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Jesus said;- The law is justice and mercy and faith

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posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 05:01 PM
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith”. Matthew ch23 v23

For the Bible, the law is the expression of God’s will.
That is why it is a good thing, fundamentally.

But we must distinguish, on the authority of Jesus, between the unimportant aspects of law and “the weightier matters of the law”.
The “weightier matters” are the fundamental principles, expressing what God really wants from people.
What has become known to us as “law” may include features which don’t express those fundamental principles, or express them badly.

In previous threads, I’ve tried to identify this difference among the “social” laws of the Pentateuch;
God’s Law; Your patient teacher
The argument is that the code given to us in the name of Moses represents a joint enterprise between God and man, in which the contribution of God was to improve the laws and customs inherited from human culture, to bring them closer to his own fundamental principles. The result was a compromise in which human flaws were still evident.

The distinction can be seen in God’s treatment of David.
David is called by God “a man after my own heart” (1 Samuel ch13 v14).
But this approval is given to a man who will be a serial breaker of the laws of Moses.
David the law-breaker
The episode of Bathsheba broke three of the Ten Commandments- coveting, adultery, and murder. David was rebuked and chastised, on that occasion, but he was never rebuked for any of the more technical offences which he committed. It would appear that some of the collected laws are more important than others.

On the subject of burnt offering and sacrifice, Jeremiah claims (and I believe him) that God did not ask for these things. His principal command on the departure from Egypt had been “Hear my voice” (Jeremiah ch7 v22).
Similarly the Psalmist says “Burnt offering and sin offering thou hast not required…
I delight to do thy will, O my God, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40 vv6-8).
And again Micah says “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah ch6 v8).

Even in the Old Testament, then, God is less interested in the letter of the law of Moses than in the basic principles of the law; namely, the right relationship with God and the right treatment of other people.
That is the traditional way of summing up the Ten Commandments themselves.

We see the same priorities in the teaching of Jesus, in his declaration that “all the law and the prophets” can be summed up in the two great commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew ch22 vv35-40).
Elsewhere, he sums up “the law and the prophets” as “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so unto them” (Matthew ch7 v12).
Again, he says that no man will enter the kingdom of heaven but “he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew ch7 v21). But the previous comments have already made it clear that “doing the will of my Father” entails the right treatment of other people.

The implication is that laws not founded on those two basic principles are less important. Indeed, any laws that run against them must be invalid. We find these conclusions applied in the teaching of Jesus on specific issues.

For example, the sabbath command is not to be allowed to interfere with people’s needs.
The common explanation is that Jesus was faithful to the laws themselves, on this point and in other respects, while he challenged the human traditions which the Pharisees had been adding to the laws.
But that is not quite how Jesus explains himself.

When the Pharisees grumble at the disciples for working on the sabbath, he could have pointed out that plucking a head of grain, even rubbing it in the hand, is a trivial action which hardly deserves the name of “work”.
Instead, he offers them the example of David in the “shewbread” episode (1 Samuel ch21).
On that occasion, David is evidently travelling on the sabbath, which is very relevant, but Jesus doesn’t even bother using that aspect of the story.
Instead, he refers to the ritual prohibition which should have kept the bread out of David’s hands.
Thus making the more ambitious point that ritual laws in general are less important than meeting people’s needs (Mark ch2 vv23-28).

Similarly in the next story, when they question the lawfulness of healing on the Sabbath, he does not bother to suggest that healing is not work. He has already said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” He now applies that principle again, underlining his point by observing (in Matthew’s version) that that the Pharisees do the same thing to meet their own understanding of “necessity” (Matthew ch12 vv8-13).

On the subject of divorce, his critique of the law is more direct.
He makes a clear distinction between the provisions of the law and the intentions of God.
God’s intentions were expressed in the statement in Genesis, that a man should “cleave to his wife”.
Therefore the law, which implicitly allowed a man to abandon his wife to suit his own convenience, was a departure from God’s intention, driven by “the hardness of your hearts” (Matthew ch19 vv1-8).
If he had been asked about the practice of polygamy, which is implicitly accepted in the laws of Moses, he would have been obliged to give the same answer for the same reason.

Again, he showed himself reluctant to enforce the death-penalty on the woman caught in adultery (John ch8 vv1-11).
Yet this was not any “human tradition” modifying the Law, but a clear and unambiguous command found in Deuteronomy.
This question did not arise by accident.
Evidently his opponents knew very well that he would not want the woman to be stoned, and they were hoping to expose the clash between his principles and the letter of the law.
That is the common factor in all these examples. The letter of the law needs to be set aside, because it frustrates the basic principles of the law.

This brings us to his complaint about Corban(Mark ch7 vv9-13).
A man might swear that part of his property was dedicated to God, and then it ceased to count towards his obligation to support his parents. This was allowed by the letter of the law, which encouraged gifts to God, so the letter of the law was part of the problem.
So when Jesus says “You make void the word of God through your tradition”, the letter of the law itself is being labelled as “human tradition”.
“The word of God”, in this case, means the basic principle of the law, the right treatment of other people.

Therefore the attitude of Jesus may be summed up in the verse quoted at the beginning.
God’s law is not in the meticulous observance of tithing and in other trivial details.
But the essence of God’s law is in justice, mercy, and faith.
“You shall love the Lord your God, and your neighbour as yourself”.
The basic principles of the right relationship (“faith”) with God and the right treatment (“justice and mercy”) of other people.

edit on 12-7-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 05:02 PM
Of course we don’t know what the twelve-year old Jesus was talking about, when people in the Temple “were amazed at his understanding and his answers”.
I’d like to suggest, though, that he was already trying to impress upon them this distinction between those commandments of the law which really matter and the rest of them.

But that thought makes it harder to understand the well-known declaration in the Sermon on the Mount;
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets… For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law… Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew ch5 vv17-19

I’ve been demonstrating that Jesus himself is a great “relaxer” of the commandments of Moses, including the very specific command about the treatment of adultery.
Perhaps that is precisely the reason why it becomes necessary to give the people some kind of reassurance.
The Pharisees are jealous for the Law in its most literal form
They take notice of these episodes in his life and teaching revealing that he “has issues with” many of the details of the written law.
On at least two occasions (the divorce issue and the adulterous woman), Jesus is being asked questions designed to bring out the conflict between his teaching and the teaching of Moses, and expose the fact that he is “unsound” on this point.
They want to make people suspicious about his intentions towards the law.
Indeed, the opening words “Do not think that…” are evidence in themselves that this was exactly how some people were thinking.
Since people in general are slow to understand the distinction between the basic principles and the other details, how can he explain himself without making their suspicions worse?

It seems to me that Jesus was obliged to make use of ambiguous language, just as General de Gaulle did in 1958.
De Gaulle was on a balcony, facing a crowd of French Algerians.
He knew that they wanted Algeria to remain French. He also knew that this would not be possible, in the long term, but now was not the time to say so.
So he made the ambiguous announcement “Je vous ai compris”. That is, I have understood you, I know what you want. And of course they could understand that in their own way, as “I will give you what you want.”

So when Jesus is promising that “nothing will pass from the law”, we ought to be asking the question;
“Which law does he mean?”
The Pharisees will be grudgingly satisfied if they think he means the written code, the law of Moses.
But we already know from the opening quotation that for Jesus, “the law” means the basic principles of the law- justice and mercy and faith.
He promises that he has not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but we know from the later conversation that he understands “the law and the prophets” as the two primary commandments.
That is, the right relationship with God and the right treatment of other people.

THAT is the law of God which will stand untouched until the end of the world.

edit on 12-7-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 05:03 PM
The law is also valued in the rest of the New Testament.
Sin is called “lawlessness” [ANOMIA] in 1 John (ch3 v4), and even in Paul (e.g. 2 Thessalonians ch2 v7).
But once again the question is- which kind of law do they value?

Whenever Paul criticises the law, he means the full written code of Moses.
However, it is not the case that Paul describes the law as “a curse”. That idea is based on a currently popular misreading of Galatians ch2. We need to read v13 as the verse following v10 (treating vv11-12 as a parenthesis). Then it becomes obvious that “the curse of the law” from which we are redeemed in v13 is the curse announced by the law in v10. Not the law itself.

Elsewhere he says that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good” (Romans ch7 v12).
That is true to the extent that the law embraces the basic principles of the law, the only kind of law that matters.
Even the written law has a valuable purpose, because it wakens an awareness of the presence of sin, which is the first step in the progress towards repentance.
However, the power of the written code stops at that point. It cannot get us any closer to righteousness.
That is why dependence on the law, as a means to righteousness is a snare. It fact it becomes a form of hard service, from which we need to be liberated.

The alternative to living under the written law is living under the guidance of the Spirit.
“We are discharged from the law [that is, “the law of works”]… so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (Romans ch7v6).
And again; “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans ch8 v2).
But this does not mean that we have abandoned law altogether.
Our true case is that the Spirit is guiding us to live by the basic principles of the law- “the law of the Spirit of life”.
So Paul distinguishes between “the law of works” and “the law of faith” (Romans ch3 v27).
(Though modern translations have obscured the meaning of this verse by rendering the word “law” as “principle”.)
That’s how he can say that “we uphold the law” (v31), because he’s putting his trust in that second version of the law.
So Paul agrees with Jesus in downgrading the importance of the letter of the law of Moses, which was already soaked with “human traditions” by the time that it was codified.
And he agrees with Jesus in the basic principles of God’s law, which are taught by the Holy Spirit.
The right relationship with God, as shown by faith.
And the right relationship with other people, as shown by “the fruit of the Spirit”.

In the epistle of James, he warns the brethren against “judging the law” (ch4 v11).
However, his understanding of what God wants from us is very akin to the teaching of Jesus. In fact there is little in his practical advice which does not echo the Sermon on the Mount. Do not judge. Expect the same kind of mercy that you give.
In particular, he cites the same primary commandment, “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
He calls this the NOMOS BASILIKE. This is normally translated as “the royal law”, and I’m sure that’s in accordance with the rules of grammar. But was James writing in accordance with the rules of grammar? I have suggested and I remain convinced, that this is really his attempt to coin a phrase meaning “the law that belongs to the kingdom”.
He also commends “the law of liberty”. He doesn’t explain what he means by this phrase, but “looking into the perfect law of liberty” seems to be the same thing as “doing the word of God” (ch1 vv22-25).
I take it to be a compromise form of wording. He likes the concept of “freedom”, which Paul offers, but he wants to retain a sense of some kind of law.
He also gives teaching like Paul’s about “the fruit of the Spirit”, though he prefers to call it “the Wisdom that comes from above”.
So James, like Jesus and Paul, is resting on the basic principles of the law.
The right relationship with God, and the right treatment of other people.

That is the Biblical understanding of the law which God wants us to obey.

Galatians; Their faith had saved them
James; Teacher of faith and wisdom

edit on 12-7-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 05:06 PM
This thread needs to be taken in conjunction with the previous thread Faith and works in the New Testament, where the moral is that works (the right treatment of other people) are expected from Christians, but follow on from faith (the right relationship with God).

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 05:59 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Very good post. Thanks, I needed it today.

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 06:00 PM
a reply to: infolurker
Thank you. Glad it was helpful. Any special reason for "today"?

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 06:05 PM

originally posted by: infolurker
a reply to: DISRAELI

Very good post. Thanks, I needed it today.

Me too!

For, we are saved, by the grace of God, and not by works, lest any man boast!

Good job on this thread!

posted on Jul, 13 2019 @ 01:18 AM
This is a very important thread you have made on this subject, thank you Disraeli.

posted on Jul, 14 2019 @ 01:37 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Are the commandments and laws that was given to Israel for governing their country and their lives to be followed by Christians today and Why?

posted on Jul, 14 2019 @ 01:42 PM
a reply to: ChesterJohn
No, because "We are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit"- Romans ch7 v6.
I make a habit of quoting that verse. I probably did it more than once in the Galatians series.

posted on Jul, 14 2019 @ 01:56 PM

originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: ChesterJohn
No, because "We are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit"- Romans ch7 v6.
I make a habit of quoting that verse. I probably did it more than once in the Galatians series.

The context over all of this passage you quoted is necessary.

Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,)
Paul was speaking to those who knew the law of Moses namely Jewish believers that were trying to push the obedience of the law on Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ's substitutionary death and resurrection which is applied to them.

I think one of the largest problem today is when Christians push the 10 commandments and the Law of Moses on the Christians to follow. the biggest reason for this is the misconception that the churches of God have replaced Israel.

Thanks for the clarification.

edit on 7/14/2019 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 14 2019 @ 02:08 PM
a reply to: ChesterJohn
I think "I am speaking to those who know the law" is actually his reason for using the word "brethren", before he cites the detail of law that he's going to use as an illustration. Yes, the point of his analogy is that we have "died" with Christ, which breaks our relationship with the Mosaic law in the same way that death breaks up a marriage relationship.

posted on Jul, 14 2019 @ 10:47 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

thanks Dis for clarifying.

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