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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

“The Freedom of the Law”

Exodus 20:1-21

God’s giving of the Ten Commandments is one of the great events in Biblical history.  The commandments are on two tablets, the first are specific requirements regarding both the worship of God and the honoring of parents.  The second table sets boundaries for interaction with our neighbor.  These are the famous “thou shalt nots.”

God calls his people to keep his commandments (Ex. 19:5).  Keeping the commandments is the gateway to a free and productive life.  Yet as we all know, we break the commandments daily.  The real question is what does it mean to keep the commandments?  The rich young ruler claimed to have kept all the commandments from his youth (Luke 18:31).  The Pharisee praying in the temple claims to have kept them as well (Luke 18:11-12).  Yet Jesus sees neither of these as being justified.

The danger here is to see the commandments as literal instructions, statements of an exact duty we owe to God.  Jesus makes it clear that the specific requirements of the Law are not enough.  The attitude of the heart is what is most important.

Jesus also makes it clear that the fulfilling of the Law is demonstrating the “steadfast love” of God.  This may require a breaking of the exact requirements of the Law to follow what Jesus said was to do good, not harm and to save life, not destroy it (Luke 6:9).

Jesus himself does not follow the letter of the Law (II Cor. 3).  He breaks the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8), forgives a woman who’s committed adultery (John 8:1-11), disregards his mother (Mark 3:31-35) and welcomes a tax collector who was reputedly a thief (Luke 19:1-10).

The Ten Commandments are an important word but they are not the last word.  Their goal is to bring us to God’s steadfast love (Ex. 34:6-7).  The Law’s main purpose is to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:23-26).  He and he alone is the fulfillment of the Law (Matt. 5:17).

Most merciful and gracious God teach me to live out the full truth of your Law in loving you with my heart, mind and soul and my neighbor as myself.  I pray this in Jesus’s name, Amen.