Summary: Lesson 12
The use of the terms "the law" and "the prophets" indicates that what the Lord is speaking of in these verses is the whole of the Old Testament. In Luke 24:44 Jesus said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." The "law of Moses", "the prophets", and "the psalms" speak of the entirety of the Old Testament.
Many are confused today about the Christian’s relationship to the Old Testament. Many view it as outdated, irrelevant, and of absolutely no value to the New Testament Christian. However, the words of Paul speak differently (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9-10, 10:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, Christ tells us that Everything is to be Heeded, Nothing is to be Mistreated, and Something is to be Exceeded.
I. EVERYTHING IS TO BE HEEDED vs. 17-18
A. The Old Testament is Approved
1. In these verses the Lord puts His seal of approval upon the whole of the Old Testament.
2. All one has to do is read the four gospels and take note of the Lord’s frequent quotation of Old Testament verses, and they will quickly discover that Jesus believed in and approved the Old Testament.
B. The Old Testament is Absolute
1. God’s Word, as written in the Old Testament, is not to be modified or changed to the slightest extent.
2. From the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet (the "jot") to the smallest Hebrew marking (the "tittle"), the Word of God in the Old Testament is to be considered absolute and eternal.
C. The Old Testament is Authoritative
1. Jesus recognized the authority of the Old Testament writings and it was not His plan to destroy or modify them in any way. His purpose rather was to fulfil and to carry them out, and to give them perfect obedience.
2. To question the authority of the Old Testament is to question the authority of Jesus Himself, which will bring about endless trouble and difficulty.
II. NOTHING IS TO BE MISTREATED v. 19
It is imperative that we preach and practice the entire Word of God, including the Old Testament (Psalm 119:6, 128). Even matters that may seem insignificant are of great importance.
A. The Danger of Disobeying
1. It is a dangerous thing to willfully and knowingly transgress the Word of God (James 4:17).
2. It is equally as dangerous to lead others in the same transgression (Peter 2:1-3).
B. The Delight of Obeying
1. There is great delight, not only in doing right ourselves, but in helping others do right as well.
2. There is a certain "greatness" pronounced upon those who follow righteousness and who encourage others to do the same.
III. SOMETHING IS TO BE EXCEEDED v. 20
The scribes and the Pharisees had wise heads in that they were some of the most intellectual men in all Israel. They had willing hands. They would go to any length in order to make a convert and would do whatever it took to insure that they did not miss a ceremony. But in spite of their wise heads and willing hands, they had wicked hearts.
The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was often condemned by the Lord (Matthew 23). Jesus tells us here that to be found in favor with the heavenly Father, our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees in terms of:
2. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was merely an external righteousness. It was a righteousness based upon works which they did.
3. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was as "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God.
4. The scribes and Pharisees were sure to abstain from such sins as adultery, theft, murder, and idolatry, but they gave no thought to sins such as covetousness, hatred, or impure thoughts.
5. Their so-called righteousness was a righteousness based upon works. The Bible is very clear in its position concerning the means by which we are made righteous (Romans 4:5; Galatians 2:16; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).
6. Unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, unless our righteousness is by faith in Christ, we have no hope of eternal life.
2. True righteousness, that which is acceptable to God, is that which leads us observe all that is written in the Scriptures.
3. A righteousness that picks and chooses which laws to obey and which ones to ignore is not the righteousness that is of Christ.
2. The motivation behind the so-called righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was self- glorification.
3. Righteousness obtained by faith in Christ is one that leads to a humble spirit. The only objective of the truly righteous person is to glorify the Father and exalt the Son.