Those Troublesome Scriptures
Joseph Herrin (07-02-08)
Several have written already in response to yesterday’s post titled Laying Down the Law. They have written with much affirmation, and have shared the various ways in which Yahweh has revealed to them the truth of the Believer’s call to be led by the Spirit, rather than by a body of laws.
There is much more that could be written on this matter, for those who espouse the doctrine of the Believer’s remaining subject to the Law of Moses are troubled by many Scriptures. Perhaps foremost among them is the following passage from Matthew’s gospel.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is fulfilled. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This passage scares a lot of Christians into fearing lest they should speak against the Law. They have not discerned what is said here, however. Christ is speaking of the Law passing away, this being the context of his message. He then suggests two ways in which it could pass away. It could be abolished, or it could be fulfilled. Yahshua said He came to fulfill it, not abolish it.
He then warns others to not dare think that it can be annulled, or abolished in any way. It has to be fulfilled. Every jot and tittle must be fulfilled. We should ask then, “Did Christ accomplish what He said He came to do? Did Christ fulfill the Law?” We dare not answer in the negative. We know He fulfilled the Law.
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Look then at what Yahshua has said. The Law will not pass away until all is fulfilled. He came to fulfill it. He did fulfill it. It has now passed away.
Consider how Yahshua reinforces this thought at the end of this passage. He says “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The disciples were shocked at this. They knew that no man could do any better than the scribes and Pharisees. They were the most zealous of the zealots.
Yet it was this despair that the Lord wanted them to arrive at. Then they would realize their need for Christ’s life to become their life. What they could not do, Christ accomplished. His righteousness is imputed to man. Only by being joined to Christ can any man’s righteousness exceed the scribes and Pharisees and attain to the fulness demanded by the Father.
II Corinthians 5:21
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Any way you look at it, the Law has been fulfilled by the Son of God. After He fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the Law, He then died, and the Old Covenant of the Law passed away with Him. A person can only be released from a covenant through the death of one of the members. Christ died, and those who are “in Christ” died with Him. They too have been released from the Old Covenant of the Law in order that they might be joined to another. God has set His law; His very nature, character, and life in our hearts by sending the Spirit of Christ into our hearts.
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.
How do we bear fruit for God. The fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. This is the “another” to whom we have been joined. You cannot be joined to the Spirit and continue to be joined to the Law. You have to be released from the former in order to be joined to the latter. Christ accomplished this release lawfully, by fulfilling the Law and then dying. This is what Paul means when he declares the following:
“For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.”
The Law said you could only be released from a covenant by death, so Christ accomplished our release legally (through the Law). Now we can live to God by the power of the Spirit who indwells us.
Some have been troubled by Christ’s words in the gospel of Matthew, which stand at the top of this post. They have been told, or have assumed by a lack of careful examination, that Christ said the Law would not pass away as long as there was a heaven and an earth. Christ did not say any such thing. He said the Law would not pass away “until all is fulfilled.” The heavens and earth passing away have no bearing on the Law passing away. The Law must be fulfilled. It is not fulfilled by destroying the heaven and the earth. It was fulfilled by the Son of God. When Yahshua declared “It is finished” on the cross, He was declaring that all the righteous requirements of the Law had been fulfilled. He had finished the work for which He had been sent, to fulfill all righteousness.
At the very beginning of His ministry Yahshua revealed that it was His goal to fulfill all the righteousness of the Law.
But Yahshua answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
This statement is one book-end of His ministry, and the words “It is finished” serve as the other book-end. In between Christ fulfilled all that the Law demanded.
This topic of the Law has so many Scriptures that bear upon it that it truly requires more than one post to cover it all. This is why I wrote the book Laying Down the Law which can be read online at the Heart4God website. Yet even more could be said than what is included in the book. If you are interested in reading it, you can find it here: http://www.heart4god.ws/id293.htm
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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