Are You That Witness Series – Matthew 5:17-20
Intro: In Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Timothy Munyon bids to ask the question’ is this a crazy rule or is it not. While living in Florida, I had several friends who worked cleaning rooms at a nationally known inn located directly on the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. They spent their work breaks running barefoot in the sand. The problem was the inn required all employees to wear shoes at all times while working. I noticed the employees responded in one of two ways. The majority thought the rule restricted their freedom. The rooms had shag carpeting, delightful to bare toes, and just a few steps away lay the beach. To them the rule to wear shoes was nothing more than employer harassment.
But a minority of the employees looked at the rule differently. Sometimes late night parties would produce small pieces of broken glass. Occasionally a stickpin would be found hidden in the deep shag piles. Some knew the pain of skinning bare toes on the steel bed frame while making a bed. This minority saw the rule as protection, not restriction. Is that a crazy rule or is it not? Were God’s laws written to make life miserable? Or were they written by a loving heavenly Father who cares about his children? Jesus explains to His Disciples: "I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
Prior to our text today there is a verse that is often quoted but rare is the case to follow with “I did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill,” So what is that verse that comes prior to our text today? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
If you’re going to be that witness for Christ that this series is all about, not only will you let your light shine, you will follow the rules!
Text: Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV)
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 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. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 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.”
Application: Jesus expects His disciples to understand and apply the moral principles already revealed in Scripture. So if the Bible says keep your shoes on because there are some stickpins in the shag carpet, it might behoove you to keep your shoes on, it is for your own good.
1. We Must Know Christ Came to Fulfill the Law: vs. 17-18
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 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.”
God gave man more than just mere words to describe how He wants man to live. He gave man the Life, the Person who perfectly pictures and demonstrates the law before the world's very eyes. Jesus Christ is the Picture, the Living Example, the Pattern, the Demonstration of life as it is to be lived. He is the Perfect Picture of God's will, the Ideal Man, and the Pattern for all men. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Man just could not obey the law perfectly; he fell short of perfect righteousness. Christ fulfilled and completed the law. He kept the law in every detail. He secured the perfect righteousness demanded by the law. Not one jot— (the smallest of the Hebrew letters.) or one tittle—(one of those little strokes by which alone some of the Hebrew letters are distinguished from others like them.) “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18 (NIV)
He fulfilled all the requirements, all the types, and all the ceremonies of the law—perfectly. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Before Christ, the law was only words and rules. It could only inject the idea of behavior into the mind of a person. Christ fulfilled and completed the law. He was Spirit and Life, so He was able to put spirit and life to the words and rules of the law. We must know Christ came to fulfill the law.
2. We Must Do, Teach & Tell the Law to be a Part of His Kingdom: Vs. 19
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Breaking and doing the law carries with it the idea of continuous action. No person is perfectly obedient all of the time. Every person fails sometime: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Any person, who continues to break a commandment, even if it is the least commandment, shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. And the person who continues to obey the commandments shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. A person cannot break a commandment and ask forgiveness, then go out and break another commandment and ask forgiveness over and over. Such a person cannot expect God to think he is serious about the commandments of God.
Three persons teach the law to others, first there is the keeper then there is the breaker of the law. A person teaches by what he does. Others see and observe and learn from what he does. If a person breaks and breaks a law, no matter how small a law, he teaches that the law is not important—not worthy enough to be kept. Finally there is the instructor of the law. This refers to the teachers of the law and of religion. Each instructor either adheres to or rejects the law. Each instructor teaches his students the truth or else deceives his students into following human reasoning. The person who breaks and teaches the breaking of the law attempts to void the law, that is, to do away with it.
Christ warns all: there is judgment that will fall on those who do not follow the laws that Christ sets before man. The law of God is often broken because believers have failed to take the message of the law to the world. There are those who only see the shag carpet not the sharp small pieces of broken glass, when their cut, it is too late. We must do, teach and tell the law to be part of His kingdom.
3. We Must be Righteous not a Religionist to Enter the Kingdom: Vs. 20
"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.”
A person must have more righteousness than a religionist to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Righteousness is necessary to enter heaven. The religionists, the Pharisees and the Scribes, had some righteousness. They just did not have enough. They were, in fact, strict religionists. They worked at obeying thousands and thousands of rules and regulations, governing everything ranging from dress and social behavior to ministry and work. However, they lacked the one essential: loving God so much that they would deny themselves and seek their righteousness in His Son, Jesus Christ.
“For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:3-4
What did Christ mean? Who can enter heaven if a strict religionist cannot? Just a reminder here: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Many religionists make the same fatal mistake that the Pharisees and Scribes made. They seek acceptance with God by giving God a formal worship instead of giving God a confession of unworthiness and of their need for Him in a personal way. The scriptures remind us: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” It’s more than being respectable in the community it’s being spiritual. Some feel they must do good to be acceptable to God. Their motive in life is to work and work at doing good in order to secure God's acceptance. They have never learned the truth: they cannot do enough good to be perfectly acceptable to God. They must trust His love—that He loves them so much that He will take their trust and count it as righteousness.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1 (KJV)
Many worship and do just enough good to satisfy their consciences. They do just enough good to make them feel comfortable and acceptable to God. But they miss the whole point. What God is after—the only thing that makes a person acceptable to God—is the giving of his total being over to God (day and night) in unworthiness and confession: that he has need for God in his life now and forever. In trust and love: that he trusts and loves God because God has given His own Son and promised to accept him in His righteousness. Which also means there is a thankfulness and appreciation: because God has accepted and assured abundant life now and eternally. An adoration and praise: because God is God (Elohim) and has revealed His glorious love in Christ who has redeemed him eternally. Finally in worship and service: because the love of Christ constrains him.
Conclusion: In Who Will Deliver Us? Paul F. M. Zahl writes:
A duck hunter was with a friend in the wide-open land of southeastern Georgia. Far away on the horizon he noticed a cloud of smoke. Soon he could hear crackling as the wind shifted. He realized the terrible truth: a brushfire was advancing, so fast they couldn’t outrun it.
Rifling through his pockets, he soon found what he was looking for—a book of matches. He lit a small fire around the two of them. Soon they were standing in a circle of blackened earth, waiting for the fire to come.
They didn’t have to wait long. They covered their mouths with handkerchiefs and braced themselves. The fire came near—and swept over them. But they were completely unhurt, untouched. Fire would not pass where fire had already passed.
The law is like a brushfire. I cannot escape it. But if I stand in the burned-over place, not a hair of my head will be singed. Christ’s death is the burned-over place. There I huddle, hardly believing yet relieved. The law is powerful, yet powerless: Christ’s death has disarmed it.
The law has been fulfilled through Jesus Christ has He delivered you?
In : Sermon
Tags: "are you that witness series" "book of matthew"
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