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Legal Fears


The Broken Law

Lord’s Day 2. Q3-5. Reading: Matthew 22:34-40.
H/C3. From where do you know your sins and misery? From the Law of God.
In our last study we discovered that before we can be rescued from our sin, and be brought into the presence of God, we must first first RECOGNISE, ADMIT AND CONFESS our sin. But where do I learn that I am a poor wretched sinner? In The LAW.

1. The Testing Question.
This lawyer would have been deeply immersed in the minutiae of the Law. He would have sought to elaborate on it and hedge it so that he could keep the law. But such Pharisaism was FALSE RELIGION. Romans 3:20 Romans 7:7. But this question was not for his deeper understanding. It was to TEST Jesus.  I

2. The Perfect Answer.
Jesus’ answer helps us in understanding the Law. He gives us a precise summary of the whole law, in two simple statements, each corresponding to the tables of the law:-
1. Our Duty to God. Deuteronomy 6:5 That’s the beginning of the Shema, that statement that begins every service in a synagogue. We are to LOVE GOD with

  • Undivided Heart. That means that nothing is to come before our emotional desire to love and please God.
  • Undivided Soul. Our whole inner being should be God-focussed. How does my personality reflect Christ? Generally, it doesn’t.
  • Undivided Mind. Our thoughts are only to be God exalting…. Hmmm. It’s difficult to keep the mind under control, no matter who you are!

2. Our Duty to Others. Leviticus 19:18.

  1. Love them. No matter who they are!
  2. Regard them as neighbours. Even when they are our sworn enemies.
  3. Serve them. Even if they are totally ungrateful.

So here’s the law’s demands. We are to love God with undivided hearts, and to love our neighbours with the same intensity and to the same extent as we love ourselves. How many people do you know who can do either of these? How many CHRISTIANS do you know who can do either of these?

3. The Law In Summary. V40
The whole OT is summarised in the Ten Commandments and in the words of Christ here. Galatians 5:14

  • The ‘Ten Words‘ – in Exodus 20 God gives Moses the Law, in Ten Commandments. We will look at them later in the year, but for now we note that they fall into:-
    • Two tables. Law regarding our responsibilities to our Creator, and Law regarding our responsibilities to other people.
    • Three aspects. (Ritual Law, National Law, Moral Law. The moral law was fulfilled in Christ, but was NOT abolished, so Christians are to seek to keep it.
    • Three uses. RC Sproul defines them as:
    1. The first purpose of the law is to be a severe schoolmaster who drives us to Christ.
    2. A second purpose for the law is the restraint of evil.
    3. The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. (John 14:15).
  • The Law Throughout the Scriptures. But the Law of God is not found only in the Decalogue. Martin Luther defined the Law as seen throughout the Bible, OT and NT, in a very simple and easily understood way. He taught, ‘Anything that say DO is Law. Anything that says DONE is grace!’

4. Obeying the Law?
So was the lawyer right then? Would we be able to love God and our neighbour perfectly and so please God? Certainly not! Romans 3:10-12 1 John 1:8-10. Romans 8:7. Ephesians 2:3 In fact in his natural state man HATES God, and hates his Law. He hates other men, and he even hates himself! So…
• Can I keep this perfectly? H/C5 asks this very question. Q. Can you keep all this perfectly? No, I am inclined by nature to hate God and my neighbour.
• Who then could keep the Law? Just One. Jesus fulfilled all God’s Law for us. Matt 5:17-18

In Mark’s account we read that the lawyer agreed with what Jesus had said! Mark 12:32 How could Jesus tell a testing legalistic sinner that he was not far from the Kingdom? Simple, the man knew that Jesus was right, that he was unable to keep the law perfectly, and that is, as we have learned, the very first stage in the sinner’s redemption. And that is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of one whom the Lord is calling to Himself.

© Bob McEvoy

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