By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens
We live in a society based on laws. Some laws are very good and protect us. Some laws are silly based on the times in which they were written. Some laws are bad because they focus on a certain segment of the population and are not for the good of the whole (such as the legalization of abortion). A few years back I received my first two speeding tickets ever, a miracle for sure. The first was for doing 50 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone and the second for doing 70 miles per hour in a 60-mile-per-hour zone. Both times I could have given a circumstantial excuse, but the bottom line was I was guilty, got caught, and had to pay the penalty for my crime of speeding.
Our text for this lesson deals with issues that cause us, as Christians, some concern. Over the years we have been led to believe that the Old Testament law does not apply to us any more because we now live under a new system. However, Jesus said, “Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (verse 17). Thus His existence on this earth fulfilled all the prophecies which were given by the prophets of the Old Testament, with one exception, His Second Coming in glory and triumph over evil.
Even though Jesus, through His life, death, and resurrection, abolished the need for the Jewish sacrificial system, He still admonishes us to keep and teach the laws of God. Jesus said, “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” (v. 19).
If you look at most of the early laws of our nation, you will discover that nearly all of them were based on the laws found in the Bible. Therefore our early forefathers acknowledged what Jesus said, keeping God’s laws is a good thing, breaking them is not. In verse 20 He makes a curious statement in regard to our righteousness, comparing it to that of the Scribes and Pharisees, whose righteousness was self-focused at best. Our righteousness, therefore, in order to be above that of the Scribes and Pharisees, must be on a higher plane than theirs. It must be a spiritual righteousness that supersedes everything. We are to live that higher calling in Christ Jesus as Paul talked about in Philippians 3:12-16.
As we strive to daily walk on this higher plane we will see life differently from how the world sees it. We learn to value life from conception to natural death. We know that abortion and euthanasia are murder in disguise and should be stood against because they devalue life. The laws legalizing abortion go against the laws of God and we should work diligently to change them through prayer and the political process.
Jesus said physical murder is against the law, but He takes it a step further by saying anger toward your brother is murder in your heart. He says that loving those who love you is good and easy, but He goes further saying to love our enemies. These teachings are indeed difficult, but if followed will produce true righteousness in our lives.