Matt 5: 17-18
Many people who still believe they have to live according to the Old Covenant Laws have thrown Matthew 5: 17-18 at preachers of the grace message to try and prove their case. But what does the Bible really say about living under the law and whether we are still bound to it? “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
For assuredly, I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matt 5: 17-18 NKJV) Peter Ditzel from Word of His Grace
1 Explains these two verses as follows: “Jesus is giving us two either / or conditions here: The law cannot pass until heaven and earth pass OR the law cannot pass until all is fulfilled.
One or the other can do it. Heaven and earth have not yet passed, so we will leave that aside. But what did Jesus mean by ALL being fulfilled?
He was referring to what He had just said in the previous sentence: the fulfilling or completing of the law AND the prophets. Once He had fulfilled the law and the prophets, the law could pass.
Why is it that so many people who accept that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies have a hard time understanding that in exactly the same way, He fulfilled the Old Testament laws: ALL of them?”
Legal Requirements of the Law When a person is under a contractual obligation to someone else and they fulfill all the requirements of that contract, it means the contract is finished and over.
But if they simply destroyed the contractual agreement before fulfilling its requirements, they are not released from its obligations, which is why Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law. But the moment the obligations of the contract are fulfilled, that person is set free from it!
In exactly the same way Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but He fulfilled it. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom 10: 4 NKJV)
Because all the righteous requirements of the law were fulfilled in Christ and since we are given the righteousness of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit as a free gift when we put our faith in Jesus, it means that in Christ we too have fulfilled the requirements of the law and therefore the law has ended for us as well.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8: 3-4 NKJV)
If someone’s mind has not been renewed to think in terms of grace, they might stare themselves blind against the last part of verse 4, thinking that we have to walk after the Spirit if we want to fulfil the righteous requirements of the law.
But look down in verse 9: But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Rom 8: 9 NKJV)
This says that that if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are not in the flesh!
So what these verses are actually saying is that if someone has the Holy Spirit inside them, it is proof that the requirements of the law have been met in them.
The Prophets For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Matt 11: 13 NKJV) The entire law and the Old Testament Prophets spoke of the coming of the Messiah who would forgive the sins of the whole world.
The law was our tutor (schoolmaster), teaching us “right living”until we should put our faith in Jesus and begin to live by faith. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Gal 3: 23-25 NKJV)
This says that after we’ve put our faith in Jesus Christ, we don’t need the tutor of the law to instruct us anymore.
The Holy Spirit inside us can do the job pretty well on His own – He doesn’t need the assistance of an external set of rules!
“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it”. (Luk 16: 16 NKJV)
This verse implies that if we still preach law-based living we are not preaching the Kingdom, because we would be preaching things that ended with John the Baptist over 2000 years ago – read the verse again.
How much clearer can it get?
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Gal 3: 16 NKJV)
So; What then is the purpose of the law?
It was added because of transgressions, until the seed (Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Gal 3: 19 NKJV)
These verses say that the law was given because of transgressions until the Seed should come (and Hebrews 3 tells us it was specifically the sin of unbelief).
Then when the Seed (Christ) came, the law was fulfilled and we were freed from its legal requirements. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. (Rom 3: 21 NKJV)
If there were such a thing as the “court of heaven”, the law and prophets would have stood up as witnesses, pointed their fingers to those who put their faith in Jesus and said: “That person is righteous!”Also note the verse says that this righteousness comes apart from the law.
From these verses and many more it is plain to see that believers are not supposed to try and live under the law anymore, but instead live by faith in Jesus Christ.
Living in Sin Here is a shocker, something that should silence the mouths of those who still try to be justified by obeying the law. Let’s look at two verses first:
And the law is not of faith…(Gal 3: 12a NKJV) and …for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Rom 14: 23b NKJV)
It’s quite surprising to see what it says when we combine these two verses.
Since the law is not of faith Galatians 3: 12) and since anything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14: 23), it means that those who try to be justified by their own good works and try to live up to the moral code of the law are actually living in sin!
Righteousness which Exceeds that of the Pharisees Jesus also said the following:
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven. (Matt 5: 20 NKJV)
The scribes and Pharisees prided themselves in how well they kept the laws of Moses; in fact it’s what they did for a living!
These laws didn’t just include the 10 Commandments, but also all the rituals and daily sacrifices and a total of 613 stipulations and commandments that were contained in the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy)
2. In fact most people who try to live up to the Law of Moses today would pale in comparison against an average Pharisee.
It is therefore simple to see that the righteousness which Jesus was talking about was not about believers trying to live more obedient or more holy; He was talking about a righteousness that comes from God, given to every believer as a free gift at the point of salvation.
At the exact same moment that a believer puts their faith in Jesus, they are given His perfect righteousness and He is given their sin and transgressions:
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5: 21 NKJV)
Isn’t that just an amazing deal?
Thank You Jesus!
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