In the spiritual sense, the word “quintessence” means the most perfect example of Christian quality. God’s plan for the life of each person after they trust in His Son Jesus Christ is shown to us in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.
21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 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;
45 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.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. KJV
Jesus said in Matthew 5:21
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
But then in Matthew 5:22, Jesus said:
But I say unto you, KJV
Jesus said in Matthew 5:27
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
But then in Matthew 5:28, Jesus said:
But I say unto you, KJV
Jesus said in Matthew 5:31
It hath been said,
But then in Matthew 5:32, Jesus said:
But I say unto you, KJV
Jesus said in Matthew 5:33
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time,
But then in Matthew 5:34, Jesus said:
But I say unto you, KJV
Jesus said in Matthew 5:38
Ye have heard that it hath been said,
But then in Matthew 5:39, Jesus said:
But I say unto you, KJV
Jesus said in Matthew 5:43
Ye have heard that it hath been said, KJV
But then in Matthew 5:44, Jesus said:
But I say unto you, KJV
So we find Jesus talking about the law. But never think that Jesus is in conflict with the law when He said: “you have heard that it has been said”. Never think that Jesus is putting Himself in conflict with the law (nothing could be further from the truth). Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” NKJV He is not in conflict with the law but He is in conflict with the way the Scribes and Pharisees taught the people the law of God or how it was being taught. The Law was written in Hebrew and after the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews no longer spoke Hebrew as a National Language. Now Aramaic was now their language. So they had to depend upon the Scribes and Pharisees who had studied the Hebrew and still knew it. So the people depended on them to tell them what the law said. But the Scribes and Pharisees not only told them what the law said but also what the law meant. So they were teaching the people not only what God said but what God meant to say. And in the interpreting what God meant to say is where Jesus comes in conflict with their interpretation of the law. Jesus is not in conflict with the law as it was given by God, but in conflict with the way that the Scribes and Pharisees were interpreting the law and then telling the people what it actually meant. They were doing what the Jehovah Witnesses do as they are going house to house and telling you what the scriptures in their Bible says. If you disagree with how they interpret the scripture in what God meant to say; they will most times throw the Greek at you. They will say to you, “Well, in the Greek it means this or that". They say, “it's not what you think it means”. And you don’t know Greek but neither do they. So because you don’t know Greek, how can you argue against the original Greek? They want to deceive you in thinking that they know the Greek language. It takes twelve years to master the Greek language. And this was much the case in Jesus time. The Scribes and Pharisees were telling the people: “now in the Hebrew this is what it says and this is what it means”. The common people didn’t know Hebrew so how can you argue with the original Hebrew. But Jesus said in Matthew 5:21, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” NKJV The Pharisees were telling the people: “In the Hebrew it says: “thou shalt not murder”; and this is what God meant when He said...”thou shalt not murder”. Now their basic deception in their interpretation was that they interpreted it in the outward observance of the law only. So if they hadn’t physically murdered anyone; they thought they were alright with God. The effect of their interpretation was that by the way they were interpreting the law; they thought they were able to keep the law and claim obedience to it. They even boasted of the law in their obedience of it. But in reality they were disobeying the true intent of the law by the way they interpreted the law. The true intent of the law was done away with. Romans 3:19 tells us, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” NKJV The Jews were under the law, therefore stood condemned. And if they stood condemned by the law; then the whole world stood condemned before God. The purpose of God giving the law was to make you guilty. The law was given in order to put the whole world guilty before God. But the way they were interpreting it; they weren’t made guilty, they were being made righteous. Because they were so interpreting the Law as if they were fulfilling it. So they were getting a form of righteousness from the law rather than guilt. Paul in Romans 3:20 tells us, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” NKJV So God gave the law to give to us the real knowledge of sin. So that sin might become more sinful. That by seeing your sin, you might be guilty before God. And you might see how sinful you really are. That’s what the law was intended to do. Now the way they interpreted the law they weren’t seeing themselves as sinners. On the contrary, they saw themselves as very righteous. So righteous that they would hold their robes very close to themselves in order not to touch the sinners. Rather than becoming guilty before God, they were becoming very prideful and self-righteous before God. But through their interpretation of the law, they were resting in a false righteousness. For in reality, they were very guilty before God. Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:33, “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" NKJV Again Jesus told them in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” NKJV He wanted to strip away from them that false righteousness that they saw in themselves. They looked upon themselves as very holy before God. Jesus said to them in Matthew 23:27, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.” NKJV Jesus said to them in Luke 11:39, “Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.” NKJV They were resting in the fact that they were righteous before God. When in reality God saw them in their sins and in their hypocrisy. Hebrews 7:19 tells us, “For the law made nothing perfect,” NKJV Galatians 2:21 says, “for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” KJV They were not being driven by their interpretation to despair; which the law was intended to do, but on the contrary, by their interpretation they were being driven to pride and self-righteousness. Galatians 3:24 declares, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” KJV The reason why God gave the law was to cause you to see yourself exceedingly sinful which is the way that a Holy God sees you. And therefore, to cause you to totally despair of yourself and to drive you to Jesus Christ as your only hope for a standing before God. That’s the purpose of the law! But they had so interpreted the law that it wasn’t driving them to Jesus Christ at all. It was driving them to resent Jesus Christ. And it drove them to crucify Him. The way they were interpreting the law, they felt very righteous not sinful. Paul tells in Romans 9:30-32, “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; KJV So the gentiles which did not have the law found the righteousness of God by believing in Jesus Christ. But the Jews who sought to find righteousness by the law never found it. Because they did not seek it by faith. And so they did not attain that which they sought “righteousness”. So the interpretation of the law by the Scribes and Pharisees as they gave it to the people was wrong. So Jesus will show the people how the law was being interpreted and taught to them by the Scribes and Pharisees versus how the law was originally intended by God. Jesus will tell them that this is what the Scribes and Pharisees are saying that God meant but this is what God really did mean. And Jesus gives to them the true understanding of the purpose and intent of the law of God. The true intent of God’s law causes us to despair of righteousness in and of ourselves which causes you to give up of ever trying to be righteous in your own works, in your own efforts and in your own merit. If righteousness could come by any law, then Christ would not need to die! But because righteous cannot come by the law, it was necessary that Christ came and died for us. That we might be made righteous through our faith in Him.
So Jesus said: “But I say unto you”. Now Jesus by His interpretation of the law, His basic principles were these: it is the spirit of the law that matters the most. And the Spirit of the Law is often times violated; even when the letter of the Law is kept. Matthew 5:21 tells us, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,” NKJV Matthew 5:22 continues, “But I say to you” NKJV And now Jesus gives what the Spirit of the Law is in Matthew 5:22 as it says, “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause”. In other-words, if you have hatred, if you say inflammatory things to your brother or about your brother; you are guilty of violating that law. And yet people sit there thinking, I’m so righteous because they haven’t killed anyone so far. But God looking upon your heart in the spirit and attitude that you have, does not see you in the same righteousness that you see yourself. But God sees you from the heart out exposed and guilty before Him. Same is true with the Law of Adultery and all the laws that are numerated here in the Sermon on the Mount. In each case Jesus points out that it’s the Spirit of the Law that counts. It is the attitude within your heart that really matters, much more than the actions of your life. You may be successful in governing your outward actions but within your spirit you are all wrong. And though you might be justifying yourself before God; God sees your spirit and your heart. This is why the scripture again says in Romans 3:19 “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” NKJV The whole world is guilty before God. So the second principle is like the first but only stated in a different way. Obedience to the law should never just be thought of in terms of actions only. But it is the thoughts and the attitudes that lead to the actions which God judges.
Another principle in the interpreting of the Law according to Jesus is that the Law should never just be interpreted in the negative. Now this is the form that the law was given to us in the Old Testament. “Thou shalt not, Thou shalt not, and Thou shalt not”. And so many times, people think of the Law of God as negative only. As we read: “Thou shalt not murder”; “Thou shalt not commit adultery”; “Thou shalt not commit false witness”. So we just think of the law as only negative; but the true positive intent of the law is to bring you into a positive relationship of good with those around you. And just by not lying about your brother doesn’t really then place you off the hook as fully obedient to the law. Neither then just not retaliating against your brother does not take you off the hook. Because when seeing the law from that point of view, it does have a negative view. Simply because of the law’s weakness of not being able to give you a positive view. And the law’s weakness is found in that the law cannot bring you into Godliness because of our flesh. Therefore, the Law was sent to make you feel guilty not righteous. It cannot accomplish righteousness because of your flesh. Paul explains this in Romans 8:3-4, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. NKJV So that after we trust in Christ and acquire not our own righteousness but Christ’s righteousness; then that righteousness is expressed in positive actions. Now, too many people have a negative righteousness. I first came to SBG Church in July 1978 where I trusted in Christ. I was 28 years old. And from that day for a whole year I had a glorious case of negative righteousness. I quit drinking, I quit smoking, I quit hanging out with the old gang, and I had a glorious negative righteousness. And this is true of so many Christians. They feel they are righteous because of the things they don’t do. But in reality true righteousness leads a person to good positive activities. It isn’t that I just don’t curse my brother; but I should bless and pray for my brother. And true righteousness will come out in positive actions of goodness unto others. Matthew 5:10 tells us, “Bless those that persecute you”. Matthew 5:11 tells us, “Bless those that revile you”. Matthew 5:44 tells us, “Bless those that hate you”. Luke 6:28 tells us, “Bless those that curse you”. Luke 6:28 tells us, “Pray for those that despitefully use you”. So true righteousness is never just not doing evil things. But rather is doing those positive good things that I do. This is what Jesus is telling us in the Sermon on the Mount. Not just the negative but also the positive actions of good in my life.
Now the purpose of God is to bring you into a full relationship with Himself. That’s God’s purpose. That’s God’s desire. God wants you to have a full rich fellowship with Him. That’s basic! Down underneath of everything else, that’s what the Word of God is all about. 1 John 1:3 tells us, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father.” This tells it all! Behind the whole program of God and behind the Word of God; it’s God’s desire for you to come into fellowship with Himself. That’s why Jesus was sent to earth. To bring you into fellowship with Himself. That’s why God sent the Holy Spirit. To bring you into fellowship with Himself. This is basic! Underneath of everything, this is it. Colossians 1:21 tells us: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled NKJV You were once alienated by your sins but now God has brought you into a glorious fellowship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. That’s why God created you to begin with. Again, this is basic. This is foundational. This is what’s behind the whole thing. To bring you into a vital meaningful relationship and fellowship with Himself. Therefore the Law was given not to make you righteous before God but to reveal the sin in your life. The Bible says in 1 John 2:6, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” NKJV So the question is: Are you walking as Jesus Christ today? Did you respond and react like Jesus today? You say: “well you don’t understand, you don’t know how much of taken from that person. It was time that I told them a thing or two”. The Law of God reveals to us that we all fail. The Law of God reveals that we are all sinners. But that’s what real righteousness is about. The law was intended to cause you to see what God’s real standards of righteousness always were. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” KJV Micah 6:8, gives us God’s requirements in order to be righteous, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? KJV Many people who haven't even received Jesus as their Savior believe they are doing God's requirement. They are deceived! It’s impossible to do these things from the inside out perfectly. Even after we receive Jesus as our Lord, God gives us the desire but even then we have trouble with our flesh in doing these things in a spiritual way (from the inside). So when we see God’s real standards of righteousness, it causes us to realize that we are hopelessly guilty before God. That there is no way that you can attain to God’s true standards of righteousness. The Scribes and Pharisees were not seeking that true righteousness of God which must be imparted or imputed to me by my faith in Jesus Christ. Paul said in Romans 7:9, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” KJV In other-words, Paul was saying that a long time in his life, he thought he was keeping the law. Paul says in Philippians 3:5-7, “concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” NKJV Again, Paul said in Romans 7:14, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” NKJV So when Paul realized in Romans 7:8, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” KJV In other-words, when he realized that the law was spiritual or dealing with not just actions but with attitudes, then he died, it destroyed him, it condemn him. He had been keeping the letter of the law (on the outside) but he had failed in the spirit of the law (on the inside). Jesus is showing that it isn’t the letter of the law that counts, it’s the spirit of the law that really counts before God. That’s where we fail and will continue to fail. There is where I need the grace of God! There is where I need the mercy of God! And there is where I need the help of God! And there is where I am driven to Jesus Christ because He is my only hope! I have no hope of being righteous within myself because it doesn’t deal with just outward actions, it deals with inward attitudes. I need someone that can change this old corrupt heart of mine. There is only one way into heaven and that’s through Jesus. So the law has made me guilty before God. But it has driven me to Jesus Christ where I have found forgiveness and the imparting of His righteousness to me. And so now I stand before God, How? Faultless!!! Jude 24 tells us, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” KJV It is glorious to know that work of Jesus Christ within my life when I trust in Him. His work is cleansing me of my sin, blotting out my iniquities and not imputing sin against me any longer. And all this happens the minute I trust in Christ in order that He might present me to the Father in Him perfect, holy and righteous and without spot. Ephesians 5:26-27 speaking about the Church (all believers) declares, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. NKJV Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1:8, “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,” NKJV It isn’t the law that's bad, it’s my weak flesh. The Law is holy and good. It’s not the fault of the law but it’s my weak flesh. Jesus said in Mark 14:38, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." NKJV My flesh is the problem. I say: “Yes Lord, I do want to respond in the right way. Yes Jesus, I do want to represent you. I do want to do good to those that curse me. Yes Lord, I do want to bless those that despitefully use me.” But then Paul says in Romans 7:23-25, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” NKJV So God came to take care of the weakness of my flesh. That’s why Jesus died and made it possible for me to die with Him. My old nature, my old life, I declare it dead in Christ by faith. That’s the key to victory. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” NKJV In Hebrews 11:1 Paul tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” KJV I do not yet see the complete work of God within my life, I still see a lot of the old Mike that I have reckon to be dead. Paul said in Romans 6:11, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NKJV The word “reckon” is a word of faith. By faith I see the finish work of Jesus Christ within my life. And I can look ahead and see myself standing in the Presence of God faultless. Rejoicing in His Grace and in His Love and His Work within my life. Because that’s just how I’m going to walk into heaven one day: “Perfect, Pure Mike”! That’s how I’m going to stand before God. For I am complete in Jesus Christ. I’m perfect and faultless in Him.
So when I see the law as being spiritual, it causes me to despair of ever standing before God in my own righteousness because I haven't gone out drinking, or don't smoke anymore, or don't hang out with worldly people. That doesn’t get me into heaven. But my faith in Jesus Christ and His work within my life gets me a standing before God that is Pure, Holy, and Righteous.
Now it is wrong for us to take the illustrations that Jesus gives here in the Sermon on the Mount and then make laws from the illustrations. And yet, this is what many people have done.
I think that in all of the Bible, I have had more questions asked of the remaining portion in Matthew (Matthew 5:21 through Matthew 5:48) then all of the rest of the questions in the Bible combined that people have asked about. But if you read this commentary a few times with an open heart, you will be better prepared to read the Sermon on the Mount.
Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” KJV Once you study it and know correct doctrine, the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. KJV
Matthew 5:1 says: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:” KJV
Jesus is teaching not preaching because this is for His disciples not the multitude. In those days, most often when someone was going to preach, the teacher would stand and the people would sit. And when someone was going to teach, the preacher would sit and those being taught would stand. This was good, so those being taught would not fall asleep having to stand up. Now it’s different today, we Pastors preach and teach standing up and you the congregation sit down.
Again, we want to emphasis, the Sermon on the Mount is not for everybody. It’s not for the general public. It’s not a message to the world, simply because those that are not “born-again” would be confused with this. Bible says, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned". The Sermon on the Mount is for the disciples, for you who would be followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus is setting forth declarations of the inner motives of the person who is now a “born-again” Christian. The changes that God brings are always from the inside, that’s why the Bible speaks so much about the heart where true commitments are made. So remember that the Sermon on the Mount is teaching those that are “born-again” Christians and it starts in Matthew chapter 5 and goes through Matthew chapter 7.
The Beatitudes consist of Matthew 5:3 through Matthew 5:9. Matthew 5:10-11 speaks of what happens to the person that has all these beatitudes or characteristics.
The first beatitude is found in Verse 3, which tells us, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit because theirs is the Kingdom of God”. This is where it all begins. It’s saying that no one will have a place in the Kingdom of Heaven who is not “poor in spirit”. Again, salvation is a gift and if you receive it, God's work starts up in that person making him “poor in spirit”. A person who is “poor in spirit” is a person who is willing to be governed by God. And that’s where Christianity begins. I must have a willingness to be governed by God. Now that person who is rebelling against authority of God is a person who says: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. Now this person who is not willing to be governed by God is a person who has not taken the first step into the “Kingdom of Heaven”. For “poor in spirit” indicates a willingness to be governed by God. And I must be willing to surrender my life to the authority and to the control of God. That He might govern in my life. That is the indication of “poor in spirit”. This begins when I bow my knee and my heart before God and I surrender myself to Him. That’s what being “poor in spirit” is! It doesn’t mean that I become a door mat for everyone to trample on. It doesn’t mean that I don’t stand up for what is right. It doesn’t mean that I don’t speak out to rebuke evil or that I just stand by and say: “well, let them do their thing”. But it does mean that I have submitted my life to be controlled by Jesus Christ. And if He ask me to stand back, I stand back. And if He ask me to stand up, I stand up. And if He ask me to speak out, I speak out. But I am now govern by Him. “Poor in spirit” is actually the natural consequence of an encounter with God. And until you have had a real encounter with God, there is no way that you can really be “Poor in spirit”. I can still remember when this happened to me. I had just started to go to Saved By Grace Church. I had already made my confession of faith in Jesus, but I still had one foot in and one foot out. Too much of Jesus to be happy in the world and not enough of Jesus to be happy in Church. But one Sunday, Pastor Joe was preaching a message entitled: “What you have to do to go to hell”. The topic sounds rough but on the contrary, it was about how much Jesus loves us. And the answer to the title of the message was that you have to jump over the body of Christ to go to hell because He is in your way. There is where I became “poor in spirit”. Finally it just hit me. Never been the same ever since. So “poor in spirit” is just that consciousness that comes to me when I stand in the presence of God and catch a vision of God. And it’s there that I catch a true vision of myself. This is where God starts to mold me into the image of His Son.
It is interesting that these beatitudes are actually progressive. They are in a definite order. When Jesus spoke them, He had a clear distinct order in His mind of the development of the character of the Christian. So it starts with a sort of negative beatitude of “poor in spirit” because the Lord has to empty you out. Only then can God start to fill you inward with the beatitudes of Matthew 5:4-9. Each individual beatitude described in verses 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 describes what the characteristics of the Christian should be. And when you put these characteristics all together you have what the Christian Character should be. Because a person’s character is made up of certain characteristics of his personality. When you are “born-again”, the Holy Spirit works in you to change you from the inside out. So that Jesus places the emphasis not on what a Christian does but on what he is. Remember, they are called be-attitudes not do-attitudes. Basically it’s saying, you must be before you can do. One of the mistakes that many denominations do is try to teach people to put the Christian principles into practice without receiving Christ. You can’t do it. You are first of all something before you do anything. You cannot do what a Christian should do unless you are what a Christian should be. After Jesus establishes what we are, then He tells us what we do or should do.
In Matthew 5:13, we read, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” KJV Back then, they used salt to purify meat so that the meat would not rot. So Jesus is saying that you are that purifying influence in the world. The second use for salt was that of a seasoning. How bland foods are without salt. Jesus is saying: “You are the seasoning of the world”. You bring flavor to life. The third thing salt does is creates thirst. So Jesus is saying that you should create thirst in the lives of others to know Jesus Christ by the way you live in Christ. Again, Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” KJV
Now the next thing you are is in Matthew 5:14, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” KJV Now this would mean that the world is in darkness. Now throughout history, people have tried other ways other than through Jesus to bring the light to the world. People thought that having knowledge by going to schools and colleges and universities would bring a light into the world. That this would save the world. And through knowledge most people would understand that wars were no good. And that knowledgeable people as Presidents in every country would make a better world. But that didn’t work because hearts were still evil. Then people thought that industry would bring a light to the world. But industry brought pollution of all sorts into the world. And industry started contaminating the air we breathe and the water we drink. Then people thought that science would bring a light to the world. But science only brought bombs as the atomic bomb and other super weapons. And throughout mankind, one thing after another was thought to be the “light of the world”. But it only became a disappointment making the world worse and worse.
Now it was God’s desire and purpose that Israel be the light of the world. So God told Moses to make a candlestick with seven arms upon it which represented the lampstand. This was to be placed within the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. So as the Priest walked in, this lampstand would light the way where to walk in. It was to be lighted continuously. It would represent God’s purpose for the Nation of Israel to be the light in the darkness of the world. But the prophets of God came to the Nation of Israel telling them over and over; how they were failing in what God intended them to be. Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 2:13, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. KJV And Israel failed to be what God intended it to be: “the light of the World”. So Jesus came and said to His disciples: Matthew 5:14 “Ye are the light of the world.” KJV In the Greek, the word “ye” means “you and you only are the light of the World”. Now at this time when Jesus told them that, there had been and there were many great men of the world. That even today, the museums are full of the oldest writings of these great Greek and Hebrew commentators. But Jesus now looks at these poor fishermen and says to them: “You are the light of the World”.
How are we to be the light of the World? Jesus had already told them in John 8:12, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. KJV I can only reflect the light of Jesus as I am following Him. And as a Christian, I am to be a reflection of Jesus Christ. Now when Jesus says to them and to us: “You are the light of the world”; He is not speaking of some special talent or ability that we have. Jesus is not saying that we should go and shine before the world. But Jesus is saying that we should let Him make us into His image. So that we can reflect His light upon this dark world. And that takes giving my life unto Him by making Him the Lord of my life.
Now what does light do? The first thing light does is drives out the darkness. You go into a dark room, turn on the light switch, light goes on and the darkness goes away. As long as the light is on, the darkness won’t come back. Why? Because light is stronger than darkness. When Jesus came to Capernaum, we read in Matthew 4:16, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. KJV And when the light of Jesus comes into our hearts, it takes the darkness out. Many people try to drive the darkness out of their lives themselves. They somehow come to realize and think: “I should not be doing these things, I know these things are wrong” and then try themselves to take the darkness out. But they quickly find out that they can’t do it. You cannot drive darkness out. It can only come out by bringing in the greater force – the light of God when you trust in Christ. So where ever you go and where ever you are as true Christian; your life should reflect the light of Jesus. It’s the only way of taking out the darkness from the world around you.
Another thing that light does: it reveals. You go into a dark room, you can’t see anything until you turn on the light. The light reveals those things that are there. That’s why many people won’t come to Jesus. Whether it’s coming to Church or you as a Christian being around them; they have dark things in their lives and don’t want them revealed. The light of Christ reveals. Jesus in John 3:19-20 tells us, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” KJV There is such a contrast between light and darkness. There is such a contrast between the children of God and those that are still in darkness. The light of Christ reveals.
But also, light shows the way out of darkness. We should be leading men out of darkness with that work of God’s Spirit within our lives. That’s why God leaves us here after we trust in Christ. The World apart from Christ is in darkness. And people, no matter how intelligent, how much he has or doesn’t have, if they are without Christ, they are in darkness. God never wanted it that way for anyone. The purpose of God for everyone was that they walk in the light. Therefore, they are out of God’s will for their lives as they walk in darkness. And those who walk in darkness will never find satisfaction because that’s not what God created them for. And you can take it to the bank, no matter how they seem on the outside, they will never find satisfaction on the inside. Suicide is on the rise everywhere in the world and everywhere in life because only in Christ will you find true fulfillment. And that true fulfillment can only be found in a relationship with God through Jesus. John said in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” KJV That’s why we were created for. That God would have fellowship with us in Christ. We can only have that fellowship with God when we are walking in the light as He is in the light. A person outside of Christ can never have fellowship with God until they trust in Jesus as their Savior. Light and darkness can never come together. No matter how religious a person might seem on the outside, they can never be a true light until they trust in their heart Jesus as Lord. There is where my life becomes the light of the world. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. KJV A true Christian can’t hide the light of Christ. If you are a true child of God, people are going to know it. If the light of God’s love is shining forth from your life, people are going to see it. There are no secret believers. The world is in darkness and any amount of light in you as a Christian is going to be seen. Unless you purposely hide the light, so nobody will know you’re a Christian. Then something is wrong. Like the young Christian boy who was going to his first Boy Scout outing for a whole week. He went to his Pastor and told him that those boys that were going with him were terrible. I know them from school and they make fun of everybody and everything in school. He said: “Pastor, I need prayer. When they find out I’m a Christian I know they are going to make fun of me”. So the Pastor prayed for him and he went on the outing for a week. When he came back, the Pastor asked him: “Well, Billy, how did it go?” And Billy said, “Great, they never found out!” Jesus said in Matthew 5:15, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” KJV So the light of God within your life is not something to try and keep covered. But the purpose of the light is to reveal. So that all of those that are in the house can have light and see.
Then Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. KJV Now we have to be careful because you can shine your light before men so that when they see your good works; they can glorify you. And in drawing attention to you, people begin to follow you. And there a lot of people today, that are trying to shine in this world. And they draw attention to themselves. Their pictures are on book covers and their names are up in lights. But as a Christian, I should never try to draw attention to myself, but always focusing the light upon Jesus Christ. Always remember what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. KJV Always point people to Jesus. The Christian life is a fine balance. I’ve always told you to avoid extremes because it’s so easy to get over balanced. My flesh desires to be thought of as a good person. And it’s so easy to do things to draw attention to the fact that I’m a nice person. And I want people to think that. And so I am amp to do good things when there are people seeing me. But then when there’s no one around, I act totally different. This often gets Christians in trouble. And Christians sometimes trip and fail. And God at times permits us for our own good to trip and fail. And when we Christians are bringing the attention on ourselves this happens. But God lets it happen in order that we learn this lesson of not trying to bring people to focus on us rather than on Jesus. This lesson of pointing people to Jesus and not yourself is a lesson that Christians sometimes never learn. I am to let my light shine in such a way that it doesn’t focus on me but it focuses on Jesus. That isn’t always easy. That’s why I constantly have to be on the alert so I can be successful in my Christian life.
We have Bible Tracts by the Church entrance door to give out to people as we walk through life. But your life should be a Bible Tract to people around you. Let your light shine before your family, friends, neighbors and everyone. And as they see your good works, they will glorify your Father in Heaven.