The Lord’s Prayer – The context of taking hold of eternal life.
length: 86:34 - taught on Nov, 27 2022
November 27, 2022
The flesh is always with you. You may wonder why you are regularly tempted to do and think that which is contrary to righteousness. There is nothing wrong with you, or rather, there is something very wrong with you, but the same wrong is wrong with everyone. We are all wretched men and women, but who have been saved and cleansed. We must learn that life for us does not consist in looking with disgust and depression at what is corrupt in us, but in purposefully grabbing hold of the righteousness that God has given us. It is the righteousness of heaven.
Within the righteous lurks a terrible evil. We must actively seek the righteous life with joy.
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
When Jesus gave His famous sermon, this is precisely what He was revealing. The new life given to mankind through His cross would be heavenly and so held to the standards of heaven. The ethical commandments would no longer be bound and tethered by the flesh, but men would be set free from the flesh by their position in Christ.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
We must be active in our roles as spiritual heroes. We must not live spiritually passive, as if the life we have been given is only true when it feels right, or when we feel like it. In the great epistles that describe our life in Christ, we are exhorted and commanded to grab hold of it and live it.
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,
However, with the continued existence of the flesh in us, though crucified, it would tempt us in many ways. It would, through its passions and desires, do much to make our walk in the heavenly standard of righteousness, as difficult as it could.
The struggle between old self and new self may create anxiety. God gave us prayer so that we wouldn’t fight alone.
God admits to us that the struggle would make us anxious and worried. In response, our Father who would never leave us to fight the good fight alone, gave us prayer. In the name of Christ, He opened up to us access to Him at any time and from any place.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul is sure to include thanksgiving in the process of laying our burdens on the altar of grace.
We have talked a lot about praising God at the first when we pray. I imagine that some of us may still feel that rushing right to our needs is necessary, and that a minute or two of thanking / praising God takes too long. Perhaps it is uncomfortable to do so. We still don’t want to make our prayer lives mechanical, but we must praise and thank God very often if we are to keep our minds and hearts in the right place. And, to do so purposefully, not waiting until we feel like it. Remember, the flesh is always trying to influence. Even when you don’t give into it, but are weary with the resistance, you won’t feel like praising God, but you must. There is never a time when praising God is improper or misplaced. And, our praise of God is necessary for the fulfillment of our love for God. We must express love or love is not completed. If we wait until we feel like it, we won’t do it enough.
So with the Lord’s instruction on prayer - He gives it to us right in the midst of His teaching on our extraordinary life that He has given to us. It is His life after all; His yoke; His obedience; His joy; His hope; His peace; His love.
And, directly after teaching on prayer, Jesus teaches on worry.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life;”
In Matthew’s gospel, the ministry of Christ begins with Jesus preaching:
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Stop following the wrong kingdom and follow the only kingdom.
Second, His call of His first disciples to follow Him.
And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
The first human response to Jesus’ ministry that Matthew gives us is that of full obedience.
And, ‘Immediately they left and followed Him.’
The point that Matthew is making in his own presentation of the gospel is that the life given to us by Christ can only really be lived in complete obedience, leaving the things of the earth behind, which for us (not apostles) means that they are left to a lower priority than the will of the Father. It is not a requirement of salvation, but of experiencing the life, a life, by the way, that is going to be rewarded in time and in eternity.
Near the start, Jesus is sure to clear up for us that He didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
The Sermon does not contain anything ceremonial (washings, sacrifices, offerings, etc.) but everything ethical and holy. The ethical aspects of the Law are timeless truths. They are the way of God. They have not been removed from the church, but rather, their fullness, their depth, and their real fulfillment have been opened to us through the door to the new and living way - the true Holy of Holies (Heb 9-10).
Therefore, now in Christ, the commandments are not our master any more than doing good and providing service for someone you love is your master. You don’t love a person when the doing is your master.
It is not the doing that we are under, but the love for whom we do those things that rules us.
We are in union with the One who fulfilled the Law. We are married to the One who removed the penalty of sin, releasing us from death. One of the names for the Law is sin and death - but we possess eternal life. We don’t do because we are under a law. We do because we love to do. God is love. He does things because He loves, JOH 3:16.
In the ancient East, it was custom to wash the feet of a guest of honor as they entered your house. Like being greeted in our day, since most everybody does it, you can’t really tell by the greeting how they feel about you. We say, “They’re just being nice.” When Jesus entered, as a guest, the Pharisee Simon’s house, they did not wash His feet. Jesus knew how he felt. If the work is your master, then love is not. If you serve God and man because you love them, you do the things in the law, but with God alone as the Master you love. And, for the same reason, you joyfully pray.
So, to jump ahead a little, when Jesus teaches us to pray, in the midst of this new and living way of the disciple who is in Christ, it is not the way of Israel in the past. He tells us to address Yahweh Elohim as Father, just as He did in life, and He was the first Jew to ever do it. So then, prayer is not mastered by the prayer list (read the list and you’ve prayed well!), or even the form (I followed the procedure, so I’ve prayed well!), but by our love for the Father as His sons and daughters is the master of prayer, which in turn gives us divine love of the brethren, for whom we pray. We praise our Father from our real desire and not just parroting prescribed words. This, and all else in this wonderful sermon, is the way of the new creation, all of whom are called to be disciples of the Lord.
Living under the precepts of the Law means that we are living under the precepts of God. We do so in Christ. However, this does not put us under the Law.