Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there
rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the
altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy
gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any
time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,
and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out
thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing, MAT 5:23-26.
Our Saviour was dealing with heart religion in the verses we have been studying in the
last sermons. This heart religion is not the letter of the law but the spirit of the law.
Jesus is teaching us the intent of the law, not the Pharisaical letter of the law.
I've spent twenty years in the court room; I have found that the basis of the
interpretations of every law before the courts is not precisely the letter of the law but
the intent of the law. What was the intent that was to be accomplished by the enacting of
that law? This is also what we find in the courts of heaven.
When the Lord says "Thou shalt not kill," it included more than literally
taking a brother's life. It included anything that may harm our brother. It included any
evil thought against our brother; it included any railing accusation we might bring
against our brother by calling him "Raca," or thou empty fellow; it included
calling our brother a fool. Although this doesn't mean we cannot admonish a person for
foolishness or vanity, it means we are not to use the word fool in a demeaning way to
exalt ourselves above our brother. The spirit of the law of the sixth commandment is that
we should esteem our brother ahead of ourselves.
Our text says, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar...." We want to
consider this. What is meant by bringing our gift to the altar? What is the Lord Jesus
teaching us here?
Many today teach that when Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of
old time," MAT 5:21, that He abolished the law and ushered in a new morality, but
this is not the case. They would argue that "by them of old time" Jesus referred
to Moses and to the Old Testament law. Most of these people include the Ten Commandments
when saying that the law has been abolished.
These Scriptures, held in their proper context, clearly refer to the traditions and
commandments of men imposed upon the people by the scribes and Pharisees. They do not
refer to the abolishment of the law because the Lord deals precisely with this. He says,
"Think not that I come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy
but to fulfill," MAT 5:17.
Jesus goes on further to say, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth
pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break [i.e., to abolish, to minimize, or to do anything to
distract from] one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called
the least in the kingdom of heaven," MAT 5:18-19a.
So the Lord is not using "Ye have heard that it was said of them of old
time..." to mean that He is abolishing the law or the prophets. He is pointing out
the heresy of the traditions and commandments of men imposed upon the church by
Pharisaical ritual. These rituals were never the intent of the law. Jesus was teaching the
true meaning of the spirit of the law, whereas the scribes and Pharisees were only
concerned with the letter of the law.
In MAT 5:20 we read, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall
exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the
kingdom of heaven." This so clearly shows and demonstrates that Jesus did not intend
to abolish the law or the intent of the law. The Lord Jesus is clarifying the intent of
The law of God, understood in a Spiritual sense, is a mirror whereby we see the
motives, thoughts, emotions, selfishness, pride, hatred, and enmity that's in our own
heart. The purpose is to see ourselves and the corruption in our own evil heart. The
intent of the law is that we learn to realize the sinfulness of obeying only the letter of
the law. When the law is held before our eyes as a mirror, we can see the fountain of
corruption that is in us. We see the debt that we need to have paid by the blood of
Christ; we learn to see the sinfulness of sin in our own hearts.
When we look into the mirror of God's law, we cannot stand as the Pharisee in the
temple and say, "...God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners,
unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican," LUK 18:11. We cannot say
"Raca," or thou fool, to anybody but ourselves. We have to come before the Lord
and say, "Lord, I am such an empty fellow; Lord, I am such a fool." Then we
cannot say "thou fool" to a fellow man. We start to see the foolishness of our
own evil nature; we start to see the corruption that dwells within us.
Whenever we entertain evil thoughts, whisper, or delight to speak ill of our fellow man
in the presence of others, we seek a devilish delight. In the eyes of the Lord that is a
total breach of the intent of the law. We stand in the Temple saying, "Lord I am not
as that other man." How can you or I tell one thing that is demeaning about our
fellow man without exalting ourself as a Pharisee by saying "I hold myself above
them."? If we were not exalting ourself above the other man, what would there be left
to tell which does not edify? We have to exalt our fellow man above ourselves because we
see the emptiness of our own sinful heart.
Seeking satisfaction in one's self by putting down another is devilish. This was the
cause of the first murder. The first murder on the face of the earth was caused by Cain
seeking to set himself above his brother. We read in GEN 4:5, "But unto Cain and to
his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell."
Why? The Lord had respect unto his brother's offering but not unto his. This made Cain
wroth, or very angry.
Verses 6-7 continue, "And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is
thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest
not well, sin lieth at the door." The Lord cautioned him that the fruit of these evil
thoughts was murder. This is what the Lord is teaching us with the spirit of the law: evil
thoughts tend to murder; it is murder when we have evil thoughts to promote ourselves
above our brother.
These evil motives in the human heart were spoken of in JAM 4:1- 8. V:1 says,
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your
lusts that war in your members?" Where do these struggles with our brother come from?
They come from the evil lust of the heart. What is this? It is striving to get above our
brother. If you and your brother were standing face to face, both striving to get above
each other, the desire or attempt to put the other down is present. It is from these evil
lusts that turmoil and chaos are present in our hearts.
Continuing with V:5, "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit
that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" Envy and jealousy are very cruel; "Set me
as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy
is cruel as the grave," SON 8:6a.
The word grave, in this instance, is taken from the word SHEOL in the
Hebrew which means: "the world of the dead, grave, hell, pit." The word grave
here can be properly interpreted as hell; jealously is as cruel as hell. Look what
happened in jealousy between King Saul and David. Remember how King Saul used the javelin
and tried to smite him to the wall. Oh, the cruelty there is in jealousy! "The spirit
that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy."
Verses 6-7 say, "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the
proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the
devil, and he will flee from you." Instead of striving to defend ourselves against
our friend, neighbor, or brother, we must submit ourselves unto God.
Verse 8 continues, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your
hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." You cannot serve that
lust of envy and serve the Lord. You are double minded when you try to do so.
When the Holy Spirit convinces us of our sin by the mirror of the law, we learn to
understand that sin is as incurable as leprosy. At this point we start to understand the
leprosy of sin and that we are lepers spiritually.
FOR OUR FIRST POINT, let us consider MAT 5:23,
"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy
brother hath ought against thee."
FOR OUR SECOND POINT,let us consider MAT 5:24,
"Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy
brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
FOR OUR THIRD POINT let us consider MAT 5:25-26,
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any
time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,
and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out
thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
FIRST, let's consider MAT 5:23, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to
the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee."
Now that Jesus has admonished against heart and tongue murder, He holds up the mirror
of the law, i.e., the spirit of the law saying, "But I say unto you, That whosoever
is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and
whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever
shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire," MAT 5:22.
In our text, Jesus brings us before the mirror of self-knowledge to see the spiritual
leprosy of the heart. MAT 5:23, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and
there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee," teaches us the same
truths as JOH 8:7-11 where Jesus spoke to the Pharisees who brought to Him the woman taken
in adultery. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "He that is without sin among you, let him
first cast a stone at her."
Remembering what our brother has against us is different from remembering what we have
against our brother. In JOH 8:9 we read, "And they which heard it, being convicted by
their own conscience, went out one by one." Why did they leave? They left because
Jesus held the mirror of the spirit of the law before them which brought conviction into
their own heart; they saw enough corruption in their own hearts that they had not one
stone to throw at the woman.
When the Lord Jesus comes before us and says that we shall not call our brother
"Raca," and we shall not call our brother a fool, who comes home with clean
hands? Who is there who does not become convicted in his own heart?
As Jesus holds up this mirror of self-knowledge before our eyes, we understand JAM 3:2,
"For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a
perfect man." We start to understand that we all offend, we are all guilty. This
should bring us humbly before the Lord.
As Jesus finished His Sermon on the Mount, a great multitude followed Him, but one
leper who saw his uncleanness came to be cleansed. We read in MAT 8:1-2, "When he was
come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a
leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Here
was one who profited spiritually by that Sermon on the Mount; one who saw the leprosy of
his body and soul and came crying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me
Verse 3 says, "And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be
thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." Hearing the Sermon on the
Mount revealed man's true spiritual condition, by nature, before the mirror of the law to
a leper; so, he came to the Lord "...saying Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me
Oh, how often we learn to see that our best righteousnesses are but filthy rags. The
motives of our best desires are still so tainted with self and selfishness. Our souls are
so sin sick that our disease of sin truly becomes spiritual leprosy.
We read in ISA 53:1, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the
LORD revealed?" The prophet Isaiah is asking who hath believed. We can be told day
after day that we are guilty of being a spiritual leper, but who has truly believed it!
Who has truly come to Jesus and said, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me
Verses 2-3 say, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root
out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is
no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows,
and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and
we esteemed him not." Why don't we esteem Him? We don't because we have never truly
learned to see the leprosy of sin. We have never come as that one leper out of the
multitudes and said, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." There is no
preciousness in Christ until the self-knowledge of our spiritual weakness convinces us of
the leprosy of our sin; then the Spirit gives us the ability to see beauty in that Man of
After we have learned to see the sin of our own heart, we understand what we read in
ISA 53:4-8, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did
esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He
was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb
to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he
was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he
Jesus was made sin for us; the leprosy of sin was taken by Him. When we start to
understand that "...he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our
iniquities...," we start to see beauty in Christ. When we start to see the leprosy of
sin and see that He became sin for us, Jesus becomes precious to us.
Our text says, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar...." The lepers
who were cleansed must bring their gift to the altar. We will never understand our text if
we don't understand the leprosy of sin. We will never understand what it is to
"...bring thy gift to the altar." We come to bring our gift of gratitude and
praise for having been cleansed from the leprosy of sin.
MAT 8:3-4 talks about the leper who came out of the multitude and asked to be cleansed.
It says, "And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou
clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell
no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses
commanded, for a testimony unto them." That gift to the altar points to our being
cleansed of our leprosy.
The gift that Moses commanded was recorded in LEV 14:3-7. This gift was two birds: one
to be slain and the other to be dipped in the blood and then turned loose into the open
field. Doesn't this gift point to the blessedness of the vicarious death of Christ?
Doesn't it point to how He became our substitute, was slain, and how we are washed in His
blood? We come with our gifts to the altar which point to the blessed sacrifice of Christ
now that we have been cleansed from that leprosy of sin.
How were we cleansed? We were cleansed by the blessed atonement of Christ. One bird was
to be turned loose after having been dipped in the blood of the one that was slain. This
points to that blessed gift of salvation where we may be delivered from death by being
dipped in His blood. These gifts, as the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, were to show
the Lord's death until He comes. Isn't this a portion of Scripture that is showing or
prophesying the Lord's death until He comes? We have been cleansed from leprosy. Now we
must give that gift and place it upon the altar. In 1CO 11:26 we read, "For as often
as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
Our text says, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there
rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee." We come to show the
Lord's death until He comes, but then we remember what our brother has against us. What do
we do? Do we go ahead? No, we leave our gifts there and we go to be reconciled with our
brother. When we bring our gift of gratitude and worship for being cleansed, we must
examine our own hearts for any of the sin Jesus revealed in the previous verse. Before we
come to the communion service of the Lord, we must examine our heart as to whether or not
we harbor any unjust anger against our brother.
Scripture says, "...whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be
in danger of the judgment." We must examine our own heart as to whether we esteem our
brother above ourselves for "...whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in
danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell
The meaning of our text, however, goes much deeper than examining our own hearts. Our
text says, "and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee..."
This is telling us that if we are the offended one, we are to make short work of it. We
forgive. MAR 11:25 says, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought
against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your
trespasses." If we stand praying and remember that we have ought against our brother,
However, our text speaks of our brother having ought against thee. Now we must examine
our hearts very closely. Has our conduct given our brother just cause to be angry? This
goes much deeper. Herein we must examine our hearts to see whether we have injured our
brother either in fact or in his opinion. Have we done something so our brother is justly
angry with us? Have we injured our brother or his honor? If so, we may still not proceed,
we must now leave our gifts. We must go to our brother, and we must be reconciled.
It is so important that we examine ourselves very carefully. Is there something we have
said or done that our brother may justly be offended? We must prayerfully examine our own
hearts to see if the quarrel began on our side. Is the fault either at first or afterward
thine? Have I provoked that person, have I wounded that person in any way? Have I given
them just cause to be angry? If so, I cannot bring my gift and have it accepted before the
Lord anymore than I can come before the Lord with an unforgiving spirit. It is equally an
abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let us consider MAT 5:24, "Leave there thy gift
before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and
offer thy gift."
If we are guilty in this matter, we are not fit for communion with God. When we talk
about not being fit for communion with God, it goes much deeper than just the Lord's
Supper. It goes into our prayer chamber. Our prayers are being hindered. If we have given
our brother just cause to be angry with us, we will find that our prayers have been
hindered, and we cannot come in communion with God. Therefore, we must not let the sun go
down on our wrath because we must go to prayer before we go to sleep.
How can a person who professes Christianity go to sleep without going to prayer? If we
have ought against our brother or if we have given him just cause to have ought against
us, how can we come before the Lord? We can't. Scripture says, "Leave there thy
gift." The gift of communion, i.e., coming before the Lord with thanksgiving and
gratitude, must be left at the altar. Our thanksgiving before the Lord is an abomination
if we have given our brother just cause to be angry with us, and we have not gone first to
be reconciled with our brother. EPH 4:26-27 says, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not
the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."
The word brother in our text must not be limited to our literal or spiritual
brother. It does not mean physical brother from the same father and mother nor does it
mean a spiritual brother. The word brother includes every person of the human race. We
might sometimes think, "Well, that was a stranger. Therefore, it doesn't matter that
I offended him."
In MAL 2:10 we read, "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why
do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our
fathers?" This is applicable. When we come before the Lord, we cannot have exalted
ourself against any person of the human race and still be acceptable to Him. The Lord
wants us to forgive, but He also wants us to leave our gift, "go thy way; first be
reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." This means to humble
yourself before your brother and ask him to forgive you. Whether this person is male,
female, an old person, or a little child, you ask for forgiveness. We need forgiveness. We
need to come from our side and do everything we can possibly do to be reconciled with that
adversary "while we are still in the way," i.e., before the Lord cuts our breath
off. Remember, our very next breath is not certain!
Does it seem like the heavens are brass over us and our prayers don't get any higher
than the ceiling? If so, maybe we should examine our heart. Maybe, our heart isn't right
before the Lord. Maybe we have to leave our gift and go and be reconciled with our
brother. That brother could be any human being.
Religious exercises are not acceptable to God if they are performed when our hearts are
harboring wrath, envy, malice, or uncharitableness. If there is an unloving spirit in our
heart against any human being, the Lord is not going to accept our religious exercises.
MAT 6:14-15 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." God the Father comes to us with the gift of His Son,
but we have to understand that if we have offended our brother, we must leave that gift
before the alter and be reconciled with our brother before we can plead that precious
blood as the basis of our salvation. We must condescend to our brother. We must come to
them and make peace. MAT 5:25 says, "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou
art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the
judge...." In other words, lest the time be too short, and you come too late.
In 1TI 2:8 we read, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy
hands, without wrath and doubting." When we lift our hands up onto the Lord, they
have to be holy hands without wrath and without doubting. We cannot come before the Lord
with a heart that is filled with wrath. We cannot come before the Lord if we have provoked
a brother unto wrath. If we come to lift our hands up before the Lord in such a state, He
will not hear us. Prayers offered in wrath are written in gall.
ISA 1:15 says, "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from
you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood."
The Lord looks at this as murder. He says your hands are full of blood. Why? He says that
because you have a quarrel with your brother which you have not reconciled, your hands are
full of blood.
Verses 16-17 say, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from
before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the
oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." There is something that the
Lord has really laid upon my heart. If we want sympathy and intimacy from the Lord, He has
to be able to see the image of Christ in our heart. The heart of sympathy, of love, of
peace, of charity for our fellow man has to reflect the image of Christ, or we are not
going to receive the love of Christ.
Verses 18-19 say, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson,
they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the
land." The Lord is telling us to come; He wants to reason with us. He wants to say
what is reasonable. Is it reasonable that the Lord would come to us and shed His love
abroad in our heart which is filled with hatred? We must understand the importance of
"If ye be willing and obedient..." The Lord is saying He is so gracious that He
will overlook every sin, "If we be willing and obedient..." The Lord is asking
here that we do as we would have done unto us. We must be gracious if we want grace, be
merciful if we want to obtain mercy, and be forgiving if we want to obtain forgiveness.
The Lord will not hear our prayers when our hearts are not right with our brother.
ISA 58:4 says, "Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist
of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on
high." We can come before the Lord and bow down as a bulrush; we can put on a scene,
but the Lord doesn't care two cents about what kind of scene we put on. He wants to see
what is in our hearts. What heart do we have for our fellow man?
The Lord shows wherein He delights. In ISA 58:6-9 we read, "Is not this the fast
that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to
let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to
the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest
the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then
shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I
am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger,
and speaking vanity." Isn't this a powerful lesson! When we have an occasion to
wonder why the Lord has withdrawn Himself, it is essential that we examine our own hearts
to see in what way we are unclean. We can only find acceptance with God when we are
Christlike, i.e., in the Spirit of Christ, ROM 8:9b says, "...Now if any man have not
the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
We read in COL 3:13, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any
man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." How did
Christ forgive us? While we were yet sinners, Christ came and died for our sin. He didn't
wait until we came and confessed our sins to strike a deal saying, "Okay, now I will
be reconciled." While we were yet sinners on the broad road to destruction with our
head in the air and our heart filled with sin, He came and "humbled himself, and
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," PHI 2:8. It says,
"...forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ
forgave you, so also do ye." Even while our brother is still transgressing against
us, we forgive him. Do you know why? If we forgive him, we now can win him with a meek and
quiet spirit. With a meek and quiet spirit, with our chaste conversation coupled with
fear, [i.e., a filial fear], we can win him. We can plead with him as Christ in the gospel
pleads with us.
FOR OUR THIRD POINT let us consider MAT 5:25-26, "Agree with thine
adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary
deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast
into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou
hast paid the uttermost farthing."
When it says "agree with thine adversary quickly," we have to understand that
we have become adversaries to the Lord as a result of our fall in Adam. In ROM 8:7 we
read, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be." The Lord is proffering for conditions of peace.
Do you know what they are? The only condition for peace is to become Christlike; we must
be washed from the pollution of our sin in the blood of Christ. We must repent of our sin
before we will ever receive a pardon. ISA 55:7 says, "Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, [Then, and only
then, is there mercy or pardon.] and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he
will abundantly pardon." Our text says, "Agree with thine adversary
quickly..." God is our adversary by nature.
The Lord, the offended One, has opened a way by which even the chiefest of sinners can
be reconciled back unto Him. The Lord has set the pattern for us: if we are the offended
one in a quarrel with our brother, we have to be Christlike. What did the Lord do? He was
the offended one, and He made conditions of peace. He came seeking conditions of peace,
not because He was afraid of our little army of ten thousand with His army of twenty
thousand. Why? He came because of love. The Lord wants to see that love in our heart
springing forth from the soul; love is what motivates our desire to obey. It is the intent
of the heart at which God looks.
COL 1:20-22 says, "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him
to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or
things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked
works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you
holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight."
How has He reconciled us? He has done this by the blood of His cross. This was the
purpose of the shedding of His blood: the adversary position which was created between man
and God in the fall was removed. He did this for what reason? He did it to be able to
present you and me holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight. He came so His peace
and obedience might become ours. He came that His love might become ours. Can we claim the
love of Christ if we still have bitter envying in our heart? No, we cannot.
As our Mediator, Christ has met the conditions of peace on our behalf from God's side,
"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing
their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
Now that God has condescended so low, our Mediator beseeches us, and He prays us,
"...be ye reconciled to God." We read in 2CO 5:20, "Now then we are
ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's
stead, be ye reconciled to God." It is beyond our understanding that the God of
heaven who has been the offended one now comes and condescends so low. As our Mediator, He
condescends so low! He prays us, He beseeches us who are His enemies.
The pattern, the footsteps of Christ, that He is setting forth here is the pattern of
how we become reconciled to our brother. We condescend while they are still enemies with
us. We condescend and come and beseech them to become reconciled. This is walking in the
footsteps of Christ.
Being reconciled unto God is to be reconciled to His will. In EPH 4:32 we read,
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for
Christ's sake hath forgiven you." The will of God is for us to be kind to each other,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Can we come before God and claim reconciliation with
God and be enemies with our brother? The answer is no. For Christ's sake, for the sake of
that blood of His cross, God's mind is reconciled. Are we able to make peace with the
blood of the cross? Are we able to take up our cross and follow Him? Are we able to make
sacrifices and suffer wrong for peace? We are not greater than our Master. Can we not
condescend to our brother to beg conditions of peace?
ROM 12:16 says, "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but
condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits." When we speak of
our brother, we are speaking of every human creature on this earth. We must be able to
condescend to men of low estate and beseech them for conditions of peace. This brings us
all before the mirror of the law of love, and then we all have to lay our hand on our
mouth and cry out "unclean, unclean." We then understand what it is to become a
leper in the sight of God. When we understand, we bring that gift. What is that gift? It
is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. We have to come and lay that before the Lord
and remember His death until He comes.
How can any prayer be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, except that we come in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ? We have to come to plead that meritorious and sacrificial death
of Christ. How can we do that and harbor the least ill-thought in our heart? This verse
tells us to be of one mind. Don't be heady and high- minded. Don't be so set in your own
ways that you cannot give.
Verses 17-21 say, "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in
the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all
men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is
written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger,
feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire
[i.e., coals of LOVE!] on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with
good." SON 8:6 says, "...love is strong as death...the coals thereof are coals
of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the
floods drown it..." "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he
thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of [love] on his head,"
Our text says, "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way
with him," i.e., while you are still in the day of grace. Agree with him quickly
while you still have life and there is still time to be reconciled; don't put it off until
tomorrow. Don't let the sun go down on your wrath because you can't go to prayer without a
clean heart. How can you go to sleep without going to prayer?
While the quarrel continues, you are not fit to bring your gift to the altar, i.e.,
your prayers are hindered. You cannot come into communion with God; you are not fit to
meet God! This is an awful thing. What if He should come to you and say as in LUK 12:20,
"Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee," and you are not
prepared to meet Him? You are not ready because your heart is not right. Then when you
come before the judge, He says you will go to prison, and you will not come out until you
have paid the last penny.
We must look at the Lord as our adversary anytime we look at our brother as an
adversary. We must meet our adversary in the way and agree with him quickly. We must come
to terms of peace. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:
for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not
seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother
also," 1JO 4:20-21.
Our text says, "lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the
judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee,
Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
This speaks not only of literally wounding our brother, and he has brought us to the law;
it is also speaking of the Lord as judge. We should be aware lest our adversary deliver us
to the judgment of God as Jesus did in 1PE 2:23, "Who, when he was reviled, reviled
not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth
When the mirror of that law is brought before our eyes, who can say he is not guilty?
Who can plead innocence? We need to beg for grace, and the Lord will give us a heart that
is right before Him. We need to pray that we will be able to do what the Lord Jesus
commanded in bringing our gifts to the altar. If we may claim that we have been cleansed
of our leprosy, if we come before the Lord and lay our gift upon the altar, and then
remember our brother has ought against us, we must then go and be reconciled with our
MAR 11:25-26 says, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against
any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye
do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
We may not even ask for forgiveness until we have forgiven. This is a scary thought: until
we forgive we may not even ask for forgiveness.
It is terrible how so many people today claim a legal repentance. They claim they are
washed in the blood; therefore, they are saved. Saved from what? They are not saved from
sin. They still go on as we read in ISA 58:4, "Behold, ye fast for strife and debate,
and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make
your voice to be heard on high." The Bible says they are not saved from anything
until they are reconciled with their brother. There must be a remorse over sin; there must
be a true evangelical repentance--a turning unto the Lord to do the will of God. The
intent of the law, not the letter of the law, must be filled. No person can stand
righteous before God outside of the imparted righteousness of Christ. We all offend in
many things. We need the imparted righteousness, i.e., the perfect obedience of Christ
formed in us. We are not going to continue in sin that grace may abound.
The Lord weighs our actions. This is very important to understand. In 1-SA 2:2 we read,
"There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any
rock like our God." We cannot come before the Lord and become one with the Lord and
Verse 3 says, "Talk no more so exceeding proudly; [saying to your brother, Raca],
let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: [by saying to thy brother, Thou Fool], for the
LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed." Don't talk so proud!
Don't exalt yourself above your brother. Don't esteem your wisdom so much above your
brother. This is a powerful verse. The Lord weighs our actions. He weights the thoughts
and the intents of the heart. He holds before us the mirror of the law of love which shows
us the thoughts and intents of our heart. He shows us the intent of the law. What is this
intent? LOVE! The intent of the law is love.
We have to understand that the law is the law of love. Love God above all, with all
your heart, your soul, and your mind, this is Godliness. Love our neighbor as ourself,
this is righteousness! The intent of the law of love is Godliness and righteousness, a
righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. If we say we love God and
hate our brother, we are a liar; the truth is not in us. If we claim that the love of God
is shed abroad in our heart and we hate our brother, we are a liar. The Bible says so.
This becomes such an important issue when we come to place our gift on the altar. We come
to open our mouth before the Lord, but all we can do is lay our hand on our mouth and say,
"unclean, unclean," and ask for the Lord to give us a heart that is right before
Him. We ask that He will give us a right understanding of going out to be reconciled with
our brother. God is holy and by Him our actions are weighed.
Scripture says, "...for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are
weighed," 1SA 2:3. Do you know what that means? It means He knows every thought,
every intent, and every action of our heart. Our actions are weighed by Him. This is a
solemn thing. It says in our text, "Agree with thine adversary quickly." We have
to examine whether the Lord is still our adversary or should we agree with Him quickly?
Our hearts should melt before His feet. We should ask Him to help us to be reconciled with
Him and our brother. We should ask the Lord that our heart be made right before Him. Amen.