Idols of the Soul (and Other Lessons from Jesus)

Scripture: Matthew 18:1, Galatians 3:21-22, Matthew 19:27
Date: 05/28/2016 
Lesson: 9
"The gospel needs to penetrate the heart, to go right to the idols of the soul, and whatever we are holding on to that's an impediment to our relationship to God needs to be gone."
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Welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. We're so glad that you are tuning in - joining us here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church located in the Sacramento area of northern California which is the capital city of California. And we have people joining us every week - whether on the radio, watching live on our website at, or on the various television networks. And we look forward to you joining us and we look forward to studying God's Word and singing praises every week. So if this is your first time and you're just tuning in, an extra special welcome.

This week's lesson study is lesson #9 - idols of the soul from the book of Matthew. So it's a quarterly - it's called a quarterly because it's for three months - and if you don't have one of these, you can contact your local Seventh-day Adventist Church and get one and you can study along with us. But before we get into our lesson study, I would love to invite our singers this week to come out and join us and lead us in some songs of praise. Good morning and Happy Sabbath. We're going to be singing #500 - take time to be holy.

Please join us. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in him always, and feed on His Word; make friends of God's children, help those who are weak, forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus alone; by looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be; thy friends in thy conduct his likeness shall see. Take time to be holy, let him be thy guide, and run not before him, whatever betide; in joy or in sorrow, still follow thy Lord, and, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul, each thought and each motive beneath his control; thus led by his spirit to fountains of love, thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

the Lord is coming soon. Amen. He is, amen. Join us in singing #691 - lead me Lord - and, more than ever, we need the Lord's leading, don't we? Amen. We'll sing it twice through.

Lead me, Lord, lead me in thy righteousness; make thy way plain before my face. For it is thou, Lord. Thou, Lord, only that makest me dwell in safety. Lead me, Lord, lead me in thy righteousness; make thy way plain before my face. For it is thou, Lord.

Thou, Lord, only that makest me dwell in safety. Thank you so much for that beautiful music. There's nothing like the old hymns in the hymnal. There's beautiful new music, but the words and the messages that you find in those old hymns are very deep and they can really speak to your heart. They do mine.

Before Pastor Doug brings us our lesson study, I want to tell you about this week's free offer - every week we have one and this one is called the surrender of self - offer #153. If you want to learn more about it and read this lovely little book by Joe Crews, you can call 866-788-3966 - 866-study-more - the surrender of self. Before Pastor Doug brings us our lesson, let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in Heaven, we ask you today to lead us. Lead us in your paths of righteousness.

Lead us all the way to the gates of heaven. I pray that we will each surrender our lives to you today each and every moment so that we can truly live in accordance with your will and we can truly show the world what true Christians are. Be with us as we open up Your Word - we study together. Be with our extended family around the world - each and every one of them - and may we all receive the blessing that you have for us today as we study about idols of the soul. Speak to our hearts in Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time our lesson study will be brought to us by our senior pastor here at the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. There they go again, senior pastor. I don't know if I ever liked that. You know what they're doing now is the churches are saying, 'lead pastor'. That sounds better.

The older you get, the less you appreciate senior pastor. Morning everyone. Morning. Happy Sabbath. Happy Sabbath.

And I want to welcome our friends that are watching both online and via the internet - some on satellite - and we're glad that you could join us. As debbie mentioned, we're continuing in our study in the book of Matthew. And, you know, it'd be easy to take - I'm not exaggerating - you could take two years and not cover half of it. Matthew is a great book and, as we're going through these different chapters, I'm wanting to just take more time on each subject so I'll have to really pace myself to get through our assignment today. Lesson title today is idols of the soul and other lessons from Jesus.

And I know, whoever wrote the lesson, they were probably really looking for a way to title this lesson because the chapters we're covering - chapters 18, 19, and part of chapter 20 - in Matthew is very eclectic - it's all over the place, so finding a title for that was a challenge, I'm sure. We have a memory verse. Memory verse is from Matthew 18:1 and here it's from the niv. If you'll say that with me - Matthew 18:1 - you ready? "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'who, then, is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?'" Now, when the disciples were asking that question 'who's the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?' Where did they think the Kingdom of heaven was? Did they think it was up there or down here? Down here. They were really believing they were going to - that the Kingdom of heaven was going to be here on earth to begin with and it is, in a sense, because when Jesus started preaching he said, 'repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

' What was Christ talking about, up there or down here? Jesus said, 'the Kingdom of heaven is within you.' Is that up there or down here? the Kingdom of heaven is within you. They say, 'neither here nor there is the Kingdom, but the kingdom of heaven is within you.' And so, when Jesus said the Kingdom of heaven was at hand 2,000 years ago, is it still at hand today? It means at hand - within reach. That's what John the baptist said. But they were thinking about a physical kingdom. We know there's a spiritual kingdom.

There's a physical kingdom. Spiritual kingdom is at hand now. Physical kingdom, when Christ comes down and reigns as king on this world, that's still in the future. So - and we'll get into their big question of who's the greatest in the Kingdom because that's really where we begin. So take your Bibles, turn with me to Matthew chapter 18, and we're going to start there and, God willing, we'll get through at least chapter 19.

And at that time - verse 1 - "at that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'who then is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?' Then Jesus called a little child to him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.'" Now, Jesus actually used a child, a particular child, and you often wonder, 'what happened to that child later in life? Did he grow up and do something great?' But Jesus sat him in the midst and used him as an object lesson. He said, 'if you offend anyone like this child' - and that actually helps me because when Jesus said, 'unless you become converted and become like a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven.

What about a child must we imitate? How do we become converted and become like little children. Well, to pick out some words, how is it that we become like a child? Well, are they teachable? Yes. Yeah. Are they humble? Sometimes. You know, back in - this is maybe just a theory, but I believe that children back in the days of Jesus were a little more pliable and humble.

Part of the reason is parental authority was more respected. And so, when they are told from the very beginning to honor your father and mother and the word of your father and mother was law, I mean, you just think about it. A little later today we're going to be talking about hannah. Hannah and elkanah make a decision that Samuel is going to spend his life in the temple and Samuel does what his parents tell him to do. Isaac is 40 years old and Abraham says, 'I'm going to go pick you a wife.

' How many of you 40-year-olds would go for that today? So when parents said something - back then they were raised with a lot more submission. Any of you remember the adage 'children should be seen and not heard'? Kids were told to sit quietly in church and they used to make the children sit up front and the deacons - part of the job of the deacons - they didn't just collect offerings, the deacons used to have a switch. I don't know if any of your grandparents ever told you about those days in church. And if the kids were making noise in church - and so, when Jesus said, 'unless you become converted and become as a little child' - they were - they believed everything that their parents said, they had faith, they were humble. Children bring joy.

We should bring joy. Children have hungry minds. We should hunger and thirst for righteousness. Children are uninhibited. They're not afraid to share what they believe.

Sometimes it scares you that children aren't afraid to share what they're thinking. It's kind of like I heard that story not too long ago about a little child was with his grandpa in the checkout line at some store and, in the line ahead of them was a very large man and the boy said, 'grandpa, look at that man' - loud enough for the man to hear - 'he is so big. I don't think I've ever seen such a big man.' (Laughter) and grandpa said, 'shhhhhh' - kids say whatever they're thinking. He said, 'why, he's as big as a mountain.' And this time the clerk, you know, is giggling and the man's looking - and then the man's phone went off and the little boy said, 'watch out grandpa, he's backing up!' (Laughter) the kids say whatever they think. I remember I was in line with - I don't know if it was nathan or Daniel - one of the kids one time - and there was a pregnant woman in line and, 'wow, dad, she looks like she's going to have her baby any day now.

' (Laughter) they're just uninhibited. But, you know, they don't have guilty consciences so, you know, they just say what they think. They're innocent. And Jesus wants us to be converted. He said - matter of fact, he didn't say it's a - it's an option, Jesus said, 'unless you're converted and become like little children you will in no way enter the Kingdom of heaven.

' And part of what the Lord is talking about there is humility because the disciples were struggling with pride. Children, you know, they're usually shorter than adults and they know it and they act like there's a humility there. As you grow up, we start thinking we're bigger than we are. So, you read in Matthew 18, the disciples want to know 'who is the greatest in the Kingdom?' Why do they want to know that? Because they were arguing among themselves frequently about who was the greatest. When they thought about Jesus' kingdom, they thought about he was going to be a new president - a new king - and he would appoint a new cabinet and someone would be the general and someone would be the scribe and he'd have personal advisors and a security detail and somone'd be the treasurer, but everyone thought that would be Judas - that he'd be great at that - and they were all wondering what their position was.

You remember later that Peter and John - this is later in our study - they come to Jesus - they want to know who's going to sit on the right and the left hand. So they're striving for the greatest place. He said, 'unless you become converted and become like little children, you will in no way enter the Kingdom of heaven.' Someone is going to read a verse for me and I think it's going to be Matthew 23:11. You'll have that in a moment, hafdis? I'll read Mark 10:13, "then they brought little children to him, that he might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them." Why did they rebuke them? Jesus is busy. I mean, he's teaching.

He's going to be - he's the Messiah - he's going to sit on the throne of David and he's got so much he's doing and these mothers say, 'can you bless my children? Just place your hands on them and pray for them.' And the disciples are saying, 'oh, these kids. You know, children are to be seen and not heard and we're busy. Don't bother him.' How did Jesus feel about that? You know, it's interesting, Mark, when he tells this story, he emphasizes - it says, 'Jesus was greatly displeased when he heard that the disciples were shooing away the mothers and the children.' Was he just displeased or he was greatly displeased? Why? "Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of God." And then he repeats what you find in Matthew, "assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." You know, another way that we need to imitate children? Children have a simple faith. I remember - I knew a girl and she told me that when she was little, after a rainy day walking down the street, she saw the reflection of the sky in the puddles and her father said, 'don't step in the puddles or you'll fall into the sky.' And she believed him. I'm sure she grew out of that but when she was little like that she was so scared she was going to step in one of these puddles and fall into the sky because children believe their parents.

Now, you've got to be careful as parents what you tell your kids because if you teach them not to trust you, later they'll have problems trusting God, their Heavenly Father. And so, God wants us to have a child-like faith. When the Lord says something I believe it. It's like that roman centurion: when he said, 'Lord, you don't even need to come to my house. I believe you - speak the word and you'll heal my child.

' And Jesus stopped and he marveled. He said, 'I've not seen faith like this in all of Israel.' And he told this other woman, he said, 'go home, your daughter is healed. She didn't argue. She believed it. And so the Lord wants us to have a simple faith.

I know that, in some ways, I think earlier in my Christian experience my faith was stronger. Once I started believing in God, I'd read something in the Bible, I'd take it seriously. And I remember when I was living on the streets and panhandling, on more than one occasion I prayed and I said, 'Lord, I have nothing to eat.' And 'I have no food. I have no money, but you said in Your Word that if a father has a son and he asks for bread, he won't give him a stone.' I said, 'Lord, give me this day my daily bread. Help me find food.

' I had nothing. And I could just tell you story after story of miracles that happened. One person just offered to buy me food in a restaurant. And another time I prayed and I said, 'Lord, I have nothing to eat.' And I was playing the flute and I said, 'please send somebody by and I need an exact amount' - I was actually with a friend - I said, 'let me show you. Jesus'll answer our prayers.

' He said, 'well, I believe in God but I don't believe in Jesus.' His name was doug also. And so he played the guitar and I played the flute. I said, 'watch this.' I said I'll pray, 'how much do you think we need?' He said, 'well, it would be really nice if, instead of going to the Market, we could eat out. So, if we had two dollars apiece' - you could buy a nice breakfast in palm springs for two dollars back then, believe it or not. And I said, 'let's pray for four dollars.

' I said, 'I'll show you Jesus is real.' So we prayed and said, 'Jesus, show doug that you're real.' And so we saw a lady walking up the street and we started - he played the guitar, I played the flute - she stopped and she listened for a minute and we said, 'would you have any spare change so we can get something to eat?' And she was taken back by that a little bit. She was a dignified-looking lady and she said, 'well, normally I wouldn't do this, but today's my son's birthday' - and she starts fishing around in her purse and she pulls out four dollars. She walks away and doug was sitting there. I said, 'see, you just ask Jesus.' I had this child-like faith and all these things like that happened to me. I remember one time I was hitchhiking and I didn't have a sleeping bag and it was night and I said, 'Lord, I pray you'll give me a ride with somebody that'll buy me a hotel room.

' Guess what happened. Someone picked me up and said, 'it's getting late. Let's get a hotel room.' And they shared a room with me and gave me my own bed. I was praying and I said, 'Lord, I need a shower.' I don't want to - 'it's raining, I don't want to be stuck out on the road.' It just - I could go story after story. Now, what happens is, I think the Lord, when you're young in your faith, he works miracles for you at a greater degree to help root your faith.

But if you've got that child-like faith - any of you ever read any books about george mueller? He ran an orphanage there in england for many years and he just prayed and God supplied miracle after miracle. He supplied the food they needed from day to day, the clothes they needed for the kids, the money for the bills - and he would pray. He didn't send out appeal letters, he would just pray. And people would come and sometimes there'd be no breakfast and he'd tell all the children, 'let's pray.' And while they're praying, a truck pulls up with bread. I mean, just wonderful stories.

And I think the Lord wants his people to have more child-like faith where we pray simple prayers and even pray for big things and God'll answer those prayers. Do you believe that? Alright, go ahead. Read for us our next verse. "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant and whoever exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Yeah, so this is a simple principle of humility and pride. In the Bible, you have two principle characters that are the antithesis of each other - Jesus and lucifer.

God is love and Jesus is meek. He is humble. He humbled himself even to the point of the cross. He was willing to leave the throne and, not only take on the form of a man, but to suffer for the sins of the world. The devil, who is a creation, wants to be the creator.

The devil wants the throne of God, even if it means he needs to kill God to get it. The devil is all about himself. He who humbles himself will be exalted. He who exalts himself will be humbled. Who humbled himself the most? Jesus did.

Who will be exalted the most? Jesus. Jesus will. Who exalted himself the most? Satan. Who is going to be humbled the most? It says he'll be brought down to the pit - to the lowest parts of sheol. And it's still true.

Those that lift themselves up will be put down and those that put themselves down will be lifted up. And so, you can see a lot of examples in the Bible and especially in the story of the Kings. Who was one of the meekest of the Kings? David. You take him - he's a shepherd - he wasn't even invited - and God makes him a great king. But when the King started to be proud of his position - can you think of some Kings that got into trouble because with the power came pride? Saul.

King Saul was destroyed. When he was humble in his own eyes God used him. He was filled with the Spirit. But then he became proud and rebellious and the Holy Spirit left him and a demonic spirit came in. Another king.

Uzziah. Uzziah - king uzziah - good king. God was with him. Built up the Kingdom, became proud, and said, 'why can't I do what the priests do?' And he went into the temple to burn incense that only the priests were supposed to do and he was cursed with leprosy. How about hezekiah? Good king, but then after God healed him and worked a miracle for him, he thought, 'yeah, the Lord and i, we've got a special relationship.

I'm closer to God than anybody. It was religious pride. And when the ambassadors came from Babylon, he began to boast and say, 'here's my armory and here's my spices and here's my treasure and here's my palace and here's' - he showed them everything in his house and he never talked to them about God. And, because of his pride, Isaiah said 'the Lord's going to take away everything you showed to Babylon.' Nebuchadnezzar had that dream of the tree. Daniel said, 'i'd encourage you to break off your sins by righteousness that it might be the lengthening of your tranquility.

' And he behaved himself for about a year, but then he became filled with pride again - and it was a magnificent kingdom. You know, I think any of us, if we were king of Babylon, we'd have trouble. It was a golden kingdom - just a - I mean, you read what the historians say about Babylon - walls 56 miles around the city - miles each side - 200 feet high - gold everywhere. I mean, he had enough gold to make a statue - what, 60-feet high by 6 feet wide by 6 feet - 6x6x6 - oh that's cubits - sorry - that's even more. That's a lot of gold.

Wealthy kingdom - splendid - hanging gardens - conquered the world. He's walking on his palace - 'is not this the great Babylon that I have made?' What happened to him? He that exalts himself will be humbled. He went from being this brilliant king to a groveling beast, in a moment. That's something to remind us that when we exalt ourselves, we can be humbled. And this was a principle that Jesus was trying to teach the disciples.

You probably heard that story one time about this man in a town and he was such a humble man and everybody was so impressed with his humility they gave him a medal for being the humblest man in the town. But then they took the medal away because he had the pride to wear it. Christ's object lessons p. 154, "The evil that led to Peter's fall and that shut the pharisee from communion with God, is proving the ruin of thousands today. There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency.

Of all the sins, it is the most hopeless - the most incurable." If you think about it, when Jesus begins his ministry it's not just the pride of the world. You know, football players get a touchdown and then they do this victory dance. It's kind of like gloating and boasting, isn't it? It's like a rooster strutting. It's pride. It's not so much the pride of the world that Jesus was concerned about, it was pride in the church - religious pride.

Is it possible for a person to pray, not because they want to talk to God, but they want people to be impressed with their prayers? Did Jesus address pharisees that pray to be seen? Is it possible to give, not because you love the Lord or care for the poor, but you want to have people think you're generous? That's pride - spiritual pride. And someone might fast and they go around and they try to look pious so they, you know, draw out their face, but they're fasting to be seen of men. So praying to be seen, giving to be seen, fasting to be seen - and those are just a couple of examples, but there's a lot of things a person can do and they're doing - I think it's great to memorize Scripture and it's wonderful. I think we ought to bring the kids up sometimes and when they memorize Scripture - that they share with everyone and you encourage them and it's okay to be a proud parent. But when you want someone else to be impressed with how much Scripture you know, you've got to be careful because the devil probably knows more than you do and it's not going to save him.

And so there's religious pride and we've got to be careful about that. Alright, so let's go on now to the next section, which is the greatness of forgiveness. Now, there's a lot more in Matthew 18, but we're going to jump down and we're going to go to a parable - well, let's start with verse 21. Peter comes to him and he says, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Now, how often should you forgive somebody? How did Jesus answer that question? He said, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Now, before we get to this parable here in Matthew chapter 18, verse 21, he says something else about forgiveness in Matthew 18:15, "if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." This is a principle for reconciliation with relationships. "If he hears you, you've gained your brother.

" Of course, it's brother or sister, it doesn't matter. "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'" - Because sometimes you'll have, 'well, he said/she said' and you say, 'no, we had witnesses. We know exactly what was said.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. That was, you know, the supreme court - the highest council. But if he refuses to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

" This person has a problem with pride - they won't forgive - so you've got a brother and a sister and they've got a dispute. And in the church parking lot one of them backs into the other and the Christian - I guess they're both supposed to be Christians, they're in the church parking lot. And one of them whose car was hit, he goes to his brother and he said, 'you know, you hit my car. You don't mind paying for the damages?' He said, 'no, it happened in the church.' He says, 'I'm absolved here. If it's in the church parking lot.

It doesn't matter.' 'Wait a second. No, I think you've got to help cover the cost of this.' 'Oh, you've got insurance.' And there's a dispute and he won't listen to you. First, just talk to him and then say, 'look, maybe I'll take an elder or deacon and say, 'look, you made this mistake. You need to take care of it.' 'No, I don't have to.' - I'm picking something trivial, you know, because some of these things I could pick as illustrations would be pretty sensitive. You might think I'm talking to you.

And so - and then you take it to a larger body. So first - the whole idea is if there's a dispute - whatever that dispute is - that you try to approach them one on one. You don't want to spread it in the streets, you want to try and privately resolve the problem. Does that make sense? Go to them. Sometimes people just complain about what another person has done.

They don't complain - they don't ever try to resolve it, they just want to tell everybody that they're no good. That's not right. Go to them. Be reconciled. Work it out.

Communicate. Ninety percent of the problems that exist between brethren could be resolved if they talk to each other honestly, in a loving spirit. And the word 'rebuke' in the Bible doesn't mean that you're hard on a person, it means that you confront them in a loving, Christian way and say, 'look, we've got this problem we need to address.' It doesn't mean you humiliate them. And if that doesn't work, you take a witness with you and say, 'look, we need to work this out.' And they try to mediate. If that doesn't work then you might need to bring it to the larger and final arbitration, which is the church.

And so, this is the way things ought to be worked out. Sometimes there's a dispute between people and someone puts it online and they've never tried to work it out or go to them directly and that's not the biblical way to do it. So going back to Matthew. How often - Matthew 18, verse - how often shall I forgive? Jesus said, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Why did he say seventy times seven? What does seven represent? The perfect number. Seven can often be an illustration in the Bible of forgiveness and even for judgment, but often for forgiveness.

For example - now someone's going to read a verse for me in a minute. You've got Ephesians :32 - you'll have that? Okay, but first I want to read - it says "Jesus appeared first to mary magdalene out of whom he cast seven devils." Seven - forgiveness. Proverbs 24:16, "a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked will fall by calamity." Job 5:19, "he will deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you." But still, Jesus said seventy times seven. Where else do you find times 7 in the Bible? Daniel 9. It's a prophecy in Daniel 9 - seventy weeks are determined upon thy people.

Well, how many days in a week? So you've got seventy times seven, right? What is Daniel praying about? He's wanting to know when will the Messiah come. How long will you continue to extend mercy to your stubborn people? And so it's even - it's talking about mercy. He said, 'I'm not going to give them seven more years of mercy, I'm going to give them seventy times seven - four hundred and ninety years of mercy.' And that went until the stoning of stephen. That was sort of the last straw when God began to withdraw his spirit from the nation - not from individuals, because many jews were still converted beyond that, but probation had sort of closed for the nation at that point. And when the supreme court plugged their ears at the preaching of stephen - and it's interesting, Paul is converted and becomes the apostle to the gentiles right after that event.

So it was sort of a turning point. But seventy times seven - Christ is point back to that. Now, how are we to forgive each other? God is asking us to do something supernatural. Go ahead, read for us Ephesians 4:32. "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as Christ forgave you.

" How are we to forgive each other? As Christ forgave us. Now that's a pretty big order but let me read it to you again - another verse - Colossians 3:12 - "therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, forgiving one another. If any has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you must do." Now, it does say, you know, if your brother comes to you in a day and says 'I repent' you should forgive him. And we should forgive as Jesus forgave. Is that easy? How many of you would find it easy to pray, 'father, forgive them' if someone was crucifying you? Or to pray for even the religious leaders who should have known better? I mean, you know, the roman soldiers carrying out orders, they didn't really know what was going on, but when Jesus said, 'father, forgive them.

They know not what they do.' That'd be hard. You know what makes it easier for me to forgive? I mean, I'm just assuming that you're like I am and that you have been hurt or you felt like somebody mistreated you or took advantage of you or just was not appreciative or whatever it is that you're offended, and instead of dwelling on it or letting it bother you, it helps me to remember it is normal for sinners to be selfish. This is to be expected. You are either going to behave like Jesus and, if you're not thoroughly converted, you're going to behave like the devil. And the devil is selfish.

Jesus came to save devils. What I mean by that - not fallen angels. Jesus came to save people who are captive of the devil and they act in diabolical ways. I was just listening this morning, on my way to church, to the conversion of Paul. And here he is, participating in the murder of stephen and stephen is praying, 'father, lay not that sin to their charge.

' Stephen - is stephen going to be happy when he gets to heaven and sees Paul there? Yes. The last glimpse that stephen had of Saul/Paul - same person - is he's participating in his execution and he prayed for him and God answered his prayer after he was gone. By the way, for those of you who are parents, God often answers prayers that are stored up, after you're gone. And so, when you are forgiving those who mistreat you - you have to ask yourself - 'they've hurt me. I kind of want something bad to happen to them.

' And you'll actually find Psalms in the Bible, if you look for them, where David prays for vengeance on his enemies. So if you want to pray those, that's okay. It's not the right spirit, I think. We're supposed to pray that God bless - didn't Jesus say 'bless those who persecute you. Pray for those who despitefully use you.

' It's normal to pray for bad things to happen to those who do bad things to you, but if you want to be supernatural children of God, pray for those who persecute you. And he says, 'rejoice, when you're persecuted for right.' That's so odd. It's so against our nature. You know, one of the ways that you can get over anger against those who have been unkind to you or persecuted you or - is pray for them. Now, I've talked about this before and I've had people come up to me after the service and they said, 'Pastor Doug, you can't be serious.

' I say, 'well, what do you mean?' 'There's no way in the world. I was sexually abused by a relative for years. You want me to pray for them?' I said, 'yeah.' I said, 'it's not something I'm telling you to do. It's something God is telling you to do.' 'I can't do that.' I said, 'no, I know you can't, but if you ask for Christ to come in you and you say you are willing to look at that person through Jesus' eyes.' Do you know you may get to heaven and find a person named manasseh? Manasseh offered his children to pagan Gods and made them pass through the fire. How could anyone like that be forgiven? I mean, there's scarcely a sin you can name, other than the unpardonable sin, that God doesn't forgive in the Bible.

Treachery is forgiven. It's pretty treacherous for David to tell uriah to go to the front of the worst battle and then have the support withdrawn so he's killed - and he was a loyal soldier. That's a treacherous thing to do. Adultery - same story - with bathsheba. Murder - Moses and David.

Yeah, David had treachery, adultery, murder - and God forgave him. Denying Christ, like Peter - and you can go through a litany of different characters in the Bible and you'll find God forgives all kinds of things. Look at what Paul says in - is it 2 Corinthians? He says, 'some of you were drunkards and adulterers and homosexuals and thieves - and he goes through all the terrible, despicable sins that you can think of and he says, 'but God forgave you.' And then the Lord says, 'as God has forgiven you, so you should forgive each other. Because when a person is forgiven, are they born again? If a person accepts Christ are they born again? Yes. Are they a different person? Old things have passed away, how many things are made new? All.

So it's not like you have to forgive that old person, they're a new person now. So by your praying for your enemies, you can transform them so that they're not your enemies anymore, they're a different person. I know, it's getting kind of deep because you think some people are beyond mercy. God is the one who needs to decide that. You and I can't read people's hearts so, as far as possible, we forgive.

Now, when I talk about forgiveness, Jesus shares this parable where someone owes ten thousand talents - this unmerciful servant. the King forgives him. He goes and he finds a fellow servant that owes him, you know, forty talents - takes him by the throat, puts him in prison, has him tormented for just a handful, where here, he was forgiven this massive amount. But God forgave - God forgives this guy 10,000 talents. You know, in today's money, ,000 talents is a massive amount.

It's just a mountain - it's like 50 million dollars or something. And he would not forgive two week's wages to somebody else. Someone put it this way, 'God is willing to forgive you and I the distance between the earth and the sun - 93 million miles - but we sometimes will not forgive each other arm's lengths. This is a comparison that's made between how much God forgives you. Now is God saying, 'you go out and forgive everybody and then I'll forgive you'? No? See in that parable - you go to the end of Matthew 18 - and it says, 'so when his fellow servants saw what this unmerciful servant had done, they were grieved and they came and told their master and the master called him and said, 'you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you asked me.

Shouldn't you have had compassion on your fellow servant as I had pity on you?' How does God want us to forgive? 'As I had pity on you.' 'And the master was angry and delivered him to the tormenters - the torturers - until he should pay all that was due him. So my Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.' You know, the Lord makes one comment on the Lord's prayer - when you pray the Lord's prayer - it says, 'forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors' and then you get to the end of the Lord's prayer, Jesus goes back and he makes one comment. The one comment Jesus makes on the Lord's prayer is 'if you do not forgive each man his brother his trespasses, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.' Now this is very important. Is the Lord saying, 'you go out and forgive everybody, come to me and then I'll forgive you'? Or is the Lord saying, 'come to me. I will forgive you and then after I forgive you, pass that forgiveness on.

' In the parable, who does the first forgiving? King. the King. This man who owes ten thousand talents comes to the King and he forgives him. And then he says, 'now, as I've forgiven you, you go forgive others. That's not always easy and sometimes you just need to confess to the Lord, 'I don't feel like forgiving them.

I don't like them very much. In my heart I kind of wish bad things would happen to them. But you've told me to love and forgive them and I'm going to choose to forgive them. How do you keep the memories from coming back? the Lord doesn't say they won't come back. Now God takes our sins and casts them in the depths of the sea and God has more self-control than we do.

He doesn't think about them. But you and i, we still have painful memories. So after you have forgiven a person, if you think about what they've done, does that mean you haven't forgiven them? No, just don't dwell on it. It's like that old expression: 'you can't keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair. You might have a fleeting memory of what this person did to you but choose to forget about it.

Forgive them and don't keep reminding them that you forgave them because that's another way of not forgetting about it. You ever have anyone do you a favor? It's like you owe them some money and they forgive you and they keep reminding you that they forgave you. And pretty soon it takes it away. As far as possible, forgive and forget. That means that you need to choose to forget on an ongoing basis.

You know what I'm saying? You know where this is really difficult is if you've got a marriage and somebody in that marriage is unfaithful. Now, unfaithfulness can take on a lot of different forms. It doesn't just mean, but it certainly would include infidelity with another person. Sometimes it can mean maybe they were squandering money or doing something else so there's a real lack of trust. There's a betrayal in the way the money's being spent.

Or there's lying that's going on or just - whatever it is. Sometimes there's arguments in marriage and terrible cutting things are said in the heat of anger and the person says, finally, 'okay, we're going to counseling. I forgive you. I forgive you.' But they keep thinking about it. You might need to go to the Lord and say, 'Lord, I remember, now, at the foot of the cross, how much you forgave me.

' You have no right to keep thinking about this because there's nothing that anyone has done to you that would make your sin against God less significant. Did that make sense? You know what I'm saying? Compared to what anybody has done to you, what we have done to Jesus - go to the cross and look at what he suffered for us - is pretty small by comparison. And so, that, sometimes, makes it easier to say, 'Lord, help me to just forgive this person and to look at them the way you do and to love them and forgive them. Alright, Jesus - you know, in the four Gospels, Jesus says more about forgiveness in Matthew than any other book. It says more about relationships in Matthew.

And I wonder if it's because Matthew was a tax collector and the other apostles maybe had trouble trusting him. But anyway, he addresses that quite a bit. Alright, let's go to idols of the soul. And this - now we're jumping over to Matthew 18. That parable in Matthew 18 goes to the end - to 19.

Now we're going to look in Matthew 19 and you've got the story of the rich young ruler. And it says that oh, let me see here, let's go to - he blesses the little children - talking, again, about Jesus' love for the children, puts his hand on them - he prays for them - and a young man is watching this. And, as Jesus walked away, his heart is stirred. He was a good man, but he knew something was missing. This is Matthew 19:16, "now behold, one came and said to him, 'good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?' So he said to him, 'why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God.

'" - Now, why did Jesus say that? 'Why do you call me good?' Is that because Jesus wasn't good? Was he trying to get this young man to see Jesus was not just good, he was God? No one is truly good but God. "But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." That always amazes me. People think that in the new testament Jesus threw out the Ten Commandments. You know how many times in the new testament that Jesus ratifies and reinforces the Ten Commandments? He said, 'keep the commandments.' And this man goes on - and he's very clear - verse 18 - "which ones?" Why did he say, 'which ones'? Because there were a lot of Jewish laws. They had ceremonial laws - they had torah - there were civil laws, there were rabbinical laws - and Jesus gets right to the core and he starts to quote from the Ten Commandments.

Christ is principally quoting from the second table of the decalogue. 'You shall not commit murder,' 'you shall not commit adultery,' 'you shall not steal,' 'you shall not bear false witness,' 'honor your father and your mother,' 'love your neighbor as yourself.' - That's interesting. Why didn't he quote anything from the first four commandments? Because this man had another God that eclipsed the other problem. And he says, 'Lord, master, I've kept all these from my youth.' And he probably was a moral upstanding young man. And if you look in the Gospel of Mark it says, 'Jesus, looking at him, loved him.

' And he said, "'if you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." Now, was Jesus saying this man was almost perfect and all he needed to do was make one final donation and he will have arrived at perfection? Or was he saying that he really was sincere, but he had one thing that was coming between him and God and that was his money. His money was a God. It had become his treasure. It had become an idol. These are some of the idols of the soul the lesson talks about.

And it says, 'when he heard this, he was sad and he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.' It always strikes me as strange. Jesus says, 'follow me. You'll have treasure in heaven.' That would make you happy. But, instead, he said, 'I want treasure on earth' and he went away sad. Does the earthly treasure bring lasting happiness? He still had his earthly treasure, but he knew it was temporary because he didn't have heavenly treasure, so he went away sad.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'assuredly I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.' When his disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, 'who then can be saved?'" Now the reason they said this - they're astonished - is because - not much different than today, but many religious leaders were teaching that if you're blessed of God, you'll be rich. And they're thinking, 'Abraham was rich. Isaac was rich. Jacob was rich.

Joseph became rich. Job was rich. And now you're saying it's hard for a rich man to get to the Kingdom. If they're not going to make it, nobody's going to make it. Who can be saved?' And he wasn't saying that those patriarchs weren't going to make it, he was saying that it's one of the biggest obstacles because foundational to salvation is a trust in God.

People, often, who are amassing money as security, are using it as a substitute for trusting God. Their trust is in the bank account. Their trust is not in God. People who are poor are praying, literally, for daily bread - 'give us this day our daily bread' - because they don't know what they're going to eat from day to day, right? But when people have a lot, they stop trusting God for the basics of every day. And it's hard.

Now, when Jesus said, 'it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle', I've heard some arguments made, and I think it could be argued, that shepherds in the Bible times, when they counted their sheep, you want to count them one by one, the sheep had to pass through a very narrow channel where only one sheep could go through and they called it 'the eye of the needle' and it was a narrow spot. It also had a bar across the top and when Jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, he was referring to one of these sheep channels where the fence is - where it narrows - and they count the sheep. And, theoretically, a camel could get through one of those, but it would have to get on its knees and it can't carry all its baggage. Camels were usually loaded down with caravan baggage. And so, the figure is that that camel's going to get the - of course a sheep is a clean animal, camel's an unclean animal.

If that camel's going to get through, it had to unload and get on its knees and that's the only way a rich man can be saved. And they're saying, 'so who can be saved?' Now it's interesting in the story of Luke where you find the same thing and Jesus said 'it's hard for a rich man to get into the Kingdom.' And they say, 'who can be saved?' You go in the next chapter it talks about zaccheus, who it says was very rich. And does he end up getting saved? Christ said, 'salvation has come to this house.' Zaccheus is saved. Very rich man but, you know what happens? The rich young ruler, he says 'no' to Jesus. He walks away sad.

Zaccheus invites Jesus to his house and he, without even being asked, he says, 'half of my goods I give to the poor and if I've taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.' Zaccheus, suddenly his heart is touched. He becomes very generous. He does the thing that Jesus had asked the other man to do that he wouldn't do. Now is the Lord asking all of us to liquidate and give everything to the poor? Not necessarily, but I don't want to be the Holy Spirit for you, but the reason the Lord said it to this young man - 'sell all you have and give it to the poor, you'll have treasure in heaven' - he was asking him to be an apostle. He said, 'take up your cross and follow me.

' The same thing he said to Peter and it says 'they forsook everything and followed him.' Same thing that he said to Matthew. He left his cash register and followed him. They left everything and they followed him. He was inviting him to be an apostle. Now, if you're invited to full-time ministry like that - he might be asking you to, I don't know - but anyway, the Lord really does ask everybody to give everything.

'Whosoever is not willing to forsake all cannot be my disciple.' It's like that man that finds the treasure in a field. He sells everything he has to get that treasure. Okay, I'm running out of time and I've still got some lesson left. Someone was going to read for me Matthew 13:22 - you'll have that one? And in just a second I'm going to read Proverbs 23, verses 4 and 5, "do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven." Alright, go ahead, read for us - again, Matthew 13:22. "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

" You can see what one of the dangers is: even the good seed sown in that ground with the thorns, it choked the word. It became distracted with the cares of this life. The deceitfulness of riches - 1 Timothy 6 - "command" - and this is verse 17 - "command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." And, of course, Paul says, job says, Solomon says - all three of them say, 'naked I came into this world, naked I go out.' And we take nothing in our hand - they word it differently and so, when God gives us anything, it's for us to use as stewards to invest in this life - in sharing the Gospel. Now, usually I do better than this, but I left out about a third of the lesson.

I hope that you'll forgive me. But anyway, I want to remind our friends who are watching - yeah, finish reading, of course, Matthew 18 and 19 and we do have a free offer. And we'll send you that free offer - it's actually a very good book - surrender of self - call 866-788-3966 and offer #153. God bless you. the Lord willing, we'll study together again next week.

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