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Sabbath School Lessons on Matthew
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: The Sermon on the Mount *
Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is an astonishing presentation.
However, there are varied views on it. Some think it is the "rule
book" for when we are in heaven - and therefore it is not for us now.
Others think it is intended to make us conclude that God's standard
is impossible, and thus we are driven to rely on grace. Some consider
it a challenge for them to bring their righteous works to a higher
level. My view is that the Sermon on the Mount shows us that grace is
not just a matter of salvation, but is a lifestyle. God calls on us
to depend on His strength in all things, and that includes how we
live. Let's plunge into this challenging study and learn more!
- A Positive Future
- Read Matthew 5:3-6. Do you want to be in any of these
categories: poor, mourning, meek, hungry or thirsting? (No
one wants to be any of these.)
- What is Jesus saying about people who are in these
categories? (They will be blessed by God and their
situation will turn out well.)
- Has anyone ever told you that you should aspire to be
in one of these categories? (I've been told that I
should want to be in these categories because they
are blessed and end up with good things. I have my
doubts that these are goals - other than desiring
righteousness. We recently studied that we should aim
to be raised in the "first resurrection" - which is
the righteous dead. That does not mean I should
desire to be dead! Rather, this seems to be a message
of mercy for those who find themselves in difficult
- Read Matthew 5:7-9. Would you like to be any of these? (I
would. It is a virtue to be merciful, pure in heart, or a
- What positive things do we learn about their future?
(Good things will happen to them.)
- Step back a moment. We have reviewed a list of things
we would generally not want to be, and a list of
things we would like to be. What is the good news
about both lists? (That good things await them.)
- Read Matthew 5:10-12. We again have a list of things we
would not like to have happen to us. What positive point
does Jesus make about finding ourselves in this situation?
(Again, Jesus promises a good outcome. He adds that we are
not alone. Special people with a close relationship with
God (prophets) found themselves in the same situation. The
point is that we are not alone if these things happen to
- A Positive Law
- Read Matthew 5:13-16. What does God want us to do? (He
wants us to bring praise and glory to Him by doing good
- What does the reference to worthless salt suggest to
us? (If we do not bring praise and glory to God, we
are not doing the task given to us.)
- Read Matthew 5:17. What is Jesus' mission with regard to
the law? (To fulfill it!)
- Is this a message of grace? (Yes! Jesus lived, died
and was resurrected so that we can accept His
completed work on our behalf.)
- What, then, does Jesus mean that He is not abolishing
the law? (Grace does not logically diminish the law.
Rather, it shows how important it is. If the rule of
law did not matter, God would have simply abolished
the law and saved Himself a lot of pain.)
- Read Matthew 5:18-19. Why would people who not only break
the law, but teach others to break it, be in the Kingdom
of Heaven? (Grace! But, friend, do you want to have a poor
reputation for all of eternity? This shows that those who
are opposed to keeping the law do not understand the full
picture of grace. They do not understand the importance of
bringing glory and praise to God by how we live.)
- Read Matthew 5:20. These are the top religious leaders of
the time. How can our righteousness surpass theirs? Why
is that even a goal? (The person who accepts by grace the
righteousness of Jesus, will always be more righteous than
the most religious person who is working for
righteousness. Working for salvation is a fool's errand.
It is trusting in self (just like those who worship
idols), rather than trusting in God.)
- The Law on Steroids?
- Read Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 5:27-28. Contemplate
these verses for a few minutes. What is Jesus warning us
against that seems to go beyond what the Ten Commandments
require? (Jesus is talking about our mind, our attitude.
Anger, angry words, resentment, and lust are all states of
- Read Romans 8:5-8. Does this make sense to you - that
the way in which you set your mind determines how you
will act? (I think this is Jesus' point. Be careful
of your thoughts if you want to avoid getting into
trouble with sin.)
- If I'm right, what does this say about the
nature of anger, lust and harsh words? (I doubt
that appreciating beautiful women or getting
upset are adultery or murder. Instead, I think
Jesus is teaching us that getting angry to the
extent of being willing to kill, and willing
thoughts about committing adultery, are sins.
If we are willing to commit the sin, but lack
the opportunity, we do not get a pass on the
- Let's go back and pick up some verses we skipped. Read
Matthew 5:23-26. What is the overall counsel here? How
would you summarize this in one line? (Do your best to
live in peace with others.)
- How many times do you hear Christians say that they
have difficulty with others, they are victims,
because of their religious beliefs? (No doubt pagans
give Christians problems at times. However, most of
the people I hear say this do not try to live in
peace with others.)
- Read Matthew 5:29-30. Does this make any sense to you?
Jesus just told us that thinking about something was the
same as committing the sin. How would removing your eye or
your hand stop your brain from sinning? (It will not. I
once had a class member who was losing his sight tell me
that did not keep him from problems with lust. I think
Jesus wants to get our attention about the importance of
His teaching. No doubt we all agree that losing some part
of our body is better than missing out on heaven.)
- Law of Revenge
- Read Matthew 5:38-41. What does Jesus mean when He says
"You have heard that it was said?" (The law of revenge is
written three times as an explicit instruction from God.
See Exodus 20:22 and Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:17-20;
and, Deuteronomy 19:21.)
- Re-read Matthew 5:39 and John 18:22-23. Why did Jesus not
follow His own advice? Instead of turning His other cheek,
He raised a legal challenge to being slapped!
- Skim Matthew 18:23-35 and Read Matthew 18:32-34. Is the
law of revenge a Biblical principle? (Yes! The master
turned the unforgiving servant over to be tortured. But,
payback is not for us. Jesus did not return the slap when
He was slapped. We need to leave payback to God. God has
forgiven us so much, how can we fail to forgive those who
have harmed us?)
- Read Psalms 84:5. Jesus is teaching us grace as a
lifestyle. Just as we depend on Jesus for our
salvation, so we should depend on God to take revenge
on those who have harmed us.)
- Read Romans 12:19. What promise does Paul share with
us about the law of revenge?
- Have you tried payback (revenge) in the past? How did
that work out? (I'll bet it did not work out well. It
did not make you feel better and it prolonged the
controversy. Just as grace gives you peace about your
salvation, so grace as a lifestyle gives you peace in
- Friend, I think the Sermon on the Mount is a call to trust
God to take care of us and solve the difficult problems in
life. Will you decide, right now, to rely on the strength
of God and make grace your lifestyle?
- Next week: "Get Up and Walk!" Faith and Healing.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.