Jesus takes you just the way you are. Then you change.

A Call to Christian Living –

New Life and New Standards

Ephesians 4:17-32, New Life in Christ

Luke 3:7-18, Professional Integrity

Matthew 5:1-12, Be Attitudes

Matthew 5:13-16, Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

Matthew 5:17-30, New Standard Higher Than the Old

Matthew 5:31-48, New Standard Higher Than the Old – continued

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The Sermon on the Mount. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Ephesians 4:17-32, New Life in Christ (3/5/12)

You do not have to be a good person to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ.  (And a good thing, too, since none of us are good persons.)  Many people think they must reform first so that they will be “good enough” to be saved.  This is not correct.  The fact is that under our own power we will never be good enough.  Jesus takes you just the way you are.  Then, however, after you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit will work in your life to make you into a good person.  You do need to cooperate. 

Paul is writing to Christians.  Notice the last thing he says in this passage:  “…just as God forgave you because of Christ.”  These people are saved, forgiven followers of Christ.  They are not perfect yet, though, and Paul gives them a number of guidelines for Christian behavior that they should begin to follow now that they are saved.   We should follow them, too. 

Luke 3:7-18, Professional Integrity (3/6/12)

When people came out to see John by the Jordan river, he threatened them with judgment if they didn’t change their ways.  Naturally, they wanted to avoid condemnation if possible, so they asked him what they should do.  It interests me that he did not say 1) pray, 2) go to church, or 3) study scripture.  Instead he said, “Make your behavior impeccable toward other people.  Especially at work, do your job in a way that serves both your employer and your customer honestly.”  And this was good news!

Matthew 5:1-12, Be Attitudes (3/7/12)

I normally read the Beatitudes with emphasis on how many reasons God has to bless me, and on what blessings I’m going to get.  It would probably be better to read them as a list of what attitudes and actions on my part make it possible for God to bless me:  poverty of spirit, gentleness, longing for righteousness, mercifulness, cleanness of heart, and peacemaking.  May God bless us all with these attitudes!

Matthew 5:13-16, Salt of the Earth and Light of the World (3/8/12)

Christians should always behave in such a way that other people see some of God’s goodness in their actions.

Matthew 5:17-30, New Standard Higher Than the Old (3/9/12)

We’ve been talking for a few weeks about how Christians should behave.  Most of the people who were listening to Jesus when he preached the Sermon on the Mount either were Jews or were Gentiles familiar with the Jewish Law.  Jesus was teaching something slightly different, but he assures his listeners that he had no intention of doing away with the Law. 

In fact, he planned to make the Law more strict than ever by requiring that the spirit of the Law be obeyed, not just the letter of the Law.  The Pharisees and teachers of the Law knew the rules inside and out, but Jesus said his followers must obey the Law more fully than these experts! Christians are held to a very high standard.

Matthew 5:31-48, New Standard Higher Than the Old – continued (3/12/12)

The behaviors that Jesus forbids can be hard to avoid. I can refrain from murder – but Jesus says don’t even be angry. I can refrain from adultery – he says don’t even think about it. Don’t abandon your wife – don’t even divorce her legally. Don’t swear falsely by the name of the Lord – don’t even swear at all. Don’t take unreasonable revenge – don’t take any revenge at all.

And the positive behaviors can be just as hard to do as the negatives are to avoid. When someone takes advantage of you, take it as an opportunity to be generous. Love everyone, not just your family, and treat everyone well, no matter how they treat you.

Why? Because God loves everyone, good and bad, and treats them all the same. And we are supposed to behave as much like God as we can.

More about Living the Christian Life
A Call to Christian Living
Christ-Centered Community
Charitable Giving
Christlike Compassion
Christ-Led Courage
Living So It Shows
Overcoming Sin
Sharing the Good News
Who Is Your Legacy?
Five Spiritual Disciplines
Christian Character
New Life and New Standards
Living in the World
Love One Another
Again, Love One Another
And as a Final Word, Love One Another

Copyright 2012, 2021 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
The illustration of Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount is from the Thomas family Bible, now in a private collection of a family member.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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