The law and the prophets were until John...Bro. David Chancellor
8/11/2002 11:00 AM
And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Jesus was teaching the people not to be covetous. The Pharisees derided him. They justified themselves before men, but God could see the heart. He sees our intents and our purposes. Men will justify themselves before others, but God knows what is really going on. He knows about our hidden agendas. "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached..." We can learn from the law and the prophets, but something else came and was taking place as Christ walked among men.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all shall be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
While the law and the prophets were until John, Christ didn't come to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather he came to fulfill them and to do a work. In Christ, all the things of the Old Testament are fulfilled. The fulfillment of those things was in Christ. Christ begins to picture for them how things worked. The majority of the people were breaking the commandments but yet teaching. The Pharisees were especially good at this. They had many traditions that went beyond what God had said. He compares the "break and teach" and the "teach and do", but then says that if your righteousness doesn't exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees that you won't see the kingdom of heaven. John and Christ came preaching "repent" and teaching the kingdom of heaven. Christ was teaching them to submit both to the law of God and also to live under the law of the land.
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above: Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is night thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
A change took place when John and Jesus began to preach. Up until then the peoples' walk with God was based on doing. The man that would be right with God would begin to do the things of the law. John and Jesus began to teach "Believe what God can do in you." Our source of righteousness is found in God, not in the doing. The source of God is righteousness in the heart. You can't work your way into heaven, because you can't undo the wrong you have done before. The law couldn't clear the conscience and bring assurance that those things were past. There is a change in the source of our righteousness. Having God in the heart will keep us from breaking the things of the law, without having to have the "thou shalt" and the "thou shalt not". The source of our righteousness is through Christ bestowed on the heart of man to cause us to live a pure and holy life. Compare Paul under the law to Paul under Christ. Paul under the law was a persecutor and a murderer. Paul under Christ suffered persecution and encouraged others to live for the Lord. He was a different person than he had been under the law. Christ in us makes a change. It is a greater righteousness.
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Christ fulfilled and completed the things of the law and nailed them to his cross. Our sacrifice was offered there. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." When the Passover happened, Moses told them, "You will leave." It takes the blood of Christ for you to pack up and leave the life of sin. It's all been fulfilled. Our righteousness won't be in the law. It is a righteousness in the heart, not a righteousness earned by doing. Those things stood in the way of our relationship to God. Humanity would go back and put things back in the way of those that would find God. God had cleared these things out of the way to make a clear path to him. The Gentiles had a great deal of difficulty understanding the law, but they could know and understand God.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made a priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
The Levitical priesthood didn't change the heart of man. There was a change in priesthood. With the change of priesthood came a change of law. We have been freed to do what we know that God would have us to do. Christ is different because he has the power of an endless life. He was both the priest and the sacrifice. He makes intercession for us. A change took place when Christ came. We come to God by faith in the blood of Christ. He can make intercession for us in every need. We're invited to come to God. The message is the same, "Repent." There is an invitation to newness of life. It is a change from the law to a walk of faith. He was the sacrifice sufficient to make a change in our lives.