From the “SERMON ON THE MOUNT – AND BEYOND !!!”
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
—Matthew 7:12 (KJV)
WITH YOUR BIBLES CLOSED, PLEASE:
There were two lawyers who were best friends forever! Amazingly, one of them became a Sunday school teacher. Surprised by his friend’s new Sunday occupation, the second lawyer said, “I BET you don’t even know the Lord’s prayer.”
“Of course I do! ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…’”
“You win!”, said the other admiringly. “I didn’t know you knew so much about the Bible!”
We laugh, don’t we? Well, stay with me. Is your Bibles still closed?
Ok. QUOTE for me “The Golden Rule” as recorded in the Scriptures. Let me start it for you: “Do unto others…”.
NOW look at the above verse and read what the verse REALLY states!
There are 3 reasons why this is the most misquoted, misrepresented, misapplied, misunderstood verse in the Bible!
Why, this is a verse that MANY ARE DEPENDENT UPON for their salvation! Even you?
FIRST, MANY DON’T KNOW WHY THE “THEREFORE” IS “THERE FOR”!
In fact, many people don’t even read that “therefore” as a part of their remembrance of what they call “The Golden Rule.”
So how should I determine WHY the “therefore” is there for? Follow the Savior’s amazing train of thought in Matthew 7:
* Since I recognize God is the True Judge (verse 1)…
* Since I recognize God’s holiness as the standard for true judgment (verse 2)…
* Since I surely see that I can’t criticize anybody’s speck until I take the log out of my own eye (verses 3-5)…
* Since I realize that only the gospel of Christ can change lives (verse 6)…
* And since I am truly convinced that only continuous prayer – true dependence upon God – will effect anything of eternal value (verses 7-11)…
THEREFORE as a result, my life NOW will be so governed (verse 12)!!!
Now in our study, THIS is a VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION WE MUST ASK: “Is the Lord Jesus addressing this to the world as a SALVATION verse?
OR is He addressing this to the Christian as a WAY OF LIFE?” Hmmmm.
SECOND, MANY DON’T KNOW WHO THE “OTHERS” ARE!
The Lord Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy NEIGHBOR as thyself”. “Neighbor” is an important word to this study! It is used at least 144 TIMES in the King James Version.
He goes on to say about “loving your neighbor”: “THIS is the law and the prophets,” that is, “THIS is the general nature of the entirety of the Scriptures!”.
Let’s look at a few helpful examples:
* In the 10 commandments (Exodus 20, especially verse 16-17):
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
By the way, “covet” has the modern idea of “keeping up with the Jone’s”.
* In the Law of Release (Deut. 15:1-2):
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release.”
Thus the true follower of the Lord will not harbor anything against his neighbor!
* In the removing of a landmark (Deut. 19:14):
“You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.”
I learned recently of an huge boundary dispute at a local property. Apparently, the boundaries were initially figured from two different angles! Can you imagine the neighbors who were involved? They had no idea what was truly their own land! In the end, lawyers had to get involved to determine why there were discrepancies in the boundaries. In Old Testament days, the honoring of the boundary was a genuine way in which one “loved his neighbor”.
* In the speaking of truth to one’s neighbor (Zechariah 8:16-17):
“These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace. Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the Lord.”
This passage is quoted in the New Testament, as found in Ephesians 4:25, showing that it is not just an Old Testament principle:
“Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.”
Look at James 2:8-10, which will lead to our third point:
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
THIRD, BEFORE I CAME TO THE CROSS:
* I COULDN’T “DO UNTO THEM”
* I HAVE NEVER “DONE UNTO THEM”
* APART FROM THE NEW BIRTH WILL I EVER “DO UNTO THEM”!
Why? Because for all eternity, I AM #1 !!! What is the chant at all basketball games? Is it yelled wonderfully to the opposing team, “YOU ARE #1! YOU ARE #1!” OR is it yelled at our own supporters as an encouragement and as a needle in the enthusiasm of the opposition, “WE’RE #1! WE’RE #1! WE’RE #1!”.
What does the Savior say? Look at the conversation wonderfully recorded for us in Matthew 22:35ff:
“…a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Note the order! We are to love God FIRST OF ALL. Only THEN are we to love our neighbor as ourselves. See? Salvation FIRST. Example and Evangelism SECOND – NOT the other way around!
As we bring this week’s study to a close, today’s text has a lot to say about our hearts:
WHO IS #1?
WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?
DO YOU KNOW PEOPLE WHO BASE THIS VERSE AS THEIR SALVATION VERSE?
And the BIG question: Have you depended on this verse for YOUR salvation?