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Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for Sermon on the Mount

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INTRODUCTION

This is the Great Manifesto of the kingdom of God The Sermon on the Mount was addressed to the disciples, not to the multitudes. It isn't intended to be a social gospel or to bring an end to suffering and wars Some falsely say that this is for the future and that the Sermon on the Mount concerns the Kingdom Age and not the age of grace Jesus said that "the kingdom of God is among you" (Luke 17-21) As we bow to the King's authority, we become citizens of the heavenly kingdom (Philippians 3:20) The Sermon on the Mount declares to us what we are through the grace of God working in our lives; and because of what we are. what our relationship to the law is For this reason. the Sermon on the Mount needs to be taken in context The first section contains the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:3-16 The Beatitudes place the emphasis on what we are as opposed to what we do. Matthew 5:17-48 deals with the relationship of Jesus Christ to the law Matthew 6 deals with our relation ship with God, and Matthew 7 deals with our relationship with man.

MATTHEW 5:

v. 2 Here Jesus is teaching the disciples. not the world

In interpreting Scripture certain guidelines need to be followed

(1) The understandable and natural meaning is usually the correct interpretation

(2) If the interpretation of Scripture makes the meaning seem absurd. then the interpretation is wrong

(3) If the interpretation contradicts the general body of scriptural truth, then it is wrong.

(4) If the Bible is approached with a preconceived thought or idea, the interpretation will not be true

v. 3-16 These Beatitudes list seven characteristics that make up the Christian character. The eighth Beatitude deals with the reaction of the world to these traits. These characteristics are all interrelated and progressive. The Beatitudes are not natural characteristics, and they actually create a sharp distinction between the Christians and non-Christians in the things they admire and the things they seek

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

v. 3a "Blessed" in the Greek means "Oh, how happy!" True happiness is a byproduct of a right relationship with God and cannot be discovered by direct pursuit. The first three Beatitudes have to do with our response to the revelation of God (Romans 7:9; Luke 18:11). This first characteristic of the child of God is a foundation that God can build upon. God cannot build upon the foundations of pride, self will, or our own ambitions. God's process is usually that of emptying before filling (Luke 2:34; Jeremiah 1:10). A man who is truly poor in spirit will not be admired by the world (Luke 16:15). "Poor in spirit" indicates a willingness to surrender to the authority and control of God, so that He might govern our lives. We will not be making demands, because we're unworthy and undeserving (Genesis 32:10). Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of our own sinfulness and spiritual poverty (Isaiah 6:5; Daniel 10:8; Luke 5:8; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Psalms 8:3-4). The way to happiness is poverty of spirit (Luke 18:10-14; Matthew 7:13).

v. 3b In the New Testament the "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" are used interchangeably. The "kingdom of God" refers to God's sovereign rule over the whole universe. of which the "kingdom of heaven" is a part. There are two aspects to the kingdom of heaven.

(1) Present-The kingdom of heaven has come to those who have submitted themselves to Jesus to be governed by Him

(2) Future-The King will come to reign over the earth; the Kingdom of heaven will then be on earth (Matthew 6:10; Revelation 11:15).

BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN

v. 4a The word "mourn" in the Greek is the most intensive kind of mourning. It was used when Jacob thought that his son Joseph was dead (Genesis 37:34-35). Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). John 8:57; 11:35; Luke 19:41; Matthew 23:37 There are three interpretations for mourning

(1) A very bitter, deep sorrow for the loss of a loved one or a deep abiding sorrow from an impairing affliction. resulting in a quality of character that can only be developed by suffering

(2) Mourning over the conditions of the world and having a feeling of helplessness to do anything about it When Jesus mourned over Jerusalem, He was grieving over the sin of the world (Matthew 23:37-39)

(3) Mourning over our own sinful state. Being poor in spirit creates a mourning over our own shortcomings and sins.

v. 4b We're comforted as God cleanses us of our unrighteousness and sins (2 Corinthians 7:10). We're comforted by the hope of the better world that is promised to us (Isaiah 2:4, 11:9)

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK

v. 5a When we realize the truth about ourselves, our attitude towards others is one of meekness. Meekness is related to lowliness (Matthew 11:29; Ephesians 4:2), gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1; Titus 3:2), and learning the Word of God (James 1:21; Isaiah 61:1). We are to seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3). In the Greek the word for "meek" means "a happy medium between two extremes." Meekness is moderation. A meek person can have anger when others are treated unjustly, but not be angry when he is unjustly treated (Mark 3:1-5; John 2:13-16). Another meaning for "meek" is "to domesticate a wild animal." A God controlled life is meekness. The Jews didn't expect their Messiah to be meek. They were anticipating Him to overthrow the Roman government by force. Meekness is having others see the truth about ourselves and giving honor to others (Philippians 2:3). We have examples in the Bible of men that were meek: Abraham (Genesis 13:5-9, 21:22-34); Moses (Numbers 12:3); David (1 Samuel 24); Stephen (Acts 7:59-60); Paul (Acts 26:21-22); Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8; John 4:34; Mark 14:36).

v. 5b In reality, a meek person has already inherited the earth because he is a satisfied person. A meek person has learned that happiness doesn't lie in his possessions, but in a relationship with God (Philippians 4:11). In the coming Kingdom when Jesus reigns, the meek will reign with Him

TO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS

v. 6a The first three Beatitudes were the emptying process. Now we come to seek for an answer to our helplessness. In the Greek this verse denotes one of desiring, not just a portion but all of the righteousness of God. The primary purpose of the Church isn't to take care of symptoms such as starvation and crime, but to bring the Gospel to men so that they will be brought into a position of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Righteousness cannot be achieved in our own strength; it is a standing before God. God has imputed to us righteousness because we believe in Jesus Christ There are two types of righteousness

(1) Of the law, which at its best leads to self-righteousness which results in judging others.

(2) Righteousness given by God through believing in Jesus Christ This is the righteousness of Christ.

We cannot improve upon this righteousness, and it leads to gratefulness Righteousness is being right with God and our fellow man We're not to hunger and thirst after happiness, but after righteousness Blessed is the man, not who is righteous, but who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. It isn't necessarily righteousness itself that brings happiness (1 Kings 8:18)

v. 6b We shall be filled with righteousness.

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

v. 7a God is merciful (Psalms 103:8,11).

Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don't deserve. After being filled, we become the next three Beatitudes. Because we have received the mercy of God through repentance, we can be merciful. If we aren't merciful, we haven't actually received God's mercy. Those who have received forgiveness show forgiveness. The Greek word for "mercy" has its root in the Hebrew word meaning "to get inside someone else's skin." This means that you can totally identify with what he's seeing, thinking, and feeling (Ezekiel 3:15). God came into the skin of man through Christ to be able to identify with us. Sympathy is to suffer together or to experience together the pains and sufferings of others (Luke 10:30-37). The Gospel places the emphasis on what we are, not on what we are doing (Ephesians 1-4). Because of this, the call to action is wrong. If we're what God

wants us to be, we'll do what God wants us to do (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

v. 7b The Beatitudes are like a beacon light that calls us to self-examination. If we're merciful, then others will be merciful to us (Luke 6:38; 1 Corinthians 11:28,31).

BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART

v. 8a The word "pure" here refers to a purity that is the result of a washing. The heart is the center of one's being, the throne of the spirit. The Pharisees were concerned with the outward observances of righteousness (Matthew 15:2). God is concerned with the inner heart (Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9). The heart needs to be cleansed (Psalms 51:10). Being "pure in heart" is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Christian has a renewed heart in an unrenewed body (Mark 14:38; Romans 7:15-25; Galatians 5:17; Psalms 103:14).

v. 8b We can see God in His creation, in the events in history, and in our daily circumstances (Romans 8:28). In the future we shall see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; John 1:18; 1 Peter 1:8; John 6:46; 1 Corinthians 15:53).

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

v. 9a The Jews were longing for the Messiah to lead them in war, to conquer all Gentiles, and to rule the world. Peace is more than a passive existence; it's a very positive state of good. A peacemaker is more than one who stops quarrels; he brings good into other people's lives. A peacemaker might become involved in great conflicts As long as the forces of evil prevail, there is no way to have peace except by destroying them. Peacemakers deal with the corrupted issues so that there can be a true state of peace. Jesus was fighting against the corrupted religious system and for peace between man and God (John 2:14-16; Matthew 23:27). Real peace can never be found in a compromise with evil. There can never be a peaceful coexistence with sin (1 Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 57:20, 48:22). Peacemakers bring others to God. Man's basic problem is that he has to be reconciled unto God.

Barnabas, which means "son of consolation," was a peacemaker (Acts 9:26-27).

v. 9b "Called" means "chosen." "Children" means "sons." This actually should say, "they shall be chosen as sons of God." God initiated peace with man. We should have this same desire (Luke 2:14; Romans 5:1). When Jesus comes again to the earth, He will be called "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Even within our own lives, God will never make a pact with sin. Our sins need to be dealt with.

PERSECUTION FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE

v. 10 The Lord is upfront in telling us that we will suffer and that the world will not react in love and kindness towards us (Matthew 10:16-25; Acts 9:1-16).

v. 11 To be righteous is to be Christlike. We'll be blessed for being persecuted because we're righteous, not because we're fanatical or stupid (Luke 6:26; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

The doctrine stating that Christians only go through suffering and afflictions if they don't have enough faith is inconsistent with Scripture. (2 Kings 13:14; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 2:27; 1 Timothy 5:23). The religious people were the ones who persecuted Jesus, because they were challenged by Him. Sometimes persecution comes from religious circles.

v. 12 As Christians we should face persecution:

(1) by not retaliating against our persecutors (Matthew 5:44; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60);

(2) by not holding resentment against them;

(3) by rejoicing in the fact that this proves that we are God's children and have a great reward in heaven (Romans 8:7; Acts 5:40,41).

Because we're His children, our position in His kingdom is secure. We need to remember that we're His ambassadors on earth, and we represent Christ. We need to remember where we're going (2 Timothy 4:8). The prophets were persecuted (Acts 7:52). All of the apostles were persecuted for Jesus' sake. They persecuted Jesus Christ. Persecution has strengthened the Church (Romans 5:3-5).

THE SALT OF THE EARTH

Now that we are what we are, we should be these things.

v. 13a Salt has several capacities.

(1) At the time of Christ, salt was used as a preservative to kill bacteria and retard spoilage. The Christian should have a preserving type of influence.

(2) Salt is used to add flavor. Christians are to add life and flavor to people's lives. We're to make every experience "taste" better because of our presence.

(3) Salt creates thirst. Christians should create a thirst within others to know Jesus Christ.

(4) Salt prevents infections from setting in. Christians are to have an antiseptic effect on the open sores of the world.

v. 13b If we're not having a savory effect on this earth, we're good for nothing.

Salt that is cast on the ground destroys vegetation. Jesus here is giving the ultimatum. Be either a purifying influence or you'll find yourself under the weight of a fallen society (Judges 13-16; Esther 4:13-16; 1 Timothy 4:16).

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

v. 14a Exodus 25:31-40; Jeremiah 2:13. In the Greek, Jesus is emphatically saying, "Ye and ye only are the light of the world. "The light of Jesus Christ is to be reflected in our lives (John 8:12). Light has several functions.

(1) Light dispels darkness. Our lives should have such an influence that wherever we are, we dispel darkness (Matthew 4:16).

(2) Light reveals. The light of Jesus Christ reveals the darkness that is in others (John 3:17-19).

(3) Light shows the way out of darkness. We should be leading men out of darkness through that work of God's love and Spirit in our lives (1 John 1 :7).

v. 14b People are going to notice if we are children of God.

v. 15 We should not try to hide our relationship with God.

v. 16 These good works should draw attention to Christ.

THE RELATIONSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE LAW

There has been a great deal of misunderstanding concerning this relationship (John 1:17; Matthew 15:1-3).

v. 17a Christ was the fulfillment of the law.

(1) There is no more need for sacrifice. Jesus became the sin sacrifice for the world as the Lamb of God (John 1 :29).

(2) Jesus became our sacrifice of burnt offering, the offering of consecration.

(3) Jesus became our peace offering, making peace between man and God (Ephesians 2:14).

(4) Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath law, which was the rest that God had given to His people (Hebrews 4:9-10).

The law condemns all men to death and has no power to save. Christ's death upon the Cross fulfilled the righteousness of the law (Ezekiel 18:4; Isaiah 53:6; Colossians 2:14-17). When Jesus came, He fulfilled over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament (2 Peter 1:16).

v. 18 Jesus is saying that the law is to be fulfilled.

v. 19 This verse refers to the relationship the law has to the Christian.

Our righteousness before God hasn't been established through out own actions; it is based upon our faith in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the law for us (Romans 10:4; Galatians 5:4; Acts 15:7-20). Christ has fulfilled the righteousness of the law. God has imputed that righteousness to those who believe on Him. If righteousness could come by the law, then the death of Christ wouldn't have been necessary (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:10: Romans 5:20, 6:1,2,12; Galatians 2:20).

Because of our new relationship with God through Christ. God is giving us the power to will and to do of His good pleasure in us (Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 10: 16) There is a warfare going on between our renewed spirit and our flesh (Romans 7:15-25).

TO EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES

v. 20a The true intention of the law was that we exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. The law was to govern men's attitudes as well as their actions. The scribes and Pharisees were the most "religious" people in the country. The scribes read and interpreted the law of God for the people (Ezra 7:10). After the Babylonian captivity, the common people could no longer read the Hebrew language, and they depended on the scribes for the interpretation of the law. The Pharisees were a religious sect who spent their lives endeavoring to live by every detail of the law. They put the emphasis on the outward observances of the law and ignored the inward law of God. They obeyed the law with the wrong motive-wanting to be seen by men. The rest of Matthew 5 affirms the fact that God is more concerned with the pro per attitudes that lead to the right actions. The Pharisees set certain standards of righteousness and sought to motivate others to conform to their standards. Jesus is the true standard of righteousness (John 16:10). That righteousness is imputed to us through faith in Him (Romans 4:5, 8:3-4; 2 Kings 5:10-14). This righteousness is manifested by the fruit of love in our lives (1 Corinthians 11:28).

v. 20b Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:10.

v. 21-48 Jesus wasn't in conflict with the law, but He disagreed with what the

people were being taught about the law. The scribes and Pharisees were disobeying the true intent of the law. They were thwarting the very purpose of God; instead of being driven to despair through the law, they were resting in a false righteousness (Romans 3:19-20, 9:30-33; Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 7:19). According to Christ, certain principles need to be followed when interpreting the law.

(1) The spirit of the law is what matters most.

(2) The thoughts and actions that lead to the obedience of the law are what should be judged.

(3) The true intent of the law is to bring us into a positive relationship with God and our fellowman (1 John 1:3; Jude 24; Romans 8:3). It is wrong for us to take the illustrations that Jesus gives here and make a law out of them.

THOU SHALT NOT KILL

From this point on, Matthew 5 has to be looked at in the light of Matthew 5:20.

v. 21 These Scriptures in the Old Testament have been placed together by the scribes and Pharisees, who weren't looking at murder as a sin against God as much as a sin against man.

v. 22 The Lord goes back to the attitude of anger which perpetrated the action

"Raca" means "you vain fellow" or "you good-for-nothing." God doesn't want us to put down the value of an individual (Matthew 8:36) "Thou fool" isn't referring to a person's ignorance (Matthew 23:19; 1 Corinthians 15:36). The man who says "Thou fool" with anger and hatred will be in danger of hell fire.

v. 23-24 Bitterness can stand in the way of fellowshipping with God (Psalms 66:18; 1 Samuel 15)

v. 25,26 Proverbs 15:1; Romans 12:18.

THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY

v. 27 Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10.

God established marriage vows so that the family unit could be strong. The breakdown of the family unit would have grave consequences (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21, 6:7-8; Romans 6:2). We shouldn't be continuing in sin as Christians (Numbers 32:23; 1 John 3:9-10). If we're led by the Spirit, we're not under the law (Galatians 5:16-18; 1 Timothy 1:9-10).

v. 28 If we're concentrating on not committing the physical act, then we're thinking as the Pharisees thought. Even the tenth commandment, "Thou shalt not covet," shows us that the desire for our neighbor's wife is wrong (Romans 7:7). The Lord is interested in what comes out of the heart (Matthew 12:34, 15:16-20; James 4:1-6). Sin is born as we entertain sinful desires in our hearts (James 1:13-15; Galatians 6:7,8). We're not to join in with the trend of thinking of this world (James 4:4). We should cleanse ourselves daily with the Word of God (John 15:3).

v. 29,30 Jesus is stressing the importance of avoiding hell, even at the cost of losing a part of one's own body. We dare not do those things that arouse our fleshly desires (Romans 8:13; Matthew 26:41; Galatians 5:16,17).

In dealing with temptation there are certain things we should remember.

(1) Do not think you can handle it yourself (James 4:6-7).

(2) Resist the devil (James 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:22; Genesis 39:7-13).

(3) Start reading the Word (Matthew 4:4-10; Psalms 119:11).

(4) Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you (James 4:8).

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

v. 31-32 Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Because the hearts of the people had become hardened to God's ideal plan for marriage, God wanted to establish this law to finalize divorce. There were two schools of thought in regards to the law.

(1) This major belief was held by most scribes and Pharisees. They interpreted "uncleanness" as meaning anything that was not pleasing to the man. This deprived the woman of her rights as the man could not be divorced against his will.

(2) The other belief was that this law referred to moral "uncleanness." Jesus is claiming that there should only be one cause for divorce. God's intention for marriage is that they be no longer two, but one flesh (Matthew 19:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20). The sin of adultery is pardonable (Matthew 12:31; John 3:17-18, 8:7). This doesn't mean that we can use the grace of God to cover our own sin fullness (1 Peter 2:16; Romans 6:1). 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, 29:31; Acts 5:29.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH

God gave the law to prevent chaos and for our own benefit (Psalms 1:1-3). To bear false witness is to lie. So often we lie to ourselves, to others, and to God. This leads to distrust, so that man has to swear to affirm that he is telling the truth. In Exodus 20:7 God said we shouldn't take the name of the Lord in vain This made an oath binding, and one had to abide by what he had said.

v. 33 The Pharisees had created a legal way of lying, and they became clever in their speech.

v. 34 Leviticus 19:12 says, "ye shall not swear by my name falsely." This doesn't mean that we cannot take an oath (Matthew 26:63). God wants us to be trustworthy (Psalms 15:4).

OUR PERSONAL RIGHTS

These verses need to be taken in context. If they seem unreasonable, then the interpretation is wrong.

v. 38 This was originally given to instruct judges in what they should mete out in judging their cases. The scribes and Pharisees were incorrectly teaching the people that this was a personal duty to retaliate (Romans 12:19). As children of God we have renounced our personal rights (Romans 1:1; James 1:1; Jude 1). A servant or bondslave was a steward over his master's possessions, but he had no rights of possessing anything that was his own (2 Corinthians 8:9; Matthew 10:24) Agape love is giving without asking for return. Phileo love is a reciprocal love (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:11-12).

v. 39a In the Greek this means "resist not the evil one." We're not to seek to get even in a personal way with the one who has wronged us. We can seek justice by going to the proper authorities.

v. 39b Acts 23:3. This infers the blow to be one of insult, not one of physical injury. We're to be able to take insults.

v. 41 A Roman soldier by law could compel a man to carry the soldier's gear for a mile. We should be courteous, considerate, and helpful.

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

v. 43 The Old Testament taught that we should love our neighbor, but nowhere does it say to hate your enemies.

v. 44 Matthew 19:26.

v. 45a We'll be different from the people in the world. We'll be Christlike and our actions will show that we're children of our heavenly Father (John 13:35; 1 Corinthians 12:25-26).

v. 45b God doesn't bestow special blessings through nature on Christians. God is good and rich unto all.

v. 46 We don't have the right to get even (1 Peter 2:21-23). If we seek to defend ourselves, God will not defend us (Romans 12:19; Psalms 61:3, 46:1, 127:1).

v. 48 This is God's ideal requirement for man (Philippians 3:12-14; John 6:28-29)

MATTHEW 6: OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

v. 1 "Alms" here means "righteous acts." Jesus often taught by stating a principle and then giving examples to make His intent clear. The gift of eternal life is the foundation upon which our righteous works are based. Our motivation for the works we have done will be tested (2 Corinthians 5:10: 1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

There are three classifications of righteous acts:

(1) giving,

(2) prayer, and

(3) denial of the flesh

Our giving concerns how we relate to others, our prayer concerns our relation with God, and tasting concerns our relation to ourselves. Our priorities must be ordered so that the spiritual things we want to do take precedence over physical things God knows our physical needs and will see that they are met, if we put Him first. Jesus reminds us that we should be constantly conscious of God's presence, for He observes and evaluates all of our actions (Acts 17:28; Hebrews 4:13). We should guard ourselves against pride. The pride of mind causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we should. It makes us think we're better than others. Pride of will causes us to be discontent with our circumstances, thinking we deserve more than we have. It causes us to strive and be contentious. We "take heed" by:

(1) self-examination,

(2) realizing the disastrous consequences of pride,

(3) remembering Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when He submitted His will to the Father's.

v. 2 Any kind of giving that draws attention to the giver and draws the praise of men is the wrong kind of giving.

v. 3-4 The right kind of giving is a private matter between God and each individual.

v. 5 Many people think that the purpose of prayer is to get our will done and to persuade God to give us what we want. The true purpose of prayer is to get God's will done when we ask according to His will (1 John 5:14).

v. 6 "Closet" here means "secret place." Jesus had a secret place where He went to talk with God. It is important that we also find a quiet place so we will not be distracted from listening to God. We shut the door on the noise outside, and we shut ourselves in with God We don't have to pray with closed eyes, folded hands, or kneeling down. Prayer isn't a position of the body. Some people pray better when they are walking around.

v. 7 We need to avoid repeating phrases or words, because it makes our minds wander during prayer. God wants our full attention when we converse with Him. We don't need to use a certain tone of voice for prayer nor do we need to use formal King James English. A normal conversational tone and plain language are fine. Speaking aloud, though not loudly, helps us to keep our minds on what we are saying. It also helps us to verbalize our feelings.

v. 8 When we pray we're coming into the presence of the Creator of the universe. We should be conscious of His power to do anything that we might ask. Faith is vital for effective prayer. We can make our requests to God boldly. for we are His beloved children. and He delights in giving to us. The name Jehovah in Hebrew is a verb which means "The Becoming One" God becomes whatever we need Him to be. One of the keys to Abraham's faith was that he believed that God could do what He had promised to do (Romans 4:21). We need to remind ourselves of who God is when we approach Him with our requests, so that we ask in faith (Ephesians 3:20).

v. 9 All the elements of true prayer are found in this prayer that Jesus gave us to model our prayers on.

Prayer has three forms:

(1) Adoration, worship, communion. We can praise God for what He is and for what He has done. We can talk to Him anytime we need or want to-as we go about our duties, eat our meals, drive our cars, or whatever we're doing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

(2) Petition. We have to receive from God ourselves before we can give to others. He wants us to bring our needs to Him. People who refuse to ask God for the things they need are being foolish, not noble or spiritual.

(3) Intercession. We usually begin to pray for loved ones after ourselves and then move to people further from us. We can touch the world for God through prayer.

v. 10 People who choose to shine in this world have their reward here in the recognition of men; those who choose a heavenly reward will shine forever (Daniel 12:3). The first prerequisite of prayer is relationship. We have fellowship with God through the work of Jesus for us and in us (Isaiah 59:1-2;1 John 1:7). The name of Jesus gives us access to God and relation with Him (John 14:13,16:24).

v. 11 The first petition Jesus made was for our physical needs. He asked for bread for one day at a time only. God wants us to trust Him to supply what we need each day, rather than relying on what we have set aside.

v. 12 Jesus asked God to forgive our huge debt to Him (1 John 5:15). God wants

us to have a forgiving attitude toward others Jesus often emphasized the importance of forgiveness in His parables (Matthew 18:21-35). This verse is a petition for the needs of our souls.

v. 13 This third petition concerns our spiritual needs.

The phrase "Lead us not into temptation" does not indicate that God tempts us to do evil (James 1:13). God leads us into tests to show us that our strength is in Him (Genesis 22:1-19). The request here is that God will not allow us to get into areas where He knows our weakness would cause us to stumble and fall Tests and trials are important in our walk with God They are necessary for our spiritual growth (James 1:2-3; Romans 5:3). Jesus doesn't ask that we not be tested, but that God would overrule us when we try to take on a spiritual challenge that He knows we aren't ready for. Our petitions are often selfishly motivated. We should be aware of why we ask for something to better understand why God grants some of our requests and denies others (James 4:3) Prayer is the greatest outlet for spiritual power that we can have The outlets of spiritual power are:

(1) the witness of our godly lives,

(2) our words,

(3) our service for God,

(4) our money invested in God's Kingdom, and

(5) our prayers

The essence of prayers is warfare Intercessory prayer puts us on the offensive in spiritual battles Our prayers become a spiritual force that fight the evil forces of Satan. Satan blinds men's eyes and dulls their perception of spiritual things We can free people from their bondage to evil through prayer (Ephesians 6:11-18). Our prayers can travel any distance to do battle for God anywhere in the world

Prayer is often the deciding factor in spiritual battles The tragedy is that the enormous power available to us through prayer is so often wasted because we do not pray.

v. 16-18 Some people are so concerned with themselves that even in their worship of God they seek to draw attention to themselves Our motivation in doing righteous acts should be pure, so that God receives the glory for our good works (Matthew 5:16). The motivation for any spiritual activity should be prompted by our relationship with God. He should be central in our minds as we go about our service to Him. If we would teed our spirits as much as we feed our flesh, we would be much better off. Fasting is an attempt to reverse the usual situation

v. 19-20 In the previous verses Jesus was teaching that our spiritual activities should be done with the thought of pleasing God. In the rest of Chapter 6 Jesus teaches that our physical activities should also be done with God uppermost in our minds. The "treasure" Jesus refers to here isn't necessarily money. An earthly treasure can be a career, a home, a car, or anything that hinders our walk with God. Jesus wants us to realize that material things are of transitory value while spiritual things are of eternal value. Therefore, we should esteem spiritual things above everything else (1 Peter 1:4).

v. 21 It is so difficult to know our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 139:23-24). If we examine our treasures, we'll find out whether our hearts are in spiritual things or in earthly things. How do we lay up treasures in heaven? Jesus commended the wisdom of the man who planned for his future by using his position to his advantage (Luke 16:1-12). In the same way, we should use what God has entrusted to us and the places He puts us in for spiritual enrichment rather than for temporal gain. We're not to put our trust and security in our earthly possessions, for they're so easily lost. Instead, we're to trust God to provide for all our needs while we devote ourselves to the things of the world where we'll spend eternity.

v. 22-23 Our eyes are the windowpanes of our bodies. If the glass through which we look is clean, then we see the world as it is. If the glass is distorted or dirty, then our view of the world will be distorted. "Single" here means "generous, liberal" (Psalm 86:11; Colossians 3:22). "Evil" here means "stingy, grudging, greedy." We should examine ourselves to determine whether we're generous or stingy, not only with material things but also in our attitudes. If we're generous, then we're filled with light, but if we're stingy. then we're filled with darkness.

v. 24 No man can be a slave to two lords.

"Mammon" originally was a person to whom one entrusted one's funds. The meaning changed to become a trust in the power that money provides. One of the pagan gods of Old Testament times was called Mammon. A slave had no rights and couldn't own anything. He had no time of his own, for he was always on call for his master. His master could work him 20 hours a day or have the slave beaten if he chose to. We cannot be a slave to God and be devoted to material things. There isn't enough time to serve both.

v. 25 "Take no thought" here means "take no anxious thought" or "don't be worried. " Jesus isn't suggesting that we do nothing to meet our physical needs, but that we keep our needs in the proper perspective and trust God rather than worrying about them. We should do our best and commit the rest.

v. 26-30 Jesus gives two examples to demonstrate the futility of worrying.

A "cubit" is about eighteen inches. People have often attended church more conscious of fashions than conscious of God. Since God so beautifully clothes the grass, which soon withers and is burned, then He will certainly clothe us. The birds and the grass are God's creations, but we're His children.

v. 31-32 "Gentiles" here refers to the heathen.

God is aware of our needs. He wants us to trust Him and put Him first in our lives, rather than worrying about how we'll provide for our fleshly needs. When the flesh rules over us, it's a tyrant. It causes us to live in a constant state of lust and frustration. Even if we glut our flesh, it always demands more.

v. 33 People in the world are controlled by the flesh and are always seeking to satisfy its demands. When we're born again, we give the spirit the priority in our lives and put our flesh and emotions under the control of the spirit. We establish our priorities by:

(1) Deciding what is most important to us. For the Christian, the primary concern should be his relationship with God (Philippians 3:10).

(2) Reordering our time, energies, and thoughts around what is most important to us.

(a) We need to examine our lives to see where we're wasting time that could be spent developing our relationship with God. Our thoughts and energies are so often concentrated on the material and physical concerns of life (1 Timothy 6:8).

(b) We can see where our hearts really are when we carefully consider where we have been expending our time and energies.

(c) We need to recognize our need of God's power and righteousness to help us organize our lives around spiritual things.

(d) The result of properly adjusted priorities is that God will take care of all our physical needs.

v. 34 Jesus teaches us to live one day at a time without worrying about tomorrow (Deuteronomy 33:25).

MATTHEW 7: OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MAN

v. 1 This is the principle that Jesus wanted to teach. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us the characteristics of the true Christian and contrasts them with the hypocrisy of the religious people. We're not to put on an affectation of spirituality to impress others. We should seek God's approbation rather than man's admiration.

v. 2 Throughout this sermon the Pharisees were used as examples of religious hypocrisy. They had established a righteousness of works and of law. People who judge the most are those who feel superior on the basis of their self righteousness.

(1) We should not judge presumptuously (Romans 14:4).

(2) We should not judge another's motives.

(3) We should not judge hypocritically (Romans 2:1).

(4) We should not judge hastily or rashly (John 7:24).

(5) We should not judge according to our own non-scriptural convictions (Romans 14:2-3).

(6) We should not judge unfairly or according to prejudice.

(7) We should not judge unmercifully.

The judgment that is prohibited is judging the person rather than the action (1 Corinthians 13). When a scriptural principle has been violated, we can acknowledge the fact of the sin without condemning the person (1 Corinthians 2:2). Every Christian will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The way we judge others sets the standard for the way we'll be judged. We're to restore those who fall into sin with meekness, knowing our own frailty (Galatians 6:1; Romans 2:1; Luke 12:2-7; James 3:1).

v. 3-5 We have a 2-by-4 in our own eyes, but judge our brother for the sliver in his eye. We're so ready to condemn others but we excuse our own sins. Only God is qualified to judge men, because He alone can see into men's hearts and knows their motivations (Romans 2:2). Our judgment is perverted by our prejudices (the beam in our eyes) that make others' sins look so much worse than our own.

v. 6 Though we're not to judge people, we're to discriminate between those who have a reverence and appreciation for spiritual things and those who do not. We're to protect the holy truths God has given to us from unnecessary exposure to ridicule and blasphemy (Jeremiah 15:19). It's also important to maintain discipline in the Church by separating the wolves from the sheep. Those who spread heresy need to be weeded out so that the damage they would do is minimized. There are people who sit in church services and hear only what they want to hear. They reject the things that convict them of their sins and misuse the teachings of grace as an excuse to go on sinning. In our personal witnessing we should be guided by the Holy Spirit to discern between those people who are ready to hear what we have to share and those who will only reject and ridicule it. Men who are carnally-minded aren't able to understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).

v. 7 The righteous standard that God requires for fellowship with Him is too high for man to reach (Leviticus 11 :44; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:48). God gives us the opportunity to come to Him through Jesus if we believe in Jesus Christ as our salvation (John 6:29) God still wants to see our lives come into conformity with His standards of holiness. Once we believe in Jesus, He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live the godly life. We're to be persistent in our prayers. In the Greek this verse tells us to continually ask, seek, and knock. To continue to pray for something:

(1) tests our faith (Hebrews 11:6) and

(2) builds our patience (Psalm 27:14).

v. 8-11 Jesus gives us the promise that our loving heavenly Father will answer our prayers and bless us with good gifts. The key is that we ask God through prayer (James 4:2).

v. 12 The word "therefore" refers us back to the preceding verses to under stand the context. We shouldn't be quick to judge or condemn. Instead, we should be understanding, sensitive, and quickly responsive to the needs of others. This commandment is a positive rule for our behavior, for it suggests action that we can take. The ten commandments told us to refrain from certain actions.

The first four commandments concerned our relationship with God. The other six concerned our relations with man. If our relationship with God is right, then we can get our relations with man in order. If our relationship with God isn't right, then our other relations will not go well either. Our relationship with God always comes first. If we treat others the way we want to be treated, then we're acting the way God wants us to act toward our fellow man. This is the summary of the teachings of the law and prophets. To truly practice this injunction, we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Our love and devotion for God are reflected in our attitudes and actions toward others (1 John 4:20-21). The Holy Spirit does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He loves others through us.

v. 13-14 Jesus is the strait gate we must go through to enter the Kingdom (John 10:1, 14:6). We start on the path to the Kingdom by denying ourselves (Matthew 16:24; Ephesians 2:2-3). Our flesh doesn't die easily. It's a painful, continuous

struggle to keep the flesh under the control of the spirit (Luke 13:24). Many people do not like the concept of a narrow path to God. They choose to believe that many roads lead to God, but Jesus says that the broad path leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12; Romans 8:6). It isn't natural to live the life of self-denial. Crucifying our flesh is a slow, agonizing death (Romans 6:6). The Holy Spirit enables us to endure the struggles with the flesh so we can walk in righteousness (John 8:29; Galatians 2:20).

v. 15 It isn't easy to discern a false prophet. We cannot decide whether or not a man is a false prophet by the way he looks. He may look like a meek and mild sheep (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

A false prophet doesn't always tell lies. He often says many things that are true, but he doesn't give people enough truth to bring them to the light. He'll often emphasize a partial truth and neglect the teaching of salvation through Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 6:13-14; 2 Peter 2:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:20-22) One way to determine whether a man is a false prophet is to watch the emphasis he puts on money and material things. The man who seeks gifts and money from the people is making merchandise of them (2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Peter 2:3) People should give to God out of love for Him, not out of duty or pressure (1 Peter 5:2). Another way to recognize a false prophet is to listen to his teachings to learn whether he offers special privileges or favors from God if you will follow his particular advice. False teachers draw people to themselves. True teachers give out the Word of God in simplicity and draw people closer to God rather than to themselves.

v. 16-20 The fruit of a man's ministry helps us to determine whether he is a false prophet or not. If the fruit of a ministry divides the Body of believers, then that minister is working against the will of Jesus Christ for His Church (John 17:11). If the effect of doctrine makes the Body unfruitful, then that sterile doctrine is false (John 15:2). If the fruit of a ministry is strife or contention, then that fruit is bad. The good fruit of a true prophet's ministry is love. When the members of the Body of Christ love one another, then they are walking according to the Holy

Spirit (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14). The evidences of love in a ministry are unity and a building up of the Body (1 Corinthians 8:1). There should also be joy, peace, and other aspects of the love the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of believers (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

v. 21-23 No one will enter the Kingdom who doesn't acknowledge Jesus as Lord, but not all those who call Him "Lord" will enter heaven either. Jesus is the Greek word for the Hebrew name Joshua, which means "God is Salvation." Christ is the Greek for the Hebrew word for Messiah, which means "The Anointed One." The name Christ signified His mission, for He was the One that God had promised to the Hebrews.

We should be submitted to Jesus as the Lord of our lives. As His servants, it's up to us to find His will for us and to obey it (Luke 6:46; Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:5-11; James 4:10). Many people mistakenly believe that it's enough to know the Lord. Knowing Him or believing the right things about Him isn't enough; we need to have a born again relationship with Jesus (John 3:1-3). If we call Christ our Lord, then we're implying that He is the Master of our lives. We should give ourselves to Him each day to lead us where He pleases. It's not up to us to decide what good works we should do for God. We're to submit ourselves to His will and obey His commands.

v. 24-27 Jesus gives a warning to us about the foundation upon which our faith is built. The testings and storms that come show us the strength of our foundation. The structure we build, our relationship with God, is what others see. Sometimes we're fooled by a carefully maintained exterior, and we think that some one is solid and secure; but the testings of life prove whether the foundation is stone or sand. The firm foundation has been set deeply in the rock where the groundwork was laid. The house on the sand has been built without any preparation for the foundation (Luke 6:47-49). The foolish man is impatient. He wants to hurry and get his house built without waiting to lay a foundation. He doesn't listen to the advice or counsel of others who have been there for a longer time (Proverbs 15:5). Many new Christians are like the foolish man. They want to become ministers or evangelists before they have taken the time to study God's Word and learn the basic doctrinal truths. The wise man carefully prepares his land and digs deep to lay the foundation He gets the advice of those who know more than he does and follows their counsel in building his house We build on the sand when we base our relationship with God on experiences that don't have a scriptural basis. Many people have had life-changing experiences that weren't inspired by God. We build on the sand when we build our houses on other men s ideas or other men's philosophies. Men who live by other men's philosophies are easily led These are the men who commit inhumane and irresponsible acts They have built their structure on shifting sands. and they don't have any moral absolutes to guide them (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). When our relationship with God is based on His eternal Word. then we have a solid anchor to hold us steady in any storm When we have thoroughly studied the Bible and are established in the Word, then we can rest in the strength of our foundation (Matthew 16:16-18).

v. 28-29 The scribes' teachings were mostly quotations from other rabbis The scribes themselves didn't make strong declarations.

Jesus spoke with authority and power. He made positive declarations from a position of His awareness of Who He was. Jesus said He was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. He was the only Man who could ever say that. He knew that He alone could obey the law as God meant it to be obeyed. He knew that the prophecies of the Old Testament were written about Himself (Matthew 5:17). Jesus contrasted the way the law had been taught, as rules that governed men's outward behavior, with the way God intended it. The teachers of the law had become self-righteous because they obeyed the law outwardly. Jesus taught that if a man broke the law in his mind, then he was guilty of sin. The law was never supposed to make men feel self-righteous, but to show them how impossible it would be for them to keep the law as God required. If the law could make us righteous, then God wouldn't have sent Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins (Galatians 2:21). These teachings were a direct challenge to the religious establishment, because Jesus was negating the very basis of their righteousness Jesus also warned that even good works aren't righteous, as the motivations prompting them are fleshly. He taught that our flesh wants attention and admiration from others, but the praise of men will be our only reward when our flesh motivates our good works (1 Corinthians 9:27). He told us that we're to respect and reverence God enough to give Him our total consciousness when we pray (1 Corinthians 14:15). He promised that God would supply all our needs if we put Him above everything else (Matthew 6:32-33). The Sermon on the Mount is to be applied as well as applauded, practiced as well as praised.


Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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