RESIST NOT EVIL
Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Our Lord has turned to his disciples and began to open up to them the identity of the kingdom of God and the characteristics of those of its citizens, who shall be brought in by the new birth. It is those who are poor in spirit, humbled by grace, to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs. Then he reveals his own relationship to the law. He came not to destroy it, for the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Romans 7:12) Then he brings to re-instruct human kind as to what he had intended as his finger wrote the law on tablets of stone, which he gave to Moses.
He has clearly stated that anger without a cause is murder. Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Then he reveals that a lustful look upon the opposite sex is adultery. Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. He reveals that religious oaths and swearing are unlawful before God. Matthew 5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: And now we come to see that retaliation for individual believers is unlawful.
Let us take a look at the law. Exodus 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Deuteronomy 19:18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. 20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. 21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
That is the portion of the law which contains these commands. And we have taken the opportunity to emphasize, by bold letters, for whom these laws were intended. There were intended for the judges who were given the responsibility to judge Israel. They were not given to the individual Israelite as a rule for personal retaliation! Therefore the judges were to make sure that the punishment for the crimes was equal to the offense. They were not to set more harsh sentences than the crime warranted!
And to the individual, the Lord God proclaimed, very clearly, that vengeful retaliation was not to be in their hands. It was a matter of trusting the Lord God to deal with it as He saw fit. Deuteronomy 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
And here is the Apostle Paul’s instruction upon this subject: Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
And here again, we find the New Testament apostle instructing us that the authority of the civil magistrate is to handle, as God’s “minister,” the revenge upon him that doeth evil.
And we have example of our Lord himself in such a case. John 18:22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
He instructs the officer who smote him to abide by the law. That if there was an evil spoken by himself, the officer was to only answer back in kind! He was not to retaliate with physical force! And the Lord is the very judge of the world! John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
It is really eye opening to understand that as the law had deteriorated so drastically from the time of Moses receiving it, to the time of our Lord’s ministry, that he had to correct it by all these, “Ye have heard,” “But I say unto you” phrases. And having seen that to be the case, as we are brought to understand the Lord’s true meaning of the spirit of the law, we realize that, once again, the law has deteriorated from the time of his ministry on earth until our present day!
But is not that the work of Satan? Does he not like to subtly change man’s minds concerning just what God really meant? He did so with Eve. Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? He did not say, “God hath not said!” But he makes mankind to rationalize the meaning of what God did say! And his agents shall ever be doing so. Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws:
Satan even tried this misinterpretation of the law with the Lord Jesus. Luke 4:9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
One of the greatest examples of refusing to resist evil is found in the life of King David of Israel. His son Absalom had begun a revolt against his father, driving David out of Jerusalem. And as he went, a man named Shimei, who was a remaining supporter of King Saul, cursed David as he went. Here is that portion of scripture:
2 Samuel 16:5 ¶ And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. 6 And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: 8 The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. 9 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. 10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? 11 And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. 12 It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. 13 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
As we read in that twelfth verse we realize that the only way anyone will not resist evil is by the effectual knowledge that our Lord God is absolutely sovereign, and that he is always true to his word. David knew that Shimei could not act so against him without the Lord’s control. And he knew that the Lord would handle the matter, as vengeance was His! So must we realize that all things – even evil things exacted against us – will work together for our good! Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
And sure enough, Shimei later violated his agreement with King Solomon, David’s son, and thereby caused his own death! 1 Kings 2:36 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. 37 For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. 42 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good. 43 Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with? 44 The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head; 45 And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever. 46 So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
God’s justice was carried out, but David did not live long enough to see it. Yet he refused to resist this evil, possessing his soul in the patience of the Spirit. Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls. For in contentment, derived from the gift of faith, the believer has a most blessed influence upon his soul. 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
The believer does not belong to himself. He is bought by the blood sacrifice of Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Therefore he must allow himself to be afflicted by evil, without retaliation, in order that Christ may righteously judge those who are actually afflicting the Lord Jesus by afflicting them! Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Matthew 25:31 ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The Apostle Paul realized this and stated that Christ must be glorified, whatever the effect be upon his body. Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
In this, we are more clearly seen to be the children of God! Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be (seen to be) the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
We must keep in mind that the Lord sent his rain, and his sunshine upon us even when we were dead in trespasses and sin! Therefore when others have hatred in their hearts against us, we must have kindness in ours for them. When they have curses in their words against us, we must have blessings in ours for them. And when they have abuse in their actions, our action must be that of prayer for them. But this cannot be done by religious effort. For only the Spirit within can bring forth these righteous matters!
Pastor Gene Breed
February 15, 2019