Absolute Ideal & Absolute Grace
"...Jesus did not proclaim the Sermon on the Mount so that we would, Tolstoy-like, furrow our brows in despair over our failure to achieve perfection. He gave it to impart to us God's Ideal toward which we should never stop striving, but also to show that none of us will ever reach that Ideal. The Sermon on the Mount forces us to recognize the great distance between God and us, and any attempt to reduce that distance by somehow moderating its demands misses the point altogether.
The worst tragedy would be to turn the Sermon on the Mount into another form of legalism; it should rather put an end to all legalism. Legalism like the Pharissees' will always fail, not because it is to strict but because it is not strict enough. Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace."
(The Jesus I Never Knew Phillip Yancey; (Zondervan,1995); page 144)
Yancey's discussion of the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most helpful I've ever read. Yancey writes in a style that is theological without being "theological". Truth is articulated in a way that the person in the pew can understand. I highly recommend this book.
Sola Deo Gloria!
~ The Billy Goat ~