There was a lot going on in our passage today!
I appreciated a note in my Life Application Bible about the beatitudes...
The Beatitudes can be understood in at least four ways: (!) They are a code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers. (2) They contrast Kingdom values (what is eternal) with worldly values (what is temporary). (3) They contrast the superficial "faith" of the Pharisees with the real faith that Christ demands. (4) They show how the Old Testament expectations will be fulfilled in the new Kingdom. These Beatitudes are not multiple choice - pick what you like and leave the rest. They must be taken as a whole. They describe what we should be like as Christ's followers.
Each beatitude tells how to be blessed by God. Being blessed means more than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God's Kingdom. the Beatitudes don't promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity. Being "blessed" by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.
Overall, to me it felt like the common theme of our passage today was inner purity. Due to the Law, the people had become very ritualistic and concerned with behaviour. And rightly so! But they actually had too narrow a view of sin. It doesn't only matter what we do, it matter why we do it. Not only do our actions need to measure up, so do our thoughts, desires, and motives.
Which should tell us with absolute clarity that none of us are capable of this. None of us are sinless. Not even close. Oh, we may not be murderers, but we have spoken hurtful words in anger. We may not be adulterers, but our eyes and minds have not always been pure. We may not be thieves, but we have been envious of others.
We don't have an adequate grasp on the glorious holiness of God.
We don't have an adequate grasp on the utter depravity of our sin.
The closer we grow to God in our walk with Him the more we begin to see those things. As our concept of God's holiness grows, the reality of our sinfulness will also grow. As we mature in our walk with God we will begin to sin less, and yet that sin will bother us more, continuing to drive us to the cross where God is ever willing to give us His mercy and grace through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, the only sinless Man who ever lived.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Matthew 7:1-6, Luke 6:37-42, Matthew 7:7-11, Matthew 7:12-29, Luke 6:43-49, Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-17, Matthew 11:1-19, Luke 7:18-35, Matthew 11:20-30