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Re-Thinking - Your Rights

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(2/16) Or Doing Right When You've Been Done Wrong

We, as American citizen's are totally consumed with our rights and it has been so since the beginning of our nation.

The Second Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence reads- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

The Bill of Rights - The first ten amendments of our constitution reads,

Amendment I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II - A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III - No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V- No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII - In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Miranda Rights for those detained or arrested for a crime -"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?"

The Universal Doctrine of Human Rights -30 articles

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public ("public accommodations").

We have children's rights, women's rights, American's with disabilities rights, worker's rights, privacy rights, animal rights and more. And if any of these rights are violated, we believe that we are entitled to compensation, justice, or vengeance. We, as human beings with a sin nature that has selfishness or self-centeredness at it's core, want what is rightfully ours, and sometimes, more if we can get it; because we have a right. If you violate my rights, you must pay. As Americans, we sue at the drop of a hat. Often we use the principle of Lex Talionis as our basis for getting even. This is the law of Exodus 21:22-25 that is also cited in Lev. 24:17-22; Deut. 19:15-21, "If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." The Leviticus passage adds, "fracture for fracture." This is one of the oldest laws known to man. The great Babylonian King Hammurabi had it in his law code 100 years before Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. It is to this Law that our Lord Jesus pointed to in His fifth of six teachings concerning Re-Thinking God's Laws.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away." (Matt. 5:38-42) Like the previous 4 that we have looked at, Rabbinic tradition had taken this law and taught that it was a basis for personal vengeance. But there are several things wrong with this kind of thinking.

This was a law for the civil or government courts to use to exact punishment for crimes, not for personal retaliation. This was for the appointed judges to decide. The families were often allowed to participate in carrying out the sentence, but the courts decided. Listen to Deut. 19:17-21; "then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

The intent was to curtail crime And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you."

This was a just law that was designed to make sure that the punishment matched the crime. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." We as human beings have a tendency to want the Chicago method. Do you remember that scene from the Untouchables? Sean Connery and Kevin Costner are meeting in a church (I think) and Connery says to Costner, "If you really want to get Capone, you have to use the Chicago Method, if one of his pulls a knife, you pull a gun, if he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue." That's usually how we feel. It's like a bumper sticker I saw a few years ago that read, "Mafia staff car, you toucha my car, I breaka your face." Many of our popular TV shows and movies are based on this desire for revenge. You could probably complete this sentence, "Payback is ______________.

But God had said a long time ago, that we were not to seek vengeance. Deut, 32:35 says, "Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time;" Lev. 19:18 says, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Paul repeats this in Romans 12:19 as does Hebrews 10:30. "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord." Vengeance seldom if ever really satisfies or gives real closure. That's why Solomon says to us in Proverbs 12:19, 'Do not say, "I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." We are not to do unto others what they have done to us, that is not what the Golden Rule says, and, in fact, we are to do the exact opposite as we will see both today and next week. So what exactly is our Lord telling us?

First, Remember your Purpose- This is essential to every part of this sermon that our Lord is speaking, and to walking with Jesus in this world. You are to be different than the world in which you live in order to be salt and light; that is, in order for the world to see the difference that Jesus can make. If the lost are going to be saved they need to know there is something different. They need to see God's grace with skin on it. They need to see Jesus Christ in and through you. It is in your good works, in your grace and love, in the different approach that you take that people will notice, and will glorify God.

Second, Resist Not an Evil Person. - We have to get this right before we move on. Let me tell you what this doesn't mean. It doesn't mean to not resist evil legally, or not to join the army or police force. The Bible makes it clear that these government agencies are God ordained and sanctioned to protect society from Evil (cp. Rom. 13:1ff). Tolstoy wrote a famous novel called War and Peace based on this false assumption, that a society without police or military could achieve Utopia. But, Jesus resisted the moneychangers in the temple, and the Church is to exact discipline within its membership when one or more engage in unrepentent sin (Matt. 18:18ff; 1 Cor. 5; 1 Tim. 5:20). Society needs such a system to deal with crime and evil. Listen to this quote from A. W. Pink. Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, pp. 112-113.

The Words Resist Not means, to set against or oppose and the context implies that we are not to oppose as in personal retaliation or vengeful opposition against those who have harmed us. The evil is referring to the harm done to our person or property as He is about to describe. When our personal or property rights have been violated what do we do. Several things.

1. You let the police or government officials do their job.

2. It is always right to help someone who is being hurt. The context is personal retaliation for personal harm.

3. The Glory of God is more important than your personal rights. I want to remind you that it was for the Glory of God and your salvation that Jesus left His glory, laid aside His rights and suffered at the hands of men when He could have called 10,000 angels, or wiped out His enemies or all humanity with a word. But he didn't. He gave His back to the whip, and His face to the soldiers who beat Him to a bloody pulp and pulled out His beard and nailed Him in mockery to a cross, while blessing them with forgiveness and grace. Paul said that he, as an Apostle, had the right to expect the churches to care for him but he gave up that right so as not to be a burden to them and the church should do the same.

4. You trust God for retribution. That's what our blessed Lord Jesus did. Listen to Peter again. "For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:21-25) He will deal with the issue one way or another. If not in this life, then definitely in the one to come. Remember the words of Paul again, "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:8-12)

5. You look for a way to do good regardless of the harm or evil. Listen to Paul in Romans 12:17ff. "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 3:8-12. "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good;

Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Our Lord gives us 4 ways to do good when you've been done wrong.

1. Cheek Slapping (v. 39)- Cheek slapping is without a doubt one of the highest forms of personal insult. Even a slave would rather turn his back to a whip than to have someone slap his face. So would you. This is when your dignity has been assaulted. This is total dis-respect and is one of the most violatable ways to insult someone. In some countries this is what usually led to a dual to the death, with sword or gun. This insult could be literal and physical or it could be verbal. This is what the world does when it is angered, it looks to attack and insult physically or verbally. Jesus said don't respond that way, he didn't and He doesn't want you to. Since this sermon began, He has been telling us that if are going to follow Him we must be different, humble, under control, peacemakers, but with the understanding that what they did to Him they will do to us. But remember our 5 points earlier. God is the avenger, your kind and good response will bewilder your assailants or those who are watching, like the centurion and the thief who watched Him and had their lives changed. God used His kindness to draw them to Himself.

2. Clothes Sueing. (v. 40)- This is not a theft that He is talking about, but a legitimate claim that someone has against you. One in which you are obligated to repay. The shirt or tunic was a shoulder to knees like shirt and most people owned only one or two at the most. The cloak or coat was one's outer garment that served to keep one warm as a coat in the day and as a blanket at night. The law of Moses said that a coat could be held as collateral during the day but had to be given back at night. "If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious." (Ex. 22:26-27) Our Lord is simply saying that if you are in debt and it takes the shirt off your back to pay the debt, but that still doesn't cover it. Give up your coat even though you have the right to keep it in spite of the debt. But how then will you keep warm? Answer is- you trust your Father as we will see in Chapter 6. The point is that even though your property may be protected by some laws, if you have a debt, do what ever is legal and moral to pay it and trust God to take care of you.

3. Compelled Service. (v. 41) It was tough having your country occupied by a brutal foreign power like Rome. You were taxed by Rome, judged by Rome, and had to abide by Roman Laws. One of those laws stated that a soldier in a non-combat situation could compel you to carry his equipment for a mile but no more. Again, this was an insult to national pride. This was inconvenient to one's time and responsibilities. But our Lord said, though it is an insult and inconvenient, go further, even though you have no obligation and legally have the right not to. Do more than is required, go above and beyond the call of duty. The United States awards The Congressional Medal of Honor to servicemen for, "Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty." So will the Lord your God. There are times when you don't have to help at work, can take a break, don't have to help a neighbor, and to do so would even cause them to take advantage of you, but somewhere along the way, heads are going to turn and God will be glorified. Listen to Peter again, Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

4. Charity Sharing - (v. 42) - This is about our property and what we spend much of our lives accumulating and wanting to protect. Though as I have told you before it is all going to end up at the land fill someday or community thrift store or your children's yard sale. We want to hang on to what is ours. We know that even letting someone borrow our things is risking that we won't get then back or that they won't be as when we loaned them out. By the way, does anyone have a power washer that I could borrow? Seriously! But here is what we need to stop and realize. Everything we have, we have because God has blessed us to have it and everything He has blessed us to have He wants us to use for His glory. Listen to Paul in Eph. 4:28, "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need." Once again this is not just blind giving. There are professional beggars and those who have learned to work the system rather than working. This is the willingness to help when our community, or country is in need. It is this very thing that characterized the early church. Turn over to Acts 2:44-45, "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need." and Acts 4:32-35, "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need." And the people of Macedonia who had no obligation to give for the needs in Jerusalem because they were so poor, yet they begged Paul to let them help (2 Cor. 8:1-5).

Here is the Bottom line.

  • To Follow Jesus means that the cross is our focal point, our example of living
  • To Follow Jesus is to die to self and live for Him.
  • To Follow Jesus means that all I have and all I am, belongs to Him. While I have them I will enjoy them, but they are not mine to keep.
  • To Follow Jesus means I give all my rights to Him and I am now His bondservant. "and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
  • To Follow Jesus means I will trust Him to defend me, take care of me, repay me, and provide for me.
  • To Follow Jesus means that I have been blessed to be a blessing. And Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven." (5:16)

Paul the Apostle said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:1-2)

Have you done that?

Let's pray about it. "Lord Jesus I give all my rights to you." No matter the costs or what others do, I give all my rights to you, I want people to see you in me. Grace with skin on it."

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman