The law was to demonstrate to man the effect desired from a changed condition. The effect desired was to be the result of a perfect and righteous spirit within man.
Man interpreted the law as simply an action to perform. He thought that to fulfill the law one must do or not do certain actions. Jesus came and showed that it was not the action in of itself that was the concern. The action should be the effect, the result of a state of being. The spirit within man whether it be righteous or unrighteous, from God or the devil will produce the action.
This was the point and purpose of Jesus and his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus highlighted the difference between mere actions (or the habit formed by religion) and the spirit within which would produce the action. The very first thing Jesus speaks about on the Mount is not the law or the act of performing the law but the spirit within man!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
It truly is a blessed spirit that realizes it is poor. This was one of the main purposes of the law-to demonstrate to man that he is not perfect and cannot live perfectly on his own through his own efforts and actions. Man needs a Savior, he needs Jesus Christ.
Conflict arises within man when he tries to will an action without receiving Christ and a change of spirit. We can intellectually comprehend right from wrong and do right by force of habit or will. But if the spirit of man has not changed, if he hasn’t received the Holy Ghost then eventually man is going to fall short.
The Apostle Paul well demonstrates the battle of man’s attempt at “willing” the law.
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:21-25, 8:1-2).
The Jews and the religious elite had become so far removed from righteousness and the spirit of God and so entrenched in the actions of the law that what Jesus was preaching and teaching was alien to them. When Jesus spoke of the spirit and intent of God’s way the Jews thought he was attempting to bring in some new method, philosophy and precept.
Jesus made it clear, “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 be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).
But what Jesus was doing was bringing to their attention the spirit that produced the action which is God’s will as opposed to man’s will.
“Ye have heard that it was said of 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” (Matthew 5:21-22).
The action the law required was not to murder. Jesus explains the sin is actually anger. If you don’t get angry then you will not commit the action of murder.
“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” (Matthew 5:27-28).
The action the law required was not to commit adultery. Jesus explains if you do not lust after another woman then you will not commit the action of adultery.
The crucifixion, burial, descent, resurrection and ascension into Heaven of Jesus Christ was the redemptive and cleansing process for all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and receive the Holy Ghost. For the “Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit” (Romans 8:16) to guide us, instruct us, to help us and to keep us within the will of God. But, when we stumble and we will because we are currently housed in carnal flesh, we have a Savior in Jesus Christ who has paid the price for our sin.
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