Teaching the Law - 2
Lesson 8

It was early morning as Christ led the multitude to a large grassy plain on the side of the mountain and then seated himself where He could be seen by all. This morning was in marked contrast with that of Sinai centuries before when in awful grandeur and amid the peals of loudest thunder God’s voice spoke, giving to Israel His law. All the majesty of that scene was necessary to impress its solemnity upon the minds of the children of Israel whose lives had been spent among the symbols and ceremonies of the Egyptian worship.

Now, however, Christ, who had led the children of Israel in the wilderness, was about to define the principles of that law, which were to be carried out and exemplified in practical life.

As He spoke, Christ did not use eloquence of words to express the grand truths He was presenting; nothing to bewilder the mind or mislead the imagination. The language was simple; it was God speaking to the soul of man in kindness and love, and the beatitudes were His greeting to the human family. To the poor in spirit, the sorrowing, the persecuted, He stretched out His arms, saying, “Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest.”

1. What characteristic must all have who will one day see God?

Matthew 5:8
Matthew 5:8

2. Why is this so?

Matthew 15:19
Matthew 15:19

Note: True character is not something we wear and that is shaped from without; it radiates from within. Therefore, the principles of God’s law extend beyond the outward actions. Before an overt act of wrong is committed, it is meditated in the heart, for as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

3. What had God promised to do for His law?

Isaiah 42:21
Isaiah 42:21

Note: This Christ truly did in all His life and teaching. He did not, as some have claimed, do away with the binding claims of the law, but lived them out in His life, showing that humanity combined with divinity need not be the servant of sin.

4. What did Jesus associate with the outward act of murder?

Matthew 5:21-22
Matthew 5:21-22

Note: Rather than in any way detracting from the Law, Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement. This placed murder in an altogether different light from that which it had generally been viewed. This was not a new truth but that which had been taught by the prophets. Moses had said, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart. . . . Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Leviticus 19:17–18. However, through sin and hardness of heart, and as traditions had increased, this truth had to a large extent been obscured.

There is an indignation that is justifiable, even in the followers of Christ. When they see God or the truth dishonored, or the innocent oppressed, a righteous indignation stirs the soul. However, those who suppose that they can indulge anger or resentment under supposed provocation are out of harmony with the principles of heaven and thus they open the door for the entrance of sin.

5. In defining impurity, what did Christ associate with adultery?

Matthew 5:27-28
Matthew 5:27-28

Note: Such an idea of purity was unheard and undreamed of. Though Jewish tradition had many laws dealing with the welfare of women and the marriage relationship, absolutely never were there any statements that could in any way compare to this. If the lustful thought was to be equated with adultery, there was not a person who could but feel condemned of having violated the commandment. It is not strange that once Jesus finished His discourse that the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Matthew 7:28-29

Christ here points out that character is determined, not so much by an outward act, as by the attitude that motivates the act. The outward act merely reflects the inward attitude. He who would commit a wrong act if he were certain he could avoid detection and punishment, and who is restrained only by that fear, is, in the eyes of God, guilty.

6. What is the secret to overcoming sin in the life?

Psalms 119:11
Psalms 119:11

Note: The power of God is in His Word. It was by the Word that Jesus met the temptations of Satan and overcame him in the wilderness. A close study of this same Word, received into the soul, will prove a mighty barrier for us against sin. If the mind is kept directed to high and holy ideals, evil finds little foothold. It is God’s Word that is our source of strength in overcoming sin in the life.

7. How does the apostle Paul refer to the Word of God?

Ephesians 6:17
Ephesians 6:17

8. What are these spiritual weapons able to do for us?

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

9. What did Jesus say regarding those who are overcome by sin?

John 8:34

10. What is Jesus able to do for us?

John 8:36
John 8:36

Note: It was by trusting in God’s promises that Jesus received power to obey God’s commandments, and the tempter could gain no advantage. To every temptation His answer was, “It is written.” Just so, God has given us His word that by following Jesus’ example, we too may resist evil. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan.

11. What did Christ say of those who break the commandments?

Matthew 5:19
Matthew 5:19

Note. The scribes had meticulously arranged all the precepts of the law, as well as their own regulations, in a scale of relative importance. Using this scale of relative value, when there was an apparent conflict of requirements, the lesser requirement was nullified by the one of presumably greater importance. By this means of legalism it was possible to devise ways of circumventing the plainest requirements of the law of God. (See Mark 7:7–13.) Christ, rather than detracting from the law showed that He was even more strict than their teachers and that far from releasing men from the moral precepts of the law, He granted no exceptions. All were equally permanent and binding.

Neither was Christ teaching that those who broke any of the commandments would be in heaven, but that they would be esteemed least by heaven. Thus the scribes and Pharisees who broke the commandments and taught others how they might do so, are excluded from the kingdom.

12. Is it possible to disregard any precept of the law and be guiltless?

James 2:10
James 2:10

Note: It is not the greatness of the disobedient act that constitutes sin, but the variance from God’s revealed will in the smallest particular. Whenever men choose their own way, they place themselves in controversy with God. In choosing to disregard God’s law, they place themselves in harmony with Satan and thus can have no place in heaven.

13. What was the stated purpose for Christ’s coming?

Matthew 1:21
Matthew 1:21

Note: Christ did not come merely to save us from the inevitable suffering that is the result of sin, but from sin itself.

14. What did Christ say regarding our eye if it causes us to offend?

Matthew 5:29
Matthew 5:29

Note: The strongest inducements to sin are those that reach the mind through the senses. He who refuses to indulge by looking upon that which is suggestive of sin, will have gone far towards avoiding sinful thoughts. If evil thoughts that are presented to the mind were immediately banished we would have gone a long way towards avoiding the development of habitual thought patterns that condition the mind to commit sin.

Eternity alone will reveal the wonderful destiny that awaits those who resolutely set their will to cooperate with God in overcoming sin. In one sense, it would be better for us to go through life maimed than to forfeit eternal life. Wild animals that are trapped have been known to gnaw off their own paw in order to escape. Speaking figuratively of plucking out an eye, or cutting off a hand, Jesus speaks of the resolute action that must be taken by the will in order to guard against evil.

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