Not Peace, But a Sword

Matthew 10:34-36 ESV

[Jesus Christ said:] “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

This sounds pretty radical, doesn’t it? On a cursory read, we might assume that Jesus Christ was some kind of a rebel and an anarchist who was causing an uprising, and that he was for war, not peace. Well, there is an element of truth to that, but not in the way we might assume.

Jesus was at war, true, but his war was against Satan (the devil), and against evil and sin, and he was against people hating and devouring one another, and he was against adultery and murder, and against lies and deception, and he was against people taking advantage of others.

So, he was for us, not against us. And he was all about love, not hate. So, what did he mean by his words? He meant that if we follow him, and we love what he loves, and we hate what he hates, and we do what he says, and we speak his words, that we will be hated and rejected.

For, not everyone is going to accept his words. Not everyone is going to accept his teachings, for his teachings go against the sinful nature of human beings, because he calls for us to die daily to our old sinful natures, and to deny ourselves, and to follow him in obedience to his ways (Lu 9:23-26).

So, those who reject him and his teachings will also reject us if we are living what he taught, and if we are teaching what he taught. Most people who profess faith in Jesus Christ today, though, are blending in with the world to be acceptable to the world, and so the world does not hate them.

Matthew 10:37-39 ESV

[Jesus Christ said:] “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

This is not a popular message today. And it definitely does not fit with the gospel which is predominantly being taught today. For, the gospel being taught today is all about us, not about God/Christ and what he wants for our lives. It is all about what he did and does for us, not about what we are to do for him.

The message I keep hearing people speak has to do with Jesus doing it all for us so that we do nothing. They think that Jesus gave his life up for us on that cross so that we would now be free to sin as much as we want without guilt, and so that we can ignore him, dishonor him, and disavow him.

For, they are teaching a gospel free from the fear of (honor, respect, obedience to) the Lord. It is a gospel that has turned God’s grace into a license for lasciviousness, for it does not require death to sin or living to righteousness, for they call that “works-based” salvation.

But even those who are not quite that radical are still teaching a very diluted gospel which does not require full surrender to Jesus Christ and to us making him Lord (owner-master) of our lives, but they believe that a cursory profession of faith in Christ guarantees them heaven no matter what.

But that is not the gospel of the Scriptures. Jesus said that we must die with him to sin and that we must now follow (obey) him with our lives. And he said that if we do not give up our old ways of living for sin and self and if we don’t follow him in obedience, that we don’t have eternal life (Lu 9:23-26).

And the Apostle Paul taught the same thing, that we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be raised with Christ to newness of life in him, and that we must now walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (Rom 8:1-17; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8).

James 1:2-4, 12 ESV

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

So, if we are living the gospel as Jesus and the New Testament apostles taught it, and if this is what we are speaking, and if we are refuting the lies of Satan with the truth of God’s word, and if we are not blending in with the world, we will be hated and rejected as Jesus was.

For, the popular message today is for us all to blend in with the world and to become one with the world so that we don’t stand out as different, and so that we don’t say anything that might offend anyone, so that the world will like us and so that they will think Christians are like them.

But we aren’t supposed to be like everyone else. We aren’t supposed to be one with the world. We are supposed to stand out. We are supposed to be different. We are to follow the teachings of Christ and the way of righteousness and we aren’t supposed to compromise with the world.

And we are supposed to be winning the world to Jesus Christ, not to ourselves. We are supposed to be leading people to the cross of Christ and to fall in love with Jesus. We aren’t supposed to be leading them to like us and to think that we are great.

But because so many Christians (or professers only) are blending in with the world so that the world will like them, and because they aren’t willing to stand out and to be different and to take up their cross daily and to follow Jesus in his steps, we who follow Jesus with our lives will even be hated by those who profess faith in Christ.

So, in the coming days we are going to be facing much pressure to conform to the ways of our society, to not stand out any more as different, but to be one with the world, which will mean compromise of our beliefs and practices. But we must not cave to that pressure, no matter who turns against us. We must be determined to be like Jesus even to the death.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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