The Dead End of the Law
October 17, 2021
Foundational Principles for Godly Success | Part 3
The Dead End of the Law
Myth #1: I am a New Testament believer, therefore I do not need the Law.
Myth #2: As long as I keep the rules of the Bible, I am a good Christian in good standing with God.
Myth #3: The Sermon on the Mount is a new code of ethics to replace the Law of Moses.
- It’s important to see that Christ validates the Old Testament and the Laws contained there (Matt. 5:17)
- Jesus makes it clear that the Law is not destroyed or done away with but continues to support His principles, and makes a very important statement that will set the pretext for the remainder of the chapter:
“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20)
- Your righteousness must not stop at the Law. It recognizes the spirit behind the Law and that the Law is a means to the end, not the end itself.
- Our Lord does not correct the teachings of Moses (for it was His teachings also), He is correcting the perversion of the religious leaders’ interpretation.
There are six principles that Christ corrects in contrast the Religious Leaders’ teachings:
Principle #1: Religious deeds do not cover up moral failure (Matt. 5:21-24)
- Christ is making the point that the heart toward a brother is just as guilty as the heart of a murderer.
- A Law follower says, “I haven’t killed anybody,” so I’m OK. A Christ follower says, “Father forgive me for my unkind thoughts toward my wife and brother…”
- Religious deeds with a hating heart is nothing but a ceremonial exercise.
Principle #2: Sin goes deeper that deed alone and must be mortified (Matt. 5:27-30)
- The Scribes and Pharisees missed the point of the Law, reducing it to particular matter or command. The Law, if read properly, always stressed the heart. By dividing the Law into a series of lists to obey, they nullified it and missed the message.
- Murder and adultery are just really harmful and ugly symptoms of the disease of sin.
- We cannot be smug and satisfied with ourselves because we have restrained ourselves from certain activities, but have never examined our heart.
- Sin is subtle, pervasive, and deadly. So Christ offers a solution: mortify your flesh.
“…Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Rom. 13:14)
Principle #3: Restraint on evil is not a license for lust (Matt. 5:31-32)
- Christ re-emphasizes His intention for marriage: one man, one woman, for life (Matt. 19:3-19).
- Divorce is never commanded in Scripture. Through all the difficult marriage situations of the Old Testament, there is not one divorce.
- Too often we confuse what I can do, with what I should do.
Principle #4: Your words carry great worth, speak the truth, and use your oaths sparingly (Matt. 5:33-37)
- What the Scribes and Pharisees were essentially teaching was: don’t commit perjury and keep your oaths to the Lord – but this eliminated the regular every day conversation between each other which often contained untruths.
“…Speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15)
Principle #5: Surrender your rights to your duty (Matt. 5:38-42)
1.) Instead of fighting back, Christ commanded to “turn the other cheek.”
2.) Instead of concern for personal property, Christ commanded to “give also your cloke.”
3.) Instead of objection toward authority, Christ commanded to “go the second mile.”
- Christ is not asking you to allow someone to hurt or take advantage of you.
- Our Lord is concerned here with the tendency to insist upon our rights
Principle #6: Take active measures to love those who do you wrong (Matt. 5:43-47)
- This last principle looks at the positive of the Lord’s teachings – not just what the Law says not to do; but what does Christ ask us to do, positively.
- The Scribes and Pharisees had taken judgmental passages that were a result of people’s decisions to not follow God and had interpreted it as: “Love fellow Jews (neighbors) and hate anyone else.”
- True, Gospel love is doing acts of love (blessing, doing good, praying for) those who hate you (v. 44).
Love: the spirit of the Law
If I loved, I would not murder or think hatefully about someone else…
If I loved, I would not lust after someone else…
If I loved, I would not divorce or break a relationship, but seek reconciliation…
If I loved, I would tell others the truth…
If I loved, I would not be concerned about my rights, but the welfare of someone else…
If I loved, I would not hate my enemies, but actively love them…
It is this spirit of love that marks a Christian (v. 48).