Summary: When it comes to the law, I am not merely an in-law (one whose relationship with God is based on a set of rules and regulations) or an outlaw (one who wants to live outside the law). I need a lawyer!
Matthew 5 - Part 11 - I think I need a lawyer?
I once went to court on behalf of young mother with an intellectual disability. She was a difficult person and the Department of Children’s Services had decided, in their wisdom, to apply the letter of the law and take away her child. It was my task to speak on her behalf and make a case for her, not on the basis of the letter of the law but on the spirit of the law, and convince the judge that a mother needs to keep her baby, intellectual disability or not, difficult person or not. We won! It did me a lot of good to fight against legalistic minded people who didn’t even know my client and actually win.
But the law is there, cold, hard, and objective. That’s why we find it difficult to obey. We have some bikies in the Whitsundays called "the Outlaws", and the name implies that they live outside the law.
What about you? Are you an "in-law" (someone who has a relationship with God based on the law alone) or an "outlaw" (someone who admits their relationship with God is broken because their behaviour is way out of line when it comes to the law)? We are all outlaws when it comes to the 10 commandments. They really seem so cold and hard and negative. Good principles but impossible to keep. Whenever we come across anything in the Bible to do with the law we say things like,
"the law was merely a shadow of things to come. Once Christ came, then we have no longer any need for the law" and "We now have the Law of the Spirit, rather than the letter of the law" and our favourite, "The law is only there to show we are sinners in need of a Saviour." We all want to be outlaws (and live apart from the legal requirements)! And all of that is right of course, but why is it that Jesus doesn’t seem to agree with us and seems to be upgrading the law rather than dismissing it. He’s not forming the first branch of the Bikie gang called the "OUTLAWS"! He doesn’t want us to live outside the law! He didn’t! Listen to what He says in Matthew 5:17-20,
"Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose."
"I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved."
"So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."
"But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!"
Now, I don’t know about you, but Jesus doesn’t seem to know that the law doesn’t apply to us anymore! Or is it me that needs to change my views to conform to His? The latter of course. So what does He mean? He’s our advocate from the very beginning of His ministry. He seems to be saying that He is our Lawyer (one who knows, interprets and applies the law). There’s nothing illegal about what Jesus was proposing concerning His interpretation of the law. Afterall, He wrote it in the firstplace.
When Jesus says He came to fulfil the law, not to destroy it, He is referring to various sets of writings - the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial and social laws, the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) and the law and the prophets, which is essentially the whole of the Old Testament.
Jesus only read the Old Testament remember, and He made it clear that He wasn’t trying to get rid of them in any way. He said He came to fulfil them - to live it out, and He came to reveal the fullest and truest and most complete meaning of the Old Testament law.
So that’s why John says in John 1:14 - "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth"
Now the exciting thing about this...(yes there is something exciting about it) is that Jesus actually lived out the law as it was meant to be lived out. Now don’t let me lose you now. This is important. The Law is no longer just a set of legal requirements but a living person that embodies God’s Word. Get your head around that!