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We have been taught here that we who eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus are cut off from the old Covenant because the Law forbids the drinking of blood. Yet we were also taught to uphold the commands and decrees of the old Covenant because Jesus did not abolish the Law or the Prophets. Indeed HOW is it that we are to do this?

Let me walk you through the steps in Matthew 5-7 as the Lord took me through them.

This is what our Sovereign Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5.17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks (relaxes[1]) one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

And to prove that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, which would have caused Him to declare the commands and teachings obsolete and unnecessary to follow, Jesus went on to remind us, His disciples, certain commandments contained in the Law, but He also brought out of His storeroom of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, the new treasures as well as the old.

1. As regards murder, Jesus said in Matthew 5.21, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of Hell.” He changed the focus to judgment, where now murder and unforgiveness and lack of repentance carry the same judgment. To the world and its law, murder and unforgiveness are not on the same scale in terms of criminality and liability, but in God’s eyes, unforgiveness is so detestable that it is equated to murder. Murder is taking something that does not belong to you, which in this case is someone else’s life. Unforgiveness is withholding something that belongs to your brother when he sins against you, that something is mercy. Here, Jesus was building up His teachings onto love of enemies as the initial turning point from the old Covenant with the commands of the Law and the teachings of the Prophets, to the new Covenant with the single command of the Father to listen to Jesus and the teachings of His Son together with the counsel of the Holy Spirit. The old Covenant was about worship and being servants of God. The new Covenant has the additional element of Sonship. Notice Jesus said the words “your Father” fifteen times in Matthew 5 to 7. The harvest that is on the mind of God is clear.

2. As regards adultery, or “lustful intent” as the ESV calls it, Jesus said in Matthew 5.28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into Hell.

Why was adultery elevated to that which is committed in the heart, and not the flesh? And why is adultery in this form so grave that Jesus taught the extreme measure of tearing out your eye and throwing it away if it causes you to sin?

Because when Israel sinned against the Lord when they bowed down to starry hosts to worship them, and Israel replaced service of the God of the living with service of wood and stone that has no breath in it,[2] the land became guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD. So it is indeed better for us to lose one part of our body than for our whole body to go to Hell by committing the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord in our heart, (adultery of the heart can be undetected by men because it is hidden from your words and actions, but it is never hidden from the Lord because He searches our hearts). To me, whatever we hold onto but causes us to depart or distance ourselves from the Lord is already an idol in our heart. An idol doesn’t have to be made of wood or stone, it can come from fear or fantasy. Pull it out of your heart and throw it away and repent. You don’t need it- it’s useless. Sin desires to have us but we must rule over it[3] by practising the words of Jesus, not by practising words that we have heard long ago. That’s the thing, we were never meant to rule over each other, or our enemies, or lord over each other as benefactors. We were meant to rule over sin, but instead, sin had ruled over us. So listen to Jesus the Overcomer and to what the Holy Spirit says to the churches.

3. As regards divorce, Jesus said that the only ground for divorce is marital unfaithfulness or sexual immorality.[4]But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

Why does the Father hate divorce, beyond the obvious of the adulteries and the hardness of our hearts?[5] …Because divorce reminds Him of death. It reminds Him that it was not this way from the beginning. It reminds Him the true height from which we first fell and the grief we had caused Him when He said to Eve, “What is this you have done?”[6] And so the Lord had to give Adam and Eve a certificate of divorce from the Garden of Eden for their hearts were hard and they did not repent of their mistake.

And why is it acceptable to divorce someone only on the ground of marital unfaithfulness or sexual immorality? So that it is possible for ones who listen to Jesus and desire to accomplish the words of the Lord in Revelation 18.4, “Come out of her My people, so that you will not share in her [Babylon, the mother of prostitutes] sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to Heaven, and God has remembered her crimes… In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.” “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the Earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the Earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”[7] To those who do not want to take part in the adulteries of the prostitute church, this is their authority from Jesus to give a certificate of divorce and leave her. These words of the Lord also form the legal basis for the Father to later give Babylon a certificate of divorce and send her away, “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.”[8] By God’s own words, He will send Babylon away from His sight and give her a certificate of divorce because of her adulteries. His ways are righteous and His judgments are true for God is Justice.

4. As regards oaths, Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by Heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the Earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (from evil[9]).”

Why did Jesus say that swearing comes from evil? Didn’t the Father promise on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’?[10]I gave you My solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became Mine.[11] The Lord is not evil, so why did Jesus say that swearing is from the evil one?

Because no one except God Almighty has the right to swear by Heaven. Remember that it was not by our understanding that the Heavens were set in place, nor by our wisdom that laid the Earth’s foundation, nor is it our name that is placed in the city of Jerusalem, nor was it our own breath of life that was breathed into man’s nostrils. To swear on which we did not create is from evil and the evil one because it is the same as saying, “I will ascend to Heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” That’s why is it from evil and that’s why Jesus told us not to swear. Have you considered the effects it has on the Heavens when we swear by it and do not fulfill our oaths?

5. As regards what it was said “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth”, Jesus taught us not to resist an evil person. “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” This is the lead-up to love for enemies…

6. As regards our enemies, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is the final command in the series of Matthew 5 where Jesus added the “new twist” to the commands of the old Covenant, but it is also first command as regarding Sonship.

Having taught us that the love for our enemies allows us to be sons of our Father in Heaven, Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 6 goes on to adjust our attitude, which was ingrained from the practice of the commands of the Old Covenant. Jesus began to teach us to start thinking about a personal relationship with our Father when we give to the needy, when we pray and fast. Do them all in secret- its not about public applause. Out of the fifteen times Jesus said, “your Father” in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, He said, “your Father” ten times in chapter 6. And we are not to worry about our lives and what we will wear and what we will eat, but seek first the Kingdom of God and the Father’s righteousness, and things that your Father knows you need will be given to you as well.

And in chapter 7 is where the treasure of this topic lies. How do we uphold the old Covenant in honour of our Father and still be obedient to the new Covenant by listening to Jesus?

The Father has made it so simple for us when Jesus said in Matthew 7.12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”[12]Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”[13] ” (Chinese Union Version- the Chinese version I translate to mean, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the “principle” behind all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”)

So now we know how to answer someone if they should accuse us of dishonouring the laws of the old Covenant when we listen to Jesus the way we do. Our answer is this, “We are not dishonouring the Father because we do not abide by the Law. The Father commanded us to listen to Jesus and we must abide by Jesus’ words. Jesus said that doing to others what we would have them do to us sums up the Law and the Prophets. So when we practise these words of Jesus, we are upholding the laws of the old Covenant AND listening to Jesus at the same time.”

Cool, isn’t it? Thank you LORD!


 

[1] ESV

[2] Ezekiel 20.32; Jeremiah 2.27, 3.9; Habakkuk 2.19

[3] ESV

[4] ESV

[5] Malachi 2.16

[6] Genesis 3.13

[7] Revelation 18.3

[8] Revelation 18.21

[9] ESV

[10] Exodus 33.1

[11] Ezekiel 16.8

[12] ESV

[13] NLT

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