Mat 5:38-42; Seeing Yourself in the Spirit of the Law.

Class Outline:

Tuesday July 9, 2024


Introduction: Laws of the land are necessary for society and the Christian is commanded by God to obey them.


The OT law is legislation to control excesses - anger, violence, and desire for revenge.


NUM 35:9-28 Cities of refuge.


If God was love, then why was His creation not? It is the same answer to the question of why sin or why death hangs over the whole of creation - the fall of man. Man is genetically and environmentally predisposed to hate and revenge (sin nature). The only way to control it is through the enforcement of just laws; laws that have just recompense. The punishment fit the crime.


Idea: Jesus’ teaching on the spirit of the law forces us to see self as dead to one kingdom and alive to another.


There are two different kingdoms in view. God speaks of them as heaven and earth. The kingdom of God and the world. The spirit and the flesh. Life and darkness. Righteousness and wrath. Christ has commissioned His church to shine the light of the kingdom of light in the darkness of death, pride, and sin that is all destined for God’s wrath.


Jesus’ teaching is to His individual disciples.

The laws upon states still stand.


God has set a boundary on sin. Even the devil, we find in the Book of Job, can only do things by permission.


The laws were for the judges, not the individuals. The emotional individual who was hurt by another could not be trusted with proper execution of the laws, so a (hopefully) level headed, disengaged judge would possess the proper legislation.


Our Lord, you must remember, is not changing the laws, but teaching the spirit of the law.


The spirit of the law never tells us what to do in detail in a particular situation. The spirit of the law equips us for all situations.


Mat 5


Christ starts His sermon with “Blessed are …”

He tells us who we are first - resurrected.


Christ did not start His sermon here (5:21 ff.). It would have been impossible for us to understand it. He begins with telling us who we are - poor in spirit. It is only when we understand that statement: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; that we can see the truth of the spirit of the law.


We are not of this world and so it would be ridiculous to fight tooth and claw for what it values.


ROM 6:1 f.


Christ is not telling the unbeliever to live like this.


The Christian must still believe in law and order for his or her nation. For military service, for the supporting and equipping the police, for just laws and the enforcement of them for all, leaders included. These are for his nation which will always be filled with people doing or wanting to do evil in the form of crime that is punishable.


[Letter from George Washington to the Society of Quakers, 1789]

Your principles & conduct are well known to me—and it is doing the People called Quakers no more than Justice to say, that (except their declining to share with others the burthen of the common defense) there is no Denomination among us who are more exemplary and useful Citizens.


Christ’s teachings in this section apply to His individual saints and their personal relationships, close and far; friend and foe; good and evil. (Spouse, children, church members, coworkers, neighbors, friends, etc.)


This teaching on the heart of the law has nothing to do with the Christian’s relationship to the state. It is not mentioned by Christ, and in the mention of it by Paul, it is quite different than the conclusions of the pacifist.


Rom 13.

1PE 2:13-17.


What is taught here is a man’s attitude towards himself.

He is concerned the whole time about this question of self and of our attitude towards ourself. He is saying in effect that if we are to be truly Christian in our experience of life, we must become dead to self.


Christ has crucified our old self and made us alive with Him. He has earned our rights to receive the righteousness of God by faith.


You must see the gift of righteousness for the value that it is.

Then you will see the real value of everything else.


Our problem is that we do not see that gift as valuable as it is, so we think we are not as rich as we are, and conclude that we better hold on to our stuff.


It’s not about legal matters or matters of the state, it is about your understanding of yourself as a disciple or apprentice of Christ. Christ will expand further on this theme later on when He teaches that to be His disciple, you must pick up your cross (you must die) and follow Him (be alive in His way).