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Weekly Bible Study
“Matthew 5:17-19 The Believers Relationship to the Law”
by Art Sadlier   
March 5th, 2017

There is no more misunderstood topic than this, and yet there is no more vital topic than this.

Matthew 5:17; “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

1 – The Law

What is the law? There are many laws given in scripture but this is the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses is divided into three sections. There is the ceremonial law, the judicial law and the moral law.

A – The Ceremonial Law

The sacrificial lamb, the ceremonial washings, the high priest and all his ritualistic functions represented the ceremonial law. These were given to Israel.

Hebrews 9:1-7; “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:” This is the ceremonial law.

The ceremonial law was only temporary. Hebrews 9:9; “Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;”

It was given until the coming of Christ and His death on the cross; “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.         (Hebrews 9:10).

B – The Judicial Law

The judicial law was given to regulate the social relationships of the nation of Israel. We would call it the law of the land. Without law and order a nation cannot long survive. God gave Israel laws upon which the nation was to govern its people. In 70 AD Israel ceased to exist as a nation in their own land, the judicial law was then no longer needed.

C – The Moral Law

The moral law is basically introduced in Exodus 20 as the Ten Commandments. It represents what is basically the moral nature of God and what God demands of man. The Lord said; “Be ye Holy for I am Holy.”

The violation of the moral law is sin. The result, or penalty, of sin is death.

Sometimes the scripture uses the word “law” to talk about any or all of these aspects of the law. There are many issues concerning the law and our relationship to it that are not easy to understand. However, the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand His Word.

Because the moral law represents the unchanging nature of God it can never suspended or terminated.

11 – The Fulfilling of the Law

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” (Matthew 5:18). Every last aspect of the law must be fulfilled, right to the most minute detail.

A – The Fulfilling of the Ceremonial Law

The ceremonial law was perfectly fulfilled in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Christ became our lamb, Christ offered Himself as our sacrifice, Christ became our high priest, Christ is the true bread of life and Christ became the light of the world. Hebrews 9:24; “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” The whole ceremonial law pictured Christ and He fulfilled it all. It was all a figure of Him and His priesthood. Romans 10:4; “For Christ is the end of the law (fulfilling of the law) for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Christ is the end of or the fulfilling of the law as a means of obtaining righteousness.

The law here is the ceremonial law. How did a man obtain righteousness under the law in the Old Testament? He simply by faith obeyed the ceremonial law. By faith he took his lamb to the gate of the Temple and offered it as a sacrifice. His faith in obeying God’s ceremonial law was counted to him for righteousness.

After Calvary a man could put his faith in the ceremonial law and offer his sacrifice but it would not be counted to him for righteousness. Now the true sacrifice had been offered at Calvary. The way now is the true sacrifice which has been offered at Calvary. The way now to obtain God’s righteousness is through faith in Christ, not in the ceremonial sacrifice. Christ was the end of the law, the fulfilling of the law.

B – The Fulfilling of the Judicial Law

The judicial laws or the civil laws were not used after 70AD. They had never been administered fairly or fully. There remains a future day when the judicial law will be administered fairly and fully in the nation of Israel. That day will be in the Millennial Kingdom when Christ sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem and administers it Himself. Isaiah 11:1-5; “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” Someday the judicial law of God covering man’s social relationships will be perfectly fulfilled.

C – The Fulfilling of the Moral Law

The moral law was fulfilled in the life of Christ; He kept the moral law of God perfectly. Every other man or woman who has ever lived has violated God’s moral law, but Christ fulfilled it.

111 – The Application of the Moral Law of God

A – The application to the life and soul of the believer

We believers are partakers of the fulfillment of God’s moral law. This is true because we are partakers of the life of Christ by virtue of His resurrection. Romans 6:4-6; “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

It is vital to understand this truth, not how it happened but that it has happened. All of the righteousness of God’s moral law has been imparted to the believer through the resurrection of Christ. The moral law of God is perfectly fulfilled in every believer because he is a partaker of the very life and nature of Christ.

Practically, we are working that out in our daily lives. Galatians 2:20; “I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Because the believer is a partaker of the divine nature, he is a partaker of the righteousness of God.

B – The Application to the Life of the Unregenerate Man

In the case of the Pharisees their righteousness was not acceptable to God. Matthew 5:20; “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Their righteousness was not the righteousness of God, it was man’s righteousness. Paul talks about man’s righteousness in Philippians 3:9; “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
Man’s righteousness is a false righteousness, it is the product of human effort and it cannot satisfy God. We are reminded that, all our righteousness are as filthy rags in God’s sight.

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is typical of the righteousness of the unregenerate man.

1 – Their righteousness was entirely external.

Luke 16:15; “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

The Kingdom of God is concerned about the heart. We can be right on the outside and wrong on the inside, but we can’t be right on the inside and wrong on the outside.

2 – They were more concerned with the ceremonial than with the moral.

They were very careful about the external ceremony, things such as hand washing etc. But they were not concerned with the moral aspects of the law.

3 – They were primarily concerned about themselves and their own righteousness.

Luke 18:11,12; “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

He was self satisfied, he glorified himself not God and he gloried in his own achievements.

4 – They had a wrong attitude toward others.

The ultimate condemnation of the Pharisees is that they had a total absence of the beatitude spirit. The beatitude spirit is the spirit of the true believer. He is poor in spirit, meek in spirit and merciful in spirit. He is hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

The Pharisees were interested in details rather than principles. They were interested in actions rather than motives. They were interested in doing rather than being. The Lord said to them in effect; "You are pleased with yourself if you do not commit adultery, but if you have lust in your heart, God holds you accountable for adultery". It is the state of the heart that matters. You do not become a citizen of the kingdom by just refraining from some actions and doing others.

Definition Legalism is trying to keep God’s laws from the outside in - Grace is keeping God’s laws from the inside out.
The man who has been born again has the divine nature dwelling within him. He is a man who is righteous and his righteousness does exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. He is no longer living for himself and his attainments; he is no longer self satisfied and self righteous. His desire is to glorify God, to keep and honour and fulfil His law. The commandments of Christ are not grievous to him.

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