Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ASK -- Receive Righteousness

The Sermon on the Mount is not for us directly.

Jesus spoke the Sermon on the Mount to His disciples, yet through the Holy Spirit we are made sons, adopted and accepted in the Beloved.

When we rest in the wonderful truth of Jesus, the great Savior who brings the most self-righteous of hearts to nothing, then we can trust that He will bless us in all endeavors.

I struggled with prayer in my life. I remembered praying for all kinds of things, yet many of things which I wanted I never got.

At the time, and even after I had become so thoroughly discouraged, I never paid attention to Jesus' highest priority for us:

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10)

This life we receive through the gift of righteousness (Romans 5: 17; 8: 10)

Let us take another look at the full context of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew:

"1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying," (Matthew 5: 1-2)

There were crowds which saw Jesus as a curiosity, an oddity, or even a celebrity.

The whole tenor of Matthew chapter five depends on and ends with:

"20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5: 20)

"48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5: 48)

Having exceeding righteousnesss, being perfect just like God the Father -- both of these are prerequisites for chapter 6:

"1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 6: 1)

The Israelites of Jesus' time were interested in the appearance of righteousness. If they took into account the full account of Moses and the prophets, they would remember that man does not just sin, but He is a sinner dead in his trespasses. He needs a consummate righteousness which grants him life, not just power to keep rules.

Later in Matthew 6, Jesus tells them how to pray, ending with:

"12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
Jesus then explains:
"13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6: 13-15)
Man's greatest need is that every debt be paid in his life. Because of Adam, every man is saddled with an infinite debt, which requires an infinite payment.
Jesus delivered these stern pronouncements before the fullness of the Cross, that perfect and forever payment.
Paul then shares the fullness of the New Covenant because of the Cross:
"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

Returning back to the Sermon on the Mount Chapter Six, let us proceed to the most important element

"33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6: 33)

Righteousness of God, His status in the Kingdom of Heaven, that's the most important need of man.

Now let us read Chapter Seven with this revelation in mind:

"7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7: 7-11)

Jesus talks about asking, seeking, and knocking. Yet what is the one thing that we need to seek?

Back to Matthew 6, everyone: His righteousness.

Yet none of us can attain or earn this righteousness:

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3: 10)

Instead, we receive this righteousness as a gift through Christ:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)

When we are established in His righteousness (Isaiah 54: 14-17), then we can trust Him for all things, that He is working within us both to will and to do for His  good pleasure (Philippians 2: 12-13), that we may be prospered and have health, because our soul prospers itself through the truth of the Gospel, God' s grace!

The whole Sermon on the Mount is about bring religious, self-righteous man to the end of himself, so that in Christ Himself we have the end of the law, which is His righteousness:

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Romans 10: 4)

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