Explain the ethical significance of the Sermon on the Mount for the Christian

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Explain the ethical significance of the Sermon on the Mount for the Christian (35)

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key sections of the New Testament, in which Jesus builds upon the Decalogue to form the first blueprint of Christian ethics. Jesus was preaching in direct contrast to the Greek philosophy of stoicism, which sought to separate man from his emotions. Emotions, especially love, feature heavily in the Sermon on the Mount. It remains ethically relevant over 2000 years later for many reasons, the first of which is the underlying principles behind it. Jesus did not come to abolish Old Testament law, but to fulfil it. The Jews were trapped in a system of harsh legalism, where obedience was motivated by fear rather than love. The Pharisees made a grand display of holiness by keeping the law, but the Sermon on the Mount teaches that their hearts were empty. Jesus built on the Ten Commandments to create a system ruled by mercy, love and dedication to God.

Even if the culture changes the basic ethical principles behind the sermon do not change. It is a moral code that focusses as much on inward moral disposition as it does our external actions: Jenkins wrote, “inner attention and attitude is crucial.” Even if a typically good action is performed with sinful thought then it becomes immoral. The most important thing to realise about the Sermon on the Mount is that it is impossible for anyone to keep it completely, as it demands perfection. Although they will never be free from sin in this life, Christians use the sermon in order to try and become more like Jesus, who was perfect. The Sermon is all about Christian sanctification.
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Jesus speaks not only on what Christians should do to be moral, but he also explains why it is important to be ethical in the first place. He states that Christians are the salt and light of the world. Salt is significant because it represents purity, preservation and flavour. Therefore we understand that Christians should maintain a good ethical code in order to set an example to society and to preserve it from total corruption. The image of the light is also key: in the Bible light always symbolises joy and blessing. A light is visible to all, ...

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