From the book: Sermon on the Mount. Vol. 4

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Sermon on the Mount, #39
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THE MANNER OF ACCEPTABLE PRAYER

SERMON #103

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven..., MAT 6:9.

Our text teaches us that the Lord's Prayer is to be used as an outline for our prayers; "After this manner therefore pray ye." The Lord Jesus Christ is directing our attention to the elements that are essential to God-given prayer; our outline is the Lord's Prayer. The Lord is not telling us that we should repeat the Lord's Prayer verbatim as the only form of prayer.

See how Jesus manifests His desire and lays His petition before God, His Father; it is His intercessory prayer, found in John 17, that He prayed before the Father before He departed from this world. John 17 is not a duplicate of the prayer which is known as the Lord's Prayer. Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye;" so we want to examine the manner that Jesus teaches as we go through the Lord's Prayer. Jesus is teaching a manner of prayer, not necessarily saying that it must be verbatim, i.e., word for word.

To illustrate this manner Jesus teaches about an acceptable approach to the Father in prayer, I would like to direct our attention to the two tables of the law taught by Jesus in MAT 22:37-40. Jesus divided the law into two tables saying, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment [the first table of the law of love]. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself [the second table of the law]. On these two commandments [on these two tables of the law] hang all the law and the prophets."

In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus is teaching a progressive lesson. His teachings in MAT 5 must be kept in context as we proceed into MAT 6. We must follow His approach in the Sermon on the Mount as we get into the Lord's Prayer. What do we see? In MAT 5:17-48 the Lord Jesus teaches the manner in which we are to keep the spirit of the second table of the law.

In MAT 6:1 Jesus teaches the connecting link between the second table of the law and the first table of the law. The Lord Jesus teaches us that when we come before the Lord to make our petitions known, we must be in the right posture of heart. We need to understand what He requires of us in the second table of the law as well as in the first table of the law. The posture of our heart must be proper towards our neighbour, as well as before the Lord, as we come to lay our petitions before Him.

Jesus teaches us that the posture of the heart must be prepared to properly come before Him to ask our petitions of Him. We must begin with our right attitude toward our fellow man before we have a proper access unto the Lord in prayer. We cannot come before the Lord asking for mercy if we have shown no mercy; we cannot come before the Lord asking for forgiveness if we are not able to forgive. This is the proper posture of the heart that the Lord Jesus is referring to when he says, "After this manner therefore pray ye."

MAT 6:1 says, "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." The alms, or tokens of mercy, spoken of in this verse are the connecting links between MAT 5 and MAT 6. The word alms is taken from the Greek word "Dikaiosune" which means, "Good works--or acts of piety, or mercy and compassion." Alms are the things we do to show kindness to our fellow man: we pray for them, and for those who despitefully use us. They are acts of kindness and love. The alms He speaks of here are the fulfilling of the things He admonishes us to do in MAT 5. Such alms are the righteousness that exceed those of the scribes and Pharisees.

"After this manner" we are to exercise the spirit of the law toward our fellow man; in its context, this is what the Lord teaches us: "After this manner therefore pray ye." In preparation for prayer we must come in the right posture of the heart towards our fellow man as well as towards the Lord. That is to teach us the manner in which we are to exercise the spirit of the law of love towards our fellow man as well as to love God above all with our heart and our soul and our mind. The Lord Jesus teaches us this in the way of preparation for prayer in the Lord's Prayer.

We must exercise the right spirit toward our fellow man to be in a Godly spirit, i.e., the spirit of the first table of the law. When we examine our attitude toward our fellow man, it must be in the spirit of the first table of the law, and that is loving God above all with our heart, soul, and mind. We can never come before the Lord and say that we love Him with our heart, soul, and mind if we have "aught" against our brother.

The Lord's prayer teaches us that it is after this manner that we are to pray. Notice that our text says: "Our Father...;" it does not tell us to pray, "My Father"! This is a very crucial point. Jesus said in our text, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father." I want you to see that our hearts must go out to our fellow man; from our hearts we must lay the needs of our fellow man before the Lord as well as our own needs. Our Lord will never accept a selfish prayer, a self-centered prayer, a prayer that is a selfish attitude against our neighbour. He does not say, "After this manner pray ye: [My] Father." He starts the prayer with "Our Father."

We will dwell on the meaning of the word "OUR" as the central theme of this message. We must start our prayers after this manner. That doesn't mean that every time we pray, we must say "Our Father," using those very words. The manner of our prayer is what Jesus is teaching.

Our prayers must include the needs of our fellow man. Who are they? The word they includes our enemies. We must pray for them and have a heart's desire that the Lord will bless our enemies and forgive them. If we, from our heart, have forgiven them, then it will be our prayer and our desire that the Lord will forgive them and that He will come into their hearts with His love; He will break the rebellion in their heart and bring them into a oneness in unity with Himself. Our prayers may not be self-centered; they must include our fellow man, even our enemies.

The word "OUR" is to teach us that our burdens must be for oneness of spirit in the church. We are to be concerned for the welfare of our fellow man. When we pray after this manner, the second table of the law is linked to the first table of the law. The Lord Jesus brings forth this very point throughout His Sermon on the Mount.

Selfishness in prayer is not acceptable before the Lord. Until the posture of our heart is right toward our neighbour, our prayers will never get beyond the ceiling. It is very important to understand this principle. That is what the Lord Jesus teaches us when He says, "Our Father." The contents, the manner, of our prayers must include our fellow man. Until the posture of our heart is right in this matter, the Lord will never accept our prayers.

When we pray after this manner, we receive what we ask because we keep Christ's commandment in showing love to one another. 1JO 3:22-24 says, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments [Do you understand that? What commandment? It is that commandment to love our neighbour!], and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. [You see, we receive what we ask because we keep the commandment to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and love one another.] And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."

He that keepeth His commandments dwells in Him. What commandments? We are speaking of the second table of the law. When our heart is in the proper posture and when we pray after this manner, with a heart of love toward our fellow man, then we receive what we ask of Him. That is what He is telling us when He says, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father." Our prayers are not to be based on selfishness; they should be prayers for us, not for me. "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." What is that Spirit of Christ? It is that Spirit who teaches us to love our fellow man; it is that Spirit of Christ formed in us which is seen in our spirit of self-sacrificial love.

The ears of the Lord are open to those who observe the second table of the law. This principle comes through so beautifully through the whole chapter of 1 John 3 which climaxes in V: 22-23. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."

The Lord Jesus teaches us this principle when He says, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father..." Watch what we read in PSA 34:15, "The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry." Who are the righteous? There are two distinctions given in the Word of God: between the righteous or the unrighteous and the Godly or ungodly. The Godly are those who observe the first table of the law, i.e., loving God above all. The righteous are those who observe the second table of the law; acts of righteousness are the acts of right attitudes and doings toward our neighbour. "The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry." Jesus teaches that "Our Father" is looking at our desire for the blessings and the welfare of our neighbour.

Praying after this manner, "OUR FATHER," demonstrates a oneness of spirit. Let's dwell on this point just a little. The oneness Jesus speaks of is the oneness that He wants in His church. It is the same as the oneness we see in Christ and the Father. This is the oneness spoken of by our Saviour in JOH 17:21-23, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. [The love we show to one another, to our fellow man, is the light and evidence that the world may see and believe that `thou hast sent me.'] And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one."

The Lord Jesus Christ is teaching us oneness of spirit in His perfect prayer when He teaches us to pray after this manner, "Our Father." He is showing a family oneness, the family unity, in "OUR Father." If we are brothers in the flesh, we have one father; if we are brothers in the Spirit, we have one Father. Now we come before Him to make our needs and wants known as one body, and we say, "Our Father..."

Watch what it says in V:23, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." This is the evidence before the world that the Father has loved us. True Christians reflect this love before the world for their fellow man. They not only reflect that love for that person who is a member of their little group, but they also reflect love to their fellow man, their neighbour and brother.

When we pray after this manner, "OUR FATHER," we confess that we walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. This vocation is the walk of life that Jesus teaches; this oneness which the world will see by our walk of life, by our attitude, and the posture of our heart. It is Christ formed in us. The posture of our heart becomes so essential when we come before the Lord to pray.

See what we read in EPH 4:1-6, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." What is the vocation wherewith we are called? We are called to the oneness of spirit, that oneness of purpose, that oneness of mind, that oneness in Christ that we just read of in John 17. The Christlike spirit is the vocation to which we are called. V:2 continues, "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love [That is the vocation wherewith we are called to walk]; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

In Matthew 5 and the beginning of Matthew 6 the Lord describes the right preparation of our heart when we come before the Lord. We must understand that the Lord is looking at the posture of the heart, "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." V:4 continues, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." If God, the Father, is in us, if God, the Holy Spirit, is in us, if God, the Son, is in us, we are going to see the endeavoring to keep the peace through the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. There will be that Spirit of Christ. This is the admonition we hear when Christ says, "After this manner therefore pray ye."

When we pray after this manner, "Our Father," we confess that we have forgiven our debtors as we ask to be forgiven. When I can come before the Lord and say, "Our Father," I can include that person who is indebted to me, and I can come and lay the petition before the Lord asking His blessing. I can ask the Lord to forgive that person, to bless that man, then I have forgiven him also. We confess this forgiveness when we can come before the Lord and say, "Our Father." I can include that man in my prayers when I pray, "Lord, show mercy, not to me, but to us."

When the posture of the heart is right, part of that perfect prayer is "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," MAT 6:12. I want to ask you a serious question. How often do you and I need to shudder when we come before the Lord and say that phrase? Can we truly come before the Lord and say, "Lord, forgive me with the same quality of forgiveness as I have forgiven her or him."? Can we truly dare to say that we have forgiven to the same extent that we want the Lord to forgive us? Sometimes we need a little personal prayer, too, don't we?

We must come before the Lord and say, "But Lord, forgive me for my unforgiving spirit." I find in my own life, so often, that from my heart I can forgive them, but when I try to visit with them, I find a little barrier there. There is still a little hurt and a little feeling of unforgiveness. I haven't really forgiven quite like I'd like to have the Lord forgive me. I get to the point where I need that little personal prayer asking the Lord to give me a forgiving spirit. Sometimes I need forgiveness that far exceeds "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." I even need a little help to do some forgiving.

Watch what it says in MAR 11:25-26, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that [see the connecting word "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." When we come before the Lord and we can say, "Our Father," we have to be able to bear our fellow man up on the wings of prayer. We have to be able to ask the Lord that He will forgive our fellow man as well as us. This Scripture is teaching us that the Lord may not forgive us beyond what we are able to forgive. If we still hold that grudging, hateful spirit in our heart, how dare we cite the perfect prayer?

Scripture doesn't mean we forgive just those who have shown us kindness; the Lord Jesus also tells us to pray for our enemies and for those who despitefully use us. Our forgiving has to be of that quality. That is what He is admonishing us to do when He says, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father..." We have to be able to pray for our enemies as well as our fellow man.

MAR 11:26 says, "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." These are solemn words, aren't they? It causes our soul to inquire if we have really been forgiven. Can I claim that quality of forgiveness when I come before the bar of judgment? Can I come before the Lord in the day of judgment and say, "As I have forgiven, so forgive me."? Now we need a little room for some heart searching and personal prayer. We need, also, that the Lord will grant us forgiveness for our fellow man.

Jesus emphasizes this; it is the principle taught at the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer in MAT 6:14-15, "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." That truth becomes a very solemn reality.

It is so easy to heap accusations on our fellow man's head and say, "He, he, he..." or "she, she, she...," but our Saviour is teaching our need of forgiveness. If we are to stand righteous before God, then our fellow man's transgressions against us pale in the light of what we have transgressed against God. If we are not able to forgive, how can we ask for forgiveness? That is what the Lord is telling us; He says, "After this manner therefore pray ye," with this posture of heart, with this frame of mind, with this oneness of spirit. Now before "Our Father," we become a proper candidate for prayer.

The apostle cautions against a grievous wrong attitude toward our neighbour. Think about this: we grieve the Holy Spirit when we dare to come before the Lord in the wrong posture of heart. It says in EPH 4:30-32, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. [Now see how we grieve the Lord with a wrong attitude!] Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."

If we harbor bitterness in our heart, we grieve the Holy Spirit. How dare we come before the Lord and ask for mercy when from our heart we cannot show mercy? We grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not put away all anger and all wrath and all malice. How dare we come before the Lord asking for forgiveness without a forgiving spirit? When we presume to come and ask for the love of Christ, the self-sacrificial love of Christ, with a self-centered, selfishness in our soul, we grieve the Holy Spirit. "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." These are really soul searching questions that each of us must ask ourselves.

When we pray after this manner, "OUR FATHER," we confess that we have tenderness for one another. There is such beauty in that. When we can come with the right spirit, the right posture of the heart, then we can come before the Lord seeking not only our own blessing, but also the blessing of our fellow man whether he has come against us or not. When we come in the right posture of the heart, we confess we have tenderness for one another.

See what we read in EPH 4:32, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." If the Lord ever opens our eyes to see the mountain of sin that we have been forgiven, to see how we are so self-centered, how we have been so unkind in so many ways, then it generates a tenderness for our fellow man even though he may be unkind to us.

When we are in the Spirit of Christ, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us, we can truly come in the right spirit of prayer, saying, "Our Father." Do you know what that means? He just took the whole debt and wiped it clean. He didn't require us to pay a farthing; He didn't ask us to make any restitution. He just wiped the debt clean. That is how we have to be able to forgive each other. We don't come and say, "Well, I'll forgive you if you...." and listing a whole bunch of contingencies. No. We must forgive from the heart, and then we can come before the Lord and say, "Our Father."

When we pray after this manner, "OUR FATHER," we confess that we have learned to obey the commandment to forbear, i.e., put up with, bear with, or be patient with one another. COL 3:13 requires "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." We see that example in Christ, our forerunner, who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our soul. We are to follow that example; we are to be Christlike if Christ is formed in us. Now we must see that if any man have a quarrel against us that even as Christ forgave us, "so also do ye."

When we pray after this manner, "OUR FATHER," we confess that we have learned to show mercy, i.e., undeserved favour, to our brother. Consider what it says in JAM 2:13-18, "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment." When we come before the judgment seat of Christ, we are going to come there only on the basis of mercy. If we obtain any favor with the Lord, it is going to be undeserved favor because we have forfeited the least of His blessings. The apostle says, "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy;" That means we must show love to those who don't deserve it when they have totally forfeited the love that we reflect. They have showed us unkindness, and we have showed them love in the place of it.

James goes on to say in V:14, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" Are we going to be saved by faith if our works are against the Word of God? If we are not showing mercy, if we are not being forgiving, do you think we will be saved by faith? No. What does it profit to say we have faith if our works do not reveal our faith? I will tell you why this is true. You cannot separate faith from obedience.

Disobedience is rebellion against God; "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft...," 1-SA 15:23. Disobedience is unbelief. See this principle in JAM 2:15-17, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? [What profit is there to tell them of all the blessings if you don't do anything to provide them?] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."

How many people are going to claim that "I have faith, I believe in Christ, and I...I...," but they don't have works? If I don't show love to my fellow man, if I don't come with a forgiving spirit, if I don't show tenderness to those who are being unkind to me, then my faith without such works is dead. Such faith is like a corpse without a soul; see V:26. Continuing on at V:18, we read, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

If I am going to tell you that I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you should be able to see Christ revealed in me. You should be able to see that Spirit of Christ in me. If you can't, I cannot show you my faith by my works. The Lord is teaching us this truth when He says that we must come before Him and when we pray after this manner, "Our Father..." Then we are including our fellow man in our prayers; we are not selfish, nor are we self-centered. When we have a heart for our fellow man, then we have an observance of that second table of the law. That doesn't mean we are going to keep it in perfection. We need the Lord's forgiveness, but He is going to forgive us only as we forgive. That is a solemn reality.

When we pray after this manner, "OUR FATHER," we confess that we have faith which cannot be separated from obedience. How can we come before the Lord and say, "Our Father" if we don't come before Him in faith? I want you to see something here. HEB 11:6 teaches us faith cannot be separated from obedience. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

The Lord says He will reward every man according to his works. He will forgive if we have forgiven, but there is an "if" there. He will reward them that diligently seek Him, but they must have faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Without obedience, there is no faith. Until we understand what it is to show tenderness, to show love, and to walk in the spirit of the second table of the law, we may not claim that we are walking by faith.

When we pray after this manner, "OUR FATHER," we confess that we understand what the apostle said in 1JO 4:20-21, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar [that is so strong]: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" It is so strong; if you don't love your brother, you are a liar if you say you love the Lord. We come back to this commandment of love! "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also," V:21.

1JO 5:1-3 says, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. [If we say we love Christ who begat us, we will also love those who are begotten of Him. We will also love our brother.] By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and we keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

What commandments is the apostle talking about? He is talking about the commandments of love. You know, so many people talk about the commandments, and they think it is a legalistic, lawish thing. The Ten Commandments are the law of love. The first four commandments are the law of the first table. They are the law of loving God above all. The next six commandments reflect the commandment of love to our neighbour--the second table of the law.

We just read, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." When we have tenderness to our fellow man, we can forgive him when he has done what we think is wrong. We can let the Lord judge that man's or woman's heart and mind as to what their intent was. We forgive them because we know we need to be forgiven, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

One of the most horrible things Satan can work in our soul is that any one of the commandments of God becomes a grievous commandment. If it becomes grievous that we must do what the Lord has commanded, it is a very dangerous thing. God's Word says, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and we keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous," 1JO 5:2-3. It is a delight to do His will.

Our Saviour called this commandment, to love our brother with that same sacrificial love wherewith He loved His church, a new commandment. In JOH 13:34-35 we read, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." This is so powerful. See what a light we shine to the world by showing love, tenderness, and kindness to those who despitefully use us. We show them love, we show them tenderness, and "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Can I come before the Lord and say "My Father," when I am unable to say "Our Father"? No! This issue becomes very important to us. MAL 2:10 says, "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?" We see how the Word of God pleads with us to love our fellow man. When Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father," Jesus is teaching us that when we come before the Lord, we must come with the right posture of heart toward our fellow man.

When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, it was to remember His death till He come (death to self, and death to sin). When we come to take the Lord's Supper, it is to remember His death; He died unto Himself, He died and gave Himself with such a sacrificial love. He died unto sin. In ROM 6:9-10 we read, "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." We are to remember His death until He comes; we are to remember how He died unto sin, and now--but in that "he liveth, he liveth unto God."

As Jesus served the Last Supper, we read in MAT 26:26, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying Drink ye all of it [That doesn't mean drink the cup empty, it means all of you drink of that same cup. That teaches the oneness there is in Christ and His church. We must all drink of that one cup.]; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

The Lord's Supper teaches us the same principle which Jesus teaches in our text, "Our Father," a oneness. See what we read in 1CO 10:16-17, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."

Many grapes make one wine; many kernels make one bread. The kernels are ground and made into flour; they are merged and become one bread. All of the grapes are trampled in the winepress, and they become one wine in one cup. There is one bread, there is one Christ, there is one body. "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." We are all part of that same body, that oneness is what the Lord Jesus teaches when He says, " After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father...." We must come before Him with a oneness of spirit.

In His explanation of the Judgment Day Jesus teaches us how pleased He is to see that Spirit of Christ in His people. See how the Lord Jesus speaks about the Judgment Day; He teaches about that Spirit of Christ in MAT 25:32-46, "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats [It is very important that we understand how He is going to separate them]: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For [See that connecting word For] I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." The righteous are those who have observed the second table of the law of love by right acts of love to their neighbour.

Now see what it says in MAT 25:37-40, "Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? [See where it was.] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Do you see the second table of the law in that?

When the Lord Jesus comes on the day of judgment, that is where He is going to start judging. That will be where He will separate the sheep from the goats. Those who have come to their fellow man, and in the name of Christ, have given them a cup of cold water, have fed them, have visited them, have come unto them and have demonstrated that Spirit of Christ in love are His sheep; this is what separates them from the goats. That is what He is teaching us in the beginning of this prayer: "in this manner," in that heart of unity and oneness, it is "Our Father."

The unrighteous are those who did not observe the second table of the law. We read about them in MAT 25:41-46, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I [which represents any one of His children] was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. [They did not observe the second table of the law!] Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

On the day of judgment, that oneness of spirit is going to be the dividing line between the sheep and the goats. That will divide the righteous from the unrighteous. The righteous are those who observe the second table of the law. V:46 says, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

When we violate the second table of the law by any act against our neighbour, we have done it unto Christ. That is something to think about because what we do for or against our fellow man, we must understand we are doing to Christ. That is what He taught us in the above verses. See this principle also in ACT 9:5 as Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus asks, "...Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Jesus saw Saul's persecution of His followers; He heard the cries of His children. He answered. How was Saul persecuting Jesus? By persecuting Jesus' people, he was persecuting his fellow man. What he was doing to them, he was doing to Jesus Christ. "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."

We must have a tender heart to our fellow man because he is created in the image of God. We must understand that what we do to our fellow man, we are doing to the Lord because that person was created in God's image also. The Lord also created him, and we are not to be his judge deciding where he stands before the Lord. We are to treat our fellow man with tenderness and love.

God's Word tells us in PRO 14:31, "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor." We honor the Lord when we can stoop to a point where we show mercy to the poor. We are not talking only financial poverty, it also includes the spiritually poor. When people are in spiritual poverty, they have not yet received the work of grace in their heart. They might be total beggars spiritually, but we must still show mercy and kindness; we try to win them with love. "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor."

PRO 17:5 says, "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished." If we rejoice to see the Lord send calamities upon somebody, we will not go unpunished. The Lord wants our attitude and our heart toward our fellow man to be in the right place.

Therefore Jesus said in MAT 6:9-13, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Amen.


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