Matthew Twelve – 2010

Matthew Chapter ★12:. The change is in the heart, then it works it’s way out. We can examine our hearts according to our fruit, whether it is of the Spirit or the flesh, not our gifts/works!

★12:11He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath? Yes! It is more lawful to do good, than it is to ignore the good that needs to be done.
✪ This means something to me. The Sabbath has always been the hardest command for me to understand.  From memory we are told to rest, and keep the Sabbath holy, as unto the Lord. I also know that a condition of the Sabbath was six days shall you work. I have to be careful not to slip into legalism here, because my mind immediately begins to wonder; ‘What if you only work 5 days, can you share your Sabbath over several days, does Sabbath mean we veg out, or does it mean we only do God stuff on that day?’ To escape my legalism I pin the Sabbath up against what I know about the gospel. I remember Jesus saying (★Mark 12:29…) “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And this one (★Romans 6:14) For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

My tentative conclusion is this; The Sabbath is a factor of the law which under the old covenant meant “Give this one day to God or pay”, in contrast to that, under the new covenant means “God has given you rest in Christ, now give all your days to him and don’t cease to do good.

★12:21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” To be honest, I don’t really understand how this OT quote relates but there is one part in there that I really like… in his name the Gentiles will hope! PRAISE YOU LORD.  You have been merciful even to let us who had no hope, know you and find hope!  Oh God, I really can’t explain why this verse makes me so happy with words, but it really does make me happy! Thank you thank you thank you for the hope you supply!

★12:22-32 Is the passage regarding blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I really don’t know how to wrap my mind around this one and because of the high level tension caused by it I don’t think I’ll make a comment other than; this verse is  very difficult however it is translated. I’m looking forward to knowing what it means.

★12:33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I’ve saved this as a memory verse because it’s a great reminder for self examination.

My reading of Matthew so far has answered an issue that was a giant question mark over my head since my primary school age; How can one know if they are truly born again? This question (for me) comes from being raised in a condition where “know them by their fruits” was preached, but the things being recognized as fruits were actually gifts. Instead of the fruit of the Spirit being the gauge used for self examination, it was the gifts. Eg. Fruits: Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control VERSUS Gifts: Healing, miraculous power, prophesy, discernment, tongues and interpretation.
I would say that in this passing of Matthew, the question of “How can one know if they are truly born again?” has finally been answered. 1 Peter 1:3 Says that when we are born again, we are born into hope in Jesus- that is faith. 1 Peter 1:5 says that our faith in Jesus Christ is our assurance of salvation. So the question now becomes “How can one know if they truly have faith”. My observation from The Gospel according to Matthew (and it’s a simple observation to make) is that Jesus Christ strongly affirms that faith is known by it’s fruit! There is a fruit that comes from the proverbial tree of faith (one who is born again), and there is a fruit that comes from the proverbial tree of flesh (one who walks according to the flesh).

The ridiculous part is that this is not even difficult to find or understand.  Jesus puts it so simply and clearly, frankly, in children’s terms! So why did it take me so long to understand this.  Well my natural proclivity wants to blame the imperfection of the church, the poor education from my leaders…  but truly I know this understanding didn’t come to because I eventually master a easy or hard message. It’s because God, in his sovereign providence saw it most fit to reveal it to me this year, and I am thankful that he did!

★12:35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For whatever reason the issue of profanity has been a bit of a hot topic in some of my close friend’s circles the last week. When getting involved I try to keep my opinion short and sweet: I think the issue of swear words or curse words is a largely over dramatized. My initial example is ‘There is no four letter combination that the bible defines as taboo or sinful, (especially because the bible was written in Hebrew and Greek and we speak in English), therefore there is no one, or collection of words that can be said in sin purely because of the word itself.’ The next question that usually follows is; ‘Then why don’t you swear, Ben?’ I think that is a great question! To be honest the main reason why I don’t swear is because I was raised to think that swearing is sin, and through that conditioning swear words do not pass my lips naturally.  If it ever happens it is usually un-natural and after some consideration of context at least. NOTE: The conversation can not end here. Just by saying that swearing is not bad does not even touch on the issue. The real issue is, why is some language good and some language bad? The bible verse that usually accompanies the justification of why we don’t swear is Eph 4:29Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths… What a great verse for helping us remember to keep our mouths pure, but unfortunately this verse is often quoted only in part as I have done.  The rest of the verse which is often left out (or more likely forgotten) helps us understand what exactly corrupt talk is!  So what is it? “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Paul justifies the dismissle of corrupt talk by saying “only such is good for building up, as fits the occasion”, so we can understand this as if it’s not building up (as fits the occasion) don’t say it!

Woah, hang on a second!  I thought it was just a list of several bad words that we weren’t allowed to say. You’re making it so complicated!!

If we were left only to our own will power, and the strength and wisdom of the flesh, our only hope for successfully disallowing any corrupt talk to come from our mouths would be to make a short list of unacceptable words and avoid saying them.  But even after doing that we would (and do) still fail to be perfectly pure in speech. BUT! The level of perfection and righteousness of Jesus Christ, that we are called to and are being purified in through the Holy Spirit, is deeper than just a list of bad words.  Indeed it is daunting to consider the implications- they are impossible for the natural man.  A christian friend and a person who I deeply admire replied to me “Well if that’s true than I have no hope”. Well, it is true! And you don’t have any hope!  That is, apart from the renewal and (slow) purifying sanctification of your heart through the work of the Holy Spirit that comes through the imputation of Christ made possible through his death and resurrection! WOOOT!!! When we speak without corruption, it is by the power of Christ, to the glory of God and not ourselves! So fulfilling Mat 5:16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. That is the glory of the Gospel!

THE POINT: Mat 12:35 does not ask us to refrain from saying bad words, it implies that only out of a pure heart can we even perceive not speaking evil. It remind us that the only hope we have is in Jesus’ righteousness and not our own. This is very good news for us because our righteousness sucks! Is 64:6

✪ Application: I’m going to borrow that text from Eph 4:29 again; but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. How does that work on a day to day basis? Does it mean that you can’t open your mouth unless your are directly preaching God’s prophetic word? Just asking the question makes it sound silly! It the simplest way possible; if you are living as Mat 5:16 suggests, living your life out of the renewed and pure(ifying) heart given you through the Spirit your new-nature’s inclination will be to build up rather than put down now that you live in the humility of the cross, but the boldness of the throne. So is it ever appropriate to use words like shit, fuck, dick, cunt, ass, bloody, or damn? Only if it builds up (I’m trying to give an example, but I have to admit, it still feels awkward which I blame on my weak conscience birthed out of the tradition and conditioning of the flesh)

★12:38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. This is interesting to me. When I read it I see a warning for myself and more so a warning for my time. Two warnings actually. 1) A sign is not enough to make a convert. It may be a enough to drive somebody to worship God (for a time) but soon enough, some other amazing wonder catches the eye, or the novelty where off and one may ask “I want a god who is alive, and a god who is alive must provide extraordinary miracles – without miracles I can’t believe. Only the coming and working of the Holy Spirit can convert somebody and can secure faith (John 15:4-5). 2) Everyone is accountable for what he sees, hears, knows regardless. To the hear the gospel and not respond demands judgment – to see miracles and wonders and signs and not have faith, also demands judgment. Kind of a scary, sober acknowledgment.

★12:46While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.a 48But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus is kingdom minded not tribal minded.

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