Friday: Further Study: Christ and the Law in the Sermon on the Mount

Further Study: Ellen G. White, The Sermon on the Mount, pp. 298-314 in The Desire of Ages.studymore

Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement. Instead of removing one jot of their force, He shows how far reaching their principles are, and exposes the fatal mistake of the Jews in their outward show of obedience. He declares that by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is transgressed. One who becomes a party to the least injustice is breaking the law and degrading his own moral nature. Murder first exists in the mind. He who gives hatred a place in his heart is setting his feet in the path of the murderer, and his offerings are abhorrent to God.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 310.

Love is the binding principle in God’s law. In each of the antitheses, Jesus elevates the principle of love: love keeps a person from harboring hatred toward her sister; love keeps a husband and wife together; love challenges the Christian to be always honest in his dealings with others and God; love allows a person to react in kindness when he has been wronged; and love empowers the individual to treat the enemy as he himself would like to be treated.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In this week’s lesson study, Jesus said, You have heard it has been said by them of old, and then later said, but I say unto you, and then gave the antitheses. Notice that some of the sayings of old were direct quotes from the Bible or taken from Old Testament teachings. Thus, the problem was not with the references but with how they had been interpreted. What lesson can we take from this regarding, if not our doctrines, the way in which we interpret them? How might we be in danger of looking at things too superficially and missing the deeper meaning?
  2. Many fall into the trap of interpreting texts in isolation from other texts. One such text is Matthew 5:48, where we are told to be as perfect as our Father in heaven. How does the interpretation of this text in its immediate context (Matt. 5:43-48) demonstrate the importance of careful Bible study? How would you respond to a person who claimed that this text was teaching sinlessness? What is the text really teaching, and why does this teaching reveal the true meaning of being a follower of Jesus?
  3. How do the texts we studied, particularly about murder and adultery, help to show how wrong those are who claim the law was abolished after the Cross?


Friday: Further Study: Christ and the Law in the Sermon on the Mount — 1 Comment

  1. This week’s lessons have been interesting to say the least with many comments on particulars concerning adultery and murder. Along with that the whole idea of an eye for an eye concept and what Jesus had to say about that has raised a lot of questions in my mind because what happen in the early history of Israel has a lot to say about the use of violence.

    Perhaps it would be instructive for us to consider Israel’s entry into Canaan which involved quite a lot of bloodshed. What I find interesting is what Moses had to say in Exodus:

    I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land” (Ex 23:27-30 NKJV)

    Joshua reflected on this promise later on when difficulties arose:

    Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you-- also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I delivered them into your hand. I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow. I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. (Josh 24:11-13 NKJV)

    There is no way I can answer every question but generally Israel didn’t have to shed blood in conquering the land, the command was for them to go in with faith and the Lord would drive the people out. The same kind of lesson can be seen with Gideon (Jud 6-7) and with Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20 NKJV). In fact what was said to Jehoshaphat, “stand still and see the salvation of the LORD” (2 Chron 20:17 NKJV) was the exact same words that Moses told Israel at the Red Sea (Ex 14:13) and in all these cases God did all the work. Even though there are questions that will not be answered until we are in Heaven we can see through the Gospels how God miraculously got Jesus out of some tight spots as He did with many of the disciples (Acts 5:18-19; 12:5-11; 16:23-33).

    There is also a profound theological lesson for us to learn here about how we are saved under the new covenant.


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