Men’s Small Group // November 1, 2021
This is a lesson I prepared for a men’s small group working through the Sermon on the Mount and is based on the book The Sermon on the Mount by Sinclair Ferguson.
- Just like any sermon preached today, this sermon from Jesus builds on itself as it progresses. It expands and develops the central them of the message – The counter-cultural, righteous life of the Kingdom.
- We have just finished working through Jesus expounding the law and calling us to a righteousness of the heart. A righteousness that goes deeper than trying to find the minimal requirement of the law.
- The truly righteous man shows his righteousness in righteous deeds.
Warning to the Righteous (v.1)
- Jesus is directing our attention to our heart motives. Why we do something is significant as well as what we do.
- Jesus is speaking in absolutes here. There are no exceptions to this rule. If we are performing a righteous deed for the approval or applause of men, then that will be our reward.
- “It is possible for a believer to take a leper’s ulcerated limb in his hands and caress it and gently speak words of comfort and have no reward from God.” Kent Hughes p. 146
- Think about your good deeds? Are you pretending and performing to be seen?
- We need to constantly evaluate out heart motives with a simple questions… Why?
- To illustrate this point, Jesus continues building on his discussion of relationships with three illustrations.
Big Picture (v.2-18)
- Practicing Righteousness
- “When you…” The expectation of Jesus is that we are doing these things. That we are giving, we are praying, and we are fasting.
- These are good things that everyone should be incorporating into their lives.
- V.2 “Thus…” ties it back to verse 1 and indicates that this is how we are to practice righteousness.
- The Danger
- So what is Jesus warning about here? He is warning us to pay close attention to our hearts.
- It is a warning against being a hypocrite.
- The word comes from the world of theatre and calls our attention to the warning of performing for others.
- The hypocrite’s religion is theatrical, rather than genuine.
- It is not service to God out of love and obedience.
- It is the secret sin of self-righteousness that is deep rooted within our heart.
- The Remedy
- So what’s the remedy? Jesus gives us that as well.
- Look again at the passage and see how many times, Jesus mentions the word, “Father” — 10 times!
- The hypocrite does not see God as his heavenly Father. He is insecure before God, so he seeks security and assurance from the world.
- The hypocrite is distorting the proper view of God.
- What was the elder brother’s reaction to the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son?
- He became angry with the Father.
- Thought of him a slave master, “I have been slaving for you all these years.”
- Does that ring true in your heart? Do you feel that tension?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Sermon on the Mount)
He is everywhere, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men. Why? “Else ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven.” He sees it all. He knows your heart; other people do not. You can deceive them, and you can persuade them that you are quite selfless; but God knows your heart… I sometimes feel that there is no better way of living, and trying to love, the holy and sanctified life than just to be constantly reminding ourselves of that. When we wake up in the morning we should immediately remind ourselves and recollect that we are in the presence of God. It is not a bad thing to say to ourselves before we go any further: “Throughout the whole of this day, everything I do, and say, and attempt, and think, and imagine, is going to be done under the eye of God. He is going to be with me: He sees everything; he knows everything. There is nothing I can do or attempt but God is fully aware of it all. ‘Thou God seest me.'” It would revolutionize our lives if we always did that.
- How do you see yourself pretending and performing for the praise of man instead of your heavenly Father?
- How are you doing in your practice of righteousness (Giving, Praying, Fasting)?
- How do you see yourself thinking like the older brother, “I have been slaving for you all these years?”
- What is one thing you can do this week to refresh your heart with thoughts about your Father?