Last time we looked at the way Jesus taught His disciples how to treat their adversaries, their enemies. But now He gives them more serious advice.
May God help us as we continue studying about the way we should represent Jesus in our effort to reach people with His love.
Those who are brought in controversy with the enemies of truth must meet, not only men, but Satan and his agents. Let them remember the Saviour’s words,
“Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3. Let them rest in the love of God, and the spirit will be kept calm, even under personal abuse. The Lord will clothe them with a divine panoply. His Holy Spirit will influence the mind and heart, so that their voices shall not catch the notes of the baying of the wolves.
Continuing His instruction to His disciples, Jesus said, “Beware of men.” They were not to put implicit confidence in those who knew not God, and open to them their counsels; for this would give Satan’s agents an advantage.
Man’s inventions often counterwork God’s plans. Those who build the temple of the Lord are to build according to the pattern shown in the mount,—the divine similitude.
God is dishonoured and the gospel is betrayed when His servants depend on the counsel of men who are not under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Worldly wisdom is foolishness with God. Those who rely upon it will surely err.
Matthew 10:17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their Matthew 10:18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
Persecution will spread the light. The servants of Christ will be brought before the great men of the world, who, but for this, might never hear the gospel. The truth has been misrepresented to these men.
They have listened to false charges concerning the faith of Christ’s disciples. Often their only means of learning its real character is the testimony of those who are brought to trial for their faith. Under examination these are required to answer, and their judges to listen to the testimony borne.
God’s grace will be dispensed to His servants to meet the emergency.
Matthew 10:19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;
Matthew 10:20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
As the Spirit of God illuminates the minds of His servants, the truth will be presented in its divine power and preciousness. Those who reject the truth will stand to accuse and oppress the disciples.
Listen to the following serious advice that Jesus gives us:
But under loss and suffering, even unto death, the Lord’s children are to reveal the meekness of their divine Example. Thus, will be seen the contrast between Satan’s agents and the representatives of Christ. The Saviour will be lifted before the rulers and the people.
The disciples were not endowed with the courage and fortitude of the martyrs until such grace was needed. Then the Saviour’s promise was fulfilled. When Peter and John testified before the Sanhedrin council, men “marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13. “
Of Stephen it is written that
Acts 6:15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
Acts 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
And Paul, writing of his own trial at the court of the Caesars, says,
2 Timothy 4:16 At my first defence no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
4:17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
The servants of Christ were to prepare no set speech to present when brought to trial. Their preparation was to be made day by day in treasuring up the precious truths of God’s word, and through prayer strengthening their faith.
When they were brought into trial, the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance the very truths that would be needed.
A daily, earnest striving to know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, would bring power and efficiency to the soul. The knowledge obtained by diligent searching of the Scriptures would be flashed into the memory at the right time.
But if any had neglected to acquaint themselves with the words of Christ, if they had never tested the power of His grace in trial, they could not expect that the Holy Spirit would bring His words to their remembrance. They were to serve God daily with undivided affection, and then trust Him.
My dear friend. How many of God’s promises have you memorised? Maybe its time to start anew.
So bitter would be the enmity to the gospel that even the tenderest earthly ties would be disregarded. The disciples of Christ would be betrayed to death by the members of their own households.
Mark 13:13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
But He also told them not to expose themselves unnecessarily to persecution. He Himself often left one field of labour for another, in order to escape from those who were seeking His life. When He was rejected at Nazareth, and His own townsmen tried to kill Him, He went down to Capernaum, and there the people were astonished at His teaching; “for His word was with power.” Luke 4:32.
So His servants were not to be discouraged by persecution, but to seek a place where they could still labour for the salvation of souls.
The servant is not above his master. The Prince of heaven was called Beelzebub, and His disciples will be misrepresented in like manner. But whatever the danger, Christ’s followers must avow their principles. They should scorn concealment.
They cannot remain uncommitted until assured of safety in confessing the truth. They are set as watchmen, to warn men of their peril. The truth received from Christ must be imparted to all, freely and openly. Jesus said,
Matthew 10:26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
Matthew 10:27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.
Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls,—the souls He had purchased with His own blood.
He laboured that man should be true to himself, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth.
Romans 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
Real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus said to His disciples,
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ their eternal life is secure. Their only fear should be lest they surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honoured them.
It is Satan’s work to fill men’s hearts with doubt. He leads them to look upon God as a stern judge. He tempts them to sin, and then to regard themselves as too vile to approach their heavenly Father or to excite His pity. The Lord understands all this. Jesus assures His disciples of God’s sympathy for them in their needs and weaknesses. Not a sigh is breathed, not a pain felt, not a grief pierces the soul, but the throb vibrates to the Father’s heart.
The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy intelligences, all waiting to do His will.
Through channels which we cannot discern He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. But it is in this speck of a world, in the souls that He gave His only-begotten Son to save, that His interest and the interest of all heaven is centered.
God is bending from His throne to hear the cry of the oppressed. To every sincere prayer He answers, “Here am I.” He uplifts the distressed and downtrodden. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. In every temptation and every trial, the angel of His presence is near to deliver.
Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s notice. Satan’s hatred against God leads him to hate every object of the Saviour’s care. He seeks to mar the handiwork of God, and he delights in destroying even the dumb creatures.
It is only through God’s protecting care that the birds are preserved to gladden us with their songs of joy. But He does not forget even the sparrows.
Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
Matthew 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Jesus continues: As you confess Me before men, so I will confess you before God and the holy angels. You are to be My witnesses upon earth, channels through which My grace can flow for the healing of the world.
So, I will be your representative in heaven. The Father beholds not your faulty character, but He sees you as clothed in My perfection. I am the medium through which Heaven’s blessings shall come to you. And everyone who confesses Me by sharing My sacrifice for the lost shall be confessed as a sharer in the glory and joy of the redeemed.
He who would confess Christ must have Christ abiding in him. He cannot communicate that which he has not received. The disciples might speak fluently on doctrines, they might repeat the words of Christ Himself; but unless they possessed Christlike meekness and love, they were not confessing Him.
A spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ would deny Him, whatever the profession. Men may deny Christ by evil speaking, by foolish talking, by words that are untruthful or unkind. They may deny Him by shunning life’s burdens, by the pursuit of sinful pleasure.
They may deny Him by conforming to the world, by uncourteous behaviour, by the love of their own opinions, by justifying self, by cherishing doubt, borrowing trouble, and dwelling in darkness. In all these ways they declare that Christ is not in them.
Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
The Saviour told His disciples not to hope that the world’s enmity to the gospel would be overcome, and that after a time its opposition would cease. He said,
Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
This creating of strife is not the effect of the gospel, but the result of opposition to it. Of all persecution the hardest to bear is variance in the home, the estrangement of dearest earthly friends. But Jesus declares,
Matthew 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
Matthew 10:38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
Matthew 10:39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
The mission of Christ’s servants is a high honour, and a sacred trust.
Matthew 10:40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. No act of kindness shown to them in His name will fail to be recognized and rewarded. And in the same tender recognition He includes the feeblest and lowliest of the family of God:
Mat 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
Thus, the Saviour ended His instruction. In the name of Christ, the chosen twelve went out, as He had gone,
“To preach the gospel to the poor, … to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19.
Come apart and rest awhile