Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:13-20

Christ Fulfills the Law

We continue with our Lord’s “Sermon on the Mount,” and we will be with it for the next several days.  There is so much in it that there is no way to do it justice.  As I have said before, the preacher’s task is to get out of the way of the Scriptures, that is, to be sure that in teaching them, he teaches them so as to elucidate their meaning, not obfuscate.  I hope I do that.

In 5:13-16, the Lord gives the job description of his people: to be salt and light in a tasteless and darkened world; tasteless, because sin is always boring.  Oh, it tingles the senses for awhile but must always have more to satisfy its cravings.  It’s called the “law of diminishing returns” – you have to have more of it each time to reach the same high as before.  That’s how sin operates.  The world is also dark. It is so because fallen man has a darkened mind and has made it so (Ephesians 4:18).  The Christian’s task is to be different and peculiar in this world.  Christians are supposed to stand out by their good works and genuine piety (Philippians 2:15).  In so doing, the world will either be impressed and give glory to God, or persecute those who behave so differently (2 Timothy 3:12).

The rest of the passage records Jesus’ high regard for the Law, not the Pharisees’ interpretation of it, but as it is written.  Now this does get confusing, after all, there are many things about the Law that Christians no longer practice – the sacrifices, dietary, circumcision, and other laws.  The New Testament explains this in different places.  Paul in Galatians makes it clear that faith in Christ makes circumcision as a law obsolete.  The Letter to the Hebrews deals with the Old Testament sacrificial code making it clear that Christ is our sacrifice.  Indeed, the Old Testament legal code was “but a shadow of the good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1).  In short, Christ fulfilled the Law in his person and ministry and so is the end of the Law.  We are saved through faith in him.  HOWEVER, and this is important, the moral law never passes away.  By the moral law, I mean the Ten Commandments and other such laws that speak to right and wrong, not food and clothing, etc.  Why is this?  Because the moral law expresses God’s nature and heart.  God says, “Thou shalt not murder” because He is the living God who created life.  God says “Thou shalt not commit adultery” because He is a God of fidelity.  God could say nothing other.  No, we do not obey the Law to be saved – we obey it because we are saved.  Thus, we do not obey out of slavery and fear, but love and devotion.  James calls it, “the law of liberty” (1:25).  So love God and neighbor for Christ’s sake and so fulfill the law (Matthew 22:34-40).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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