Pulling Out the Props

Many people say they live by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) or the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). They’re supposedly the props a decent person leans on. I’ve even heard it said that those passages are all the Bible you need.

But who can keep the Ten Commandments? And who really lives by the Sermon on the Mount?

Really? All of it?

It’s in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus takes two of those Ten Commandments–murder and adultery–and shows how seriously God takes both our thought life and the words we speak.

To keep the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount would require you and me to be perfectly sinless. Who of us is that way? Don’t kid yourself about it.

Both the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount show us where God puts the bar. The Commandments were given to Old Testament Israel. The Sermon on the Mount is the set of rules for the coming kingdom when Christ rules on the earth during the Millennium. These are standards no one can reach without His help.

Did you know that two elements for living the Christian life are missing from both of these key Scripture passages? Do you know what they are? The clue is in my statement above regarding our inability to live up to these high standards without God’s help.

I’m sure somebody will quote the tired old saying that God helps those who help themselves. The idea is that, if you set out to live righteously, He’ll help you.

If that’s the case, then why did Jesus tell Nicodemus in John 3 that he needed to be born again? It’s because that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit (John 3:6)>

To be born again, a person must believe the Gospel, which is described in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. You must believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as the only means of salvation.

Look at the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount in the passages cited above. Can you find the Gospel in either one?

What about the empowerment for living the Christian life? It’s found in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who alone enables us to live righteously.

Paul commands believers in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit, rather than wine or alcohol, which takes over a person’s mind and influences actions. The Holy Spirit is what should be guiding our mind and actions instead.

Now look again at the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Where is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit mentioned?

The point is, neither the Gospel nor the Holy Spirit are mentioned in these passages–the same ones some say are all the Bible you need. It’s impossible to have even the remotest chance of meeting God’s standards without being born again and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

If you’re depending on getting through life and getting to heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, the props have been pulled out from under you. They were never good props in the first place.

Does that mean believers in Christ shouldn’t live by these two key Scripture passages? The answer is simply this. We seek to follow what’s taught from those passages which is repeated in the letters by Paul and others to believers.

We’re in the Church Age now. Whatever was written to the churches early on should be our guide for today. In those Scriptures you’ll find both the Gospel and teachings about the life-giving empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Those are our real props.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Salvation, Thoughts from John

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