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What the Bible says about God's Thoughts Higher than Ours
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 5:17-20

Some Bibles title this paragraph, “Jesus Fulfills the Law.”The sense in which many professing Christians use the term “fulfills” is not inspired Scripture. In this case, it does not mean “accomplishes by keeping” or “does away with,” as judged against what He taught in what immediately follows. Fulfills, in this case, means “fills to the full,” “fully exemplifies the conduct it covers,” or “expands to its fullest intent.” Consider His subsequent illustrations carefully:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:21-26)

His teaching shows Him raising the acceptable level of obedience far higher than what people ordinarily considered as satisfactory behavior. Jesus expands the scope of sin in the sixth commandment from outright murder to also include a high level of anger in certain situations! Matthew 5:27-30 shows the same pattern in this teaching on the seventh commandment:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

The same conclusion is true of this commandment and also for each of the others He expands during His Sermon on the Mount. Far from doing away with God's commandments, He raises the standards of acceptable behavior far higher.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part One)

Matthew 12:31-32

Christ's ominous warning was prompted by the Pharisees' attribution of God's work, by His Spirit, to an unclean (demonic) source. In principle, we may be guilty of something similar if we are so set in our opinions that we are unwilling to acknowledge the activity of God in His other children.

The scattering of the church seems to have encouraged a change in perception from the one extreme of believing that everyone associated with the church is converted to the other extreme of suspecting that everyone who is not just like us must be unconverted. Truly, there is a fine line here, since we are required to evaluate fruit and discern what is of God and what is not. With all of the scriptural warnings about false teaching, teachers, and even brethren, we understand the necessity to compare words and deeds with the Word of God and to reject what is not of Him. We dare not underestimate the risk of deception.

On the other hand, though, another grave danger lurks in concluding that someone is unconverted because of some failing we observe in him or her. It may be that we are correct in our judgment, and our words will justify rather than condemn us. Yet, consider for a moment what is at stake if we speak idle words and misjudge this matter: It means we are attributing the work of God in that person's life—the faith, the overcoming, any good fruit—to something other than God. We may not be able to see all that He has done, but we are deciding it is nothing!

Can we grasp what transpires when we do such a thing? We are casting aspersions on the priceless Sacrifice substituted for that person. We are declaring the holy covenant that God made with that person to be null and void. We are insulting the Spirit of grace in that person's life (see Hebrews 6:4-8). Is it really worth risking that sort of evil speaking against something that is sacred?—against a beloved child of the Most High God?

Consider Paul's early experience with the church (see Acts 9). He did horrible things to holy people, and he did it with a clear conscience because he was sure he was right. He thought he was serving God by opposing the heretics—until that same God knocked him flat and told him that he was persecuting his own Maker. Decades after the fact, he was still lamenting his violence and contrariness toward people in whom the Holy Spirit dwelled. So terrible were his actions in his own sight that he did not even consider himself worthy to be called an apostle (I Corinthians 15:9). What he did was similar to what the Pharisees did in Matthew 12—he misjudged the activity of the Holy Spirit. But he also acted in ignorance, so he repented when God allowed him to see.

As Isaiah 55:8-9 says, God's thoughts are so much higher than ours. It is when we start thinking too highly of our own thoughts that we begin grieving, resisting, or even quenching the Spirit of God. God gives us these strong warnings because it is possible for us to ascend above the heights of the clouds in our own thoughts, and to arrive at the point where the mind, power, and nature of God become unrecognizable and objects of scorn. Jesus' warning should prompt us to evaluate our actions and words to ensure that we are not in any way opposing the Spirit of God.

David C. Grabbe
What Is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

Matthew 16:22-23

Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah. But what was wrong here? Peter also disagreed with how God would work out His purpose through Christ. What he objected to was his good Friend having to go through a scourging and a painful and shameful crucifixion, which is a terrible way to die, especially for One so good. To him, it was unthinkable that Jesus should suffer all the ignominy and be berated by those in authority—and Peter recognized that those in seats of authority could not hold a candle to Jesus. Yet these mean men would sit in judgment of Him and actually deliver Him to death.

Peter disagreed with what his Messiah said God's purpose was and how it would be worked out. We can relate to what Peter said. It really was a touching sentiment because he did not want to see Christ suffer and die, but the sentiment was wrong. Christ identified the source of what Peter said as Satan.

How did He isolate that and conclude it was from Satan? For one, it followed the same pattern as Satan's temptations in Matthew 4: offering Christ Messiahship without suffering. "Just bow down to me, and I'll give you all the kingdoms of the world. You don't have to suffer, Jesus." (This last bit Satan implied.)

Satan knew the Scriptures. He knew who Jesus was, and he also knew the Scriptures better than Peter did. Satan tossed in front of Christ the temptation of achieving Messiahship, rulership over the world, without having to go through the ignominy of scourging and death by crucifixion.

It was quite a temptation. Probably most of us would have taken the out. Jesus, though, recognized it right away.

It was not God's will. His will was that Christ first had to suffer and then die for man's sins. Where does it say that in God's Word? Isaiah 52 and 53 are clear about God's will for the Messiah.

When he spoke, Peter was not speaking God's words or thoughts regarding the Messiah. Instead, he was communicating what he would like to see occur. But God's thoughts are not man's thoughts. What Peter spoke suggested the common Jewish conception of a Warrior-Messiah who would put down Judah's enemies, elevating her over her conquerors, and she would become the kingpin of all the nations on earth. This would bypass the idea of a suffering Messiah, who dies for the sins of man. But God had willed first things first: The Christ had to suffer and die before He could become King of kings and put down His foes.

Where did Peter get the idea of a Warrior-Messiah? Peter was a victim of a demonic disinformation campaign regarding God's Word, and by believing it and acting on it, he became a stumbling-block to others. The disinformation came from Satan through his false prophets.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 




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