Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Do You Follow The Rules?

I love my friends. I have a lot of different friends and I love all of them very much. Some of my friends though are a little interesting. One of the problems I have with one of my friends is they are "Christian", but there is a lot they disagree with in the Bible. I on the other hand believe in the infallibility of the entire Word of God. This causes a lot of interesting arguments.

Main stand points of arguing.

Me: The Bible is Infallible, all that it says is true. God's need for justice for the sins we commit does not make him any less loving. God loves us and paid the price for our sins, but we still have to accept Him to receive the gift.

Them: Only what Jesus said is worth reading. Jesus couldn't send anyone to hell because only a hateful spiteful God could send people to hell. If He doesn't want us to go to hell He wont send us. Jesus didn't say what we needed to do, he told us to love one another. 

Well I'm not going to go into the existence of hell, but I found something cool today in red letters about what Jesus expects us to do. Jesus often quoted the Old Testament, and when asked what the greatest commandment He answered 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.' 

Then he said 

'And second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22:37-40

Now the relevance to me in this passage is He first commanded us to love the Lord, and as I eluded to in my last post, those who love the Lord can't help but obey the Lord and His commands.

Today's passage led me again to Matthew. I read Jesus's comment on the Law

Matthew 5:17-20

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus said this himself. Now I know this may pose a lot of questions regarding how Jesus could hold the Law so highly as a way to live, but also teaches that God is all loving and that He doesn't require us to "be good" to enter into heaven, but that we need to believe in him to be saved. The thing is that Jesus said all of this, and its important to know the Law as well as the grace we have. 

Another problem we can have is with the end of this passage. How can we be more righteous then a teacher of the Law? The truth is though that the Gospel requires us to humble ourselves before God in order to receive salvation and it is only by his grace that Jesus's righteousness can be imputed on our account. 


If you have accepted Christ as your real and personal savior you are free from the punishment of your sin, but obedience is an act of worship and if we have any desire to be seen as having done good with our lives in the eyes of the Lord we will obey His commands, both old and new to show Him our love for Him and his precepts. This is not an act of requirement, but an act of love and that is the most important thing to remember.

The second thing I found in this passage actually came from the notes in my McArthur Study Bible. McArthur says in his notes on this passage. "unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. On the one hand, Jesus was calling His disciples to a deeper, more radical holiness than that of the Pharisees. Pharisaism had a tendency to soften the law's demands by focusing only on external obedience. In the verses that follow, Jesus unpacks the full moral significance of the law, and shows that the righteousness of the law calls for actually involves an internal conformity to the spirit of the law, rather than mere external compliance to the letter."

He goes on to explain the second part of 5:20

"will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, this sets up an impossible barrier to works-salvaltion. Scripture teaches repeatedly that sinners are capable of nothing but flawed and imperfect righteousness (e.g., Is. 64:6). Therefore the only righteousness by which sinners may be justified is the perfect righteousness of God that is imputed to those who believe (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:5)"

I think this pretty much sums up my thoughts on that last part of the passage. Jesus was saying that yes we should obey the commandments, but the fact that we cannot fulfill the entire Law perfectly shows us the need for grace in order to enter back into a relationship with the Creator of the universe. 

Dear Lord, Father and Creator,

Thank you for this day. I am blessed to live in this world you have given me and I am blessed to have your Law as a guide to joyful, regret-less living. Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on the Word you share with us. Thank you for your consistency, even among our inconsistent interpretation and understanding. Thank you for your patience and your grace, in Jesus name,




  1. In Mt. 5:21-48 Jesus goes on to show how he fulfills the law (of Moses). McArthur is partly right in that Jesus points to internal anger and lust as included in the sins of murder and adultery (in 5:21-30). But in 5:31-32 Jesus commands no divorce (except for "unchastity"); this fulfillment of the law (of Moses) actually changes the law (which said to give the divorced wife a certificate of divorce). Then 5:33-37 also changes the law: no more swearing oaths. As with divorce, this has to do with external actions, not just internal attitudes. In 5:38-42 Jesus says no more eye for eye (as in the law of Moses); instead, no revenge at all. And 5:43-48 points to the law of love: in Lev. 19:18 the law says to love your neighbor, and defines the neighbor as the sons of your people (fellow Jews); later in Leviticus the law also says to kill their enemies, the Canaanites in the promised land (and thus, to hate their enemies). Jesus says his fulfillment of this law is to love even your enemies. This is another change, a new rule, that has to do with not only one's attitude toward enemies, but also one's actions. The grace behind all of this is Jesus' promise to his disciples to give them the Spirit, who will empower them to do what he says. What Paul later calls the fruit of the Spirit, is the life (actions and attitudes) that fulfills the law (of Christ).

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. It gave me a great opportunity to talk about the subject further with my parents and they had some really good thoughts regarding how I looked at it and how you looked at it. Jesus is the new standard and trying to force myself under the Law is trying to earn grace, or approval under what I can do, not what he can do in me. The internal change that the New Testament teaches takes God's moving through me with the Holy Spirit. Trying to stay under the law, even with grace, is trying to do it in my power. It was a real eye opener. Thank you for the question and for the opportunity to question my thinking.

    Part of my hesitation writing this blog has been being disagreed with, but I think this will be a greater opportunity to challenge how I look at the Word, and get a chance for correction. I hope that my scope is broadened as I continue to read the Word and am challenged by other Christians.

    Thank you for your time and I will definitely be following your blog.