Not Peace, a Sword

Matthew 10:34-36 ESV

Jesus 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.”

Is this the picture of Jesus that you are hearing taught in your local church fellowships? I doubt that many are teaching this passage today. For so many are painting a picture of Jesus who unifies us all together regardless of how we live our lives, and regardless of whether or not we fear him and honor him as Lord of our lives. They paint Jesus as a peacekeeper whose goal it is for all people to live in harmony with one another.

For what many of them are teaching in their gatherings is that we are all to “stay in your own lane,” and we are not to say anything to anyone that might offend them, but that we are to only say what makes people feel good about themselves so that they will feel good about us so that we can all be one big happy family where no one judges anyone else for anything they are doing. For they don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable or judged.

But Jesus is saying here that we are not to think that he came to bring peace to the earth. For he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Wow! For he came to turn us against one another. What? Does that agree with Scripture as a whole? Is he promoting that we hate and that we disagree and that we fight with one another? Is that really what he is saying here? Or could there be another way of looking at this?

It is always good to look at the context, for most often that is where we get our understanding of a passage of Scripture. So, what is the context here? Jesus was sending his disciples out as sheep in the midst of wolves, and they were to beware of men who were likely to deliver them over to the courts and to flog them in their synagogues, and they were not to fear them, for God the Spirit would give them the words to speak when that happened.

So, the context is clearly Christian persecution. But who were persecuting the Christians? They were Jews who claimed to believe in the same God that we do and they were religious leaders and rulers in their religious institutions, so they were religious people and people who knew and who taught the Scriptures (Old Testament). They were the same people, basically, who persecuted Jesus and who put him to death.

And then the passage continued by stating that brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against their parents and have them put to death, and we will be hated by all of them for his name’s sake. So, what was he saying? He was saying that if we follow him with our lives that everyone is not going to like us and embrace us. We are not going to be voted “most popular” or “best personality.”

Why? If we are the kind of “cookie cutter” Christians that are being produced today by these diluted gospel presentations which require no death to sin and no obedience to the Lord and no submission to him as Lord, then everyone should love us, right? And that is because we submit to the culture which tells us to immerse ourselves in the culture so that we can relate to the people and so we can be the gospel by inviting them to watch movies.

That is not going to get anyone persecuted or hated. So, obviously this is not the kind of Christianity that Jesus was teaching. He didn’t teach us to just go around blessing everyone by saying to them what they want to hear and what will make them feel good. And he didn’t teach that we can just be the gospel by inviting our neighbors over for popcorn and a movie or for game night or whatever other form of entertainment we might provide them.

Jesus said if we are like him in character, in heart, in mind, and in actions, that we will be treated like he was. And why did they treat him that way, this man that supposedly so many people today admire? It was because he confronted them in their sins, and he told them that they had to die with him to sin and live to his righteousness, and that they had to obey him or that they could not live with him, with God for eternity.

And this is the same reason our family members and people we know well and people we don’t know at all will be against us and will come against us because they don’t like the message that tells them that they must forsake their sins to follow Jesus in obedience. And that is because they want to hold on to their sins and they want to live for self-pleasure, and they don’t want to have to submit to the Lord or obey him.

Matthew 10:37-39 ESV

Jesus 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.”

What? There are conditions to our salvation? There are things we must do in order to be saved? Jesus doesn’t just hand us his salvation and say “Go now and have a good time and I will see you again when I come back”? So, Jesus doesn’t know that he doesn’t require works of us and that if we actually obey him and surrender our lives to him and repent of our sins that we are trying to earn our own salvation? Does someone need to tell him that?

For, it appears from what he taught when he lived on this earth that he made it quite clear that we must love and serve and obey him above all else, and that he is to get absolutely first priority and first place in our lives or else we are not worthy to be his followers. We can’t be his disciples, in other words, if his plans for our lives are not what we follow. If we don’t die with him to sin and follow him in obedience, and continue in that until the end, then we will not have eternal life with God, no matter what.

But Jesus wasn’t the only one who said these kinds of things. Actually Paul taught this a lot! Paul said if we obey sin, it ends in death, and if we walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, that we don’t have eternal life with God. And he said that if we make sin our practice and righteousness is not what we practice that we will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. And he also taught the necessity of obedience.

But we are not perfect people, right? We still live in flesh bodies, we are still tempted to sin, and we still have the propensity to sin. And didn’t Jesus die on that cross for us in putting our sin to death with him because we are not able to keep the law perfectly? Yes! But he did this that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in conduct) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (see Rom 8).

Basically, if we have this attitude that we don’t have to forsake our sins and we don’t have to obey the Lord and we don’t have to submit to him as Lord, then we are not saved, plain and simple. We have bought into a lie that will end us in hell on the promise of heaven when we die. With regard to our salvation and eternal life with God, the Scriptures make it quite clear that there are conditions we must meet, not to earn our salvation, but to actually believe in Jesus with the required faith for our salvation.

For, God’s grace to us is not just about forgiving our sins so we can go to heaven when we die. God’s grace to us was in Jesus providing a way for us to die with him to sin and for us to no longer be enslaved to sin but for us to now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. And this involves walks of obedience to our Lord.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130)

By Jordan Kauflin, Keith Getty, Matt Merker, & Stuart Townend

Out of the depths I cry to You
In darkest places I will call
Incline Your ear to me anew
And hear my cry for mercy, Lord

Were You to count my sinful ways
How could I come before Your throne
Yet full forgiveness meets my gaze
I stand redeemed by grace alone

I will wait for You
I will wait for You
On Your word, I will rely
I will wait for You
Surely wait for You
Till my soul is satisfied..

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