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Fulfilling the Law

(Matthew 5:17,18,21,22,27,28,31-35,38,39,43,44)

Lesson 10 -- fourth quarter 2004
November 7, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

What is your heart disposition toward God's laws and precepts?

Do you believe every aspect of today's lesson is for us in our day?

Is faithful obedience too much of a sacrifice, or is it legalistic?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

Jesus gives the Law its substance.

Without Jesus, the Law is incomplete. So Jesus came to fulfil both the Law and the prophets. Remember who appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration: Moses (the Law bearer) and Elias (the Message bearer). The Father then spoke from heaven, directing that now Jesus should be heard and heeded -- Jesus, the Law Giver and the Message Giver. Since the Shadow Caster came, we now fix our eyes on Him rather than on the shadows (Colossians 2:17).

God's laws stand, waiting to be fulfilled.

As long as time lasts, no unfulfilled element of God's will and laws shall cease to apply to us. For example, He no longer requires animal sacrifices because Jesus fulfilled that aspect of His will. But what about "Thou shalt not commit adultery"? There is a limited sense in which even that law passes -- when Jesus transforms it from an exterior command to an inward motivation and state of being. When that moral standard becomes such a part of us, Jesus has fulfilled it in us. When the grace of Jesus works that incredible work in us, we would no more think of committing adultery than we would think of killing a lamb as a sin offering to God.

Caution: Do not allow yourself or your students to be led astray by carrying the above concept too far. Jesus' fulfillment of the sacrificial system was a clearly-defined, irreversible historical event. Jesus' fulfillment of moral law is a lengthy, individualized, reversible process -- so it requires that the moral code itself remain in place.

Questions and Responses

Since I'm guilty for thinking it, why should I not go ahead and do it?

In the eyes of the Judge, even a lustful look ranks as adultery. God sees and judges our spiritual activity just as tangibly as we see and judge our own physical activity. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Hence the lie from the Deceiver: "Since you are already guilty of adultery for merely looking and thinking, it will make no difference if you go further by acting. You are guilty anyway -- you just as well get some further fun out of it. Not doing it will not make you any less guilty." Don't accept it!

Acting out your thoughts affects other people much more directly. Had David not compounded his sin by acting on his lustful thoughts, Bathsheba, Uriah, the whole nation of Israel, and David's own family would not have suffered the effects they did.

Acting out your thoughts adds more sin to your record. David looked where he shouldn't have and he thought what he shouldn't have. So far so bad. Then he sends for Bathsheba. This is getting worse; add another sin. Then comes the adultery. Add yet another sin. Could it possibly get worse? It did!

Acting out your thoughts brings more bondage and accountability. Even if David had gone no further than his lustful thinking, that alone could have kept him in mental and spiritual bondage. But he would have been accountable only for that. His subsequent deeds put him further into bondage and led to greater and greater accountability.

Acting out your thoughts produces a greater impact on your testimony. David's lustful thoughts were known only to him and to God. That alone is enough. But at least no one else knew that the man after God's own heart had sinned in this fashion. His deeds first tainted his testimony before those in the palace, and then with his general, and from there it spread far further.

How far does God expect us to carry the practice of nonresistance?

Why would I wish to limit the scope of my nonresistance?

Additionally, consider these three boundaries for nonresistance: love, grace, and identity.

When you no longer have or know God's own love and grace in your heart, and He will not supply you with more, then you can ditch that whole nonresistance notion. When you no longer wish to be the child of your heavenly Father, then you may fight back.

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