Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week he covers Matthew 5:17-30 in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” In this section, Jesus is focusing on how the Law will not pass away and He works to fine-tune His disciples understanding of it and calls them to a higher level of accountability and righteousness than that practiced by the Pharisees and experts in the Law.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. ~ Luke 12:48b
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. ~ James 3:1
This week, we are going to see Jesus kind of “Fine-Tuning the Law.”
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place. ~ Matthew 5:17-18
So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:19
For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
~ Matthew 5:20
WHAT IS “THE LAW” JESUS IS TALKING ABOUT HERE?
“The Law” in this context, refers specifically to the collection of commands found in the first five books of the Bible.
Also known as the Mosaic Law.
LEGALISM vs LAW ABIDING
Legalism is essentially trusting in your own keeping of the Law to make you feel worthy of God’s love.
Law-abiding is an act of respect for your Heavenly Father’s rules.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? ~ Romans 6:1-2
For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! ~ Romans 6:14-15
Paul says we are not “under the law” and yet, in the same breath, he also says we should NOT BREAK the Law. In other words, if the law says something is a sin, then it NEVER STOPS being a sin. So we should try to not sin. As God’s new creation we should actually WANT to obey His law – not as legalism, not because it will EARN anything for us, not to avoid punishment. That’s a dead-end journey. We can’t ever live a “good enough” life to be saved. We are always saved by Jesus’ grace alone. We should want to obey the law because it is the right thing to do. Because we respect and love the lawgiver, God. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that the Law is still in effect and that our righteousness needs to surpass that of the Pharisees if we want to enter the Kingdom of God.
You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder’ and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. ~ Matthew 5:21-22
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. ~ Matthew 5:21-26
When you insist on going to war with someone there will be a winner and there will be a loser.
Jesus says, you might end up the loser in that situation.
Or, you might make someone you actually care about a loser.
You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28
So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:19-20
It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell. ~ Matthew 5:29-30
“… ALL have sinned. ALL fall short of the glory of God” ~ Romans 3:23
1) Jesus wants us to know that the Law of God is still the Law of God. It has not changed. Not the slightest stroke of a pen has disappeared from it. He didn’t come to replace the Law – He came to fulfill it – and more clearly interpret it to us.
2) Jesus wants us to count the cost of our sin.
Sin, all sin, Jesus says, is an attack on God. Sin, all sin pulls us away from God. Sin, all sin harms someone else. Sin, all sin harms us. It is not innocuous. It is not acceptable to purposefully hold on to mini sins and if you sin enough, you will find yourself drifting further and further away from God. It is possible, Jesus is saying, and the author of Hebrews elaborates on this as well, if you willingly keep on sinning enough, you may reach a point where you commit the unpardonable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. You may reach a point where you reject and eject the Holy Spirit from your life and miss out on the Kingdom of Heaven. You may end up spending eternity in hell, an eternal state of existence that is completely separated from God. So, here, speaking to the committed and not the crowd, Jesus wants us to realize, sin, all sin, not just the sins we think of as the big ones, all sin, is a slippery slope. Jesus wants us to take sin as seriously as He does.
Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, Yahweh your God, am holy. ~ Leviticus 19:2