THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, PART 1
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may, see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
I Nine Christian Virtues -- Necessary for Entrance into Heaven
1. The poor in spirit -- humility -- theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven, [Matthew:5:3]; [Matthew:18:4]; [Proverbs:29:23]; [Luke:14:11]; [James:4:10].
2. They that mourn -- contrition -- God's comfort bestowed on them, [Matthew:5:4]; [Psalms:34:18]; [Isaiah:57:15].
3. The meek of the earth -- meekness -- the earth their inheritance, [Matthew:5:5]; [Zephaniah:2:3]; [Matthew:11:29].
4. The hungry and thirsty -- spiritual desire -- spiritual satisfaction, [Matthew:5:6]; [Proverbs:27:7]; [Psalms:63:1]; [Isaiah:26:9].
5. The merciful -- mercy -- God's mercy their reward, [Matthew:5:7]; [Matthew:6:14]; [Luke:10:36-37].
6. The pure in heart -- holiness -- the privilege of seeing God, [Matthew:5:8]; [John:17:9-26]; [1 John:3:2-3].
7. The peacemakers -- peace of heart -- the children of God, [Matthew:5:9]; [Romans:14:19].
8. Patience under persecution -- the Kingdom their reward, [Matthew:5:10]; [James:1:4].
9. Bearing the reproach of the Cross -- Joy their reward, [Matthew:5:11-12]; [Acts:5:41]; 1 Peter:2:20-21]; [1 Peter:4:12-19].
II The Old Law Interpreted in the Light of the New Dispensation
1. His disciples the salt of the earth and the light of the world, [Matthew:5:13-16]; [Matthew:4:19]; [Luke:14:34-35].
2. The law fulfilled by Christ that it might be fulfilled by Christians, [Matthew:5:17-20]; [Romans:8:3-4].
3. Jesus' interpretation of the law against murder, [Matthew:5:21-26]; [Exodus:20:13]: [1 John:3:15].
4. Jesus' interpretation of the levy against adultery, [Matthew:5:27-32]; [Exodus:20:14].
5. Jesus' interpretation of forswearing oneself, [Matthew:5:33-37]; [Exodus:20:7]; [Leviticus:19:12]; [James:5:12].
6. Jesus' denunciation of the spirit of revenge, [Matthew:5:38-42]; [Leviticus:24:20]; [Romans:12:19].
7. Jesus' commandment to love our enemies, [Matthew:5:43-47]; [Romans:12:14].
8. An urge to seek Christian perfection -- holiness, [Matthew:5:48]; [Genesis:17:1]; [Hebrews:6:1].
When the Law was given on Mt. Sinai the Children of Israel drew back because of fear of the presence of God. At the delivering of the Sermon on the Mount, instead of judgment manifesting itself, we have grace manifested. And the people drew nigh to hear Jesus. John said that, the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and we have here a remarkable example of it.
"And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judæa, and from beyond Jordan" (Matthew:4:25). A great congregation was gathered upon the open mountainside. Jesus started His sermon with the formula for being blessed or for having true happiness.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit." What are we to get out of this first blessing He pronounces? Humility. It is not being poor in circumstances or knowledge -- it means being emptied of self righteousness.
"Blessed are they that mourn." To "mourn" means to have contrition and sorrow for sin. The spirit of contrition does not end with praying through to victory. The further one proceeds spiritually, the greater expanses he sees yet to be obtained. The more expanses he sees, the more he perceives of God's protection and the more he sees of his own need.
"Blessed are the meek." Everything here is just about the reverse of what it is in the world. It is not the meek, but the aggressor, from whom the world has inherited its philosophy.
These beatitudes set forth the qualifications for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. We cannot enter Heaven itself unless first we have the Kingdom of Heaven within.
In the country around the Dead Sea there was a coating of salt on its shores that was exposed to the winds, storms, and rains. Because of this exposure, it lost its savour and was fit for nothing. Jesus gives this example as a warning against backsliding. He also emphasizes the necessity of letting our light shine -- of being active in good works. It is by practice that we grow in the grace of God.
Jesus shows us the place the Law occupies. It was not because it was inferior in itself, or that it had been tried and had failed to work, that Jesus had to come; it was because God was bringing in a new dispensation that gave the true interpretation of the Law. His fulfillment of the Law is not what some people consider it to be: that He, fulfilling the Law, relieved them of all responsibility to the Law. It does not do that. Go through the New Testament from beginning to end, and you will find that the moral law is reiterated there. In the new dispensation emphasis is placed on conforming to the true spirit of the Law which necessitates having the Law written on our hearts. The fundamental moral laws, which have existed from the beginning have never passed away.
Jesus takes a clear stand against adultery. Today some are saying that if divorced persons are already legally married before coming into the church, it is not necessary to be separated. John the Baptist told Herod that it was not lawful for him to have his brother's wife.
"Swear not at all . . . But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay." Some Christians have overlooked this injunction today. Most legal documents have the words "or affirm" inserted after the word "swear" because our forefathers objected to swearing. A Christian should not raise his hand to take an oath before God, but may affirm his words.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." "The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet" (Proverbs:27:7).
"Blessed are the merciful." In the world the man that extends mercy is often taken advantage of; so the motto sometimes has become, "Get the other fellow before he gets you." But God's mercy is offered to those who are merciful.
"Blessed are the pure in heart." That can be summed up in one word: Holiness. It is quite significant that this matter of holiness, or sanctification, is associated with seeing God. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. John wrote, "We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." In other words, to see God one must be like Him. One can see what importance is developed in that matter of becoming like God. Jesus said at the close of this chapter: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
"Blessed are the peacemakers." This need not be defined as merely getting people together and settling a contention between them. A Christian, having peace in his heart, is naturally a peacemaker. Paul exhorts: "As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake." Jesus never tried to hide the fact that His disciples would suffer persecution. He said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you”.
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you." Peter tells us, "If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
1. Commit to memory the nine Beatitudes.
2. What is meant by "the righteousness of the Pharisees"?
3. If our brother has something against us, whose responsibility is it to get the difficulty straightened out?
4. Name a man in the Old Testament who is called meek.
5. How do we become pure in heart?
6. Which Beatitude is a good promise for the seeker after God?
7. Name some ways in which Christ fulfilled the Law.
8. Name some ways in which we can let our light shine.
9. What is the connection between good works and letting our light shine?
10. What constitutes murder?
11. Give an example of going the "second mile."
12. In what way must a Christian's love differ from that of the publican?