God works out salvation through contradictions, bringing about a reversal of fortunes.
The devil holds men in bondage through the singular sin of the love of life. We steal, cheat, fight, kill, commit adultery and other sins to save our lives. Therefore, to repent of sin is to repent of the love of life.
Jesus demonstrated that our fear of death is baseless by laying down His life and then rising from the dead. This is because we sin in the determination to defend, enhance, and promote our lives. But the man who turns the other cheek does not sin. We overcome sin by laying down our lives. Indeed, no man can obey Jesus without first denying himself by laying down his life.
The fear of death is a snare to sin. The word of God says: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Release from captivity
Jesus came to release us from the prison of the fear of death. Jesus ransomed captives with His life by allowing himself to be killed; only to rise from the dead. Thereby, He exposed the counterfeit of death by demonstrating that our fear of death is baseless. Thanks to Jesus: “Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.” (Psalms 124:7).
God has made the hatred of life in this world a primary prerequisite for the attainment of eternal life. Jesus says: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25). The person who loves the life in this world does so in opposition to God.
Jesus defines everything that diminishes our love of life in this world as good. Therefore, in His doctrine, poverty becomes a blessing. He says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20).
He also categorises facing adversities in life as a blessing: “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21). “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22).
Correspondingly, Jesus tells us not to bother to resist evil anymore: “I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39).
He insists we must love our enemies: “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44).
Hatred of God
God wants us to love Him so much that we have no special regard for our life in this world but yearn to be with Him in heaven. He requires us to despise the vainglories of this world.
All men think death is evil. But Jesus shows that death is good. He says we should not fear death: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” (Luke 12:4).
Death becomes something good and glorious because it leads to our reunification with the Father in heaven. So, Jesus says to His disciples: “If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father.’” (John 14:28). But He can only go to the Father through death.
Life is evil because it keeps us away from God. It also keeps us from bearing fruit. Jesus says: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25).
Beware of men
Jesus tells us to beware of men. (Matthew 10:17). He says: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.” (Luke 6:22).
As believers, we must not justify ourselves before men. (Luke 16:15). Once we seek public recognition, even for charitable acts, we lose God’s approval: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1).
We must not accept compliments or awards from men. Jesus Himself rejected the praise and honour of men. (John 5:41-42). Thus, Jesus gives a warning to His disciples that glory-seeking mega-pastors have chosen to ignore: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” (Luke 6:26). He says furthermore: “All men will hate you because of me.” (Matthew 10:22).
This shows Jesus does not regard His disciples as men. (Mark 8:27-29). He says to them: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19).
With men, salvation is impossible. But with God and His sons, all things are possible. (Mark 10:27).
Accordingly, the kingdom of God turns all the values of men upside down. Every valley is exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low. (Isaiah 40:4).
To enter the kingdom of God, we must be born again. (John 3:3-5). To see, we must be blind. (John 9:39). To be full, we must hunger. (Luke 6:21). To gain, we must lose. (Matthew 13:44-46). To be rich, we must be poor. (1 Samuel 2:7-8). To be strong, we must be weak. (Judges 7:2-7). To be masters, we must be slaves. (Matthew 20:26-28). The elder must serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23).
To laugh, we must weep. (Luke 6:21). To enter the glory of God, we must endure suffering. (Acts 12:44). To be healed, we must be sick. (Luke 5:31-32). To live, we must die. (John 12:24). To save our life, we must lose our life. (Matthew 16:25). To be first, we must be last. (Matthew 19:30).
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount turns every blessing on its head. It is the poor (not the wealthy) who are enriched by the inheritance of a kingdom far more glorious than all the thrones of the earth. It is the meek (not the assertive and aggressive) that end up inheriting the earth. It is those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (not those who acquire wealth) who are fulfilled.
God works out salvation through contradictions, bringing about a reversal of fortunes. He promises that, at the end of the age: “All the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish.” (Ezekiel 17:24). CONCLUDED.
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