Today, dear children, your seven week period of receiving guidance and instruction is over and now it's up to you. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13. Paul tells us here that it's not our doing but God's. God gives the desire and the will towards salvation and if we act on that will, God then gives accomplishment. All we have to do is accept. But if we reject this great gift of Grace we invoke the wrath of God, for sin cannot enter heaven. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelations 22:27
Therefore dear children, stay with the word and Strive for the truth unto death, and the Lord shall fight for thee. Ecclesiasticus 4:28 If you believe you are freed from your sins through the blood and death of Christ Jesus, surely your names will be written into the book of Life. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” John 8:51
Remember, once baptized you are a member of Christ and his church. Nothing will be able to harm your standing with God except sin. Beware and flee from it as a poisonous snake. You can no longer do what you want, but you must deny your own will and self love to follow God.
To give up your self will and self love is best described as the kernels of wheat that make up a loaf of bread. We have to be ground into flour by the stone mill that is Jesus Christ. Each kernel has to lose its individuality in order to bind together with the other ground kernels in the making of the flour. Then it is baked in the fire of the Love of God to become bread. Any unground or partial kernels remaining in the bread are offending and soon spit out. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:24-25 And remember dear children ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:20 Stay with the faith, read and study daily so that you stay on fire for God's Word and not grow lukewarm as the Laodicean Church. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Revelations 3:15-16
The word of God is an all consuming fire. The more you will immerse yourself in it the hotter and brighter you will burn and the more you will want to, all the time remembering it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. But if you distance yourself from the word, your light will soon fade and eventually go out.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us who will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
This is certainly a hard sermon and there are two things that come to mind right away.
1) We can never attain such perfection.
2) The overwhelming need for the Grace of God.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
And the answer to this is:
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
But it is impossible to walk in the newness of life without being born again and partaking of the Holy Spirit. We need all the fruits of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome, namely; love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
We must take our aim and eyes off this world and focus upon the one that is to come. We must be able to say with Paul; I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The Mount represents the community of believers who have given themselves in covenant and baptism and stay true therein. And so, dear children, strive to be true brothers and sisters in Christ, according to His teachings. Don't go to Church out of mere habit but of Love to God and His Word. Stay diligent in the work your community entrusts you with. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 Remember, you are not only working for yourself but also for those who cannot work for themselves: the elderly, the sick, the widows and orphans. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalms 133:1.
Admonish your brethren and be willing to accept admonishment from them, that ye both grow in faith to Christ Jesus. But be warned, admonishing will not win you any friends, it cost John the Baptist his head. For we live in community not to have good times or to get rich, nor because of friends or family, but for salvations sake, through faith and hope in Jesus Christ.
Let the life of our dear Saviour be your guide. Hold him always in your hearts with joy, so that you can truthfully say with the Psalmist David in Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Amen