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CAST NOT YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, November 7, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).


It is natural for an inexperienced young Christian to try to bring everyone to church. They hear the words of Christ,

"Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled"
      (Luke 14:23).

And, so, they want to bring in everyone to hear the gospel.

Many of you come from a Roman Catholic background and culture. The Catholics often over-emphasize works of charity. They extol the poverty of St. Francis and Mother Teresa. This attitude is often picked up by young Christians and carried to an extreme, by trying to bring in the most hardened people, those who are least likely to become converted and join the local church. Even those who are not from a Catholic background often seek out the most vile and unresponsive people, and attempt to bring them into the church. I know many good-hearted Christians who pour much of their energy and work into attempting to win the most profligate people they meet. They seem drawn to the least likely prospects for membership in the church.

Dr. Gill says concerning our text,

…that [we] should be cautious and prudent, in rebuking and admonishing such persons for their sins, in whom there is no appearance or hope of success; yea, where there is danger of sustaining loss; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 68).

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).

I. First, what this means.

I think Dr. W. A. Criswell got at the heart of this text when he said, "Spiritual mysteries should not be pressed upon those who are either unready or unwilling to accept or appreciate their value" (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1979, note on Matthew 7:6).

A little later in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said,

"Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet" (Matthew 10:14).

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"
      (Matthew 10:16).

These verses show that Christians need heavenly wisdom in presenting the gospel. Those who are hardened to the point of strongly rejecting the messenger and the message are to be avoided. I think this is what Jesus meant in our text.

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).

Dr. John R. Rice said, "Verse 6 certainly means that there are some people so set in sin that we should not associate with them" (John R. Rice, D.D., The Gospel According to Matthew, Sword of the Lord, 1980 reprint, p. 116). The Bible says, "Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words" (Proverbs 23:9).

II. Second, how this is illustrated.

The Bible gives many examples to illustrate our text. For instance, Moses repeatedly warned the Pharaoh of Egypt, but Pharaoh rejected his warnings and said,

"Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more…" (Exodus 10:28).

"And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more" (Exodus 10:29).

Pharaoh had his last chance to hear God's message. Moses would not "cast [his] pearls before swine."

Then there is the example of Christ when He was arrested. They dragged Him to the high priest. They brought in "witnesses" who made false accusations against Him. Then the high priest said,

"Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace" (Matthew 26:62-63).

Jesus kept quiet. He refused to "cast [His] pearls before swine."

Next, there is the example of Christ before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Christ was taken before Pilate by the Roman guards. But when Pilate questioned Christ,

"He answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly" (Matthew 27:14).

Christ knew that Pilate was not interested in the truth. Our Lord would not "cast [His] pearls before swine," so He did not answer Pilate when he questioned Him.

Then there is the example of Herod. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod.

"And when Herod saw Jesus… he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing" (Luke 23:8-9).

Herod had a superstitious desire to see Jesus perform a miracle. But he was not really interested in knowing the truth. Jesus "answered him nothing" (Luke 23:9). Again, our Lord did not "cast [His] pearls before swine."

The Apostle Paul and Barnabas followed Christ's example in the Book of Acts.

"Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles"
      (Acts 13:46).

All of these examples illustrate the principle Jesus laid down when He said,

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).

Matthew Henry said of this verse,

We must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners, to whom it will certainly do no good, but who will be exasperated and enraged at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, vol.5, page 72).

III. Third, who this applies to.

The Bible says,

"Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee" (Proverbs 9:8).

Dr. Gill says there is no use witnessing to "persons notoriously vile and sinful; to men who being violent and furious persecutors, and impudent blasphemers, are compared to dogs; or to such as are scandalously vile…and are therefore compared to swine" (John Gill, ibid.). Such people will only hate you if you witness to them.

There is a need for God to give us discernment in witnessing. Dr. J. Vernon McGee said of this passage,

While I was a pastor in downtown Los Angeles for twenty-one years, I met people from all walks of life. It took me thirty minutes to drive from my home to the church, and during that time I would tell the Lord I was going to meet some new people during the day and would ask Him to please tell me how I should act with each one. Some people would need my help, but others might try to put a knife in my back…When you meet new friends, do you ever ask God to make it clear to you how to treat them? I have found out that it is a good idea to do this (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 41).

That may seem a little complicated to a new Christian. You may ask, "Who should I witness to? Who should I bring to church?" A good rule of thumb is this - look for the kind of young people that you see coming into our church and becoming Christians. The kind of young people you see coming into our church and staying are the kind you should be witnessing to. This basic guideline will help to keep you out of trouble with hardened people who will not listen anyway, and will only become angry with you "and turn and rend you" (Matthew 7:6), and turn and tear you to pieces in one way or another.

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"
      (Matthew 10:16).

And may God help you to do this, as you go out witnessing for Christ in this city.

If you are here listening to me preach tonight, you are probably not the kind of person Jesus described in our text as "dogs" and "swine." If you were, you probably would never have come to church in the first place. So I say to you, in the words of Christ,

"Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

That is the message of salvation. You must repent by turning from sin to Jesus Christ. He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin in the sight of God. He rose physically from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. Come to Christ by faith and He will wash away your sins with His Blood, and give you everlasting life. May God help you to do it! Amen.


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 10:12-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Go, Labour On; Spend and Be Spent" (by Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889).

THE OUTLINE OF

CAST NOT YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).

(Luke 14:23)

I.   What this means, Matthew 10:14, 16; Proverbs 23:9.

II.  How this is illustrated, Exodus 10:28, 29; Matthew 26:62-63;
Matthew 27:14; Luke 23:8-9; Acts 13:46.

III. Who this applies to, Proverbs 9:8; Matthew 10:16; Mark 1:15.

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