The tension between Kingdom and worldly valuesPRAYER AND WORSHIP - The Lord's prayer
Human efforts at self-regulation
The Ten Commandments
Joy in the "law"
The limitations and fulfilment of the "law"
The Sermon on the Mount
The Great Commandment
Recap Unit (5) on values and resources.
What difference does it makes to be a Christian in this world?
Unit 1 looked at the tension Christians feel between the values of the world and those of
the kingdom of God. We considered the following graphic:
In this unit we are going to further consider the values of the kingdom of God - which are in constant tension with the values of the world (ie: ungodly values).
Over the past centuries people have tried to morally go it alone. Rather than learn from our Creator, we have continuously chosen to ignore God and the "manufacturer's manual" - trying to regulate our own society our own way.
What has been the result?
Millions and millions of laws, bills and regulations - which have not changed our moral stature one iota!!! God started us off with the Ten Commandments and we have never been able to improve on them - and never will.
Incredible isn't it? Isn't it about time we went back to seek out what our Creator has to say about how we should live? We need a reference point for life outside of ourselves. History has established the fact that we cannot rely on the shifting sands of public opinion to determine what is right and wrong. Without moral and spiritual foundations, any society will collapse.
The Ten Commandments were given through Moses on Mount Sinai to the people of Israel. This occurred following the nation's exodus from Egypt, during their 40 year sojourn in the Sinai desert. The Israelis were a people chosen to live in a covenant relationship with God, and the Ten Commandments were the first theocratic laws for the regulation of society. They are found in Exodus_20:1-17,:
"And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery...
[Our relationship with God]
Note the emphasis above on God's grace ("I am the God who brought you out of Egypt"). To the Christian this represents being brought out of slavery to sin and separation from God. His grace calls for a response of receiving and obeying God's commands.
His commands show us how to live - what God's priorities are - and how we can please him. They are non-negotiable and inter-connected like a Roman arch - each stone is necessary for the others to hold together. God's commandments work!
If we break one commandment, we are probably breaking a number of them. For example stealing - - putting money as more important than God - - lying to cover it up - - and perhaps falsely implicating someone else in the process!
Originally the law was the delight of those who loved God, helping them to draw closer to God. For example:
As time went on, after the original law was given, religious authorities added their own restrictions and interpretations - taking the law from a joy to a bondage. This is why Jesus hit out so hard against the Pharisees for their harsh, legalistic corruption of the principles of the law (e.g: Matthew_23:24). Jesus fulfilled the law by drawing people back to its original purposes.
The principles Jesus brings to us
Jesus made the following vital comments about the laws of God:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbour as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew_22:36-40).
The Bible teaches that we can never make it to holiness by attempting to keep all the laws of God in our own strength. We will fail! Something greater is needed, and that something greater is:
"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the
This means being inwardly motivated by radically changed attitudes of heart - so that it is our deep desire to want to please God. Now, through the Cross of Christ, if we sin again - we quickly put it right and go on.
This is known as God's new covenant. Anyone who comes under this new covenant (profound promise) of God, is part of the new Israel - those who seek to serve God from the heart.
With the new covenant in Christ (Hebrews_9:15) our heart response should be one of great thanks for God's grace. Because of this we seek to follow Jesus in a whole-hearted way.
It is not the purpose of this unit to become too involved in difficult theological questions such as keeping the Sabbath, service in the military, re-marriage etc. These issues should be handled in the context of the local church teaching.
The Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew_5:3_-_7:29 and Luke_6:20_-_49. Here is found the greatest teaching about life ever brought together. This passage provides tremendous insight and understanding into the eternal values of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus took the laws of God beyond a literal or legalistic interpretation. He understood the deeper meaning to be a matter of attitudes and values - not just outward appearances. The kingdom of heaven involves a righteousness surpassing that of the Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders of the time) and the teachers of the law (Matthew_5:20).
Jesus expounded these kingdom values like building blocks, one upon the other. For example in the Beatitudes (Matthew_5:3-11) He brings to us the secret of true happiness:
The deepest blessings of God come to those who -
What are the blessings which come as a result of these attitudes?
Jesus elaborated on other specific commands such as:
|Theme||Ten Commandments||Sermon on the Mount|
|Idols and money||Exodus_20:4||Matthew_6:19-34|
|Use of God's name||Exodus_20:7||Matthew_5:34|
The Sermon on the mount goes much wider than this small selection. It addresses so
many practical issues of life and elaborates on many other O.T. injunctions. This is a subject
for future personal devotions as we search out a better understanding of the values of
Jesus wants to turn the motivation of our lives inside out,
"Which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew_22:36-40)
We can't live this life under our own steam. We can't earn God's favour by our own good efforts! The secret is allowing God to live this life through us, and not settling for less.
Unit 6: Prayer and Worship [Next Section]
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