Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Love Your Enemies
Pastor Steve Schell
Matthew 5:38-48
A disciple is someone who desires to have his/her life disciplined by the commands of Christ, yet some of His commands seem much more reasonable than others, which brings us to the one we're looking at today. On the surface it‘s one of the most “unreasonable” commands He gave us. In fact, until we understand their meaning, His words here can leave us confused and angry. How could He possible ask us to ”turn the other cheek“ to an enemy who strikes us or give someone who's seized our shirt, our coat also? He seems to be encouraging abuse. Won‘t such a response only produce more abuse?
Yet when we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the true meaning of the Lord‘s words we quickly see that this commandment is a priceless gem of God‘s wisdom. Instead of being an expression of weakness or passivity, Jesus is teaching us how to break some of the greatest spiritual bondages that hold people captive. He‘s teaching us how to change the culture of a whole community. This command is one of the clearest examples in the Bible of God‘s ways not being our ways, but of His ways being higher than ours (Is 55:8, 9).

1. Who is our enemy?
- All true ministry will provoke opposition
- Mt 10:7, 8, 16-25, 34-38
- Jesus is not asking us to passively endure domestic abuse or other forms of violent crime.
- He‘s not even referring to enemies we make through normal human conflict. These we are to address by reconciliation.
- He‘s saying, ”If you truly serve as My disciples, My enemies will become your enemies. You will step into the middle of an ongoing spiritual war. When you put on My uniform people will start shooting at you.“ (Jn 15:18-16:4)
- Remember the disciples‘ assignment: Mt 10:8; Lk 10:9, 19
- Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. In other words, do the same things Jesus was doing.
- The ”anointing“ (active power of the Holy Spirit) brings opposition.
- If there is no opposition we may have made peace with the ”world“ (compromised our message, active power of the Holy Spirit)
- Lk 6:24-26 says woe to religious people who make peace with the world. (Jn 15:18-20; 1Jn 2:15)

2. What is my role as His disciple?
When we are functioning as disciples we are Jesus‘ representatives.
- Mt 10:40-42 ”He who receives you, receives Me“
- Lk 10:16 ”The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me“
- Mt 25:31-46 ”Lord, when did we see you?“
- ”Surrogate“: to appoint as a substitute, deputy.
- Our job is to allow people to experience the true heart of God as they interact with us.
- This is why Jesus reminds us of God‘s heart (Mt 5:45, 48). We are to be like Him.
- He told us He was sending us out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Remember, Jesus didn‘t fight His attackers (1Pe 2:19-23).

3. How am I to show this love?
Notice, Jesus does not simply tell us to be passive in the face of hostility, but to actively love. We are to do for our enemies what no normal person in their right mind would do: give more than they demand and repeatedly make ourselves vulnerable.
- We are to (Lk 6:27-36):
1. (v. 27) Love: do for them what you would want them to do for you.
2. (v. 28) Pray a blessing. Ask God to free them from the devil‘s deception (2 Co 4:4 ”the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel.)
3. (Mt 5:47) Greet: maintain relationship
4. (v. 36) Be merciful: treat them like your heavenly Father does. He hates the sin but loves the sinner. Don‘t forget your enemy is a lost soul God wants to save.

4. Why does God ask me to love my enemy?
- Love is more powerful than hate. Our hatred can never save anyone, it only accelerates the problem.
- Hate creates a ”payback“ cycle that is demonically inspired. Nothing prevents people from being saved more than bitterness. An unforgiving heart is unable to receive grace.
1. Mt 6:14, 15 ”For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions.“
- Grace (undeserved kindness) opens a door and invites that person to escape the grip of hatred. We can‘t force people to make the right choice, but we can create an opportunity.
- Responding in hate only ensures the demonic bondage deepens and spreads to others.
- We:
1. Separate the sin from the sinner
2. Recognize the spiritual blindness
3. Attack the demonic bondage by blessing those who persecute you.
- Read: Romans 12:14, 17-21

Questions
1. Where has your discipleship created enemies? (Remember, be careful not to blame God for enemies we‘ve created through our own selfish behavior.) (These ”enemies“ will be people who oppose you because God has used you to make a difference in someone‘s life or because you bear the name of Christ.)
2. Have you been in a position where you had to ”turn the other cheek“ or ”go the second mile“? If it would not embarrass you or others by telling us, describe what you had to do and the effect it had.
3. Have you ever been the recipient of undeserved mercy from another person? What effect did it have on you?
 


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