Transforming Our Inside Condition (The Sermon on the Mount)

Jesus and Our Inside Condition

Jesus had the richest inside condition of any person to walk the face of the earth. We discover the secret of his inner life by reading what he taught and lived in the Gospels.

New Year’s Challenge – Read the Gospels slowly and carefully.  Ask the Lord to help your inside condition to become like Jesus’.  Use the Internet to find articles that explain various passages that you don’t understand.  Find videos on YouTube where speakers illuminate the passages you are reading.  Most of all, talk to Jesus about what you are learning and ask him to help you adjust your life to what you see him teach and do.

Matthew 4.1-11 – Temptation and the Inside Condition

Jesus learned of his mission in Matthew 3.13-17. In Matthew 4.1-11 we have the account of his temptation. Like Jesus, we are tempted and in the midst of temptation we will make the choice of the kind of person we will be. Every temptation is a crossroad where we make the choice of what our inside condition will look like.

Jesus responded to temptation by adjusting his will to the will of the Father-God.

Temptation and Spiritual Law

There is one great spiritual law that we must recognize. The law is that our inner person can have what it wants. The person who wants hatred in his inside condition can have an inside condition of hatred and must live in the atmosphere that such a spirit forms. We cannot live in heaven and give out hell and hatred. In the same way, the person who longs for deeds that are wrong and inwardly “plays” with such deeds will become wrong in his or her actions. The person who hungers and thirsts for goodness will also get what he or she wants.

Matthew 5.3-12 – The Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes)

The beatitudes (blessings) present a new way of living for a new kind of person that we are to become. These words of the beatitudes do not present something that we can obtain, but something to search for and a journey to travel.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit – The “poor in spirit” are characterized by being open hearted. They know that happiness does not consist in getting things. Their real concern is to be more open each day to Jesus’ direction for their lives.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn – Jesus rejects a superficial way of measuring life by the smoothness of its road or by its freedom from trial. No where does Jesus teach that success is the reward for living the good life and that trouble is the punishment for the lack of righteousness. There are times when the only way God can develop our character is through difficulties.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek – 5:7 Blessed are the merciful – 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers – Meekness, mercy, and peace-making are high qualities of the inner spirit of the life God desires. We are being “meek,” when we choose to win by the slow way that is right, rather than the “ends-justify-the-means” way. Mercy is tenderness of heart and the ability to put ourselves in another’s place. Peace-making is doing God’s business of drawing people together into unity of spirit and purpose, teaching them to live the love-way.

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart – We spoil our vision with selfishness, we cloud it with prejudices, we blur it with impure aims. What is needed is a pure, clean, sincere, loving, forgiving, devoted heart.

Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth – As salt we are ready to dissolve and disappear. We are ready to give ourselves away to preserve and to spice up the world in which we live.

Matthew 5:14 You are the light/candle of the world – Candles emit their light and kindle other candles by burning themselves up and transmitting their flame. When a life is set on fire, and radiant with self-consuming love, it will set other lives on fire, too.

Matthew 5:40 And if any one will command you, and take away their coat, let him have my cloak also. 5:41 And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two. – The Second Mile can become a program of action and a map for life. The Second Mile is the supreme trait and character/nature of God. Read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 or meditate on the events of the Cross to see how God goes the second mile with us.

Matthew 6.19-23 – The Problem of What We Live By

Matthew 6:19 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 6:20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Jesus knew how the mad rush for money and the over-valuation of it killed out the noblest fundamental traits of the inner life. The inside condition of Jesus (the one we should imitate) did not focus on how to accumulate goods, but rather how to be good.

For Jesus, the problem that people face is what people live by. He calls us to loosen our grip on perishable treasures, so that we may tighten our hold on heavenly and spiritual wealth. Jesus has a new kind of wealth that is not tied to our moods. As we align our lives with God, our inside condition is rooted in his life, his goodness and his love.

Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is healthy, your whole body shall be full of light. 6:23 But if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body shall be full of darkness. – Nobody sees life correctly until that person has corrected his or her view of life.

Caution: There is no rich inner life that does not also have an outer life.

There is no inner life that is not also an outer life. To withdraw from the stress and strain of practical action and from the complication of problems into some “hiding place” of inner security is the sure way to lose the inner life. To be beautiful within we must live a radiant and effective life in the world of people and everyday life.

Religion does not consist of inward thrills and private enjoyment of God. It is rather the joyous business of carrying the Life of God into the lives of others.  The balance of inner and outer is what will enrich our inside condition.

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