Tag Archives: sin

Paralyzed! — Matthew 9:1-8

Paralyzed! — Matthew 9:1-8
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 18, 2019

We can become paralyzed by different things in life. Fear of the unknown, disease, not knowing how to act, or many other things can cause us to be paralyzed in life. But when it comes to sharing our faith about God we should never be paralyzed. Our duty is to share the love of God when we are given the opportunity by the Lord and never be fearful of the outcome.

Here in Matthew’s gospel we read about an incident that occurred when Jesus heads back across the Sea of Galilee and enters his own home town of Capernaum. Some men or perhaps some friends bring to Jesus a man who is paralyzed but we soon discover that the real paralytic were those who should have acted in compassion but were more concerned for their outward piety than for the man who needed forgiveness. Let’s discover what it means to be paralyzed…

READ: Matthew 9:1-8

We can become narrow-minded and forget God is always at work around us. And here in Matthew…

I. We learn that we should act out of faith not fear! (Vv. 1-4)

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?

  1. After healing a demon-possessed man Jesus isn’t done. He then “stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town”. Jesus returns to Capernaum which is now called his town because after leaving Nazareth, he made Capernaum his Galilean home. Matthew often is very straight forward in describing events while others are often more descriptive. It’s a matter of personal choice in their writing and nothing more. We learn that as Jesus is ministering from his home in Capernaum “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat.” The same incident is described by Mark in that “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. (Mark 2:4 NIV)” Matthew relates that “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’” Some have argued it was the friend’s faith Jesus saw but I believe it was the entire group’s faith. The four men’s willingness to help their friend and the paralyzed man’s yearning to be healed and allowing his friends to take him to Jesus! Some think that because of this incident that if we do acts of kindness God will respond, but this is not the case at all. Remember, Jesus “saw their faith” which meant their willingness to believe he was the Messiah and could heal their friend. And because of their faith Jesus tells the paralytic “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Now Jesus is not teaching that this man’s illness was caused by his sin, but rather Jesus knew and understood who was nearby because when Jesus forgives him “some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’” While the friends and the paralytic could see Jesus was the Messiah, the blind teachers of the law did not. “Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?’” These men should have been the ones who immediately saw Jesus for who he was, the promised Messiah, but they did not. Instead they were focused on their narrow vision of what constituted faith: ritualistic adherence to the Law of Moses. The four men overcame their fear and brought their friend, the paralytic overcame his fear and let them, but the teachers of the law could not overcome theirs. We learn that we should act out of faith not fear!

  EXAMPLE: Herbert Lugt writes that “I agree with the statement ‘Faith chases out fear, or fear chases out faith.’ But I also know that no believer is immune to panic or terror.” Recently I was nearly forced into oncoming traffic by another driver who turned into the wrong lane next to me. Being caught in a major earthquake can cause panic even to believers. Those who have survived intense bombing attacks say that anyone who claims he wasn’t afraid at the time is either a liar or a fool. Lugt notes that “It is not a sin to feel panic or terror in a life-threatening situation.” We need to remember:  “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalms 56:3 NIV)” We learn we should act out of faith not fear!

Holding one’s head up high whenever we feel afraid is okay but here in Matthew…

II. We discover that faith casts out fear! (Vv. 5-8)

Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

  1. The teachers of the law were so caught up in their traditions and following strict rituals they had forgotten who God was! We see this today with religions that place strict adherence on ritual, regulations, laws, or ceremonies on their people instead of teaching them about the love of God. There is comfort in ritual because it is a personal act one does in order to appease God and so one can mark off their list of duties that they have done so. So Jesus turns their strictness on them and asks, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Jesus knew it would have been impossible for them to forgive the paralytic’s sin and not just because they were not God but because they could not force themselves to overlook their strict adherence. They believed the man deserved his suffering because either his parent’s had sinned or he had; which of course was not true! And they did not have the power or the faith to give the paralytic back his ability to walk! They were quick to call Jesus a blasphemer but were helpless and unwilling to help the paralytic in any way possible either. They were afraid to step out of what they had practiced for personal piety for so long. Jesus bluntly responds to them, “‘so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…’ Then he said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’” Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the teachers of the law? Sucking sour persimmons would have produced better results! Like little old ladies stuck in their sowing circle of threading gossip and mischief these self-promoting pious men were caught with the pompous security down. And to their self-righteous horror “the man got up and went home”! Mark relates that “He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:12 NIV)” and Matthew tells us that “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” The crowd understood what had occurred. The paralytic and his friends understood what had occurred. But the teachers of the law were still blind in their faith and it is here we discover that faith casts out fear!

  EXAMPLE: There are a lot of people afraid to travel by air. Many know what the statistics say—that they are safer in an airplane than in the family car. But that doesn’t matter. Researchers say that a conscious fear of crashing is usually not the problem. The real root of their anxiety is the fear that they will lose control of their lives once they leave the ground. A similar crisis of faith may occur when a person puts himself in the care of God. He too is carried a long way from what the world considers ‘solid ground.’ Trusting an invisible Lord can be frightening, especially for a new Christian.” However, we discover that faith casts out fear!

Conclusion:

We learn that we should act out of faith not fear! We discover that faith casts out fear!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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A silk purse out of sow’s ear! — Matthew 8:28-34

A silk purse out of sow’s ear! — Matthew 8:28-34
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 11, 2019

The idiom “You can’t make a silk purse out of sow’s ear” means that one can’t make something good out of something inherently bad, however, with enough ingenuity it is possible to make a very passable “silk” purse out of a sow’s ear. In 1921 Massachusetts industrialist Arthur D. Little (who discovered acetate) obtained glue made from the skin and gristle of pig’s ears, and had it filtered and forced through a spinneret into a mixture of formaldehyde and acetone. The glue emerged as 16 fine, colorless streams that hardened and then combined to form a single composite fiber. Little soaked the fiber in dyed glycerin. Then he had the resulting thread woven into cloth on a handloom, and the cloth fashioned into an elegant purse.

There are certain individuals who are seen as unredeemable by society at large. And here in Matthew’s gospel we find several men who were considered such by their peers. The other synoptic gospels of Mark and Luke relate that it was only one man, but the number is unimportant because what happens to the unredeemable is far more interesting. In fact we discover Jesus making a “silk purse out of sow’s ear” spiritually so-to-speak. Let’s discover what happened…

READ: Matthew 8:28-34

I have always found it curious that silk is made from the web of a worm but then again we discover…

I. Silk can be found in the strangest places! (Vv. 28-29)

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

  1. The area is Gadarenes in Matthew, and Gerasenes in Mark and Luke. The simple explanation of this difference is that Gadarenes and Gerasenes are different names for the inhabitants of the same large district, so called from Gadara and Gerasa, two cities of that region; while Gergesenes is the name of the people of a smaller district within the other, and named from the city of Gergesa. It was an area that wasn’t often visited by pious Jews because of its inhabitants. Yet, “When [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him.” We find it difficult to come in contact with the mentally-ill or drug-addicted homeless person who is aggressive but Jesus comes face-to-face with two demon-possessed men! Again there are those who try to lessen this incident by proclaiming they did not know about the mentally ill and would refer to them as “possessed”. While this could be true, I am quite certain Jesus knew the difference being God and all and we discover that they were indeed possessed individuals. And in fact we find that “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.” These two men had a reputation and folks were probably unlikely to willingly go the way Jesus and his disciples did so as not to confront these men but isn’t interesting that Jesus does just that? He deliberately goes where these deranged demon-possessed men lived. We see why folks were reluctant to go by the tombs where these men were because they shout to Jesus “What do you want with us, Son of God?” Sin does not like to be exposed and often gets angry at those who live lives of godliness because their lives are seen for what they truly are in stark contrast. Plus these guys knew who Jesus was. They immediately go on the defensive and demand “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Isn’t it interesting that demons readily admit there will be a day of reckoning but we often can’t bring ourselves to admit that there will be such a day? An “appointed time” where both sinful mankind and those demonic forces are judged? Yet in all of their brash, harsh, and loudness Jesus sees them for who they truly are: men in need of a Savior. Silk can be found in the strangest places!

  EXAMPLE: Haddon Robinson asks, “When you think of the term evangelism, what picture flashes onto the wall of your mind? A large stadium filled with people? A small booklet with a set of diagrams? A Christian wearing a pin with the symbol of a fish? A zealous believer playing intellectual chess with a pagan opponent? A salesman convincing a reluctant person to ‘try Jesus’?” Evangelism isn’t about being a huckster who cons people into buying what they don’t need. It has nothing to do with grabbing people by the lapels and shoving faith down their unsuspecting throats. “Evangelism is simply sharing with others what we know about Jesus. No tricks. No deception. Speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth—in love. Then leave the results with God.” Why? Because if we share like Jesus did we will discover that silk can be found in the strangest places!

Isn’t it interesting that the web of an ugly worm is dyed and made into some of the most beautiful garments and it is all because…

II. Silk is woven best by the hands of a master! (Vv. 30-32)

Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

  1. Sometimes convenience, coincidence, or circumstance dictates how we respond. And perhaps this was the case here. But I think not. This region was inhabited by non-Jews, gentiles, who raised pigs. It just so happens that “Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.” I have wondered if sheep would have worked instead of pigs but the irony is found in it being pigs. In the Hebraic mind and in ours as well, demons deserve no better receptacle than a porcine repository. We discover that it’s as if they know what’s coming so “The demons begged Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’” If he drives them out, of course he will. The whole scenario is set up for this moment. Jesus was there in that area for these men so they could be freed from their imprisonment. The demons were going to find a different abode whether they liked their new found accommodations or not. So in this instance Jesus grants a demonic request and “He said to them, ‘Go!’” I have found it kind of humorous how often today’s theatrics enters into the made up power of God at the hands of those who claim to have it. Arms are waved, specific intonations are made, and catch phrases are used in order to gain the attention of the unsuspecting audience. In some incidences they are even provided a sound track and dramatic lighting. It’s all about the show. But here it was all about the men who needed rescuing. With a simple word from God (Jesus) the demons “came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.” They drowned. It was perhaps the first cured ham. I guess they were the pigs who couldn’t do anything but what God (Jesus) commanded. Herein is the truth of this situation: Jesus was in total control. From where he sailed, the storm that brought them to this shore and where he decided to walk that day. The men who ran out under the influence of demons were now face-to-face with the Son of God. They understood his power and Jesus was weaving a tapestry that would be told over and over of how these demon-possessed men were rescued by the Son of God! Silk is woven best by the hands of a master!

  EXAMPLE: An artist was once falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. Although allowed to take his brushes and paints with him, he had no way of obtaining a canvas. One day in desperation he asked a guard for something to paint on. The guard picked up a dirty old handkerchief and tossed it to him. He retorted, “There, see what you can do with that soiled rag!” The artist painted on it his concept of Jesus’ face. He thought he would show it first to the man who had given him the dirty rag. When the guard looked at the beautiful image he was moved and tears welled up in his eyes. The painting became famous. If one man could take an old, soiled rag and make it a masterpiece, just think what the Master Artist could do with your life. Silk is woven best by the hands of a master!

If you look at a silkworm under a magnifying glass they look terrifying and grotesque but here in Matthew’s gospel we discover that…

III. Sometimes silk frightens those who need it most! (Vv. 33-34)

Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

  1. You may think it strange but not everyone likes it when people are cured, and especially when they are saved. Those who have had drug-addicted or alcoholic spouses often become co-dependent emotionally and spiritually to their addicted spouse and have a hard time adjusting to what a normal life with them should be like. The same is true for a family member who turns to Jesus and is changed. It was true for my life. My family struggled with it until they realized that God had done something they could not explain and came to grips with the fact. And it is true here in this incident as well because we find that “Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.” You would think they would have been happy, excited, or even a bit curious at the sudden cure of the two men. However business can overcome curiosity and when a whole heard of pigs is lost to a community that depends upon the porcine productivity of the local farmers this was indeed frightening. Add to this that there were demons and drowning involved! We do find that “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus.” But it wasn’t to praise him or to thank him for what had occurred because instead “when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” Years ago I had a woman whose husband had come to Christ and was dramatically changed beg me to “change him back!” Of course I could not nor would I if I could. Just like we find with the Gadarene townspeople we find that sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

  EXAMPLE: “You can’t make me!” the youngster vehemently declared. She needed to take her medication but adamantly refused because she had choked on a pill before. All she could remember is the pill getting stuck in her throat and how it had made her gag. But the pill was necessary in order for her to get over her pneumonia. It can be quite disconcerting when your child refuses to do something that you know is ultimately good for them. Knowing that they will be okay is not comforting to the child in such circumstances because it can be quite frightening. Yet a good parent will persist because even though it may frighten the child, they need their medicine to get better. Here we learn that sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

Conclusion:

Silk can be found in the strangest places! Silk is woven best by the hands of a master! Sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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In the Wild! – John 20:30-31

In the Wild! – John 20:30-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 21, 2019

Life is filled with incredible encounters. As we go through childhood, we are constantly discovering everything about the world around us. When we make friends, discover the beauty of nature, and become more aware of everything around us, we begin to realize the world’s vastness. We also begin to grasp that an entire globe of opportunities awaits each of us!

God made us to encounter his love and to enjoy a personal relationship with him that lasts not just for a lifetime, but for eternity. All through his Word, God introduces himself in incredible ways, showing himself to be perfectly faithful, true, compassionate, and merciful. Even though people aren’t perfect, God has a plan to forgive us of our sin and bless us with a relationship with him. As Jesus’ earthly ministry began, he made it clear that his purpose was to make a way for every person to have an opportunity to receive his forgiveness and to enjoy eternal life with God. Jesus wants each of us to encounter his love and to be born again. When we truly meet him, we are never the same! Let’s discover what God has for us in the wild…

READ: John 20:30-31

The world is a wild and wonderful place that is filled both good and bad things. Our journey through life places us squarely within this wonderful but wild world. Wild animals are not the only thing the world is filled with but also with ungodliness as well. We discover that…

I. God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us! (v. 30)

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

  1. The gospel writers wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit about some of the things Jesus did from healing lepers, the blind, the lame, and even bringing back the dead but the most important thing they shared was how “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)” Therefore, Jesus, God in human flesh, willingly entered into a world full of sin, violence, and hatred to bring and show us the love of God. In fact the wording here literally comes from the notion that God deliberately entered our realm and pitched his tent with us! I love to go camping in public campgrounds and sometimes my camp neighbors are fun to get to know, friendly, and enjoyable but there have been times when those next to me should have stayed home and I wished they had pitched their tent somewhere else! But I am so glad Jesus willingly came and pitched his tent with us! Paul expresses Jesus’ coming into the wild of the world to rescue us when he wrote that Jesus Christ “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7 NIV)” Jesus deliberately set aside his deity and came and pitched his tent among us because God’s desire was to change people forever! And he wanted people to experience this wonderful life change for their own selves. It is like when Jesus went to the Samaritans “And because of his words (and the testimony of a Samaritan woman) many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’ (John 4:41-42 NIV)” and as Jesus testified, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10 NIV)” This is what Vacation Bible School is all about; to share the love of God with children about the coming of Jesus into the wilderness of this world to rescue us from our sins! God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us!

  EXAMPLE: Years ago when my brother-in-law and I were finishing a weekend camping and hiking trip when we encountered three younger teens who were not prepared for hiking in the wilderness. And sadly later on we met two of them who were out of breath because of trying to run for help for their friend who had fallen off a 30 foot water fall. They had been pushing logs over the edge and he had been caught in one and taken over the falls. I ran down the trail while Dale went back to meet the rescue team. I hiked with the team up the creek bed to try and rescue the young boy but it was too late. I am so glad that God came as Jesus at just the right time into the wild to rescue us!

As we journey through the wild here in this world we can chose to have an encounter with Jesus or not. Amazingly we discover that…

II. Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him! (v. 31)

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  1. John was so impacted and astonished at who Jesus was and what he did he never lost the utter amazement of what had occurred. In fact he would finish his gospel by writing: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25 NIV)” We must never forget that Jesus did not come so we could have a good worship experience on Sundays, an answer for all our emotional, personal, or physical problems; Jesus made it plain: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)” There are those who falsely think this fullness includes all of the things I listed before but in reality Jesus was not referring to this at all! He was teaching about that he came to give his listeners eternal life with God! Jesus’ detractors have always wanted to relegate him to something less than what he is or to rewrite why he came. But Jesus was never deterred. He would bluntly tell them, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 NIV)” Jesus is God. And his entire purpose was that we would have a wild encounter with him! In a world that has become a wilderness full of those who would purposefully confuse who Jesus is and why he came we have the real truth! The wilderness of the world is full of confusion as to what constitutes sin, God, and has redefined morality. The ungodly world loves to hide in the wilderness and darkness of their sin. Isaiah the prophet declared thousands of years ago the truth that there would be those who would want to confuse you and that they would ultimately be condemned: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NIV)” However Jesus related, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12 NIV)” Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

  EXAMPLE: This is why I love Vacation Bible School because it simply and plainly teaches the truth of Jesus and why he came into the wilderness of creation to rescue us. And children see the truth, they know the truth, and they are not confused by the truth. In the week to come children will learn about being in the wild and they will learn about the truth of Jesus! I am so glad that Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

Conclusion:

God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us! Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Lust and love! – Matthew 5:27-32

Lust and love! – Matthew 5:27-32
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 17, 2013

Our society as a whole often confuses lust and love. It has become more of a concern because we have begun to endorse and even encourage perverted lifestyles because we have blurred the lines between the two. Young children are often caught in the crosshairs of politically correct garbage rather than the truth. Some are undergoing chemical, physical, and emotional sex changes in order to sooth the ungodly consciences of adults. Sadly we will reap the consequences of such ungodly and perverted politically correctness.

Here in Matthew’s gospel we see Jesus meeting head on the age old ungodliness of sexuality. He confronts how people viewed marriage and sexual relationships. With the Internet and the rise of pornography addiction we need to look again at what Jesus taught about lust and love and why…

READ: Matthew 5:27-32

We must remind ourselves that here in the beatitudes Jesus deliberately used extreme examples in order to gain the crowd’s attention. He wanted them to be shocked to their senses in order for them to begin to think about their worldview and whether they actually lived for the Lord or not. We discover…

I. The cure for the sin of inner adultery is radical! (Vv. 27-30)

You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

  1. There is more to one’s faith than just feeling good about one’s self. If all we needed to do was a few good things once in a while in order to make ourselves feel better about ourselves Jesus did not have to come to earth, walk among us, cruelly suffer and die on a cross, and be raised from the dead! We could do Habitat for Humanity, join the Peace Corps, or mow the widow’s lawn next door. Marching for a cause may make you feel good and show the world you’re serious about something but the intent of your heart is what God truly looks at. It is this intent that gets most of us into trouble. This is exactly why Jesus focuses the crowd by reminding them that “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’” Jesus was referencing Exodus 20:14 where God gave the commandment “You shall not commit adultery.” The Pharisees knew the commandments and meticulously followed them but they had totally missed the point, just as many believers do in our day! They were only concerned with the outward act. God is not as concerned with the outward act as he is concerned for the inner heart of a person. This is why James, Jesus’ brother would write: “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15 NIV)” Jesus goes on to relate, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Wow! We need to be aware of where our hearts (everything that makes us who we are) resides because the cure can be far worse than the cause: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Was Jesus advocating dismembering or disfiguring one’s body to resolve their sin condition? Nope, what he was doing was focusing on the enormity of the power of sin in one’s life! The cure for the sin of inner adultery is radical!

  EXAMPLE: There’s an old story about a country doctor who gave his patient a total examination, he scratched his head in bewilderment, and asked, “Have you had this before?” When the patient answered, “Yes,” the doctor wrinkled his brow and said, “Well, you’ve got it again.” There’s nothing as frustrating as a problem that defies diagnosis. What a relief it is to find a skilled doctor who can say with confidence, “This is your problem and this treatment will help.” Jesus as the Great Physician has given us the cure for the ultimate disease! We discover there that the cure for the sin of inner adultery is radical and in Jesus we have the cure!

When we sin we often forget what it destroys relationships, our self-esteem, and our standing with a holy God! Lust can destroy our marriage as well. The ungodly view of marriage in Jesus’ day had left many women destitute simply because their ungodly husbands had treated them so horrendously. Here we discover…

II. Marriage is sacred! (Vv. 31-32)

It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.” But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

  1. Nothing in our society today has suffered as much as marriage. Contrary to what some would have you believe, divorce is not the same among believing Christians and the world. In Jesus’ day the view of women was completely ungodly. They were basically relegated to being the property of men. God had never intended the relationship between a husband and wife to be seen this way or to be practiced the way it was during the lifetime of Jesus. Believe me he is just as disgusted with how we view marriage. While we may not see women as property how both men and women have disdained the sacredness of marriage is disgusting. Jesus goes right to the heart of the issue during his day by relating, “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’” Jesus was introducing his argument with a well known truth. Among the Jewish leaders were two schools of thought regarding divorce: 1) There were those who said it was permissible for a husband to divorce his wife for any reason at all like burning the soup or keeping a messy house, but the other group 2) said divorce was permissible only for a major offense. In Jesus’ response, the Lord strongly taught that marriage is viewed by God as a special relationship between a man and a woman and the Lord! Jesus was not giving us specific regulations to adhere to concerning marriage but rather he was teaching how horrible their view of their marriage vow was! Notice what he tells them: “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” Improperly trying to dispose of one’s wife was tacitly making her sin and that sin was just as horrendous! Again Jesus is trying to help people see that the intent of a person’s heart was extremely important to God. When we marry someone we are giving them our lives and it is similar to us giving our lives to God! When later asked by the nearsighted Pharisees if it was okay for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason, Jesus replied, “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law… but at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will ‘become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Mark 10:5-9 NIV)” In fact when a man and a woman marry it is a sacred commitment and should not be disdained or handled improperly!

  EXAMPLE: There are those that think that by simply living together they can bypass the sacredness of marriage and ignore what God teaches us about this relationship. They are wrong because when they do they are committing adultery. And there is no reason for the couple to stay together or to be committed to being faithful. Interestingly it was recently disclosed that Ciara and Russell Wilson remained abstinent until after their wedding, and now the singer is opening up about the couple’s decision, explaining that it wasn’t easy. “That took a lot of prayer,” the 33-year-old admitted to InStyle in a recent interview. “It was hard. I can’t lie.” The star, who graced the fashion magazine’s April cover issue, had previously spoken about her and Wilson’s decision, noting that “you shouldn’t feel like you have to give your body away to get someone to like you.” God sees it as something special and when you give yourself away before being totally committed you will suffer the consequences of that decision. Jesus taught that marriage is sacred!

Conclusion:

The cure for the sin of inner adultery is radical and that marriage is sacred!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Anger! – Matthew 5:21-26

Anger! – Matthew 5:21-26
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 10, 2019

Angry words can never be taken back. Society’s standard of foul and angry words has declined in recent years, but we don’t have to decline with it, we should think about how to honor God with our speech. We please the Lord with our tongue when we show discernment. Proverbs 10:19 reminds us that “He who restrains his lips is wise”. When we do speak, we are to filter the words that escape our lips: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23 NIV). Paul’s warns us to “let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

How can we keep our anger contained? How do we remain calm in a world that seems to be filled with hatred, evil, and ungodly behavior? Jesus in the Beatitudes sets an almost impossible situation where we are to speak right and think right all the time. Jesus did this to startle his listeners and to shock them into listening to what he was teaching about himself. And here he gives us some practical advice on what to do when we get angry with one another. Let’s discover what Jesus teaches…

READ: Matthew 5:21-26

A young lady remarked, “As I was reading the text message on my phone, my temperature started to rise and my blood began to boil. I was on the verge of shooting back a nasty answer when an inner voice told me to cool down and reply tomorrow. The next morning after a good night’s sleep, the issue that had upset me so greatly seemed so trivial.” In dealing with anger Jesus teaches us…

I. We can murder others with our angry words! (Vv. 21-22)

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.

     1. Jesus reminds the crowd and his disciples of the commandments of God. He relates, “You have heard it said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’” “You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13 NIV)” Jesus was also commenting on some of the prevailing opinions among the Jewish leadership of his day to show that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was defective. Remember he had just related that if their righteousness did not exceed that of the Pharisees they would not see the kingdom of heaven. The people needed a better righteousness or they could not be saved. Jesus illustrates what he meant by that better righteous-ness by showing that the common opinions of the scribes were incorrect. This is why he immediately remarks, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Jesus is equating a person’s irrational anger to that being the same as murder! The Pharisees thought it perfectly okay and even righteous to be angered at the Romans or anyone who did not agree with them; this is how they could later justify murdering Jesus and using the Romans to do their dirty work! Jesus understood that irrational anger could lead a person to totally dismiss those one disliked and thereby “murder” them. He continues by reminding them that “Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.” God views all human life as sacred and to dismiss someone by calling them a “fool” was the height of arrogance and yet the Pharisees did it all the time. “But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” To God it demonstrates one’s intent and the sinfulness of their heart and was in danger of being condemned to hell, “Gehenna” meaning valley of Hinnom, the valley south of Jerusalem where fires consumed the city’s garbage. This became an apt name for the eternal punishment of the wicked. Jesus is reminding us that we can murder others with our angry words!

  EXAMPLE: On the playground is not uncommon for children to get into arguments. We may think it is childish and just part of growing up but words can be hurtful and especially name calling. When adults carelessly use ungodly references or names for others it is just as childish and ungodly. Regretfully, I must confess that I am often tempted to respond in anger more than I would like to admit. I constantly find myself having to put into practice familiar Bible truths, such as “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 NIV). Thankfully, God has given us his Spirit who will assist us in our battle with our sin. Peter and Paul called it the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2 NIV). We need to remember that we can murder others with our angry words!

Jesus could have just given his listeners an admonishment for their bad behavior and then let it go but he then gives them how they can resolve the issue of angry words used in haste. Jesus continued by teaching that…

II. We can be reconciled for our angry words! (Vv. 23-24)

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

  1. Jesus is not giving us a set of rules we have to put into effect in order to be forgiven by God. Sadly there are those who actually think that this is exactly what Jesus was doing but he is not. What Jesus begins to do is to teach us through example how we are to come before God when we do sin and how we are to treat one another when we act horrendously. The Pharisees were intent only on the external act in worship. They looked not at all to the internal state of the individual. If a man conformed to the external rites of religion, however much envy, and malice, and secret hatred he might have, they thought he was doing well. Jesus taught a different doctrine. It was of more consequence to have the heart right than to perform the outward act. How many of us have been dismissive of our parents, our children, siblings, neighbors, or fellow believers? How could anyone say they love God and yet harbor in their heart ill feelings toward another? We could never go to worship! Jesus puts it in a way everyone could fully understand. He related “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.” I must insert here that Jesus will later tell us what the two greatest commandments of God are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (and to)… Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)”! Here he is sharing how they could do this when they realize that they have offended another by their hateful words. If they realized it they were stop what they were doing, even if was going to worship God, and “First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” This would have been shocking behavior to the Pharisees who thought their worship was far more important than anything including people’s view of them! What Jesus is describing here is not the actual act we are to do but rather how we are to respond when we realize we have offended someone else with angry words. And in his example Jesus is teaching us that we can be reconciled for our angry words!

  EXAMPLE: “Now go and tell your brother that you are sorry” my father admonished me. My retort was, “What if he doesn’t care?” My dad reminded me that I had been given only one brother and that I would always be his brother no matter what. It did not matter how he responded but rather how I acted. And here in Matthew’s gospel we discover a wonderful picture of how we can readily approach God anytime we have sinned! It does not matter where we are we can come before him and be forgiven! Also if we say we love God but do not care about those we have offended then what does that truly say about our love of God? This is where the Pharisees failed but Jesus pointed to a new covenant of reconciliation between us and God and one another! We can be reconciled for our angry words!

Words mean things. If they didn’t then we would not use them to express ourselves. This is why Jesus knew that words said in anger can truly be hurtful and can literally “murder” another’s character. As believers we need to be careful of our words and anger. Jesus teaches us that…

III. Unreconciled anger will lead to judgment! (Vv. 25-26)

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

  1. The consequence of not being reconciled Jesus expresses in the language of courts. The adversary (the one you offended or perhaps God himself who becomes our adversary when we do not confess our sin) shall deliver us to the judge, and then to the executioner and he shall throw us into prison! If we are unwilling to be at peace with others how will God deal with us? God’s dealings with those that harbored these feelings towards those who would not be reconciled with their fellow believers results in the example of punishment inflicted by human courts! That is, he would hold us as violating the sixth commandment and would punish us accordingly. Murdering someone can occur when we willingly know we have sinned and refuse to confess our sin or be forgiven by others! We should therefore “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.” It is like when I would call my brother a stinky name and I knew as soon as I did I had better say I was “sorry” and mean it or suffer the consequences! Jesus related if we did not immediately do what we know we are supposed to do in such a situation we could suffer the consequences: “Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” Jesus is not suggesting that the believer will never be forgiven and thereby end up in hell for an eternity, because we know this to be patently false. What Jesus is teaching is the seriousness of our angry words and our ungodly actions! His disciples, his followers, were to act differently than even the pious Pharisees! God wanted us to be holy because he is holy and he knew this was totally impossible because we are ungodly in our attitudes and actions! It is only through the shed blood of Jesus we are made holy and can be seen as righteous! We could surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees in Jesus! Our ungodly anger will lead us to an eternity in prison: “I tell you the truth you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” We can never pay the debt we own without Jesus’ sacrifice! Unless we take care of it through our faith in Jesus our unreconciled anger will lead to judgment!

  EXAMPLE: David McCasland writes: “A friend told me about the time he was watching football on TV as his young daughter played nearby. Angered by his team’s bad play, he grabbed the closest thing and threw it down. His little girl’s favorite toy was shattered, along with her heart. My friend immediately embraced his daughter and apologized. He replaced the toy and thought all was well. But he didn’t know how much his fury had frightened his 4-year-old, and she didn’t know the depth of her pain. In time, however, forgiveness came. Years later he sent an identical toy to his daughter when she was expecting a baby. She posted a photo of the toy on Facebook with the words, ‘This gift has a very long story going back to my childhood. It wasn’t a happy story then, but it has a happy ending now! Redemption is a beautiful thing. Thanks, Grandpa!’” When we are the victim of anger, God asks us to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (v.32). Unreconciled anger will lead to judgment!

Restored relationships are not easy, but they are possible by the grace of God.

Conclusion:

We can murder others with our angry words! We can be reconciled for our angry words! Unreconciled anger will lead to judgment!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Fulfilled! – Matthew 5:17-20

Fulfilled! – Matthew 5:17-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 3, 2019

We have all heard the phrase, “the letter of the law”. It means that the law must be followed exactly in how it is written and not simply interpreted however someone wants it to be or whenever they want it to be. It is the old argument over the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. The problem comes when one tries to interpret what those who wrote it intended because then it is often tainted by the one wanting to interpret it.

The Jewish spiritual leaders of Jesus’ day had done quite a number on the Law of Moses and often spent hours, days, months, and years interpreting what they thought God meant. We see this kind of spiritual legal dance in today’s Catholic Church or in mainline liberal denominations like Episcopalian, Lutherans, or Methodist. Most theologically conservative Baptist churches see the Bible as the individual’s guide to how God interacts with humanity and how we are to live. Jesus turned the Jewish world upside down in the following verses where he describes himself as the fulfillment of the law of God. Let’s learn today what he said and why…


READ: Matthew 5:17-20

If you were given a set of rules and regulations that guaranteed your safety, comfort, and eternity wouldn’t you want to follow those guidelines? Now what if everything you believed and followed was about to change? Here we find Jesus…

I. Accomplishing the plan of God! (Vv. 17-18)

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

  1. This part of Jesus’ sermon presents the heart of his message because it demonstrates Jesus’ relationship to the Law of God. Jesus was not merely presenting a rival system to the Law of Moses and the words of the Prophets but a true fulfillment of it. This is why he tells them, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” For centuries the Law of Moses had directed every aspect of the Jewish nation; how they viewed themselves within the rest of the world, how they saw their relationship with God, and what they were about as God’s chosen people. Isaiah related that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8 NIV)” Now we hear Jesus reminding his listeners that God’s plan would be finished but perhaps not in the way they thought it would be. He had come into the world to complete the Law of God. Jesus bluntly tells them, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” When Jesus related “I tell you the truth” he uses the word “Amen”. It is a serious and formal pronouncement by Jesus. The Bible Knowledge Commentary states that “Jesus’ fulfillment would extend to the smallest Hebrew letter, the “jot” (lit., yôd), and even to the smallest stroke of a Hebrew letter, the “tittle.” In English a jot would correspond to the dot above the letter “i” (and look like an apostrophe), and a tittle would be seen in the difference between a “P” and an “R”. The small angled line that completes the “R” is like a tittle. These things are important because letters make up words and even a slight change in a letter might change the meaning of a word.” The tiniest and smallest part of the law would be utterly completely fulfilled by Jesus! This was God’s plan all along. Jesus reminds us that he is about accomplishing the plan of God!
  Example: Whenever Jesus uses the term “Law and the Prophets” he used a common term that meant the entire Word of God from Genesis to Malachi! We would simply say, “All of it”; like my father who came home one afternoon and asked my brother and I why we did not do “all of it” that my mother asked us to do. We knew he meant everything she had asked us to do during the day. There was no confusion on our part because we understood exactly what my father meant. The same was true for Jesus when he used the terminology he did. Jesus wanted his listeners to know he was about accomplishing the plan of God!

How in the world can human beings be good enough for another let alone heaven? We know that from the very first days of our lives we are selfish and rebellious lot. We learn to say the words “no” or “mine” almost before anything else and here we find Jesus…

II. Reminding everyone of their spiritual situation! (Vv. 19-20)

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

  1. The Pharisees had become so completely immersed in the Law of Moses that they had become unworldly. What I mean is they became almost worthless to the rest of mankind. They were the closest Jewish representation of spiritual hermits there was at that time. A hermit is a person who lives in seclusion from society, usually for religious reasons. Hermits are a part of several sects of Christianity, and the concept is found in other religions as well. The Pharisees became shut off from the people and world around them, like hermits. And even though their goal was to draw closer to God by following their strict codes they had derived from the law, they had failed miserably. While they tithed even to the tenth of their spices and herbs found in their cupboards they neglected justice and the love of God. In fact Jesus later would bluntly tell them, “you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them (Luke 11:46 NIV)”! They weighted the people’s lives down with useless lists of what to do and what not to do. So when Jesus tells his disciples and the crowd, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” they would immediately wonder who in the world could ever do that? No one was perfect not even the Pharisees let alone the common folk! Like Catholicism does now with mortal and venial sins the Pharisees had divided the law into greater and lesser offenses but Jesus related they were all important! Sin is sin and breaking God’s law whether it was deemed by man to be greater or lesser did not matter! The key was “whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”! They would have instantly thought of the Pharisees, surely they were “good” enough to do so? Yet Jesus immediately related, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Surpasses the Pharisees? Who could do that? In what he was teaching Jesus was reminding everyone of their spiritual situation!

  EXAMPLE: It is easy to forget that no matter what we think about ourselves what truly matters is what does God think? A good parent encourages and mentors their children and does not leave it up to others to do. Jesus wanted his disciples to be the best they could possibly be and to understand that God did indeed love them but they needed to understand their sinful condition kept them from his love. Jesus therefore took time in reminding everyone of their spiritual situation!

Conclusion:


Accomplishing the plan of God! Reminding everyone of their spiritual situation!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Salt and light – Matthew 5:13-16

Salt and light – Matthew 5:13-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 24, 2019

What would you consider the absolute necessities of life after food and water? For some it might be their cell phone, big screen TV, clothes or shoes. One of things that help put perspective on what you value in life is to do an extensive list of your top 50 priorities. It can show you in a very real way what you value in life and what you focus on or not.

In Jesus’ day a couple of absolute necessities were two things we often take for granted, salt and light. Salt was used for many things from seasoning, preservative, sterilization of wounds, and as currency. It was considered an absolute staple for everyday life. Light was a means of continuing to work later, see your way, keep warm and keep out the darkness of night and long winters. Jesus understood the dependence and importance folks of his day placed on these two things; let’s discover how he uses salt and light this morning…

READ: Matthew 5:13-16

According to the urban dictionary a person who is “salty” means they are being rude, upset, angry, or bitter all the time. However when fellow sailors use it with one another as in “stay salty” it means to have a salty layer on one’s person because of their constant exposure to the ocean and here we learn that…

I. Believers are to remain salty! (Vv. 13)

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

  1. It is an old adage or phrase we have heard and used for centuries but it was Jesus who first used it in the context he did when he addressed his disciples and the crowd. He tells them, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt was often mined from the ground or produced from an evaporation process from the ocean. The purer the salt the better it was and the more expensive it was. Pure salt was highly prized. While many today are trying to get as much salt out of their diet as they can, most people during Jesus’ day prized it for its preservative and seasoning powers. Jesus reminds his listeners that they are the common folks that make up most of the world. Just as salt was a common necessity so were they as far as God was concerned. He valued them for who they were. But he knew like everyone else of his day knew that “if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” The answer is that it could not. In fact the storage of salt was just as important for traders, businessmen, the Roman army (which used it as pay) and others. Huge salt cellars were often dug out of the side of mountains where moisture could not leech it away; but as good as they tried to store it some of it would leach away and leave behind the minerals that did not evaporate. The salt would become worthless. If they lost their “saltiness”, their godly flavor, they could not automatically be made salty again either. In fact salt was “no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men”! Jesus was referring to the fact that leached out salt where it was mostly dirt or minerals were no longer good for seasoning or as a preservative. In fact, it could be dangerous and so this kind of worthless salt was thrown on the roads where it killed the invasive vegetation and was walked on by man and beast! If God’s people, lost their godliness, they could not be made godly again could they? This is the inference Jesus was making. Most would have agreed with Jesus’ assessment of salt and them. His disciples were to be the salt of the earth, seasoning the world with his gospel message! They were to be careful to not lose their saltiness, the message they would declare could not be allowed to be diluted or spiritually evaporated away! Jesus’ warning was clear, believers are to remain salty!

  EXAMPLE: Recently I watched a YouTube video by Destin of Smarter Everyday about making his brain relearn how to ride a backwards bicycle. He related that “truth is truth and knowledge does not equal understanding”. He is correct. We may think we know the truth or that we are knowledgeable because we are educated. Yet Jesus came to show us the truth and still people decide not to believe him. If folks did not believe Jesus they would not believe his disciples either. The truth is people often think they know better but in reality they don’t. Truth is truth no matter what one believes and we may think we know something but in reality not understand the truth at all. Jesus related, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32 NIV)” Here Jesus teaches us that believers are to remain salty!

Being able to illuminate one’s home was often considered an extravagance in Jesus’ day because oil or tallow was expensive. And the lights during this time were not that great but even in the darkest room a little light was a welcome thing. Here we discover that…

II. Believers are to enlighten the world around them! (Vv. 14-16)

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

  1. Jesus goes on to tell his disciples “You are the light of the world.” Notice Jesus does not say that all people are the light of the world, only his disciples or followers were. He was referring to the fact that the world at large is a sin-darkened place. Those who are in the world cannot spiritually see without the light of God in their lives and they would be the light of God. And just as “A city on a hill cannot be hidden” they could not hide the fact of who they were once they decided to follow Jesus. It is an offhanded reference to the Holy Spirit residing in someone who would trust him with their lives. Of course this would not be evident or available until after Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12 NIV)” and this is why the Apostle Paul would write, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV)” Jesus’ disciples however could not hide the fact of the Spirit of God living in them! So, just as a city on a hill could not be hidden “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” They were to share the light of God; his gospel with the world. People are attracted to the love of God that is found in Jesus. His compassion, gentleness, kindness, and ability to cross any social, racial, or economic barrier made him attractive to the crowds. As his disciples we are in a sense to be attractive as well: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Faith in Jesus without kindness, compassion, or gentleness displayed in one’s life is “dead” as James, Jesus’ brother, would later write. Believers are to enlighten the world around them!

  EXAMPLE: In Clark County we get our electricity from several different sources: wind, water, solar, and natural gas. With the invention of better lighting it has revolutionized homes and industry. People began to have free time, they could read, play games, study, or do extra work. We can now light our homes at a fraction of the cost compared to when I was a child. In fact we have so much light it can be seen from space! Interestingly the idea of light became synonymous with combating the darkness of sin and here we are told by Jesus that believers are to enlighten the world around them!

Conclusion:

Believers are to remain salty! Believers are to enlighten the world around them!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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