Text: Matt 5-7; John 7:37-39
Summary: Doing the will of God as Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount requires divine help from the Holy Spirit. Among believers who already have the Holy Spirit, only the thirsty receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Abba Father, we know that you are a perfect Father. You’re a good Father. You are a loving Father. And Lord today we want to wrestle with the question, why don’t you answer our prayers? You promise that whatever we ask, we will receive. But in many cases, our prayers are not answered. We want to wrestle with why? Why are we not getting answers to prayer when it says in your Word that you’re a good Father who wants so much to give us good things.
So, Lord, we pray that you would speak today. Give us understanding. Whatever we need to repent of and do differently, we ask for help. Father, we pray that you give us instructions. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Even a sinful, evil father knows how to give good gifts to his children. If my kids asked me for something, I would not deliberately give them something that would harm them. And our heavenly Father is good and He so much wants to give us good gifts. He wants to give us whatever we ask for. But why is it not the case that we can claim this verse and ask for things in prayer and it will be given to us? Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened. Why is that not the case?
One passage which gives us an answer is 2 Chronicles 7:14-15.
2 Chron 7
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
The surprising thing that we realize from these two verses is that there are many times when God does not hear our prayers. It’s not because He doesn’t want to. It’s because He’s turned away from us and He’s not even paying attention. Many times we pray and we receive no answer. We don’t even know if God is listening and it’s because God has turned His face away. He has closed His ears and His eyes.
And what kind of a person would God do that to? A proud person, somebody who does not humble himself, someone who is engaging in various sins. And we have to realize that there are various sins that are blocking our relationship with our heavenly Father. In our prayers to our heavenly Father, there are blockages that must be removed, and I pray that as we go through today’s sermon, God would start removing the blockages. Because if you humble yourself and you pray and you seek God’s face and you turn from your wicked ways, then the promise from heaven, is that God hears you. And if He hears you, He will answer you.
Getting back to Matthew 5-7. We’ve been covering this for the last couple of weeks. There are some verses I want to highlight, which will help us to understand why we need to pray.
19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What is the will of God? Is it to attend church? Is it to give to the poor? Is it to join a small group or mission trips and plant churches? Is that primarily the will of God? According to these verses on our progress toward perfection, because Heavenly Father says, I am perfect so you also must be perfect. So on our progress toward perfection, Jesus is outlining in his very first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, here is the will of God.
And you must not just believe it and just read about it and study it and preach it. You must do it. You must do, Matthew 5, 6 and 7. And this is not easy. Going to a small group is easy. Attending church is easy. Even planting churches is easy. Even what it says in Matthew 7, when Jesus says to a bunch of Christians, I never knew you. These people are prophesying in Jesus name. They’re casting out demons in Jesus name. They’re doing mighty works in Jesus name. And yet they did not do the will of God. And Jesus says I don’t know you.
So what is the will of God? If you study Matthew 5-7, there are external things that we can see that are the will of God, but primarily it is internal. If you look at Matthew 5-7, it is in an internal work that God wants us to do and to become so that we are perfect the way that heavenly Father is perfect. And where our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees.
I will do a quick overview. It’s things such as do not be angry, that is the will of God. It is not optional. We must become this kind of a person where there is no anger. We might say, well it says do not murder. Isn’t that what we read in the Old Testament? God shows us in Christ the fulfillment of that command. It is not just murder, it is hatred and anger, and that is the will of God. We must become the kind of person who is not angry.
And it is such a high standard of perfection that you cannot even say to your brother, you fool! And how many times have we uttered these kinds of words to those that we love even worse than you fool? That is the will of God that we are so sanctified even in our speech, that these kinds of words would never come out of our mouth. And we are so transformed. The kind of person we are is a peacemaker wherever we go. Blessed are the peacemakers, it says in Matthew 5.
And if there is someone who has something against you, we’re the kind of person who goes to that person and tries to reconcile, even if we are only 1% at fault and that person is 99% at fault. If they have something against you, we’re the kind of person where we will go to that person who has something against us and we reconcile. We say sorry for what we can say sorry for and you’re trying to be a peacemaker. That is the will of God.
And we might think, isn’t it enough that I don’t commit adultery? That’s old covenant. That’s Old Testament. We think that’s all that we have to do. That’s the only requirement in terms of sexual purity. And yet Jesus elevates the law and says that the true intention of that commandment is to not even lust after a woman. Otherwise, you have already committed adultery in your heart. That is the will of God that is progressing toward perfection.
And you become the kind of person that if someone slaps you, you turn to give him your other cheek. Someone asks you for a tunic. You give them your cloak. Someone wants to sue you. You say OK, have it all. They ask you to go one mile you go two miles. This is the will of God to become that kind of a person. It is primarily internal.
What God is asking from us, to love your enemies, to pray for those who persecute you, that requires such a tremendous transformation on the inside. We can all be good to the people who are good to us. But as soon as they wrong us, we cut them off. We slander them, we attack them, we judge them. And yet Jesus says, the will of God is to be the kind of person who loves your enemies and prays for those who persecute you.
The will of God is to do much of our life in secret, not giving vast amounts of money and advertising it and putting it in the church bulletin so that everyone knows how spiritual you are because you’re so generous in your tithing. To pray not these long, lengthy prayers in front of people so that people think you are spiritual but to pray in a prayer closet on your knees when nobody’s looking. That is the will of God. To fast and for no one to know that you’re fasting because they can’t tell because you’ve groomed yourself. You’re not advertising through how unkempt you are that you are fasting. Everything is done in secret. You’re not doing it for the praise of men.
To be the kind of person that you never, ever are worried about anything. You are never worrying about anything. That is a commandment. That is the will of God for every believer that you never worry, especially about finances. Never worry. That is the will of God. You’re serving God and not money, and money is your slave instead of your master, money serves you. You don’t serve money because you serve God. You’re devoted to God. That is the will of God.
To not be a judgmental person and to know that the main problem in my life is a log in my eye. But we look at everybody else and they seem to be so blind. They have so many logs. I just have a little speck and I see so clearly. And yet Jesus says, we all have logs. So the biggest problem in my life is my log. The biggest problem in your life is your log. And if we agreed with Jesus, we wouldn’t be so judgmental. This is the will of God.
And I don’t know about you, but as I take a quick, cursory overview of these chapters, what God is asking us to do, the will of God that we must all do, not just read about but do it, is an impossible list. It is an impossible list. Going back to our first text. That we would ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be open to you. How much more would your God our Father who is in heaven give good gifts and good things to those who ask Him.
So in light of what we read in Matthew 5-7, what should we be asking for? The answer is in Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So what do we need in order to do the will of God outlined in Matthew 5-7? It is a humanly impossible list to try hard in our flesh to become that kind of a person, a person who is perfect the way the Heavenly Father is perfect, to do the will of God. You and I need to ask for help in the form of the Helper, the Holy Spirit. We need to ask our heavenly Father to send and give the good gift of the Holy Spirit.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
And so when we ask the Father for the Spirit, already we have the Spirit. We’re not talking about salvation. We already have the Spirit. Otherwise, you would not even realize who Jesus is. And you would not even acknowledge that you have a heavenly Father. The fact that you are even praying this prayer of sending the Spirit, already proves that you have the Spirit.
So we’re not talking about salvation. Don’t let anyone deceive you or confuse you and say, well, you don’t have the baptism of the Spirit. You don’t speak in tongues. You’re not saved. Some go to that length, but Jesus is so clear that you already have it. The Spirit is already dwelling with you and will be in you. You already have the Spirit and because you have the Spirit, you know who Jesus is. And you know that you have a heavenly Father.
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
And so when we talk about the baptism of the Spirit, we’re basically asking for help. We’re asking for help to do the will of God. It is not a power for ministry primarily, because in Matthew 7, there is a list of supernatural ministers who are casting out in Jesus name and prophesying in Jesus name and doing mighty works in Jesus name. So when we ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we’re not asking for power for ministry. We’re asking for power to do the will of God which is Matthew 5-7.
There are two reasons why God, who so desires to give us more of the Spirit, why He would not give it to you. The first we already talked about. There is a blockage. You’re praying and praying and you’re going to early morning prayer, and you’re praying for hours, you’re praying for years. And nothing that you asked for is given to you. And when you ask for the Holy Spirit, He is not given to you and you cannot do the will of God. One explanation is there’s a blockage. The Father is not even turned towards you. He’s looking away. Maybe because you’re proud. Maybe because of some sin. There’s a brokenness in your relationship with God.
So ask ask the Holy Spirit, what is that breakage? What’s causing the blockage? What’s breaking my relationship with heavenly Father? Because He wants to give me the gift, not just the Holy Spirit, but many good things. He wants to give me whatever I ask for, whatever I’m knocking on heaven’s door for, He wants to give it to me. He is that kind of a heavenly Father. One reason is there’s a blockage. Ask the Holy Spirit. What is the blockage? What is my sin that has severed my relationship with You so that my prayers don’t get past the ceiling? They’re not reaching heaven.
There’s a problem in my relationship with my heavenly Father, so ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the blockage. You already have the Holy Spirit. He can convict you of sin. Ask him what is causing this blockage.
The second reason why God doesn’t give us the baptism of the Holy Spirit is we’re not thirsty for it. We’re not thirsty for it. You’re okay with the amount of the Holy Spirit that you have. And you’re okay living your life trying to do Matthew 5-7 and you never come close. But you’re okay with doing Christian life that way which is so far from perfection. You’re okay with just lusting in your heart and being angry, being worldly, chasing after money. You’re okay living that way because you’re a believer. Jesus says, don’t just believe in me. Follow me. Follow my example. Follow my perfection. Do the will of God the way that I fulfilled the will of God perfectly. All of us must fulfill the will of God and do it.
And Jesus says, do these words, specifically these words of mine, the words that he preaches in Matthew 5-7. This is the will of God. It is primarily internal. And if you look at this list and you look at your own heart in your own life and you really want to do the will of God, then you will begin to thirst. You will begin to thirst for more of the Holy Spirit.
Without the Helper’s help, we will fall short at the end of every year we evaluate. How was 2019? Next year we’re going to evaluate how was 2020. Without the Holy Spirit’s help, we will never, ever come close to doing the will of God, which is to become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. To follow Jesus and His example, His perfection.
Jesus was not angry. Jesus did not lust. Jesus was tempted in every way, but was without sin. That is what what the heavenly Father wants. And that is the will of God. For all of us to become like Jesus. And without the Holy Spirit’s help, you can do ministry fine. Without the Spirit’s help, you could do many things in life. But if your goal is perfection, if your goal is to look like Jesus and follow His example, then without the Spirit’s help, you will not get close. And so you need to thirst for more of the Spirit.
We are poor in the spirit. Acknowledge I am poor. I am impoverished in my spirit. I need more of the Spirit. I have the Spirit, but I need so much more. I need to be empowered to do the will of God.
So during our time of prayer, just a couple things that I invite you to pray through. First, ask the Holy Spirit, what is causing the blockage? Because if there’s a blockage, even if we’re thirsty for the right thing, for more of the Holy Spirit, He will not hear you. If you’re proud, He will not hear you. God opposes the proud. If you don’t humble yourself and get on your knees in His presence, He will not answer the prayer of, give me the Holy Spirit. So first we have to remove the blockage, the pride, arrogance, the anger, the lust, whatever is causing a severing of my relationship with my heavenly Father because He’s turned away from me. He’s not paying attention to my prayers. We have to fix that first.
And then once God is looking at you and you’re going to Him humbly, and you’re asking for all these potential prayer requests, if you really want to do the will of God, ask God to increase your thirst for the Holy Spirit. Because only if you’re thirsty will you receive more of it. And maybe you’re just not interested in Matthew 5-7.
Maybe you’re just interested in doing your will. If that’s the case, you will never receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It only comes to the thirsty. You have to want it, and the reason why you want it is because you so desperately want to do the will of God and you know that it’s humanly impossible. There is such a gap and you need the Spirit’s help to do the will of God, which is to overcome sin and to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Okay, let’s pray.
For those of us who are not believers, I invite you to bow the knee to King Jesus because he died on a cross for your sins and He made a way and He is the way to the heavenly Father. And you have a Father in heaven who is perfect, who loves you, who wants to shower so much blessing upon you. If you’re not saved, I invite you to bow the knee to Jesus and asked to be saved.
if you are saved and you’ve been praying for many things, but you’re not receiving answers to these prayers and God seems so distant, perhaps there’s a blockage and God does not even pay attention to your prayers. Ask for the Holy Spirit that you already received at salvation, ask for the Spirit to show you your sin so that one by one you can repent. You can humble yourself and turn from your wicked ways and seek His face. And God will turn and begin to hear you and answer your prayer requests.
And if there’s any prayer requests that we should be praying on a regular basis, it is for the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the filling of the Spirit, for the baptism of the Spirit. Because we so desperately want to do the will of God and we cannot do it on our own strength. We cannot become this kind of person without divine help.
Helper, we ask you to come. Father, we ask you to send the Helper. Jesus, we ask that on our behalf you ask the Father to send the Helper as we come and kneel before you. Lord Jesus, ask the Father for us. If you can hear us, He certainly can hear your prayers. So we ask you Jesus to ask the Father to send the Spirit. Give us help, Lord, give us help. We can’t become this kind of a person, free from anger and lust, without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying on a cross. We remember your death, burial and resurrection and ascension. And we partake in the Lord’s supper, partaking in your bread which symbolizes your body broken, and partaking in your cup symbolizing your blood shed. We pray that you would meet with us as we humble ourselves before you. We want to do your will, O God. Jesus, you preached the will of God over these three chapters. And we want so much to do the will of God, not just read about it, but to do it and become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen