Robert Morris — Amazing Law
I want to ask you to turn to two passages of Scripture. We'll begin in Matthew 5, and then we're going to go to Galatians 3. We went to Galatians 3 last week. If you remember, Galatians 3 started out on foolish Texans, and was written directly to us. So, we'll go to Matthew 5, and we're going to take a passage from Jesus, out of the Sermon on the Mount. And we're in a series called "Amazing Grace", and the title of this message might shock you a little bit, but the title of this message is "Amazing Law".
Now, last week we talked about our amazing new husband, that we were married to the law, but now we're married to Jesus. But, I want to show you how amazing the law is, and why God gave the law. Why did he even give the law? And, if we've been released from the law, as Romans 7 says, then how do we relate to the law, and why did God give us the law? So, we're going to talk about this, but the law is amazing. Now, the law, according to Jewish tradition, would be divided into two categories, the moral laws of God and the ceremonial laws of God.
Gentiles then divide those two categories as well. Under the ceremonial laws would be the ceremonial laws, and then the dietary laws. The ceremonial would include the feasts, and the sacrifices, and things like that, and then the dietary, you know, the things that were clean or unclean to eat. And then under the moral laws of God, Gentiles normally divided into two categories, the moral laws being the Ten Commandments, and then the judicial laws. We get our laws about murder and manslaughter from the Bible. That's from the Bible. God tells the difference between murder and manslaughter, and He gives judicial laws.
When you include the Ten Commandments, and you take the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy... the word Deuteronomy means the second law, or the law the second time. So, God's like, I'm going to give it to you again, in case you missed it the first time, to make sure you get this. When you add those together, all of the laws, the moral, the judicial, the ceremonial, and the dietary laws, there are 613 laws that God gave, 613. But why did God give these laws? I want you to understand, the law is not bad. God wants us to live moral lives.
As a matter of fact, when Jesus is saying that there are going to be many people coming to me, saying, you know, Lord, Lord, didn't we do all of these things in your name? He said, I'm going to say, "Depart from me, for I never knew you, you who practiced lawlessness"... you who practiced lawlessness. Now again, we're not married to the law, but do you know what happens when we do get married to Jesus? Listen very carefully. He writes His laws on our heart. So, we're going to talk about why God gave us the law. Am I building some intrigue for you here? Okay, never mind.
All right, so. You have to understand that the only way that the Jews knew to relate to God was through the law and law keeping. That's the only way they knew to relate to God, until Jesus showed up. And the Bible says that Jesus was grace and truth. He didn't do away with the law, the truth of God's law, but grace showed up also. So, Jesus had to make some clarifying statements about the law, and we're about to read some clarifying statements, all right? Paul, by the way, had to make clarifying statements also about the law. It's a lot in Romans and Galatians.
All right, so here He is, Matthew 5, look at Verse 17. Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle"... now, we've compared that to, you know, the dotting of an I or the crossing of a T. It'd be similar to that, but "one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven". Now, notice He doesn't say he goes to hell, so this apparently is a believer. He's called least in the kingdom of heaven. "But whoever does and teaches them" - does and teaches them, "he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven".
So, God is not saying He wants us to live immoral lives. He wants us to live moral lives. There is a real popular trend today, especially among the younger generation, in what's called subjective morality. Subjective morality is that morality is not objective, that there is not an absolute that we base it on, but it is subjective to each person. Each person can decide what's right for him or her. That's what subjective morality is.
Just a few weeks ago, we had Dr. Ravi Zacharias, and he's speaking at one of these Ivy League schools, and he was taking questions. And one of the questions from the audience was, this young student said to him, "I just want to ask you a question. Why are you so afraid of subjective morality"? Why are you so afraid of that? I want you to listen to his answer. Here's what he said. He said, "Do you lock your doors at night"? And the student said, "Uh, yeah". He said, "You're afraid of subjective morality, and you should be". Because, when you say, well, morality is what's right in every person's eyes, there may be someone who doesn't believe it's wrong to put a bullet between your eyes. So, you have to have objective morality, which is the Word of God. It's based on God's Word, all right?
So, let me show you the four purposes of the law. Here's number one. The law is a master. Now, I told you if you wanted to put a marker at Galatians 3:24-25 says, "Therefore the law was our tutor". Now, this word in the Old King James is translated schoolmaster. "To bring us to Christ". "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor". So, the law is a tutor to bring us to Christ.
This Greek word, tutor, we just read it twice. It's only in the New Testament three times. It refers to a man who took charge of a boy. He was hired, or he was a slave, and his responsibility was to take charge of a boy during his school-age years, from 6 to 16. This was in a Greek household. And his responsibility was to get that child from home to the teacher. He was not the teacher, as we think of a tutor. His job was to get him from home to the teacher, and then back from the teacher, back to home, safely.
Now, I want you to think about this. The law's job is to bring us to the teacher. That's his job. He's a master, the schoolmaster, or teacher. I was thinking about this today. John, you grew up Catholic, is that right? And, did you ever get popped by the ruler? Oh, yeah. Have you gone through freedom ministry? Okay, all right. So, but how old were you when you accepted Christ? 18, okay. So, what was the law doing for Pastor John before he accepted Christ? So, here's what the law was doing. The law was saying you need to do this, you need to this, you need to do this, you don't need to do this, don't do this, don't do this, do this, do this, do this, don't do this, don't do this. And I'm talking about the moral laws of God now, all right?
But, let me sum up what the law was saying to John before he accepted Christ. You need Jesus. You need Jesus. That's the law's job, is to bring us to Jesus. Now, what does the law do for us after we get saved? Now this might shock you, but listen. Here's what the law is still saying to me, to this day. You still need Jesus. You still need Jesus. That's what the law does!
The law is the teacher, you know, that walked around with the ruler. But, what if you were in her class and you heard about a teacher. Maybe you were in college at this time. You heard about this professor that would come and actually kneel down at your desk, and would explain to you very gently and very kindly, and help you understand, and would stay after class and spend time with you, and everyone in this class got As. What would you do? Transfer! Right? That's what I'm telling you. We transfer from the law being our teacher to Jesus being our teacher. So, the law is a master to bring us to Christ.
Here's the second thing about the law. The law is a mirror. It's a mirror. James 1:23-25, "For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he's like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty", to me that's truth and grace, "and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work,"... now, watch this carefully, "this one will be blessed in what he does". The one who reads the perfect law of liberty, the moral laws of God, through the eyes of grace... the one who does this, and he reads it and he doesn't forget it, it's a mirror. It shows him who he really is, and he does what's in the Word, everything he does will be blessed. I mean, that's incredible.
So, the law reflects the moral standards of God. All right? The law reflects the moral standards of God. In other words, if you want to know if something is good for you or bad for you, you could read the law. The law will help you. For instance, let me say it this way. Adultery, He's against it. Why though, is He against it? Let me tell you why. Because He's for people, and adultery hurts people. That's why. Is He for or against stealing? He's against it, right? Why is He against stealing? Because He's for people. Is He for or against lying? He's against it. Why? Because lying hurts people.
This is what Paul said, the way he said it, Romans 7:7. He said, "I would not have known". "I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet". The law reflects the parameters of God's desires, but it does not reflect the parameters of His love. This is very, very important to understand. The law reflects the parameters, or the boundaries, of God's desires, but it does not reflect the boundaries of His love. Let me say it this way. Does the world, everyone in the world... does everyone in the world keep God's law? No. But, does God love the world? Yes. His desire is that people wouldn't steal, that people wouldn't lie, that they wouldn't commit adultery. That's His desire. But, He still loves the person who lies, and He sent His Son for that person.
So, what this does is it helps me understand how I relate to other people. Let's say that you have a grown child who's not walking with the Lord, and that grown child says to you, do you disagree with my lifestyle? You would say, well, it's not my desire that you live that way, because according to Scripture, you've got a car wreck headed in front of you, you've got a train wreck in front of you. But, I still love you. I love you with all of my heart, and God loves you.
You see what I'm saying? It's like when the woman was caught in adultery. Remember, the Bible says, John 1 says, Jesus was full of grace and truth - grace and truth, okay? She's caught in adultery. They said, the law says stone her. What do you say? He never disagreed with the law. He did not disagree with the law. He did disagree with Pharisees' added laws and interpretations sometimes, but He didn't disagree with God's law, never one time. Here's what He said. They said, the law says stone her, what do you say? He said, you're right. But, the one who's without sin, let him cast the first stone. And of course, none of them were.
By the way, He qualified Himself as the only one that could have cast a stone, because He was without sin. But, when everyone walked away, He said to this woman, "Does no one condemn you"? She said, "No one, Lord". Listen to what He said now, grace and truth, grace and truth. Here's what He said. "Neither do I" - that's grace. "Go and sin no more" - that's truth. He said, I don't condemn you either, but don't continue in this lifestyle, because it's bad for you. Don't do this. That's grace and truth. So, the law is a mirror.
Here's number three. The law is a map. The law's a map. It shows us which way to go if we want to have a good life, a joy-filled life. Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". All through Psalm 119, it says, your Word, your laws, your precepts, your statues... all say this is the roadmap. If you want to know how to be married, it's in the book. If you want to know how to raise kids, it's in the book. If you want to know how to run your business, it's in the book. God gives us a map of how to live a joy-filled life.
Now, listen to me. Here's how good Satan is. He's turning it around. Satan has convinced many people, if you do something and it's fun, it must not be God. And God is saying, no, no, no, no. I'm telling you that living with the same woman for your entire life, and loving her, and laying your life down for her, is the way you'll experience joy on this earth, not going from person to person to person and heartache to heartache to heartache. So, it's a map of how to go the right way. You know I was just... I had a thought. I've just got to give you this thought. If it weren't for people not keeping God's laws, we wouldn't have any country and western music. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have... I'm sorry.
All right, here's number four. The law is a measure. It's a measure. This is number four. The law is a measure. It shows me how I'm doing, keeping the moral standards of God. Now, remember, remember, when we get saved, we're not married to the law anymore, we're married to Jesus. But, remember, He says in the new covenant, I'm going to write my laws on their heart. So, there's an internal compass that God gives me to be able to walk morally so I can enjoy this life, have a good life. So, here's what the law does. The law keeps me in line. It helps me understand some of these things, again, through my relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Let me say it this way. Before I got saved, I was a liar. I was a liar. I lied. I told lies, okay? After I got saved, someone was asking me about something and I said to them, "Well, I have a problem with exaggeration". And you know what God's Word said to me? No, you have a problem with lying. I remember, so I go from lying to thinking, well, I just have a problem with exaggeration. I remember, then once I became a preacher, I remember thinking, I just embellish things. But God's Word says to me, no, you lied.
I remember one time, I said to Debbie, I said, "You know, God's really convicted me in an area of my life. I think I have a tendency sometimes to exaggerate when I preach". She said, "You think"? And so, I said, "Well, I want you to help me in this area". So, you know, a few weeks later, we get in the car and I said, "How was the message"? She says, "Great, great". She said, "But you know, you asked me to help you in the area of exaggeration, and you said, you know, we had had 50 people saved last week... and we had 7". And so, it was a helpful reminder to me that I'm not to embellish, I'm not to exaggerate, because here's what it actually is. It's a lie. So, I have a measure in my life.
Now, you need to understand that law keeping is not the measure of true spirituality, though. Now, hear me clearly on this. Law keeping is not the measure of true spirituality. If law keeping had been the measure of true spirituality, then the Pharisees would have been the most spiritual. And here's what Jesus said to them - you look like a cemetery. Pretty green grass and nice flowers, but you have dead men's bones on the inside. So, there are people that haven't been saved long at all, and don't even know some of the things that they shouldn't do, but they love God with all of their heart. Now, they grow and they mature, but they don't know.
I remember when I was an associate pastor at Shady Grove Church, one of the things I did for part of the time was the Young Marrieds' Ministry. And so, we had this retreat, and we had these young marrieds, and we were sitting around this campfire, and we were telling our testimonies, how we came to Christ. And there was a couple there that had been saved three weeks. They had been saved three weeks, the husband and the wife, and in a minute, they guy said, "Ooh, ooh", he said, "can I share my testimony, can I share my testimony"? And I said, "Yeah, share your testimony".
He said, "Well, I grew up", he said, "never went to church, didn't know God". And while he was talking, he reached in his pocket and he pulled his pack of cigarettes out, and he started packing that. If you don't know what this is, ask a former smoker. But, he's packing his tobacco. You know, he's doing like this. He says, "And I didn't know God. I didn't know one thing about God". Then he pulled a cigarette out and stuck it in his mouth. Said, "Then I came a few weeks ago to church". He says, "And I heard for the first time about Jesus dying on the cross".
I looked around. You should have seen the church people's eyes! And one of them came to me after and said, "Pastor Robert, are you going to tell him? Are you going to talk to him about smoking? Are you going to talk to him"? And I said, "You know what? I'm going to let the Holy Spirit talk to him about it". And I remember, when I turned and walked away, I had this thought. I thought, well, what if the Holy Spirit doesn't talk to him? And then I had this thought. Well, if the Holy Spirit doesn't talk to him, why would you talk to him then? He loved Jesus! But, he didn't know anything about your body's the temple of the Holy Spirit. He didn't know that yet. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't help people grow, and learn, and mature.
But let me say it another way, all right? I've given you four M's - you know, the law is a master, a mirror, a map. You know, I've given you these M's, you know, a measure. I'm going to give you another M. It's not another point, but if you want to write it down, something that the law is not. The law is not a machete. It's not something that you use to hack up other people with. You know, you don't wear your hair right... hack, hack, hack, hack. And you don't wear your makeup right... hack, hack, hack. Or, here's one that... you don't believe like our church believes. Hack, hack, hack.
God never intended it to be used that way. It's a measure. It helps me see how I'm doing, how I'm growing in my relationship with Christ. Now, listen to me. The law is a test, but it's not to show God how well you're doing, it's not to show others how well you're doing. It shows you how well you're doing. And I want to take this a step further. Because of grace - now again, I'm going to say a statement that might be shocking, okay? The law is a test that God does not grade for believers.
He doesn't grade it for believers. Here's the reason, because there are 613 questions. And here's what God says. Okay, now I have a test. There are 613 questions on it. Oh, and by the way, if you miss one question, you fail the test. You failed it. You get them all wrong. If you get one wrong, that's what James 2:10 says - if you get one wrong, you're guilty of all. You miss them all. Now, you can take that test if you want. Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you this. You actually already have been taking the test, and you've already failed. Yeah, just so you know. You've already failed. Or, I want you to know that my Son took the test, and He scored a perfect score, and if you'd like, you can have His grade. That's amazing grace.
You know, God really does want us to live a righteous and a moral life, and it's not so that we just keep some set of rules or regulations, it's for our good. God really wants us to walk in righteousness for our own good. It's like when we say to our children, don't play in the street. Please play in the yard, because you could get hurt in the street. It's the same way. God is a great parent. But I do want to remind you that the only way that we can live a moral life is through the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, if you've never received Jesus as your Savior, I want to give you the opportunity right now. Right now, would you just simply tell the Lord... Lord, I receive you, I trust you. Will you give control of your life to the Lord? Hey, I'm so glad if you've given your life to the Lord. I'd love to hear from you if you've done that, and I also want to remind you, I'm continuing this series next week, "Amazing Grace".