Heart Right in the Sight of God – J.C. Ryle

Right Heart in the Sight of God is Broken and Contrite - Girded with Truth

Heart in the Sight of God

3. A heart of which the Bible contains many pictures

I will now show you, in the last place, the right heart. It is a heart of which the Bible contains many pictures. I am going to try to place some of those pictures before you. On a question like this, I want you to observe what God says, rather than what is said by man. Come, now, and see the marks and signs of a right heart.

(a) The right heart is a “new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). It is not the heart with which a man is born, but another heart put in him by the Holy Ghost. It is a heart which has new tastes, new joys, new sorrows, new desires, new hopes, new fears, new likes, new dislikes. It has new views about the soul, and sin, and God, and Christ, and salvation, and the Bible, and prayer, and Sunday, and heaven, and hell, and the world, and holiness. It is like a farm with a new and good tenant. “Old things are passed away. Behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(b) The right heart is a “broken and contrite heart” (Psalms 51:17). It is broken off from pride, self-conceit, and self-righteousness. Its former high thoughts of self are cracked, shattered, and shivered to atoms. It thinks itself guilty, unworthy, and corrupt. Its former stubbornness, heaviness, and insensibility have thawed, disappeared, and passed away. It no longer thinks lightly of offending God. It is tender, sensitive, and jealously fearful of running into sin (2 Kings 22:19). It is humble, lowly, and self-abased, and sees in itself no good thing.

(c) A right heart is a heart which believes on Christ alone for salvation, and in which Christ dwells by faith (Romans 10:10; Ephesians 3:17). It rests all its hopes of pardon and eternal life on Christ’s atonement, Christ’s mediation, and Christ’s intercession. It is sprinkled in Christ’s blood from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22). It turns to Christ as the compass-needle turns to the north. It looks to Christ for daily peace, mercy, and grace, as the sun-flower looks to the sun. It feeds on Christ for its daily sustenance, as Israel fed on the manna in the wilderness. It sees in Christ a special fitness to supply all its wants and requirements. It leans on Him, hangs on Him, builds on Him, cleaves to Him, as its physician, guardian, husband, and friend.

(d) A right heart is a purified heart (Acts 15:9; Matthew 5:8). It loves holiness, and hates sin. It strives daily to cleanse itself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, (2 Corinthians 7:1). It abhors that which is evil, and cleaves to that which is good. It delights in the law of God, and has that law engraven on it, that it may not forget it (Psalm 119:11). It longs to keep the law more perfectly, and takes pleasure in those who love the law. It loves God and man. Its affections are set on things above. It never feels so light and happy as when it is most holy; and it looks forward to heaven with joy, as the place where perfect holiness will at length be attained.

(e) A right heart is a praying heart. It has within it “the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father” (Romans 8:15). Its daily feeling is, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). It is drawn by an habitual inclination to speak to God about spiritual things, weakly, feebly, and imperfectly perhaps, but speak it must. It finds it necessary to pour out itself before God, as before a friend, and to spread before Him all its wants and desires. It tells Him all its secrets. It keeps back nothing from Him. You might as well try to persuade a man to live without breathing, as to persuade the possessor of a right heart to live without praying.

(f) A right heart is a heart that feels within a conflict (Galatians 5:17). It finds within itself two opposing principles contending one with another for the mastery, the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. It knows by experience what St. Paul means when he says, “I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind” (Romans 7:23). The wrong heart knows nothing of this strife. The strong man armed keeps the wrong heart as his palace, and his goods are at peace (Luke 11:21). But when the rightful King takes possession of the heart, a struggle begins which never ends till death. The right heart may be known by its warfare, quite as much as by its peace.

(g) Last, but not least, the right heart is honest, and single, and true (Luke 8:15, 1 Chronicles 12:33; Hebrews 10:22).

There is nothing about it of falsehood, hypocrisy, or part-acting. It is not double or divided. It really is what it professes to be, feels what it professes to feel, and believes what it professes to believe. Its faith may be feeble. Its obedience may be very imperfect. But one thing will always distinguish the right heart. Its religion will be real, genuine, thorough, and sincere.

A heart such as that which I have now described, has always been the possession of all true Christians of every name, and nation, and people and tongue. They have differed from one another on many subjects, but they have all been of a “right heart”. They have some of them fallen, for a season, like David and Peter, but their hearts have never entirely departed from the Lord. They have often proved themselves to be men and women laden with infirmities, but their hearts have been right in the sight of God. They have understood one another on earth. They have found that their experience was everywhere one and the same. They will understand each other even better in the world to come. All that have had “right hearts” upon earth, will find that they have one heart when they enter heaven.

(1) I wish now in conclusion to offer to every, reader of this paper, a question to promote self-inquiry. I ask you plainly this day, “What is your heart? Is your heart right or wrong?”.

I know not who you are into whose hands this paper have fallen. But I do know that self-examination cannot do you any harm. If your heart is right, it will be a comfort to know it. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God” (1 John 3:21). But if your heart is wrong, it is high time to find it out, and seek a change. The time is short. The night cometh when no man can work. Say to yourself this very day, “Is my heart right or wrong?”.

Think not to say within yourself. “There is no need for such questions as these. There is no need to make such ado about the heart. I go to church or chapel regularly. I live a respectable life. I hope I shall prove right at last”. Beware of such thoughts, I beseech you; beware, of them if you would ever be saved. You may go to the best church on earth, and hear the best of preachers. You may be the best of churchmen, or the soundest member of a chapel. But all this time, if your heart is not right in the sight of God, you are on the high road to destruction. Settle down to quiet consideration of the question before you. Look it manfully in the face, and do not turn aside. Is your heart right or wrong?

Think not to say within yourself, “No one can know what his heart is. We must hope the best. No one can find out with any certainty the state of his own soul”. Beware, I say again; beware of such thoughts. The thing can be known. The thing can be found out. Deal honestly and fairly with yourself. Set up an assize on the state of your inward man. Summon a jury. Let the Bible preside as judge. Bring up the witnesses. Inquire what your tastes are, where your affections are placed, where your treasure is, what you hate most, what you love most, what pleases you most, what grieves you most. Inquire into all those points impartially, and mark what the answers are. “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). A tree may always be known by its fruit, and a true Christian may always be discovered by his habits, tastes, and affections. Yes! You may soon find out what your heart is, if you are honest, sincere, and impartial. Is it right or wrong?

Think not to say within yourself, “I quite approve of all you say, and hope to examine the state of my heart someday. But I have no time just at present. I cannot find leisure. I wait for a convenient season”. Oh, beware of such thoughts; again I say beware! Life is uncertain, and yet you talk of “a convenient season” (Acts 24:25).

Eternity is close at hand, and yet you talk of putting off preparation to meet God. Alas, that habit of putting off is the everlasting ruin of millions of souls! Wretched man that you are! Who shall deliver you from this devil of putting off? Awake to a sense of duty. Throw off the chains that pride, and laziness, and love of the world are weaving round you. Arise and stand upon your feet, and look steadily at the question before you. Churchman or dissenter, I ask you this day: Is your heart right or wrong?

(2) I wish, in the next place, to offer a solemn warning to all who know their hearts are wrong, but have no desire to change. I do it with every feeling of kindness and affection. I have no wish to excite needless fears. But I know not how to exaggerate the danger of your condition. I warn you that if your heart is wrong in the sight of God you are hanging over the brink of hell. There is but a step between you and everlasting death.

Can you really suppose that any man or woman will ever enter heaven without a right heart? Do you flatter yourself that any unconverted person will ever be saved? Away with such a miserable delusion! Cast it from you at once and forever.

What saith the Scripture? “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall in no wise see the kingdom of heaven”, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (John 3:3; Matthew 18:3; Hebrews 12:14).

It is not enough to have our sins pardoned, as many seem to suppose. There is another thing wanted as well as a pardon, and that thing is a new heart. We must have the Holy Spirit to renew us, as well as Christ’s blood to wash us. Both renewing and washing are needful before anyone can be saved.

Part three of “The Heart” an excerpt from the book Old Paths by J.C. Ryle.

Part two: Heart Wrong in the Sight of God

Part one: Heart in the Sight of God

The Lord Jesus Christ: Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

(Mark 1:14-15)

Possibly Related Posts (automatically generated)

Heart Wrong in the Sight of God – J.C. Ryle

Wrong Heart in the Sight of God - Girded with Truth

Heart in the Sight of God

2. What is a wrong heart like

I will now show you, in the second place, the heart that is wrong in the sight of God. There are only two sorts of hearts, a right one and a wrong one. What is a wrong heart like?

The wrong heart is the natural heart with which we are all born. There are no hearts which are right by nature. There are no such things as naturally “good hearts”, whatever some ignorant people may please to say about “having a good heart at the bottom”. Ever since Adam and Eve fell, and sin entered into the world, men and women are born with an inclination to evil. Every natural heart is wrong. If your heart has never been changed by the Holy Ghost since you were born, know this day that your heart is wrong.

What does the Scripture say about the natural heart? It says many things which are deeply solemn, and painfully true. It says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). It says that “every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). It says that “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). It says that “From within, out of the heart of man”, as out of a fountain, “proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within” (Mark 7:21). Truly this is a humbling picture! The seeds of these things are in the heart of every one born into the world. Surely I may well tell you that the natural heart is wrong.

But is there no one common mark of the wrong heart, which is to be seen in all whom God has not changed? Yes! There is; and to that common mark of the wrong heart I now request your attention. There is a most striking and instructive figure of speech, which the Holy Ghost has thought fit to use, in describing the natural heart. He calls it a “stony heart” (Ezekiel 11:19). I know no emblem in the Bible so full of instruction, and so apt and fitting as this one. A truer word was never written than that which calls the natural heart a heart of stone. Mark well what I am going to say; and may the Lord give you understanding!

(a) A stone is hard. All people know that. It is unyielding, unbending, unimpressible. It may be broken, but it will never bend. The proverb is world-wide, “as hard as a stone”. Look at the granite rocks which line the coast of Cornwall. For four thousand years the waves of the Atlantic Ocean have dashed against them in vain. There they stand in their old hardness, unbroken and unmoved. It is just the same with the natural heart. Afflictions, mercies, losses, crosses, sermons, counsels, books, tracts, speaking, writing, all, all are unable to soften it. Until the day that God comes down to change it, it remains unmoved. Well may the natural heart be called a heart of stone!

(b) A stone is cold. There is a chilly, icy feeling about it, which you know the moment you touch it. It is utterly unlike the feeling of flesh, or wood, or even earth. The proverb is in every one’s mouth, “As cold as a stone”. The old marble statues in many a cathedral church have heard the substance of thousands of sermons. Yet they never show any feeling. Not a muscle of their marble faces ever shrinks or moves. It is just the same with the natural heart. It is utterly destitute of spiritual feeling. It cares less for the story of Christ’s death on the cross, than it does for the last new novel, or the last debate in Parliament, or the account of a railway accident, or a shipwreck, or an execution. Until God sends fire from heaven to warm it, the natural heart of man has no feeling about religion. Well may it be called a heart of stone!

(c) A stone is barren. You will reap no harvest off rocks of any description. You will never fill your barns with corn from the top of Snowdon or Ben Nevis. You will never reap wheat on granite or slate, on lime-stone or trap-stone, on oolite or sandstone, on flint or on chalk. You may get good crops on Norfolk sands, or Cambridgeshire fens, or Suffolk clay, by patience, labour, money, and good farming. But you will never get a crop worth a farthing off a stone. It is just the same with the natural heart. It is utterly barren of penitence, or faith, or love, or tear, or holiness, or humility. Until God breaks it up and puts a new principle in it, it bears no fruit to God’s praise. Well may the natural heart be called a heart of stone!

(d) A stone is dead. It neither sees, nor hears, nor moves, nor grows. Show it the glories of heaven, and it would not be pleased. Tell it of the fires of hell, and it would not be alarmed. Bid it flee from a roaring lion, or an earthquake, and it would not stir. The Bass Rock and Mount Blanc are just what they were 4000 years ago. They have seen kingdoms rise and fall, and they remain utterly unchanged. They are neither higher, nor broader, nor larger than they were when Noah left the ark. It is just the same with the natural heart. It has not a spark of spiritual life about it. Until God plants the Holy Ghost in it, it is dead and motionless about real religion. Well may the natural heart be called a heart of stone!

The wrong heart is now set before you. Look at it. Think about it. Examine yourself by the light of the picture I have drawn. Perhaps your heart has never yet been changed. Perhaps your heart is still just as it was when you were born. If so, remember this day what I tell you. YOUR HEART IS WRONG IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.

Would you know the reason why it is so difficult to do good in the world? Would you know why so few believe the Gospel, and live like true Christians? The reason is, the hardness of man’s natural heart. He neither sees nor knows what is for his good. The wonder, to my mind, is not so much that few are converted, as the miraculous fact that any are converted at all. I am not greatly surprised when I see or hear of unbelief. I remember the natural heart is wrong.

Would you know the reason why the state of men is so desperately helpless, if they die in their sins? Would you know why ministers feel so fearful about everyone who is cut off unprepared to meet God? The reason is, the hardness of man’s natural heart. What would a man do in heaven, if he got there, with his heart unchanged? By which of the saints would he sit down? What pleasure could he take in God’s presence and company? Oh no! It is vain to conceal it. There can be no real hope about a man’s condition, if he dies with his heart wrong.

I leave this point here. Once more I press the whole subject of my paper upon your conscience. Surely you must allow it is a very serious one.

Is thy heart right? Is it right in the sight of God?

Part two of “The Heart” an excerpt from the book Old Paths by J.C. Ryle.

Part one: Heart in the Sight of God

Possibly Related Posts (automatically generated)

J.C. Ryle – A Right Heart

My son, give me your heart Proverbs 23.26

Heart in the Sight of God

“Give me thy heart” Proverbs 23:26

“Thy heart is not right in the sight of God” Acts 8:21

The heart is the main thing in religion. I make no excuse for asking the special attention of my readers, while I try to say a few things about the heart.

The head is not the principal thing. You may know the whole truth as it is in Jesus, and consent that it is good. You may be clear, correct, and sound in your religious opinions. But all this time you may be walking in the broad way which leads to destruction. It is your heart which is the main point. “Is thy heart right in the sight of God?”.

Your outward life may be moral, decent, respectable, in the eyes of men. Your minister, and friends, and neighbours, may see nothing very wrong in your general conduct. But all this time you may be hanging on the brink of everlasting ruin. It is your heart which is the main thing. Is that heart right in the sight of God?

Wishes and desires are not enough to make a Christian. You may have many good feelings about your soul. You may, like Balaam, long to “die the death of the righteous” Numbers 23:10. You may sometimes tremble at the thought of judgment to come, or be melted to tears by the tidings of Christ’s love. But all this time you may be slowly drifting downward into hell. It is your heart which is the main thing. Is that heart right in the sight of God?

There are three things which I propose to do in order to impress the subject of this paper upon your mind.

1. First, I will show you the immense importance of the heart in religion.

2. Secondly, I will show you the heart that is wrong in the sight of God.

3. Lastly, I will show you the heart that is right.

May God bless the whole subject to the soul of every one into whose hands this book may fall! May the Holy Ghost, without whom all preaching and writing can do nothing, apply this paper to many consciences, and make it an arrow to pierce many hearts!

1. The immense importance of the heart in religion.

In the first place, I will show the immense importance of the heart in religion.

How shall I prove this point? From whence shall I fetch my arguments? I must turn to the Word of God. In questions of this kind it matters nothing what the world thinks right or wrong. There is only one sure test of truth. What saith the Scripture? What is written in the Bible? What is the mind of the Holy Ghost? If we cannot submit our judgments to this infallible umpire, it is useless to pretend that we have any religion at all.

For one thing, the Bible teaches that the heart is that part of us on which the state of our soul depends. “Out of it are the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23. The reason, the understanding, the conscience, the affections, are all second in importance to the heart. The heart is the man. It is the seat of all spiritual life, and health, and strength, and growth.

It is the hinge and turning – point in the condition of men’s soul. If the heart is alive to God and quickened by the Spirit, the man is a living Christian. If the heart is dead and has not the Spirit, the man is dead before God. The heart is the man! Tell me not merely what a man says and professes, and where a man goes on Sunday, and what money he puts in the collecting – plate. Tell me rather what his heart is, and I will tell you w hat he is. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7.

For another thing, the Bible teaches that the heart is that part of us at which God especially looks. “Man looketh at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7. “Every way of man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the heart” Proverbs 21:2. Man is naturally content with the outward part of religion, with outward morality, outward correctness, outward regular attendance on means of grace. But the eyes of the Lord look much further.

He regards our motives. He “weigheth the spirits” Proverbs 16:2. He says Himself, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins” Jeremiah 17:10.

For another thing, the Bible teaches that the heart is the first and foremost thing which God asks man to give him. “My son”, He says, “give Me thine heart” Proverbs 23:26. We may give God a bowed head and a serious face, our bodily presence in His house, and a loud amen. But until we give God our hearts, we give Him nothing of any value. The sacrifices of the Jews in Isaiah’s time were many and costly. They drew nigh to God with their mouth, and honoured Him with their lips. But they were all wholly useless, because the heart of the worshippers was far from God, Matthew 15:8. The zeal of Jehu against idolatry was very great, and his services in pulling down idols brought him many temporal rewards. But there was one great blot on his character which spoiled all. He did not walk in the law of God “with all his heart” 2 Kings 10:31.

The heart is what the husband desires to have in his wife, the parent in his child, and the master in his servant.

And the heart is what God desires to have in professing Christians.

“The Heart” an excerpt from the book Old Paths by J.C. Ryle.

Part two: Heart Wrong in the Sight of God

Possibly Related Posts (automatically generated)

Examine Yourself

Are you a Christian?

Many people who claim to be point to some event in the past to substantiate their claim. But inviting Jesus to come into your life in the past is not proof that you are genuinely saved. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says to the Corinthian church, “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves (emphasis added).” He wouldn’t have said that if some event in the past were obviously the answer. The Bible never verifies anyone’s salvation by the past but by the present. If there is no evidence of salvation in your life now, you need to face the fact that you may not be a Christian. You need to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. How does one do that? Jesus shows us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

The Distinguishing Mark of a Christian

Before Jesus was born, the religious leaders of Israel had already decided what it meant to live righteously. They had developed a system contrary to Scripture based on self-righteousness generated by doing good works. When Jesus entered the world, He shattered their religious system by upholding the standard revealed in God’s Word. He revealed how a citizen of His Kingdom really lives.

If you want to know if you’re a Christian, compare your life with the standard Christ presents in the Sermon on the Mount. One word summarizes His standard: righteousness. Examine the lives of many professing Christians, and you’ll find no such righteousness. Someone once told me about a woman who said she was a Christian but was living with a man who was not her husband. First Corinthians 6:9 says that those characterized by sexual immorality (“fornicators”) “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” That woman was living in a state of unrighteousness. But righteousness characterizes true conversion.

Matthew 5:20, the key verse in the Sermon on the Mount, says, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees went to the Temple regularly, paid tithes, fasted, and prayed constantly. But Christ wasn’t impressed with their religious performance. He said no one would enter His Kingdom whose righteousness didn’t exceed theirs. Righteousness–living by God’s standards–is what sets a person apart as God’s child.

Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow … holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Second Timothy 2:19 says, “The Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Titus 1:16 says that some people “profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” A person’s profession of Christ means nothing apart from obedience and holiness. Some people believe you can come to Jesus Christ without a consequent change in life-style. But God expects a transformation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Being righteous doesn’t mean you never sin; it means you confess your sin to the Lord, repent of it, and despise it. First John 2:3 says, “By this we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” In John 14:15 Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” First John 2:9 says, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” First John 3:9 says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

The Bible makes it clear that those who are genuinely saved are righteous and holy. They still sin, but with decreasing frequency. A true believer hates his sin (cf., Rom. 7:15-25) and repents of it, hungering and thirsting for what is right. He obeys God, loves his brother, and hates the evil world system. No one can be a Christian and continue living the way he did before he knew Christ. Making a decision years ago, going to an inquiry room, walking an aisle, or reading a tract on how to accept Christ is not a biblical criterion for salvation–the issue is what your life is like right now. If sin and unrighteousness characterize your life, there is a possibility you are a disobedient Christian–but there is a greater possibility you are not a Christian at all.

The Proper Entrance into Christ’s Kingdom

In Matthew 5:3 Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Greek text indicates that the Kingdom belongs only to those who are poor in spirit. Only those who admit their spiritual bankruptcy and sinfulness can enter the Kingdom. Being “poor in spirit” speaks of being poverty stricken in one’s spirit. Verse 4 shows the result of that inner poverty: “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” Only those who are broken and mournful over their sin ever receive salvation. Meekness, produced by the crushing weight of one’s sin, also characterizes a person entering the Kingdom (v. 5). When a person is poor in spirit, mournful about his sin, and meek, then he will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and he will be filled (v. 6).

If you didn’t come to Jesus Christ shattered over your sinfulness, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, you are not a Christian. Some people come to Christ as if they are doing Him some great favor. Sometimes Christians reflect that same attitude by hoping some famous person will be saved because of his potential influence. But whoever wants to come to Jesus must come on His terms: mourning over his sin, and desiring righteousness. When someone comes on those terms, the Lord makes him merciful (v. 7), pure in heart (v. 8), and a peacemaker (v. 9). Then because of what he is, people will persecute him (v. 10), revile him, and say false things about him (v. 11). But he will rejoice, because he’s a citizen of the Kingdom (v. 12).

Vital Signs of a Christian

A Distinct Testimony

In Matthew 5:13-14 Christ referred to believers as “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” A Christian’s life- style will be easily distinguishable from the world’s. Just as salt preserves decaying meat, Christians are a preservative in the midst of a decaying civilization. One reason the prophesied Great Tribulation of the end times will be so terrible is the preserving effect of the church will be gone. Christ compares His disciples to a light set on a hill and salt that has retained its saltiness. Is it evident to those around you that your life is different, or do you do the same things they do? If your life didn’t change when you were supposedly saved, then you aren’t really a Christian.

An Obedient Life

A child of God is characterized by obedience. In Matthew 5:17-19 our Lord said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Christ’s point is this: if you are truly saved, you will be obedient. You will have an overwhelming desire to submit to God’s Word. Paul hungered to obey God’s Word, even though sin was always tugging at him (Rom. 7:15-25).

Matthew 5:21-32 maintains that if you have really been converted, you will think differently. Apparently the Israelites controlled their outward behavior but not their thoughts. The Lord said to them, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not kill and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment; but I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment” (vv. 21-22). A believer doesn’t even desire to hurt anyone–let alone kill–because he has a different heart. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promises that when you become redeemed, He “will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and … will give you an heart of flesh.”

In Matthew 5:27-28 Christ says that a Christian is not to commit adultery or even entertain adulterous thoughts. Someone who claims to be a Christian and continues to be immoral, practicing such things as adultery or homosexuality, will never inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Until you are broken over your sinfulness and crawl into Christ’s Kingdom hungering for righteousness, you will never know what true redemption is.

In Matthew 5:33-37 Christ discusses perjury and keeping one’s oaths. He emphasized that true conversion produces pure and truthful speech, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34 ). In Matthew 5:38-47 He adds that a citizen of His Kingdom doesn’t retaliate but is kind. He loves his neighbor (v. 43), and even his enemies (v. 44). The goal is for believers to be like God (v. 48).

No one is a Christian because he went forward at a meeting and signed a card, or because a counselor said he was. In fact, a counselor should never assure someone he is saved after that person verbally commits his life to Christ. No counselor can be sure of that. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to grant assurance to a believer. He grants it by an inward testimony (Rom. 8:16 ) and an outward demonstration.

James 2:17 says that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead.” An unfortunate legacy of modern evangelism is that one’s assurance of salvation is attached to a decision. Biblically, however, assurance has nothing to do with the past; it’s related to what your life is like right now. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31 ). Evidence of salvation is always present in a true believer.

Sincere Worship

A believer demonstrates the right kind of worship (Matt. 6:1- 18). His worship of God is genuine, in contrast to that of the Pharisees, whose only concern was attracting attention to their spirituality. A Christian gives of his resources because He loves God, not because he craves public recognition (6:1-4). His prayers aren’t hypocritical but a sincere expression of his heart (6:5-15). Also he doesn’t need for others to know that he’s fasting (6:16-18).

A Biblical Perspective of Money and Materialism

According to Matthew 6:19-24 the citizens of Christ’s Kingdom don’t love money: they do not lay up for themselves “treasures upon earth” (v. 19). They refuse to serve money because they know it’s impossible to serve both it and God (v. 24). If you have committed your life to acquiring wealth, you are not a servant of God. If you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God (James 4:4). If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you (1 John 2:15 ). Matthew 6:25-34 adds that Christians are not to be preoccupied with the necessities of life. They know God takes care of those things vv. 31-32).

An Uncritical Love of Others

Matthew 7:1-12 emphasizes that genuine believers have good relationships. They don’t constantly misjudge other people and act pious toward them while ignoring their own problems. Christians are known for loving others (cf., John 13:35 ).

Perhaps after this survey of what Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount, you are wondering how anyone could ever live like that. If you’re thinking it’s impossible to do all those things, that’s the very response the Lord wants. After confronting a rich young ruler with his materialism, Jesus said to His disciples, “Verily I say unto you that a rich man shall with difficulty enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God ” (Matt. 19:23-24). It’s impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle! That’s exactly what the Lord wanted people to conclude. Verses 25-26 say, “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who, then, can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” No man has the resources within himself to live up to God’s standards. That’s why we have to cast ourselves on the mercy of God. The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 wasn’t willing to do that. He wanted to enter the Kingdom but on his terms. However, that’s like trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle. The only way into the Kingdom is by becoming broken in spirit, mournful, and eager for a righteousness that you can’t attain and don’t deserve.

Most people don’t want to meet those conditions. They want to do things their way. They resemble a man with four pieces of luggage–worldliness, sin, Satan, and self–trying to get through the turnstile into the Kingdom. They want in so they can have happiness and stay out of hell, but they want in on their terms. However, the Lord said, “Enter in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in that way” (Matt. 7:13). Many people enter through the wide gate because they can take their baggage of good works and self-righteousness with them. Verse 14 continues, “Narrow is the gate, and hard is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The Greek word translated “hard” literally means “compressed.” You have to strip yourself of everything to go through the narrow gate.

A Deceptive Illusion of Eternal Life

Notice that the broad way leading to destruction is not marked as the way to hell–it’s marked as the way to heaven! People get on the broad road because it doesn’t require a change of life-style. You simply have to say you made a decision, were baptized, went forward at a meeting, or signed a card. The sad thing is that many people are on that road. But the way that leads to life is restrictive, and very few find it.

If you still cling to your worldliness and self-righteousness, you’re on the wrong road. You may think you’re headed to heaven and that your good works will get you in. But someday you will discover what John Bunyan described in The Pilgrim’s Progress : that there is an entrance to hell from the portals of heaven. In fact Christ warned people to beware of false prophets (Matt. 7:15-20) because they sell tickets to the broad way; they’ll tell you you can get to heaven without changing anything.

In Matthew 7:21-22 Jesus says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out demons? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Many people won’t discover until it’s too late that they were on the wrong road.

Christ concluded the Sermon on the Mount by illustrating the destinations of the broad and narrow roads. In Matthew 7:24-25 He speaks of a wise man who builds his house on a solid foundation. Verse 25 says, “The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” That man came to God on His terms–he built his house on the rock, which is obedience. Therefore his house stood. Christ continues, “Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand” (v. 26). The foolish man built a beautiful house; his religion looked good. He is one of those who prophesied, cast out demons, and did wonderful works (v. 22) but never came to God on His terms. Verse 27 says, “The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

What a disaster it would be to come before Christ on Judgment Day and discover you are sentenced to hell because you didn’t come to Him His way! Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. As Peter said, “Be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 Peter 1:10).

John MacArthur – Grace To You

Possibly Related Posts (automatically generated)