions about Timothy, whom he may send as his personal delegate to visit them. Timothy is a leader in the church, and has traveled extensively with Paul (see Acts 16:1-3, 2Timothy 3:10-14 and 2Timothy 4:1-5). 

What are his instructions to the believers at Corinth regarding Timothy? To receive him as a leader, honoring him (and thereby, honoring Christ). They are not to cause Timothy to fear (that is, fear that he might not be well received by them). Why? Because Timothy, like Paul, is doing the Lord’s work! They are both filled with the Holy Spirit, and both evangelize!

So, Paul commands this — let no one despise him (treat him with contempt). It is amazing that he has to instruct the believers at Corinth in this way, but indeed, some of them have received Paul with contempt! 

After Timothy’s visit to them, the church at Corinth is to send him on his way (with funds) in peace (with a blessing of peace). Paul knows that Timothy’s visit may cause upheaval in the church at Corinth, because Timothy will teach and exhort just as Paul teaches and exhorts. But Paul commands the church at Corinth that regardless of what Timothy says to them, they are to send him off properly, and not angrily.

Verse 12 —

Apparently, the church at Corinth had asked Apollos to return and minister to them, with the brethren. They were likely looking for kinder words that would contradict Paul’s exhortations. When Paul learned of their request to Apollos, Paul strongly urged him to go. He knew Apollos would speak the truth to them! 

But it was not at all (not in any way) Apollos’ desire to come immediately. He did not obey the church at Corinth, but his own Spirit-filled leaders, and most importantly, the Lord. He would come when he had opportunity — that is, when his current assignment permitted it.

Verse 13 — 

Now, Paul writes some final exhortations to the believers at Corinth. Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. What does Paul mean?

#1 — Be on the alert — Be on your guard. Given the problems at Corinth, this surely refers to being wary of false teachers. It is the same exhortation he gave the elders at Ephesus when they came to him at Miletus —

Acts 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

#2 — Stand firm in the faith — Given their penchant for re-writing the gospel, based on false teachers among them and from outside, they have not stood firm. Now he commands them to do it.

#3 — Act like men — Right now, they are acting like the infants in Christ that they truly are. But he is commanding them to grow up!  

#4 — Be strong — This is an echo of 1Corinthians 15:58 — Be steadfast, immovable, always super-abounding in the work of the Lord They have not been strong! Again, he exhorts them!

Verse 14 —

The original Greek is “All things of you in love, let it be.” That is, “All things that you do must be done in love; this must come into being in you.”

All they have done up to this point has NOT been done in the divine love of God because they are not yet filled with the Spirit! Therefore, they are not compelled and held captive by His love. And so, this is an exhortation for heart change! 

All that the believers in Corinth do MUST now be done in God’s divine love! Otherwise, they remain as they are now — sounding gongs and clanging cymbals, and jealous and strife will continue among them. Oh, that they would heed Paul, who has exhorted them to be filled with the Spirit! It is the same in the church today!

Verses 15-18 —

Again, Paul exhorts them to honor their leaders (and thus, honor Jesus Christ, who appointed them). Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, who are originally from Corinth, are being sent by Paul. The believers at Corinth know that the household of Stephanas were the firstfruits (the first to believe) in the region of Achaia. And these three men have devoted themselves to ministry to the saints (all believers). So, Paul commands the church at Corinth to honor them, also.

So, he is sending Timothy. Apollos will come when he is able. Now, Paul tells the believers at Corinth that he is also sending three others! Major corrections are required, and Paul needs their assistance, until he himself can come and reprimand the church at Corinth!

Again, this is a call for the believers at Corinth to be in subjection to the leaders of the church. Paul commands them to submit to them, and to everyone who helps in the work and labors of the spreading of the gospel — that is, all leaders who are appointed by Jesus Christ to come to them. 

Paul rejoices over and strongly commends Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. They have supplied what was lacking on the part of the church at Corinth. What was lacking? Respect and honor, and refreshment of Paul’s spirit.

Refreshment of our spirits — it is always so, when longtime, Spirit-filled believers meet after a long absence! There is much fellowship with the Father and the Son, in the Spirit, which is always an encouragement to those who have been out in the harvest fields to which Christ has called them. 

Therefore, the believers at Corinth are to recognize and honor them! Why does Paul keep repeating this, for each one he sends to them? It is because they are infants in Christ, beloved. Therefore, they have not honored Paul. Let today’s church hear what the Spirit is saying!

Verses 19-21 — 

As was common in all letters to the churches, Paul tells them all the brethren from all the churches in Asia greet them. Aquila and Priscilla greet them. You will recall that they are Jews who were originally from Rome but were expelled because they were Jewish. This couple met Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:2 and forward), were saved and filled with the Spirit, and then went to Ephesus to continue sharing the gospel, establishing a church in their house (Acts 18:2 and forward). 

He concludes by saying all the brethren greet them, and that the believers at Corinth must greet one another with a holy kiss. It probably is common in their culture to greet with a kiss. But Paul says the kiss of greeting must be holy, and that they — fighting among themselves as they are — must kiss each other! Again, Paul infers that they must become holy, by being wholly filled with God’s Holy Spirit and His love!

He emphasizes that this greeting is in his own hand. Paul’s heart is for them, and not against them!

Verse 22 — 

This is a warning to Paul’s opponents at Corinth. If anyone among them does not love the Lord — and their lack of love for Christ is evident by their actions — they are to be accursed. Paul uses the same exhortation to those who deviate from the gospel at Galatia (Galatians 1:8-9). 

He adds, Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! It is an eschatological (end times) prayer and fits well with his message to the believers at Corinth regarding the false teaching to which they have been listening —

Revelation 22:17   The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. 

Revelation 22:18   I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:20   He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Verses 23-24 —

Paul closes with a benediction, the uttering of a blessing, as he prays —

— The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you (may His work in your hearts be evident in your lives).

— My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen (let it be so). 

Indeed, his love is with them — not human love but the divine love of God which compels him and to which he is captive! Amen!

As I said last time, I will not publish 2Corinthians until the fall, so I have time to record a dozen sessions before I begin publishing. That will give me some leeway for travel and such, allowing me to still publish once a week. 

I look forward to continuing to explore the Word of God with you! As with Paul, I do it because I am compelled by His divine love, because of my love for you all, and I am only able to teach you because of His divine empowerment! May you apply this Word to your heart, beloved! Amen! So be it, Lord Jesus!

ANGER IS MURDER

[SW335] 7/14/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Anger Is Murder

Text: Matthew 5:21-26

Jesus equates anger with murder in today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Why? Because the root of both anger and murder is hate. So, do you get angry? Then heed His words, see the spiritual poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it! 

It is another of God’s standards that seems impossible to attain. But Jesus will gladly change your heart so that there is no hate in your heart anymore. Then you will attain it.

NOTE: When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, God’s divine love fills your heart. Then, you can’t stop speaking about what you have seen and heard! You will speak with sinners, giving them the Good News of Jesus Christ, warning them of the coming judgment (John 5:26, Acts 2:36-40 and 3:23, etc.), and urging them to turn from their sin, believe into Christ, be reconciled to God, and then seek to be filled with His Spirit, so their hearts are made pure. That is not hate — it is life-giving!

Jesus says, “You have heard,” but then He says, “But I say.” Why? God’s Word had been twisted by teachers for man’s purposes then, just as it is now. 

Verse 21 —

 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’”

Thou shalt not murder — it is the sixth of the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17). You have heard it, Jesus says. And they have heard “Whoever commits murder shall be liable (guilty before) the court (the Sanhedrin).” That one will be judged. The sentence for murder was death (Leviticus 24:17). You will say, as I used to say, “Thank goodness! I have not murdered anyone!”

Verse 22 —

But before you get too comfortable, Jesus says, “But I say!” May you see your heart!

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;” 

Everyone who is angry (enraged) with his brother (his fellow man) shall be guilty before the court. That one will face God’s divine judgment.

Anger is murder, because hate in your heart is at the root of both! What a word for the behavior of many today! 

I do not expect the world to obey Jesus, but His followers must — and yet many do not. I tell you the truth, you shall be guilty before the court of the Lord, just as they shall be.

1John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Again, hate is at the root of anger and murder. I pray you would see it.

And what about angry name-calling? Listen!

“ . . . and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;”

Whoever says to his fellow man “you good-for-nothing” (rhaka, worthless, empty one) shall be guilty before the supreme court. That is, when you die and then stand before the Lord, He will say you are a murderer.

As I say, I expect the world to do exactly what it is doing now, and to an ever greater degree. Never has there been greater anger, one against another, in my lifetime! It is in the headlines, and on the news, continually. 

They will be judged by the Lord, at the end of things. They are already under judgment because they refuse Jesus Christ! As the Apostle Paul says, those who are outside, God judges (1Corinthians 5:13). They remain under God’s wrath until they repent (turn from their sin) and believe into Jesus Christ (John 3:36). Only then they will be reconciled to God.

They will be judged. But so will you, O Christian, if you do likewise! Look at your heart! Are you calling anyone worthless and empty? Do you have contempt for others? I will tell you that I see contempt between Christian brothers and sisters. I see church wars and power plays and cruel politics in the church.

Jesus warns those who follow Him —

Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will fall away (sin) and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 “Because lawlessness (sin) is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

“. . . and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ (godless moral reprobate) shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” 

I hear many say such words, in the world, and even in the church! What shall happen to you? You shall go into the fiery hell! What? There is no hell. God would not do that! The word “hell” is used in the New Testament 11 times by Jesus Christ, and twice in Hebrews.

Some cry, “The power of death and life is in the tongue, so you have power when you speak!” But that is not the meaning of that Proverb. Listen to the second half of it —  

Proverbs 18:21  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

What is the fruit of hate-driven words toward others? Judgment! So you will be judged by the angry words that your tongue speaks, or you will have life because there is no longer any hate in your heart. 

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (see Matthew 12:34)! What is in your heart?

I tell you the truth, anger is not a fruit of the Spirit, but of the flesh, the sinful nature (Galatians 5:20). You will say, The flesh wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17)! But I will say, those who are in Christ have crucified the flesh and its lusts and desires (see Galatians 5:24)! 

Have you? Oh, heed Jesus’ words! See the spiritual poverty of your heart! Cry out to Him to change it! He will. Then, blessed will you be!

Verses 23-24 —

Therefore, if you are presenting your gift to God at the altar, and (while) there, remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go; first, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your gift. 

What? My brother has something against me, and I have to go to him and be reconciled? If I don’t, the Lord won’t accept anything from me? Yes! 

Even if you are not at fault, you must go. And if you are at fault, you must go! As long as you refuse to attempt reconciliation so that as much as it is possible, you are at peace with your brother (Romans 12:18), the Lord will not receive what you give Him. Why? You are not right with God —

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Jesus does not say, Try to forgive. Forgive! You cannot do it, until you truly heed what He says, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it!

Thanks be to God, He will!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, your Father in heaven, will not forgive you, unless you forgive one who sins against you. Go to them, just as Jesus Christ directs you in Matthew 18:15-17. 

And if you sin against them, make haste to settle with them. Listen!

Verse 25 — 

Make friends (agree with your adversary) quickly (readily, without delay) with your opponents at law, while you are on the way (to the court). What if you do not ?

— Your opponent will hand you over to the judge (God)

— And the judge will hand you over to the officer (Satan)

— And  you will be thrown into prison (hell).

You are on the way to that day when you will stand before Jesus Christ, beloved. Make peace now!

Verse 26 —

I tell you, says Jesus, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent! And there is no way to repay Him for your sin, after He has judged you. Hell has no exits, beloved! 

You will say, I am saved! But I will say, you were saved in a moment of time, but you must continue in your salvation. It is possible to fall away —

Hebrews 10:26   For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 

As I have already spoken from Matthew 24:10 — many will fall away (will sin, will be tripped up) and will betray one another and hate one another. Anger is murder, and the root is the hate in a human heart that has not been transformed by the infilling of the Holy Spirit, beloved!

Jesus Christ presents an impossible standard to those who are saved, but have not asked Jesus to fill them with His Holy Spirit. Oh, if they cry out, He will purify their hearts and crucify the sin nature, so hate is no longer in your heart, and you have the fruit of the Spirit!

You remember that I have spoken from Matthew 18:23-35, the parable of the slave forgiven of a debt impossible for him to repay. You, too, have been forgiven of such a debt, by your Lord and God! But he went to one who owed him little, and chastised him for it, and imprisoned him. What happened to him?

Matthew 18:32 “Then summoning him, his lord  said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger (God’s righteous anger), handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

But your heart must be changed, in order for you to forgive as you are required to forgive, in order for you to no longer be angry, no longer murder, because hate is no longer your heart. No longer! No longer!

Oh, heed, see, cry out! The Lord has come to speak to your heart today, and He will gladly change it, when you cry out!

I will confess to you that I have had times, since being filled with the Spirit, where I have become frustrated regarding a fellow believer, or with the church as a whole. But I do not hate — it is gone from my heart! I just want so badly for each believer’s heart to be changed as the Lord has so mercifully changed mine! Nevertheless, I take my frustration to the Lord, and He reminds me that I am to give the words He gives me, and then it is between Him and the hearer. 

Lord Jesus, may your church hear Your words, and repent. Amen. So be it!