The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5 - 7

When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 through 7, He gave us the most extensive revelation (piece of teaching) that we have from Him. This section of the first gospel includes popular (and emotionally-charged) Scripture passages such as the Golden Rule and the Lord's Prayer. However, we must understand that much of it doesn't directly apply to this, the Age of Grace (Age of the Church). Just as the Old Testament dietary laws applied mostly to the Age of the Jews, the Sermon on the Mount applies mostly to the Age of the Kingdom. It is a declaration by Christ on just how the Messianic Kingdom will operate. It explains how a theocracy will function. In fact, He was offering to set up the Kingdom at that time, if He had been accepted.

Although righteousness reflected in any age gives us the underlying basis of truth, there are few who would suggest a direct application of the Sermon on the Mount today in the Age of Grace. For example, Matthew 5:38-39 says, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, 'Do not resist an evil person.' If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

While this might apply if someone is simply bullying us, it certainly apply when the "evil person" is a foreign aggressor.

Matthew 5:42 says, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Again, while we should give to the needy, we cannot simply lend money to every who asks for it. This type of lending without hesitation in the business world would quickly cause an economic catastrophe where companies (and individuals) could not survive financially, and it would ruin the world economy. In fact, this is what led to the housing collapse of 2008--Banks were giving mortgages to people with no down payment and little-or-no documentation, knowing full well that many of those people would be unable to afford to pay it back.

No, the Sermon on the Mount doesn't present Church Age truth. (Jesus spoke on the Church in John 15 through 17.) Also, the Sermon on the Mount contains no gospel presentation for securing righteousness, as well as no mention of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the body of Christ, or praying in the Lord's name.

However, even though Christ was not talking about the Church Age in His most extensive piece of teaching, the principles in the Sermon on the Mount (and in all Scriptures) certainly do apply to us. We can categorize these principles of truth as follows:

Matthew 5:1-12 - The Beatitudes

An analogy can be drawn between the Beatitudes and Christians. Jesus pronounced blessings on eight categories of people who exhibit certain attitudes, and if we are believers, we should possess these qualities:

1) The poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of heaven. If we are believers, even if our spirit seems poor or weak, we should take comfort in knowing that we will go to heaven.

2) Those who mourn will be comforted. As believers, we will mourn in this life, but we will be comforted in eternity.

3) The meek will inherit the earth. In the end, we will thrive on the new earth (Revelation 22).

4) Those who hunger for righteousness will be filled. At salvation, God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to each believer. Although we will not be fully sanctified in this life, a day will come in eternity when we will put sin behind us forever, we will possess perfect righteousness, and we will be able to bring perfect glory to God.

5) The merciful will receive mercy. Our salvation causes us to be truly merciful, and at the judgment seat of Christ, we will be rewarded for our good deeds in this life.

6) The pure in heart will see God. Our faith assures of that we will one day fall at the feet of God and worship him in Person.

7) Peacemakers will be called the Children of God. At salvation, God gives us peace, and He inherits us as his children.

8) Those who are persecuted will inherit the kingdom of heaven. If we are persecuted for our faith in this life, we should consider it a joy, because we will be rewarded in eternity.

Matthew 5:13 - Salt

Just as salt meets the world's needs by adding flavor; preserving food; melting coldness; and healing wounds, believers should add flavor to the world by exhibiting Christ who lives within us. If a Christian doesn't do this (loses his saltiness), his testimony to men will not be effective.

Matthew 5:14-16 - Light

Believers should the light of our good deeds shine, before men, and this will bring glory to God.

Matthew 5:17-20 - The Fulfillment of the Law

Christ fulfilled the law, although He did not abolish it. As believers, we should obey the commandments of Christ because we are enslaved to Him. Our obedience to Christ will determine who is the least or the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:21-26 - Murder

The sin of anger is just as bad as murder; and, anger leads to murder. When we find that we are angry toward someone, our first duty is reconciliation. We are called upon to be the better person, and we should settle such matters quickly.

Matthew 5:27-30 - Adultery

Just as anger is equated to murder, so is lust equated to adultery. If we look upon someone with lust, we are (symbolically) told to gouge out our sinful eye. In our day, we can make an additional analogy here. Not only can we still (physically) look upon another person with lust, just as those in Jesus' day could, but now we also have the Internet. Lust is easier than ever before, because we can use our sinful eyes to view pornography on the Internet.

Matthew 5:31-32 - Divorce

Jesus declared that divorce is allowed only in cases of marital unfaithfulness. Otherwise, the act of divorcing one spouse and marrying another constitutes adultery. In this way, adultery is always either the cause or the effect of divorce. In the former case, if one spouse commits adultery, then a divorce is allowed biblically, so the adultery was the cause of the divorce. In the latter case, a divorce (non-biblical separation) occurs, and one partner marries someone else. When the new couple consummates their marriage, this is seen as adultery in the eyes of God, since the first marriage was not ended biblically, so the adultery was the effect of the divorce.

Matthew 5:33-37 - Oaths

The lessons taught here include those that parents teach their small children, even though the parents are often guilty of the same hazards that they warn their children about. We are to keep your promises, and simply do what we say we will do. How different would this world be if everyone did this? We should be slow to make a promises, because it's always difficult to pre-determine that we will indeed be able to keep those promises. Then when we do make promises, we should be quick to keep those promises.

Matthew 5:38-42 - Turn the Other Cheek

Jesus tells us that when we are confronted by an evil person, we are to reject the principal of "an eye for an eye." Instead, we should turn the other cheek, and reject the natural tendency to react with resistance. If someone takes our jacket, we are told to offer him our shirt as well. After all, he may need it more than we do. However, even if he doesn't, we must consider others to be better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).

Matthew 5:43-48 - Love and Pray For Your Enemies

Jesus tells us that it's easy to love those who love us. Even tax collectors and other evil-doers do that. Even pagans greet their own brothers, so there is no godly reward in that. However, He commands us to also love our enemies, and those who persecute us. In addition, we are to pray for them. We must strive to be perfect, even loving those who hate us. This doesn't mean that we should expect sinless perfect, for we all sin in our flesh (Romans 3:23), even after salvation. However, this does mean that we must strive for spiritual maturity, loving all, just as Christ loves us.

Matthew 6:1-5 - Give to the Needy

We are to give to those in need, but our best acts of righteousness are those done secretly. If we make sure that others see our good works, we will receive no heavenly reward for them, because we will have already received our rewards from the attention from men. This is huge: We will be rewarded either by men in this life, or by God in eternity, but not both. We must resist the temptation of drawing (inferior) human attention to our good works in this life, knowing that this will bring us ultimate rewards from God in eternity.

Matthew 6:6-13 - Prayer

Again, we are commanded to pray, but reminded that our best prayer is done secretly. We should not babble with many words, in order to draw attention from others. After all, God knows what we need before we ask. We need only to acknowledge our request. Again, we can choose to either be rewarded by men in this life, or by God in eternity, but not both.

Matthew 6:14-15 - Forgiveness

God forgives us only if we forgive others. Although this is a powerful statement, it is referring to temporal forgiveness (1 John 1:9), not eternal forgiveness--that which we receive at salvation.

Matthew 6:16-18 - Fasting

We are called upon to fast, but to do it secretly. Just as with giving to the needy and with prayer, we will be rewarded by men in this life or by God in heaven, but not both.

Matthew 6:19-24 - Treasures in heaven

We are told to store up eternal heavenly treasures, not temporary earthly ones. We can serve only one master--not both God and money.

Matthew 6:25-34 - Do not Worry

We are commanded not to worry about food for life, or clothes for the body. Worry doesn't help our cause. God provides for (inferior and temporary) animals and plants, and he loves us eternally--much more than He loves them. Our faith is small. We simply need to seek God's kingdom and righteousness, and He will provide all of our temporal needs.

Matthew 7:1-6 - Judging Others

We will be judged according to how we judge others, and we are all guilty. Falwell adds, "... it is futile to present truth to those who have refused what they have already heard."

Matthew 7:7-11 - Prayer

God answers our prayers. As earthly fathers, we have some reasonable wisdom as to how to care for our children. However, God is a perfect father, and he longs to care for us perfectly.

Matthew 7:12 - The Golden Rule

We are told to do to others as we would want them to do to us. Christ says that this simple rule actually sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:13-14 - The Narrow and Wide Gates

Most people enter through the wide gates, on broad roads which lead to destruction. Few people enter through the small gate, on the narrow road that leads to life.

Matthew 7:15-23 - A Tree and Its Fruit

We are to watch out for false prophets. They are wolves in sheep's clothing, not unlike the Big Bad Wolf in the fairy tale of Goldilocks. We will know these false prophets by their fruit--not by their appearance! We don't pick grapes from thorn bushes (or tomatoes from weeds). Good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. Trees that don't bear good fruit are cut down and burned. It is not those who say the right words (prophesy) who will enter heaven, but only those who inherit the righteousness of Jesus Christ through faith in his sacrifice on the cross to cover their sins.

Matthew 7:24-27 - The Wise and Foolish Builders

Those who hear and practice Christ's teachings have a strong foundation of truth that will last eternally. Those who hear Christ's teachings but don't practice them are weak, and they will fall.