#5 "Rules For The Redeemed"
“THE GOLDEN RULE!”
TEXT: Matt. 7:12; 24-27
INTRO: The so-called “GOLDEN RULE” is not unique to Christianity! But there is something very unique about this golden rule as Jesus stated it, and this makes Christianity's version of it above all others.
This Golden rule is found in many religions around the world, and from many points in history. For instance, this golden rule is found in Rabbinic Judaism and also in Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism; also there is a form of this golden rule in Greek and Roman ethical teachings! What's the difference then between Jesus' version and the others? In all the others this "golden rule" is stated in the negative instead of the positive as Jesus stated it.
This difference might seem on the surface to be insignificant, but it is a MAJOR difference!
A. The negative form is the appeal of LAW for CONTROL!
B. The positive form is the appeal of LOVE for GROWTH!
ILLUS: This can be seen in the Bible also. Notice in the OLD TESTAMENT the Law of Moses, what we call the 10 commandments; they are stated mostly in the negative: "THOU SHALL NOT..." They appealed to control the run-away nature of fallen man, to keep human civilization from total corruption ... there were tough penalties for breaking those laws. HOWEVER, notice that when Jesus came He promises a new covenant of grace, when He states the law under the new covenant of grace He does so in the positive rather than the negative, “Thou shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself - this fulfills the law.”
How does this difference come about? By faith in Jesus Christ who changes the heart and soul of man so that it is possible in grace to do what we could not do under the law!
PROP. SENT: Jesus' teaching on the "Golden Rule" goes far beyond any other religion's teaching on the same subject because instead of trying to control negative behavior it encourages behavior motivated by love. Christianity works from the inside out, from Jesus' changing our heart; instead of man's systems which work from the outside by only changing appearances.
I. DECLARATION OF LOVE'S GRACIOUSNESS MATT. 7:12a; 24-27
A. Exceptions? Matt. 7:12a
1. As Jesus is about to deliver the Golden Rule he frames what He is about to say by stating that this new rule will apply to EVERYTHING!
a. This also demonstrates the law of grace because it makes no exceptions to the rule!
b. Grace is to operate through our lives in every way possible!
c. But you might say, "But some people don't deserve..." Quite right! That’s why it is called grace! Grace by definition is "undeserved favor."
2. Grace puts “us” at risk rather than the “object” of our grace.
ILLUS: After the U.S.S. Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans, the 82 surviving crew members were thrown into a brutal captivity. 13 men were taken into a room and were made to sit in a rigid manner around the table for hours. Hours later the door was slung open and a North Korean guard walked in and savagely beat the man in the first chair, but no one else. The next day the same thing happened, they each were assigned the same seats so the same man was beaten again. The third day the same thing happened again. These Americans knew now that the same thing would happen each day and they knew their fellow sailor could not survive another beating. As they sat down on the fourth day in the same chairs, one American sailor got up and changed seats with his beaten friend. The guard came in and beat him up in the first chair and left, so each day they all took turns sitting in the first chair and continued to rotate each day so someone different was beaten up every day. Only one man had to be beat, the one assigned the first chair, but love moved them to accept being beat in order to save one another ... this is grace at work! Finally the North Koreans gave up the beatings; instead of breaking the men it united them to become even stronger ... love won against law! – Source Unknown
3. This is how grace operates, it doesn't make exceptions to when it expresses itself ... it shows love even when it is undeserved!\
4. This is evident in what Jesus Christ did for us by dying on the cross. The Bible says, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8 (KJV)
a. Jesus makes no exceptions to the rule of grace, He died for all ... that is why it is so tragic when people refused to allow Christ to save them, He will never turn away anyone who comes to Him!
b. Paul said it this way, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Rom. (KJV)
c. God grants us His grace even when we don't deserve it! How can anyone refuse the love and grace of almighty God!
B. Expression! Matt. 7:24-27
1. There are many people who know about Jesus Christ, they even know quite a bit about what the Bible says, but this doesn't count if it is not expressed in their life according to what Jesus says here!
a. The foolish man only hears the words of Jesus without practicing them!
b. The wise men hears and OBEYS the Word of God ... this is building on a rock versus building on sand!
a. The storms are the troubles that come our way in this life; both Christians and non-Christians will face them!
b. All men and women will have to face terrible times, it is part of life, but Christians can survive better because our foundation is on a rock ... Jesus Christ, everyone else is on sand, a lousy foundation!
3. The golden rule is not just a wise saying it must be a regular practice!
a. God's Word makes it greatest impact on others when it is seen in our lives!
b. The Bible says that Christians “… are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:” 2 Cor 3:2 (KJV)
4. The "Golden Rule" has to be seen to be believed!
ILLUS: A young lady was going to be married; she was shopping for fabric in order to make her wedding dress. She asked the owner for a very unusual type of fabric, the kind that would make the most noise when she walked, she wanted fabric that would rustle and scrape as noisy as possible! The owner found 2 bolts of material that would meet the request but was puzzled at the lady's motives for such material. Finally she just asked, "Why would anyone want several yards of noisy material?" Her answer revealed the expression of love for her young man, "You see, she said, my fiancé is blind, so when I walk down the aisle I want him to know when I've arrived at the altar so he won't be embarrassed." Love found a way to express itself to meet the need! – Source Unknown
5. It is nice to know God's Word ... it is even better to practice it!
ILLUS: A husband
and wife were discussing with excitement the possibility of taking a trip to the
Holy Land. The husband said to his
wife, "Wouldn't it be fantastic to go to
II. DIFFERENCE OF LAW AND GRACE! MATT. 7:12b
A. Enforcement! Matt. 7:12b
1. The Law was given to try and keep sin in check, to enforce good behavior since few are motivated within to be able to be good enough!
2. Thus with The Law came some pretty firm punishments, like stoning, cutting off limbs, heavy fines, imprisonment, etc.
3. The nature of sin on the human race is such that without law and order mankind would destroy itself eventually. We need laws to keep sinful man in check!
a. This is why it is dangerous for a nation to proclaim everything as normal or permissible, that there are no wrongs or absolutes anymore!
b. This over expression of “freedom” will only create a wicked society without moral underpinnings.
4. In a fallen world law still plays an important role in keeping sinful man from the full expression of sin!
a. This is why in heaven there are no laws except that of love, there will be no sinful nature to rule us any longer, so the law will be unnecessary.
b. Where Christ abides, love motivates greater than law since our essential nature has now been changed in Christ!
c. In Christ we respond better by love than by decree; decree checks the fallen nature, love motivates the spiritual nature!
Flagship Hotel in Houston,
ILLUS: Another example of this principle can be found in the Susan B. Anthony dollar minted several years ago. It has been one of the biggest flops the Federal government has ever promoted! Literally millions of these coins still sit in government vaults, unused and unwanted! Even when they were first issued no one wanted them, and soon they were the brunt of jokes! However, one postal worker in one town turned this around in a major way! He put up a sign that read, "SUSAN B. ANTHONY DOLLARS: LIMIT OF 2 PER CUSTOMER." Before putting up the sign he traded about 2 or 3 coins a day, but after the sign went up his demand went up to 50 a day! The law created desire beyond normal levels ... the desire to break it! – Source Unknown
5. Those most able to obey the law are those who are motivated by inward love, found only from a new relationship to God through Christ!
a. This is why it is hard to get those from broken lives motivated to obey, they are not motivated by love, but by fear and hate!
b. The love of Christ however can
radically change them so they can become model citizens of this world as well as
6. Law then works on ENFORCEMENT, which does have some limited benefits for society, but it cannot do what grace can do!
a. Law may help keep some things in check.
b. There are limits to what law can do ... we need something better than just law to radically change the planet; we need a spiritual revival to do that!
c. With every great spiritual revival in history came a renewed society ... there would be less law breakers, less crime, less hatred, less evil; because the grace of God would motivate people to live above the law, to love instead! This will never be legislated, it has to be caught not taught.
B. Excellence! Matt. 7:12b
1. The Golden Rule as Jesus gives it here sums up the Law and Prophets because it is stated by Jesus in the positive! It seeks to encourage EXCELLENCE and not just containment.
2. It doesn't just state the problem, it fixes it!
ILLUS: Law is like a plumb line ... it can prove a wall is crooked, but it can’t make the wall straight! That takes a carpenter! God's old law was designed the same way, it was intended to show man how crooked he is, but God sent His Son ... the carpenter to fix our crooked ways, this He did by dying on a cross for our sins so that those who accept Christ will be given a new law, the law of love and grace! – Source Unknown
3. If God's people would be motivated by God's love to excel in our example to other people we would see a revival the likes this country has not seen before!
a. Basking in the grace of God will move you into action!
b. God's grace cannot be accepted coldly, it moves us to excellence, to love!
c. This excellence radicalizes our behavior for godliness! The more we come to know the grace of God, the more excellent will be our witness for HIM!
ILLUS: A great missionary by the name of Adoniram Judson was put into a filthy prison in Burma where he suffered unspeakably! Brought before the King of Burma one day he asked permission to go to a certain city to preach the Gospel. The king had an interesting response, "I am willing for a dozen preachers to go preach in that city, but not you" said the king! He continued, "not with those hands ... my people are not such fools as to take notice of your preaching, but they will take notice of those scarred hands!" Adoniram's ministry was one of excellence and example, God's grace would be too evident in his life for the people to ignore! – Source Unknown
4. This is the essence of the GOLDEN RULE … A DEMONSTRATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD IN OUR LIFE AS CHRIST LIVES THROUGH US TO OTHERS, GRACE THAT CREATES EXCELLENCE IN OUR LIFESTYLE SO THAT OTHERS ARE DRAWN TO JESUS CHRIST AND HIS GRACE THAT BROUGHT ABOUT OUR LIFE CHANGE!
a. This is the meaning of the Golden Rule, giving grace instead of law, exactly what we ourselves would want!
b. You will notice that it is not "SAY TO OTHERS" but "DO TO OTHERS" ... there is no substitute for action when it comes to the Golden Rule!
c. Are you summing up the Law and the Prophets by your life?
5. God calls us to minister HIS GRACE to others in everything, this will manifest His grace to a world that is suffering under sin.
CONCLUSION: While this "GOLDEN RULE" exists in many religions it is always stated in the negative. Jesus states it in the positive because grace makes possible what law cannot, a motivation toward excellence! The Law was "THOU SHALL NOT" ... the new covenant in Christ however is "THOU SHALL" ... The difference isn't content, it is motivation!