Letter and spirit of Law

Kingdom instructions for kingdom living   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:12
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Letter vs. spirit

The written law was given as instructions for godly living and along the way man twisted it, made exceptions to it and forgot the spirit of it. The spirit of it was for godly living, for protection of God people in having a godly relationship with Him. It was to lead to the time when the Messiah came to fulfill the Law. Jesus is dealing with the scribes and Pharisee’s and their interpretation of the Law and the true spirit of the law in the sections we are looking at today. Jesus uses under the law about divorce and oaths and expounds on the spirit of law in purest form.
Jesus is continuing with the six anti-thesis to the statement previously made (Mt5:20)
Matthew 5:20 NASB95
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We need to keep in two sections, today we will focus on oaths, but we cannot do a passover on the divorce section though this not a through section, teaching on divorce, Jesus covers that more in other places. Remember the context, He is speaking, teaching about righteousness of the kingdom dweller.

The treachery of divorce

The treachery of divorce is laid out in Mal2:13-16. We know God’s intentions in Gen2:24-25 and due to the hardness of heart Moses allowed divorce (Mt19:8). Our section today, another of Jesus “but I say” sections really focuses on the certificate of divorce vs. divorce itself.
But to understand the treachery of divorce we need to look the passages mentioned.
Malachi 2:13 NASB95
13 “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.
Malachi 2:14 NASB95
14 “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
Malachi 2:15 NASB95
15 “But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.
Malachi 2:16 NASB95
16 “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
now that we have looked at that for a brief moment let’s look at the first part of our scripture today.
Matthew 5:31–32 NASB95
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
In this passage there is partial quotes that come from the law, Deu24:1-4 and Jer3:1
The instructions in Deu24:1 were given for protection for the woman. What is meant by that is the certificate of divorce protected the woman from the husband treating her capriciously, threatening to kick her out if burn the toast one day and demand she return the next. When the certificate was issued there was no going back.
In this passage Jesus is allowing divorce with narrows the permissible parameters. - unchastity, in other passages it says sexual immorality
The treachery of divorce is found in (v.32) - makes her commit adultery.
You may be asking how, why is this making her commit adultery. It is because she would want to be married and if she married again she would become an adulterous and the man she is married to an adulterer. She she would be defiled, that is why the first husband could not take her back as it says in Deu24:1-4.
The scribes and the Pharisees focused on the certificate of divorce as allowed by Moses; Jesus focus is on the sanctity of marriage, as God established it, in the first place
The purpose of these two verses it not to be extensive regarding divorce, these verse are a part of the anti-thesis regarding righteousness. And the law where as it is good, the spirit of the was more in tuned with God’s righteousness and it surpassed that of the scribes and the Pharisee’s.
Now that brings us to our 2nd section for today.

How about those oaths?

The next example that Jesus offers up in His anti-thesis (remember Mt5:20) has to do with what the Law says about oaths, the scribes and pharisee’s interpretation and Jesus expounding on it with the true interpretation.
Are you a person of your word? Are your yes’s yes’s and your no’s no’s? Do people take you at your word? Or, there is on the other hand people who they are not believed unless they confirm it by an oath.
In our passage now, we want to look at it and ask the following questions.
What did the Law of Moses really teach about oaths
How did the scribes and Pharisee’s interpret and apply the Law (in general?
What did Jesus teach concerning oaths?
Matthew 5:33–34 NASB95
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
Matthew 5:35–36 NASB95
35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Matthew 5:37 NASB95
37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
The Law of Moses and the swearing of oaths
The Law as displayed by the scripture (Lev19:12; Num30:2; Deu23:21)
The Law did demand truthfulness and faithfulness as stressed by the Psalms and the Prophets (Ps15:1-2; Ps24:3-4; Jer5:1-2; Hos4:1-2)
The Law as displayed by the scripture (Lev19:12; Num30:2; Deu23:21)
Leviticus 19:12 NASB95
12 ‘You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
Add to that
Numbers 30:2 NASB95
2 “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
and then add
Deuteronomy 23:21 NASB95
21 “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you.
You can see if you are going to swear, make a vow to the Lord you better keep it or it will be sin to you if not.
The Law as displayed by the scripture (Lev19:12; Num30:2; Deu23:21)
The Law did demand truthfulness and faithfulness as stressed by the Psalms and the Prophets (Ps15:1-2; Ps24:3-4; Jer5:1-2; Hos4:1-2)
A person making, swearing an oath better mean it
He must be faithful to keep it and carry out his word.
Psalm 15:1–2 NASB95
1 O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.
Keeping your word, being a person of integrity, and speak from your heart
Psalm 24:3–4 NASB95
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
One who s not sworn deceitfully.
The prophets spoke often of words that were given that were not from the heart, not truth from the heart.
Jeremiah 5:1–2 NASB95
1 “Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, And look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, If you can find a man, If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, Then I will pardon her. 2 “And although they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ Surely they swear falsely.”
or look at what the prophet Hosea had to say as given by the Lord.
Hosea 4:1–2 NASB95
1 Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, For the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land. 2 There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
So, I’m sure you get it, vows that were made were to be kept! Truthfulness was the standard and what was expected.
What had transpired is the scribes and the Pharisee’s had taken the Law of Moses and expanded them to matters of technicalities. Such as oaths by heaven were more weighty than oaths on earth. Oaths made on heaven were to be kept at any coast and on earth could be ignored.
I should bring in another passage to help solidify this even more (Mt23:16-17)
Matthew 23:16–17 NASB95
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?
Matthew 23:18–19 NASB95
18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19 “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?
See the oath swearing here? Swearing by the gold of the temple not the God of the temple. By the offering instead of the altar that sanctifies the offering.
What did Jesus teach about oaths?
Jesus exposes hypocrisy in degrees of oaths (Mt23:20-22; Mt5:34-36)
Jesus agrees with the importance of truthfulness (Mt5:37)
Jesus exposes hypocrisy in degrees of oaths (Mt23:20-22; Mt5:34-36)
Matthew 23:20–21 NASB95
20 “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.
Matthew 23:22 NASB95
22 “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
So that goes hand in hand with our passage tonight, doesn’t it?
Matthew 5:34–35 NASB95
34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Matthew 5:36 NASB95
36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Jesus points out that if you are swearing by the temple or the throne of God you are swearing by the Lord also, so keep your vow, your oath to the Lord that you already said you would.
Jesus also teaches that you cannot swear by anything without involving God for Heaven is the throne of God, earth is His footstool and only God can change the color of your hair (well, without you purchasing hair dye and doing it artificially)
Citizens of the Kingdom are to be truthful, we are to do as we say! We are to be oath keepers. When we are then our righteousness will exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees (Mt5:20).
May our yes’s be truthful and our no’s be that. May our words be exactly what we mean whereas people can trust our words without an oath.
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