Later this morning, MaÃ«l, my good friend, brother, and fellow-elder (and occasional blogger) is going to teach from Matthew 5:16-20, God willing:
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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)
As I have studied this passage this week, I have been overwhelmed by the reality that Jesus expressed here. 1) Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (the Scriptures). 2) The Law and the commandments remain. 3) Only those who are more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees (who spent their life keeping the letter of the law) will be part of God’s kingdom.
The implications of this passage are phenomenal. I cannot keep the law and be part of God’s kingdom on my own merit. But, Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. As a child of God, his righteousness has been credited to me. I am righteous because he was righteous, not because of the things that I do. I am forgiven because he was forsaken on my behalf, not because of my ability to stop sinning.
Thus, when I recognize my sins – when I am convicted – my only response is Paul’s response: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 ESV) and “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
What an awesome thought! God exchanged my sin for Christ’s righteousness. God exchanged my death for Christ’s life. Today, I live in righteousness – not because of what I do or don’t do, because of Jesus Christ and him alone! I hope I never “get over” this.