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Do Not Resist the Evil Person. Matthew 5:38-42. Why do wars start?.

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Do Not Resistthe Evil Person

Matthew 5:38-42



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“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).


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“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

James’ words ring true regardless of the “war.”


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How do we prevent wars? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).


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In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).


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In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

Matthew 5:38-42.


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  • In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

  • Matthew 5:38-42.

    • These words have been interpreted in different ways.


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  • In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

  • Matthew 5:38-42.

    • These words have been interpreted in different ways.

      • Some have taken these words to advocate non-violence & non-retaliation.


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  • In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

  • Matthew 5:38-42.

    • These words have been interpreted in different ways.

      • Some have taken these words to advocate non-violence & non-retaliation.

      • Some have said these words are just hyperbole.


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  • In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

  • Matthew 5:38-42.

    • These words have been interpreted in different ways.

      • Some have taken these words to advocate non-violence & non-retaliation.

      • Some have said these words are just hyperbole. His reaction to his betrayal, arrest, & crucifixion demonstrate otherwise.


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  • In this morning’s text, Jesus tells us how! Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (Js 4:1-2, ESV).

  • Matthew 5:38-42.

    • These words have been interpreted in different ways.

      • Some have taken these words to advocate non-violence & non-retaliation.

      • Some have said these words are just hyperbole. His reaction to his betrayal, arrest, & crucifixion demonstrate otherwise.

    • If neither of those interpretations is entirely accurate, what does Jesus mean?



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Jesus is speaking of dealing with adversaries through legal means.

The picture Jesus paints is that we care so much about people we don’t care about getting even.


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Jesus is speaking of dealing with adversaries through legal means.

The picture Jesus paints is that we care so much about people we don’t care about getting even.

We want to study these words in their original context & apply them to today.


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AN OLD PUNISHMENT means.

v 38


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“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’” (v 38, ESV).


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God put retaliation into the Law of Moses. a tooth for a tooth’” (v 38, ESV).


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God put retaliation into the Law of Moses. a tooth for a tooth’” (v 38, ESV).

That’s the way the Jews of Jesus’ day read these words.


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  • God put retaliation into the Law of Moses. a tooth for a tooth’” (v 38, ESV).

  • That’s the way the Jews of Jesus’ day read these words.

    • But, that is a gross misinterpretation of what Jesus said.

    • The purpose of these words are not to encourage retaliation, but to limit it.


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“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him” (Lev 24:17-20, ESV).


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“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him” (Lev 24:17-20, ESV).

The point was to keep the judges from imposing unfair penalties.



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  • Those living under the Law of Moses could not take justice into their own hands.

    • Instead, they were to love their neighbors as themselves: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Lev 19:18, ESV).


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  • Those living under the Law of Moses could not take justice into their own hands.

    • Instead, they were to love their neighbors as themselves: (Lev 19:18).

    • God certainly allowed for justice, but it was the judges who were to execute justice.

      • “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Ex 21:22-25, ESV).


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  • Those living under the Law of Moses could not take justice into their own hands.

    • Instead, they were to love their neighbors as themselves: (Lev 19:18).

    • God certainly allowed for justice, but it was the judges who were to execute justice.

      • Ex 21:22-25.

      • The only time I was permitted to “take justice into my own hands” was if a person who killed a family member was outside a city of refuge.


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  • Those living under the Law of Moses could not take justice into their own hands.

    • Instead, they were to love their neighbors as themselves: (Lev 19:18).

    • God certainly allowed for justice, but it was the judges who were to execute justice.

      • Ex 21:22-25.

      • The only time I was permitted to “take justice into my own hands” was if a person who killed a family member was outside a city of refuge.

      • Otherwise, judges meted out judgment & they were limited by “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”



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For the disciples of Jesus, there is another way! justice for a wrong done to us?


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A NEW PARDON justice for a wrong done to us?

vv 39-42


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“But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (vv 39-42, ESV).



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  • “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (v 39b, ESV).

    • The vast majority of people in this world have always been right-handed.

    • The only way a right-handed person could strike you on the right cheek is with a back-handed slap.

      • In Jewish Palestine, that was the ultimate insult.


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  • “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (v 39b, ESV).

    • The vast majority of people in this world have always been right-handed.

    • The only way a right-handed person could strike you on the right cheek is with a back-handed slap.

      • In Jewish Palestine, that was the ultimate insult.

      • The insult was so grievous that both Jewish & Roman law allowed you to take one to court for it.


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“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (v 39b, ESV).

But, Jesus says, “Don’t go to court—just endure it.”



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  • “If anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (v 40, ESV).

    • The poorest people in the Empire only had two garments—their tunic, the inner garment, & their cloak, the outer garment.

    • What Jesus says here is radical, for the cloak was an inalienable possession.

      • “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep?” (Ex 22:25-27).


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  • “If anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (v 40, ESV).

    • The poorest people in the Empire only had two garments—their tunic, the inner garment, & their cloak, the outer garment.

    • What Jesus says here is radical, for the cloak was an inalienable possession.

      • Ex 22:25-27.

      • No one, under any circumstances, could take my cloak.


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“If anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (v 40, ESV).

But, Jesus says, “If someone wants your tunic, let him have your cloak, too.”



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  • “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (v 41, ESV).

    • Roman soldiers could compel the Jews to carry their packs for 1,000 paces (a Roman mile).

    • Such an action could hardly have sat well with Jesus’ hearers.

      • One of Jesus’ disciples was “Simon who was called the Zealot” (Lk 6:15, ESV).


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  • “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (v 41, ESV).

    • Roman soldiers could compel the Jews to carry their packs for 1,000 paces (a Roman mile).

    • Such an action could hardly have sat well with Jesus’ hearers.

      • One of Jesus’ disciples was “Simon who was called the Zealot” (Lk 6:15, ESV). The “Zealots” were those who advocated revolution vis-à-vis the Roman government.


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  • “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (v 41, ESV).

    • Roman soldiers could compel the Jews to carry their packs for 1,000 paces (a Roman mile).

    • Such an action could hardly have sat well with Jesus’ hearers.

      • One of Jesus’ disciples was “Simon who was called the Zealot” (Lk 6:15, ESV).

      • When Jesus spoke about freedom, the Jews said, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone” (Jn 8:33, ESV).


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  • “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (v 41, ESV).

    • Roman soldiers could compel the Jews to carry their packs for 1,000 paces (a Roman mile).

    • Such an action could hardly have sat well with Jesus’ hearers.

      • One of Jesus’ disciples was “Simon who was called the Zealot” (Lk 6:15, ESV).

      • When Jesus spoke about freedom, the Jews said, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone” (Jn 8:33, ESV). If you think you aren’t enslaved, you won’t be happy about carrying a Roman soldiers’ pack.


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“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (v 41, ESV).

Jesus says, “Forget what’s legally required. Go twice as far.”


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“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (v 42, ESV).


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  • “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (v 42, ESV).

    • The Old Testament required interest-free loans: (Lev 25:37).

    • But, Jesus goes beyond that & teaches his disciples to be generous.

      • “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:1-2, ESV).


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  • “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (v 42, ESV).

    • The Old Testament required interest-free loans: (Lev 25:37).

    • But, Jesus goes beyond that & teaches his disciples to be generous.

      • Acts 10:1-2.

      • “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, ESV).


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  • “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (v 42, ESV).

    • The Old Testament required interest-free loans: (Lev 25:37).

    • But, Jesus goes beyond that & teaches his disciples to be generous.

      • Acts 10:1-2.

      • Acts 20:35.

  • Let us, as the people of God, be a generous people!


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What’s the point of all Jesus has said? one who would borrow from you” (v 42, ESV).


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Jesus speaks about legal recourse, speaks of dealing with oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.


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Jesus speaks about legal recourse, speaks of dealing with oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.

There are several factors at work here.


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The passage certainly speaks of forgiveness. oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.


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The passage certainly speaks of forgiveness. oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.

How could I ever forego taking someone to court unless I have forgiven him/her?


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God surely expects his people to be forgiving. oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.


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Unless we are forgiving, God will not be forgiving. oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.


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Unless we are forgiving, God will not be forgiving. oppressive Roman soldiers, & then closes by speaking of generosity.

“If you forgive others their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15, ESV).



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Because of the mercy God has shown us in Christ, we are to forgive.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32, ESV).



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There can be no limit to our forgiveness. forgive.

“Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’” (Mt 18:21-22, ESV).


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  • There can be no limit to our forgiveness. forgive.

  • “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’” (Mt 18:21-22, ESV).

    • The Jews of Jesus’ day limited forgiveness to three times.


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  • There can be no limit to our forgiveness. forgive.

  • “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’” (Mt 18:21-22, ESV).

    • The Jews of Jesus’ day limited forgiveness to three times.

    • But, Jesus ups the ante & says “seventy times seven” or perhaps “seventy-seven times.”


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  • There can be no limit to our forgiveness. forgive.

  • “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’” (Mt 18:21-22, ESV).

    • The Jews of Jesus’ day limited forgiveness to three times.

    • But, Jesus ups the ante & says “seventy times seven” or perhaps “seventy-seven times.”

  • Seven is the number of perfection/completeness in Judaism.


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  • There can be no limit to our forgiveness. forgive.

  • “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’” (Mt 18:21-22, ESV).

    • The Jews of Jesus’ day limited forgiveness to three times.

    • But, Jesus ups the ante & says “seventy times seven” or perhaps “seventy-seven times.”

  • Seven is the number of perfection/completeness in Judaism.

  • Jesus, thus, points Peter beyond a specific number to a completely forgiving spirit.



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How forgiving are we? forgive.

Shall we forget the wrongs committed against us?



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The text also speaks of the kindness we are to show to others.

Instead of rushing to court to right a wrong or closing my heart against the needy, I’m to show kindness & compassion.



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“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh” (Is 58:6-7, ESV).


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“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh” (Is 58:6-7, ESV).

But, do we not have a tendency to hide ourselves from our “own flesh”?


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We remember the “Good Samaritan,” because he—unlike the priest & the Levite—involved himself with the wounded man.


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The word of Jesus here calls us out of our comfort zone to care for our abusers & the down trodden.


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The word of Jesus here calls us out of our comfort zone to care for our abusers & the down trodden.

But, Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t done.


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  • The word of Jesus here calls us out of our comfort zone to care for our abusers & the down trodden.

  • But, Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t done.

    • “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Mt 14:14, ESV). Jesus did not simply “feel” compassion, but he acted.


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  • The word of Jesus here calls us out of our comfort zone to care for our abusers & the down trodden.

  • But, Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t done.

    • “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Mt 14:14, ESV). Jesus did not simply “feel” compassion, but he acted.

    • “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Lk 7:47, ESV).



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The Lord is waiting to demonstrate that kindness & compassion toward you.

Will you allow him to do so this morning?


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