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Sunday English Service - 01 May 2016


Romans 12:14 – ‘Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse’. We have been teaching on love particularly about walking in love. Loving one another. This is such an important theme in the Bible because even faith worketh by love, the Bible says. Without faith it’s impossible to please God, without faith it’s impossible to even come to God. For he that cometh to God must believe he is, that he is a re warder of them that diligently seek him, the Bible says. So you can’t even come and receive anything from God without faith and that faith works through love the Bible says. So when love is not there, when you are not walking in love, it becomes a hindrance for every blessing of God in life. And I believe that’s why this teaching is so important on walking in love. Because even faith works by it. It’s like in this building there is a main switch, when you turn the main switch off, even if everything else is alright and in a workable condition the main switch is turned off nothing works. Everything is turned off. Love is like the main switch in life. When you turn that off, everything is turned off. Nothing works. Your prayer doesn’t work, your faith doesn’t work, nothing works, nothing seems to be going forward because everything works by love. So that is why this is such an important thing and we have been considering this passage in Romans 12. From verse 9 actually.
We have come now to verse 14. Verse 9-13, the verses have been going in one particular direction. It’s been talking about our actions, our conduct, our behavior, how we ought to act in love, what we ought to do, verse 9 talks about how our love should be without hypocrisy and that we should hate evil and cleave to that which is good. Verse 10 talks about being kindly affectionate towards one another, that is the affection that we have for one another as believers must be like the affection that we feel with our own brothers and sisters in our families, the family kind of atmosphere must be there among believers. And then we must give preference in honoring one another. We must actually compete in honoring one another. And then verse 11 and 12 we did not go through it because it’s going into a little different subject but then we came to verse 13 where it talks about distributing to the needs of the saints and the hospitality and so on. But then verse 14 takes a different turn. Verse 9-13 is about actions. Verse 14 all the way till the end is reactions. I think life if full of actions or reactions. You are either acting or reacting. That’s what life is all about. Everything can be classified under one of these things. Everything that we do is either an action or a reaction. So he is talking about actions. Now he talks about reactions. How do we react to various situations that we face in this world?
Now here in verse 14 it is talking about reaction to persecution that we face as Christians in this world. Now, as soon as you read this, you can’t help but notice that the Bible is very real and it is very practical. It’s not presenting you a rosy picture about everything, it tells you the reality of what it is. We are living in a world, we are saved but there is a whole lot of other people that live in the world. We live in a very complex situation made more complex by sin and all the consequences of sin and so on. A difficult place to live in many ways. So everything is not smooth, everything is not going very well here in this world. So how you react, how you absorb the things that happen and how you react to things that happen to you or things that are done toward you is very important because that determines your success in this life.
So one thing is, the Bible is very practical. I say this because some people think Bible is very theoretical. It’s about theology and doctrine and so on. Theology and doctrine is there, but it’s not there so we can know theology and doctrine, it is there because theology and doctrine is the basis for practice our life. It leads to practice. To ground our practice on a doctrine, doctrine is given there. Not just to know the doctrine but to lead to practice always. So Bible is a very practical book and it is a very real book. And so it doesn’t present a rosy picture. It presents a real picture. Jesus said in this world you have tribulation. You are not in heaven yet. You are in the world. So in the world you could have some problems and difficulties. You could be treated unfairly and accused unfairly or things may not be always done right in this world. You are living in a world, particularly as a Christian they were purposely do it against you. That’s the kind of world it is, because they did it against Jesus and the same world will do it against you. Jesus said in this world you have tribulations. He realized that.
So the Bible presents a real picture about life. Now the other thing is what it says here, when it says bless those who persecute you, and bless and curse not, it is not just a moral instruction, it’s not just a like good, nice, ethical teaching that anybody can take and do. I will show you later on how verse 14 cannot be practiced by anyone other than a true Christian who is born again, who has had a changed nature, anyone else cannot do it. Only a person who is born again, has a changed nature can do it.
Let’s consider verse 14 quickly. Now what does verse 14 say? I think it says 2 or 3 things. First of all, it says if you are a Christian you are certain to be persecuted. Now that may sound like bad news to some people. Well, brother, I thought everything good is going to happen to me, after I was a Christian. You are saying as a Christian you are certain to be persecuted then is it not better that I not become a Christian? That I do not become a believer, that I do not come and believe in Jesus Christ because I am inviting trouble. I may be persecuted. Well, if you don’t get saved, if you don’t come to Christ, then there is a whole lot of other trouble. I think this trouble is better. This tribulation or persecution is whole lot better than what you will face without Christ. I think you will understand it as Christians when Jesus talked about how if anyone leaves mother, father, brothers, sisters, lands and houses for mine sake and Gospel’s sake, Jesus said, he will receive it back a hundred fold this time and eternal life in the life to come. In saying that he added one thing. He said you will receive everything in hundredfold in this lifetime with persecutions. So what he is saying is – I am going to bless you a whole lot but the world is going to persecute you a whole lot also because you are a Christian. SO these are real facts, the world is against this, it will persecute us but God is for us, he will bless us. And he also teaches us how to handle this persecution. So if you are a Christian, you are certain to be persecuted. Jesus mentioned it in so many ways. He says – if they treat me like this, how will they treat you? If they call me Beelzebub what will they call you? So, persecution is something to be expected in this world for every Christian. But one thing good about persecution and that is, your enemies that persecute you don’t know this. The thing that is good about persecution is – by persecuting you, without realizing they give you proof in your hand that you are indeed a true Christian. If you are persecuted you don’t need any other proof other than this one fact that you are a true Christian and that is why you are persecuted. They hated him and they will hate you. If you belong to him they will hate you. If you are like him they will hate you. This is the issue here. Why did they hate Jesus? Jesus was so different from anybody there in his time. He came into this world, son of God born to human flesh, and entered into this world, lived totally differently. He spoke and preached differently. His teaching was so totally different. Look at the Sermon on the Mount. He takes the 10 commandments and they have been interpreting the 10 commandments for ages. For hundreds of years they have giving the interpretation. But wrongly they have been giving that. Very religious interpretations. Wrong interpretations. And he comes along, he says – you have heard it said and he will state a commandment. And then he will say – but I say to you. He is not changing the commandment. He is changing the meaning they gave to those commandments, the interpretation they gave to those commandments. You have heard that the Bible said such and such. You heard this commandment means this and that but I say to you this is what it means! This is how he goes about. Again and again and again. And in the end you read people were astonished by his teaching. They said – no man ever spoke like this. But all these religious leaders were angry with him because he is completely turning and revolutionizing everything. Totally giving a different view of life and different meaning to the Scriptures they have known from the Old Testament. They could not take it, he was totally different. That’s why they hated Jesus. That’s where it begins, the hatred develops and becomes a terrible animosity against him, finally ends up on the Cross because he is so totally different from others. He just wouldn’t belong to their group. Even in this world, if you don’t belong to their group that’s when they start hating you. I am sure you have experienced that. If you are a person that don’t want to take any bribe, you don’t want to do things that a lot of people do and if you are in a situation like that and you say you keep the money I will just work, I don’t want that money. I will not touch it, they will say – who do you think you are? They are angry now. For all those guys that do it, they all hang out together. You can meet them all going and having coffee together, talking together, they have such fellowship, close knit fellowship, they are very tight together. They all belong to that one bunch and you better belong to them if you want to be accepted, otherwise you will be persecuted in so many ways. Persecution can come in so many ways. Can be blatant, open, public, and in many ways I think the other kind of persecution is much harder than the open, blatant persecution where somebody comes and beats you or destroys your home and church or whatever. There is other kind of persecution, more subtle. Have you ever seen that kind of persecution? When you walk into a room they all look at you funny. They say bad things about you, they criticize you for everything that you do, they have nothing good to say about you, there are so many ways to persecute a person and people know how to do it. Among some students in foreign countries I have seen, one of them told me that he attended a philosophy class. In the philosophy class there was some discussion, something about the Bible came, the New Testament was mentioned, and some discussion was going on, and this guy said – and Jesus said this and something. And immediately the professor took the rest of the class to prove that Jesus is no more than just a man and the Bible is nothing else than just another book just like any other book. There is nothing special about it. And many of the things that are there cannot be trusted and believed. He spent the whole lecture doing that and literally torturing this boy that mentioned the Bible in a respectable way. They feel obligated to stand against it and let out a tirade against it. Because they don’t believe in the Bible. This is intellectual persecution. They are very educated they won’t take stones and throw at you or break your car or something. But their words are harder than stones. Intellectually they can persecute you. Emotionally they can persecute you. Just because you believe in Christ. Just because you say you believe in creation or something, they just come out against you, make you look like an idiot and a fool in front of everybody. It’s important to them they make you look like a fool. They cannot tolerate another person’s idea that there may be some truth to it. They are not kind in considering another person’s idea especially when it comes to Christ and the Bible and so on.
So there’s persecution of so many kinds, there’s intellectual persecution, emotional persecution and so on.
And that is much harder to handle because that can be very tormenting. So Christian can expect to be persecuted, certain to be persecuted and it actually becomes a proof that you are a true Christian. If you are a Christian you will be persecuted. Even Paul mentions that all those that live godly shall suffer persecution. He knows by experience, he knows that it’s a reality because Jesus suffered persecution. All those that live godly and dedicate their lives to God will suffer persecution. All the blessings are there, but the persecution will certainly be a part of your life. Now, what should be our reaction to persecution? We know that we will be persecuted. But more important is how do we react to that persecution. And the answer is in this verse – bless and curse not is the answer. Bless them that persecute you, don’t curse. Now we have talked about blessing so much here so that everybody knows what blessing is. Genesis 1:21,22 says – God made the fish and the birds and blessed them. That’s the first time the word bless occurs in the Bible. And it’s very important because it reveals a lot about blessing. God blessed them saying be fruitful, multiply and fill the sea, fill the earth to fish and the birds. So what is blessing? Blessing is speaking good words. Be fruitful, multiply, replenish, fill. Speaking good words. To bless means to speak good things. Now, if you take that meaning and put it here, immediately it doesn’t make sense because bless those who persecute you it says. Now, how do you bless those who persecute you. You speak good, what do you speak good? What he did was not good, so how can you speak good about that? You cannot say this man has done a wonderful deed by throwing stones at me and by trying to kill me. No. That would be a lie actually. You cannot say that. You cannot say this man is a good man, praise God, even though he tried to stone me and kill me. No you cannot say that because he is not a good man. What he did was not right. So if blessing means to speak something good, and you bring that into this verse and apply it like that, it doesn’t sound like its right. But I will show you how to apply it. You can’t say that the guy is good, you can’t say what he did is good. Because persecution, no matter what reason you persecute anybody, it’s wrong, it’s illegal and it’s not right before God. It’s morally wrong also. Therefore you cannot say anything good about the person or his deeds. So in what way do you speak good about that person? The way you speak good about that person is – you experience persecution and you go before God and you pray for this person saying God be merciful to him, forgive him, be kind to him, may he not go in this direction and be destroyed, may he be changed, may he be transformed, do something in him in his life, bring him to you Lord, change him.
Now if you don’t believe that’s the interpretation, I will take you to a bible verse. Matthew 5:43 – in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches it and Paul of course has learnt it from the words of Jesus, from what Jesus taught. That’s what he is teaching in Romans. It’s all connected. And Matthew 5 where you find the Sermon on the Mount, you will read this. ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[and hate your enemy.’ Can you imagine guys preaching like that? How do you like to go to a church that says – love your neighbor, hate your enemies. Love your own kid hates everybody else. If anybody preaches, love all the Christians, hate everybody else, will that be a good church? I don’t think so. That’s the kind of preaching that was going on – which is their own kind. But hate your enemies. They were preaching like that, teaching like that. ‘But I say to you’ – Jesus says. You have been preached like that, people have been teaching like that. ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’. Look at what he says. And pray. He connects the prayer. Because that’s the only way you can bless a persecutor. When a person persecutes you, certainly he is not good, his actions are not good. You cannot say anything good about that. There is nothing good about that. but the only thing good that you can say about that is – you can plead with God for that person and say God be merciful to this guy, forgive him Lord. Do not lay this on him. Do not lay this charge against him. God, be merciful to him. Change, bring him to you Lord, give him a change of heart. That’s the only way you can bless. So how do you handle persecution? The answer is –bless. Doesn’t leave it at that. he says – curse not. Blessing is speaking good things and speaking good things means praying to God for him for his well being, for his salvation mainly, and for his change, if that’s what blessing means then cursing means calling upon God to bring down fire on him or curse him. That’s what cursing means. To curse a person means – Oh God! let him go to nothing. Oh God! Bring down your judgment on him, finish him. Destroy him, make him sick, break his leg, people talk about these things just like that these days. I heard about somebody, one preacher it seems was very angry that this person has not been going to church, has gone to another church or something. So the preacher was very angry and he said – you will come back because God will break your leg and hand one day. What a God he is preaching about?! That God is in the business of hunting down everybody that doesn’t come to his church and breaking their hands and legs and bringing to his church. Wrong picture. Believe me, back in Jesus’ days there were people like that. So Jesus teaches love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that persecute you and pray for them, he says.
Now, turn to Luke 9. There’s a good example of what not to do there. a wonderful example. A very interesting story, an event that happened in the life of Jesus and the disciples. It tell you what you must not do. The meaning of curse not is found there. the only place, curse not. Verse 51. ‘Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem’. Now you must understand the problem here, there was a problem between the Samaritans and Jews. It was a racial problem. You see that in the story of the Samaritan woman where she asked Jesus – you are a Jew, I am a Samaritan, you know it, and how can you come and ask me for water to drink? That shows they would not even take a glass of water and drink from each other. That’s the kind of enmity and animosity that they had towards one another. A racial tension that they had. Now, because of that, whenever the Jews went to Samaria, it was always a problem. Because of this animosity and Jesus was coming on his way to Jerusalem, he wanted to stay in Samaria, he sent his disciples to find a place there. Maybe a hotel to stay there, some kind of a room to stay there in Samaria. And they went in and looked for a place, and they learned that this man was going to Jerusalem. He is well known, he is coming. Maybe they would have received him otherwise. But they understood that he was going to Jerusalem. That was another issue. He is a Jew, secondly he is going to Jerusalem. The Samaritans didn’t respect Jerusalem. Remember the Samaritan woman asked Jesus – you say you should worship in that mountain. But we have our own mountain. We worship here. They didn’t respect Jerusalem. And that is animosity going so they said – is he going to Jerusalem and he is going to stay here and go there? Forget about it. Keep walking. We don’t want you staying in here, we don’t want you entering into our town. ‘And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” How do you like these preachers? They said – Lord, we are very anointed preachers. These guys don’t know who we are. We just prayed for a lame man and he walked. We opened a blind eye. We have even raised a dead man. So many miracles have been done. We have gone village by village, devils were cast out and miracles have happened, they don’t understand our anointing. You don’t do anything. You are bigger than Elijah. We will do it. We will call fire down from heaven on these guys. Then they will know who we are. Some people, you know what they will do with their anointing? But he turned and rebuked them and said –you do not know what manner of spirit you are of. In other words, this is totally against the Christian spirit. Did Elijah call fire down from heaven? Yes. But Jesus says that’s not the Christian spirit. That happened in a different context, different situation, and so on. People often quote Elijah for everything. Elijah made fun of the Baal prophet so we can make fun of others now, one fellow said. As Elijah talked we can talk today, in an insulting manner and so on. No. if you just stop and think about it, Elijah was ministering to the people of Israel, who had gone after other gods and backslidden. And therefore he was scolding them about what they had done. And therefore he had to say those things and it was a different situation. Here was a nation which had completely forgotten God and gone after other gods and so on. So Elijah had to say something to them. But you want to have a lesson on how to talk to people that belong to different kind of faith and how respectfully you should deal, you read Act 17 where Paul preaches in the city of Athens and how wonderfully and beautifully he teaches. He does not come against them and make fun of them and of the way they worshipped and so on. He simply presented Christ and the resurrection so beautifully. So these fellows said – Elijah did it so we can do it. Come on. Let’s call fire down from heaven. Jesus said – your spirit is not a Christian spirit at all. ‘For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them’. The whole purpose I have come is not to destroy but to save. They went to another village. What a great lesson here. I have gone to many villages. I have had one or two experiences, some elements there joined together and said – you should not come into our village. No entry. No Gospel here, no Bible here. Don’t bother. We didn’t fight them and said – you keep your village. Thank you very much. Because there 700000 villages where they will welcome us. There are many villages where they will welcome us and by the time we finish preaching they will have good food ready also. Such nice people. We go where we are welcomed. We don’t have to fight with anybody. We don’t have to do anything. The Christian spirit is different. Jesus said – I didn’t come to destroy. I came to save, in other words this is the meaning of curse not. What they were asking is – shall we call fire down from heaven and destroy these fellows that denied you a place in Samaria? You are the maker of heaven and earth, son of God, you have come down. You are the Savior, you are a miracle worker and you couldn’t get a room in their village? What do they think they are? Let’s show them our power. Let’s call fire down. The calling fire down is cursing. Especially English speaking people misunderstand curse. In the English speaking world, I don’t know how it is here among people who speak English, but in the English speaking world, cursing literally means just using some vulgar words or bad words. You use bad words in your speech, that’s cursing. But here it is not said in that way. Cursing is not just using bad words. Bad words are wrong. But it’s not talking about just using bad words. Here cursing is different. Cursing is calling fire down from heaven. Calling God’s judgement upon people that you don’t like. Calling God to come and destroy people that trouble you and persecute you. That’s what cursing is. Paul says – do not curse, bless. So you know what blessing is. It is to speak good things. And you know what to speak good thing is. It’s not saying that that fellow is good, it’s saying Lord have mercy on him. Save him, redeem him and so on. You know what cursing is. Cursing is calling fire down from heaven you should not do that.
Now, so the teaching is this. What is the teaching here about our reaction to persecution? The teaching is this – that our reaction to persecution must be positive. Now why do I say positive? What is negative and what is positive? Negative is this –when somebody persecutes you, if you say so and so persecuted me, but I never retaliated. Well, that’s good that you never retaliated. But its only a negative response or negative reaction. No retaliation is good. But it’s only negative because you have not done anything. He has persecuted you and you have not retaliated. You have not done anything positive. It’s a negative response. It’s a negative reaction. Or some people will say – so and so persecuted me, I bore it patiently. Well, that’s good also. Very virtuous. But that is also negative. Because you have not done anything very positive in that. it’s a negative reaction. What is a positive reaction? That is what the Bible teaches. Bless those who persecute you and curse not. The positive reaction the Bible teaches is not just no retaliation, it’s not just bearing with a grin all the persecution, you go beyond that negative reaction to a positive reaction, where you actually bless the guy, pray for him, pray that he will have God’s mercy and be saved and be changed and that his future will be good. That’s the positive reaction. Now the Bible teaches that.
It doesn’t stop with the negative. The negative is alright. But Bible goes all the way to the positive reaction we must have. Finally, how must this be done? That’s very important. Now this is where I want to show you how this cannot be done by people who are not born again. It’s not a regular, moral instruction where anybody can take and say – well, I am going to live by this hereafter. I am going to bless those who do anything against me and not curse them. I am going to follow this teaching of Jesus and Paul and all these guys. It sounds so good, I am going to take it and live by it. Nobody can live by it except if they are born again and have a changed heart, changed nature, something tremendous has happened to them spiritually in their nature. Unless that has happened, they cannot do it. Why? Because this is the most difficult thing to do. Think about it. To bear persecution, is easier. To not retaliate is even easier. But to bless someone who has done terrible things against you, to pray for someone, to desire to see them changed and see them well and see them prosperous and to become different, that is something very difficult for us to do. That cannot be worked out with just feeling. Because you will not easily feel disposed towards a person who has done something against you. If you are looking for some feeling you will never get it. Therefore you will never do it. That’s why people cannot do it. The only person that can do it is the person that is born again, that has a changed nature, change in outlook, change in every way. Why? Because it’s not just the matter of feeling. You can only do it as a result of following after a process of reasoning. Because you reason within yourself in a different way, because your outlook is different. Because your perspective is different of things, that is why only such a person can do it.
Now let me show you exactly how it is done. step by step, in three steps maybe.
The first step – when somebody persecutes you what do you do as a Christian? The very first thing that you do, is that immediately you think – I was a person just like him. He doesn’t know God, he seems ignorant. He doesn’t know what he is doing. I used to be a person like him. I have done many bad things. I have lived a very bad life. I was like him. But God has been gracious to me. Forgave me, he was kind to me. He was patient with me. He could have destroyed me, God could have spoken a curse word against me and my life would have been over. But he has not done it. He has been do patient and he has been good, and today because of the grace of God that was shown to me in that way, I am like this. I am sure Paul was feeling like that as he was writing like this. He not only learned this truth from Jesus because Jesus has taught it to him in Sermon on the Mount and he has heard it, known it. He gets his background from there. But the thing is – he has also practically experienced it. Because he himself was a persecutor, a chief persecutor of the church in his time, if you remember. In the first century, he was in the full time business of going about, hunting down Christians, destroying churches, throwing preachers into prison, and bringing them to the authorities for punishment and so on. He was doing it very officially with a letter. That kind of a person. Even when Stephen was killed, the Bible says that those that threw stones at Stephen and killed him kept their belongings at the feet of Saul who later became Paul. Looks like he was the organizer, he was the man behind the whole event of stoning and killing of Stephen, such a terrible person. A persecutor of the church. So he realizes what he is saying when he says bless those who persecute you. In other words, he is saying – oh! Please pray that God will turn his around, God will change him, God will help him, God will be merciful to him, why? Because I was also a persecutor and God was merciful to me. I was just like the guy. I was doing exactly like the guy and even worse and God was merciful to me. So remember that. Bless those who persecute you. He has having this in mind I suppose. Oh remember to bless that guy, speak good things about that guy, don’t be impatient, don’t be in a hurry to see him destroyed. No, speak good things, pray that God will touch him and change him. Because he has himself gone through that. He has been a terrible person, one time he says he is the least of apostles. And then he says he is not fit to be an apostle because he was the greatest persecutor of the church and done such damage to the church and now God is using him in the apostolic ministry which is to be the head of the church, establishing churches, pioneering churches, creating churches and training pastors and putting them there and overseeing the churches. A man who destroyed is now building churches, he says – I am not fit for the church at all. If you consider my earthly qualification but because of God’s grace I have this call in my life. So he realizes that and so he says – if you find people who persecute you, don’t persecute them back, don’t just stop with bearing what they do to you. but pray for them, and speak good words about them. Because somebody prayed for me and that’s why I am like this. Pray that God will have mercy upon them. So in a way that’s true of all of us. We may not have had a role like Paul played against the Church, against Christ. But Bible says we were all enemies of God. Did you know that? In Romans 5:10 it says we have been enemies of God. In Ephesians 4:17,18 we read that our minds were darkened and that we were alienated from God because of our minds and our ignorance. We were alienated from God. We were far away from God, we were against God actually. Romans 8:6 says – carnal mind has enmity against God. It cannot do what God’s law says. It’s impossible for a carnal mind to obey God because it’s disobedient. So we were a disobedient, arrogant people, proud people, hateful people, hating God, and hating everything that is godly. That’s the way we were. We may not have been exactly like Paul. But essentially we were like that. We were enemies of God, Paul was against God and we were against God. So he says – remember that, you were like that and God was gracious to you. and just pray that God will be gracious to the other guy also.
Now, that’s the story of the prodigal son. That’s a wonderful story that once again, well to remind us that. Amazing story that Jesus told about the Son who had a wonderful father, who had everything. But this boy had a change of mind and wanted to go the wrong way. He said – I don’t want this father, this house. He hated the father, the house, the father’s love, and the kindness and goodness and all the provisions that the father had made. He wanted his share, he left his house, and went and spent all of his money, lived riotously, and lost everything. Penniless he became. Finally ended up with pigs. Pigs had something to eat, but this guy didn’t have anything to eat. Then only he comes to his right mind. Some people have to go to that level. Before that they will not come to their right mind. Went to that level and finally he came to his right mind. He said – I will go back to my father’s house. My father’s servants eat better than me. I will go and I will join him as a servant. so he was hoping to come so that his father will somehow forgive him, that he will plead with the father and ask him to forgive him and take him at least as the least of all the servants. That’s the idea that he had. But he had a surprise, when he came home. His father was already waiting. And when he saw him coming, he runs and comes and embraces. This is the way Jesus told the story. Jesus is the best story teller I think. The father runs out and comes and embraces him. This guy is dirty, this guy is a loser, this guy is a hateful guy, this guy is ignorant fool he is. He doesn’t deserve anything. He has taken all the money that the father had made and gone and lost it somewhere, and he has come empty handed and the father comes and embraces him and receives him and he says – forgive me, take me as the servant and the father took him as a son. And gave him the honor that is due a son. Amazing story. And that’s the way the father loves us. everyone of us have been a prodigal son, a prodigal daughter at one time. Thank God for God’s goodness and grace. Just like Paul says – by the grace of God I am what I am. Everyone one of us can say. so Paul says bless those who persecute you. That means when they persecute you remember to pry for them because I was a persecutor one time and somebody had prayed for me and God was merciful to me and saved me and made me what I am. You better do that he says. That the first thing.
Second thing – this is the process of thinking that should go on in a believer’s mind when they experience persecution. This is what brings about the reaction from the believer. The second thing is – the believer is now able to see why the guy is persecuting him. Why the persecutor is doing those atrocious things, why is he behaving like that? Why is he hitting me? Why he is coming against me? Why he is working against me? Why? The reason is this – he is a victim of the devil. This is the first victim that nobody in the world could have. That’s why I say – not everybody there can follow this verse and live by it. You have got to have this perspective, this spiritual understanding. A believer is able to see a persecutor and understand and see why he is doing it. He is doing it because he is the victim of the devil and he is going all the way to hell. If he keeps on going like this he will end up in hell. So he kind of begins to feel sorry for him. See this perspective doesn’t come to everybody except a believer. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul says if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away all things have become new. But have you read verse 16? It says –henceforth know we no man after the flesh. Hereafter I don’t know anybody after the flesh. Then only he says – why? He doesn’t know anyone after the flesh, he says – if a man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away all things – everything is new now. I don’t perceive everybody like how I used to perceive he says. That’s the meaning. Why does he say I don’t know anyone after the flesh? Because Paul is a Jew and a biased Jew at that. He is a Pharisee. So anytime he met someone, he was like this. He will first ask them where they are from, are they a Jew? Because he can’t love another. Are you my neighbor? Are you my kind? Are you a Jew? So he finds out if they are a Jew. Then he will ask him, which tribe are you from? If the guy says Benjamin he is very pleased, because he is also from the same tribe. Oh you are my close relative, he will say. That makes him love him more. Then he will ask him, which sect do you belong to? If he said Pharisee, he will say oh I am also a Pharisee. This is the way he went about. He was concerned about who the guy was whether he was a Jew or a Greek or what. Concerned about which tribe he was from, what sect he belonged to. These kind of things, looking at everyone according to the flesh. He says hereafter, henceforth no man after the flesh. Sorry for quoting it in King James. Sometimes King James has become part of me, because so many years I have read that. Hereafter I don’t know anyone after the flesh. Then how do you see everybody Paul? He says – if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away all things are new. What does he mean? He means – ever since I have come to Christ, I have become a new creature. Everything about me has changed. That perspective of looking at everybody in their race, who they are, looking at everybody according to their flesh, that kind of thing changed. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t look at anyone according to the flesh. I am a different person now. I have a different perspective then how do you look at everybody? Well, he says I look at everybody spiritually. Then how does a man look at a persecutor spiritually? You look at a persecutor, spiritually you understand something about him. You see that man is un-degenerate , he is ignorant, his mind has been blinded by the devil, he is got the devil’s nature, he is a victim of Satan, he is instrument in the hands of Satan, he yields himself to Satan, he is in the hands of the devil therefore the guy is acting like that. He sees what’s happening to the guy, he sees with the perspective he never had before. Because he is a new creation now his whole perspective is different. New creation means you have had a change of heart, inside your heart there has been a tremendous radical change, but in your mind also there is a change. Because Christian is one who is transformed by the renewing of the mind. So the mind is also changed, the thinking has changed the outlook has changed, so he has got a new outlook, he looks at a man, he looks like a mean guy, a guy who persecutes him, talks nonsense about him, plans to murder him, kill him, destroy him, he has been beaten so many times, 39 stripes so many times he says. Suffered so much at the hands of Jews, at the hands of gentiles, lot of persecution he has experienced, so he says when I look at a persecutor now, because I am a new creature is look at him differently. How do I look at him? I look at him and I see him as a victim of the devil and on his way to hell. So when I see a person like that, as a victim of the devil and on his way to hell, immediately I begin to feel sorry for him. Let me give you an example that will help you, a real down to earth example. Examples help you know. Suppose a child does something wrong. A little child breaks something valuable. The child does not know the difference between Rs. 10 and Rs. 10000. You may have brought something worth Rs. 10000 and the child will just throw it and in one moment just breaks it. Are you going to get angry with it? When a child does it, you contain your anger and don’t even show it out and somehow manage and say – it’s alright, fine. Doesn’t matter. You act so totally differently. If someone else broke it, you would have blown you know. But because a child did it, you immediately like its nothing. Why? Because you understand that child does not understand,. In its ignorance the child has done it, therefore it easy for you to just forget about it and not charge that child for what has happened. But some people say – well, persecutors are not children, brother. They know what they are doing. They plan these things and they act with all their brains intact and so on. Alright let me give you another example. Suppose a man becomes insane. He has been doing well, he has been educated, he is doing well. But all of a sudden something happened to his mind. And he is gone berserk. He has become mentally totally insane so that he acts violently now. He hits on everybody, runs on the road, beats everybody and so on. If you had a person like that come against you and wanting to beat you and hit you will you hit him back? In our country I have seen that happen, people hit them back. And laugh at him and make fun of him. Two three fellows join together, and beat. I have seen things like that, terrible things. I think they are insane. Not the guy. But actually if you are a person of some normal behavior you will not hit him back. Even if he hit you when you understand that he is insane what will you do? You will try to contain him, and if you are a very compassionate person, normal person if you can help him, or take him to a doctor or hospital or some asylum or something and admit him there, and help him in some way your heart will got out to him. Because here is the guy that’s educated and all that. Behaving like something has gone wrong with his mind. Let’s help him. At least put him somewhere where somebody can take care of him, that will be your approach and when you put him somewhere, you won’t go off like well, it’s over. At least I have handed him over, let him just stay. When you leave him there and come out, you will feel sorry for him and you will pray to God, God help him. May the guy be healed and be delivered and be well and go back to his family and live a normal life. You will have a desire born in your heart by dealing with that situation by encountering that situation, you will have a compassion and desire to see that fellow well, and back to normalcy. Is it not right? That’s exactly what Paul is talking about. Paul is saying when I see a persecutor I see him as a victim, a victim of the devil, he is mad, he is raging mad, remember the people, the mob that cried out – crucify Jesus. They got to be mad. What did Jesus do? Jesus never did anything, Jesus is not a criminal. But they said – crucify him, the entire mob. Pilate washed his hands again and again and said – I can’t see nothing wrong with this guy. Nothing worthy of death sentence. I can’t do it he says. It’s not right. But the mob mentality I think began way back then. All these slogan raising mentality, started there I think. Back then it was there. They said – crucify him, crucify him. And pressured him. Finally he had to hand over. But why did the people cry like that? They cried out like that because they were all in the hands of the devil. 1 John 5:19 there is a tremendous verse. When I first understood it, it was shocking. It says – the whole world lieth in the hands of the wicked one. The wicked meaning the devil. Some translations say the whole world is in the tight grip of the devil. Just imagine the whole world every single person except us, the ones that belong to Christ, is in the tight grip of the devil. The devil can twist them and turn them any which way he wants. He can use them as his instrument. The world will not be able to believe what the Bible says. But the Bible gives the true picture. The whole world lies in the hands of the devil. The devil can use the world like he wants. They are in the tight grips of the devil he says. And that’s why the mob cried out on that day. Because they were the victim of the devil and Jesus understood it. And that’s why on the Cross when he was hanging there, he had the spiritual perspective as to why they did it. So he says hanging there on the Cross, father forgive them for they know not what they do. Because they just didn’t know what they were doing. They were the victims of the devil. The devil was literally tossing them and turning them to do things. Influencing them heavily, causing them to act in that way. And the reaction of Jesus is perfect. He reacts in that most beautiful way. He says – father forgive them for they know not what they do. He understood that the Lord of the world has blinded them and so on. So you understand that the persecutor is the victim of the devil, on his way to hell. You feel sorry for him.
The third thing is – you will desire their salvation. This is the process of reasoning that a believer undergoes when he experiences persecution, he looks at the persecutor, the first thing that he thinks is, well I was as bad as him. I was ignorant at one time like him. I was just as much a sinner like him. God has been gracious to me. I want God to be gracious to him. Second thing he understands that fellow is a victim of the devil, under the power of the devil, he is doing certain things and he is on his way to hell and you begin to feel sorry for him and the third thing is you desire his salvation, his well being. Therefore you begin to pray for him to be saved from hell, to be saved from that kind of a future, and be completely changed as Paul himself was changed. Saul was changed to Paul. So you have to work it out like this. Instead of doing like this, a lot of people are trying to create a feeling. They say – I cannot get the felling brother. You are talking about love but I can’t get the feeling. I can guarantee you, you can wait from now until eternity, feeling will not come. You cannot feel a good feeling about a guy who is doing all kinds of bad things against you. Lot of people think that Christians when they come to church turn off your mind, some people think they should leave their mind on the shelf at home. You don’t need the mind because you go to church. You need only your emotion, you need only your feeling. Don’t think too much. If you think too much something will go wrong. But church is a place to think. Christian is a thinker. Christian reasons these things out. Christian is not trying to feel something and act on the basis of his feeling, Christian is reasoning out in a totally radical way these things in his mind which is not possible for anyone else other than those who have understood redemption and known Christ and been born again. That’s what a Christian is. He reasons these things out in his mind. The scripture where Jesus hung there on the Cross and said – father forgive them for they know not what they do. He is hanging there on the Cross. Nailed to the Cross and from there he says – forgive them for they know not what they do. It is the perfect interpretation of Romans 12:14. What was he doing? He was praying, praying to the father. What was he saying? He was not calling fire down from heaven. Is he not powerful? Is he not anointed? Can he not call fire from heaven? I can tell you if Elijah can call fire from heaven he can fire very well. He is bigger than Elijah. Is he not powerful? I will tell you he is absolutely powerful. But he hung there from the Cross, and there you see the perfect interpretation of Romans 12:14 – bless those who persecute you. Bless and curse not, hanging there in excruciating pain and suffering he blesses them. How does he bless them? Just like I showed you, you cannot say they are good and what they did is good because they are not good and they are not good. The only way you can bless them is call the blessing of God’s grace upon them, Gods kindness upon them God would forgive them, God would grant them forgiveness and that is exactly what Jesus did from the Cross of Calvary. Now lot of people, when you say that people say that’s Jesus brother. You got to admit that we can’t do that, that’s Jesus. But I am Sam. I am not Jesus. That’s what I used to say. You can’t expect me to be like Jesus. Do you really expect that we should be like Jesus? He said that that’s extreme. That’s not possible. Turn with me to Acts 7, I will read this and close. I will show you how a man just like you and I exactly did that. Acts 7:58. Remember Stephen was stoned and killed in the early church. He was the first martyr of the early church, listen to this. ‘And they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul’. Here is Saul. This is the man who became Paul later on. He was there at the killing of Saul. Verse 59. ‘And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep’. The last words he said was – Lord do not charge them with this sin. This is a terrible sin. He didn’t say these fellows are such good, nice fellows. No. To speak good means to pray. To speak blessing of God which is Salvation really for these sinners, he said – do not charge them oh Lord, please do not charge them for what they have committed. They have killed me. It’s a sin. It’s wrong. But do not charge them. What was he thinking? He was thinking exactly these three things I told you. Don’t charge them with sin, forgive them, that is blessing and not cursing. Speak blessing. Speak good things. Never curse, bless. When you bless and only bless you are headed towards a victorious successful, joyous triumphant life in Christ in this world. That’s the way to win, that’s the way to go forward.

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