Disobeying Jesus while calling Him “LORD” – This is something we, born-again Christians often do and this was true even when Jesus walked up on the earth. He experienced it and he asked His audience after the Sermon on the Mount.
In fact, this is one of the most profound questions that Jesus asks His audience at the end of the Sermon on the Mount and we could sense a kind of disappointment in the voice of Lord Jesus while asking this question.
As you know Israel received a whole set of laws from God through Moses, however, they did not live their lives according to those laws, as a result, both personal and social life in ancient Israel was in a real mess.
Even during Jesus’ time, the situation was not different. He, very well comprehended the problems in the society and offered solutions but people were not willing to adopt those solutions in their lives. Lord Jesus could see through their rebellious, disobedient hearts. That is why He is asking them:
As you know Lord Jesus came into this world as a human being with the objective of leading people into the Kingdom of God and that process had to be started by changing their day-to-day lifestyle. All His teachings were aimed at bringing both inward and outward changes in the lives of the people.
However, the people, though followed Him 24×7, did not put His teachings into practice. They all called Him – Lord, but they never allowed Him to be the real Lord in their lives. This is not just the reality of those days – even now the situation is the same.
Majority of the Christians, born-again believers, proudly call Jesus “LORD” and claim publicly that they are His disciples, but the sad part is – they won’t allow Him to be the LORD in their lives by living according to His teachings. This is something that really disappoints Lord Jesus even today and the question that He asked two thousand years ago is more relevant in this age than ever before.
We see more hypocritical Christian lifestyle today than ever before. But, can we continue to live like this for long? Shouldn’t we change and align our lifestyle according to the Word of God, According to the teachings of Lord Jesus?
As you know Lord Jesus asked this question – 46Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? – at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. The content of this sermon was the most revolutionary among all the teachings of Christ on earth and it demanded a complete change in the way we live. And Lord Jesus, at the end of this sermon says: if we live according to what he has taught – we will be like the wise builder who built his house on the rock.
47As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built( Luke 6, 47-48)
However, if we don’t live according to His teachings, then, we will be like the foolish builder who built his house on the sand.
49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6, 49)
As you know, the Christian world is in a crisis, the church is being attacked from within and without. Moral decay, sexual immorality, divorce, family dis-integration, greed for power and money etc are more rampant in the church than ever before.
It seems like the church has lost its direction and purpose in this world. Many are falling away from faith and the church agrees with the world more than it agrees with the Word of God. You might wonder where it all began – the answer lies in the above verses in Luke 6, 49.
The reason for so much corruption and decay are – because, we built our spiritual house on sand. We built it up on the foundation of man-made doctrines and principles rather than on the foundation of Christ’s Words. As He warned – when the torrents, the attacks of the enemy, came, the house started to crumble, it could not withstand the onslaught of the enemy.
Family and the church are built on the foundation of individuals and if individuals have a strong spiritual foundation, then, families and churches too will have a strong spiritual foundation.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Majority of the Christians haven’t built their spiritual house on the foundation of Jesus’ words. That’s why we see so much moral decay and corruption in the church.
Next, let us look at some of the revolutionary teachings that is contained in the Sermon on the Mount.
As I mentioned earlier, Lord Jesus says:
“if you hear my words and put them into practice, you will be like the wise builder who built his house on the rock”.
But here you might wonder which words of Jesus?
Here, what he means by – these words of mine – are the things he taught during the sermon on the mount. In Matthew 5, 6, and 7, he gives a list of things that people should put into practice.
So, let us examine this list in detail. As you know the sermon on the mount begins with beatitudes but I won’t be covering it in this part. Instead, I will focus on some of the things that we really need to put into practice in our Christian life.
1.Obey and Teach the Commandments of God.
This is the most fundamental duty of a Christian. In Matthew 5, 17 – 19 Jesus clearly warns us that we should not teach anything in way that nullifies God’s Holy Laws. Instead, we should obey the Commandments and should teach others to keep them.
Those who teach disobedience will be called “the least” in the kingdom of God. Of course, you might hear many of the evangelical preachers and teachers saying that – “We are not under the Law” so we don’t need to keep the Law. But please don’t listen to them if their teachings contradict with the teachings of Christ.
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5, 17-19)
As you see, in the above verses, Lord Jesus is just summarising what had been written in Deuteronomy 6 about the importance of obeying and teaching the Commandments of God. Read the following verses
4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. a 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.( Deuteronomy 6, 4-8)
2.Treat others with Respect.
As you know murder is a very serious crime and, in many cases, it warrants a death penalty. According to the Old Testament a murder takes place only when someone kills another person, or cause physical death. But Lord Jesus magnifies this law and says that if we call a brother “fool” or being angry with someone is equal to committing a murder and deserves punishment as serious as hell-fire. Read the verses below:
21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister b c will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ d is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5, 21-22)
Here, you might wonder: Why Lord Jesus says:
Offending or insulting others is a serious crime as murder.
Well, the reason might be this:
Man was created in God’s image and likeness and God is a spirit; that means, man is basically a Spiritual Being.
When you offend a person, you are offending the image of God in him. Moreover, when you offend someone, you are causing mental and emotional destruction in that person which is a very serious offence in the eyes of the LORD.
Each time when we disrespect or show contempt to our fellow human beings; including our own brothers and sisters, we are insulting and hurting the Spirit of God in that person. Therefore, we should be respectful and forgiving to each other.
3. Guard Your Heart Against Lust.
The seventh commandment says – you shall not commit adultery; but Lord Jesus during the sermon on the mount magnifies this commandment and says – if anyone looks at a woman with lust; he commits adultery with her in his heart; that means:
According to the laws of heaven – committing adultery in heart is equal to committing adultery physically.
Furthermore, the condition of the heart is what determines the spiritual health of a person and a heart filled with lustful thoughts makes it unclean and an unclean heart makes the whole person unclean.
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ e 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.(Matthew 5, 27-29)
4. Stay Away from Divorce.
Yes, divorce is a serious offence in the eyes of God Almighty and He hates it. So, we should neither participate not encourage divorce. Marriage and family are sacred institutions in the eyes of the LORD.
Though divorce was allowed in Ancient Israel, it was only on the ground of marital unfaithfulness and not for any other reason. However, in modern times divorce is very common even among Christians and they ignore the warnings of Lord Jesus who very categorically stated in his sermons that divorce is an evil practice because it leads to adultery.
31“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ f 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.(Matthew 5, 31-32).
As, you know, family is the foundation of the church and when family disintegrates, the church disintegrates. So, we should preserve the unity of the family by discouraging divorce.
Unfortunately, no one in the Christian world takes the above verses of Lord Jesus seriously. Divorce is rampant in the Western Evangelical church and sheep and shepherds alike participate and promote divorce. These believers do not obey Jesus though they call Him “LORD” – What a hypocrisy!
5.Do Not Be Revengeful or Retaliate.
As normal human beings we all have the tendency to retaliate in the same coin if someone causes harm to us. However, Lord Jesus commands us to be forgiving and loving towards the ones who harm us. He admonishes us to be patient and generous towards those who mistreat us or impose unjust demands on us. Here, Jesus is not asking us to do something extra-ordinary. These are normal rules of heaven and we, as its citizens, required to follow those rules. Yes, it is not easy to practice these things.
However, in many cases practising them diligently brings healing and blessings not only on the victims but also on the perpetrators; many have been transformed and transferred into the eternal kingdom of God because some of the Christians lived out what their Master had taught them.
38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ h 39But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5, 38-39)
6. Be Generous to Others.
Being generous towards both Man and God should be an important trait of a devout Christian. However, these days, this trait is seldom found among born-again believers; many in the church are eager to receive but they are not willing to share with others what they have received.
Christians generally think that: they are more blessed when they receive. However, the Bible speaks just the opposite; it says – you are more blessed when you give.
35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20, 35)
Saints, one more thing you need to keep in mind is – the reason why many of you are struggling financially despite doing two jobs is – because you do not practice “giving”.
So, next time when you get your pay-cheque – please help someone with a small portion of it; you will definitely see the difference in your finances. Also make sure you do this in secret. If you help someone, please do not announce it from the rooftop.
3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6, 3-4)
7. Love Your Enemies
Yes, this is one of the most difficult commandments of Jesus. Majority of the Christians, including myself, struggle with it. It is almost impossible for us to put this into practice; this is completely opposite to our common sense and we don’t want to even think about practising this commandment.
However, from a heavenly perspective this should be quite normal for a disciple of Christ. When we practise this commandment – it empties us of our ego and pride. It brings healing not only on ourselves but also on others. It opens the door for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and shed light on the darkness that surrounds others who are unbelievers.
44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5, 44 – 48)
Furthermore, this is also a heavenly rule and our Heavenly Father wants us to be perfect like Him by following this commandment.
8.Fast and Pray in Secret.
This is another very important Commandment of Lord Jesus that we need to put into practice very diligently. In Ancient Israel it was very common among Pharisees to perform their religious rituals like prayer and fasting in public for men to see.
According to the Word of God; prayer and fasting are part of one’s personal life and it is something that manifests the depth of your relationship with God and He does not want you to practice these things for men to see. The reason why pharisees were doing these things in open was to get praise from the people. Jesus really hated this behaviour and that is the reason why He is asking us to do these things in secret.
When we examine the prayer life of Jesus; we could find that He never prayed in public. Whenever he wanted to pray; he would go away to remote places and prayed alone. Lord Jesus did not want anyone to be around Him when He is communicating with His heavenly Father. We, as His disciples, should follow His example.
9. Do Not Swear by Anything in Heaven or on Earth.
Swearing is very common among many Christians however, Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount warns us that – we should not swear by anything. Our “Yes” should be simply “Yes” and our “No” should be simply “No”. Nothing more or less.
Unfortunately, many Christians are often tempted to swear and also give false testimonies about many things. For e.g. in a certain context the answer in their heart might be “No” but they might say “Yes” with their mouth. Christians should not be double minded – they should be courageous enough to give the correct answer.
10. Let Your Light Shine Before Men.
In Matthew 5, 14-15, Jesus says we are the light of this world. As you know this world has been in a spiritual darkness since the fall of Adam and Eve and Christ has brought light into this dark world and we, his disciples are the ones who has that light in our hearts. So, we should not hide that light from the world. Instead, we should let the world see that light by living a life according to the Word of God, by being good witnesses for Christ.
14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5, 14 -16)
11. Do Not Store Up for Yourselves Treasures on Earth.
This is one of the most important commandments of Lord Jesus but none of us put this into practice. The Lord Almighty has blessed Christians with enough wealth but all that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a minority and the majority do not have enough to meet their needs. The reason why this minority hoards all this wealth is because:
“They Love money more than God and they love this world more than heaven.”
However, Lord Jesus does not approve this behaviour. Instead, He commands His children to share their surplus wealth with those who are in need.
From the earthly persepctive sharing is losing but from the heavenly perspective sharing is saving – saving eternally. Because, your heavenly account will increase when you share as what you share will be credited into your account in Heaven. In other words, by sharing your wealth with others – you are transferring it from Earth to Heaven where it is going to last for ever.
On the contrary, if you do not share with others on earth, then, though your wealth will be with you for a while on earth; soon it will be eaten by locusts or stolen by thieves.
In addition, storing up treasures in heaven is a sign that our focus has been shifted from the things of this perishable world to the things of the Eternal World.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6, 19-21)
Also in Luke 12, 33, Lord Jesus is commanding His followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor, and He assures them that; by doing so, they will have treasures in heaven.
However, majority of the Christians in this world are not willing to obey this commandment as they still prefer to hold more on to the promises that will materialize in this word than in the next world. Though they call Him “LORD” they will not allow Him to be the Lord of their money.
33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.( Luke 12, 33)
12. Do Not Worry.
This is another great Commandment that Jesus gives us during the Sermon on the Mount.
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life e ?( Matthew 6, 25-27).
In the above verses Lord Jesus strictly commands us not to worry about anything in this life. Of course, though we are believers in Christ, no matter how strong our faith is, we all still worry at times. Worrying about things in life is something that no one can escape from. However, Lord Jesus says:
“Do not Worry”. But why He commands us not to worry? Because:
Worrying will not solve any of our problems but rather, it will add more to our existing problems. Moreover, worrying will lead us to do things that are not good for our Physical, Mental and spiritual health. As you know, there are people who commit crimes in order to find solutions for their problems; there are also people who slip into anxiety and depression because of worrying. So, worrying can really cause very serious problems in life. That is why Lord Jesus is commanding us not to worry. As believers; we should commit everything into the hands of God and be at peace with ourselves.
13.Do Not Judge Others:
In the above verses Lord Jesus very categorically commands us not to judge others. Judging is the job of a judge and God has not appointed us to be judge over our brothers. Judging is a very noble responsibility and only Lord Jesus has the authority to Judge.
When we, sinners, judge our fellow sinners, we are encroaching into a domain that we don’t have any right to enter and God takes this encroachment very seriously.
Therefore, we should stay away from judging our fellow brothers and sisters. Of course, we do have the right to correct or point out mistakes but it should be done in love and not with an attitude of spiritual superiority.
14. Ask, Seek and Knock
7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.( Matthew 7, 7-8)
In the above verses Jesus teaches us about the importance of asking, seeking and knocking in times of need. Here, Lord Jesus reminds us the loving nature of our Heavenly Father who always want to give good gifts to His children.
But often, many of us, due to our lack of faith fail to ask, seek or knock on the doors of heaven when we are in need. Instead, we always try to seek the help of flesh and blood who might disappoint us or shut their doors on our face. But our Heavenly Father will never do that. That is why Lord Jesus is encouraging us to knock first on His door in times of need.
9“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!( Matthew 7, 9-11)
15. Be Wise Enough to Recognize False Prophets and Teachers.
Yes, as Lord Jesus instructed us during the Sermon on the Mount, we, His disciples, should be wise enough to recognize False Teachers and False Prophets. Lord Jesus warns us that; many will come in His name to deceive us and lead us astray.
In John 10, 27, Lord Jesus very categorically states that:
“My Sheep Listen to My Voice and Follow Me”
We as, His sheep, should listen only to His voice and follow Him only. But in order to recognize His voice, we should be familiar with His Word. But, if we live as a Sunday Christian, we won’t be able to listen to His voice; instead, we might be fooled into following the voices of False Teachers and Prophets who will eventually lead us into eternal damnation.
16. Enter Through the Narrow Gate.
This is one of the most important instructions that Lord Jesus gives us during the Sermon on the Mount; it is concerning our journey into eternity. In the verses below Lord Jesus clearly warns us in advance that – we can enter into heaven only through the narrow road and we should be prepared for it.
13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7, 13-14)
As you see, in the above verses, Lord Jesus presents two groups of people who are trying to reach Heaven. One group, the majority, taking the broad road and the minority taking the narrow road. However, the ones who take the broad road never reaches their destination but only the ones who take the Narrow road.
Saints, true Christian life is a journey through a narrow road that is paved with thorns and stones; the journey is tough and many will fall away on the way, but the one who hold on to the end will be saved; this is the reality and we should be always prepared to keep going ahead despite the challenges.
While concluding the Sermon on the Mount Lord Jesus clearly reminded us that only the ones who build their spiritual house on the foundation of His Words (The Solid Rock) will be able to withstand the onslaught of the enemy and hold until the end and others who build their spiritual houses on the foundations of this worldly, man-made doctrines and teachings will fail to guard their spiritual house against the torrents and storms of this sin saturated world.
24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”(Matthew 7, 24-27)
As you know, right before our own eyes many reputed, professing Christians including Pastors and Preachers are renouncing their faith in Christ and returning to the mud of this perishable world. The reason is: very clear – As Lord Jesus says;
They failed to build their Spiritual House on the foundation of Christ.
Instead, they built their Spiritual House on the foundation of man-made doctrines and practices that many of the Christian denominations adopted from the world which appeared to be like the authentic words of Christ but are false. Their Spiritual House, their faith, collapsed when the torrents and storms of this corrupted world beat against it; they could not withstand the onslaught of the enemy.
Therefore, studying the Words of Lord Jesus and living by them is essential for us to abide in Christ.
Remember – We Cannot Abide in Christ without Obeying HIM.