Summary: How do we love those who hate us? By remembering that God loved us when we hated Him.
Hating our Enemies
For the past few months we have been engaged in a verse-by-verse study of the Sermon on the Mount.
Today, we are coming to the end of the Matthew 5, and the sermon will continue on for another two chapters.
But it is important to note that with this end to chapter 5 also comes the end of the first major thrust of Jesus’s sermon.
His focus up until this point has been CHRISTIAN ETHICS.
He has been demonstrating that the Law of Moses had been frequently misinterpreted and misapplied by the Jewish leaders.
And He has reestablished the proper principles upon which a Christian should base his/her behavior.
Jesus shows that Christian Ethics are more than simply an adherence to the bare letter of the Law, but also an adherence to the spirit of the Law as well.
As we come to the end of this part of His sermon, Jesus provides us with a final correction regarding the Law of God, and pulls everything He has said so far about Christian Ethics together in the final exhortation of this section.
READ: Matthew 5:43-48
It is vitally important to remember, especially in today’s message, that the Sermon on the Mount is intended to CORRECT wrong teachings about the Law and INSTRUCT on the subject of genuine righteousness.
It is NOT intended to provide us with the way of salvation.
The Bible is clear that salvation is found in the work of Christ alone.
Seeking to find salvation in our own adherence to the Law is futile and will ultimately lead to frustration and despair.
Romans 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
A proper understanding of the Law shows us our desperate condition and our need for a Savior.
The Law is impotent to save us; only Christ can save us.
Understanding this truth allows us to have an appropriate understanding of the Sermon on the Mount.
The Pharisees believed that they were law keepers, because they had interpreted the law to suit their pleasures.
But Jesus demonstrates that their interpretations were actually misinterpretations, and that the law actually condemned them.
Jesus is challenging those who say they have kept the law by demonstrating that they have not.
They have not even properly understood the law they espouse.
The sermon on the mount is meant to correct the false teachings of the Jews, and to instruct the proper understanding of the Law for Gods people.
QUESTION: Why do we need to properly understand the law if it doesn't save us?
Because it does provide the foundation for what it means to live a godly life.
Believers are not supposed to be like the world; we are supposed to be different.
The sermon on the mount enunciates the ways we are supposed to be different.
Never is our differences more pronounced than in today's passage.
We have seen Jesus decry personal retaliation over the past few weeks, when He said we are not to return evil with evil.
But today we will see He also tells us we must LOVE those who hate us, which is one of the most difficult of principles within the Christian Ethic.
Rather than giving an outline today, I am going to use the text itself as our outline and simply preach straight through giving interpretation and application as we go.
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
Here we have Jesus following His already established corrective pattern of saying, “You have heard it said... but I tell you...”
But this one is unique in that this is not a direct quote - or even a paraphrase of any passage in the Old Testament.
There is no command to “hate our enemies” anywhere in the Bible.
This was a misapplication from the Pharisees of a passage in Leviticus.
Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
The Pharisees had interpreted the word “neighbor” as “your own people” which are mentioned in this passage.
As such, they did not believe that they had any obligation to love people who were not Jews.
They even went a step further and said that since you only were obligated to love your own people, it was perfectly acceptable to hate your enemies.
It is important to understand that Jesus is addressing a false teaching here.
That is what He has been doing throughout this entire portion of this sermon.
Jesus has in no way denounced God’s Law - He has only corrected the misinterpretation of it.