Sunday, January 18, 2009

Matthew 5:17-20

The relationship of Jesus to the law is very important, as is the relationship of the law to the believer. What does it mean to fulfill the law? In what respects does he fulfill it? Does that mean it is no longer binding, or that it is? I think their are few hints:
  • The law endures, down to the smallest penstroke.
  • The law makes some difference still because if you break it and teach others to break it, you are, shall we say, demoted. And if you keep it and teach others to keep it you will be great in the kingdom.
  • The law is ineffective for establishing righteousness (Galatians 2:21; Galatians 5:4). You cannot acquire a righteous standing before God by keeping the law. . .unless you outdo the Pharisees and Scribes. . .which won't happen.
I think Jesus fulfilled the law in that he kept it perfectly and met it's moral demands. He was perfectly righteous. He, then, can declare righteous, or pass on his righteousness, to those who believe in him (Romans 3:28). So, the law cannot establish righteousness in a person (Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:11), though it is the perfect revelation of God's righteousness (Romans 7:12-16). As God's perfect revelation, the law makes known sin (Romans 5:13; Romans 5:20). When a believer is identified with Christ in his death, we die to the law and its authority as the benchmark for our righteousness is ended (Romans 7:1-4). The result is not antinomianism, but spiritual fruit.

I think Jesus fulfilled the law in that he was the perfect sacrifice for sin which was prefigured in the sacrifices demanded in the law (Hebrews 9:19-28). Thus, as a fulfillment of the law, Jesus was the one who could forgive sin and establish righteousness.

This was more than I bargained for. While there may be more to say about the role of the law in convicting sinners of sin (Romans 3:19-20), I hope this discussion was helpful.

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