Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Those who humble themselves before God in humility of spirit, who grieve over their sins, who repent of them, and who hunger and thirst for righteousness and walk (live) according to the Spirit of God, are the children of God (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
We are the light of the world, and that light is the Light of Christ, and it is the light of truth and of righteousness and holiness. It is a light of mercy, grace and love, too. And, too, it is the gospel of our salvation from sin, not only verbalized with our lips, but lived out in our lives by example, too.
We are not to hide our light, our testimonies for Jesus Christ, or the teaching of the true and full gospel message of our salvation. We are also not to conceal the light of Christ being lived out through our lives, either. Thus, we are not to compromise with the world of sin and thus snuff out the light.
But, we are to walk in righteousness and holiness, by God’s grace and in his power and strength, so that others can see the reality of Christ within us, and so that they will glorify God and come to faith in Jesus Christ, too.
Matthew 5:17-20 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
When the New Testament scriptures speak of “the law” they may be speaking purely of God’s moral laws, i.e. the ten commandments, or they may be speaking of the ceremonial laws that the Jews were required to keep. The context of the passage will help us discern the difference.
For, when Jesus died and rose again, he did away with the Old Covenant ceremonial laws of circumcision, certain celebrations, and purification. But, he summarized the ten commandments into two commandments – to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). And, love does no harm to its neighbors.
As well, the New Covenant repeats all of the ten commandments but one. For, we are no longer required to follow the Old Covenant law with regard to the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath. For, our Sabbath rest is now our salvation from sin and the promise of eternity with God (Heb. 4:1-13). And, we are to keep that by daily dying to sin and self and by following Jesus in surrender and obedience to his will and to his ways. And, too, the early church met daily in the temple courts and from house to house.
Whoever Relaxes One
The New Covenant, though, does speak much against a relaxing of Christ’s commandments to us (under the New Covenant), i.e. against soothing them, tampering them down, and diluting them to make them more appealing to human flesh. And, this is a serious issue, at least here in the church in America, overall.
Many are teaching here in America that salvation from sin and eternal life with God are guaranteed on a profession of faith in Jesus Christ regardless of how one conducts his life from that moment forward. Some even take it so far as to proclaim that God requires no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to his Lordship. In fact, these are often looked down upon and are tagged as “works-based” salvation, and thus something to be avoided.
Thus, many professions of faith in Jesus Christ are false professions of faith, for they are based on a lie and not on the truth, and thus they are also surface level only, with no real depth of faith involved. So, many who profess faith in Jesus Christ go right on living in sin without even a burp to show that genuine heart transformation actually ever took place.
So, they believe that they can “believe” in Jesus but that behavioral change is either optional or that it is recommended but not demanded. They feel that they have been forgiven their sins, that heaven is guaranteed, and that they now can sin without guilt, for they believe God’s grace covers it all. And, thus they make excuses for their sinful practices and call them something other than what they really are, to ease their consciences.
Minimizing and Justifying
So, they also minimize their sinful practices, and they don’t see them for what they are, and so they justify and rationalize their sins by blaming others, by not taking responsibility for their own actions, and by attributing their sins to God’s gift of grace, feeling as though God’s grace gives them free license to continue in sin. And, they refuse to see that they are letting Satan have a foothold in their lives.
And, many of them will not budge in this stance, either, but they remain settled that their sins are forgiven and thus they can live how they want and heaven is still guaranteed them. Or else they pretend to be dumbfounded as to how they got to a particular sin as though they didn’t know what they were doing, claiming some type of ignorance as to what they are really doing in secret behind closed doors.
So, what was the righteousness of the Pharisees? It was pretense only, and it was following a set of man-made rules, mostly, or a show of keeping the law, while they were filled with wickedness within their hearts. So, what this is saying is that surface level faith or righteousness is not faith at all. True faith is God-given, and thus it submits to the Lordship of Christ, and it walks in obedience to his commands, day by day dying to sin and self and following our Lord in obedience.
Matthew 5:27-30 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Many professers of faith in Jesus Christ, thus, feel that they can ignore this teaching, because they feel that they have the freedom to sin now without fear of punishment. They claim God’s grace over their lives, and this gives comfort to them in their sin that their sins will not be held against them.
This has partial truth to it, though, but it is half false, and thus it makes it false. For, it is true that the repentant and the obedient, who are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, are guaranteed forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. But, it is not true that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ absent of repentance and walks of obedience guarantees people forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.
So, by taking this stance that says that one can “believe” in Jesus and claim all the promises of God which accompany true faith, yet remain dead in their sins, they have, in essence, halted the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives and from entering into their lives, too. They have not bonded with Almighty God through God-given faith in Christ, for they have not adhered to his commandments, nor do they abide in Him and His Words abide in them. They are just looking for an easy out.
Shout it Out!
So, God is calling out to those who are holding on to his commandments, who are bonding with their Lord, who are embracing his truths, and whose deeds testify to the fact that their faith is genuine. He is calling them to cry out and to exclaim the truths of his gospel message, that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die.
We are to shout out to those who are still walking in darkness while proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ, who are separate from God, living independent of the Lord and His Word, who are corrupt, immoral, and twisted, and who are misrepresenting the truths of the gospel of our salvation. And, we are to say to them, “When are you going to come to a place of obedience and faithfulness to the Lord?”
For, the reality here is that, if you walk according to the flesh, you are going to die in your sins, not have eternal life with God. If you don’t, by the Spirit, cut out of your life what is leading you to continue to walk in the darkness, then scripture says that you will spend eternity in hell, not in heaven. So, this needs to be taken seriously, for your eternity depends on it.
For, God has called us to be a holy people, separate from the world of sin, and set apart unto God to do his will and to obey his commandments. This is not saying we will never sin, but that sin should no longer have mastery over our lives, but that Jesus Christ should now be our Lord and master, and that our desire should be for him, to do his will.
[Matt. 5:27-30; Matt. 15:16-20; Rom. 13:9-14; 1 Co. 5:1-2; 1 Co. 6:9-20; Heb. 13:4; 2 Pet. 2:13-19; 1 Co. 10:8; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5-10]
By Brian Doerksen
my heart’s one desire
is to be holy;
set apart for You, Lord.
I choose to be holy;
set apart for You, my Master,
ready to do Your will.