“THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT”
ALL OF GOD’S PURPOSES ARE SUMMED UP HERE
Unfortunately, many people read the Bible as a series of stories or moral lessons, each independent and separate from all the others. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is a total unit, with each part related to the whole and supporting the central theme of the Book, which is God’s revelation of Himself and of His desired plan for all His creatures.
The beginning of the Bible gives us the story of Adam and his sin, which expelled him from the Garden of Eden where he had a personal relationship with God. This story tells us the entire story of man’s relationship with God and what causes it to fail. God is the Creator. It follows, then, that all things were created for His purposes, and man was a part of that creation. Given free choice, Adam did not recognize that God’s way was the only way for His creature to live in order to fulfill the purpose for which he was made, and therefore find his greatest happiness. This was the whole reason for his life. But, when Adam focused on his temporary existence, and the things that pleased and fascinated him about it, ignoring the spiritual qualities of God, he left the perfect path and had to be removed from the place of perfection where God dwells.
I want to note here that perfection is not a place that is locatable. When Jesus prayed to God “who is in heaven”, He was not locating God in a place, but in a state of absolute perfection. God is never in a place, for He is with every part of His creation at all times. He knows your innermost thoughts, and the inner thoughts of every creature on earth. Saying He is on His throne is only using language man understands to say God is King of the Universe.
Recognizing the problem of Adam is to recognize the eternal problem of all created beings. The choice for all of us is either to be enamored with the temporary things which fascinate and please our physical being in this temporary life, or to desire the spiritual beauty of righteousness and goodness which retain their beauty forever. One is to choose what pleases me, as Adam did, or choose the more perfect, spiritual things which please God and last forever.
The Bible tells us that we were made in the image of God. Christ told the woman at the well in Samaria that God is Spirit. Therefore, our spiritual selves are what is in God’s image. That is the part that wants to be helpful, merciful and kind to your fellowman. It is the part that loves goodness and truth; that wants to make peace and spread happiness to all. To love these spiritual qualities, and make them the essence of your life, is fulfilling your purpose here, and is loving God and your neighbor as yourself.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus summed up all of this and therefore gave us the complete picture of what Christianity is all about. The humility to realize I am a created being and therefore live for my Creator. The sorrow when I realize I have failed, as we all do. The meekness to lose my own purposes in the greater eternal purposes of God, and a truly heartfelt desire to attain His righteousness which is the perfection of Heaven eternal. This puts my ego in the background and makes me a subject of the King to be clothed in the Royal robes of His perfect Heaven.
This sums up the whole story of the Bible. Every story, every prophecy, the entire purpose of Jesus coming, the heartrending story of the Cross are all the same story, for the same purpose. God is love, and His love and mercy have worked through the ages to show man His mercy His grace and His love, so that man will see that being a child of God is worth more that all the glories earth can afford.
As we study the rest of The Sermon on the Mount, we will see that the law God gave man was not a set of rules for man to keep, as the Jews interpreted them, but rather disciplines which would cause man to develop the spiritual qualities God wanted him to have. It also was to emphasize that man was incapable of perfectly following God’s will but that God loved him and would give him the forgiveness he needed to dwell with God in eternity. As Paul said, “The law was a teacher to bring us to a realization that we needed Christ the Savior.” So “walking in the light”, as John says, means placing my trust in Jesus and striving to imitate Him as far as is humanly possible, but knowing that God has placed forgiveness in His blood, and therefore accepting Him is accepting the Savior we need in order to be God’s children.