2. The New Law—Love Your Enemies
and Pray for Your Persecutors
Verse 44 says, “But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Once again, this is a matter that touches our being. The reason you love your neighbors is that they are good according to your feeling. Although your neighbors correspond to your feeling, an enemy does not. Instead, he stirs up your temper. Hence, the matter of loving our enemies is a test. If you read chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew, you will see that this heavenly constitution does not allow even an inch to our natural being. Rather, it kills every germ in us. You hate your enemy because he does not agree with your natural choice, and you love your good neighbor because he does suit your natural choice. If the Lord arranged for you to have only good neighbors, you would behave like an angel and say, “Lord, thank You for giving me such lovely neighbors.” But the Lord would never arrange for you to have only nice neighbors. At least some of them will be troublesome, and the Lord will use them to expose what is within you. He may ask you if you love these difficult neighbors. Perhaps you would say that you find it very difficult. The reason it is difficult is that they are against your being and your natural feeling. This is a test to prove whether you live by yourself or by Christ. Sometimes Christ may love your enemies more than your neighbors, and you must follow Him. However, this is not merely an outward act.
All these laws touch our being and put us on the cross. The one commandment regarding divorce is enough to crucify all the husbands and wives. Furthermore, the word about saying yes and no also nails us to the cross. The same is true about not resisting the one who is evil and especially about not hating our enemies. All these laws kill our natural man, our natural taste, and our temper.
a. To Behave as the Sons of the Heavenly Father
Verse 45 says, “That you may become sons of your Father Who is in the heavens.” The title “sons of your Father” is a strong proof that the kingdom people, who are the audience here for the new King’s decree on the mountain, are the regenerated believers of the New Testament. As sons of our Father, we should deal with the evil and the unjust as with the good and the just (v. 45), love not only those who love us but those who do not love us (v. 46), and greet not only brothers but also others (v. 47).
Verse 45 also says of the Father, “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Sending rain on the just and the unjust is in the age of grace, but in the coming age, the age of the kingdom, no rain will come upon the unjust (Zech. 14:17-18).
In verse 46 the Lord asks a question: “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not also the tax-collectors do the same?” The kingdom people who observe the new law of the kingdom in its reality will be given a reward in the manifestation of the kingdom. The reward differs from salvation. Some may be saved, but may not be qualified to receive a reward.
b. To Be Perfect as the Heavenly Father
Verse 48 says, “You, therefore, shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” For the kingdom people to be perfect as their heavenly Father is perfect is to be perfect in His love. They are the Father’s children, having the Father’s divine life and divine nature. Hence, they can be perfect as the Father. The demand of the new law of the kingdom is much higher than the requirement of the law of the old dispensation. This higher demand can be met only by the Father’s divine life, not by their natural life. The kingdom of the heavens is the highest demand, and the divine life of the Father is the highest supply to meet that demand. The Gospels firstly present the highest demand of the kingdom of the heavens in the Gospel of Matthew and lastly afford us the highest supply of the divine life of the heavenly Father in the Gospel of John so that we may live the life of the kingdom of the heavens. The demand of the new law of the kingdom in Matthew 5 through 7 is actually the regenerated kingdom people’s expression from within their new life—the divine life. This demand, by opening up the inner being of the regenerated people, is to show them that they are able to attain to such a high degree.
All the requirements of these changed laws reveal how much the divine life within us can do for us. These laws are not merely a requirement; they are a revelation, showing us that the divine life can even make us perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. We have this perfecting life within us. We have a life with such a divine nature that it can make us as perfect as our heavenly Father.
We have seen that according to verse 45 the Father makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and that He sends rain on the just and the unjust. First the Father makes His sun to rise on the evil, then on the good. If you were the Father, would you make your sun to rise first on the evil or on the good? Certainly you would first make it rise on the good. This verse also says that the Father sends His rain on the just and on the unjust. Notice that the order in this part of the verse is changed. This indicates that in the eyes of the heavenly Father there is no difference in sending the sunshine first on the evil and then on the good and sending the rain first on the just and then on the unjust.
Let us apply this to the matter of dealing with our children. Even in dealing with your own children, you have your choice. This indicates how natural you are. Suppose you have three children. One of your three children may be lovable, one may be naughty, and one may be neutral. Day after day these three children expose you, revealing how much you dislike the naughty one and blame him. Although you do not like him, the heavenly Father loves him more than the lovable one. He has sent him to expose your natural taste.
We also have our natural taste in the church life. We like the brothers who are gentle and the sisters who are nice. We want all the brothers and sisters to be like this. But this is just a dream, for there will always be some who bother us. Consider the problem of the shortage among the elders. Many brothers are nice and gentle, but they are not capable of being elders. However, the capable ones may be rather sharp. God uses this to expose your natural choice.
Now we understand the implication and significance of the Lord’s word in verses 31 through 48. It is not simply a matter of outwardly loving our enemy. No, it is a matter of having our natural being exposed. After we have been exposed, we shall say, “Lord, have mercy on me. How I need Your deliverance! I want to stay near to You and trust in You. Then I will be perfect as my Father.”
Do not take the Lord’s word as a teaching concerning how you should behave. This way will not work. The Lord’s word was intended to touch our being, our natural choice, and to expose what we are and where we are. When we have been exposed and subdued, we shall give the full opportunity to the divine life to live in us. This will make us perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect. We cannot imitate the Father. When I was young, I was taught by those in Christianity that our heavenly Father loves those who are bad and that we should love our enemies just as our Father does. Although this sounds good, it actually is like trying to teach a monkey to behave like a person. You may teach a monkey to behave like a kind gentleman. The monkeys, however, will fail to do this because they are not the sons of that man. We are the sons of our heavenly Father. Thus, the Father’s life and nature are within us. All the outward enemies, compellers, and opponents expose what we are. Because they expose our natural being, we learn not to trust ourselves any longer, but to look to our Father and to realize that we have His life and nature within us. Through this exposure we come to see that we must stay close to Him and live by His life and nature. In this way we shall be perfect as our heavenly Father. This is the kingdom life, the kingdom living.
Misunderstanding these verses, many Christians have taken them as instructions concerning their outward behavior. This is the reason so many have been disappointed and have said, “This is too much for us. We are far away from it, and we are unable to fulfill it.” This is not a common word given by the Lord Jesus; it is the constitution of the heavenly kingdom. Because we are His kingdom people, we can certainly fulfill these requirements. We have the kingdom life within us, and we can fulfill these laws, not in ourselves, but by the Father’s life and nature. Therefore, we must thank Him for sending so many contrary things into our environment in order to touch our being and to expose what we are so that we may be fully subdued, turn to Him, stay near to Him, trust in Him, and live by Him. Then we shall be the genuine kingdom people with the kingdom life for a proper kingdom living. This is God’s kingdom on earth today, and this is the proper church life.
LIFE-STUDY OF MATTHEW
OF THE KINGDOM’S CONSTITUTION
For centuries, Christians have not had a clear understanding of the law. On the one hand, in Romans and Galatians we are told that the law is over. For example, Romans 10:4 says, “Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one who believes.” Based upon this, many Christians think that they can forget the law. On the other hand, in Matthew 5:17 the Lord Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” This word has troubled a great many Christians. We praise the Lord that He has given us the clear light on this matter.
THREE ASPECTS OF THE LAW
In order to understand this matter of the law, we must know the three aspects of the law: the principle of the law, the commandments of the law, and the rituals of the law. If you do not differentiate between these three things, you will never have a proper understanding of the law. As we have seen, the principle of the law is over. Today, in the dispensation of grace, God does not deal with us according to the principle of the law; rather, He deals with us according to the principle of faith. Whether or not we shall be justified, saved, and accepted by God depends on the principle of faith, not the principle of the law. As long as we have faith in Christ, we are justified by God, accepted by Him, and saved. This is what it means for the principle of the law to be abolished in Christ under the dispensation of grace.
Although the principle of the law has been abolished, the commandments of the law have not been annulled. Instead, the standard of these commandments has been uplifted. Thus, the commandments, related to the moral standards, have not been abolished; they will remain for eternity. Even for eternity we should not worship an idol, murder, steal, or lie. In His heavenly kingdom the King has uplifted the standard of the law in two ways: by complementing the lower laws and by changing the lower laws into higher laws. In this way the morality in the commandments of the law has been uplifted to a higher standard.
The kingly Savior Himself kept all the commandments of the law when He was on earth. Then He went to the cross to die for us. Through His substitutionary death, He fulfilled the law on the negative side. Furthermore, through His substitutionary death, He released His resurrection life into us, and we now have this resurrection life in our spirit. Because we are able to live by this resurrection life, we have the strength, ability, and capacity to have the highest standard of morality. As we walk according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4), we fulfill the righteous requirements of the law, fulfilling even more than the law requires. Therefore, we do not abolish the law; rather, we fulfill it in the highest way.
The third aspect of the law is the rituals of the law. For example, offering sacrifices and keeping the Sabbath are outward rituals of the law. These rituals were also terminated because they were part of the old dispensation of shadows, figures, and types, all of which have been fulfilled by Christ as the reality. We are no longer obligated to observe the rituals of the law. Therefore, the principle of the law and the rituals of the law have been terminated, but the commandments of the law, which require a high moral standard, have not been terminated. Rather, these commandments have been uplifted. By means of Christ as the resurrection life in our spirit, we can fulfill the standard of morality required by the higher law of the kingdom of the heavens. This word should make us clear concerning the law according to its three aspects: the principle of the law, the commandments of the law, and the rituals of the law.
LIVING BY THE FATHER’S LIFE AND NATURE
At the end of Matthew 5 the Lord Jesus said, “You, therefore, shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v. 48). This word concludes this section of the constitution, a section which is exceedingly high. After reading all these requirements, we all would say that we cannot possibly fulfill them. Then we come to verse 48 which tells us that we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. This verse is an indicator that we have the Father’s life and nature within us. We have been born of Him and we are His children. Because we are His children possessing His life and nature, there is no need for us to imitate Him or copy Him. As long as we grow in His life, we shall be the same as He is. Thus, all the requirements of the law of the kingdom of the heavens reveal how much this divine life and nature can do for us. Our only need is to be exposed so that we may give up all hope in ourselves, When we are exposed, we shall realize that our natural life is hopeless. Then we shall renounce our natural life, turn to the life of our Father, and stay with the divine nature. Spontaneously, this life will grow in us and fulfill the requirements of this highest law. Our need today is to turn to our spirit and walk in our spirit. Whenever we do this, we live by our Father’s life and nature; then spontaneously we fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. It is crucial that we understand this matter, for it is altogether different from our natural concept.
From my experience I can testify that today I am not under the principle of the law. Hallelujah, I am under the principle of faith, and I have the life of my heavenly Father within me! This life is nothing other than the Father’s dear Son. I am now living by this life in my spirit and walking according to the spirit. By this life in my spirit I spontaneously fulfill the highest requirements of the law of the kingdom of the heavens. This is not my boast; it is my humble testimony to give glory to the Lord. This does not mean that I am able to do anything. It means that He is able, for He is in me as my life. He is able to do the same in you and for you. In order for this to be your experience, you need to have a vision of the hopelessness of your natural life. After your natural life has been thoroughly dug out and exposed, you will realize that it is a hopeless case, that you should have no trust in it, and that you must turn to the Father’s divine life and nature within you. Turn to the Father’s life, stay with the Father’s life, and live by the Father’s life. You can easily turn to the Father’s life because at this very moment it is in your spirit. Simply walk according to your spirit, and all the righteous requirements of the law will be fulfilled in you.
FULFILLING THE RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENT
OF THE LAW
BY WALKING ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT
At this point we need to consider some verses in Romans 8. Romans 8:3 says, “For what is impossible to the law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Due to the weakness of our flesh, it is impossible for us to fulfill the law. We can do nothing. As far as the law is concerned, our case is impossible. Therefore, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to spirit” (v. 4). Because it was impossible, due to the weakness of our flesh, for the law to be fulfilled, God sent His Son to keep the law on the positive side, and to die for our weakness on the negative side. His purpose in doing so was that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. The “us” in verse 4 refers to those who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. God sent His Son to keep the law and to die for us that we may walk in the spirit to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law.
HOW OUR SPIRIT IS FORMED
Romans 8:16 reveals how our spirit is formed: “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God.” This verse reveals that our spirit in which we walk to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law is formed through the witnessing of the Holy Spirit with our spirit. This indicates that the Holy Spirit of God has come into our spirit. This took place at the time of our regeneration. The Spirit of God came into our spirit to regenerate us. From that time onward, the Holy Spirit has been witnessing with our spirit that we are the children of God. Thus, verse 14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
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