New Testament Journey – Day 13 – Matthew 5:17-20 – “Jesus Teaches About the Law”
Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, he was saying that his listeners needed a different kind of righteousness altogether (out of LOVE for God), not just a more intense version of the Pharisees’ obedience (which was mere legal compliance.) It was the difference between relationship and religion and there’s a huge difference in your heart and actions when you aim to live an acceptable life because you want to. Because you love Jesus so much for what he did for YOU that you never want to take that sacrifice for granted or make it appear in vain. When you think of where he brought you from, and where you could be headed, you WANT to do his will. You want to be obedient. That’s a much different place than those who simply see Christianity as a list of rules of do’s and don’ts. If you are walking in religion instead of relationship, it will be easier to stumble and fall, feeling like you will never be good enough. You won’t truly understand the gift of grace and mercy. Grace and mercy is NOT a free pass to sin.
At the time Jesus was speaking, there were 3 types of laws; Ceremonial law related specifically to Israel’s worship. It primary purpose was to point people toward Jesus. These laws, therefore, were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial law, the principles behind them – to worship and love a holy God – still apply.
There was also civil law that applied to daily living in Israel. While our cultures are now very drastically different, the principles behind them are timeless and should guide our conduct.
The moral law (such as the Ten Commandments) is the direct command of God, and it requires strict obedience. The moral law reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies today. Jesus obeyed the moral law completely.
Without studying the word and without an understanding of the laws that were in place (over 700) that the Pharisees poured over daily, interpreting, re-interpreting.. people have taken this verse out of context often using it as a “waterfall of grace” to live as they want stating the Old Testament ideals no longer apply. This is false. God is still a holy God. He still calls us to strive to live a life of righteousness that is holy and pleasing to him. BUT we are all human. We will still stumble from time to time – even with the best intentions – and that’s when we repent and God’s grace and mercy will cover those sins.
Our righteousness must come from What God does in us, not what we can do by ourselves. It must be God-centered, not self- centered. And it must be based on reverence for God, not approval from people. We should be just as concerned about our attitudes that people don’t see, as about our actions seen by all. God knows our hearts. He knows if we are walking the walk or merely talking the talk.
This morning ask God to search your heart – to reveal anything in you that may need to be removed that doesn’t please him.
Be blessed friends – until tomorrow….
**Some notes taken from the Life Application Study Bible