A little while ago, I created an outline of Matthew 5-7 for an online course. Outlines are a great Bible study tool – both reading and making them yourself!
Words to Build Your Life On:
An Outline of the Sermon on the Mount
1. The occasion of Jesus’ address (Matt. 5:1-2)
i. When Jesus was at the height of his ministry, drawing huge crowds from various regions east of The Great Sea.
ii. Jesus ascended a hillside, sat down, and addressed his disciples who were following him.
2. Conditions for surprising blessedness (Matt. 5:3-12)
A) How you view yourself (v. 3-5)
i. You’re blessed when you come to the end of yourself; at that point you can have more of God.
ii. You’re blessed when you feel lacking and inadequate in and of yourself; then you can embrace the One who wants to fill you.
iii. You’re blessed when you know who you are and are content with that; then you will enter into what God wants for your life.
B) What drives you (v. 6)
i. You’re blessed when you stay hungry for God; he will never fail to satisfy your appetite.
C) How you engage with the world (v. 7-9)
i. You’re blessed when you give compassion; sure enough, you will receive the very same thing
ii. You’re blessed when your inner life is right in God’s eyes; only then will you be able to see God with your own eyes.
iii. You’re blessed when show people how to live peacefully with God and one another; in doing so, you will discover your true identity.
D) How the world responds to your right living (v. 10-12)
i. You’re blessed when people persecute you because of your commitment to God; when that happens, you know you’re in the midst of God’s kingdom.
ii. You’re blessed when people hurl insults and lies about you because you associate with me; be happy when this happens, because the world has always treated my close friends like that.
3. Embracing why we’re here (Matt. 5:13-16)
A) To be like salt (v. 13)
i. Salt is used to bring out the best flavour in something.
ii. If people cannot taste God when they’re around you, you’re of no use to God or to them.
B) To be like light (v. 14-16)
i. Light that is hidden is of no use to anyone.
ii. Let people see your life, so that in doing so they will see the God at work in your life.
4. Understanding why Jesus came here (Matt. 5:17-20)
A) To complete the Law and the Prophets (v. 17-18)
i. Jesus comes to demonstrate his Messiah-ship.
ii. Jesus declares that the Law is long-lasting, living and active.
B) To warn us to take God’s Law seriously (v. 19-20)
i. People who make light of God’s Law will be made light of in God’s Kindgom.
ii. Entering the Kingdom requires excelling in right living even more than the Pharisees.
5. Taking God’s law seriously (Matt. 5:21-48)
A) Murder (v. 21-26)
i. Anger and murder come from the same spirit.
ii. Anyone who demeans someone or their abilities is in danger of hellfire!
iii. Make reconciliation with others a priority over “worship”.
iv. You make the first move in making things right with the person holding a grudge against you.
B) Adultery and Divorce (v. 27-32)
i. Lust and adultery come from the same spirit.
ii. Swiftly “cut off” any part of your life that is causing you to sleep around in your heart.
iii. Legal divorce cannot hide the spirit of treachery behind it.
iv. Divorce makes adulteresses and adulterers out of people, unless they have already made themselves that by sleeping with someone other than their spouse.
C) Empty Promises (v. 33-37)
i. Saying what you don’t really mean is lying and manipulating.
ii. Don’t fluff up your language to make other people trust you more; just say ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and mean what you say.
D) Demanding Justice and Retaliating Against Enemies (v. 38-48)
i. Don’t demand for justice when someone wrongs you or repay wrong for wrong.
ii. Instead, repay their wrong with gracious words and actions.
iii. Don’t show your best to your friends and loved ones, only to show your worst to your enemies.
iv. Like God, you can and should be a generous blessing to everyone impartially.
6. Worshipping God secretly (Matt. 6:1-18)
A) Acts of compassion (v. 1-4)
i. God rewards people who are secretly “religious”
ii. When you serve and give, make sure you do it so that nobody can see what you’re doing.
B) Prayer (v. 5-13)
i. Don’t make a show of your prayers, like the hypocrites do.
ii. When you pray, don’t worry about techniques or special phrases to repeat; just pray simply and your Father in heaven will hear you.
C) Forgiveness (v. 14-15)
i. When you forgive others, you are showing heaven how you would like to be treated; do not expect forgiveness from God if you’re unwilling to forgive others.
D) Fasting (v. 16-18)
i. When you fast to better focus on God, don’t make a show of it like the hypocrites do.
ii. Instead, act like you normally would; God will still see what you’re doing.
7. Worshipping God totally (Matt. 6:19-34)
A) Your treasure stockpile (v. 19-21)
i. Don’t spend your life stockpiling treasure on earth, where nothing lasts.
ii. Wherever you place your treasure is where you’ll most want to be.
B) Your eyes (v. 22-23)
i. Your eyes determine your vision, and your vision determines your direction.
ii. If your eyes are open to let in the light of God, your whole life will be full of God; but bad or closed eyes only make everything dark and obscure.
C) God versus Money (v. 24)
i. You can’t devote your life to money and expect to be able to devote your life to God as well.
D) Hakuna Matata! (v. 25-34)
i. Living a life of total devotion to God frees us from worldly worries.
ii. Because we are valuable to God, we don’t need to stress about what food we’ll eat or what clothes we’ll wear.
iii. God takes care of our daily material needs so that we can focus on his Kingdom.
8. Respecting God and loving people (Matt. 7:1-12)
A) Judging people (v. 1-5)
i. Don’t be quick to point out people’s flaws and failures, unless you want the same treatment.
ii. Instead of being holier-than-thou, work on your own flaws first.
B) Handling the sacred (v. 6)
i. Don’t be shallow, insincere or nonchalant with holy matters; you’re only encouraging more profanity and sacrilege from others.
C) Getting from God (v. 7-11)
i. God doesn’t play games with us; if you need something, simply ask him for it.
ii. What kind of a Father would God be if he tried to trick you or tease you when you asked him for something?
D) No. 1 rule for how to treat others (v. 12)
i. “Treat people the way you’d like to be treated” is the golden rule that summarizes all the teachings in the Law and the Prophets.
9. Distinguishing truth from falsehood (Matt. 7:13-27)
A) Narrow and wide gates (v. 13-14)
i. The wide gate boasts of an easy path to life, but actually leads to death!
ii. The narrow gate is more difficult and less popular, but in the end it leads to life.
B) Good and bad trees (v. 15-20)
i. False preachers seem sincere and gifted on the outside, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that the tree of their character bears rotten fruit.
ii. To recognize a good leader, pay attention to their character.
C) Intimates and Strangers to Jesus (v. 21-23)
i. True obedience is what counts to me, not just speaking “Christianese” and doing some religious stuff.
ii. Some people will be turned away on Judgment Day because they were all talk and no substance, or because they used me for their own selfish gain.
D) Wise and foolish builders (v. 24-27)
i. If you want to be wise, build your life on my words like an expert builder building his house on a solid foundation; then your life will be solid enough to withstand any trial.
ii. Those who don’t build their lives on my words after hearing them are like amateur builders trying to build on sand: their structure will tragically collapse.
10. The conclusion of Jesus’ address (Matt. 7:28-29)
i. The crowds who heard Jesus’ address were astounded by his message, and the fact that Jesus exuded a confidence and authority that even their own religious teachers lacked.