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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Law in the New Testament: Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law

Mt. 5:

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

There are a couple of important things to consider when looking at what Jesus taught concerning the law. The most obvious is He removed the idea from the minds of those listening to and being taught by Him, that He had come to destroy the law. That would be the equivalent of denying who He was, because the law is based upon the very character of God.

What He was partially dealing with here was the ongoing confusion associated with the religious leaders of tht day. They have been adding a variety of laws to impose upon the people, and they asserted those laws were as authoritative as the laws revealed to Moses by God. The consequence was heavy burdens were laid upon the people which made life miserable and lacking joy because of the heavy weight of the man-made laws they were pressured to obey.

One thing Jesus was dealing with here was to be sure they differentiated between His attack on laws He never made, and those that He did reveal and expect to be continued to be obeyed. I draw that conclusion from the fact Jesus felt the need to tell them this in the first place. Why talk about not destroying the law unless there had grown a misconception among the people that this is what He was communicating to them?

The point is, Jesus didn't come to destroy the law or the prophets, but came to fulfill them. Since He is the example of how we are to live our lives, it is obvious we are also to continue to obey the moral laws revealed by God to us through Moses as well. The difference between then and now is when Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial laws, they were removed from being a requirement, because it would make no sense to sacrifice animals or participate in the symbolic aspects of the feasts, when the fulness and meaning of them were met in Jesus Christ.

Ceremonial laws set aside

Some believers get confused when contemplating the meaning of "Till heaven and earth pass," believing it's a reference to the literal heaven and earth. I don't think that's what it's referring to, because the text itself provides a clue as to when this is going to happen. It's the event surrounding when all will be fulfilled.

At that time there would be some changes to the law, which was what the "one jot or one tittle" refer to. Once the fulfillment took place, at that time there would be some changes to the law. I've heard different ideas concerning when all was fulfilled meant. For example, some believe it was when Jesus died, was buried, resurrected, and ascended into heaven; others believe it was when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples; still others believe it was when Jerusalem fell.

There are different reasons as to why each of those positions are held, but the point for us today is it doesn't matter concerning the law, as the fulfillment has happened, and some changes to the law were made. The most obvious is the ceremonial laws, which again, don't make sense because Jesus fulfilled them, as He did other symbolic parts of the law. So now there have been some of the jots and tittles of the law that have been changed, but in regard to the moral law, as far as our being required to obey them, they are still in effect.
All throughout the New Testament that is confirmed. As I've mentioned before, the reason Christians get confused is they lump in the law in relationship to justification with sanctification, and for that reason draw the wrong conclusion that all the law has been forever removed as a way of life.

Moral law

The Bible clearly state throughout its entirety, that the moral laws of God are expected to be obeyed forever. They have come from God and reflect His character and expectations, and nothing has happened, including the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, that has changed that.

Many actually conclude that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the law has been forever put to rest. That's probably why they live such disobedient and abhorrent lives, and according to the Scripture, aren't saved in the first place.

Once again, here is the proof:

1 John 2:

3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

If a person isn't obeying the commandments of God, they don't know Him. Period! That doesn't mean a person will never sin, only that sin as a way of life will be impossible to them if they are truly regenerated. The Holy Spirit within, which has written the laws on our hearts, influences and empowers true believers to obey the laws of God on a consistent basis.

Jesus fulfilled all the law, included obedience to all of the moral law, and now the Holy Spirit lives within us in order to continue to work toward that end, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ. That's what John meant when he added that we are to walk as Jesus walked; that we are to obey the commands of God as He did.

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