The Sermon on the Mount provides guiding principles (The Beatitudes) and explains the essence of Living in the Image of God. The first three Beatitudes describe commitment to following God’s direction through humility and repentance in order to perform the responsibilities of representing him in human interactions. The third through eighth describe the value of humility, care and sensitivity to the needs of others, motivation for being good, and individual responsibilities in the pursuit of peace and righteousness. Further, Christ explains in the second part of the sermon that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to be good to others and motivate and preserve their goodness. Similar to the intrinsic quality of salt to enhance and preserve the goodness of food. He expects every person to radiate positive impact in human interactions, similar to a light source radiating light, so that people may benefit and glorify God for each other.
The Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5–7] was Christ’s formal teaching to explain God’s purpose for human interactions. He declared the guiding principles in The Beatitudes; described the essence of God’s purpose for human interactions using the Salt of the Earth imagery; and discussed several examples to explain God’s expectations in interactions among people.
As we discuss previously in Part 1 of this study (Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 1of2), God creates every person to represent him in interactions with others: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and parables, physical examples, and interactions with his disciples and others during his human ministry, Christ provides guiding principles and describes the essence of Living in the Image of God—to fulfill God’s purpose for every person to be his representative (aka ambassador) in interactions with others. Those that live according to the principles will follow God’s Schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the principles will depart from the schedule.
We discuss the Sermon on the Mount to understand Living in the Image of God based on Christ teaching of the guiding principles in The Beatitudes and the essence in the Salt of the Earth teaching.
David’s victory over Goliath illustrates the importance of details in every mission. A detail of his father’s errand required he interact with his brothers physically to assess their conditions. Therefore, he followed them to the battlefront to complete the errand, observed Goliath’s defiance was unanswered because the Israeli men were terrified, was motivated to defeat the Philistines to advance the name and image of God, and won a victory that became the foundation for his reputation as a potential future leader of Israel.
David’s victory over Goliath laid foundation for his reputation as a potential future leader of Israel. He encountered Goliath while visiting with his brothers in an Israeli army setup for battle against Philistines. A detail of his father’s errand took him to the battlefront to meet with his brothers. While talking with them, he observed Goliath’s defiance of Israel was unanswered because the Israeli men were terrified. Therefore, David became motivated to kill Goliath and defeat the Philistines to remove “this disgrace from Israel” and establish supremacy of “the armies of the living God” [1 Samuel 17:26]. His determination to fight Goliath was reported to king Saul, who tried to discourage him but was convinced by David’s exhortation that God will lead him to victory over the Philistine. David killed Goliath, led Israel to victory over Philistines, and, thus, established his name as a potential future leader of Israel. His reputation would grow later as his involvement in the army increased.
Therefore, David’s victory over Goliath launched his preparation to become king of Israel. The victory illustrates the importance of details in any mission. David understood his father’s errand in enough detail to recognize he needed to interact with his brothers physically to assess their conditions and report back to his father. He went to the battlefront because of his understanding of the detail and commitment to completing the errand accordingly. As we discuss in a previous study under David Called to Mission, the errand took David to the battlefield but his understanding of the details took him to the battlefront where he encountered Goliath. His success in transitioning from the errand to the encounter with Goliath underscores the importance of detail in every mission. David listened to his father, understood his father’s errand, intended to complete the errand according to details specified by his father, but instead was ushered into the mission for which God had called him to the battlefront.
His interactions during the events illustrate working with God while waiting for God’s time, which manifested as listening to parents to understand and implement details of parental guidance, motivation against Goliath’s defiance of God, and unwavering commitment based on his motivation and faith. His interactions during the events resulted in victory over Goliath, leading Israel to victory over Philistines, and laying foundation for his recognition as a potential future leader of Israel.
A marriage arranged to serve extraneous interests likely will be unsuccessful and bring no benefit to the couple. Example: David-Michal marriage was motivated by interests different from any desire by the couple to live in marital love. Michal’s father Saul sought the marriage to lure David into danger. David embraced the marriage to show military valor and triumph over Philistines. Michal, on her part, was infatuated with being the king’s wife. Furthermore, while David believed in life founded on worshiping and serving God, Michal had no such belief or understanding. They were unequally yoked before God; therefore, incompatible for marriage.
We discuss David-Michal marital interactions to learn from their experience. Their marriage was driven by inappropriate motivations, got off on the wrong foot, and ended without discernible benefit to them individually or as a couple. We study negatives from their marriage to enrich our understanding of positive aspects of modern day marriages.
Michal’s father, Saul, the first king of Israel, lobbied hard to persuade David to marry Michal, because he wanted to use the marriage to lure David to death to eliminate him from contending for the throne of Israel. Michal, on her part, appeared to love David. However, later events showed that all she really cared about was getting married to a young man that was highly admired among her contemporaries and expected to become the king of Israel sometime later. She was in love with the prospect of such a marriage but did not know or understand David enough to care about him as a potential husband. David apparently got into the marriage to show himself equal to the challenge for a gruesome conquest and mutilation of several Philistines, the then number one enemy of Israel. He cherished his “prize” for the valiant victory, brought to life through marriage to Michal, but did not love or care about her as a wife.
David-Michal marriage, therefore, was arranged to satisfy interests totally extraneous to the marital interest of David and Michal. The marriage was driven by inappropriate motivation. In this study, we discuss events leading to David-Michal marriage to understand the marriage got off on the wrong foot because of inappropriate motivation. Also, we note that David and Michal separated for a long time and re-united thereafter. We discuss the separation and re-unification to underscore their lack of personal commitment either to their marriage or to each other. Further, we discuss a specific event that brought their mutual dismay to the surface. We use information from the event to understand their marriage was unsuccessful because they were unequally yoked before God and, therefore, incompatible for marriage.
RECOGNIZE AVOID AND REJECT TEMPTATION The temptations of Jesus help us understand aspects of a person’s life the devil may target and how it may disguise itself to operate on the targets. We discuss reducing temptation in our lives through prayer, recognizing and rejecting temptation through its attributes and potential disguise, and evaluating potential actions and events based on whether they will fit into or work against our general purpose of living in the image of God.
Nature of Temptation
How to Recognize Avoid and Reject Temptation
Temptation persists among us as the devil tries to pull each person away from living according to God’s purpose. As we discussed in several previous studies (e.g. Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God), God creates every person to live in his image, i.e., represent him in every human interaction as his provider assistant and conveyor of his image. Representing him means your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Furthermore, you fulfill your responsibilities as God’s provider assistant by willingly and gracefully providing service to benefit others when God places a need in your path. Also, you receive service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness. This type of behavior pleases God and draws a person closer to God’s purpose. The devil wants to pull each person away from God’s purpose and devises schemes to lure people into committing sin by behaving in a manner that is opposite to living in the image of God.
Apostle Peter warns about the devil: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” [1 Peter 5:8]. He devours a person by luring them into sin, away from living in the image of God. Our first line of defense against temptation is to pray as Christ taught: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” [Matthew 6:13]. Although we know the devil’s objective is to lure us away from living in the image of God and will readily reject such objective when recognized, the devil succeeds a lot of times because of its disguise and stealth. Therefore, we need to reduce its access to our lives and understand its methods in order to recognize and reject its attempts when it does enter.
In this bible study, we discuss the nature of temptation based on a study of the temptations of Jesus. His temptations help us understand aspects of a person’s life the devil may target and how it may disguise itself to operate on the targets. We seek to understand reducing temptation in our lives through prayer, recognizing and rejecting temptation through its attributes and potential disguise, and evaluating potential actions and events based on whether they will fit into or work against our general purpose of living in the image of God.
Christ rejects hypocrisy and rebuked people against hypocrisy on several occasions. He rebuked people that presented themselves as worshiping God but were more concerned about promoting their authority or self-interest, people that asked questions to show off their knowledge instead of seeking to improve understanding, or people that focused on condemning others. We discuss his teaching on hypocrisy and examine circumstances in which he rebuked people against hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy refers to a person’s motivation for an act of worship or righteousness. Is the action motivated by an understanding of God’s purpose in a given situation and desire to fulfill the purpose? Is one motivated by a desire to be recognized and admired or respected by other people? Hypocrisy could manifest in terms of a person professing a belief but their actions are inconsistent with what they profess. Also, hypocrisy could manifest in terms of self-righteousness, resulting in looking down on and judging others but failing to apply same rules and standards to self. Hypocrisy in worship often manifests as play acting, working behind a “mask,” and in general pretending to be something that the person really isn’t.
Christ’s teaching on hypocrisy could be summarized into a simple message: An act of worship or righteousness pleases God if it is motivated by a desire to worship him or serve people to fulfill his purpose. In contrast, an act of worship or righteousness does not please God if it is motivated by self-promotion, seeking human recognition, or any purpose other than serving God.
We begin a two-part series on appreciation with a discussion of Christ’s teaching on testimony, i.e., sharing appreciation of God. Our understanding is based on his interactions with people he healed: what he instructed them to do or how he received their reaction to the healing. We examine his interactions with a man he freed from demons and a woman he healed of long-term bleeding. We see that he directed both healing recipients to testify about what God had done for them. He gave a direct instruction to the man freed from demons. However, his instruction to the woman healed of long-term bleeding was indirect: he would not stop looking for her until she came forward and testified. We also recall an example on testimony based on Peter’s interactions with his faith family after God released him miraculously from Herod’s prison.
INSPIRE OTHERS TO SEEK GOD A testimony inspires others to seek God by sharing with them personal experience that illustrates appreciation for his mercy and power and effectiveness in granting prayers and fulfilling promises. In addition to inspiring others by testifying to one’s personal experience of God, giving testimony also is a way to show appreciation to other people that have shared a person’s concern, either through physical contributions or by helping channel the concern’s to God through prayer. It is important to let such people know that God has granted their prayers and inform them so they would direct subsequent prayers according to need.
In the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5–7], Christ delivered an elaborate teaching on living in the image of God: i.e., living and interacting with people for the purpose of representing God in everything we do and accomplishing the objectives that he places on our paths. The teaching consists of two parts. First, he provided a set of eight principles for living in the image of God, which are known today in Christianity as The Beatitudes. Second, he described the essence of living in the image of God using examples from everyday life. We discussed the Beatitudes (first part of the Sermon on the Mount) in Part 1 of this study at This_Link. This week, our discussion focuses on the second part of the Sermon on the Mount.