Rock-Solid Living In A Quicksand World
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The Life-Producing Stepping-Stones to Grace and Truth:
The Law and the Prophets
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 tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commandments and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
On many occasions, Jesus found Himself confronting the religious leaders of His day. It’s no wonder that some of those who heard Him in person, and even some religious leaders of today, might question how Jesus looked at God’s rules for holy living (the law)—or even His view of the prophecies. Yet He did not come to do away with either one. It never was His intent to ignore the law or the prophets just because of the coming of grace and truth. It was, and is, His intent to show how these could and would become the liberating limits they were ordained to be. He really wanted to demonstrate how grace and truth make the laws and the prophets relevant in our time. His main issue with the religious leaders was that they demonstrated a righteousness that needed surpassing. (See the preceding twentieth verse.) It was neither the law nor the prophets that caused problems. It was what these leaders did with them. They caused people to carry heavy burdens of unnecessary guilt and shame.
Here are some examples. For Jesus, the law was and is an inside-out job. The religious leaders had it the other way around. Once Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:25–26). You can see that the religious leaders were hypocritical. Also, Jesus made it clear that righteousness, as we have already discussed earlier, is for the eternal eyes of God and not the praise of men. (See Luke 18:9–14.) The point is that these religious leaders were building up, to use Paul’s words, “the law of sin and death”; yet Jesus came to give us “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” (See Roman 8:1–2.) Following the example of the religious leaders, who were really breaking the law, results in being the least in the kingdom. Following the fulfilled law—produced by the grace and truth that Jesus offered—brought (and brings) the life-changing ability to be different. In addition, it empowered and empowers people to experience a fruitful life that is free from legalism… instead of mere existence. Yielding to the fulfilled law gives us the power to be great in God’s kingdom.
Paul Has Something To Say About This
Paul has a commentary on this teaching in Romans 3:20– 22: “No one is declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteous—from God and apart from the law—has been made known, to which the law and the prophets testify. This righteousness, from God, comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (emphasis mine).
The Greek word from which we get the English word “fulfill” is pleroo, and it means, quite literally, to make complete. Jesus came to cause the law to produce in us, through us, and out of us what God fully intends: completed persons. He came to cause miracles of grace that save souls but also transform lives. When God fulfilled the law and prophecy in the Crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, something really miraculous happened—other than the obvious: “God made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus completed us as He completed that to which “the law and prophets testified.” He gave us (and still gives us) the supernatural power to be “new creations.” Our old brokenness, trauma, sin, and pain have passed way, and a new life has begun. He reconciles us to Himself and then gives each one of us a ministry of reconciliation. And as He does all of this, He makes us His “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:17– 21) whom He empowers all because He fulfilled God’s law on the cross. He completed us like this so that we could be privileged to have rock-solid living in a quicksand world. This miraculous work is available to us today.
So, unlike “the law of sin and death,” the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” gives us purpose. It gives us hope! It gives us life! It gives us what we need to live for Christ and not just carry around, on our backs, a lot of legalistic rules for being what others say we need to be or should be. We don’t have to be victims of our past or even of our present. We can be victors because of our victory in Jesus.
In the book of Hebrews, great detail is given to demonstrate how God fulfills the law (the Old Covenant) by the New Covenant through Christ. Here it tells us that Christ redeemed us by entering the Holy Place, not by the blood of goats and calves but by His own blood, and it tells us that He did all this eternally and once and for all. (See Hebrews 9:12.) In Hebrews 10:10, the writer tells us that we have been “sanctified [made holy] by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once and for all.” Hebrews 10:14 expands this even more when it tells us, “By one sacrifice He has perfected forever those whom God is making Holy.” Then we are told how the “Holy Spirit testifies” about this. We can read that God, in this New Covenant, is writing His laws on our hearts and putting them in our minds, and our sins and lawless acts He remembers no more. (See Hebrews 10:15–17.)
Therefore, we see that Jesus—by shedding His blood and sacrificing His body—is redeeming us, making us holy, and transforming us. When we falter, He opens the door to confession and forgiveness. He is doing far more than just putting a bunch of laws on tablets of stone. He is fulfilling the law and the prophets by applying grace and truth that gives us mere mortals a metamorphosis salvation—a salvation that is as miraculously transformational as that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Day by day, as we walk with the Lord, the applied law is making us more and more like Jesus, the Son of God. The inside job of the law has an outward expression. Jesus fulfilling the law in us brings us liberty and life and makes us loving, new creations.
The Fulfilled Law Makes for Us Fulfilled Lives