In our last discussion Jesus elevated our minds beyond what we could easily accept, to a higher standard that stretched our hearts. Today we will go even deeper into the teachings of Jesus, teachings that may make some of us uncomfortable because these concepts often run contradictory to our world. The truth is—we might as well realize that temptation and sin is in the forecast of of our future. We might as go ahead and prepare for it so we can weather the storm!
Let’s look the next great truth that Jesus shares with us in His Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:27-30 (TNIV)
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell [Gehenna]. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell [Gehenna].
Today’s message is very deeply rooted in the Beatitudes. In fact, it is so deeply rooted in the Beatitudes that I want you to see the reality of temptation and struggle in your life and how God intended us to deal with it.
First, let me say that for many hundreds of years this teaching that we are studying called the Sermon on the Mount, and even specifically, the Beatitudes themselves, was looked at as an impossible ideal in the lives of God’s people. I have heard it said that to live the Beatitudes one would have to be perfect. I have heard it said that there is no sense in trying because it is an impossible goal to live up to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.
There are those scholars that have DOUBTED that Jesus even uttered these words because they are so IMPOSSIBLE to achieve. I would say, at least in THEIR minds they are impossible to achieve.
But here is what I say:
— I SAY that those thoughts of “impossibility” and “perfection” are counter to what Jesus intended as He shared this wisdom with us.
— I SAY that those thoughts of “impossibility” are farthest from the truth.
— I SAY that Jesus was not talking about a legalism or perfection
–but WAS talking about our “day to day” temptations and struggles, and how we can take those temptations and struggles and live in the kingdom of God–the kingdom of heaven.
What Jesus is telling us is that “it’s all about our hearts”! It’s not about the legalism that would have us think that “there is no way we can be perfect” therefore we either have to put up a front– or simply give up and abandon the struggle all together. In other words, “Satan, here I am! Take me! I give up!”.
As Christians we have a few choices as we face any sin in our life:
— We can bury our sin, hide it and become self-righteous (thereby often being hypocritical and judgmental of others)
— We can rationalize our sin, rationalize that it is forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus so it is okay, continue on and like above….become self-righteous (No matter how much we rationalize our sin…..we WILL always pay a human price!)
— We can give in to the sin, accept it in our life, give up on the battle and we basically create a chasm between us and God which leads to spiritual destruction (the slow destruction of the Godly Spirit inside us….our moral compass in many ways).
— OR, we can face our sin and the struggle, put up barriers and boundaries, continue to turn to God and Jesus for help; continue to turn to God and Jesus for refuge (spiritual poverty), mourn the sin– and work through the struggle!
In doing these this we are living out the Beatitudes and we are easier able to weather the storms in our lives: thirsting for righteousness, mourning our sin and the sin of others, seeking God’s help (spiritual poverty) instead of rationalizing that all is okay, showing mercy to others that have the same temptation and struggle by helping them through their temptation and struggle.
The words of Jesus are truly amazing because they are so full of truth! Join me as we continue on tomorrow in this journey to discover what we can do in our lives to bring true fulfillment!