SUNDAY POST: Intro to Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Oswald Chambers


IN order to understand the Sermon on the Mount, it is necessary to have the mind of the Preacher, and this knowledge can be gained by anyone who will receive the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22; Acts 19:2).

The Holy Ghost is the only expounder of the teachings of Jesus. The one abiding method of interpretation of the teachings of Jesus is the Spirit of Jesus in the heart of a believer applying His principles to the particular circumstances in which he is placed.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, says Paul, that you may make out what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Beware of placing Our Lord as Teacher first instead of as Saviour. That tendency is prevalent today, and it is a dangerous tendency. We must know Him first as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for us, or before it has any meaning other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. Fancy coming to men and women with defective lives and defiled hearts and wrong main springs, and telling them to be pure in heart! What is the use of giving us an ideal we cannot possibly attain? We are happier without knowing it.

If Jesus is only a Teacher, then all He can do is to tantalize us by erecting a standard we cannot come anywhere near. But if we know Him first as Saviour, by being born again from above, we know that He did not come to teach us only: He came to make us what He teaches we should be. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us.


The Sermon on the Mount must produce despair in the natural man; and that is the very thing Jesus means it to do, because immediately we get to despair we are willing to come to Jesus as paupers and to receive from Him.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”; that is the first principle of the Kingdom. So long as we have a conceited, self-righteous notion that we can do the thing if God will help us, God has to allow us to go on until we break the neck of our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come and receive from Him. The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s Kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility

“I cannot begin to do it”; Then, says Jesus, “Blessed are you.”

That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor. The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.

N.B. The Conscious and Subconscious mind. Every mind has two compartments conscious and subconscious. We say that the things we hear and read slip away from memory, they do not really, they go into the subconscious mind. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring back into the conscious mind the things that are stored in the subconscious.

In studying the Bible never go on the line that because you do not understand it, therefore it is of no use. A truth may be of no use to you just now, but when the circumstances arise in which that truth is needed, the Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance.

This accounts for the curious emergence of the statements of Jesus; we say “I wonder where that word came from?” “He shall bring back to your remembrance the things I have said unto you.” The point is will I obey Him when He does bring it back? If I discuss the matter with someone else, the probability is that I will not obey.

“Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Always trust the originality of the Holy Spirit when He brings a word back. Bear in mind this twofold aspect of the mind, there is nothing supernatural or uncanny about it, it is simply a knowledge of how God has made us. It is foolish, therefore, to estimate only by what you consciously understand at the time. There may be much you do not begin to grasp the meaning of, but as you go on storing your mind with Bible knowledge, the Holy Spirit will bring back to your conscious mind the word you need and apply it to your particular circumstances.

These three things always work together: my moral intelligence, the spontaneous originality of the Holy Spirit, and the setting of a life lived in communion with God.




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