Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Matthew: Jesus As Israel's Messiah And His Kingdom
Part XII: Christ As Israel's Messiah By His Summons Unto His Righteousness
B. Christ's Motivation Unto God's Righteousness In Expressing God's Goodness In The Golden Rule
(Matthew 7:12)
  1. Introduction
    1. Having illustrated the Biblically consistent righteousness of His subjects, Jesus summoned His hearers to His righteousness, including a vastly superior view of the worldwide "Golden Rule" in Matthew 7:12.
    2. The way this rule contrasts with similar such golden rules in the world exposes the vast superiority of the righteousness Jesus seeks in His kingdom subjects (as follows):
  2. Christ's Motivation Unto God's Righteousness In Expressing God's Goodness In The Golden Rule.
    1. Jesus had explained in Matthew 7:7-11 that God is a very Good God, and that we can tap that goodness by interacting with Him in prayer to have our needs fulfilled by that wonderful God.
    2. Accordingly, if our God is good, we His people are to REFLECT His goodness ourselves, and Jesus taught this in His unique version of the universal "Golden Rule" that exists in various forms worldwide:
      1. The "Golden Rule" of treating others like we wish to be treated appears in some form "in the literature of almost every major religion and philosophical system," John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7 , 1985, p. 447. It was thus a universal rule, known worldwide.
      2. However, "(e)very other form of this basic principle" has been "given in purely negative terms," Ibid.:
        1. Rabbit Hillel of Judaism who preceded and briefly overlapped Christ's earthly life (60 B. C. - A. D. 20, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. Three, p. 159) taught that "What is hateful to yourself do not to someone else,'" Ibid., MacArthur.
        2. The Apocryphal book of Tobit in the extracanonical work, the Apocrypha that existed in Jesus' era taught "What thou thyself hatest, to no man do,'" Ibid.
        3. Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt who translated the Hebrew Old Testament into the Septuagint in the Greek language, which translation was used by the apostles in their New Testament writings, taught, "As you wish that no evil befall you, but to be a partaker of all good things, so you should act on the same principle toward your subjects and offenders,'" Ibid.
        4. Confucius "taught, what you do not want done to yourself, do not to others,'" Ibid.
        5. The ancient Greek king Nicocles "wrote, Do not do to others the things which make you angry when you experience them at the hands of other people,'" Ibid.
        6. Philosopher Epictetus "said, What you avoid suffering yourself, do not afflict on others,'" Ibid.
        7. The Stoics taught, "What you do not want to be done to you, do not do to anyone else,'" Ibid.
        8. In summary, then, every other form of the "Golden Rule" expressed a negative view based on selfish motives of avoiding harm unto one's self by avoiding bad treatment of others, Ibid. Selfishness is motivated by fallen man's bent to "fear and self-preservation," Ibid. (Genesis 3:6-13)
      3. In vast, superior contrast to these other views, Christ's "Golden Rule" was stated in the positive, with a focus on the welfare of other people: Jesus taught that as we would want others to treat us, so we should initiate that good treatment toward them, that this is the burden of the entire Old Testament (described as the Law and the Prophets), Matthew 7:12! (Note how this statement by Christ counters Liberal Theology's claim that the Old Testament God is a God of wrath and not of grace!)
      4. Since man is fallen, making his "Golden Rule" rise from fear and self-preservation to be stated in a negative way, such aggressive, selfless, other-people-focused love must flow from a heart that has been transformed by the spiritual new birth, and the indwelling and control of the Holy Spirit, John 3:5-16; Galatians 5:16-23; Ibid. None of the secular or religious entities that expressed their "Golden Rule" phrasings could come close to such thinking as they arose out of man's lost heart and not the new birth.
Lesson: In a world where personal "goodness" is but a FALSE goodness that is innately self-centered due to sin, may we trust in Christ to be saved, and then rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit for the will and the power to initiate goodness unto other people, exchanging sel fishness for the goodness of God!

Application: May we heed Christ to initiate God's goodness to others as we would want to be treated.