Matt 5:43-48, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. NKJV
In Matthew 5, Jesus begins teaching us on the principles of God's kingdom, not about the traditions or doctrines of men. You will notice that Jesus requires more of us under the New Covenant; He tells us that unless our righteousness exceeds that which is set by the scribes and Pharisees, we won't enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Pharisees had the reputation of "believing in God," but Jesus shows us through His teachings that they didn't have a record of "obeying" God, especially when it cost them to do so. It doesn't cost us anything to become born again because Jesus has done all of the suffering for us. The scriptures say, "He who knew no sin became sin's offering that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ."
However, now that we're saved and have been made righteous, Jesus requires us as His disciples to obey or keep His commands. Although it didn't cost us to believe in Jesus for salvation, it will now cost us (our flesh) to obey the Lord as His disciples. In Romans 4, we read where Abraham heard the promises of God, and God accounted his faith as righteous. Romans chapter 10 tells us to believe in Christ and confess Him as Lord, and we, too, shall be saved or righteous in God's sight.
God doesn't want us to remain just righteous; He desires for us to become mature or complete and blessed. After Abraham believed on God to fulfill what He had promised him, God instructed Abraham to take Isaac, his only son, and offer him on Mount Moriah. This act of obedience would cost Abraham his son, and it would cost Isaac his life, but in spite of the cost, Abraham still obeyed. If you will read Genesis 22: 16 - 18, you will notice that immediately after Abraham obeyed God's voice, God declared he and his descendants were blessed. Now, after obeying God, even though it cost him, Abraham is declared blessed.
You see, God doesn't just want us to be righteous, as I wrote before; now that we're righteous, God desires that the blessing of Abraham come on us through our sacrificial obedience to His voice, by faith. It cost Abel, Joseph, Job, and a host of others a lot to obey God's will, but they left this world blessed in the sight of God. The question that every Christian must answer with their lifestyle is this... "Do I love God more than this world or its pleasures?" Since becoming a believer, if you were to look back over the decisions you have made when God asked you to obey and it cost you, do your choices prove your love for God?
Blessed to be a Blessing,
Pastor Asa Dockery