Beware of placing our Lord as Teacher first instead of Savior. That tendency is prevalent to-day, and it is a dangerous tendency. We must know Him first as Savior before His teaching can have any meaning for us, or before it can have any meaning other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. Fancy coming to men and women with defective lives and defiled hearts and wrong mainsprings, and telling them to be pure in heart! What is the use of giving us an ideal we cannot possibly attain? We are happier without it. If Jesus is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize us by erecting a standard we cannot come anywhere near. But if by being born again from above, we know Him first as Savior, we know that He did not come to teach us only: He came to make us what He teaches we should be.
The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us.
The Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the heart of the natural man, and that is the very thing Jesus means it to do, because immediately we reach the point of despair we are willing to come to Jesus Christ as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—that is the first principle of the Kingdom. As long as we have a conceited, self-righteous idea that we can do the thing if God will help us, God has to allow us to go on until we break the neck of our ignorance over some obstacle, then we will be willing to come and receive from Him. The bed-rock of Jesus Christ’s Kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility, “I cannot begin to do it.” Then, says Jesus, “Blessed are you.” That is the entrance, and it takes us a long while to believe we are poor. The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.
Every mind has two compartments—conscious and subconscious. We say that the things we hear and read slip away from memory; they do not really, they pass into the subconscious mind. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring back into the conscious mind the things that are stored in the subconscious. In studying the Bible never think that because you do not understand it, therefore it is of no use. A truth may be of no use to you just now, but when the circumstances arise in which that truth is needed, the Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance. This accounts for the curious emergence of the statements of Jesus; we say, “I wonder where that word came from?” Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would “bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you,” The point is, will I obey Him when He does bring it to my remembrance? If I discuss the matter with someone else the probability is that I will not obey. “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. . . .” Always trust the originality of the Holy Spirit when He brings a word to your remembrance.
Bear in mind the twofold aspect of the mind; there is nothing supernatural or uncanny about it, it is simply the knowledge of how God has made us. It is foolish therefore to estimate only by what you consciously understand at the time. There may be much of which you do not begin to grasp the meaning, but as you go on storing your mind with Bible truth, the Holy Spirit will bring back to your conscious mind the word you need and will apply it to you in your particular circumstances. These three things always work together—moral intelligence, the spontaneous originality of the Holy Spirit and the setting of a life lived in communion with God.