MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (February 14, 2022)

This will be the sixth, and next-to-last, installment of Elder Mike Ivey’s very timely article about the Sermon on the Mount. We have seen how important it is to KNOW about God, and therefore to learn about how He wants us to live. His commandments are not grievous, and indeed they promote our happiness (“blessedness”) here on earth! I hope you will take these thoughts to heart, and thereby grow closer in your walk with God.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor

A Contextual Summary of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Part 6)

by Elder Michael Ivey

II. Organization of the Sermon

B. Nature of Commitment (cont.)

Matthew 6:18-24 Two masters: Trying to serve God and mammon (which as wealth personified is humanist hedonism) prevents us from spiritually participating in Christ’s church/kingdom of heaven. It produces spiritual blindness which prevents disciples from seeing and laying hold on the blessings of God. We are guilty of doing so when we make receiving pleasure our chief concern whether by coveting worldly possessions; or, by allowing ourselves to become preoccupied by our discomfort over worldly cares which causes us to be distracted from serving God as we ought.

Matthew 6:25-33 Pursuit of Status and possessions: We must not make elevating our status (self-serving ambition) the purpose of life; and neither should we set our purpose in life to have wealth and material possessions. Seeking status is to pursue vainglory and cannot be compared to the enjoying the blessings God his faithful disciples in the church/kingdom. Neither can amassed possessions equal what is available from God according to our need and his will.

Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not: Seeking self-implied righteous status by judging others unrighteous is another impediment to spiritual participation in Christ’s church/kingdom of heaven which prevents believers from receiving blessings of peace, happiness and joy. Doing so demonstrates how sinful pride destroys sound judgment. Jesus makes this point by pointing out the absurd notion that we can notice, take issue and even attempt to deal with the mote of sin in others if we are so blind as to not see beam sized sin in ourselves. The mote-sin-in-others to beam-sin-in-self contrast is certain and constant. We each know much more about our own sinning because we live with our whole selves all the time. In contrast, our knowledge of the sins of others is minute by comparison because in terms of frequency and duration observing the sins of others tends to be incidental.  Thus, honest assessment demands in comparison to others we see self as the chief of sinners at worst and least of saints at best, a did Paul.

Matthew 7:6 Dogs and swine: Jesus strengthens his assertion as to the futility of self-promotion in which one uses things of God to gain worldly approval. He notes efforts to use religion to impress worldly powers is akin to giving things belonging God to always hungry wild dogs and pearls to filthy swine. Nothing good can come from doing so. This type dog’s interest is limited to self-preservation. It attacks and destroys to eliminate threats, or else kills to eat. Similarly, swine do not and cannot appreciate the rarity, beauty and great value of pearls and soon makes them filthy by wallowing in filth. Using things belonging to God to charm the world is pointless and more important, it insults God.

Matthew 7:15-23 False prophets: Being aware and avoiding the influence of false prophets is Jesus final warning of things which hinder discipleship in his church/kingdom of heaven. The meaning of “prophet” in its broadest sense is: a deceitful foreteller. The subjects of the cautions and criticisms already mentioned by Jesus in the Sermon suggest false prophets include religious and secular seers who deceitfully offer up flawed explanations and deficient solutions that impede our efforts as faithful disciples in Christ’s church/kingdom of heaven. These are they who exclude faith in God, reject his moral authority and deny his infallible word in scripture. Nevertheless, some with subtlety, others brazenly and all with deceit claim to have the answer to our troubles. 

These are psuedo salt and light fixture scattered throughout society. They declare by following their advice, joining them, endorsing their cause, doing as they urge, buying what they recommend, rooting for their team, being their fan, (their list of claims is inexhaustible and always changing) will bring true and abiding happiness, joy, peace, etc.. They are false prophets in that they cannot give to others what is not theirs to give; which are blessings that originate and are outsourced from God to faithful disciples in his church/kingdom of heaven.  

To be continued. . . .