Some of the most important teachings of Jesus Christ are recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5 through 7. These teachings have come to be known as “The Sermon on the Mount” because it says in Matthew 5:1 that Jesus ascended the mountain and his disciples came up to hear him.
These teachings are really important because according to Jesus, your long term future is determined by whether you DO or DO not DO the things Jesus instructed here. The last half of Matthew 7 is a very stern warning to those who believe that they can disobey Jesus in these things, practice lawlessness, bear bad fruit and still be the kind of Christian that goes to heaven and enters the Kingdom of God.
Mat 7:13 “Enter in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate, and broad is the way which leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in through it.
Mat 7:14 How narrow the gate, and confined the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it!
Mat 7:15 “But beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Mat 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grape clusters from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17 Thus every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Consequently, by their fruits you shall know them.
Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name we cast out demons, and in Your name we did many mighty works?’
Mat 7:23 “And then I will confess to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you who work iniquity!’
Mat 7:24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them, I will compare him to a wise man who built his house upon the rock:
Mat 7:25 and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and fell against that house; and it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.
Mat 7:26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be compared to a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
Mat 7:27 and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And its fall was great.”
Jesus is saying that if you hear “these words” of His and do not do them, the ultimate test will come and everything you have built in life will be worthless. If we look carefully at the context of these words, I believe Jesus is saying this: if you don’t obey what I am teaching here, you will go to hell. If you do, then no matter how tough and hard it may be at times, your life and what you have built will ultimately stand.
If this is the case, then let us look at what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
I want to give a summary of the main points, so you can quickly tell if you are doing what Jesus taught here, or not.
1. God requires an inner change of heart.
Its not enough to tack some good works onto your life and think that God will be pleased with you. Jesus begins in Matthew 5:1-12 by talking about heart attitudes. The people who inherit the Kingdom of God are those who relate in a certain way to God, to others and to themselves.
Mat 5:1 And seeing the crowds, He went up into the mountain, and after He had sat down, His disciples approached Him.
Mat 5:2 And opening His mouth, He began to teach them, saying:
Mat 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Mat 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
That good works in themselves do not necessarily please God we can observe from the verse below:
“Take care not to be doing your acts of righteousness before men, so as to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have not a reward from your Father in heaven. ” (Matthew 6:1)
Again the inner life is most important. Why are you doing this “good work”? Is it to appear good to others? Then you may get a reward from them, in terms of people thinking you a good or noble person, but you won’t get any reward from God. Things done to impress men don’t impress God.
The Bible bears consistent witness to the fact that what God wants is a “broken and contrite spirit” (Psalm 51)
Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
“Rend your heart and not your garments”
Joe 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (Matthew 5:2,3)
The poor in spirit are those who realise that they desparately need help – God’s help. Those who mourn are those who those who are sorry for sin, and repent.
So God is looking first of all for obedient people, people who recognise they need Him, and are sorry for their failings.