Matthew 5:13-16, 21-22, 27-28, 43-45
 The Power to Love Life

2008, J.W. Carter              Scripture quotes from KJV

Because all human life comes from God, Jesus teaches us to demonstrate value for all human life in our attitudes and our actions..

If there is one sin that most characterizes the human race, it is that of genocide. What are some examples of such murderous acts? Probably, the first to come to mind is the Holocaust of World War II. Many people do not realize that Stalin’s purge of Russian resistance resulted in the murder of more of his countrymen than Hitler killed of those he despised. The purge during the communist revolution, the genocide of Pol Pot in Cambodia, the African purges of Idi Amin … the list goes on and on. These are examples of mass murder that have taken place only in the last few generations. History has shown that man’s ability to destroy one another has been limited only by the technology to do so, and our technology is improving at a fast pace. However, no form of genocide has resulted in as many deaths as the one that is taking place in this generation: the killing of unborn babies and the killing of the elderly. Over 1.5 million unborn children are killed every year in America alone. Recently the practice of killing the elderly or infirmed is becoming legal in Northern Europe, the source of most of the murderous philosophy of this age.

The murder of one of a species by another is relatively rare in nature, except in humans, where it is commonplace. What is required in the mind of a person in order to bring forth actions that lead to murder and death? Actually, the answer is quite simple. When one agrees to the killing of another, that one is disregarding the value of the life of another. Hitler could kill the Jewish community because he considered them of no value. Stalin killed his countrymen because their disagreement with his plan was his justification for despising them. Even today, the liberal political "left" has generated an overpowering array of rationalizations and euphemisms to justify the killing of unborn children. Abortion is such an insidious sin that it has become the single issue that defines the value of life in this world today. One’s viewpoint on abortion places one on a well-defined side of the issue. How our generation deals with this issue will alone define the character of this age.

Based upon our understanding of the motives of Satan, would he be behind such murder or opposed to it? Of course, that is a rhetorical question. Murder is sin, and Satan is the author of sin. Every person that is killed without a knowledge of Christ is a victory for Satan.

A study of the gospel should cause us to look at the calling of all Christians as ministers of the Gospel in an evil world. God has called us, has equipped us, has given us the resources and the teaching to be an effective missionary in this world, which becomes more and more alien to us as we grow closer and closer to Him. Today we are going to look at one of the very basic doctrines of the Gospel: We as Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the embodiment of God's love on earth. If our attitudes and actions clearly demonstrate that love, then our ministry will be one which cares for all people, recognizing the value of all life from before its conception until its passing on into eternity.

Who created human life? God did.

Gen 1:27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

What was different about the creation of man from the creation of all of the rest of creation? Creation is separated into that which is inert and that which is alive. That which is alive is divided into to distinct groups: That which lacks self-actualization such as plants, trees, vegetables, fruits; and that which has self actualization such as man and animals. Of those with self-actualization, only man has an eternal spirit which recognizes and seeks God. When God created man with an eternal spirit, he created man in His image.

What kind of value does God place on the life of a person? Take a look at the first part of Jeremiah 1:5.

Jer 1:5.  Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,

Before you were even conceived in the womb, God knew you and had a plan for you. He gave you life, and gave you an opportunity to do something with that life. What is the most important thing we are to do in this life? (Love God) Man has both this attribute of God, and is loved by God (Rom. 8:38-39). Therefore all human life has immeasurable value. The social station of a person has no impact on God’s love for them. All are equal and are to be loved. If we truly love God how are we going to express that love? (Obedience).

With the Holy Spirit as our paraclete, we have a unique power to accomplish the goal we have of being obedient to God's calling. This lesson will look at how we can exercise that love in us in a manner that is obedient to our calling as Christians, and will empower us to be more effective in loving and valuing those in the world around us.

Mat. 5:13. (KJV).

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

To whom is Jesus speaking? This is the sermon on the mount. It was spoken to the disciples after withdrawing with them away from the crowds. Whether the crowds were in a position to hear is unclear. His statement here refers to his followers (us) as salt. Consider the use of this metaphor in the context of their day. What purpose did salt have? (to preserve, purity, and to give flavor). Jesus did not say that we can be salt of the earth. His statement is clear that we are the salt. We therefore have at least two responsibilities in the world which to mankind is similar to the properties of salt.

1. Salt preserves, or purifies. What are we as Christians called to preserve? (purity, holiness, Godliness). How do we do this? How is salt used to preserve meat? (When meat is packed in salt it does not turn putrid or rotten.) What happens to man when he is led by his natural desire and not of the Holy Spirit? (He becomes putrid and rotten). We as Christians are called to be salt to the world. It is one thing to be salt to ourselves and those closest to us, but we are also to be salt to the world. How is the world to avoid the putrid and rotten effects of sin if God's people do not actively take part in preserving it?

2. Salt also adds flavor. It takes that which is dull and adds vitality. When we as Christians speak in love, we have the authority of the Holy Spirit, the authority of God in what we say. The love we have can change lives as nothing else in creation can do. The love we have can turn people from eternal separation from God to a life with God.

This scripture refers to the consequences of salt losing its saltiness. Salt, sodium chloride, is a very simple molecular compound, which in its pure state cannot lose its savor. What has to happen in order for salt to become "unsalty"? It must be mixed with impurity. How are we as Christians mixed with impurity? We allow the salt to be watered down by allowing that which is unholy to become an everyday part of our lives. What are some of the unholy things which are part of our lives? Television, radio & media; selfish desires, …, etc. What does this scripture say about our usefulness to the Gospel if we, as salt, have lost our savor? It is no longer good for anything. When a Christian allows unholy practices and thoughts to be a part of life, his/her usefulness to God is lost.

One of the most significant areas we have lost our savor is in the most fundamental area of our calling: our love for people. We are so bombarded with the putrid and rotten, that we have become insensitive to the value of the life that God has created. We have already seen how God respects the value of life, and how important it is to him. How important is the value of human life to the world? It does not take much observation of the culture to know that life is clearly of little value to this world, but we should not be too surprised: Satan is the "prince" of that world. How much of that philosophy has crept into the Christian culture? Many Christians have bought into this post-modern relativistic society that teaches that there is no real truth. Every person makes his own truth. This ancient Greek philosophy is contrary to the absolute truth of God’s word and should be recognized as such by each Christian. We are called to do more than know about the love we have in us. We are to act upon the love that is in us.

Mat. 5:14.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

The power of God over evil is often illustrated in the scriptures as a metaphor which uses the power of light over darkness. God is always referred to as the light, and evil, embodied by the spirit of Satan, is referred to as darkness. The scripture states that we live in a sinful and perverse world. A dark world, What is the source of light in this world which is called out to illuminate it? The source of light is the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit: the Christian.

What does light do? It illuminates and exposes that which was covered by the darkness. Light exposes sin, it chases away darkness. We are called to be the light of the world. What does this mean? First, by demonstrating a life of Godly integrity we illustrate God’s design for us. Second, by expressing that integrity, we will expose and stand against that which is ungodly. Christians are called to take a stand against Satan and are given the resources to do so (Eph. 6: 12 ff.). Much of the success of evil in the world today is attributable to the silence of Christians. A silence bred of both a lack of conviction and an acceptance of the darkness.

Why can a city on a hill not be hidden? The light of the city shines out over the land. How can we hide a city; Churchill did it to the cities of England during the second world war? As the German air strikes were pounding London, shades were pulled over the windows, headlights on vehicles were covered. We as Christians have a way of gathering in a building and pulling the shades over the light much as Churchill did. Rather than fishers of men, we have become keepers of the aquarium.

Mat. 5:15-16.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

How is your light seen before men? In your good works. Note that we can take the definition of the word good works very literally. Where does the word "good" or "goodly" come from? It is in Old English, "God" or "Godly". We can take this statement and accurately state it, "see your Godly works." What are "Godly works"? Those which are motivated by God's love. If God's love is shining in us how is it going to be seen? Give some examples?

What is your Godly response when someone near you is

  • hurting?
  • hungry?
  • sick?
  • in bondage to sin?

Note who, according to this verse, gets the praise for your good works. Do you? No, God does. If people are to praise God for our good works, it must be quite obvious that our actions are selfless. The world sacrifices only to gain for itself. We are called to sacrifice with all of the gain going to God's kingdom.

Mat. 5:21-22.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But 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.

To what are these verses referring? They identify the difference between the motives of those who are children of God from those who are children of the world. How are we to be more righteous than the Pharisees and the teachers of the law? We are made righteous because of our faith in God. No one, regardless of their apparent worldly righteousness is saved apart from faith in God. We do not have to fear the threat spoken here. Those who are born again have been given that righteousness by God’s grace through our faith in Him, and are guaranteed our place in heaven.

Still, these verses say much more. What does the discussion on murder have to do with our calling? Those who are lost are under the law, and subject to judgement under it. No one can keep the law. The example used here is the commandment concerning murder. The law say's "do not murder." We as Christians, however, are not under the law, we are under grace. This results in our desire for obedience and, instead of adhering to the law to avoid judgement, we meditate on the law, and it becomes part of us. However, it is not the word of the law we meditate on. It is the spirit of the law. For us, murder is not the only issue. Even the desire to murder in our heart would cause us to fall short of this law. Jesus illustrated that one who harbors anger against another is subject to the same judgement. If our basic motives are based in agape love we will not maintain anger against another.

We are taught here that our love for life will cause us to respect it. When does human life begin? Before you answer that, consider the quote from Jeremiah. When does a human life begin? It begins as part of God's plan. Even before conception God has a plan for the conceived life. Now that is a radical thought. Only the most rabid anti-abortionists would publicly state that life starts before conception!!! But... God says it does because he knew us before we were even conceived. The spirit which makes us in his image is eternal. The loss of physical life anywhere from the point of conception to the end of many years has no relationship to the existence of the spirit.

If this is true, what is the motivation for the current drive in society to accept abortion as a form of contraception? Is it based on God's love? It is based only on the sinful nature of man's selfish desires. How are we to let our light shine in this putrid and rotten world? We, as salt must be pure.

Mat. 5:27-28.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

What was the punishment for adultery under Jewish law? (Death). We see here the call for Christians to a life of purity, not just obedience to the letter of the law. We are created as sexual beings, and one of the strongest desires God has given us involves our physical relationships with the opposite sex. One way a Christian light shines is through purity in every area of life. We may not have a problem with adultery as Christians, though some do. Just as we are called to maintain self-control in the face of adulterous opportunities, we are called to maintain self-controlled in the face of any sexual impuirity.

Mat. 5:43-45.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But 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; 45That ye may 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.

Jesus calls upon us to value all human life. Under the law it was permissible, and even taught, to hate your enemies; to hate those who would blaspheme God; those who are in bondage to sin.

What do these verses say? We are to love all people.

  • People have been created with various shades of skin. Which ones are we to love more?
  • People live lives in various states of economic security. Which ones are we to love more?
  • People live lives subject to various degrees of wickedness. Which ones are we to love more?

We are called to be salt and light to the world by demonstrating God's love in us; by reflecting that love as a mirror reflects light, illuminating a putrid and rotten world with God's love through actions which are motivated by our real love for others. Such a motivation will empower us to overcome the insidious evil of this culture that destroys life on a whim, and inspire us to speak out for the truth.

When we see the acts of atrocity against one another around the world, we can be reminded that such acts are not inspired by God's love, but rather through the selfish and sinful acts of people who reject God's truth.  We can pray every day that the killing would stop.  We can influence others by our integrity and expressed concern.  We can counsel one who is considering an abortion.  There are many things that we, as Christians, can do to be obedient to that call to be salt and light to a rotting and dark world.  The world desperately needs God's touch.

Many Christians carry guilt that comes from past actions that denied His truth. God’s love will also forgive us when we have succumbed to the evil of the world if we will confess our sin. If that guilt is still being carried, confess that the act was a sin, turn in your heart from it, and accept God’s forgiveness as you turn that guilt over to Him.