Does the Moral Law still apply? What about those who claim to be Christian yet have relaxed God’s Law? Does your righteousness exceed theirs? What about the scribes and the Pharisees, can your righteousness exceed theirs? Let’s look at Matthew 5:17-20 and discuss these questions further.
17 “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever shall break one of these least commandments and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.Matthew 5:17-20
Relaxing the Commandments
A stark warning against antinomanism. In our current time, we have many people claiming to be Christian’s yet relaxing the Law. You have celebrities, politicians, and even churches who claim to be Christian yet believe that some Commandments aren’t that serious or don’t really mean what they say. I like the translation the ESV uses as “relaxing these Commandments” Jesus calls out the scribes and Pharisees and then, as we will see in the following weeks, begins to take some of the commandments that they “relaxed” and He explains them in full.
We do live in a strange time. We went from Modernism to Post-Modernism, and now we are in Constructivism. Where truth is real but it’s constructed by the individual borrowing and choosing what they want to believe as “their truth“. This is seen no better than in a self professing Christian claiming that abortion is fine, gender is whatever you will it to be, and that sex outside of the Biblical confines of marriage, of one man one woman, is to be celebrated. These are clear fifth and sixth commandment violations.
Relaxing the Law of God and teaching others to do so is rebuked by Jesus yet why do so many people claim to be Christian and yet continue to pick and choose which of God’s Laws are to be followed? It seems to me that they have constructed their own idea of Jesus. They are either biblically illiterate and or have cherry picked what they like about Christianity to form their own version of Christianity, a fabricated finely crafted, idol. There are many public figures to use as an example, yet one recent example comes to mind and that is the Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, who claimed that she can live in open unrepentant sexual sin and that Jesus still loves her. While it is true that Jesus loves everyone, not wishing anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), this self professing Christian was defending her recent sixth commandment violation, of sex outside of the marriage covenant, instead of repenting of it.
It’s also found in the evangelical churches as they use the law improperly as the Pharisees. I used to do sermon reviews on an older blog and have started to do so again and I can tell you that rarely is the Law used properly to call you to repentance, it is usually misused to give you a small bar to jump over so that you feel you’ve really made some progress at keeping whatever step, principle, or commandment, making you either a proud hypocrite or despairing under the burden of things to do week after week. If you go to those types of churches, keep your handout/note from that week. After a year really look through all of the Law you have been focused on and the lack of Christ crucified you have been given.
Father’s catechise your children
Teaching the Catechism is a great way to teach your children about God’s Law. Don’t just expect your pastor or Sunday school to be enough. Pray with your family, discuss the sermon you heard, open the Scriptures and teach them. You and your kids are being catechised daily from the devil’s catechism. The world teaches about all sorts of sins, it calls evil good and good evil. There are even people that your kids might look up to that claim to be Christian but are advocating for clear violations of God’s Law. This relaxing of God’s Law may seem obvious to you but it’s not always obvious to others. Others, your family included, can be led astray into thinking that God’s moral Law is more of a constructed truth rather than the Truth. The world is full of false Christian’s who claim to believe in God but act as if He doesn’t exist. Your job as a father is to protect your children and family from such lies and to raise them in the faith.
4 You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.Ephesians 6:4
Righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees
You’re not Righteous and the Pharisees and scribes seem like the most holy of people. They are so righteous that they even make up their own laws and ceremonies to show just how righteous they are. They are the social justice warriors, climate activists, the woke of their day. Hypocrites that they are, doing what they like while telling you that you are the real problem. Whitewashed tombs of outward righteousness while having nothing but darkened, rotten, stench, on the inside. It’s easy to see that they are not really righteous as they preach and yell at you about how bad you are. Just look at their fruit. What are they doing to solve whatever problem they are proclaiming? Are they really any more sinless and righteous than you?
Perhaps that is too easy to see. Let’s make this a bit more difficult. Think of the most holy person you can think of, for most of us that would be your pastor. He sure looks like his righteousness is far better than yours. After all, I bet he misses far less church services than you, he prays more than you, he visits the sick, and gives more to the poor than you. Yet, he isn’t righteous either. At least not in his own righteousness. He has a righteousness that does exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, but yet so do you.
3 They have all gone aside.They have together become corrupt.There is no one who does good, no, not one.Psalm 14:3
10 As it is written,“There is no one righteous;no, not one.”Romans 3:10
Jesus came to fulfill the Law
The Gospel of this passage is that you don’t have to attain a righteousness of your own. You don’t have to worry about either being a self righteous hypocrite or a despairing sinner either. Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly for you. His active obedience on this Earth of of a perfect fulfilment of the Law is not for His sake but for yours. He took your sins upon Himself in his baptism, and paid for them by being whipped and nailed to a tree, and left there to die for you. In His death and ressurection from the grave, those sins are gone. With your sins paid for and no longer here, Jesus has nothing else to take from you. He has many things to give to you. Firstly, He gives you His righteousness.
The blessed exchange! He took your sins and gives you His righteousness. The righteousness of God far exceeds any righteousness any of us sinners could try to attain on our own. God even calls our attempts to be righteous as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). This is why it is so easy to fake a righteousness. Those hypocrites love to put up a facade and claim that they are better than you, even though it’s obvious that we are all filthy rags. However, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, we know we aren’t righteous in and of ourselves but we are righteous because of Christ and His work.
Only Christ, only God, only He can fullfill all righteousness and, take the sin of the whole world, ransom the world with His death and resurrection, without corrupting Himself or His righteousness. Only God can buy you back from the devil’s bondage. Only God can atone for your sin. Only God’s righteousness can swallow up the worlds unrighteousness, in the pierced hands and feet of Christ. Who fulfilled all righteousness, suffered, died, and rose again; all for you! May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, and may the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.