Should Christians Love the Wicked?
We are being told by some churches and by worldly publications that Christians are to love everyone, especially those who are "less fortunate than we are." Quite often they include in that less fortunate bracket not just the poor and handicapped, but criminals and degenerates, and even enemies of Christians. We are told that no matter what the person is, or what he has done, we are to love him. Is that a scriptural concept or are Christians being given unscriptural advice in this important matter? Get your Bibles and follow with me as we answer the question, "Should Christians love the wicked?"
The most common answer to that question today would be, "Yes, Christians are supposed to love everybody." If asked for the authority behind that commandment most would say the Bible, or they might say Jesus Christ. Some insist that not only are we Christians to love everyone, but that we are to help everyone, even those people or nations which have been killing our Christian brethren. To justify that they will quote ROMANS 12:20,
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him." With that phrase and others similar to it, unknown thousands of Christians have approved, while millions of tons of our grain is shipped to communist governments. Much of that grain is converted to alcohol for rocket fuel, but most Christians do not know that. They think it is for feeding people.
In recent years, as our own economic situation worsens, and more people are unemployed, there is increasing opposition to foreign aid, especially for communist countries. However, many ministers or evangelists will stand up for aid to communist countries by quoting that passage. Some will even oppose the arming of our nation to defend ourselves against enemies, and the arming of our citizens for personal defence, by quoting part of ROMANS 12:17 of that same chapter;
"Recompense to no man evil for evil" and for good measure they will throw in, "We are to love our neighbours as ourselves."
Is this a scriptural doctrine, that we are to love and forgive and perhaps help the criminal, the degenerate, and even those who would destroy us, or are we Christians being misled by a wrong use or a wrong teaching of these Bible passages? Get your Bible and we will go into these passages, and others, in more detail to determine what we are to do and just how we are to act towards the wicked and the enemies of Christianity, since this subject is so important to the future actions and well-being of Christians, and of this nation.
Turn with me to MATTHEW 6. This is in Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" and is sometimes used to convince Christians they must forgive wrong-doing under all circumstances. In MATTHEW 6:14-15, Jesus says,
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Without additional explanation, this does seem to say that before Christians can have any grace and mercy from God, they must first forgive all others of all their sins. If that is not enough, then sometimes LUKE 17:3-4 is quoted, to convince us we must forgive more than once.
"Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." If that is not enough times to be required to forgive, then they can quote MATTHEW 18:21-22,
"Then came Peter to him, and said, 'Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?' Jesus saith unto him, 'I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.`" Liberal church-men and writers in secular publications say, "See, Christians are supposed to forgive everyone over and over." However, they miss the whole point of the command as to who it is the Christian is to forgive, and they completely ignore that forgiveness is required only when certain specific circumstances prevail. Let us examine those passages in more detail and find out just what Jesus taught. I think you will see it is quite different from that which the liberal churches and our secular propagandists say it is.
The person to be forgiven is identified in LUKE 17:3 in Jesus' own words,
"If thy brother trespass against thee" and then later He says,
"Forgive him." The person who is the subject of Peter's question in MATTHEW 18:21 is right there in the question for all to see.
"Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?"
Both Jesus and Peter were talking about other Christian brothers, not about non-Christians. The word "brother" is used in the New Testament almost 100 times. And except for those cases where it is talking about physical brothers (as sons of the same mother), it always means believers in Christ Jesus. Those ministers, and our enemies, who claim Jesus taught that Christians are to forgive non-believers their trespasses are teaching error. Except for those passages where near-blood kin are meant, the words "brother" and "brethren" in the New Testament always mean followers of Jesus Christ. They have no application to non-Christians. In addition, these passages are not a blanket command to always and under any circumstances forgive even our Christian brother. There is something stated or implied in both passages which that brother must do, and that word is "Repent"! Jesus said of this brother,
"if he repent, forgive him." (LUKE 17:3). In LUKE 17:4, Jesus said that if the brother said seven times in a day, I repent; then the Christian was to forgive him seven times. Jesus taught no such nonsense that if anyone trespasses against you that you are to forgive him. He spoke only of fellow Christians, and forgiveness was commanded only if the wrongdoer repented of his trespass against you. In MATTHEW 18 Jesus does not use the word "repent" in reply to Peter's question. However, it is plainly implied in His teaching which preceded the question, and which obviously prompted it from Peter. The three verses which prompted the question are in MATTHEW 18:15-17. Read them with me, and then I have a question for you. Verse 15:
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." (MATTHEW 18:15). This is an instruction to a wronged Christian, however it does make it plain that the wrongdoer here is also a Christian brother. Then Jesus says,
"But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." (MATTHEW 18:16). Since Jesus uses the phrase "his fault" it is certain He means to say the other brother is in the wrong. Therefore, when He uses the phrase, "if he will not hear thee" He obviously means if he will not admit his error and repent, even though Jesus does not use the word "repent". After you go to your Christian brother with one or two witnesses without it resulting in acknowledgement of wrongdoing and repentance, Jesus commands in verse 17:
"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church," - then forgive him anyway because after all you are a Christian. Oh, oh, Jesus didn't say that, did He? No! Jesus said if this Christian brother who has wronged you refuses to admit his error and repent even after the church has been told of it, then:
"let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." (MATTHEW 18:17).
Isn't that something? We are told by all and sundry that we Christians are to forgive everyone and everything relating to sins and trespasses against us, yet Jesus told us we are not even to forgive a Christian brother if he refuses to repent of his wrongdoing.
Certainly we have no more responsibility to forgive and forget the sins of unrepentant non-Christians, than we do the sins of unrepentant Christians. Paul uses a stronger word than heathen in his letter to Titus, a word we seldom hear in modern Christendom. TITUS 3:10-11:
"A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." And of course the familiar passage in 2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-18 which begins:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" In verse 15 unbelievers are called infidels, another word one seldom hears nowadays although our land is filled with them.
We have touched on only a very few of the New Testament passages by which we are commanded to have no fellowship or communion with the heretic, the unbeliever and the anti-Christian. In spite of that, it is commonly taught in many churches and by many evangelists, and of course by our enemies, that we Christians are not to speak against, or to oppose, or to avoid entanglement with unbelievers, but are instead to love them, forgive them when they trespass against Christians, and even help them in their nefarious works. Do you realise what this false doctrine of love everyone and forgive unrepentant sinners has done to us? It has made us tolerant of all sorts of evil and evil doers. Instead we should be acting like our Christian forefathers who would not tolerate open and unrepentant sin and wickedness in the community, and who instead punished the evildoers, or drove unrepentant sinners from the community, so that they could not injure and destroy Christians. We have been conditioned not to react to blatant sin. We put up with, and tolerate, and condone, and justify all kinds of sin and sinners in our neighbourhoods, in our cities, in our states and in our nation because we have been fooled into thinking that rooting out and driving out wicked and evil people from the land is somehow not what Christians should do. We have been fooled into thinking that we must love and forgive them, instead of hate and deport them, and all sorts of other nonsense which comes from not understanding the true teachings of Jesus Christ. Our nation is being destroyed for lack of knowledge; for lack of knowledge of what true Christianity really is.
In the last 20 years in this nation (and especially in the last 10 years) a number of ministers have taken up the cry of "turn the nation back to God." They cry out against abortion, against pornography, filthy movies and so forth. Christians are responding to them by the millions, seeking answers to our growing problems of sin and wickedness in the land. What is happening? Well, practically nothing. For although the ministers then have more money to go on more television and radio stations to rail against sin, they still leave their Christian listeners with the false doctrine that they, the Christians, are not to take physical action against the evil ones; but instead, just preach to them and hope they mend their ways. A phrase used over and over is, "we must hate the sin, but love the sinner."
Our Christian forefathers of past centuries obeyed the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They loved the brethren, their Christian brethren, but not the wicked non-Christians, and they stopped the anti-Christians and the unbelievers from defiling their land and their people. In the 1600's when the first Christians settled on this continent they would not even allow non-Christians to live in their colonies. Men and women who committed evil acts against the people were punished and if they did not repent and mend their wicked ways they were driven out, exiled, banned from the Christian community (ecclesia) and told not to return. Even in this century, until less than 60 years ago, it was a common practice for the law authorities in a community to actually pick up criminals and known wrong-doers and escort them to the borders of the community or city and tell them to get out. I personally know this was done in many cities long after the 2nd World War. Were these authorities somehow evil for doing these things? No! They were protecting their children from evil, not fawning upon anti-Christians, murderers, thieves, sodomites and rapists. These same forefathers of ours, citing God's Laws for the punishment of evildoers, executed murderers and rapists and punished those who would destroy the morals of their children.
As recently as 30 years ago it was common to hear of the arrest of someone for "corrupting the morals of a minor." Who ever hears of such a charge today? Instead, the drug pushers, the printers and distributors of pornography, the makers of filthy movies, the sex-perverts and the blasphemers have the run of our land. They corrupt the minds of millions of our children every year, destroying their morals and then their lives, all without punishment. If Christians really get upset and want to do something, along come the clergy and the propagandists to smoothly remind us that, after all, Christians must not judge; Christians must hate the sin, but love the sinner. And Christians must forgive, forgive and forgive. So the wicked prosper. Truth is fallen in the street, and wrong rules the land. We blame the criminals and the wicked for it, but who is really to blame? Is it not the Christians who have abdicated from their duties to Jesus, to their country, and to their children? After all, it is the Christians who are to be a light to the world, not the non-Christians. It is Christians who are to establish their society that it might be as a light set upon a hill, that all men might seek after it. It is Christians who are to be God's witnesses to His righteous and immutable Laws. Nowhere in the Holy Word of God does God charge the heathen and the infidel with establishing a righteous nation. Always and forever, His Word is to the believer, the follower of Jesus Christ.
I know it is a human tendency to blame someone else for our difficulties. You wives know how we husbands so easily shift the blame onto our wives for problems in the home. That is a trait of mankind. However, it is not to be a Christian trait. Our forefathers accepted their Christian responsibilities, and laid a Christian foundation in this God-blessed land. Now, we have abdicated our responsibilities, we have even turned our nation over to the ungodly, and their ways, instead of insisting that this nation follow Jesus Christ and His Ways. Yes, we Christians are to blame for our sorry and perilous state. And if we are to blame for our present condition, then perhaps we need to repent from our errors, and mend our ways, and obey Jesus Christ. Perhaps we need to accept our Christian responsibility again, and pray and work and believe as our forefathers prayed, and worked, and believed that we were to be a Christian nation; a light to the other nations of the world. That light is rapidly going out. It needs to be rekindled, lest the whole world be swept with darkness. We cannot light it unless we turn wholly to Jesus Christ.
Before we go on with what our relationship is to the wicked, I want to read a few passages in the New Testament where the word "brother" is used. This is especially for new Christians who might still think that their 'brother' is their "fellow man" rather than their fellow Christian. There are scores of these passages in the New Testament. I'll have time to read only a few. Jesus used "brethren" (the plural of brother) in MATTHEW 12, when He asked the question,
"Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?".
"Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the Will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." That is in MATTHEW 12:48-50, and is repeated in MARK 3:33-35. In ACTS 9:17 and ACTS 22:13, we find that Saul, a persecutor of Christians, was called "brother" Saul immediately upon his conversion. In ROMANS 14 the word "brother" is used 5 times in reference to a fellow believer. In 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1, Paul refers to a fellow Christian worker as "Sosthenes, our brother". In 2 CORINTHIANS 1:1, Paul writes of Timothy, "our brother". Timothy was not Paul's blood brother. Like Sosthenes, Timothy was a fellow believer in Jesus. In 2 CORINTHIANS 2:13, Paul calls Titus, "my brother". Again the word "brother" means "fellow Christian". In 2 CORINTHIANS 8:18, Paul writes of an unnamed person in this way,
"And we sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches." No other identification of the man except that he was a brother. Why was he a brother? Because his praise was in the gospel. He was a Christian believer. In verse 23, Paul uses the term "brethren". Like all other places in the New Testament it refers to fellow believers. "Brother" and "brethren" are used scores of times in the New Testament. Some we will read later when we discuss the commandment to love our brother. You should look up the word "brother" in your Concordance and read the references. The word "brother" is used for only two things. A real "blood brother", or a fellow Christian.
Never, never is it used in the New Testament to mean a non-Christian. Don't let anyone fool you by telling you that non-Christians are brothers to Christians. The Bible does not teach that at all.
Some may ask, "But Pastor Emry, aren't we Christians commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves?" The answer is, "Yes, we are." However, who is our neighbour? Well, that is also made plain in the New Testament and we will read that later, God willing. We will find that just as everyone is not our brother, neither is everyone our neighbour. Even if he does live next door to our house, or next door to our country.
The Holy Word of God tells Christians they are to love their neighbour as themselves. Jesus gave that as a command in MATTHEW 19:19 and MATTHEW 22:39, and both Paul and James repeated it in their epistles. But, does that command really mean Christians are to love those who fit the scriptural definition of the wicked? Are they to love unrepentant sinners who continually commit sin and wickedness? The answer is, "NO!"; Christians are commanded to do no such thing.
In fact, forgiveness was commanded only if the brother repented of his wrong. Instead, today when Christian people speak out against sin and iniquity in the land, and suggest that the criminal should be punished, they are often told, "Oh, you shouldn't feel like that, you should forgive them; after all, if you are a Christian, you must love and forgive." Then they will throw in something about loving our neighbour as ourselves, and the Christians are shamed into silence as if they were the wrongdoer instead of the criminal. Although most of them know that God Almighty in His Law ordered His people to execute murderers and rapists, and to require thieves to restore two-fold to five-fold, not to the government in a fine but in money and goods to the victim, this 'love-and-forgive philosophy' which has been insinuated into the minds of most Christians prevents them from speaking out for obedience to God's Laws. They have been conditioned to react to the love philosophy instead of Bible Law.
In a moment we will look at just who our "neighbour" is, and who we are supposed to love as ourselves. Perhaps we can even find out who our scriptural neighbour is; he may not be just anyone. Perhaps like the word "brother", the word "neighbour" fits only certain people.
I have an article, which was published in an Arizona newspaper several years ago, titled, "Eye for an Eye, Life for a Life". It was written after a series of interviews with relatives of people who had been murdered in Arizona. The writer was somewhat astonished to find that almost all of the relatives of the victims wanted the murderers killed. The anti-capital punishment propaganda seems to work for most of the population most of the time; but when a loved one is killed the propaganda goes down the drain and the survivors want the murderer executed. In some cases they say they would gladly shoot the murderer themselves, or throw the switch to electrocute him, or whatever is necessary to kill him. One woman, whose only daughter was raped and then murdered, said (quote), "I most certainly do think they should enforce the death penalty. I think the Laws have been much too lenient too long. Anybody that's against capital punishment should walk in our shoes."
Others voice similar sentiments. We have reprinted this rather long newspaper article, and then at the end we added 37 verses from 7 different passages in the Bible books of the Law which establish capital punishment as the law for God's people. I recently talked to a district attorney in another state who read to the jury God's Law on execution of murderers. After they found the man guilty the jury recommended to the judge that he sentence the man to death, which the judge then did. That district attorney told me he believed it was his reading of the Bible Law to the jury that led to the death sentence. It is true that, in spite of the propaganda to the contrary, many of our people, both in government and out, want to see Bible Law obeyed.
Alright, what about loving our neighbour as ourselves? Turn to MATTHEW 19 and we'll read this passage and others about our neighbour to find out two things. Number 1: How do we fulfil the command to love our neighbour as ourselves? And, number 2: Just who is our neighbour according to this scripture? In MATTHEW 19:16 the man came to Jesus and asked ,
"Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Part of Jesus' answer was,
"If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." The man then asked,
"Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Most Christians recognise the first five of those as the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and fifth commandments in that order. However, many think that last phrase,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" was an addition by Jesus. That is not so. It is from the original Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, and I'll show you that in a little bit. Turn to MATTHEW 22; for here Jesus gave much more emphasis on that command to love one's neighbour, seeming to make it more important than the last six of the original Ten Commandments. Here, in verse 36 of Matthew 22, Jesus was asked,
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus answered,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." (MATTHEW 22:37-38). However, Jesus did not stop there, but went right on.
"And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (MATTHEW 22:39-40)
To help us understand what Jesus meant by that, seeming almost to make only two commandments instead of ten, turn to the Ten Commandments in EXODUS 20. You will see that the Ten Commandments are of two different types. The first four define man's relationship to God, and the last six define man's relationship to man. The first four are: No.1) No other gods; No.2) No worship of graven images; No.3) Do not take the Lord's Name in vain; and No.4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Those four have to do with God and man. Then the rest with man and man. No.5)
"Honour thy father and thy mother." No.6)
"Thou shalt not kill",
"Thou shalt not commit adultery." No.8)
"Thou shalt not steal." No.9)
"Thou shalt not bear false witness AGAINST THY NEIGHBOUR", and No.10)
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's."
Now by reading those Ten Commandments we can see that when Jesus gave only two commandments, He really condensed all ten commandments into two phrases: The first four commandments establishing the right relationship of man to God, he summed up by saying,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." If a man were to do all those things he certainly would not have any other gods, nor carve graven images, nor use God's name in vain, nor desecrate God's Sabbath. The last six commandments, the ones dealing with a man's right-doing to other men, Jesus summed up with:
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." By that he meant that to really love your neighbour as yourself, you would honour your father and your mother, you would do no murder, you would not commit adultery, you would not steal, you would not bear false witness against your neighbour, and you certainly would not covet your neighbours wife, or his other possessions. Jesus was not putting aside any of the Ten Commandments; He was in truth verifying them totally. He simply stated them all in two condensed phrases, one for each of the subdivisions of the whole. Then when He added,
"On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," He obviously meant these two divisions of the Ten Commandments support all the Law and the prophets.
And of course they do. The other two parts of the Law in the books of Moses, the statutes and the judgments, are all based and hang on the original ten. Also, all the messages of the prophets who came to Israel were based on the same Ten Commandments, for they all came with the one message to Israel: Obey God's Laws!
It is obvious that many in Christendom have been deceived into thinking that Jesus somehow in this passage put aside the original Ten Commandments, and instituted instead some esoteric new law, embodied in the phrase, "all you have to do is love Jesus, and love your fellow man"; for that is the sum and substance of much modernistic preaching. We seldom hear the cry of the ancient prophets of Israel to His people: "Turn from your wicked ways, Turn from your transgression, Turn and obey God's Holy Commandments."
Instead we hear endlessly how we are to love Jesus, how we are to be "filled with the spirit" and how we are to love the sinners and the wicked, and all unrighteous. This kind of modern preaching has fooled many into thinking that if they evidence some sort of nebulous emotional attachment to Jesus Christ and to all other human beings, that is enough to fulfil Jesus' command to
"love God and to love their neighbour as themselves." They have not been told, nor have they found out for themselves, that if they really love Jesus they would obey His commandments. Jesus said in JOHN 14:15,
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." In 1 JOHN 2:3-4,
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments,is a liar, and the truth is not in him." John wrote in 1 JOHN 5:3,
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." That would seem to say that a professing Christian who claims to love Jesus but who refuses to obey God's commandments is not a Christian. Therefore, Christians should know that if they really love their neighbour, they are to obey the divine commandments which He has ordained for their relationship with their neighbour. That means, they are to honour their father and mother by taking care of them in their old age, and not expect their neighbours to be taxed in their labour to take care of them via so-called 'welfare'. That means they should not kill their neighbour, neither directly, nor by poisoning him with pesticides, nor by burning him with radiation, nor by neglect. That means they should not steal from him, neither by shirking at work if they are an employee, nor by paying low wages if they are an employer, nor by exorbitant prices on their merchandise if they sell, nor by usury on debts, nor by any of the other thousands of methods of stealing used today wherein one steals from his neighbour. They should, of course, not lie about him, neither by backbiting, rumour, false witness, murmurings or whatever; and of course they should not covet their neighbour's wife, nor any of his property. That last one is quite significant, for today millions of Christians, who would never think of stealing directly themselves, allow thievery to be done in their name. How do they do that? Well, by allowing their own elected representatives to forcibly take money from their neighbours who have earned it, and to give it to others who have not earned it. In addition, they approve of all sorts of onerous and unfair laws enforced on their neighbours by their public servants all under the guise of helping or protecting someone else. They mistakenly think this is evidence of love. They do not realise their fallible concept of "love your neighbour" actually does grave injury to their neighbour. If they would base their relationship to their neighbour on the last six commandments, God's infallible concepts of how we are to love our neighbour, they would not injure him in any way. Instead they would do him good. If they really loved their neighbour in truth, rather than in empty words, they would not only treat him according to those divine precepts, they would pray and work that those same divine precepts might become the law of the land so that all their neighbours would benefit from them.
Now I realise this may be boring to some of you - it really isn't very romantic - certainly just treating your neighbour right is not as emotionally fulfilling as sending $10 to an unknown orphan in a far country. But I wonder how many of us have been deceived into thinking we can do a little good to someone far away, and that that will excuse the great harm we are allowing to come upon our scriptural neighbours in our own country by our neglect of Jesus' commandments. Just think of the harm we all do to our neighbours by not insisting on the enforcement of God's Laws by our government representatives. We allow rapists and murderers to run free, to rape and kill our neighbours. We allow murder by abortion of a million children of our own people every year, while our colleges cry out that we must save the whale.
We lose another million of our own children to the drug pushers, and the alcohol distributors, every year, while we pray from our pulpits about loving our neighbour. In recent years we have sent tens of thousands of our neighbours' young sons to their deaths, and caused the maiming of hundreds of thousands of our neighbours' sons in foreign wars without once raising the cry: "This is in violation of God's Holy Laws." If loving our neighbour is obeying God's Laws, look how we are not loving our neighbour in the economic realm. Because of false teaching on God's Laws we allow the money-lenders to charge usury which is forbidden by God, and then while the criminal money-lenders plunder our neighbours of their homes, farms and businesses, we stand by and tell everyone how much we love Jesus, and yes, we even insist that we love our neighbours. Paul wrote in 1 TIMOTHY 5:8:
"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house (the margin says his own kindred)
, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1 TIMOTHY 5:8) Not as bad as an infidel, but worse. By our wilful violation of God's Holy Laws, we are not providing safety and protection for our own kindred, our own neighbours.
In spite of our protestations of faith in Jesus Christ, our actions prove our words to be empty of meaning. We are worse than the infidels who at least attempt to take care of their own. Yes, it is rather easy to see how erroneous and misguided teaching on love can conceal the real truth, that obedience to God's Holy Laws is the foundation of all righteous human relations including: love your neighbour as yourself. I had planned on going to Jesus own words in the New Testament to prove that your neighbour is not just anybody, and certainly not everybody, however we will cover that later.
If we have been misled by wrong teaching, about who our brother is, about how we are to love our neighbour, perhaps we have something to learn about loving our enemies too. Perhaps we can even reconcile that command with John's words in 2 JOHN,
"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2 JOHN 10-11). And even with King David who wrote in PSALM 139,
"Do not I hate them, O Lord, (Yahweh)
who hate thee? ... I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." (PSALM 139:21,22)
You cannot find any passage in scripture which commands Christians to call anyone by the term brother or brethren, except blood kindred or fellow Christians. The so-called "brotherhood of man" is not a Bible doctrine; it is a doctrine of those who would destroy Christianity by diluting it with other religions, by corrupting the Christians with pagan doctrines and by ruining pure Christian education, eventually destroying Christian government by bringing in humanism and man's laws, instead of faith in Jesus Christ and God's Laws.
Earlier I read passages which verified we are to love our neighbours as ourselves, and we saw that was an Old Testament command as well as a New Testament one. We also found that the command to
"love thy neighbour as thyself," was a summary commandment of the last six of the original Ten Commandments, those which have to do with one's relationship with one's fellow man. Jesus summed up the first four Commandments, those which command Israel to have only one God, in the phrase,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (MATTHEW 22:38). Then when He said the Second Commandment was,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," He was summing the last six commandments of the original Ten, those which define the right relationship between man and man. To really love our neighbour we must not kill him; we must not commit adultery; we must not steal from him; we must not bear false witness against him, meaning we are not to lie about him; we must not covet his wife or his possessions, and of course we must honour our own father and mother, for our own good and so that they do not become a burden on our neighbours. If we would obey all these commandments, we would do our neighbour no harm. We would "love him as ourselves".
To prove this Bible principle further, I will read a few passages in the New Testament about fulfilling the Law. Some anti-Law preachers quote these and attempt to prove that fulfilling the Law means ending it. Before we get back to the word "neighbour", I want to read a few verses from Bible Law about capital punishment:
"He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death." (EXODUS 21:12). Here is the Law on those who kidnap for ransom:
"And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." (EXODUS 21:16). God forbids a fine, imprisonment or damages to be paid to free the murderer from death:
"Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death." That is NUMBERS 35:31. The command,
"take no satisfaction", referred to the common practice among the heathen that a murderer could pay a sum of money to the relatives of the victims and then be free. God does not allow His people to have any part in such a horrible practice, but commands that murderers be executed. In DEUTERONOMY 19 God tells us that our well-being as a people requires the execution of murderers:
"Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee." (DEUTERONOMY 19:13)
Is it possible that our manifold national troubles of today have come upon us because of our refusal to obey these and other commands of God Almighty? In the past, all Christian nations executed murderers. Now we have been so corrupted by false doctrines that our nations do not obey any of God's Laws. And so we suffer the consequences of disobedience.
Alright, back to the New Testament. First I will read ROMANS 13:8 and JAMES 2:8 which are sometimes used to teach that the whole Law which Christians are to obey is simply to love all other men.
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." (ROMANS 13:8).
"If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:" (JAMES 2:8). Alone these seem to say that all Christians must do is have some sort of emotional attachment to their neighbour, some neighbourly love, and that then they have done all God's Law requires. However, let us read these verses with associated verses and we will see a different meaning emerges.
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." (ROMANS 13:8). However, that was not the end of the thought:
"For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (ROMANS 13:9)
When you read both verses it is easy to understand that Paul was saying, "he that loveth another fulfils the Law by obeying", and then he lists what Christians are to obey = the Law. That is what the phrase "for this" means. It could be paraphrased as: "To do this, this loving of your neighbour, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal and so on. In other words: Thou shalt obey the law."
That is what we discovered earlier. Obeying the commandments of God towards your neighbour was the act which proved your Christian love. If you claimed you loved him, then physically abused him by stealing from him, or coveting his property, or allowing others to do so in disobedience to God's Law, then that would be no love at all. That is why we read,
"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (JAMES 2:15-17). The same is true of love. Putting Paul's and James' words together: "If you say you love your neighbour but neither do acts of good towards him, nor refrain from doing him harm, what doth it profit? Even so, love of your neighbour, if it has not works, is dead."
Let me insert a question here. Which do you think is a true manifestation of brotherly love? To save murderers, rapists and child seducers alive, so they can wreak havoc on our neighbours and our neighbours' children, or would we be showing more genuine Christian love towards our neighbours if we put murderers, rapists and child seducers to death and saved our neighbours from them? To say we love our neighbours, and then to transfer that love to those who destroy our neighbours is not Christian love. It is insanity.
God condemns just such foolishness when He says to a rebellious people,
"And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?" (EZEKIEL 13:19)
God is saying that when Israel keeps alive those who should die and thereby causes the death of those who should live, they are polluting God among His people. What a charge of disobedience! The very disobedience we manifest today under the false flag of "We must love everyone, even those criminals who destroy our neighbours and our neighbours' children." We have loved our neighbour's enemies rather than our neighbour. Going back to ROMANS 13, after Paul had said we were to obey the commandments as proof we loved our neighbour, he then concludes the thought:
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (ROMANS 13:10). Again to make this clear, we could paraphrase that sentence: "Love does no harm to his neighbour, because love is doing the Law." What law? The law Paul listed in the previous verse = the commandments.
Now Pastor Emry is not teaching salvation through obeying the Law. Salvation does not come from obedience to the Law; it never came from obedience to the Law in the Old Testament. Abraham and all the Israelite fathers were saved by faith, by believing God, not by their obedience. Salvation will not come in the future by obedience to the Law. Salvation is the free gift of God. It is by grace and not by works. What we are talking about here is not our salvation, but our right relationship in this life with what is called our neighbour and our brother. That comes from one thing, from obedience to the precepts of relationships called God's Law. Here is some more proof that to fulfil is to obey. Jesus said:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." (MATTHEW 5:17). Since He denied that He would end or destroy the Law, He must have meant that He had come to do the Law, to obey it. And we know He did obey it because Jesus was without sin. Since sin is the transgression of the Law, that means Jesus did not transgress the Law. Instead, he did the Law. He obeyed it. He fulfilled it.
Back to ROMANS 13, Paul concludes that chapter with this exhortation.
"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." You could insert the word "do" in that last phrase and it would read,
"Make not provision for the flesh (to do)
the lusts thereof." It would give the true sense. You can substitute the word "do" for "fulfil", "doing" for "fulfilling" and "done" for "fulfilled". Here are some more examples:
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (GALATIANS 5:16)
"Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not (do)
the lust of the flesh."
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (GALATIANS 6:2)
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so (do)
the law of Christ." "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying..." (MATTHEW 1:22), and so forth. The translators used the word "fulfilled" for the word "done". For example, "...that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord..."; in the same way,
"...that it might be (done)
which was spoken of the Lord..." (MATTHEW 2:15), or,
"That it might be fulfilled (or done)
which was spoken by Esaias the prophet..." (MATTHEW 8:17)
There are 35 other passages in the New Testament where the word "done" can substitute for "fulfilled". You should read them. I am belabouring this point to be sure you understand that when you read that someone had fulfilled the Law, it does not mean he has ended the Law.
It simply means he has done the Law, he has obeyed the Law. When you understand that, then when you read Paul in ROMANS 13 where he wrote,
"love is the fulfilling of the law" (ROMANS 13:10), you will know he definitely, absolutely, unconditionally and positively was saying, "love is the doing or the obeying of God's Law." Once you get that in your mind, when some modernist or liberal theologian or an anti-Christian university professor comes along and says, "All Christians have to do is love, love, love," or says, "Christians don't have to obey God's Law, all they have to do is love," you will know that the man is a deceiver. You will know that true Christian love is the doing or the obeying of God's Law. You look up those words "fulfil" and "fulfilled", and read all of those passages - don't take my word for it. That is enough on doing or obeying God's Law as the real loving of our neighbours as ourselves - now for who our "neighbour" is.
We have seen that God's Law requires that we put to death those who kill our neighbour and our neighbour's children, else we deny our neighbour our love. Therefore the murderers could hardly be our scriptural neighbours, could they? Who is our neighbour according to the Bible? Turn to LUKE 10; where the story of the good Samaritan was told by Jesus Christ specifically to answer that very question. The lawyer asked Jesus in verse 29,
"who is my neighbour?" Here is Jesus' answer:
"And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee." (LUKE 10:30-35). That is the end of the story. Then Jesus asks,
"Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise." (LUKE 10:36-37).
Jesus approved his answer. But if everyone is our neighbour, wouldn't all men in the story be neighbour to the injured man? Yes. But you see, not everyone is our neighbour. Jesus didn't even include the thieves in His question, yet they were probably local inhabitants. They were given no consideration at all as being neighbours. Look who the others were who were excluded from the definition: a priest and a Levite. Certainly their position in the community would make them scriptural neighbours? No! Only the one who gave aid to the injured man, the one who obeyed God's Law, was a neighbour.
You have probably heard parents or older people use the term "neighbour" in this true sense. They will say of a good person, "he certainly is very neighbourly", or "he is a good neighbour". They may complain of a nearby unfriendly resident that he or she is not very neighbourly. They didn't mean he lived far away; they meant he was not Christian-like in his acts and attitudes: they denied him as a neighbour. They were using the term correctly according to Jesus. That the word "neighbour" as used by Jesus for the Samaritan referred only to his character and acts, not his residence, is obvious from the story. It says the Samaritan was on a journey, and he was so far from home he had to take the injured man to the local inn to have him cared for, and then had to leave him with the host. Obviously the Samaritan did not live nearby, but he was the only one called "neighbour". The word "neighbour", like the word "brother", is named only on those of good character, those of Christian action, those with a godly relationship to those in need. We cannot call murderers, thieves and disobedient priests and Levites our neighbours. And since Christians are commanded only to love their neighbours, then neither Jesus nor the disciples ever commanded Christians to love the wicked and the ungodly.
And someone is sure to ask, "But Pastor Emry, what about MATTHEW 5? Turning the other cheek; giving your cloak if a man sues you for your coat; and going an extra mile with one who commands you to go one mile with him?" Smiting a man on the cheek is not a deadly assault with intent to maim or murder. It was instead a common way of one man claiming his honour against another who had insulted or injured him. The one being struck was the one who had committed the original offence. Jesus was telling His followers: If you have done a man wrong, and he accuses you by smiting you on the cheek, do not respond with an invitation for a duel, as the heathen do, but turn away and acknowledge your offence. If you were sued at law and lost your coat, obviously you would have been the one at fault. Jesus is telling His followers: If you have been found to lawfully owe another something, pay him more than you owe, pay more than the law demands. Has anyone compelled you to go a mile? It could have happened then, since it was Roman law that any Roman soldier could compel a citizen to carry his baggage up to a maximum of one mile. Again what is the instruction here? Simply this: Christian, you do more than you are asked to do. You go that extra mile. Jesus was telling His followers: You do more good than the unbeliever.
None of these are instances of mortal danger, robbery or of physical persecution. Jesus is not commanding us to accept any and all attacks on our person or family without resistance. That is not the object of MATTHEW 5 at all. The tragedy is that so many false teachers among us try to use such passages to make pacifists and doormats of Christians. By them they prevent Christians from stopping the anti-Christians and the murderers among us. They trick us into believing that Jesus has told us not only that we must love the wicked, but that we must not resist his wicked ways. Jesus has done no such thing. Jesus has not commanded Christians to love the wicked. Certainly when Christians were told in 2 CORINTHIANS 6, "to be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, to have no fellowship with the unrighteous, and to come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing", we should have known better than to accept the false philosophy that Jesus Himself commanded us to love and forgive and protect and defend the wicked. No! Christ commands Christians to love, forgive, protect and defend their brethren, their brothers, their neighbours, their fellow Christians. Our forefathers obeyed Christ in this. May God help us to do the same!
Source: Pastor Sheldon Emry, America's Promise Ministries, PO Box 157, Sandpoint ID 83864, USA