In my last post, I talked about the Old Testament sacrificial system, as well as the Law of Moses–where God tells the Israelites, “You are not allowed to do these things… You should always do these things…” I talked about why that law existed, and what purpose it served. This time, I want to talk more about what this means for the life of the Christian.
Firstly, we need to recognize the relationship between Judaism and Christianity–after all, Jesus was Jewish.
God originally chose Israel to be “his own special treasure (Deut. 14:2, NLT).” He wanted to be known by them and to be involved in their lives. Not only that, but God chose Israel so that they could prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. You could say that Israel was the conduit for the Messiah.
Jesus was actually predicted in Jewish Scripture long before he was even born! From these Jewish writings, we know that the Messiah would be a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 12:3; 21:12; Num. 21:17). It was also foretold that the Messiah would be the heir to the throne of King David, and would, therefore, also be from the tribe of Judah (Isaiah 9:7; Gen. 49:10). This effectively establishes that the Jewish Messiah is, indeed, Jewish.
It was also foretold that the Messiah would be a prophet–sent to speak messages from God (Deut. 18:15); and it was foretold that this prophet would be rejected by his own (i.e. Jewish) people (Psalm 69:8; Isaiah 53:3).
Jesus did have a message from God. Part of that message can be seen in the “Sermon on the Mount,” (which can be read in Matthew 5-7). It should also be noted that Jesus and his message would later become absolutely vital for Israel–even though they rejected him (Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11).
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose (Matt. 5:17, NLT).”
Before he teaches anything, here, Jesus makes it clear that he hasn’t come to abolish the law. In fact, he has come to establish what the law was pretending to be–the Kingdom of God. This law that Jesus introduced is complete and perfect.
You see, law cannot make us worthy to be in God’s presence. Perfect obedience to the law could not atone for the disobedience of Adam and Eve. It cannot justify Cain’s murder of Abel. No matter how much obedience to the law there is, that sin carries over throughout all of humanity.
(Take a second to read Romans 5:12-15)
This law was meant to be a temporary fix to an eternal problem. The results of this law, or covenant with God were that the people can identify themselves as God’s holy people, and God blesses those people. Breaking this law would result in punishment (though it couldn’t atone for that sin in God’s sight).
So what is new about the completed law that Jesus brings? Well, the biggest difference is that there is no punishment for doing wrong under this law because no one in God’s Kingdom sins. A citizen of God’s true nation is sinless and perfect, never doing wrong. There isn’t even a hint of imperfection among them. This is what Jesus expects from us.
“You have heard it said that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!” -Matthew 5:21-22b, NLT
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.” But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5:27-28, NLT
“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” -Matthew 5:31-32, NLT
“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! …Just say a simple, ‘Yes I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” -Matthew 5:33-34a, 37, NLT
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-45a, NLT
In God’s Kingdom there is no need to punish for sin because everyone is required to be perfect, and everyone is perfect. This is the law that Jesus came to bring, and this is the Kingdom that Jesus wants you to experience.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not perfect. I’m not going to pretend that I am. In fact, I make mistakes. A lot. Sometimes I do things that God hates–and much more than sometimes, I’m thinking something that God hates. You can probably relate to this.
If you are imperfect, like me, you might be thinking, “How can anyone be perfect enough to live by this law? I can understand ‘Don’t murder,’ but to not even lose my temper?” Regardless, God’s standard for all people is perfection.
That’s the beauty of this system! NO ONE is perfect enough to get to heaven on their own. The only way for someone to get into this Kingdom would be if a completely perfect person were to be punished for the sins of all people, so that they can be seen as perfect by God. Because Jesus took all of the punishment for sin upon himself, God doesn’t see sin when He looks at Christians. It’s not based on what you do! You could say that because of God’s unimaginable grace, our faith–or belief–in Jesus unlocks this atonement.
“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” -Romans 5:18, NLT
Friends, if you believe in Jesus, you are part of the true Israel–the Kingdom of God. Anyone who turns away from their sin, because of their belief, can be seen as perfect by God. Their sin was nailed to the cross with Jesus, and it died there with him so that we could have a second chance at life (Gal. 2:20).
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” -John 3:16-17, NLT