The Law and Grace. Day forty-seven...
When was the last time, during an evening out with friends, that you talked about the transportation system, the utilities, the civil defense network, or the law enforcement network in your area? Not likely, unless there was a problem.
I can't remember a single conversation about infrastructure on a local, state, or national basis unless it was to complain about what wasn't working properly. But if the water, for example, coming out of the faucet tastes good and has plenty of pressure—there is no such conversation.
Your life, and my life, has an internal infrastructure of sorts.
The Bible defines this infrastructure in one way as consisting of three major components—spirit, soul, and body.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NKJV)
The Bible also defines this infrastructure in another way as consisting of two major components. The part of the soul that survives the grave is grouped together with the spirit, and is referred to as the spirit. And the part of the soul that does not survive the grave is grouped together with the body, and is referred to as the flesh.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41 KJV)
The infrastructure defined as spirit, soul, and body has the potential for a smooth operation. Otherwise, we would not have the potential to be preserved blameless.
The infrastructure defined as spirit and flesh does not have the potential for a smooth operation. Otherwise, they would not be described as being contrary to one another.
While we can always find something to gripe about regarding the infrastructure of the world around us, we need to have a serious conversation about the internal infrastructure in our lives.
If you studied Matthew chapters 5–7, you may have realized that your current infrastructure is not equipped to handle the demands Jesus is making with this new covenant.
After encouraging us with blessings (see Matthew 5:1–12), Jesus then challenges us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (see Matthew 5:13–16). But then Jesus follows with something that just rattles my mind:
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 will by no means pass from the law till 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; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17–20 NKJV)
Some might say, “See there! I told you that we still have to follow the law.” While others might say, “Oh, don't take what Jesus said literally, because we now live under grace.”
But I know what I see and what I read. And after all the grace and encouragement Jesus extends to me in the first part of His teaching, it's like He's putting down the hammer in this next part.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21‐22 NKJV)
There's a lot of the Mosaic Law that I can keep up with. For instance, I believe I have enough self‐control to keep from killing somebody. But let me start listening to some national news and it won't be long at all before I “feel” like killing somebody—which makes me equally guilty before God.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27–28 NKJV)
I believe I have enough self‐control to keep from committing adultery. But to never have a moment of lust? Even if I never saw another woman, there's enough crap in my head from the old days to blow that one all to heck.
And Jesus' list is just getting started.
I already know that I don't stand a chance. So it appears that I'm in serious trouble.
At least under the old covenant a man could think pretty much whatever he wanted to think, as long as he acted right according to the law.
But Jesus is essentially saying, “You can no longer act one way, but think another.”
So it looks like I'm left with the frustration of trying to do the impossible. Or it looks like I must just go into denial—ignoring such high standards and calling the whole process grace.
Things, however, are not always as they appear.
Have a good day,