Christ and the Law. Sermon in Spearfish 9-20-20
Christ and the Law.
Good morning Connection Church. I am so happy to be here today and to be able to be able to open the Word of God together. I am especially happy I did not have to prepare this sermon at 7 a.m. this morning! However, in all seriousness, It is a beautiful thing to gather with the Church on the Lord’s Day. It is an even more beautiful thing to be able to partake of the Lord’s Supper together. This is an ordinance that I find to be not just necessary, but helpful and beautiful!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jonathan Hansen. I am the planter and Pastor of Connection Church in Lead, SD. My wife Katharine and I are in the process of moving to Lead, and should be closing on a house on October ninth. We are so excited to be living in the community we are planting in. So far we have been meeting Monday nights and Thursday mornings for connect groups, and we are hoping to begin meeting for Sunday services in November sometime. If you or anyone you know lives in Lead or the surrounding area, please feel free to connect me with them. I would love to reach out to anyone I can.
When Jon asked me to preach for him, since he would be in Belle filling in for Stephan, I do as all pastors do when asked to preach elsewhere. I began to pray and seek God on what I should preach. In our small group we are walking verse by verse through Matthew. This is what I prefer to do. I believe preaching is supposed to be an expository journey through scripture, not man’s thoughts or opinions, though we do discuss our thoughts in light of the text. I do not enjoy having to pick out a topic, or a random text. I prefer to let the scriptures speak. But as I am just filling in this week, I do not have the ability, nor the time to exposit a book of the Bible.
But as I was praying, asking God to show me where to go, we were going through Matthew 5:17-30 in our Monday night study. This text is about Christ and the Law. I believe this is what the Lord has given me to preach on. Especially since Jon just finished taking us through the book of Galatians and the book of James as a church, and our next plan is to begin in the book of Exodus.
I believe my heart was drawn here because many people wonder, “what is the value of the Old Testament to us today?” Or “Didn’t Jesus do away with the Law?” Or there are some who teach that the Old Testament is gone. So how does Christ and the gospel relate to the Law? Let us find out.
Because we view the authority of Scripture as the final word in what we believe, let us open the Word of God and read it together.
Open with me to Matthew 5:17-30. If you don’t have a Bible, there are Bibles in the baskets under your seat or the seat in front of you, but I would highly encourage you to follow along.
So far Jesus has come on the scene, and Matthew has shown us that Jesus is the true King. The fulfillment of God’s sovereign prophesies about the King who will reign forever. We have seen Jesus succeed in temptation where we all so desperately fail. And Jesus has just begun His sermon on the mount. He walked through the Beatitudes and is now discussing the Law and Prophets.
Let’s Read together.
' “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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. 'Matthew 5:17-30
Let’s Pray. Lord, I ask that you would open hearts to hear your word. Lord, I pray you would not let today be about my thoughts or opinions, but would be about you and your word. I pray that as we study scripture together, that you would give me the words to say, and that you would open up hearts to respond to the gospel as only you can. If I were to say anything against you or your word, please shut my mouth. Mute me Lord, but do not let me lead your sheep astray. Lord, let us see the truth, and let us reject the lies that are so often taught in these days. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.
Explanation: V. 17-18
Jesus opens this text by saying, “Do not think…” This is a call to attention. The people He is speaking to are to pay careful heed to what Jesus is saying. Im the same way I would call you to pay carful attention to these words. We must hear what Jesus is saying. We must not misunderstand or misuse what Jesus is saying. Let us give the most careful attention we have to what Jesus is saying here.
“Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;” Jesus is here stating what He did not come to do. He did not come to abolish them. He then restates this. “I did not come to abolish them…” Jesus is telling His audience and by extension us that we cannot think He has come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. The phrase the Law and the Prophets is how the Jewish people at the time referred to their Bible. We now call it the Old Testament. But what does that word abolish mean? The word in Greek literally means to break up, overthrow, destroy, unyoke or unhitch from. Jesus is here saying that He did not come to overthrow or destroy or unhitch from the Old Testament.
Instead, Jesus says He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. That word fulfill literally means to bring to fulness, to fill up, to bring to the full.
Jesus then moves on to saying, “I say to you…” a statement backed by His own divine authority, “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.”
An iota or dot in Hebrew are the smallest differences between letters. Literally one dot, or a the smallest difference between two letters. None of it will pass away until the end of all things. Jesus is not being confusing or unclear at all.
Jesus is being Hyper clear that He is not doing away with, unhitching, or destroying anything in the Old Testament. He is here to bring is to it’s full, to fulfill it.
Illustration: V. 19-20
Jesus then illustrates this point by giving the example of those who teach the Law.
Jesus’ first illustration says that “whoever relaxes one if the least if these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven…”
Jesus’ second illustration says that “whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus then makes the statement that would have shocked the audience listening. He said, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We need a righteousness beyond those whose job and pride it was to be righteousness. This would have left the audience with a resounding “How?!”
These are very bold statements. Jesus is saying that our status within the kingdom is linked directly to how we handle to Law and Prophets!
Argumentation: V. 17-20
Jesus took the Old Testament very seriously and He is calling us to take the Old Testament very seriously. He even links our status in the kingdom with how we handle the Law. No one could read this, genuinely read it and get the idea that Jesus is doing away with the Law or the Old Testament.
Yet we live in a time when many are trying to abandon the Old Testament. Many use phrases like “we must unhitch from the Old Testament, or the Law.” We must see first off that Jesus did not do this, and openly in this passage, He condemns those who would do this! According to Jesus’ own words, if we even relax a command, we will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. These aren’t my words, they are Jesus’.
You see we must vehemently reject the idea that we do away with, reject, or unhitch from the Old Testament. Jesus did not reject the Law. He came to fulfill it. So we must see the Law and Prophets as being filled up. Brought to their fullness. The purpose they were given for has now been made clear.
Jesus shows us this purpose as well as showing how the current teachers were misusing the Law in these next verses.
Explanation: V. 21-26
Jesus starts by explaining the difference between what was being taught and what the true intent of the Law is. Look with me at verses 21-22. Verse 21 is what was being taught, “You have heard it was said of old, you shall not murder; and whoever murders will be label to judgement.” This is not a false teaching directly. Murder is wrong and is deserving of death and punishment. However, this is not the heart of the Law. Many in this day were teaching that it was only the action that was wrong. You could think whatever you wanted, you could hate whoever you wanted, so long as you did not physically harm them, you were innocent. Jesus addresses this in verse 22.
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Jesus flips the idea the scribes and Pharisees were teaching on its head. Jesus is here saying that it is not just the action that makes you guilty and punishable, but the heart.
The question then becomes “who then can be innocent? Are not all guilty?
Illustration: V. 23-24
Jesus then illustrates the importance or reconciling with your brother with two illustrations. He first says “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” This is so vital because it shows that our unreconciled relationship with our brother is not a meaningless affair. It is so vital, it disrupts our relationship with God. We must do all we can to reconcile with others.
Notice that this example does not even indicate who is in the wrong. Even if they are wrong, reconcile with them! Leave your gift, and make it right. Swallow your pride and go reconcile with the person who has issue with you. This is a vital thing. It is of supreme importance.
Illustration: V. 25-26
Jesus then uses a second illustration. He says “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
In the last example, you could make the excuse that you weren’t guilty in the offense. Jesus did not accept that as a valid excuse. But in this example, it is clear, you are guilty! We must do all we can to reconcile with our brother. Swallow your pride and make it right. If we do not, we will receive the just punishment for our guilt.
Argumentation: V. 27-28
Jesus has contrasted what the Law is truly teaching with the false teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees. Th hypocrites were teaching that if you kept the Law only in the most extreme case you were innocent. In essence, “you’ve never taken a life, your innocent of the command to murder.” Jesus rejects this idea completely. It is not just the action that is wrong, but the heart.
Jesus teaches that if you even in the slightest sense violate this, you are guilty; and by His own words, deserving of hell.
The hypocrites only prioritized what man could quantify. Jesus prioritizes the holiness of God. How we treat God’s law shows how we view God. How we interact with others shows how we view God. Do we offer vain offerings, knowing that someone has a grievance with us? Or that we have a grievance with them? How we treat others is of utmost importance.
If being angry with our brother is deserving of hell, then all deserve hell. No one is innocent!
We seriously underestimate God’s holiness and our depravity.
Explanation: V. 27-28
As if this were not enough, Jesus moves on to address adultery. Adultery is another sin people so often think themselves innocent in. “I’ve never cheated on my wife. I’m righteous!” That’s not what Jesus says.
Again Jesus points out the difference between what was being taught and what the true intent of the Law was. It was being taught that as long as you did not commit the act of adultery, you were innocent. What you thought or desired was irrelevant. It was only your actions that made you innocent or guilty.
Jesus reject this and says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Just like with murder, Jesus equates sin with the desire and intent, not just the action.
This is vital, we cannot miss this. Your heart is sinful! A wrongful look is enough to damn us to hell, so who then is innocent?
Illustration: V. 29-30
Jesus then illustrates His point by explaining the serious nature of sin. In verse 29-30 He gives the hyperbolic example of cutting off our hands or gouging out our eyes in order to avoid sin. Please don’t go from here and mar yourself because of this. Jesus is not being literal in telling us to destroy our bodies in order to keep from sin. He is telling us that we must be radical in surgically removing anything that causes us to sin.
But lets be honest here; if we were to remove eyes and hands in order to keep from sinning, who here would not come back blind and without hands? This is the point. Our sin is so deeply rooted that we couldn’t cut enough body parts off to keep from sinning. This is because sin is in our heart! And in honesty, we do not naturally hate sin. We love it. It is disgustingly enjoyable for us. We want to sin. We don’t naturally want to remove sin, let alone body parts that lead us to sin.
Argumentation: v. 27-30
And this is the point. We are supposed to see the seriousness of our sin. We are to hear these things and see how utterly we fail to measure up to God’s standard. We are to hear these things and be in awe of how holy God is. He is so holy that even sinful thoughts are an utter attack on His holiness and deserving of utmost punishment.
We in the modern church have no concept of this. We don’t! We have no idea who God is, let alone how holy He is! We have the honest tendency to think church is here for us. What a horrifyingly heretical lie! The church exists to glorify God! We have no concept of the holiness of God. We have no idea of the depth of our sin. We in the modern church tend to treat sin as something to be addressed only if it affects others. Don’t we? We don’t say that wrong is wrong anymore. We don’t call evil what it is. Evil!
We don’t hate sin! This is disturbing. We have to see the seriousness of sin, and yet in general, we won’t even talk about sin. We are so obsessed with not offending people, but sin destroys lives and fellowship with God. Not even to mention that sin is deserving of eternal hell, and short of being saved by grace that is what we all deserve. Even secret sin is vile before our holy God. No one is innocent. No one. We all deserve hell.
Conclusion of Matthew 5:17-30
And this is the point of the Law. The law is God’s holy standard and we all fall short of it. The Law’s purpose is to convict of sin. In essence, the Law is the monument of our sin. It shows us how depraved we are.
We are to hear the law and know two things. 1. God is holy beyond our understanding. 2. We are completely sinful and hopeless. We are to feel the crushing weight of standing before God.
You see, we are not mostly good going to be judged by our decent nature. No, we are completely evil and wretched, going to be judged by our sin. And we are hopeless to keep God’s Law. That is the point. It is also a very unpopular statement within the American church today. The current American gospel is “Man is mostly good, God loves you so much, He is so impressed by you, look at how wonderful you are…”
It makes me sick. We present the gospel as if you are doing God a favor by being saved. What a disturbing idea. If you are presenting this gospel, you are presenting a false gospel that has no power to save. If you are believing this, you are trusting in a false gospel that has no power to save. You are not doing God a favor by being saved. A gospel that does not address sin is a false gospel and a lie.
If you don’t believe me, look with me at Romans 3:9-24 where Paul addresses how we relate to the Law.
In the previous chapters Paul has addressed how everyone ultimately knows God exists, and how God’s Law is known to all. Everyone knows right from wrong. God has made it clear to them. Now Paul is addressing how everyone has broken God’s Law and are ultimately guilty and hopeless without divine intervention.
Look with me at chapter 3:9-20
'What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Explanation: V. 9-20
Does this sound familiar? It should. Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in his argument and quoting from the Psalms is saying:
no one is righteous. We are all enemies of God. We are all turned against Him.
The Law is to convict us of our sin. We are to see how evil we are.
Illustration: V. 9-20
The Law is to function like one of those lighted mirrors women use to put makeup on with. You know,. the ones that magnify your face and make all your blemishes and imperfections so visible.
Except the law doesn’t just amplify a few imperfections, it shows us the full weight of our depravity. It shows us the glory of the holiness of God. And it shows us how incapable we are of keeping the statutes of God’s perfect Law.
Argumentation: V. 9-20
Now we must chose what to do with this mirror. We can either accept it, or we can reject it. The mirror shows us the truth of our nature. But we can deny the truth and live in a lie.
This is what many within our current state of christianity do. They try to throw the mirror away. They attempt to shatter it. But they are incapable of doing so. So they try to reject the mirror. They say that the mirror is false. They try to claim that God has changed. But God cannot change. He is all good. The all good God cannot become more good, for Him to change would be to become better or worse. If God becomes better, then He was not God. If God becomes worse, He is not God. By rejecting the mirror, they simply prove the mirror correct. They show their wickedness on full display.
We must reject these ideas outright. As Jesus says, we must call any who teach that the Law or the Old Testament are gone, the least in the kingdom. We must do this because this is a direct attack on the gospel. They are waging war on the gospel itself.
By trying to abolish the Law or the Prophets, they are in direct contradiction to what Jesus came to do! He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. By attempting to abolish the Law or the Prophets, they are trying to do away with the very foundation of the gospel itself. We must see that we are incapable of saving ourselves. We must be convicted of our sin. We must see that we are sinners in need of saving.
Jesus did not come to give us happy, care free lives. He came to rescue hell bound sinners like you and I from our sin and the consequences of sin.
Our only hope is in grace!
Explanation: V. 21-24
Look with me at verses 21-24 in Romans 3.
'But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, '
What Great news! Paul is explaining that grace is our only hope! The law shows us our sin and need for a savior. Jesus is that savior. He is our only hope! We cannot be good enough to earn it. This is why salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! We are made right before God in this way only!
Argumentation: V. 21-24
This is why we do not do away with the Law. This is why we do not unhitch from the Old Testament. Removing the Law or the Prophets removes our need for Christ. The Law shows us how evil we are. Christ saves us from how evil we are!
Honestly, if I could describe my emotions in a word toward the current trend within Christianity to remove the Law or the Old Testament from the gospel, it would be hatred. I hate this movement. I hate the effort being put in to make the gospel un-offensive to sinners. Please hear me very carefully on this. I do not hate this movement because I hate people. I hate this movement because I LOVE people! The gospel is supposed to offend people who think they are mostly good. The message of the gospel is not that people are mostly good and God simply wants to be friends with you and sing around the campfire as we all laugh and eat s’mores. The gospel is that you and are evil and offensive to God, but in His love, He has saved us from burning forever in the campfire!
The message of the cross is the greatest statement on our sins. The cross is the universal statement that your sins are so heinous that Jesus had to die for them to be paid for.
This is why the reformers drafted and held so strongly to the five solas of the reformation. They were willing to die for these doctrines. Salvation is:
By Grace Alone. Sola Gratia
Through Faith Alone. Sola Fide
In Christ Alone. Sola Christus
According to Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura
All for the Glory of God Alone. Sola Deo Gloria
These doctrines are so dear to my heart I honestly don’t think I can express it. This is because they encapsulate the very heart of the gospel. I am not being dramatic when I say I would willingly die for these beliefs.
We need to as the Church fall in love with the gospel again. We need to fall in love with the idea that God is so holy, so pure, so righteous, so just that He must punish sin! But He is so loving that He sent Christ, God the Son, to bear the punishment for the sin of those who are His!
And we need to declare to the world that if anyone if trusting in anything other that Jesus, they are hopeless and are not saved; going to an eternal hell. But if they trust in what Christ did, they can be saved. The world needs to hear this. Sadly, the church needs to hear this, for I think so many of us have forgotten.
So what are we to do with this?
First, we should accept Christ’s opening command in Matthew 5:17. “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.” We must, as Christians reject the idea that Christ has abolished the Law. We must reject any who teach that the law or prophets are gone. They are heretics who must categorically be rejected. We must know the truth and we must teach the truth. I say all the time, bad theology hurts people. We must believe and teach the truth. This is what I am trying to train you to do. Any who deny what Scripture teaches are false teachers. Paul warned the church in Corinth to be on the lookout for false teachers. I am saying the same to you!
Second, you must repent and believe. All of you must repent and believe. Every one of you in here must see that you are incapable of keeping God’s Law. We all have been angry with our brothers, we all have lusted. We are all enemies of God. We must repent. We are sinners. We must turn from our sin and turn to Christ. This is what repent means. To turn away from one thing and turn to another.
We all must believe in what Christ has done. We must rest the weight of our eternity not on our work, but on the work of Christ.
This never ends, we do this daily. We daily rest in Christ.
For those of you here who have never done this, I beg you to do so now. Turn to Christ for the first time! You must. You are a sinner, you have broken God’s Law and will face judgement and punishment without Grace. Respond to that Grace. Trust in Christ. Place the weight of your eternity in the nail pierced hands of Jesus Christ. Your sins will be forgiven and you will be justified! This means your sin will be gone and you will be washed clean. Christ takes your sin, and you receive His righteousness By the Grace of God Through Faith in Jesus.
For those of you who are Christians, I beg you to repent and trust in Christ. We as Christians so often fall back into the lie of trusting in ourselves. We become prideful or arrogant. We can fall into sin and temptation. Repent and fall into the sweet knowledge that grace has justified you! If you are here and you are living in sin, or have unrepentant hearts toward God, I beg you to repent. Reject your sin and cling to Christ Alone!
You see, we never outgrow the Gospel. We only ever grow in the beautiful depth of what Christ has done.
We are going to transition into a time of taking communion. If you are here and you have have placed your faith in Christ, even if it was today, you are welcome to participate in this beautiful act of remembrance of what Christ did for us.
But if you are here and you are unrepentant, I caution you to not participate in this. By unrepentant I mean if you are here and you are not trusting in Christ, or you are living in sin, do not take communion! Paul warned the church in Corinth that some of them had become sick or even died from taking communion with unrepentant sin in their lives. So if you are here and you are unwilling to part with your sin, you may be drinking sickness or even death upon yourself. I do not say this simply to scare you, but as a matter of fact.
For there is a spiritual aspect to this, and it is beautiful. I love taking communion together. So at this time we are going to take some time and examinee our hearts. We will pray and ask God to search us. We will pray and turn away from our sin. If you are here and you don’t know how to repent, but you feel God pulling on your heart and you want to come, please come to the front. Please come and see me during this time. I would love to pray with you. If you need prayer, or need to confess sin or make things right, the altar is open. During these few moments come and pray. Then we will take communion together.
If you do not have the elements, raise your hand and we will bring you the elements.
'For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. ‘ 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Now as we go from here; 'The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.'
1 Corinthians 16:23-24