Christ & the Law Part 4 – The purpose of God’s law Mathew 5:17 - 20
I – INTRODUCTION A fitting parallel passage to this verse is found in Luke 18: “ And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." – Luke 18: 9 to 14
A.) Historical Context – The Jews of Jesus time wanted to know the standard of righteousness needed to enter into the Kingdom of God. Introduced as the King or the coming Messiah, the Jews of Jesus day wanted to know what his stand was on the law of God since the law of God is seen to be the standard and Jesus seems to be teaching a perverse view of the Old Testament as unlike the religious leaders of the day, he was focusing on the internal. Jesus clarifies his position in verses 17 to 20 and in verse 20 he gives the standard of righteousness needed to enter God’s Kingdom. He clarifies the purpose of the law. B.) Contextual Context – After being introduced as the King by Mathew, the King gives the laws or manifesto of his Kingdom, known collectively as the Sermon on the mount in Mathew Chapter 5 to 7. - In verses 1 to 12 He gives the CHARACTER of Kingdom Citizens - Verses 13 to 16 talks about the FUNCTION of Kingdom Citizens - Verses 17 to 20 discusses the BASIS OF CONDUCT of Kingdom Citizens which is the law of God
Jesus clarifies his position on The LAWS OF GOD being the basis of conduct of Kingdom citizens. He clarifies his commitment to the Laws of God as written in the Old Testament. In the next few verses Jesus makes the following points about God’s laws: 1.) That the law of God is SUPREME & IMPORTANT (vs. 17) because its: a.) Given by God b.) Affirmed by the prophets c.) Accomplished by Christ 2.) That the law of God is PERMANENT (vs. 18) 3.) That the law of God is BINDING (vs. 19) because of its: a.) Character b.) Consequence c.) Clarification
The SUPREMACY, PERMANCE and BINDING EFFECT of Scripture lead finally, in verse 20, to it’s purpose. Why did God give the Scripture? Why does He give us all of these standards? What is the purpose? Jesus answers this in Verse 20 gives it to us by not saying it, but by implying it. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.“ The purpose of God's law was to show you that you had to have more righteousness than you could come up with on your own; that's the point of it, the purpose. ( Galatians 3:24 ) The law was to show us that we couldn't do it on our own, that even the best - the scribes and the Pharisees, with all of their religiosity, trappings, ceremony, and ritual - could not gain the righteousness required to enter the Kingdom. The law wasn't to tell us how good we are, but to show us how rotten we are. This is really the theme of His whole sermon in Matthew 5-7, it's true righteousness. The Old Testament is the source of true righteousness. The Old Testament gives the absolute standard. Since the beginning of the sermon on the mount, Jesus slams the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and how their external righteousness does not make them fit for the Kingdom.
<ul><li>1.) Who were the Scribes and Pharisees ? </li></ul><ul><li>Scribes – Scribes, grammateon , from which we get the word 'grammar, grammatical,' were simply those who dealt with the letter of the law, the interpretation of the law, the recording of the law. They wrote down the law, studied the law, were authorities on the law, scholars of the law. The “Scribe” is a public office. </li></ul><ul><li>Pharisees - A theologically conservative sect who believed that the way of life or the way to the Kingdom of God is by obeying strictly the Old Testament laws and the traditions. They were the separatists, the super-duper fundamental legalists of their day.Other sects are that of the Sadducees (The theological liberals), the Essenes (The Issolationist) and the Zealots (The political radicals) </li></ul><ul><li>The Pharisees developed a codification of rules that they themselves could at least attempt to keep, did the best they could with that, and convinced themselves that God didn't have anyone better than them in the world; so if anyone would be in Heaven, it would be them. In fact, the Jews used to have a saying , "If only two people go to Heaven, one will be a scribe, and the other will be a Pharisee." </li></ul><ul><li>But Jesus said even the Pharisees and the Scribes can’t make it. (Verse 20 is the ultimate shocker for both the average person, the Scribes and the Pharisees) </li></ul>
<ul><li>2.) What is the nature of their righteousness ? </li></ul><ul><li>a.) Their righteousness was external – They were depending upon the external, the system of human achievement, "Look what I've done! I don't do that, I do this, I fast twice a week, give tithes of all I possess," and so forth. "We're holy on the outside; we've developed a whole system.“ Our Lord Jesus Christ strikes at their dependence on the external in verses 21 to 48. (Mathew 23, Luke 16:15) </li></ul><ul><li>b.) Their righteousness was partial – (Mathew 23:23, 24) They were really big on the little things, the external things, and ignored justice, mercy and faith. It was partial; they only accommodated themselves to what they could handle, nothing more. It was a ritual religion, made to fit their capability. They had their own little traditions. In fact, they substituted them for the law of God. By keeping the traditions that they themselves had invented, they decided they were serving God. (Mark 7:7) </li></ul><ul><li>c.) Their righteousness was redefined - They made up their own rules, and what they wound up doing was redefining everything. "Yes, that's what God said, but what He meant was this," and so they gave it a new meaning. Just redefining it in terms of their own comprehension, taking an internal thing and making it external. They redefined it and made it a system they could maintain. </li></ul><ul><li>d.) Their righteousness was self centered - They gained their own righteousness by themselves; they did it on their own. They manifested a lack of dissatisfaction, they weren't dissatisfied, and true holiness always comes out of dissatisfaction. </li></ul>
3.) What is the nature of righteousness that Christ requires? Christ requires absolute holiness, absolute perfection, internal and external righteousness. (Mathew 5:48) 4.) How can we attain such righteousness ? Galatians 2:16 – “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.“ Romans 3:21, 22 - But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 1 Corinithans 1:30 - But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: The story of an ex-Pharisee - Philippians 3:4 to 10