Introduction: If you follow this lesson you know that I teach
salvation by grace alone. Our study this week reveals that the law,
if properly kept, requires an extraordinary standard of conduct. This
extraordinary standard makes some believe that God’s law is not that
relevant in light of grace. If we can’t keep the law, and keeping it
is not the key to heaven, why try? On the other hand, anyone who
contemplates the universe knows the importance of the law. Laws, like
gravity, rule everything. Not only is our universe controlled by
laws, but there are natural laws that control the circumstances of
our lives. The train wreck of nations and individuals who believe
they are outside of the law can be seen all around us. Let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Jesus and the Law

    1. Read Matthew 5:17. How do we know that the law continues
      to be of great importance? (Some who argue grace say that
      Jesus did away with the law. Jesus says here that He did
      not come to abolish the law.)

      1. What does Jesus mean when He says that He came to
        “fulfill” the law and the prophets? (He came to
        fulfill the prophecies that pointed to Him. He came
        to fulfill the sacrificial system that pointed to
        Him. He came to keep the law perfectly on our

    2. Read Matthew 5:18. We have two “until” phrases here. The
      first is “until heaven and earth disappear” and the second
      is “until everything is accomplished.” Are those different

      1. If you answered that they were the same time, and
        that time is the Second Coming of Jesus, does that
        mean that in heaven there will be no law?

    3. Read Hebrews 8:10-12. What does this suggest about the
      future of the law? (That at some point it becomes so
      merged with our character that no one needs to continue to
      teach the law. That suggests that the law continues to
      exist in some form or another – even in heaven.)

    4. Read Matthew 5:19. What should teachers teach about the
      law? (Teachers should not only model law-keeping, they
      should teach about the importance of keeping the law.)

      1. Notice the very interesting statement about heaven.
        Do teachers who say the law is not binding go to

  2. The Scope of the Law

    1. Read Matthew 5:21-22. We recognize “You shall not murder”
      as the sixth commandment ( Exodus 20:13). Is Jesus saying
      that being angry, or calling someone a “fool,” is the same
      as murder?

      1. What is “Raca,” and why was it some sort of civil
        offense? (It means “brainless.”)

      2. Read Matthew 23:16-17. Wait! Jesus calls some
        teachers “fools.” Has Jesus violated His own rule?

    2. Read Matthew 5:27-28. We recognize “Do not commit
      adultery” as the seventh commandment ( Exodus 20:14). Is
      Jesus saying that looking is the same as doing?

      1. What is “heart” adultery? Is that prohibited by the
        seventh commandment?

    3. Read Matthew 5:29-30. We just read that getting angry is
      the same as murder and looking lustfully is adultery of
      some sort. Would plucking out an eye or cutting off a hand
      cure getting angry or lusting? (No. None of this seems to
      make sense. Getting angry is not the same as ending a life
      and looking is not the same as committing adultery.
      Removing body parts does not change our thinking.)

      1. Why is Jesus saying this? Would He know that this
        would make no sense to us? (Remember, we are the
        created ones so we need to accept the word of our
        Creator! But, if something that Jesus says does not
        make sense, perhaps we have misunderstood what Jesus
        is teaching.)

      2. If cutting off or pulling out body parts is no cure
        for sin, what do you think Jesus means by those
        statements? (He means that radical measures are
        sometimes needed to avoid violating the law. I don’t
        think He is advocating these specific measures.)

      3. Does this “radical measures” idea help us to
        understand the anger and looking statements? (That is
        something to consider! If we say that we will be
        careful even about looking and getting upset, that is
        a radical approach.)

    4. Read James 1:13-15. What does James teach us about how we
      enter into sin? (An evil desire arises in our mind, and
      this leads to the actual sin, which then leads to death.)

      1. What does this teach us about Jesus’ statements about
        anger and lust? (The specific sin is at least
        thinking about killing and committing adultery. If
        you are so angry that you would kill someone if you
        could, if you would have sex outside marriage if you
        could, then Jesus teaches that the sin has been
        committed. That makes sense to me. Why should sin
        turn on opportunity?)

        1. Is Jesus teaching us more than that? (James
          teaches us that sin is progressive. It is
          birthed in our minds. Thus, it seems reasonable
          to conclude that Jesus is telling us to watch
          our attitudes.)

    5. Read Exodus 20:17. What does this say about lusting after
      our neighbor’s wife (or husband)? (This completes the
      picture for me. The tenth commandment specifically address
      the thoughts of the mind. As James says, sin begins with
      the thought.)

    6. Read Mark 7:14-17. Did this statement make sense to the
      disciples? (No. They wanted to know what Jesus meant. We
      are dealing with a series of statements by Jesus that
      require some careful consideration!)

    7. Read Mark 7:18-19. Is what you eat an act or an attitude?
      (An act. Of course, you had to decide what to eat. But,
      the point here is that what you eat goes into your
      stomach, it does not enter your heart (mind).)

    8. Read Mark 7:20-23. Let’s revisit our discussion about
      anger, murder, lust and adultery. I previously wrote that
      getting angry is not the same as taking a life, and
      looking is not the same as committing adultery. Is what I
      wrote wrong? How does Jesus compare thoughts and actions?
      (The mind is the wellspring of all evil. Murder and
      adultery are simply the physical expression of what is
      going on in the mind. If for some reason, we are unable
      to do the actual deed, we do not get a pass for just
      thinking about how we would like to do it.)

  3. Our Response

    1. Read Romans 3:19-20. Can you now understand that the scope
      of the law makes us speechless? Does it seem right that
      the law makes us conscious of sin, but does not declare us
      righteous? (That sure seems right to me in light of the
      very high standard we have seen.)

    2. Read Romans 3:21-24. How do we become righteous? (Through
      faith in Jesus. We are justified by His grace.)

    3. Read Romans 6:1-4. What mental attitude does grace
      require? (That we died to sin. We do not want to live it
      in any longer.)

    4. Read Romans 6:15-18. What does it mean to “offer”
      ourselves to sin? Especially in light of our discussion
      of sin beginning in the mind? (The mind is the
      battleground. We offer ourselves to sin by deciding to
      enter into sin.)

      1. How would we “offer” ourselves to God, to obedience?
        (Read Romans 8:5-6. The goal is to set our minds on
        what the “Spirit desires.”)

    5. Friend, will you today commit to offering your self to
      God? Will you plan that every morning you will say, “What
      can I think and do that is consistent with the desires of
      the Holy Spirit today? Spirit of God, lead my mind and my

  4. Next week: The Sabbath.