I’ve been listening to the Bible on my Bible app whenever I’m in the car because sometimes I just don’t have the time to sit down and read it. Besides, I like hearing someone else’s voice read it to me. Well, the other day I was listening to Matthew 5 and something finally struck me. Jesus takes a few things from the Old Testament and He kind of turns them on their ear. And to some people, especially non-Christians, they see it as being contradictory (which God’s Word never is). But the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the truth of it and I really wanted to share it with you guys.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matt. 5:17)
Jesus said that He had come to fulfill the law. You see, the law that God gave to Moses that the Jews had been trying to follow from then until Jesus died for our sins, it was never meant to be on its own. That law was put there so that God’s people could live better lives, but it was still vastly limited (and God knew that) because it was limited to what people could truly do on their own. We have to remember that before Jesus was born, died, resurrected and ascended into heaven, people didn’t have the Holy Spirit except for the select few that God allowed to have it for a temporary time. That meant that when God gave His people the law He knew they could only follow so much of it on their own because they didn’t have the help of the Holy Spirit.
For example, Jesus brings up a few Old Testament laws:
- ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
- ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
- ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’
- ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’
- ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
- ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But Jesus doesn’t leave it there. He tells us that there is an even better way to live. He says:
- But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
- But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
- But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
- But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
- But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Why does Jesus do this? Is He trying to contradict God’s laws? Of course not! Jesus knows that very soon people will be allowed to receive the Holy Spirit as long as they confess their sins and claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior. With the Holy Spirit inside of us, we can live far better lives than we could without the Spirit. That’s why Jesus expounds on the laws God had previously given. You see, when God gave those laws He knew it would be hundreds of years before He sent Jesus and people could have the Holy Spirit. So, He kept the laws simple and subjectively easy. But when Jesus came, He knew that with the Holy Spirit in us we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom. 6:5-7) which means that we can live better and holier lives. That’s why He then went on to give us a pretty hefty command:
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)
We know that it is impossible for anyone to be perfect on their own. The only way we can be perfect is for us to be made perfect through Christ Jesus (Heb. 10:14). But because we can receive the Holy Spirit we are now expected to live beyond the original law that God gave the Hebrews because we aren’t bound to sin anymore. Now, through the blood of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit, we are set apart and expected to behave better than they ever did.
I don’t know if this is some brilliant revelation but I do love how God’s Word is always alive and moving. You can read the same passage over and over and it means nothing much to you at the time, but a few years later the Holy Spirit causes it to stand out and gives you revelation knowledge. I love God’s Word!