We have been doing an interesting study through Deuteronomy on Sunday mornings during class. It is interesting to note that Jesus quoted from this book more than any other. A few weeks ago we looked at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in conjunction with passages from Deuteronomy. Our lesson was about the Spirit of the Law.
There are a lot of misconceptions about God’s Law. I have seen an attitude of indifference towards it that is often fostered by easy believism and the prosperity gospel. Its faulty thinking goes like this: “The law does not matter, we live under grace.” This is often followed by: “Don’t be so legalistic. We’re not under the law.” Or, “Jesus did away with the law.” This thought is wrong for several reasons. First, Jesus did not do away with the law; He fulfilled it. Also, obedience is not the definition of legalism. In addition, God’s moral law still exists. It reveals our sin. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Rom 7:7)
In fact, the biblical definition of sin is transgression (or breaking) of the law. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1Jn 3:4) And it only takes the breaking of one law to be guilty. The book of James states that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (Jas 2:10)
Paul tells us that the unregenerate are still under the law and that by the law they become guilty before God. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Rom 3:19) But thanks be to God that the saved have been made free from the law of sin and death! (Romans 8:2)
So where does the spirit of the law come in? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount not only elevates the standards of the law, but it shows the spirit of the law. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said that He has come to fulfill the law. In verse 20 He said that unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (the law keepers and most religious of the time) that we would not enter into heaven. Further down He quotes the law from Deuteronomy and contrasts the Old Testament interpretation of the law with the spirit of the law.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mat 5:21-22)
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Mat 5:27-28)
Why would Christ put the thought of murder or adultery equivalent to the act? The answer is simple. It is because God is concerned with our heart. Sometimes we live as though we forget that there are internal sins as well as external. There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission. Our hearts are important. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (Mat 15:19-20)
In our prideful state we think that if we look good on the outside and don’t commit those “acts” that it doesn’t matter what’s in our heart or our thoughts. Oh, how easy it is to fool others. How foolish it is to think that we can fool God. He (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (Mar 7:6)
As a parent I desire nothing more than for my children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. My standards for my children are high, because God’s standards for His children are high. (Matthew 5:48) But, I have to be careful in my endeavor to raise godly children that I don’t create little Pharisees. (Those who keep the law but whose hearts are far from God.) In truth, it is easier to teach children to obey “laws” than to teach them to follow the “spirit of the law.” But really it’s the heart that matters.
Several years ago I found online a list of family rules that I want to share. (I’m not sure of the source, so if anyone knows where they came from let me know. I will be happy to give credit due.) These family rules have been posted on our refrigerator and referred to often. What I love about these rules is that they are not just a list of do’s and don’ts. The focus of each is on the heart, the spirit of the law. I hope they can be a blessing to you and your family.
1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another’s interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.