Yesterday I preached one of the most difficult portions of the Bible I have ever preached (except of course my very first time preaching in college when I was assigned Galatians 4:21-31, look that one up). I have been working through the Sermon on the Mount at Cornerstone Bible Church, a series that I am so excited about for the life of our church. Yesterday, we arrived at Matthew 5:17-20, a message that I called "A Life of Submission." You can listen to it at our church website HERE (it's usually posted by Tuesday)
There is a reason why many preachers skip over this passage. I looked for a few preachers that I know have preached through Matthew and many of them integrated this portion with the next section. They spent 10 minutes on this as part of the overall picture and then moved on. I wanted to do that, but I felt we needed to set the stage for what the life of the person who is part of the Kingdom looks like in regards to the importance of the Old Testament.
My main point was that "those who are part of the Kingdom live their lives in submission to God's Word." All of God's Word, not just the New Testament portion of God's Word. Many times believers view the OT as the ugly stepsister to the NT. We get our instruction from the NT and the OT was just what people back in that day needed, but not us. If that is our attitude, then I think we are missing large portions of the Holy, Inspired, Relevant, Inerrant Word of God.
There were Four Reasons For Why We Should Submit To The Entire Bible!
First, They Are All About Jesus (vs. 17). Jesus did not come to abolish the Law & Prophets (a way to say the OT Scriptures), but He came to fulfill them. All the OT points to Jesus, they are about Him. Later in Matthew 5, He is going to make six statements something like this: "You have heard it said before . . . but I tell you." He is not changing the OT laws that have been written, but He is trying to correct the perversion the religious leaders had made of it. Jesus is the fulfillment of the moral laws, the prophetic prophecies, and the sacrificial system as described in the OT. It is not that every passage is about Jesus, but every passage in the OT has a road that leads to Jesus because it is all about Him!
Second, They Are Trustworthy (vs. 18). The OT will not pass away, but all that it speaks of will be fulfilled. That means that it is reliable. It is something that is not going to change. We need this in our day, for if the Bible is 100% accurate even down to the smallest letter or stroke, then it means our faith can be unshakable. That means we should willingly submit to it.
Third, They Are Important (vs. 19). The Law & the Prophets cannot be abolished, but they are broken all the time. Jesus seems to be saying in this verse that there will be differing rewards in the Kingdom based on what we do with the commandments. But the real question has to do with what commandments is Jesus talking about? Are we going to be judged on whether we wear clothes that are mixed with wool & linen together (Deut 22:11), and things like that? No in the sense of the sundry and moral laws of the OT, but Yes in regards to the intent of the laws. We cannot deal with the Christian and Law question without talking about our hearts. Jesus wants us to do the right things, but He is going to emphasize doing the right things for the right reasons. The law of the Kingdom has to do with your heart.
Fourth, They Are Life-Changing (vs. 20). All the Scriptures give us hope and show us how our lives are to be changed from an external to internal righteousness. The religious leaders of the day were externally righteousness, but our only hope is that our righteousness had better be much more than that. We need to understand that Hell is going to be filled with people who think they are righteous, but in reality, they are nothing more than superficial religious people. Our only hope is to have a righteousness that is foreign to us, one that God gives to those on the basis of faith. And in the OT & NT, that has always been on the basis of faith. And when He does that we begin to act differently. We are willing to submit our lives to Him and His teachings. We care about one another, not just externally, but really care in our heart for them. He changes us from the inside out.
That's a life of submission.