Behold Your God




Fred T. Wright

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Chapter Seventeen

Go the Second Mile


     Christ did not confine His revelation of the Father to actions alone. He was not a silent performer. What He taught from day to day was an augmenting and confirming witness to the same effect. By His words, He magnified the law as effectively as He did by His living.

     His first great sermon was a clear statement of what the law really meant, alerting the people to know that which “was said by them of old time,” was not the version He had come to bring them.

     But the people who gathered to hear that wonderful sermon on the mount recorded in Matthew 5-7, came with erroneous concepts of the law and the kingdom of God. They had been raised up to know man’s way so that their expectation of the Messiah’s kingdom was quite different from what it would be in fact. Jesus knew He was confronting preconceived ideas and opinions to which He could make no concession. He knew what the people expected and wanted to hear, but He told them only what they needed to hear.

     Knowing from the outset of His discourse that He was about to tell them differently from what they wished and expected to hear, He was aware that this would lead them to judge Him as casting aside the law. So, before He began to explain the law as He had given it and would live it, He warned that, even though it might appear so to them, He had not come to do away with the law, but to establish it.

     He said to them, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

     “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

     “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

     “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20.

     The scribes and Pharisees regarded themselves as being the greatest exponents of the law of God in existence. They believed that they taught it and lived it to perfection. They regarded themselves as being models of righteous behavior. Their claim was not wholly untrue for their lives were as fine an example as can be found of living the law according to man’s interpretation of how it should be kept. It was to deliver men from their concept of law-keeping and to replace it with the true one, that Christ came to this earth.


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     So, as He progressed through His sermon, repeatedly He swept aside the law as they understood it to read, and replaced it with the law as God intended that it should be read and obeyed. The hearers’ evaluation of Christ’s presentation and position would depend then on their having a spiritual perception of what He was saying.

     If they were blinded to the reality of the living truth, then they could only see the law as interpreted and magnified by man. This would lead them to regard Christ as a lawbreaker, even though He had warned them that He had come to establish the law.

     On the other hand, if they could see what He was really trying to say, then they would understand that He had come as the one true Magnifier of the holy law. It would be a whole new field of thought. Time would be needed to make adjustment, but the beauty of its truth would be thrilling and vitalizing.

     Great profit would be gained by studying every statement made by Christ in this sermon, but time and space will not be taken to do this here. A selection will be made of that passage which reveals as well, if not better than any of the others, the principles of the law as Christ espoused them.

     Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

     “But I say unto you . . .” Matthew 5:38, 39.

     So Christ segregated the teaching of the past from His own. The old, He classified as their way, against which He set forth that which was His way. He made no attempt to compromise with the old teaching or to apologize for what He offered. It was the truth, and, as such, it had to be accepted.

     To many, Christ adopted a course here which laid Him open to the charge of denying the law as God in the Old Testament had taught it. It was not the writings or teachings of the heathen which Christ was disavowing here but, to all appearances, the word of God through Moses.

     “And God spake all these words, saying, . . .” Exodus 20:1.

     Then follow the ten commandments, after which the people are terrified and plead with Moses to speak with them instead of God.

     “And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel . . .” Many directions follow until these verses are reached: “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

     “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

     “Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Exodus 20:22; 21:23-25.

     God spoke these words to Moses with the direction that they be told to, and obeyed by, the people. The people did obey them, confident that in so doing they were following the Lord’s instructions. Then Jesus came and denied that that was His way, swept all that aside, and gave the people a new code of behavior.


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     The appearances certainly point to Christ as being at variance with His Father on what the law was and how it should be kept. Small wonder then that the Pharisees who subscribed so vigorously to the old Mosaic law, should regard Christ as being the worst kind of lawbreaker. They saw Him as the killer of the law which said, “A life for a life.” Therefore, their minds were entirely satisfied that they were doing the justified thing in putting Him to death. He was killing the law. The law said a life for a life, so it was His life for the life of the law He had taken. His crucifixion, in their thinking, was a lawful killing. They believed that they were obeying the law exactly as it was written.

     Another solution for the problem is to teach dispensationalism. Such a belief would see one law for the people before the advent of Christ, and another and more beautiful law for the people thereafter.

     Such a resolution of the problem must be rejected because the perfect law is as unchangeable as the God Who gave it. If the Lord gave one law for the people in a given age and situation and subsequently changed this for later generations, then He is no better than changeable man who is forever modifying his laws to suit changing circumstances. Satan would then have the argument he needed to win the controversy. He would point to the changing of the law as clear proof that it was imperfect and needed to be changed. He left heaven contending this, against God’s claim that it was not so, and he has watched ever since for the slightest modification, concession, or change on the part of God and His law.

     There is yet another explanation which reveals the character of God in wonderful beauty, shows that Christ was not at variance with the Father, and establishes the truth that God has never changed His law in the slightest. It, together with its Author, is the “same, yesterday, today and forever.”

     This explanation will be fully developed when we examine the various incidents of the Old Testament period. It will be seen that God has only one way for Himself and His people. But there comes a time when the people reject His way and turn to their own, yet still desire God to be with them. In great mercy, He provides directives effecting, if obeyed, the best conditions possible under man’s system. It will be shown when this point is reached, that God acted out the role of a saviour exclusively, and that Christ’ sole objective was to bring them back from their own way to God’s. When this characteristic of behavior on God’s part is seen, the last problems in understanding His character will disappear.

     Having relegated the teaching “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” to the errors of man’s ways, Christ then set forth His amplification of the law.

     “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

     “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.


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     “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

     “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” Matthew 5:39-42.

     In the previous chapter, reference was made to fictitious books, plays, and films. These are among Satan’s principal means of promulgating his magnification of the law. Let it now be asked if the principles laid out by Christ in the verses quoted above, are portrayed in fiction? Where is man portrayed as offering the other cheek when he has been smitten violently on one? What film hero is seen meekly going the second mile, or giving his coat to the enemy who took his cloak?

     These are not the patterns of behavior advertised as ideal through this media. Rather it is the very opposite. If the villain steals the coat of the hero or anyone else, he is forced to pay back with compounded interest. The audience is not satisfied unless the desperado is made to suffer more than he has inflicted upon others.

     During the bad man’s day of power, he strikes his victims mercilessly. They endure this because they have no option, but silently pray for the day when the position of power will be reversed. Then, with a vengeance, they will make the enemy regret what he did.

     How completely opposite this is from the ways and teachings of Christ. Nothing could be more contrary. To the man of the world, there is no sense in Christ’s words. If the movie houses were to prepare films depicting these principles, no one would be interested in viewing them. They would be a financial failure.

     The average man rejects the principles in Christ’s words because he sees in that way, the whole world taking advantage of him to the point where he would be divested of everything he had. To him there is a no more frightening prospect. Therefore, he has no disposition to surrender the security provided by his defending and protecting his rights and possessions. He prefers to work at being more powerful than his enemy so that he can hit back harder than he can be hit. He finds his safety in this doctrine of deterrence.

     There are those who have interpreted Christ’s directions to turn the other cheek after the first has been struck in these terms: Christ did not say what to do after the second cheek has been struck, so this leaves liberty to hit back thereafter.

     But this is not true. Jesus did spell out what was to be done, and it certainly was not to retaliate in kind. So that there might be no mistake in this respect, Christ continued His instruction in these words:

     “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.

     “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.


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     “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

     “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?

     “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?

     “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48.

     When Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” He placed no time limitation upon this stipulation. He did not say to love them as long as there was any hope of saving them, and then hate them to destruction. He simply said, “Love your enemies.” Therefore they are to be loved—forever. The time must never come when the child of God ceases to love his enemy, bless him, and do him good. He is to know no other way.

     The apostles sat nearest to Christ when He spoke these words, but they did not understand this message as it is evident from the question Peter asked much later.

     “Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till even times?

     “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21, 22.

     Seventh times seven is four hundred and ninety times. Did Christ mean that we are to carefully count till we reach this number and then stop forgiving? No, so it is therefore not the way these words are to be understood. Rather, Christ desired to convey the idea that there is no time when we are to cease forgiving. Anyone who carefully counted each forgiveness till he had reached the limit certainly would not have forgiven at all. Nobody with the true spirit of forgiveness and Godlike love would be concerned with how many times forgiveness had been extended.

     “Peter had come to Christ with the question, ‘How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?’ The rabbis limited the exercise of forgiveness to three offences. Peter, carrying out, as he supposed, the teaching of Jesus, thought to extend it to seven, the number signifying perfection. But Christ taught that we are never to become weary of forgiving. Not ‘Until seven times,’ He said, ‘but, Until seventy times seven.’” Christ’s Object Lessons, 243.

     According to this statement, then, the expression, “Until seventy times seven” when used by Christ in this instance did not mean a limit of four hundred and ninety. He meant without limit, endlessly and unchangeably.

     It is impossible to strike back at those who strike first, and at the same time manifest a forgiving spirit. As surely then as forgiveness is to be forever, the turning of the other cheek is likewise to be forever. Those who claim that Christ did not extend His instruction beyond what to do after the second cheek is struck, do not understand God’s message in the Scriptures.


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     In this discourse, Christ is magnifying the law. He is explaining the way in which God desired His directives, “Thou shalt not kill, steal, and lie” to be understood. Consider the difference between man’s philosophy and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Man says that if your enemy strikes you, strike back—harder. If he kills yours, kill him. If he curses you, curse him in return; if he does you evil, return evil to him.

     But Jesus said to return love for hate, blessing for cursing, and goodness for evil. If lies are told about you, do not lie in return; if they steal your goods, do not seek to steal them back again; if they seek your life, do not seek theirs. This is to say that the law is to be kept under all circumstances. There is neither time nor place where the law is to be broken in order to assure that it is kept. That is man’s philosophy, but it is not the teaching of Christ or the practice of the Christian.

     Having laid out these guidelines for human behavior, Christ confirmed that this was the way in which His Father practised the law. He told His hearers that by so doing they would “be the children of” their “Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45.

     Jesus identified as the children of God those who obey the law in the way He declared it should be obeyed. They were such, He affirmed, because they were doing as the Father did. The evidence of this was all about them. The Lord sent the sunshine and the rain upon the most wicked person as well as the righteous, with equal impartiality. Even while the terrible hand of sin was destroying them, God’s blessings continued. No one, then, could deny that God blessed those who cursed Him, and did good to those who despitefully treated Him.

     A distinguishing mark of God’s children is that they do turn the other cheek, do go the second mile, do love their enemies, and do bless and do good to those who return them only evil. The individual who returns evil for evil, does not turn the other cheek, nor goes the second mile, and does not bless those who despitefully use him, is not a child of God.

     This identification of the children of God is powerfully meaningful. The relationship is spiritual, for it is in this, and not the physical sense, that we are God’s children. It conveys the idea that there must first be the same character in the Christian as in the Father, before there can be the corresponding behavior without. Those who are God’s children have the same character as He has. It is a character received by the process of spiritual regeneration. “By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 391.


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     As surely as they have the same character, they will have the same behavior. They will keep the law; exactly as God, the King of Righteousness, keeps it. “Jesus said, Be perfect as your Father is perfect. If you are the children of God you are partakers of His nature, and you cannot but be like Him. Every child lives by the life of his father If you are God’s children, begotten by His Spirit, you live by the life of God. In Christ dwells ‘all the fullness of the Godhead bodily’ (Colossians 2:9); and the life of Jesus is made manifest ‘in our mortal flesh’ (2 Corinthians 4:11). That life in you will produce the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him. Thus you will be in harmony with every precept of His law; for ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.’ Psalm 19:7, margin. Through love ‘the righteousness of the law’ will be ‘fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:4” The Mount of Blessing, 77, 78.

     In the sermon on the mount, Christ taught of a Father Who loves His enemies—forever;

     blesses those who curse Him—forever;

     does good to those who hate Him—forever.

and prays for those who despitefully use and persecute    Him—forever.

     The implications of such teaching are so extensive that it is difficult to believe they are really true. Some would rather believe that they are just a fine piece of rhetoric with no factual foundation.

     But it was Christ, the Truth, Who testified these things of God. Therefore they are the truth in the strictest sense. God does love His enemies. When consideration is given to whom God’s enemies are, the truth of this becomes the more outstanding and humbling. Passing by all God’s lesser enemies, terrible as they be, the attention is focused on the archenemy of all, Satan.

     Of all the beings who have ever existed, no one has ever hated God more fiercely, cursed Him more savagely, done evil to Him more extensively, or persecuted Him more relentlessly than Satan. Could it be possible that:

God loves Satan even to this very day;

blesses him in return for his cursings;

does good to him who hates Him so much;

and prays for him who so despitefully uses and persecutes Him?

     Christ answers that question, testifying that the Father does all this. The form of His testimony lays out what we are to be and do in order to reproduce the behavior and character of the Father. In doing so, He makes no exception of the devil. He does not counsel us to love our enemies except for Satan. He simply says, “Love your enemies.” Therefore, anyone who can be classified as an enemy is to be loved. Satan certainly comes into this classification for he is the archenemy.


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     Therefore, if doing this makes us the children of God and thus the reproduction of Him, then God loves His enemies, including Satan. He blesses him as far as it is possible for the blessing to reach him, does him good where He can, and will continue to do so for as long as Satan exists. If He did not, then Christ bore a false witness of His Father.

     To understand the attitude of genuine love which the Father has for His lost son, a distinction must be made between love together with fellowship, and love without it.

     There were a trio of Christian sisters who worked in a factory among people of ungodly lives and interests. There developed between them and their worldly associates a spirit of hatred which they recognized as being unlike the Saviour. They had learned the power of acceptable confession[1] whereby they asked the Lord to remove their hatred and replace it with love, for they knew that God’s children love their enemies.

     Their faith was rewarded and they found that all the hateful feelings were gone, but they were troubled because they still did not find a warm bond of love between them and the worldlings. Their problem was that they were not differentiating between love with fellowship and love without it.

     It was impossible for them to have a warm bond of communion with people whose interests found no common ground with theirs. They listened to different music; found their pleasures in the theatre, the dance hall, the beer parlors, and the race track. Their conversation was on these things; and thee principles which guided their lives were in direct conflict with those of the Christians. Therefore fellowship was impossible.

     Of course, fellowship with love is beautiful and desirable. This is the ultimate objective, while love without fellowship is painful.

     God has no fellowship with the devil. They do not see each other, nor do they work together. Their interests and objectives are completely opposite. God does not support any of the devil’s activities, even though he is the recipient of God’s blessings just as the most wicked person receives the outflow of God’s life and love in the seed time and harvest, the rain and the wind, and the continued protection from total and final disaster. The devil takes all these blessings and uses them to war against God, but for this God is not responsible. He gives the blessings for their good, but the perversion of them is the responsibility of those who misuse the gift.

     Be assured on the strength of Christ’s witness of His Father, that God loves the devil and will therefore only bless and do him good. This means that God will never take Satan’s life but would reach out to save him if possible. This is love on an incredible scale. Many reason that God should destroy Satan. They argue that God’s position of custodian of the universe and His possession of omnipotent power make it His responsibility to cut Satan down so that he can hurt and injure no more. To argue this way is to


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fall into the usual pitfall of making God to be just like man, who follows the practice of destroying the lawbreaker to end his iniquity. This is to break the law to ensure that it is kept. But this is not God’s way. He is perfectly righteous. His law is perfect and is never to be broken. Therefore, under no circumstances whatsoever will God lie, steal, or kill. He does not break that law in order to see that it is kept.

     When Jesus bore this beautiful and truthful testimony of His Father, He knew all that God had done in the Old Testament. He was also familiar with the view which men took of what God had done. Men saw God pouring good upon the dwellers in Sodom and Gomorrah for a limited time, after which He exchanged the blessings for cursing, and the good for evil as He poured upon them the flood of fire and brimstone. They saw the same picture in the flood, the plagues of Egypt, the obliteration of the Canaanites, the death by night of Sennacherib’s army, and a thousand other instances.

     If the view of those things, as held by men then and now, is correct, then Christ could never truthfully say what He said from personal conviction, He must have held a very different view of what the Father did in the Old Testament from what men held then and since, for man’s view of God and the picture that Christ presented of Him are two altogether conflicting concepts.

     Christ lived and taught the character of God. He presented God as the perfect law-keeper. Christ neither knew nor presented a God Who had one law for Himself and another for the people. In the infinite superiority of God’s kingdom over that of all others, the law is kept with model fidelity by the Omnipotent One and with equal faithfulness by every loyal subject.

     It is a situation unknown in earthly or satanic systems of government. In all such to a lesser or greater extent, there is one law for the rulers and another for the people. Should any citizen become subject to the government’s wrath, he will tremble in his impotence to protect himself. Earthly laws are so framed that they provide protection for the government against the people but not for the people against the government.

     But it is not so in God’s kingdom. In the first place, He does not need any protection from His own creation, for He is omnipotent and untouchable. He is in a position of power from which He can obliterate any opposition by a single word. Therefore, man might well tremble in dread before such a God if He were indeed altogether such an one as ourselves.

     The law therefore was not given by God to protect Himself from man. It was God’s perfect love gift to man to protect him from himself and from the possibility of perverting the powers given to him for life and blessing, into a cataclysm of destruction. This aspect of the law has been studied earlier in chapter eight.

     Serving man in these ways, the law is a wonderful thing indeed, but the greatest wonder of all is that it actually protects man from God. In setting


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out the principles of that law, God has declared what He is and what He will and will not do. He has stated that He will never lie, never steal, and never kill no matter what situation may arise to call for or to justify such things. The enunciation of the law of God is God’s own pledge that we are forever secure from His doing any such thing no matter how we may treat Him in return.

     When God commits Himself to a pledge of that nature, there is absolute assurance that He will never vary from it in the slightest degree. We are familiar with the pledge made by God to man, under the signature of the rainbow, that the earth would never again perish beneath a flood of waters. From that day to this, that guarantee has never been violated despite the increasing defiance of man toward heaven. God’s word stands true and unchangeable.

     By the misrepresentation of the testimony of God’s word, Satan has convinced man that, if ever God did make such a pledge, He certainly has not honored it. Because this persuasion of man to Satan’s lies about God is so extensive and long-standing, it will be very difficult for the average person to accept that God has made and honored such a commitment. The mind, long trained to see the workings of God in a certain light, will swiftly object that the great rebellion demanded that God arise to cleanse the universe of the curse by actively destroying the offenders. To the human mind, this is the only available solution to the problem. Men do not understand the wisdom and power of God as it will be employed to put down the great rebellion. They do not see that there is another and infinitely better way to deal with the rebellion than counter-force.

     Christ neither shared nor taught such a view. He presented a Father Who loved His enemies and  Who would do them only blessing and goodness. That view He uncompromisingly presented in the very face of the other. As a lone voice, He announced the real truth about the Father even though every other person in the world saw it the other way at the time of His advent.

     The view of God as held, taught, and lived by Christ is the one to be held. Any contrary view is error formulated for our destruction in Satan’s laboratories.

     No ruler in human history is like unto our God. There is no king, governor, president, dictator, lord, prince, emperor, or any other kind of ruler who has pledged himself never to lie to, steal from, or kill any one of his subjects no matter how treasonous, rebellious, slanderous, insurrectionist, arsonist, murderous, thieving, cruel, activist, reactionary, or criminal that subject may become. Earthly potentates know only one way to deal with such elements in society and that is to meet force with force. There is no turning of the other cheek, no going the second mile, no love for their enemies, and no blessing of those who do them evil.


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     But what no earthly ruler has ever done or ever will do, God has done. Truly, His ways are as much higher than our ways as the heavens are above the earth. When the real nature of God’s righteousness is understood and appreciated, it will call forth from the hearts of those who thus see it, a rapture of praise and adoration otherwise impossible. They will then begin to understand and testify with the words of the Bible writers:

     “Among the gods there is none like unto Thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto Thy works.

     “All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy name.

     “For Thou art great, and doest wondrous things: Thou art God alone.” Psalm 86:8-10.

     “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of holiness.” Psalm 48:1

     Let it be clearly recognized that while God Himself pledged that He would never destroy the violators of His principles, He did not, because He could not, guarantee that sinners would not be destroyed. On the contrary, He warned that sin is the act of separating from God, so that there remains no protection from the destructive forces thus set in motion.

     May every reader come to see God as Christ knew Him. Then, with the angels and the inspired writers there will be the pealing forth of praise and adoration for a god so great as our God. Such understanding and spontaneous praise will, in turn, mould the character into the same form until one great pulse of harmony will beat throughout the entire universe.


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[1] The subject of acceptable confession is covered in an effective and practical way in the publication by that name, Acceptable Confession, available from the publishers of this book.