An Eye for An Eye – Matthew 5:38-42

I have been blogging from the book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The book is actually a copy of his sermons and well worth reading. Today we will cover this familiar text and see what Jesus says about it.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. (Matt. 5:38-42)

This Mosaic teaching about an eye for an eye, etc., was from Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21. According to Lloyd-Jones, the main intent of the teaching was to control anger and the desire for revenge, and to make sure the punishment fits the crime.

Now the Pharisees taught that it was the right and the duty for each person that was violated to get his own revenge. However, it is important to understand that God gave the prescribed punishments to the judges to dish out and not to individuals. They were the ones to make sure that the punishment fit the crimes. Also, we are not to understand that the judges were always to take God’s prescribed punishment, “an eye for an eye,” etc. literally, but was meant only to teach fair judgments.

So, the Pharisees taught that we should enact our own revenge toward anyone who is evil toward us. That if they strike us, we should strike them back with the exact same force. But what does Jesus teach in regard to how we should act toward someone who is evil toward you? He says that we are not to resist them. What does that mean? Here are the points that Lloyd-Jones gives us:

1. The teaching is only for Christians. We can’t expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian in this way of not resisting evil. They will not understand it, nor do they have the Spiritual power to do it.

2. The teaching here applies to the relationship one has with another person, not to the government.

3. The teaching is directed toward my own attitude toward myself. Jesus tells us that we should not take personal revenge or have anger toward another for whatever they do to us. We should leave revenge to God and to the authorities. I should not be concerned with losing personal possessions and even damage to self. Our attitude as a Christian must be to deny self, to be dead to self.  

My Book, Prayer A to Z: Why A Book on Prayer?

In this blog post, and the next few, I will be writing about my books. I have written nine books and will soon be completing a tenth book. Today I will start with Prayer A to Z: A Comprehensive Bible-Based Study of Prayer. I began putting it together in 1992 and it was published in 2013. So, it took me a while to write it. But it’s long, 735 pages.

As you can tell by the title, it’s a book on prayer and was meant to be very comprehensive. Some may ask, why do I need to read a book on prayer? Especially a book of that length? I remember one person saying to me, just as I was beginning to write the book, that he didn’t need to be taught how to pray; he just needed to pray more. He was saying, in effect, that just by his practice of prayer, that, in itself, would make him better at prayer.

Well, I agree that the more we pray the better at prayer we will get and the closer our relationship with Him will be. But I also think that some instruction is necessary. In fact, we know that from what Jesus taught His disciples. He took the time to instruct them on how to pray. In chapters 17 and 18 of my book, I point this out. In chapter 17, I give eight of Jesus’ teachings on prayer. Then in chapter 18 is my study of the Lord’s Prayer, which is really Jesus’ lesson plan (or tutorial) on prayer to His disciples—and to us.

So, we really do need to be taught how to pray, and we especially need to pay attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer. And really, all through the bible we can find prayer help and instruction. I especially like the Psalms.

And for those who think that all we need to do is pray, I want to give this warning: if you do that, you will be fighting against the Holy Spirit and your praying will not be according to His will or what He desires. For if He has given us instruction on prayer in His word, and we choose not to follow it, then we are being disobedient to the Holy Spirit and all our efforts at prayer will fail and may even cause us to be misled.

In my book, I not only present all the biblical teaching I could find on prayer, as I searched the Scriptures; I also read from about 100 books and articles offering their biblical studies on prayer, being careful not to include any material that was not biblical. I think there are too many books out there already that offer only people’s experiences. In my opinion, those kinds of books will do more damage than good. In terms of prayer, the only thing we need is God’s word and the testimonies of those who followed His word. Anything else is simply speculation.

I think this is enough for this post. Next time I will try to summarize the book by briefly going through the chapters.