Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 6

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Matthew 5:27-32

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 27-32 in light of those passages.

Summarize, in your own words, the main idea of 27-32.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in 27-30 and 31-32? How?

How do lust, adultery, and unbiblical divorce bland your saltiness? (13-16) How can crucifying your lust and being faithfully devoted to your husband make you saltier and brighter?

2. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

How does Jesus refer back to the Ten Commandments in verse 27? How do Jesus’ phrases “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” verbally transition the people from their focus on outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? Explain how refraining from lust and being faithful and committed to your marriage is the heart of the law (17-20) behind the seventh and tenth Commandments. Connect these passages with 27-32. Where should our outward, behavioral obedience to Christ spring from?

3. Review: Examine again the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” proclamation. Who had the people heard it (the law) said by? Who taught them the law? How does Jesus saying, “But I say to you…” establish Jesus’ supremacy over the Pharisees, scribes, priests, etc. Imagine you’re one of these Jewish leaders and you’re hearing Jesus say this. What might your initial reaction be?

Recalling our Sermon on the Mount / Ten Commandments motif, how might Jesus’ “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” proclamation have evoked images of Moses as lawgiver, and signaled to the Jewish leaders and people that the better Moses was here?

4. What is “lustful intent”? (28) Make the connection between lust, adultery, and divorce. How could lusting after someone else eventually culminate in divorcing your spouse?

5. Notice the progression from temptation to commission of outward sin in 28-30:

  • Sin of the e_____(28a, 29) leads to…
  • Sin of the h_____(28b) leads to…
  • Sin of the h_____(30)

Which sexual sins does this progression apply to? Which other sins does this progression apply to? Is it fair to say that this progression applies to all sin? Explain what Jesus means by gouging out your right eye and cutting off your right hand as it applies to this progression from temptation to commission of outward sin. How can removing things in your life that are conducive to temptation and sin stop this progression?

6. Using your cross-references for verse 31, what were the Old Testament parameters for divorce? Why, according to Jesus, was this allowance made?

A spouse’s “sexual immorality” (usually adultery) (32) is one of the biblically permissible reasons for divorce. What is the other? Study these passages. How is marriage symbolic of God’s relationship with His people? If marriage symbolizes how God (the “husband”) cares for His people (His “bride”), what does divorce (for unbiblical reasons) say about God? About His people?

Compare 32 to Matthew 19:3-9. Why is divorce so closely tied to adultery? Who joins two people together and makes them one in marriage? Besides divorce due to adultery and abandonment1, what is the only other way God considers a marriage dissolved? Do man’s scribblings on a piece of paper (“certificate of divorce” for unbiblical reasons) change the fact that God still considers those two people married? How does this better help you understand Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:6: “What God has joined together, let not man separate.”? How does this concept help you understand why, in unbiblical divorces, God considers remarriage to be adultery?


1I know at this point many of you have “Yeah, but…” and “What if…” questions about abusive marriages and/or your own divorces. We can’t deal with those properly here. I would encourage you to a) use your cross-references and concordance to search the Scriptures about divorce and rightly apply them to your questions, b) get wise counsel from your pastor, c) if you’ve tried a & b and still have questions, send me your questions and I’ll attempt to answer them in a Mailbag article (protecting your anonymity of course). In the meantime, if you are currently being abused: please get to a safe place and reach out to your pastor, the police, or another appropriate person for help. Getting to a safe place is not a sin, and it is not the same as an actual divorce.


Homework

  • Read my article The Mailbag: Is Lust a Sin for Women, Too? and study the Scriptures therein.
  • Think of one pernicious sin in your life in which you can see the progression of: sin of the eye>>sin of the heart>>sin of the hand. Explain how each of these steps are fleshed out in your particular sin. What is something you could remove from or add to your life that would make it more difficult for you to be tempted to commit this sin? Prayerfully develop a plan or strategy to “cut off your right hand / gouge out your right eye” (metaphorically speaking) in this area and begin implementing it this week.

Suggested Memory Verse

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I’m out of pocket this week, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, or if you’re already caught up, you could even read ahead in the Sermon on the Mount a little. It’s your week to use as you see fit. Happy studying!

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Matthew 5:21-26

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 21-26 in light of those passages.

Summarize, in your own words, the main idea of 21-26.

Divide this passage into two sections, 21-22 and 23-26. Who is experiencing anger in the first section? The second? Who is responsible for doing something regarding the anger in both sections? Can you control or change the behavior of the person you’re angry at or the person who’s angry at you? How does this passage take the focus off what the other person has done (and whether she is right or wrong), and put the focus on you and your responsibility to act in a godly way regardless of the circumstances?

In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in each of these sections (21-22, 23-26)? How?

How does ungodly anger, or a brother having something against you dim your light, and bland your saltiness? (13-16) How can crucifying your sinful anger or reconciling with an offended brother make you saltier and brighter?

2. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

How does Jesus refer back to the Ten Commandments in verse 21? How do Jesus’ phrases “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” verbally transition the people from their focus on outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? Explain how refraining from sinful anger and reconciling with an offended brother is the heart of the law (17-20) behind the 6th Commandment. Connect these passages with 21-26. Where should our outward, behavioral obedience to Christ spring from?

3. Examine again the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” proclamation. Who had the people heard it (the law) said by? Who taught them the law? How does Jesus saying, “But I say to you…” establish Jesus’ supremacy over the Pharisees, scribes, priests, etc. Imagine you’re one of these Jewish leaders and you’re hearing Jesus say this. What might your initial reaction be? How does this passage on anger inform how you should respond to Jesus’ proclamation?

Recalling our Sermon on the Mount / Ten Commandments motif, how might Jesus’ “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” proclamation have evoked images of Moses as lawgiver, and signaled to the Jewish leaders and people that the better Moses was here?

Who created and gave the Ten Commandments? How did Jesus’ proclamation and the judgments He declares in verse 22 demonstrate to the Jews His authority as God and His equality with God?

4. Using your cross-references, what kind of court / prison situation is 25-26 referring to? Can you see how this type of situation fits with the situation in 23-24? Does verse 23 say you’ve actually sinned against your brother, or that you’re actually guilty of the the civil action or accusation of debt being brought against you in 25? Could these be situations in which there has been a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, or a false accusation on the part of the offended party? Why is it still your responsibility to take the initiative to make things right with the offended party?

What does making things right with others have to do with our worship (23)? Why does God basically say, “Go to your brother before you come to Me.”?


Homework

  • What is the difference between righteous anger (which is not sinful) and sinful anger? How can you tell the difference between the two? Is it possible to express righteous anger in an unrighteous / sinful way? Give an example. This week, pray that each time you get angry God will help you distinguish whether you are experiencing righteous or sinful anger and whether you are expressing that anger righteously or sinfully. If you are sinfully angry, repent.
  • Is there anyone in your life who has something against you (23-26)? Even if your conscience is clear that you haven’t actually sinned against her, be a peacemaker, take the initiative, and do everything you can to reconcile with her this week.

Suggested Memory Verse

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Matthew 5:13-20

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the Beatitudes in Lesson 3 (link above).

2. Read verses 13-16. Remember that when the Bible was written, there were no chapter and verse markings and no separation between sections. The passage we know as verses 1-12 flowed directly into verses 13-16.

Make the connection between the Beatitudes and 13-16. In what ways could 13-16 be considered the culmination of the Beatitudes? How does God shaping you into all the character qualities in the Beatitudes make you into, or equip you to be, the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

Do verse 13 and verses 14-15 describe the state of saltiness and light in the positive (“Be like this.”) or in the negative (“Do not be like this.”)? List the negative and/or positive statements about each. How could someone who claims to be a Christian lose her saltiness or her light? Is Jesus talking about false converts or genuine Believers who stray into a season of sin, or both? Why?

Carefully examine verse 16. Could this apply to saltiness as well as light? If a friend asked you what this verse meant, how would you explain it to her? What if your friend then directed your attention to 6:1-4, and said, “Aha! The Bible contradicts itself! 5:16 says to let others see your good works and 6:1-4 says not to practice your good works before others.”? How would you explain to her what these two passages mean and why they are different?

3. Read 17-20 in light of 1-16, and in light of the concept from our last lesson that Jesus preaching Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes probably evoked comparisons to Moses coming down from the mountain and giving the Ten Commandments.

What three word phrase do most of the Ten Commandments start with? How many of the Ten Commandments end with a blessing? Compare this with the Beatitudes. Which two word phrase does each Beatitude begin with? How many of the Beatitudes end with a blessing? Compare the hard edge specificity of the Commandments (lying, murdering, idolatry, etc.) with the more open ended, less specific Beatitudes (poor in spirit, merciful, etc.) Are the Ten Commandments stated in the negative or the positive? The Beatitudes?

Imagine you’re a law and order Pharisee with all of the above on your mind. You’ve been a “no no” guy all your life. You’re worried Israel might fall back into the sins that sent them into exile in the Old Testament. And now you’re listening to this new guy on the scene preach what sounds like it might be a softer and gentler, love and peace, “hippie” version of the Ten Commandments. You have questions for Jesus. What are those questions?

How does Jesus answer your questions in 17-20? Is He preaching license or that obedience to God does’t matter? Using your cross-references in this passage, what is Jesus trying to convey to the people and to the Pharisees about righteousness and obedience? What is the heart of the Law?

Some people incorrectly think 17-20 mean that New Testament Christians must keep the Old Testament civil laws (no shellfish or mixed fabrics, put a parapet around your roof, etc.) and ceremonial laws (feasts, festivals/holidays, etc.). How would you refute that idea? What are some other passages of Scripture you might bring to bear on this question? When Jesus originally spoke these words, was He talking to Christians under the new covenant or Jews under the old covenant?

How was Jesus the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets? How had legalism so corrupted Judaism that many of the Jews, scribes, and Pharisees were unable or unwilling to accept Jesus as the Messiah – the fulfillment and culmination of the old covenant?


Homework

Consider this thought:

The prevalent false teaching of Jesus’ day was legalism, and the false teachers (Pharisees) accused Jesus and His followers of antinomianism when they taught obedience to God and His Word. The prevalent false teaching today is antinomianism, and today’s false teachers accuse Jesus’ followers of legalism when they teach obedience to God and His Word.

Do you agree or disagree? Why? How can Christians avoid both legalism and antinomianism and follow Christ obediently from a heart of love?


Suggested Memory Verse

Each week, I’ll provide a suggested memory verse from that week’s study passage. I encourage you to copy, save, or screenshot it. Use it for your screensaver or wallpaper, your social media cover photo, or print it out and stick it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 3

Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Matthew 5:1-12

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the background to the Sermon on the Mount in Lesson 2 (link above).

2. Read Matthew 5:1-12. This passage is usually called “The Beatitudes”. How did it happen that Jesus had crowds (v.1) following Him? How did John the Baptist’s ministry (see Lesson 2, link above) help prepare the hearts of the people to hear the Beatitudes? What was the thrust of his message, and what is the thrust of the Beatitudes?

3. Carefully examine verses 3-12. Each Beatitude is written in a three part format. Identify and describe each of the three parts.

4. What word do verses 3-11 start with? What does it mean to be blessed? Who is doing the blessing, who is receiving the blessing, and how does being blessed impact a Christian’s life? (Hint: Use your cross references, and search the word “blessed” in a good concordance.)

5. Make a list of the middle part (the state of being or heart attitude) of each Beatitude (poor in spirit, merciful, etc.). What do each of these words or phrases mean? Use your cross-references and make every effort to define each term yourself first, but if you’re a new Christian or new to the Bible, here’s a little help if you get stuck (scroll down to “Related Topics”).

Read, examine, and consider all of the “middle parts” of the Beatitudes together as a unit. Write a 2-3 sentence synopsis of the middle parts. Are the Beatitudes like the spiritual gifts in that everybody gets at least one, but nobody gets all of them (ex: You’re a peacemaker, but I’m meek.)? Or art the Beatitudes more like the Fruit of the Spirit in that all Christians are supposed to embody everything on the list? Explain your answer. If you answered that the Beatitudes are like the spiritual gifts, list the Beatitudes that only some Christians are meant to embody, and explain why that Beatitude doesn’t apply to all Christians.

6. Make a list of the “third part” (the consequence or blessing) of each Beatitude (receive mercy, called sons of God, etc.). What do each of these words or phrases mean? (Use your cross-references.) Would you characterize these consequences as similar to one another, or very different from one another?

Read, examine, and consider all of the consequences of the Beatitudes together as a unit. Write a 2-3 sentence synopsis of the consequences. Do all of these consequences apply to all Christians who pursue holiness? Why or why not?

7. How many Beatitudes (3-12) are there? If I said to you, “In some ways, the Beatitudes are to the New Testament / New Covenant what the 10 Commandments were to the Old Testament / Old Covenant,” would you agree or disagree? Why? Consider the content, context, and audience of both Christ’s preaching of the Beatitudes and Moses delivering the 10 Commandments to God’s people. Compare the way God’s people in the Old Testament regarded the 10 Commandments with the way Christians regard the teachings contained in the Beatitudes. Think about these passages as you answer these questions. How might Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount have reminded the people that God had promised to raise up for them a prophet like Moses?


Homework

  • Once you have finished the lesson, you may wish to listen to this series of sermons on the Beatitudes by John MacArthur.
  • Use the Beatitudes as a prayer guide this week, asking God to increase your Christlikeness in the state of being / heart attitude parts, and thanking Him for blessing you with the consequences of each.

Suggested Memory Verse

Normally, in this section, I will provide you with a suggested verse from that day’s passage to memorize. But today, I want you to pick. Was there a certain verse that particularly impacted you, comforted you, or that deals with a heart attitude you’re praying God will grow you in? Work on memorizing that verse this week. If you’re more advanced in Scripture memory work, or if you just want to challenge yourself, consider memorizing verses 3-12.

Starting with our next lesson, all suggested memory verses will be superimposed on the image above. If you like everything to match (like I do!), you’re welcome to grab the image above and put this week’s memory verse (of your choosing) on it using a photo editor. (And if you’re really obsessive about matching – again, like I am – I’ll be using “Syncopate” font in grey.) Use it for your screensaver or wallpaper, your social media cover photo, or print it out and stick it somewhere you’ll see it often.