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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #171
TEXT: Matthew 10:17-20
We are moving on in our series of messages on what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Over the past few weeks, we have explored Jesus’ metaphors saying that Christians are like sheep in the midst of wolves, and should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Now, we are getting into the practical instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples as He is sending them out on a missionary journey. Lord, willing, we are going to go through all of the rest of Matthew chapter 10 as we seek to understand how we should carry ourselves when we face conflict as Christians.
This past week, the ruling came down in the case of a Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a homosexual couple. The Civil Rights Commission of Colorado ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Bakery had to supply wedding cakes to homosexual couples and that he and his employees had to undergo some kind of “anti-discrimination training” as well as report to the government how many people they refused to serve each quarter. This dear Christian brother has decided that he would rather not bake any wedding cakes if the government is going to try to force him to do something against his convictions such as even remotely participate in a homosexual wedding.
There are several more cases similar to this one pending across the country. And such instances of conflict between Christians who desire to live by Biblical principles and the world which opposes the principles of God will only increase as time goes on and as we draw near to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. To use Dr. King’s phrase, in light of “the fierce urgency of now” — in light of the fact that this passage has intense and immediate application, let us turn to Scripture and continue to see how we should face conflict as Christians from Matthew 10
Notice Christ’s command to “beware of men.” He says in verse 17, “Beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.” Jesus warns us against being naive as we represent Him in the world. Just because we may come across as harmless people who are delivering a message of love and grace does not mean that there are not others who are out there with the intent to do us harm.
Some people will hate and oppose the Gospel because the preaching of the Gospel infringes on their lifestyle, convicts their hearts, or hinders their source of income. In the book of Acts, the silversmiths and merchants of Ephesus, who gained wealth by making and selling statues of the goddess Diana, rose up against Paul because the preaching of the Gospel hurt their profits. The Jewish religious leaders attacked and arrested Jesus because they were jealous of Jesus’ influence over the people. The message of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached threatened their power and authority.
Recently, a preacher by the name of Carl Lentz, in an interview on CNN, made some comments about not preaching on homosexuality in order to not offend the world. However, the Bible speaks clearly of the offense of the Gospel — how that many people will be offended by the simple preaching of the Word of God. What Pastor Lentz and others like him do not understand is that it is not only the Gospel that offends the world, but it is the fact that the Gospel changes people’s lives and minds about sin in the world. When a person truly gets saved, the evidence of their salvation is shown in how they begin to think about sin.
For example, before I got saved, I did not think there was anything wrong with fornication and a whole lot of other things that I and my friends were used to doing. However, after I got saved, the Gospel changed my mind about sin and I began to see that much of my former lifestyle was wrong.
The same thing happened to the earliest Christians and caused much persecution for them as well. According to The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez, in the first century after the death of Christ, under the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian, the government persecuted followers of Christ not just because they chose to follow Christ, but because their relationship with Christ caused them to oppose much of what went on in Roman society. Gonzalez states that “all social activities — the theater, the army, classic literature, and sports — were so entwined with pagan worship that Christians often felt the need to abstain from them.” The emperor Domitian in particular persecuted both Jews and Christians because “in their rejection of Roman gods and of many Roman traditions, [they] stood in the way of Domitian’s dreams” of restoring Roman traditions.
Believers in the first century and believers today face conflict not only because they believe in Jesus Christ, but because of what their belief in Jesus Christ does in their hearts and lives. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Because of these reasons and others, Christ warns us to “beware of men.” Don’t be too trusting of men. Just because we assume they have no reason to oppose the Gospel, does not mean that they will not oppose the Gospel. The word “beware” means “to devote thought or effort to something.” In other words, use your brain when preaching the Gospel. Not everyone is on our side. Not everyone is supportive of our message. We have to go into each situation expecting opposition. So, beware of men.
MUSICAL SELECTION: “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin and “Greater” by MercyMe
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.