Has Jesus set us up for failure, raising a standard so high it is impossible to reach?
Jesus was a master teacher. Today, in reading Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6, the Sermon (on a Level Place) on the Mount, I’m struck by the difference between what is natural and what is supernatural.
Jesus teaches on many subjects… murder, anger, forgiveness, adultery, lust, purity, divorce, commitment, revenge, love, hate, generosity, lending…
In each case, he tells us what the world’s standard is. “You have heard that it was said…” This is what a good person will naturally do. But is being good good enough?
He then contrasts what a good person would naturally do with what the Father expects of us. “But I say to you…”
God has a different standard. He expects more. His kingdom plays by a different set of rules.
“You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Talk about an impossible standard!
Think you haven’t murdered? Well, if you’ve thought evil of someone or acted in anger, you’ve committed murder in your heart. Who of us hasn’t done that?
Think you haven’t committed adultery? Well, if you’ve looked at someone with lustful thoughts, you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Who of us hasn’t done that?
But isn’t that the place He wants us? The place where the standard is impossible for us to live up to… naturally?
But that’s the key. Our natural goodness will never be enough. We have to add a little super to our natural! What is impossible on our own, moral perfection, becomes possible through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit!
Jesus’ teaching should drive us into deep, deep dependence on the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit, the Jesus-life is possible!
Thank you Father for the gift of your Spirit!
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