Can we accept Christ’s teachings without accepting Christ?
While I was preparing a message on the Beatitudes as presented in Matthew 5:1-11. I stopped as I read a verse we all take for granted. It is verse number two: “He opened His mouth and taught them.” You might say, so what? Or, of course He did; how else would He teach them? (By the way, you better careful asking that question. When you’re talking about God, His options are infinite! But I know what you mean.) It raised my question above. Can we accept Christ’s teaching without accepting Christ?
You see, some (including some professing Christians) take the Beatitudes to be a great moral code. A code that if followed would make the world would be a much better place in which to live. On an individual basis some believe that keeping this wonderful code might make some points with God and get some benefit from Him here and get them into heaven when the time comes. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that simply doing “good” stuff doesn’t cut it. It’s pretty clear that the motivation for our actions is important. The fact is that we just don’t have what it takes within us to keep such a perfect moral code. We will fail. It takes more than we’ve got.
That’s where my question comes in. It’s like the great scientists who have discovered the foundational principles of modern science. They described them and explained the details of the principles. But the principles existed before those men and women and continued to exist after they were gone. Those principles and the foundational ones for life were put in place and are maintained by the One who created them – Christ. Note Colossians 1:16, 17 as Paul refers to Christ, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”
There you have it. Jesus created the principles (physical and spiritual) and maintains them. Without Him they would have no power. You can describe them, but without Christ they have no power. And we need His power in our lives by the presence of the Holy Spirit in order to put His spiritual principles to work in our lives.
Can you accept Christ’s teachings without accepting Him? No way! A line from a very old song comes to mind, “you can’t have one without the other.” John explains it clearly in John 1:12, 13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Do you have Christ in your life? If you do, then you have His power within you to apply His teachings. If you don’t, why not come to Him today? He promises, “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).