LIVING AN IMPOSSIBLE LIFE
Sunday, December 31, 2017
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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

The Sermon on the Mount is the most intensive teaching of Jesus given in the New Testament. It is filled with instruction, encouragement and principles to live by, which tell us to place our faith and hope in God. This sermon quickly reveals the impossibility of living the Christian life in our own strength. Its expectations are impossible, such as anger and hatred being equivalent to murder (Matthew 5:22), and looking lustfully at someone as the equivalent to adultery (Matthew 5:28). Most of us feel confident we would not murder, but we know we are easily angered or prone to look lustfully. How then can we live the Christian life?

Martin Lloyd Jones, one of the great preachers of the last century, wrote a book on the Sermon on the Mount and says that we cannot live the Christian life ourselves, because it was never intended to be that way. Jones compares God’s perfect expectations to a giant mountain we quickly realize we are utterly incapable of climbing on our own. But sadly, so many of us think we have to reach the top in our own strength. We think God will only accept us or use us for His work if we prove we can obey Him by our own abilities and disciplines.

Any attempt to reach this mountaintop on our own, Jones writes “is proof positive that you have never understood the Christian life.” We might think that after we are forgiven, it is now our responsibility to read our Bibles, pray and do our best to measure up to God’s standards until we die and go to heaven. But without dependence on Christ, all our attempts to please God will feel empty. Inevitably, the Christian life will frustrate and deplete us, because we will fail repeatedly, not only in our obedience to God, but in work we want to accomplish for Him.

As long as we live thinking we have to be perfect for God rather than being made perfect by Him, we will only exhaust ourselves. The Christian life truly begins when we recognize it is an impossible life, and the only way we can live it is by surrendering to Christ’s strength and sufficiency. When we confess our sin, acknowledge our weaknesses and our disposition towards Jesus becomes one of “I can’t, but You can,” we are recognizing our poverty of spirit. This is when the kingdom of heaven opens up to us and we can live the impossible life by the power of Christ, working in us and through us.

PRAYER: Sovereign Lord, as we head into a new year, help me to grow in my dependence on You. I surrender myself and my abilities, choosing to trust in Your strength alone. Thank You, God.


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