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April 8, 2015

Matthew 5:43-45

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I preached a sermon last Sunday that was not easy to prepare or deliver.  It is titled “Whom Are We Fighting?”  And the main theme is that, based on Ephesians 6:12:  “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places.”  We are called as followers of Jesus Christ to battle satanic hosts – the driving spiritual force behind worldly powers, movements, false religions, etc.

But it was the last part of the sermon, the conclusion really, that was the most difficult to write and present.  I had talked about the atrocities of ISIS and its various radical like-minded organizations – Boca Haram, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and many others.  The more extreme organizations seem to take delight in beheadings, burning people to death, assination-style shootings, and filming the proceedings for all the world to behold and be shocked into submission.

What should we as Christians do in light of the terrorist activities going on in the world today?  Jesus gave the answer in Matthew 5:43 through 45 – and it is a hard answer to receive and practice!

      You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” 
      But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to
      those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and perse-
      cute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His
      sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the

What?!! I am suppose to love and pray for those Jihadist extremists?!!

Think about what it says in the last verse of our scripture:  “…for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  These may sound like pretty common events – sunshine and rain – and they are!  But what would the land be like – what would our lives be like – if God withheld the blessings of sunshine and rain?  Does He differentiate between sinners and righteous in sending these common blessings upon us?  No!

But let’s apply the same idea to something far greater:  For whom did Jesus Christ die?  It says in I John 2:1 and 2, “…Jesus Christ the righteous…is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  Propitiation is a covering over.  The Savior’s blood which He shed on Calvary’s cross covered over the sins of all mankind for all time!  Our sins are hidden from the sight of our righteous God!  More than covered over, they are…removed…from us…as far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12).  The tragedy is that so many in the world do not believe and accept what the Savior has done for them – have not even heard about it – so they end up eternally paying for their sins themselves in hell!

Do you mean to say Christ died even for the Muslim Jihadists – those who cut the heads off of Christians and burn them alive?”  Yes!  Doesn’t it say in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life…?

So how do we fulfill Matthew 5:43 through 45?

•      We are to…love…our enemies…seeking the highest good for them, that they would turn from their atrocious sins to the Savior.

•      We are to…bless those who curse…us, putting our blessing upon them because even the worst of these terrorists is of great value in the sight of God.  Remember, that God loves every human being enough to have died for him or her personally!

•      We are to…do good to those who hate…us.  Paul wrote this in Romans 12:19 through 21:

      Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is
      written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore if your
      enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you
      will heap coals of fire on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome
      evil with good.

To “…heap coals of fire on his head…” refers to making him feel guilty and remorseful because you have answered his meanness with kindness.

•      We are to…pray for those who despitefully use…[us] and persecute…us.  This is something we can all do, whether we ever personally encounter a terrorist or not.  My prayer for such people is often, “Lord, turn their plans to confusion.  Turn their hearts to Jesus Christ.

Remember, we do not have to bless their actions!  We can even hate what they do!  It says in Psalm 7:11, “…God is angry with the wicked every day.”  But we are to love them, not for what they do or don’t do, but for what they can become in the Lord Jesus Christ – redeemed, clean and righteous in the Savior!

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