The Law of Christ, the Spirit of Love

Matthew 5:21-26 (ESV):  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.  Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

In last night’s Bible study we discussed what it means that Jesus fulfilled the Law.  This is a complicated question in some ways, but in a general sense it is actually quite simple:  Jesus brought to completion the Law’s role in condemnation and in motivation.  In Christ we are no longer condemned by the Law, and in Christ we are now motivated by something greater than the Law, namely, the Spirit of Christ himself.

Tradition has it that on Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, God revealed the Law through Moses to the people.  Many years later, at the most famous of Pentecosts, Christ gave his people the gift of the Holy Spirit so that the Law of Moses written on tablets would be surpassed by the law of Christ written on our hearts.

As people baptized by water and the Spirit, we are no longer content so say, “The Law motivates us to avoid murdering our fellow human beings.”  Now our hearts testify to a new way of thinking.  In Christ we say, “The Spirit motivates us not only to avoid murder, but to flee from hatred, to shun mockery, to seek reconciliation with all, and to recognize the dignity of every human person.”

The Spirit of Christ saves us from the hellish ways of mutual distrust and condemnation and brings us to the godly realm of fellowship and love.

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