Rampant political corruption, religious corruption and manipulation of politics to gain prestige, power or monetary gain, widespread poverty, major sociological class divisions, social unrest, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, people abandoning their religious faith and others searching almost anywhere for truth, what a time to live in! Yep, that was the climate at the time that Jesus appeared.
Oh, did you think I was talking about today? Well, I guess it could very well be the same kind of climate. Everything I said IS happening right now as well. There is an old saying, almost as old as history itself, that says, “if we don’t learn from the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes.” Solomon stated this, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after.”—Ecclesiastes 1:9-11.
So, we shouldn’t be surprised that what we see is the same thing Jesus came to correct the first time. Even though the landscape is different, the clothes are different and the language has evolved a bit, the heart of man remains the same! Isn’t it time that His-story repeats itself and He who came before, returns again?
I want to ask you in the light of all that I stated above, how did Jesus deal with the issues and the evil that was rampant and prevalent in the world? Was He as you see today in religious circles, an activist willing to organize pickets against injustice? Did Jesus, incite riots or loud protests to demonstrate the need for wide-spread change? Does the Bible give us the guidelines necessary to form the religious organization necessary to change and influence the political climate? What is the proper way to protest the death of innocents and those that pervert a Godly lifestyle? What DID Jesus do to combat evil?
Forgive me for a bit of what may appear to be sarcasm, but have you READ your Bible? Have you by the teaching and prodding of the Holy Spirit been able to differentiate between the Spirit of the Word and the letter? Have you, like the noble Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” which Paul and Silas taught? (See Acts 17:11).
Jesus taught what to look for! He taught those “that had ears to hear and eyes to see” how to discern evil and the proper way (as His disciple) to deal with it. He taught first His closest disciples and then taught those who chose to hear and were willing to listen to what He had to say. Does this mean that all who heard what He taught and all who saw His demonstrations of authority believed and followed after Him? No, emphatically no. There were many who were hungry and searching and wanting to know the truth that listened with open hearts and minds! They followed every Word He spoke and still wanted more for He instilled in them a hunger for righteousness! Yes, there were many who heard and walked away, because they felt what He had to say was too hard! In the climate of the time, they thought His teaching was too hard! What made the difference?
Jesus said it and Luke recorded it in Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Now I speak often of the difference between the “Spirit” of the Word of God, our Bible, and the “letter” of that same Word. Jesus came to teach it and Paul reminded us of the difference; the Spirit gives life, it has power and authority, the letter can be twisted and manipulated which can lead to spiritual death. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were notorious for twisting and manipulating the Law to suit their purposes. This is one of the reason’s that Jesus came to provide correction.
Jesus explained this in the verses surrounding His comment about the abundance of the heart in Luke 6. “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”—verses 43-49.
I want you to see how Matthew recorded this same instance as Jesus was answering the devious questions of the Pharisees and religious leaders, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”—Matthew 12:33-37.
Now I want to make a point here on the principle of the Spirit of the Word as compared to the letter of the Word. In the 37th verse of Matthew when Jesus states that you will be justified or condemned by your words, it has been taught that this shows the power that words carry, as if your words were some mystical and magical force. This CAN be inferred if you look to the “letter” of the Word, how it is written literally. But what is the principle, what is the Life, the Spirit of the teaching that Jesus is making? Isn’t it that what is in your heart is going to come out and that is what you will be justified or condemned by? Your heart, the evil or good that proceeds from there will determine the type of person you truly are!
I want to clarify something else before we get along too far; the reference to the heart is not saying that the physical organ is the seat of good or evil. The heart has been recognized as the source of life for our physical being for centuries. Our life derives from that. The term that your heart is good or bad is only an analogy of your spirit or your “inner man”. Our spirit is truly what gives us life, both in the temporary physical realm as well as in the spiritual and eternal realm. Our heart is good if it is alive to God through Jesus Christ, and it is dead or evil if it has not been made alive to God through Jesus Christ.
The Spirit of the Word is telling that what proceeds forth from the inner man is the determination or proof of whether what is observed is good or evil. Even the unrepentant of Jesus’ day knew what was meant when someone said your heart is good or evil! Don’t lose sight of the Spirit behind the Word of God.
So, in light of this, that which comes forth from your “inner man” the true you, from your spirit, that part that has the attributes and characteristics of your personality and life is either going to be “good fruit” or “evil fruit.” This is how you can tell whether someone is abiding in God or not. What comes forth in their lives? It’s not just their words, and what they speak. Man can deceive with his speech, but he can’t deceive with his actions. Sooner or later your actions will show the “real” you!
To further prove my point let’s see what Proverbs says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.”—Proverbs 21:2. The Lord sees what is in the heart (or inner man, his spirit) and even though a man might feel good about himself, the Lord knows what that man is truly made of!
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote this concerning the Lord, our Father, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”—Jeremiah 29:11-13.
David wrote, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.”—Psalm 139:17-18. David was the man that God told the Prophet Samuel to choose to replace the disobedient King Saul. But even Samuel when choosing from Jesse’s sons, was looking to the appearance and stature of each boy and yet the Lord spoke to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”—1 Samuel 16:7.
Remember, the Bible tells us that Saul was a head in height above all others and that he was the most handsome man to look upon, yet, Saul’s heart was one of selfishness and disobedience to the Lord and His Word!
There are too many Scripture references, too many instances and examples in the Holy Book that show us how the Lord chooses and deals with men; He does so by their heart, their inner spirit, that portion of man that is either alive to Him or dead. We also know that since Jesus and the Father are One, and that the Son only does that which the Father tells Him to do that He does those things based on men’s heart attitude! The verses in Matthew 12 that I gave you are a prime example of this, for just before His statement to the Pharisees, whom He called a brood of vipers, poisonous snakes, the Bible tells us in verse 25, “But Jesus knew their thoughts,—.” He knew their hearts, He knew what was in their spirits. The Pharisees and religious leaders were trying to say that He was in league with the devil, with Satan! The religious leaders!!!! Those that are supposed to be the shepherds of God’s children and the teachers of what is true and righteous in the Kingdom of God!
But look again at this example, what did Jesus do when confronted with this evil, and evil it was? He TAUGHT the people the truth! He taught them with authority and power to prove the legitimacy of His Words! This is what riled the Pharisees and two verses before this, the Bible says the “multitudes were amazed!” The Pharisees could only see themselves losing prestige, and power over the people. This had been at a time when there were others who had attempted to lead the people away from the Jewish tradition and each time had been thwarted by the power of the Pharisees and their manipulation of the Roman leadership.
But the difference was that Jesus came in power and authority to preach and teach the truth and to demonstrate the “Spirit” behind the precious Law and Words of God! He also came to give of Himself so that the Spirit of Truth could be had for everyone everywhere and not to just those within the sound of His voice.
How did Jesus deal with the corruption of His day? The tax collectors were robbing from widows and those that were already poor and didn’t have a means to defend themselves against the greed. They had developed a reputation as being the scum of the earth, so to speak. Jesus called them to Him!
Matthew 9:9-13, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Matthew 10:2-4, “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” (Matthew’s Hebrew name was also Levi).
Luke 19:1-10, “Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’ Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’”
We have so many instructions, so many examples that are set before us and yet for some reason in this day and age we want to justify why we CAN’T sit with sinners or talk with those who exhibit a corrupt nature! Yet today it is probably needed even more so than in Jesus’ day because He IS coming back soon and those that are left may not have another chance to hear the truth and experience the love of a precious Savior and their Father and Creator!
Those of us who are supposed to be spiritual leaders as compared to the religious leaders, instead of teaching others to demonstrate and show love to their neighbors, we teach that it is only necessary to demonstrate it to those that are already brothers and sisters in the Lord. Jesus came to “save that which was lost!” He’s our example, we are the disciples. We are the ones that proclaim to the world that we are Christians! We are like Christ, Christ-like!!! Look at how pious and religious we are. Shame on you in the world for you are all scum!!! You are evil and the spawn of your father the devil who is and was a murderer and liar from the beginning!!! We sound so religious. We pick up our picket signs and go to the abortion clinics and condemn those that are doing evil rather than praying for them and witnessing to them about the love of the Lord and the redemption found in Christ!!!
We act like if we demonstrate and protest and point out all the wickedness we will make a change, as if our words are that magical and mystical power while our hearts (our inner man, our spirit) is harboring ill-will toward those that are living in perversion and taking the lives of innocents!! Many of them doing it in ignorance of the truth for who have they had as an example of what real Godly love is all about??
Instead of accomplishing what we set out to do, “defending the Truth of the Bible and the righteousness of God”, we have pushed the very ones that need what we do have so far away, they are not willing to listen to ANYONE who says they are a Christian!! Can you blame them??? Look who it was that Jesus made mad!!! It was the very religious leaders that were trying to maintain the status quo! Where did we get off track and go so far wrong?? The Bible and the righteousness of God, Almighty doesn’t have to be defended! The Living and Powerful Word of God has stood the test of time and is evidenced in all of creation!
Paul said this, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”—Romans 1:20-21.
People can say there is no God and that the Bible is a lie all they want, how does that offend or attack us who are supposedly living by faith already? Aren’t we supposed to be heart-broken for these that are lost and blinded by the enemy of their souls? They already know they do wrong, it’s written on their hearts, the Bible says. That is why seeing man as God does is so important! Romans is such an awesome Book on Salvation and it shows us that we are all culpable as far as sin is concerned. The difference between us who have experienced and acknowledged the truth and those that remain unrepentant is that they haven’t been shown or demonstrated why it is better to walk in the way of righteousness! Jesus came to show men the way, that is why He is called The Way by so many. We are to be His example to mankind and yet we do just the opposite in the name of religion.
Yes, we preach and teach it but we aren’t showing it and I’ll tell you why! Because so many people are not being taught as the disciples of Christ were. The Word, the Spirit of the Word has been watered down by the letter of the Word and twisted to justify the hardness in the religious leaders hearts! We are back where we started when Christ came the first time! Hearts of religious leaders, those entrusted to teach others the way of Christ have been hardened by compromise to garner more numbers, more money, recognition and prestige, just so they can say, look at what I have accomplished—for the Lord of course!
But remember what Jesus stated, that man is going to be justified or condemned by his idle words or by what proceeds forth from his heart or his inner man, his spirit! He says this in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
This is confirmation that it isn’t WHAT we do, it’s the attitude, the spirit with which we do it! God will judge us by the spirit with which we accomplish things for Him. Lawlessness and unrighteousness come from the abundance of the heart or the spirit of man. Is He the One that told us to do what we do or are we jumping on some religious bandwagon for our own motives? Jesus says that He will have to tell those ones that He never knew them!! In other words, they weren’t and aren’t even now abiding in God. Their spirits are not alive to the Father and thereby they aren’t doing what He instructs to do. They are religious yes, but they are not spiritual, worshipping the Heavenly Father in their actions, spirit to Spirit with God the Father!
Now I want to refer you back to King Saul; what was it that caused the Lord to reject him? Saul was God’s appointed because the people wanted a man as king rather than the Lord, Himself. You will see in 1 Samuel 15 that King Saul got greedy and when Samuel confronted him with what the Lord said, King Saul tried to justify his actions by saying that he disobeyed the Lord so as to give the Lord sacrifices! In Saul’s mind the “ends justify the means!” He was trying to bribe the very God who appointed Him King! His heart, his spirit was not right with God.
This is what Samuel told Saul, “Then Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”—1 Samuel 15:22-23.
I have worked side by side with preachers who have followed this very rule, that the “ends justify the means” and that has NEVER been a Biblical Truth for it flies in the face of integrity and faith in the Lord’s ability to provide! I will tell you, I disassociated with those people and did so rebuking them for their callousness and lack of vision! I was an Associate Pastor in this church and I helped start a charter school with these people until I saw how they used and manipulated the Word of God! Their talk told me one thing, but eventually their actions demonstrated to me the evil in their hearts!
Now this may seem harsh, but it is far less harsh then what the Lord, Himself says about those that twist and manipulate the truth. I pray for these people, even today, but I cannot give them credibility or even a word of approval. As of yet they have not demonstrated a heart of repentance but are still operating in this community with the attitude that the “ends justify the means!”
This is the type of thing our neighbors who are unsaved see and associate with Christianity. Those with a religious heart as opposed to a spiritual heart are what makes it all the more reason that we have to demonstrate the true love of the Lord! We have to be willing to show the lost of the world the same love that Jesus did to those He came to redeem. We don’t do that by picketing and condemning. We can teach the truth, we can teach what the Bible says is evil and sin and we can condemn sin, but we need to realize that those who ARE sinning are the ones that we have been called to serve!
Look at the difference that Jesus made in the lives of tax collectors and prostitutes. He refused to let the religious leaders follow the “letter” of the Law by demonstrating the life and power of the Spirit of that very Law. I have said it many, many times and I will not stop preaching it until the Lord calls me home: Jesus stated that the Law and the Prophets, the Word of God written up to that point and what was to be written is accomplished in just two commandments, “Jesus said to him,” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”—Matthew 22:37-40.
Jesus lived this and demonstrated it. When the religious leaders wanted Him to do something about the political situation, He let it be known that He was there for a spiritual purpose, to show the way of Truth! He demonstrated that living the way of Love would take care of the political problems as well as others. I have also stated this before, He didn’t come to abolish sin, but rather made a way for sinners to escape the penalty of judgment! He didn’t come to condemn but to show the world that through Him we could all have life and that more abundantly! That life is spiritual life for that is what we were dead too.
Why then do we feel we have the right to be condemning rather than to show the world that they can all have life through Him!? How do we balance preaching the truth without compromise and yet showing those that need it most that they are loved? We balance it by having the right heart, spirit attitude. We do it by doing what the Lord tells us to do and nothing more or nothing less. We do it by being obedient to Him and Him alone, rather than justify why we as individuals should do it our own way!
So, how do WE deal with evils of this world? Exactly like Jesus did, exactly the same way! We pray, pray and pray. We pray for all those in leadership. We pray for those who have rule over us. We pray for the teachers and the shepherds and those responsible for our spiritual well-being. We pray for the Lord’s will to continue to manifest itself in the world. We pray for one another for strength, for faith, for courage and for each of the fruit of the Spirit. We pray for the blinders of the enemy to be removed from the lost and that their hearts and spirits would be fertile ground for the life and heart changing Word of God. We pray for a clear vision of the Lord’s timing and the ability to move in it!
We also love those that are unlovable; those that are sinning, openly and privately. We have to be the example of Jesus Christ to them in a world where Jesus Christ is just a name! We have to stand up for righteousness but we also must realize that what is coming has been foretold. Our goal is not to change this world but to allow the Holy Spirit to change hearts. He and He alone knows which hearts will be broken on Him and which hearts will have to be crushed. That is His job and His Alone! We are not to hinder that process by believing we have a better way!
Matthew 18:7, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”
Luke 17:1, “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!”
Jesus gave us a clue here and in other Scriptures of what is to come. Sin is going to happen. Innocents are going to die. People will continue in perversion despite love and the power of the Word, but woe to them who cause it! We already know there are those that will sin and will be judged. Our purpose, our job, our calling is to show them a better way. Just as in Jesus day, they will either accept it or reject it. It is only our duty to be obedient, so let’s put away the condemnation, and start demonstrating what is really in our hearts!
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to fill our cup to overflowing for it is only then that it will be able to flow out to those that truly need it. Yes, I am to love my brothers and sisters but that is really the easy part. I am also to love my neighbor who may be doing something that I detest! Now that is a real demonstration of God’s love!
Philippians 4:4-8 says,“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.”
Lord fill my heart to overflowing! Cause me to see and to hear, oh Lord, all you are directing me to do. Help me to be blind to what the world and even the religious tell me I am supposed to be doing. Allow Your Light and Your Light alone to be a beacon to those around me! Let them see You and You alone and help me to diminish so that Your will may be accomplished in the lives of those around me!! Help me to never be ashamed to proclaim Your Truth and Lord as I am obedient in what You have called me to do, let it not return void, but rather cause it to be profitable spiritually to those that You direct it too! In Jesus Name, in His authority and by the Power of the Holy Spirit, let it be done!! Amen and Amen!