The Sermon on the Mount “describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God” (John R. W. Stott).
Jesus called his followers to be God’s distinguished as his people in the world. Every paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount (to some extent) reflects that call.
A. Matthew 5:3-12 – Their character is to be completely distinct from the character which the world admires (through the qualities in the beatitudes).
B. Matthew 5:13-16 – Their influence is like light to darkness and salt to moral decay.
C. Matthew 5:17-6:18 – Their righteousness must exceed the superficial righteousness of the established religious community:
1. In ethics 5:17-48
- a. Murder/anger: 21-26
- b. Adultery/lust: 27-30
- c. Divorce: 31-32
- d. Oaths/honesty: 33-37
- e. Retaliation/non-retaliation: 38-42
- f. Hatred/Love for enemy: 43-48
2. In religious devotion 6:1-18
- a. Giving: 1-4
- b. Praying: 5-15
- c. Fasting: 16-18
D. Matthew 6:19-34 – Their ambition is to be different. Though the world around them is preoccupied with material necessities, the followers of Christ must seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.
E. Matthew 7:1-20 – Their relationships must be transformed and different from those around them.
- With their spiritual family 7:1-6
- With their heavenly father 7:7-12
- With their spiritual opponents 7:13-23
The Sermon on the Mount is profoundly related to the immediate situation of early disciples, but it issues timeless calls echoed repeatedly throughout the New Testament.
- Romans 12:2- “Be not conformed to the world but be transformed…”
- 1 Peter 2:11- “As aliens and strangers, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:14- “Do not be bound together with unbelievers for what partnerships have righteous and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
- Philippians 2:14-15- “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…”
- 1 John 2:15- “Do not love the world or the things in the world.”