The Wars We Fight: External and Internal Battles

By Sean Gooding

Matthew chapter 10:34-42 (continued)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;  a man’s foes will be those of his own household.  “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.  And He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. He who receives you receives Me,  and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.  He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell you, he shall in no way lose his reward.”

Last time we discussed whose approval was most important to us? Do we treasure God’s approval or Man’s approval?  The one whose approval we treasured will be the one we will follow and obey. I remind you that God will put you in a position where you either have to stand for Him or deny Him. But He will not let you serve Him in the shadows for long. Jesus died publicly; we are called to serve Him publicly.

Today we will end our look into chapter 10. This has been a fruitful chapter that has challenged us and our notion of Christianity. We have been called to a life of service in sharing the gospel to a lost, dying and often hostile world.  We are called to be “Jesus” to people who dislike Him or show great indifference to His ways. 

We are called to keep our eyes on the prize and not to let the entrapments of the world capture our lives. Today we will challenge a common notion in the Lord’s churches. The notion of living in “peace” with the world is often touted in churches today. But Jesus tells us that He came to bring us peace with God not the world system.

There is one particular, very public church leader who has a PEACE plan for the world and has been known to speak at interfaith conferences. Many New Testament churches will follow this leadership and be led down a path that is opposed to the ways of Jesus. Today, let us take a look at what Jesus said to us so that we are adequately prepared.

Not Peace but a Sword Verses 34-35

This seems to be very clear to me. Jesus told His disciples that they will not have peace with the world around them; rather they would be at war.  Their enemies would be people in their own household, a father, a mother or even an in-law would be the person for whom to watch out that you have to watch out.  Jesus understood being at war with one’s own household.  His own brothers did not particularly like Him.  In John 7:1-5 we see this account:

“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee. He would not walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You do. For no one does anything in secret, while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, reveal Yourself to the world.’ For even His brothers did not believe in Him.”

Jesus’ own brothers knowing that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus, encouraged Him to go to Jerusalem. Why did they do this? The answer is in verse 5, they did not believe in Him. Jesus’ first enemies were the very people in His own household. Later two of His brothers, James and Jude become His followers but at this time they were His enemies. 

 Jesus’ holiness was an affront even to His own family and yours will be an affront to your family if they are lost. I think of how many Middle Eastern men and women have turned to Christ only to have their families be the first ones to hurt them or even kill them. 

In Romans 5:1 we are told that we have been ‘justified’ and have peace with God though Jesus.  The moment you have peace with God you are at war with the world system around you. We are called to live peaceably with all men as much as we can (Romans 12:18), but that is from our perspective. These men are not required to live peaceably with us. This verse can be misused to encourage us to compromise and be quiet about the gospel.

Nothing could be further from the truth! 

The gospel is not spread by war and fighting like we see in history with the inquisitions and conquests. It is not to be a militant gospel like we see with the expansion of Islam. But we are   to express our beliefs and the truths of the Scripture in a peaceful way. Our weapons are love, kindness and service. 

You and I, as children of God are at war in this world. We are the targets of the dark kingdom, marked for hatred and derision. The devil will attack your money, your home, your kids, your dog—whatever he can to get to you. Since you will not live in Hell, he wants to make this life a “living hell.” 

If church leaders lie to people about “peace, peace and more peace” we leave them ill-equipped to deal with war. Churches are the front line of the offensive push from the Kingdom of Light.  We are the ones taking fire from the enemy. Fight like the eternal lives of your friends, family and neighbors depended on it, oh yeah, they do!

God First, All Others Next Verses 36-39

This is the most important lesson we will even learn about being a Christian. The first commandment is this, Exodus 20:1-3:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

If you take the time to read throughout the Bible this was the one thing that got under God’s skin more than any other thing, it is when the people that He saved and redeemed turn from Him to serve other gods. He warned the Jews over and over again not to follow after other gods. He makes the same call to us, no one before Him. 

Not our wives, our children, our parents, our friends and certainly not material things. God will not be second to anyone or anything. If you love your family more than God it is an affront to God and a disservice to your family. You put them in harm’s way as God will move them out to get your attention.  God must be first, all else second.

Serve God’s People Is Serving God Verses 40-42

A lot of times we are looking for the ‘front page news’ of serving God.  But what God is looking for is the people who will do the mundane things faithfully. Not all of us can be Billy Graham’s and even he could not do what he did without a faithful staff that made his work easier, and even more—he had a faithful wife who raised his children so he could travel the globe. Ruth Graham was as important to the ministry of Billy Graham as he was if not more so.

In Luke 8:3 we find this wonderful verse:

Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions. These people did not heal anyone, they did not feed the masses and they did not raise the dead or confront heretics. What they did was to use their own resources for the furtherance of God’s work and kingdom. For this, God has recorded their names in an eternal record called the Bible. 

What are you doing with the resources that you have? We all seem to want God to give us more and more and more, but we misuse the stuff we already have, why would God give us more? 

We all talk about serving God, but forget that serving His people is serving Him. Make it a point to serve the Lord’s preachers and ministers, serve your brothers and sisters in the Lord and it will be as if you are serving God himself. Sadly, in the Lord’s churches we see too much anger and a real lack of forgiveness that borders on cruelty. 

There is so much indifference to the needs of our family in Christ and yet we proclaim to love Jesus. We are liars, I am a liar. Give of yourself, give of your stuff and I promise that God will notice and make an eternal record of it.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another.  12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:11-12).

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