Summary: Jesus will teach us tonight that as his disciples we still must follow the rules, so tonight we want to see how we measure up to God’s standards or rules.
The biggest cop out for spiritual failure and the most common excuse for deliberate sinfulness are these words "I’m not under law but under grace!" and with those seven words we seek to absolve ourselves of any spiritual responsibility we might have for our behavior. And when we are confronted about our actions we get all huffy and tell people to mind their own business. Actually it’s more like “Don’t judge me, you know what the bible says about judging.”
So is that reality? Does grace give us an eternal get out of jail free card? Does grace really trump the law? Somehow we have gotten the notion that Jesus stamped the Old Testament with big red letters that say “Null and Void”. We have drawn the faulty conclusion that the old testament no longer matters, that it really doesn’t apply to us, it just a collection of historical books. Well except for maybe the 10 Commandments and most people are now working on an abbreviated version of them, they’ve kind of narrowed it down to “thou shalt not kill.” Jesus will teach us tonight that as his disciples we still must follow the rules, so tonight we want to see how we measure up to God’s standards or rules.
Read Scriptures: Matthew 5:17-20
I. I must first realize that the rules still apply to me today.
Vs. 17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or 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.”
Before we get to involved with this point, we need to get an understanding of what the rules are. When the bible speaks of “the Law”, it is used to cover a very broad subject. “The Law” speaks of “the ten commandments”, it refers to the first five books of the bible or the Pentateuch, which means five scrolls, it refers to the law and the prophets, which is the all the old testament, it also refers to the oral law or scribal law.
To give you a little history lesson, when the Jews went into captivity in Babylon then were away from the temple, they did not have the temple priesthood, so they developed what they now have in synagogue worship, in synagogue worship scribes who are simply copiers of the bible, would begin to give opinions on what the scripture meant, and they began to write a pass judgment on biblical issues, and this is where the oral or scribal law came from.
Every place in scripture where the law is condemned this is the law that is being condemned it is the oral or scribal law, not the ten commandments or the old testament, or the prophets. They were simply man made laws added to God’s laws or rules.
So when Jesus says that “he came not to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill” what He is saying that God’s law still applies to us. He didn’t abolish it. We are saved by grace through faith, but we are not exempt from following the rules while living this life. So the first thing we need to learn tonight is that as a follower of Christ I am still obligated to follow God’s law.
II. I must realize that I will have to give an account for breaking the rules.
Vs. 19 “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.”
I cannot be salt and light in the world, until I know how to be salt and light in the world, and how can I know how to be salt and light in the world? By following God’s law.
God’s law tells me how to be good, therefore I know what not being good is also.
We must understand as believers that we will have to give an account before Christ with what we have done in the body whether good or bad.
Listen carefully, we will not be judged by our following the law to see if we enter heaven, in fact Jesus will address that issue in the next verse, however we will be judged by God’s standard according to how we lived as believers.
That is why Jesus said in this verse, “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.”, if I break a commandment willfully without repenting and I teach others to do the same I will have to give an account, I will be called least in the kingdom.