I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes… (Psalm 101:3a)
Over these past few months in our study of the Sermon on the Mount, we have seen Jesus’ remarkable teachings concerning the lives of Kingdom citizens. The gospel is not an addendum to the life of a Christian; it is his life. It is a remake of the very core of our being, and this is why we refer to salvation as the new birth. It changes our relationship to God, our relationship with those around us, and gives a new view of self.
The Sermon on the Mount describes the characteristics of one who has been born of the Spirit of God. It teaches how God’s commandments can be kept not through self righteous efforts but through the power of Christ who lives within. A revealing factor of Jesus’ teachings is that the Ten Commandments were good enough all along to teach us how to love God and love one another. We don’t need a new list of commandments, we don’t need new regulations, and those who seek some new concept in Jesus’ teachings will not find it.
The gospel of Christ does not include with it a code of conduct any different than you will find in the Law given from Mount Sinai. When the gospel reaches the heart and converts the sinner, a forensic declaration takes place immediately. We are cleared from the guilt of our sins and we are justified before God. But this is not the only result. We are also sanctified and set apart to live holy lives.
As members of the Lord’s church, we affirm the sanctification of the believer. We don’t offer new rules to live by, but we expect the gospel will produce lives characteristic of those who are Kingdom citizens. Some of these expectations are expressed in our Church Covenant. I quote from one section of our Covenant which reads: “We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; and to abstain from the use and sale of intoxicating drink as a beverage and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Saviour.”
The membership of Berean Baptist has covenanted together to make this our code of conduct. It is nothing more or less than what is expressed in the two divisions of God’s law—love God supremely and our neighbors as ourselves. Do you abide by the covenant? Kingdom citizens will do so gladly!
Pastor V. Mark Smith