The Sermon on the Mount

When you read the red letters, Matthew 5,6, and 7 is one of the longest running narratives you’ll find.  It’s full of wonderful promises and practical wisdom. Jesus sums up the message of His sermon with this last illustration found in Matthew 7:24-27.  This is a paraphrase of these verses.

"Now, everything I’ve told you today is very important.  And if you’re wise, you’ll build your lives on it.  The wisdom of God is the firm foundation everyone needs.  There are all sorts of unexpected situations and difficult circumstances in this life that can cause you trouble.  But if you’ve built your life on the things I’ve told you, you’ll be able to stand against anything.  Just be sure you don’t make this mistake.  Many will listen to what I’ve said, but they won’t take it seriously.  They’ll follow the world’s so-called experts, instead. These guys are always changing their minds about something, because most everything they do turns out wrong.  They’re always coming up with something new to cover their mistakes. When you follow the wisdom of the world, your life will be full of insecurity and confusion. And when problems come, your life will crumble, and you won’t be able to fix it.

What’s He saying?  Build your life on what I’ve said and you’ll do O.K.  Disregard what I’ve said and you’re headed for trouble, big-time.  It’s that simple.  Most people never stop to think of the implications of what Jesus is saying here.  He tells us to build our lives on what He says in the Sermon on the Mount.  This is a complete message.  All we need to know.  We can build our lives on it.

Should we pay particular attention to the red letters?  I’m more convinced of that than ever.  As a matter of fact, I discovered several years ago that as I read the red letters, the wrong doctrines of the traditional church were destroyed.  I also discovered that the traditional church doesn’t usually quote the red letters to establish their doctrine.  They use isolated verses and parts of verses from Paul’s epistles.  What’s my point?  If you study the red letters and know what Jesus said, then you’ll have the proper context for Paul’s epistles and will not be easily led into deception.  Know what Jesus said.  Let the red letters be the foundation for everything you believe.

Here is a paraphrase of the entire Sermon on the Mount.

Chapter 5

  1. And when He saw the crowd that was gathering, He went up the side of the mountain to find a place where He could address the people, and His disciples came to join Him.

  2. Then He began to teach them all, saying:

  3. Those who truly understand what it is to be completely dependent on God and desperate for Him (the poor in spirit) are fortunate, because they will enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven in its fullness.

  4. And those who grieve over the destructive consequences of their own sin (those who mourn) are fortunate, because they will escape its destruction.

  5. Those who have the determination to pursue the will of God, regardless of the circumstances, (the meek) are fortunate, because they soon learn that together with God they can overcome anything the world might throw at them.

  6. And those that believe the righteousness of God is something they can’t live without (those who hunger and thirst for righteousness) are happy, because the spiritual blessing and joy of knowing God will always sustain them.

  7. Those who are willing to give away what God has given them (the merciful) are happy, because they have God’s promise that He will always give them what they need.

  8. And those who are open to God and don’t try to hide anything from Him (the pure in heart) will experience God’s favor, because He will reveal Himself to them.

  9. Those who are willing to take the peace of God to those in turmoil (the peacemakers) are happy, because they have taken on the true nature of their Father in Heaven.

  10. And those who are punished because they have chosen to rise above the world’s false standards (those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake) are happy, because the Kingdom of Heaven is their rightful inheritance.

  11. Be happy when others attack you and lie about you because of Me,

  12. That’s good!  Your reward will be waiting for you in heaven.  Just remember. They treated the prophets before you the very same way.

  13. You are the ones who must influence the world, to bring out the best in it – like salt brings out the best taste in food.  But if you don’t do it, then who will?  The world will look to you for answers.  So don’t disappoint them.

  14. You are the ones who must show them the way.  It’s so obvious.  You stand head and shoulders above the crowd.

  15. So don’t hesitate to tell others what you know.  Don’t try to hide the fact that you really know God.  Stand up!  Speak up!  Let yourself be noticed.

  16. Let your life shine like a bright light.  Give yourself unselfishly to others.  Let them see in you the love of the Father, so He can draw them to Himself.

  17. Don’t think for even a second that I’ve come to change what God has already spoken through the prophets.  I’m not here to change anything.  In fact, I’m going to make sure everything happens just the way it’s been promised.

  18. And you can be sure of this one thing, the earth and all the stars you can see in the sky at night are fragile and insignificant when compared to even the smallest detail of God’s promises.  And His Word will accomplish its intended purpose, which is, to make the Kingdom of God a reality.

  19. It is important that you understand this.  There are many that teach what the rules are, you see them everywhere; but those who live by the principles of God’s Word and encourage others to do the same are rare, and they are the ones who will be honored in the Kingdom of Heaven.

  20. And I’m telling you right now; you’re going to have to do a better job of following God’s Word than the religious crowd is doing.  They’re always careful to follow the rules they’ve made, but they ignore the important principles behind them.  You can’t find the Kingdom of Heaven that way.

  21. I’ll show you what I mean.  They’ve been saying for a long time now that you can’t commit murder.  And if you do, you’ll stand trial and suffer the proper punishment for your crime.

  22. What are they thinking?  It’s O.K. because they’ve never committed murder? Is it O.K. to call your brother a worthless fool?  Is it O.K. to hold on to your anger and refuse to make peace?  Murder isn’t the only crime that deserves punishment.  If you hurt others with your anger, you’re going to suffer the consequences.

  23. Let me tell you how to deal with anger.  When you come into the presence of God to commune with Him, and then remember that you’ve hurt someone with your anger;

  24. Stop right there!  Go to that person and ask for their forgiveness.  After all, how can you ask God to cleanse you when you know you’re holding on to your own sin by refusing to be reconciled to your brother?  God can’t honor that.

  25. Humble yourself.  Apologize.  Don’t let your brother’s anger towards you grow because you refuse to admit you were wrong.  You should know by now that when anger is not dealt with, it can get out of hand in a hurry and cause all kinds of problems.

  26. I’m telling you the truth.  You will suffer some very serious consequences, when you refuse to make things right.

  27. Then they’ve always said that you can’t commit adultery with another man’s wife.

  28. But they never talk about whether it’s right or wrong to look at a woman and have lustful thoughts about her.  They want to believe that they have protected their virtue because they didn’t actually commit the sinful act.  In reality, they’re corrupted by their wrong thoughts.

  29. So, when you find yourself thinking such impure thoughts, don’t avoid the personal pain involved in dealing with them in confession and repentance.

  30. It’s far better to experience the discomfort of dealing with your sin, than it is to allow that sin to corrupt your life and keep you from doing what’s right.

  31. And they’ve always said that when a man doesn’t want his wife anymore, he must divorce her legally by doing the proper paperwork.  This gives her the opportunity to marry again.

  32. But, the fact of the matter is this: just because they’ve established a legal procedure for divorce doesn’t mean what they’re doing is right.  Who are they kidding?  When a man divorces his wife and she remarries, he makes her an adulteress.  And when a man marries a woman who is divorced, he becomes an adulterer.  Making something legal doesn’t automatically make it right in God’s eyes.

  33. They’ve also said you shouldn’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep.

  34. In an attempt to prove their sincerity, people often try to make their promises sound more believable by adding something religious to them.

  35. Things don’t become true just because they’re dressed up in religious-sounding talk.

  36. In fact, the more religious it sounds, the more reason you have to be suspicious of it.

  37. So, keep it simple.  Just say yes, when you mean yes; and no, when you mean no.  Only those who intend to deceive feel the need to make long, drawn-out, religious-sounding promises.

  38. Here’s another one.  You’ve always heard that the punishment should fit the crime.

  39. But, I propose a different way.  When someone hurts you, don’t retaliate at all.  What does it accomplish?  Your retaliation only adds to the pain that already exists.  If someone hurts you, take it peacefully.  And by that, you’ll prove the sincerity of your love by ending it then and there.

  40. And if anyone ever has reason to take you to court, if he wins his case, pay him even more than the judge requires.

  41. When anyone wants to take unfair advantage of you, fine.  Let him do it.

  42. If someone asks you for help, don’t refuse.  Even if you think he’s trying to take advantage of your generosity.  And if they ask you for a loan, give it to them.  Even if you have every reason to believe they’ll never pay it back.  I know this is confusing.  But this is what I’m trying to tell you: be willing to suffer, if you must; but always refuse to make others suffer, regardless of the circumstances.

  43. And you’ve been told to love your friends, but hate your enemies.

  44. That’s wrong!  Instead, you should love those who hate you, say only good things about those who dislike you, do good things for those who want to destroy you, and pray for those who have betrayed you.

  45. Then you’ll be like your Father in Heaven.  He doesn’t arbitrarily choose those He will love.  He loves everyone the same, regardless of whether they’re good or bad.

  46. When you only love those who love you in return, do you think you deserve something special for it?  I don’t see why, anyone can do that.

  47. And when you only say hello to those who greet you first, what’s so great about that?  You’re barely doing what’s expected of everyone.

  48. But this is what I’m talking about, we have to show everyone the same God-like character.  It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’re doing.  You have to learn to treat others the way the Father treats you.

Chapter 6

  1. Be careful you don’t do the good things you do just so others can see you do them.  If recognition and approval from men is all that motivates you to help others, don’t expect God to reward you too.  After all, why are you really doing it?  If it’s to get others to notice you, then you’re only doing it for yourself and their attention is your reward.

  2. So, when you do good things for others, don’t make a big deal out of it.  Do it quietly, so the only ones who know about it are the people you help and your Father in Heaven.

  3. Always guard yourselves from wrong intentions.

  4. Do your good deeds secretly.  Then your Father in Heaven will bless you in ways everyone will notice.  You have to decide which is better, the approval of men or the approval of God.

  5. And when you pray, don’t be religious about it.  Don’t recite long, flowery prayers in public, where everyone can hear.  Who are you talking to?

  6. If you’re talking to God, go to a quiet, private place and just talk to Him.  Then He’ll honor your personal, heart-felt prayers by blessing you in ways that show you really do talk to Him.

  7. Just try to be yourself.  There’s something false and impersonal about reciting the same, old, tired, worn-out formulas.  Remember this, the Father responds to sincerity, not to the length of the prayer.

  8. So don’t be like those who have no relationship with a real, living God.  They repeat the same words over and over again to lifeless images that can’t hear.  Your Father is much different than that.  He knows what you need, even before you ask.

  9. And this is how you should pray.  Talk to your Father in Heaven like you would talk to your earthly father, with affection and respect, only acknowledge that He deserves honor and reverence that is greater than any man.

  10. Tell Him about your desire to see His Kingdom revealed in your life.  Tell Him you only want what He wants, so that His will can be seen here on the earth, just like it is in His heavenly domain.

  11. Ask Him to give you just what you need for every day.

  12. Then ask Him to forgive your trespasses and sins.  But tell Him you understand that your forgiveness is based on your own willingness to forgive those who have trespassed against you.

  13. And finally, ask Him to protect you from yourself and from all the evil that surrounds you in the world.

  14. Then remember, if you’re willing to forgive others, then your Heavenly Father will forgive you as well.

  15. But, if you’re not willing to forgive others, the Father won’t forgive you.  When you refuse to forgive others, it’s only because you want to punish them.  The Father can’t bless that.

  16. And if you’re going to fast, don’t go around looking like you’re about to die, hoping someone will notice and ask you what’s wrong.  If you do that, then you’ve gone hungry for nothing.

  17. If you’re going to fast, just act normal.

  18. Don’t let anyone know what you’re doing.  The question is the same.  Who are you doing it for?  If you’re only seeking the recognition of men, you’ll probably get it.  But that’s all you’ll get.

  19. And don’t spend all your time trying to accumulate the material things this world has to offer.  You may think those things make your life secure, but they don’t.  They’re easier to lose than they are to get.

  20. Instead, use your time to gather treasures in heaven.  There, they’re protected, and you’ll be able to enjoy them through all eternity.

  21. You must decide which is more important.  You can’t have both.  Material things only last as long as you live on this earth.  But, spiritual treasures last forever.  And this will always be true - the thing you invest your life in is the thing you love the most.

  22. If you understand what I’m saying, you’ll know what to do.  And you’ll do the right thing.

  23. But, if you don’t understand, you’re going to make a serious mistake.  The time will come when you’ll realize you’ve made the wrong decision, but it will be too late to do anything about it.  You’ll lose all your earthly treasures and have no time left to gather heavenly ones.

  24. Don’t think you can do both, you can’t.  It’s impossible to pursue God and the things of the world that make you feel secure.  The pursuit of one will cause you avoid or neglect the other.

  25. And, if you decide to pursue God, don’t worry about what you’re going to eat or drink or whether your clothes are the latest fashion.  Because you’ll soon find out there are things much more satisfying than food and more important than clothing.

  26. Look at the birds.  They’re not worried about all those things.  They’re content to just let the Father give them whatever they need.  And, since it’s obvious that the Father takes care of the birds, why won’t you trust Him to take care of you?  You must know that you’re more important to Him than birds.

  27. And why should you worry about your appearance?  The latest fashions don’t make you look any different.  Don’t you understand you look the same to your Father, regardless of what you’re wearing?

  28. So why should you be concerned about clothing?  Look at the wildflowers in the fields.  They don’t worry about such trivial things.

  29. And yet, you must agree that even Solomon, when dressed in his finest, never looked as good.

  30. Again, the Father can take care of the flowers, and He knows they live for only a short time and then they’re gone.  He’s going to take even better care of you.  Why can’t you trust Him?

  31. So you never need to wonder, What am I going to eat?  Or, What am I going to drink?  Or, What am I going to wear?

  32. Relax!  Those are the questions people ask when they don’t know the real God.  But your Heavenly Father knows full well that you need all of these things.

  33. When you make the Kingdom of God the most important thing in your life, and become a living demonstration of the Father’s way of doing things right; then He will always make sure you have everything you need.

  34. And by the way, don’t worry about tomorrow.  It will come soon enough.  And when it does, it will bring new challenges and opportunities for you to learn to trust your Heavenly Father.  But for now, just concentrate on trusting Him to get you through the trouble you’re facing today.

Chapter 7

  1. It’s not for you to decide what’s right or wrong for others.  Keep your nose out of their business, unless that’s how you want to be treated.

  2. Because if you do it to others, they’ll do it to you.  Then it becomes a vicious cycle of everyone interfering in everyone else’s life.

  3. You may think you have a real talent for spotting other people’s problems.  But how good are you at seeing your own?  After all, they’re the ones you need to be dealing with.

  4. You have to be your own first priority.  You can’t spend all your time pretending to "help" others with their problems, while you ignore your own.

  5. That kind of super-spiritual attitude is useless!  True righteousness only comes when people face their faults and weaknesses with God in confession and repentance.  Then they can understand how to truly help others by encouraging them to do the same.

  6. And, it’s not for you to decide who should or who shouldn’t hear the truth of God’s word.  Don’t you know the purpose of the Good News is to show how God loves everyone, regardless of how undeserving or unacceptable you might think they are?

  7. Be persistent when you need the Father’s help.  It proves your reliance on Him.  When you ask Him for help over and over again, it proves that He’s your only source.  When you consistently pursue Him, it proves you really want to know Him.  And when you look only to Him for guidance, it proves you want to follow Him.

  8. Then, when you show the Father you’re depending on Him alone, He’ll honor your trust and reveal Himself to you.

  9. Your Heavenly Father is just like any earthly father who truly loves his children.  And He will not betray your trust or disappoint your reliance on Him.

  10. If you ask Him for something good or useful or needful, could He disregard your request and give you something evil or harmful instead?  Of course not!

  11. Even as bad as some parents are, they still take pleasure in giving good things to their children.  Your Heavenly Father, Who is perfect, takes even greater pleasure in giving good things to His children.

  12. And remember, this is the standard the Father has set; when you think about how you want others to treat you, take the initiative and treat them that exact same way.  Because when you consider everything the Father has ever revealed to man, it boils down to this one thing: always be willing to use anything the Father has given you to be a blessing to others.  This is what makes Him proud of His children!

  13. Take the difficult path on your way to life in God.  Everyone looks for the easy way, but they end up being led astray.

  14. The truth is, the path to life in God is full of suffering, obstacles and adversity.  Most people don't want to believe that, so they allow themselves to be deceived and go the wrong way.  Only a few are willing to persevere and take the difficult path.

  15. And be careful.  There are those who pretend to hear from God, but are, in reality, deceived themselves.  They’ll tell you what you want to hear.  It’ll sound really good.  They’ll be sincere.  But if you listen to them, you’ll be sorry.  And unfortunately, for many of them, religion is just another way to take advantage of people and get ahead in the world.

  16. And sometimes these guys are hard to spot.  But this is the key: look for Godly character.  Don’t be fooled by their apparent success, their good looks or their talent.

  17. Just remember.  Good people do good things.  If they’re principled people with right spiritual values, it will not be in their nature to want to manipulate you and take advantage of you.  They’ll only want you to know the truth.

  18. So get to know them.  Don’t just listen to what they have to say.  Look closely at their lives.

  19. If it turns out they’re not what they claim, get away from them.  The Father will deal with them when the proper time comes.

  20. And if they’re genuine, you’ll know it because they’ll continually encourage and bless you.

  21. Simply looking and acting religious will not guarantee you entrance into heaven.  There’s a world of difference between doing your own thing and being obedient to the will of the Father.

  22. On that final day, there will be many that will want to talk about all the religious things they did that impressed so many people.

  23. Then I’ll tell them, and this will be the first time they have ever really heard My voice, You have to leave now, I don’t know you.  We were never intimate. All those things you did that you’re so anxious to talk about had nothing to do with Me.  You were just using My name to make yourselves look good.

  24. Now, everything I’ve told you today is very important.  And if you’re wise, you’ll build your lives on it.  The wisdom of God is the firm foundation everyone needs.

  25. There are all sorts of unexpected situations and difficult circumstances in this life that can cause you trouble.  But, if you’ve built your life on the things I’ve told you, you’ll be able to stand against anything.

  26. Just be sure you don’t make this mistake.  Many will listen to what I’ve said, but they won’t take it seriously.  They’ll follow the world’s so-called experts, instead.  These guys are always changing their minds about something, because most everything they do turns out wrong.  They’re always coming up with something new to cover their mistakes.

  27. When you follow the wisdom of the world, your life will be full of insecurity and confusion.  And when problems come, your life will crumble, and you won’t be able to fix it.

  28. Now, when Jesus was finished, the people were confused, not only because of what He said, but how He said it.

  29. They were used to listening to the public teachers.  They liked to quote religious scholars and recite their traditional teachings.  But Jesus spoke of Himself and of God as His Father.  And He had an unfamiliar boldness and confidence when He spoke.