This year we have been covering The Gospel According to Matthew. So far, we have covered the first twelve chapters. Here is a summary of this Series:
In January, we covered the first seven chapters of Matthew.
Matthew chapters 1-2 showed the Jewish reader the prophetic background to Jesus' birth
Matthew chapters 3-4 showed how Jesus began His ministry
Matthew chapters 5-7 presented Jesus' Premiere Teaching
We concluded the month with background on the Unaware Brain and conscious brain.
In February, we covered Offensive Spiritual Warfare background to begin the month.
Matthew chapters 8-9 showed unique examples of Offensive Spiritual Warfare from Jesus.
In March, we covered the next three chapters of Matthew.
Matthew chapter 10 showed Jesus commissioned His disciples to do the same Offensive Spiritual Warfare as what we saw Jesus did in Matthew chapters 8 and 9.
Matthew chapter 11 showed us Jesus stated previous generations would have responded to His Words and works, while Jesus' current generation did not.
Matthew chapter 12 PROVED Matthew chapter 11. Jesus repeatedly taught the Pharisees principles directly. With each teaching, those religious leaders of Jesus' time got WORSE. Eventually, those religious leaders commited the unforgiveable sin (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) and Jesus HIMSELF declared INDIRECTLY those religious leaders were then seven times MORE EVIL BECAUSE of THEIR response to Jesus' teaching.
We concluded March with an original novella called, "The Brothers Karamazowsky".
This novella illustrated three points in need of addressing:
1. Art teaches truth indirectly
When you teach truth directly with principles, it is possible for the person hearing truth in this fashion to disregard the truth with their conscious brain. Even if the person does receive the truth, we are only accessing half the person...the logical person. However, if we teach truth indirectly, through art (literature, stories, parables, drawings, etc.), we are distracting the conscious brain so we can get the information to the Unaware Brain. We are accessing the WHOLE individual...both logically and emotionally!
2. First dimension sin vs. Second dimension sin
God is not focused on the sin we do in response to stimuli outside ourselves. He knows all of us are sinful. I refer to this as "first dimension sin". God is focused on our response to our sin. If we justify or rationalize our first dimension sin, I refer to this as "second dimension sin". We can commit first dimension sin subconsciously. Our fleshly response to our sin is a choice we can be judged for. The Pharisees were focused on first dimension sin. Since no one could be perfect at first dimension sin, the Pharisees could feel good about themselves at the expense of others...by feeling bad about others. It is a work to focus and try to remove first dimension sin.
3. The Trinity is most clearly understood upon their immediate introduction in the Bible
When each Member of the Trinity was introduced, They presented Their Nature. As they interacted with humans, They adjusted. The result was They each became more abstract. Jesus was most clearly presented in the first four chapters of Matthew. His Teaching was most clearly presented in chapters 5-7 of Matthew. His healings were most clearly presented in chapters 8-9 of Matthew. In fact, it looks as if Jesus had dispensations as it related to the five-fold ministry. Although Jesus is and was the Ultimate Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher...Matthew appeared to EMPHASIZE each gift "dispensationally".
Matthew chapters 1-4 showed Jesus as the Ultimate Apostle. He began the Ultimate Ministry.
Matthew chapters 5-7 showed Jesus as the Ultimate Teacher. Jesus will NOT stray from the blatant doctrine He presented during those three chapters.
Matthew chapters 8-12 showed Jesus as the Ultimate Evangelist. In fact, let's review Matthew chapter 12...
The Pharisees brought an accusation against Jesus' disciples. The Pharisees focused on first dimension sin. Jesus' response was to confront the Pharisees with their first dimension sin. The Pharisees response was to actively look for how they could get Jesus to commit a first dimension sin!
I've written about this before during the Leader Series. Bosses focus on appearance. Bosses think they are being Profitable when they point out something that appears wrong. Whether it is a picture hanging crooked or a wrapper on the ground, Bosses think they have proven their worth when they identify something with a wrong appearance. The reality is flawless appearance can NEVER be maintained...so how hard is it to point out flaws?
This was ALWAYS the Pharisees' strategy with EVERYONE else. The Pharisees focused on appearance. They looked for opportunities to identify wrong appearances in others...which is first dimension sin. They learned they could tear ANYONE down by continuing to focus on appearance. Even if the person appeared to be right, they knew they would eventually find ONE thing wrong and be able to feel better about themselves. They just needed to look harder.
However, Jesus was the ONLY person NOT to commit a first dimension sin. People who attempt to teach us how to be like Jesus need to be careful. Jesus never confessed and repented because He NEVER committed a first dimension sin. Our Salvation is dependent on how we respond to our first dimension sin...something Jesus NEVER did. We need to be looking to others (Paul, Peter, etc.) to learn how to be FOLLOWERS of Christ. If the person teaching us to be like Christ is focused on teaching us how to remove our first dimension sin, they are a modern day Pharisee!
The Pharisees think they caught Jesus committing first dimension sin when He healed the man with the withered hand. However, Jesus showed He had honored God...and the Pharisees' response was to seek how they might DESTROY Jesus!
Each time the Pharisees processed their own words and actions, they got worse. In the next cycle presented by Matthew, the Pharisees committed the unforgivable sin! It was then Jesus talked about the man who got delivered from an unclean spirit...
I've covered this before: the Bible CONSISTENTLY stated we ought to go from BAD to GOOD through WORSE.
EVERY person from the Bible we ought to emulate went to WORSE before attaining GOOD: Paul, Peter, Joseph, Daniel, etc.
Now, Jesus presented an example of a person going from BAD to GOOD!
BAD: The person had an unclean spirit.
GOOD: He got delivered from the unclean spirit.
What happened next? The unclean spirit came back with seven more unclean spirits. What did Jesus say?
"45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation."
...the state of that man became WORSE than the first!
The Bible considered us all to be in a BAD state (relative to what we ought to be).
Your next step determines your last step.
If you move to GOOD in the short-term, you will end up at WORSE in Long Term.
If you move to WORSE in the short-term, you will end up at GOOD in Long Term.
CS Lewis stated this in "Mere Christianity" when he wrote about Growth vs. Comfort. WORSE is equated with uncomfortable...things the flesh does not want to do. GOOD is equate with growth...progress.
Since Lewis' time, it seems like "Christian" authors wrote books about going from BAD to GOOD...
Our bodies build muscle (GOOD) ONLY after exercising...which is the act of tearing down the muscle (WORSE). In order to CONTINUE to grow, you have to CONTINUE to tear down the muscle.
This is the REST OF YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE!
I have seen too many people who believe they will CONTINUALLY have GOOD (growth) after handling one traumatic experience. They get hurt or offended when God poses another difficult situation. This would be the same as getting upset for not continuing to grow muscle while not exercising a year after working out for a month.
Jesus reached the following conclusions at the end of Matthew chapter 12:
1. the Pharisees were evil
2. teaching the Pharisees principles directly and giving the Pharisees the opportunity to confess and repent ONLY made the Pharisees WORSE
We now have everything we need to continue covering Matthew...
Matthew chapter 13 is one of the most underappreciated chapters in The Gospel of Matthew. We will see Jesus SUDDENLY changed His approach. In fact, it ALARMED His disciples!
This "change of approach" OUGHT to teach us TREMENDOUS revelation! Yet, most people believe there wasn't a specific moment when Jesus CHANGED TO this "new approach". They think He ALWAYS did this "approach".
Tomorrow, we will see how Jesus adjusted to humans and became more abstract...