Throughout the ages, man's constant striving to live a good life has meant trying to uphold a certain standard for themselves either through an ethical code of their own or by the use of God’s moral Law.

For those in either category, but especially those who have tried to keep the Law as a means of earning their salvation, what then do we make of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross?

It can be said of Jesus’s sacrifice that we are free from the law, religion, and sin. But why then with regards to the law do we continually find ourselves under it? Is it so that we might "feel" accepted by God for having kept his commandments or deemed "good" in his eyes by our so called good works?

I believe the answer may be found in how we interpret or misinterpret for that matter the following verse from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Listen to this. Jesus said, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:19).

Now, no one wants to be a law breaker let alone be called least in the kingdom of God. We all want to be called great, right? And so the kicker for us comes in verse 20 where Jesus asserts that "unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven".

So, in a spiritual knee jerk reaction, some might believe that in order for a person to get into heaven all they would need to do is their best in following the law. However, therein lies the problem with this logic. No man can continually perform at such a high standard and neither will he be allowed entry into God’s kingdom based solely on his own merits. So was Jesus' preaching an exercise in futility? Not exactly.

If you recall in the apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy, his true son in the faith, one of the things he wrote to this young pastor was concerning the misuse of the Law by those who wanted to be teachers of it but who understood very little of what they affirmed. Paul wrote: "But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully" (1 Tim. 1:8).

So, what then is the right way to use God’s Law?

Well, the purpose of the Law is to bring forth the knowledge of sin. For how else would we “have known sin except through the law” (Rom. 7:7)? It is the Law then that sends us to be washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ serving as our tutor in this fashion.   

But, for those who neglect this principle I believe that the reason they will continue to experience feelings of failure in their walk with God to include the constant buckling under the weight of guilt and shame despite having been freed from these things through Christ may be the result of them measuring themselves up to a standard by which they will fall short every time and in every way.

But thanks be to God for our Lord Jesus Christ for he alone is the fulfillment of the Law!

In order for us to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and that of the Pharisees as Jesus had instructed his disciples to do, we ought to examine our own hearts against the spirit of the Law and not just concern ourselves with holding fast to the letter of it. After all, everyone knows that it is good not to cheat on your wife nor kill your husband for that matter. (Although many a wife, including mine, may have often thought about at a minimum strangulation with regards to their beloved other half.)

Nevertheless, there are many who do not realize that if they look with lust upon another person they are in fact breaking the seventh commandment and therefore committing adultery (Mt. 5:28). In addition, there are those who do not understand that hate is the same as murder (1 Jn. 3:15) and that slander holds one liable to the judgment (Mt. 5:21-22). Think about that before your next social media post!

You see, sin begins in the heart and it’s not enough that we try and avoid the physical act of these things. For God requires truth even in the inward parts. That’s why when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their self-righteousness he said to them, “Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Mt. 23:26).

Therefore, we should make it our regular practice to meditate on those passages from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount so as to ensure that our hearts are continually right with God and remain pure.

While it is true that because of Jesus the person who repents and places their trust in him no longer finds themselves under the Law but rather under God's grace still, Christ had instructed his disciples to remain in upholding the law. It can never be overstated, however, that the motive for which we do those things comes not from the hope that we might gain everlasting life through the Law, but more so from our obedience which emanates as the result of a changed heart from the believer who has been born again.

So, today place your trust not in your own works to save you but in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law. And let the Law of the Lord be what God had intended it to be: “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24).

Run to win,

Den

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Published by Dennis Miranda