Book: A Harmony of the Gospels - In Modern English

28. JESUS FIRST SHOWS HIMSELF PUBLICLY AT THE TEMPLE IN POWER AND ZEAL—THIS IS FIRST PASSOVER AND FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD DURING CHRIST’S MINISTRY
JOHN 2

13. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money exchangers sitting there;

15. And after making a scourge of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with both the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money exchangers, and overturned the tables.

16. And to those who were selling the doves, He said, “Take these things out of here! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise.”

17. Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “The zeal of Your house has eaten Me up.” a

18. As a result, the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?”

19. Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

20. Then the Jews said, “This temple was forty-six years in building, and You will raise it up in three days?”

21. But He spoke concerning the temple of His body.

22. Therefore, when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scriptures, and the word that Jesus had spoken.

23. Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed on His name, as they observed the miracles that He was doing.

24. But Jesus did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all men;

25. And He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

a - Psa. 69:9

29. NICODEMUS COMES TO JESUS AT NIGHT—THE PHARISEES KNEW JESUS CAME FROM GOD
JOHN 3

1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus by name, a ruler of the Jews.

2. He came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher Who has come from God; because no one is able to do the miracles that You are doing unless God is with him.”

3. Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again,* he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4. Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man who is old be born? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

* anew

JOHN 3

5. Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless anyone has been born of water and of Spirit, a he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

6. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh; and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit.

7. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘It is necessary for you to be born again.’*

8. The wind blows where it wills, and you hear its sound, but you do not know the place from which it comes and the place to which it goes; so also is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.”

9. Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10. Jesus answered and said to him, “You are a teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things?

11. Truly, truly I say to you, We speak that which We know, and We testify of that which We have seen; but you do not receive Our testimony.

12. If I have told you earthly things, and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

13. (And no one has ascended into heaven, except He Who came down from heaven, even the Son of man, Who is in heaven.)”

a - To be “born of water” refers to one’s natural fleshly birth. To be “born of Spirit” refers to the resurrectionfrom the dead to eternal life as a glorified spirit being, and not to an emotional “conversion experience.”

30. A PROPHECY OF HIS OWN DEATH AND CRUCIFIXION
JOHN 3

14. “And even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, in the same way it is ordained that the Son of man be lifted up, a

15. So that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life.”

a - Num. 21:8-9

31. GOD GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO SAVE THE WORLD
JOHN 3

16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes** in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life.

17. For God sent not His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

18. The one who believes in Him is not judged, but the one who does not believe has already been judged because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19. And this is the judgment: that the light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

20. For everyone who practices evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be exposed;

21. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be manifested, that they have been accomplished by the power of God.”

32. JESUS BEGINS BAPTIZING
JOHN 3

22. After these things, Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea; and there He stayed with them and was baptizing.

* anew
**The Greek present tense participle pisteuon means, “everyone who continually believes in Him.” Such belief isa continuous deep, life-long, inner conviction of faith accompanied by loving obedience to God the Father and Jesus Christ,rather than a mere mental or verbal acknowledgement of Jesus Christ.

33. JOHN IS STILL BAPTIZING AT THE SAME TIME
JOHN 3

23. And John was also baptizing in Aenon, near Salim because there was much water there; and the people were coming and were being baptized,

34. JOHN NOT YET PUT IN PRISON
JOHN 3

24. For John had not yet been cast into prison.

35. JOHN THE BAPTIST’S MINISTRY TO DECREASE, AND JESUS’ MINISTRY TO INCREASE—JOHN EXPLAINS WHO AND WHAT HE IS, AND WHO AND WHAT CHRIST IS
JOHN 3

25. Then there arose a question between the disciples of John and some of the Jews about purification.

26. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He Who was with you beyond Jordan, to Whom you have borne witness, behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him.”

27. John answered and said, “No one is able to receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven.

28. You yourselves bear witness to me that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but that I am sent before Him.

29. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the voice of the bridegroom; in this then, my joy has been fulfilled.

30. It is ordained that He increase, and that I decrease.

31. He Who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthy, and speaks of the earth. He Who comes from heaven is above all;

32. And what He has seen and heard, this is what He testifies; but no one receives His testimony.

33. The one who has received His testimony has set his seal that God is true;

34. For He Whom God has sent speaks the words of God; and God gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him.

36. MUST BELIEVE AND HAVE COMPLETE TRUST AND FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
JOHN 3

35. “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.

36. The one who believes in the Son has everlasting life; but the one who does not obey the Son shall not see life, for the wrath of God remains on him.”

37. JESUS CHRIST’S DISCIPLES DO THE BAPTIZING
JOHN 4

1. Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John,

2. (Although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples,)

3. He left Judea and departed again into Galilee.

4. Now it was necessary for Him to pass through Samaria.

38. JESUS CHRIST AND THE WOMAN OF SAMARIA AT THE WELL
JOHN 4

5. And He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. a

6. And Jacob’s fountain was there; Jesus, therefore, being wearied from the journey, sat there by the fountain. It was about the sixth hour.

7. A woman came out of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me some water to drink.”

8. For His disciples had gone away into the city, so that they might buy provisions.

9. Therefore, the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, to give You water to drink? For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”

10. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you had known the gift of God, and Who it is that said to you, ‘Give Me some water to drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

11. The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing with which to draw water, and the well is deep; how then do You have the living water?

12. Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it, and his sons, and his cattle?”

13. Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;

14. But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; rather, the water that I will give him shall become a fountain of water within him, springing up into everlasting life.”

15. The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not thirst or need to come here to draw water.”

16. Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband and come back here.”

17. The woman answered and said, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have spoken well in saying, ‘I do not have a husband’;

18. For you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband. This you have spoken truly.”

19. The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

20. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, but You say that the place where it is obligatory to worship is in Jerusalem.”

21. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father.

22. You do not know what you worship. We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

23. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is indeed seeking those who worship Him in this manner.

24. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

25. The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming, Who is called Christ; when He comes, He will tell us all things.”

26. Jesus said to her, “I Who speak to you am He.”

27. Now at this time His disciples came, and they were amazed that He was speaking with a woman; however, no one said, “What are You seeking?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

28. Then the woman left her waterpot and went away into the city, and said to the men,

29. “Come and see a Man Who told me everything that I have done. Can it be that He is the Christ?”

30. Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

31. But in the meantime, the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

32. And He said to them, “I have meat to eat that you are not aware of.”

33. Then the disciples said to one another, “Did anyone bring Him something to eat?”

34. Jesus said to them, “My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and to finish His work.

a - Josh. 24:32

 

JOHN 4

35. “Do not say that there are yet four months, and then the harvest comes. I say to you, look around. Lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are already white to harvest.

36. And the one who reaps receives a reward, and gathers fruit unto eternal life; so that the one who is sowing and the one who is reaping may both rejoice together.

37. For in this the saying is true, that one sows and another reaps.

38. I sent you to reap that in which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39. Now many of the Samaritans from that city believed on Him because of the word of the woman, who testified, “He told me everything that I have done.”

40. Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to remain with them; and He remained there two days.

41. And many more believed because of His word;

42. And they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word, for we have heard Him ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

39. JOHN IS CAST INTO PRISON
LUKE 3

19. But Herod the tetrarch, after being reproved by him for marrying Herodias, the wife of Philip his brother, and for all the evils that Herod had done,

20. Added this to all that: he locked up John in prison.

40. JESUS RETURNS INTO GALILEE
JOHN 4

43. And after two days, He departed from there and went into Galilee;

44. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

45. Therefore, when He came into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem during the feast, for they also had gone to the feast.

46. Then Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee, where He had made the water become wine. And there was a certain royal official in Capernaum whose son was sick.

47. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and asked Him if He would come down and heal his son; for he was about to die.

48. Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe at all.”

49. The royal official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my little child dies.”

50. Jesus said to him, “Go; your son shall live.” And the man believed the word that Jesus said to him and went away.

51. Now as he was going down to his house, his servants met him and reported, saying, “Your child is alive and well.

52. Then he inquired of them at what hour he began to improve. And they said to him, “Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him.”

53. Therefore, the father knew that it was at the hour that Jesus said to him, “Your son shall live.” And he himself believed and his whole household.

54. This was the second miracle that Jesus did after again coming out of Judea into Galilee.

JESUS BEGINS PREACHING IN GALILEE AFTER JOHN THE BAPTIST IS PUT IN PRISON

Jesus used the first six months of His ministry for private teaching. During that time He was baptized by John the Baptist. Immediately after that, beginning on the Day of Atonement in 26 AD, He was tempted by Satan the devil for forty days and forty nights. Later, He made initial contact with some of His disciples. At a wedding in Cana of Galilee, He performed His first miracle—changing water into wine. Then, during the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in 27 AD, Jesus began His public preaching and ministry—with power and authority—at the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus, He fulfilled the prophecy, “… The Lord, Whom You seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple, even the Messenger of the covenant in Whom you delight” (Mal. 3:1).

Following the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus and His disciples spent several weeks baptizing in Judaea (John 3:22). At the same time John the Baptist was still baptizing at Aenon, because he had not yet been put in prison. After John’s imprisonment, Jesus returned through Samaria into Galilee, just before the Feast of Pentecost, and began preaching.

The Account written in the book of John correlates the events and fills in the details not contained in the summary account recorded in the book of Mark. Together John and Mark give the complete picture.

42. JESUS PREACHES IN NAZARETH ON THE SABBATH DAY
LUKE 4

16. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and according to His custom, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day* and stood up to read. a

17. And there was given Him the book of the prophet Isaiah; and when He had unrolled the scroll, He found the place where it was written,

a - Lev. 23:10-21; Deut. 16:9-10

_________________________
*The words “on the Sabbath day” are translated from the Greek words A literal translationwould be, “Now on the day of the sabbaths”; or, “Now on the day of the weeks.” The use of the Greek meaning “Sabbaths” or “weeks,” indicates that this verse is referring to the day of Pentecost. Because this day is observedafter counting a period of seven full weeks, it was known in New Testament times as “the day of the weeks.” The day of Pentecostdoes not fall on the weekly Sabbath but is an annual Sabbath.

LUKE 4

18. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; for this reason, He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal those who are brokenhearted, to proclaim pardon to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth in deliverance those who have been crushed,

19. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” b

20. And after rolling up the scroll and delivering it to the attendant, He sat down; and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

21. Then He began to say to them, “Today, this scripture is being fulfilled in your ears.”

22. And all bore witness to Him and were amazed at the words of grace that were coming out of His mouth; and they said, “Is not this the son of Joseph?”

23. And He said to them, “Surely, you will say this parable to Me: ‘Physician, heal Yourself! Whatever we have heard being done in Capernaum, do also here in Your own country.’ ”

24. But He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.

25. For in truth, I say to you, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up for three years and six months, and there was great famine upon all the land;

26. And Elijah was not sent to any of them, but only to a widow in Sarepta, a city of Sidonia.

27. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them were cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” c

28. Now all in the synagogue who heard these things were filled with indignation.

29. And they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the edge of the mountain on which their city was built, in order to throw Him down headlong;

30. But He passed safely through their midst and departed.

b - Isa. 58:6; 61:1-2 c - I Kings 17:8-9; 18:1-2; II Kings 5:1, 14

 
 
 
 
 

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The Sermon on the Mount was delivered at the beginning of Jesus Christ’s ministry. After choosing twelve of His disciples to be witnesses of all the words that He spoke, Jesus taught them the basic spiritual principles that are recorded in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6. These teachings, now known as the Sermon on the Mount, were the beginning words of the New Covenant. Unlike the Old Covenant, which offered the physical blessings of health and prosperity, the New Covenant opened the way to the spiritual blessings of eternal life with everlasting power and glory.

Throughout the Bible, there is a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. The words of the apostle Paul show that the physical comes first, then the spiritual (I Cor. 15:45-47). Adam, the first man on earth, came from the earth and was physical. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, came from heaven and is spiritual. In like manner, the Old Covenant, which was physical, was established before the New Covenant, which is spiritual. On the day of Pentecost, God established the Old Covenant with the children of Israel by proclaiming the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai. The event was so terrifying to the people that they pleaded with Moses not to have God speak to them any longer: “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the sound of the trumpet,' and the mountain smoking. And when the people saw, they trembled and stood afar off. And they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear. But let not God speak with us, lest we die’ ” (Ex. 20:18-19).

Because the children of Israel were afraid to hear God speak, Moses stood between God and the people to bring them all the words of God. Moses went up to the top of Mount Sinai to meet with God. At that time, God gave him the statutes, judgments and other laws to deliver to the children of Israel. As the intermediary who delivered the law to the people, Moses was considered a lawgiver, although he did not originate any of the laws or commandments himself (Ex. 20-23).

When Moses came down from meeting with God, he read all the words of God in the hearing of the people. With one voice, the people agreed to obey all that God had commanded. Then the covenant was ratified with a blood sacrifice: “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has said, we will do.’ And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar at the base of the mountain and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel who offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of bullocks to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the ears of the people. And they said, ‘All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you concerning all these words’ ” (Ex. 24:3-8).

The covenant that God made with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai contained blessings and cursings. God promised to bless the children of Israel if they would obey His commands and laws; but if they disobeyed, they would reap curses in return for their sins and transgressions. In this manner, God established the Old Covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel: “Behold, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil, in that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments so that you may live and multiply. And the LORD your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it.

“But if your heart turn away so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I denounce to you this day that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days on the land where you pass over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life, so that both you and your seed may live, that you may love the LORD your God, and may obey His voice, and may cleave to Him; for He is your life and the length of your days, so that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob—to give it to them” (Deut. 30:15- 20).

Moses’ office as mediator and lawgiver was a physical type of the coming spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ. When the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, God gave Moses this prophecy of the coming Messiah: “And the LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well what they have spoken [that they did not want God to speak to them, but Moses]. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, One like you, and will put My words in His mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, whatever man will not hearken to My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him’ ” (Deut. 18:17-19).


Jesus Christ the Spiritual Lawgiver

This prophecy of the coming Messiah reveals that every person who rejects the words of Jesus Christ will be held accountable by God in the judgment day. During His ministry, Jesus confirmed that He was that Prophet and that His words are the standard by which all will be judged: “But if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has one who judges him; the word which I have spoken, that shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken from Myself; but the Father, Who sent Me, gave Me commandment Himself, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:47-49).

The spiritual office of Jesus Christ far overshadows the physical office of Moses. Jesus Christ was God manifested in the flesh. He was the Lord God of the Old Testament Who had established the Old Covenant with the children of Israel. He came to earth to deliver them from the curses that the covenant had imposed for their sins, and to redeem all mankind from the death penalty for their transgressions of God’s holy and righteous laws (Rom. 7:14; 3:9-19). His death ended the Old Covenant with the administration of death, and established the New Covenant, which offers the gift of eternal life.

Unlike the Old Covenant, which required obedience to the letter of the law, the New Covenant is based on obedience from the heart—fulfilling the laws of God not only in the letter, but also in their complete spiritual intent. For this reason, Jesus Christ came as the spiritual Lawgiver to amplify and magnify the commandments and laws of God, as prophesied by Isaiah: “The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness sake; He will magnify the Law and make it glorious” (Isa. 42:21).

As the spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ revealed the full meaning of the laws of God. He received a commission from God the Father to preach the gospel and proclaim the spiritual meaning of the commandments of God, in order to bring the knowledge of salvation to the world. After John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus Christ began His ministry. He commanded the people to repent of their sins and believe the gospel: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God….And saying, ‘The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark 1:1, 15).

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught repentance from sin, which is clearly defined in the New Testament as the transgression of the laws of God (I John 3:4). God inspired the words of Jesus Christ to be recorded in the Gospels and canonized by the apostles with the other books of the New Testament. Through the ages, from Jesus’ time until now, God has divinely preserved these Scriptures for the world.

The four Gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ reveal that God now requires obedience to His commandments not only in the letter of the law but in the spirit of the law. But in spite of Jesus’ teachings, which magnify the laws and commandments of God, most professing Christians have been taught that Jesus Christ came to abolish the laws of God. Jesus emphatically denounced this teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).


How Did Jesus Christ Fulfill the Law?

When Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, He did not abolish it. Jesus’ own words in the Gospel of Matthew make this fact very clear. Then in what way did He fulfill the law?

In order to recognize how He fulfilled the law, we must understand the meaning of the word, “fulfill.” The English word, “fulfill,” is translated from the Greek verb, pleeroo, which means: “to make full, to fill full, to fulfill….in Mt. 5:17 depending on how one prefers to interpret the context, pleeroo is understood here either as fulfill = do, carry out, or bring to full expression = show forth in its true spiritual meaning, or as fill up = complete” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

As the spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of God by bringing it to its full expression, revealing its complete spiritual meaning and intent. He “filled the law to the full” by teaching obedience in the spirit of the law. To fulfill the Law of God by amplifying its meaning and application is the exact opposite of abolishing the law. If Jesus had come to abolish the laws of God, He would not have magnified and expanded their meaning, making them even more binding. If the laws of God were not binding today, there could be no sin, because “sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4). And if there were no sinners, there would be no need of a Savior. But the Scriptures of both the Old Testament and the New Testament testify that Jesus Christ came to save mankind from sin. Instead of abolishing or “doing away with the law,” Jesus came to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins and transgressions of the laws of God, and to show us the way to eternal life through spiritual obedience from the heart. That is how He magnified the laws and commandments of God and made them honorable.


The Spiritual Meaning of the Commandments Revealed in the Sermon on the Mount

As the spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ taught His disciples the spiritual meaning and application of every one of God’s laws and commandments. Let us examine how He magnified the Sixth Commandment in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not commit murder; but whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgment.’ But I say to you, everyone who is angry with his brother without cause shall be subject to judgment. Now you have heard it said, ‘Whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca,” shall be subject to the judgment of the council.’ But I say to you, whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be subject to the fire of Gehenna” (Matt. 5:21-22).

Jesus made it clear that murder begins in the heart and is rooted in hatred and anger. The spiritual amplification of the Sixth Commandment, as taught by Jesus Christ, extends far beyond the letter of the law, which judges only physical acts of violence. Under the New Covenant, this commandment must be obeyed in the thoughts and intents of the heart. Obedience is no longer restricted to the letter of the law and the actual committing of murder. By the new spiritual standard for obedience, hatred in one’s heart is judged as murder. This spiritual standard also applies to hatred for an enemy: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.But I say to you [as the spiritual Lawgiver], love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you yourselves may be the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not the tax collectors practice the same thing? And if you salute your brethren only, what have you done that is extraordinary? Do not the tax collectors practice the same thing? Therefore, you shall be perfect, even as your Father Who is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:43-48).

When Jesus was dying on the cross, He set the perfect example of loving His enemies and praying for those who despitefully used Him. Notice Jesus’ prayer for them as He suffered agony and ignominy at their hands: “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ ” (Luke 23:34).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also taught the spiritual meaning and application of the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” Notice how Jesus magnified this commandment: “You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you [as the spiritual Lawgiver], everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28).

Jesus made the Seventh Commandment far more binding than the letter of the law. From the time that Jesus Christ taught the spiritual meaning of this commandment, every individual has been held accountable for his or her thoughts of adultery, whether or not the physical act was committed. Jesus Christ magnified the Seventh Commandment by revealing its full spiritual meaning and application. An examination of the following teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 5-7, will show that Jesus revealed the full spiritual meaning of all the laws and commandments of God.


Applying the Spirit of the Law Does Not Nullify the Letter

More than thirty years after Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, the apostle James wrote an epistle in which he expounded on the spiritual meaning of the commandments of God. In his epistle, James shows that Jesus’ teachings concerning the spirit of the law did not eliminate the need to obey the letter of the law. James explains that Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” requires us to live in obedience to the commandments of God. James specifically refers to the Sixth and Seventh Commandments, and makes it very clear that to break any of God’s commandments is sin: “If you are truly keeping the Royal Law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you have respect of persons, you are practicing sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors; for if anyone keeps the whole law, but sins in one aspect, he becomes guilty of all. For He Who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. In this manner speak and in this manner behave: as those who are about to be judged by the law of freedom” (James 2:8-12).

When we study the writings of the apostles in the New Testament, there is no question that they taught the full, spiritual meaning of the laws and commandments of God, exactly as Jesus did. Never at any time did they write or teach that Jesus Christ came to abolish the laws of God. The words of James leave no doubt whatsoever. He wrote, “For if anyone keeps the whole law, but sins in one aspect, he becomes guilty of all.” There is nothing in the apostle James’ statement which remotely hints that the laws of God were abolished when Jesus died on the cross. In writing these words many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, James confirms that Jesus did not “do away with” the laws of God. James makes it explicitly clear that Christians are obligated to keep the commandments of God.

The apostle John, who outlived all the other apostles, also taught obedience to the laws and commandments of God. In the last decade of the first century, John wrote his Gospel, three epistles, and the book of Revelation. In his first epistle, he wrote most emphatically that obedience to the commandments of God is the standard that separates the true followers of Jesus Christ from those who merely profess His name. Notice: “And by this standard we know that we know Him: if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. On the other hand, if anyone is keeping His Word, truly in this one the love of God is being perfected [made complete]. By this means we know that we are in Him. Anyone who claims to dwell in Him is obligating himself also to walk even as He Himself walked” (I John 2:3-6).

John makes it very clear that those who truly believe in Jesus Christ will be walking as Jesus walked. They will be keeping the commandments of God, as Jesus did, and as He taught others to do (John 15:10, Matt. 19:17-19). Anyone who professes to believe in Jesus Christ but does not keep the commandments of God is a liar, according to the New Testament scriptures. For a minister or teacher to claim that the laws and commandments of God have been abolished is a blatant denial of the true teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles, which are preserved in the New Testament. True Christians need to be on guard against such “workers of lawlessness,” who preach against the laws of God and condemn commandment keeping.

As the apostle John shows, those who keep God’s commandments are not under condemnation but can approach God with confidence, knowing that He will hear and answer their prayers: “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, then we have confidence toward God. And whatever we may ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and practice those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:21-22).

The New Testament does not support the widely accepted teaching that commandment keeping is contrary to faith. Rather, the words of John show that keeping the commandments of God is a sign of true faith and the love that God imparts through the indwelling of His Spirit: “And this is His commandment: that we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and that we love one another [fulfilling the Royal Law by keeping God’s commandments], exactly as He gave commandment to us. And the one who keeps His commandments is dwelling in Him, and He in him; and by this we know that He is dwelling in us: by the Spirit which He has given to us” (verses 23-24).

Mainstream Christianity ignores these inspired New Testament scriptures and teaches that loving God and one another eliminates the need to keep God’s commandments. Again John exposes the error in this theology. John points out that obedience to God’s commandments is the very standard by which love for God and His children is measured: “By this standard we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:2-3).

The Scriptural truth is this: If we love Jesus Christ and God the Father, we will be motivated to keep the commandments of God. We will desire to keep His commandments in the spirit of the law as an outward manifestation of our love for Him. Those who profess to love God, but refuse to keep His commandments, do not understand the love of God. They are being led by their own human emotions and not by the love that God imparts to His children through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Emotional feelings cannot be substituted for keeping the commandments of God. Those who claim to love God, but are practicing lawlessness, are deceiving themselves.

Jesus Christ specifically instructs those who love Him to keep His commandments: “If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments…. The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him….If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word that you hear is not Mine, but the Fathers, Who sent Me” (John 14:15, 21-24).

Jesus Christ left no room for doubt or misinterpretation. If you love Him, you will keep His commandments. If you do not keep His words, you do not love Him. Unless you are keeping His commandments, any profession of faith and love toward Jesus Christ and God the Father is empty and vain.

Jesus Christ set the perfect example of true godly love by keeping all the commandments of God in the full spirit of the law. Before His death, He delivered a new command to His disciples—that they follow His example by practicing the same love that He had manifested during His life with them on earth: “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another in the same way that I have loved you, that is how you are to love one another. By this shall everyone know that you are My disciples— if you love one another….As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; live in My love. If you keep My commandments, you shall live in My love; just as I have kept My Fathers commandments and live in His love. These things I have spoken to you, in order that My joy may dwell in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment; that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35; 15:9-12).

Jesus Christ taught His followers to obey all the commandments of God in the full spirit of the law, as He did. Jesus magnified the laws of God by revealing their full spiritual meaning. Jesus Christ, as the spiritual Lawgiver, made the laws and commandments of God far more binding by setting a higher, spiritual standard of obedience for Christians under the New Covenant.


Jesus Brought the Physical Rituals of the Law to Completion

The second meaning of the Greek word pleeroo, translated, “to fulfill,” in Matthew 5:17, is, “to complete,” or, “bring to completion.” Jesus Christ came to bring the animal sacrifices and other temple rituals and laws for the Aaronic priesthood to completion. Through His death, He ended the Old Covenant, which had imposed the physical requirements of these laws. In its place, He established the New Covenant, replacing the old requirements of the law with a higher spiritual application.

The laws concerning the animal sacrifices were brought to completion through the superior sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of God, “Who takes away the sin of the world,” superseded and replaced all the animal sacrifices and other physical rituals and ceremonies that were performed at the temple of God in Jerusalem. The apostle Paul confirms the completion of the animal sacrifices and the temple rituals through the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ: “For this reason, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You have prepared a body for Me. You did not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then said I, “Lo, I come (as it is written of Me in the scroll of the book) to do Your will, O God.” ’ In the saying above, He said, ‘Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin (which are offered according to the law) You did not desire nor delight in; then He said, Lo, I come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first covenant in order that He may establish the second covenant; by Whose will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Now every high priest [of the order of Aaron] stands ministering day by day, offering the same sacrifices repeatedly, which are never able to remove sins; but He, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:5-12).

The spiritual priesthood of Jesus Christ was effective immediately after He ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Although His death had completed the animal sacrifices and temple rituals which were required under the Old Covenant, the priesthood continued to carry out these functions until the temple was destroyed. With the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites came to an end. There was no need for a physical priesthood on earth because Jesus Christ was serving as High Priest in heaven above, making intercession for sin before God the Father. The spiritual priesthood of Jesus Christ superseded the priesthood of Aaron. The New Covenant has a greater High Priest—the resurrected Jesus Christ—to make intercession for the people of God and to propitiate their sins before God the Father (Heb. 2:17-18, 4:14-16).

In the same way, the spiritual temple in heaven has superseded the physical temple that was on earth. Under the New Covenant, true believers now have direct access through prayer to the throne of God the Father in heaven above. Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father, where He carries out His spiritual work as High Priest: “ ‘This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: I will give My laws into their hearts, and I will inscribe them in their minds [far from abolishing His laws]; and their sins and lawlessness I will not remember ever again.’ Now where remission of these is, it is no longer necessary to offer sacrifices for sin. Therefore, brethren, having confidence to enter into the true holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He consecrated for us through the veil (that is, His flesh), and having a great High Priest over the house of God, let us approach God with a true heart, with full conviction of faith, our hearts having been purified from a wicked conscience, and our bodies having been washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:16-22).

True worshipers of God need no priesthood to intercede for them in an earthly temple because they have direct access to the throne of God the Father in His heavenly temple, where Jesus Christ intercedes as High Priest. In addition, each one who receives the Holy Spirit in his or her mind as a begettal from God the Father becomes part of the temple of God. As the apostle Paul shows, God is now building a spiritual temple within fleshly human beings through the indwelling of His Spirit: “Dont you understand that you are Gods temple, and that the Spirit of God is dwelling in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him because the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (I Cor. 3:16-17).

Isaiah prophesied of the spiritual temple that God is building: “For thus says the high and lofty One [God the Father] Who inhabits eternity; Whose name is Holy; ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, even with the one who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’ ” (Isa. 57:15).

This spiritual temple is composed of all true believers, both Jews and Gentiles: “For through Him we both have direct access by one Spirit to the Father. So then, you are no longer aliens and foreigners; but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of the household of God. You are being built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone in Whom all the building, being conjointly fitted together, is increasing into a holy temple in the Lord; in Whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:18-22).

The need for the earthly temple in Jerusalem was fulfilled and brought to completion by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which ended the Old Covenant and the need for a physical priesthood. Under the New Covenant, the spiritual temple of God in heaven, where Jesus Christ is High Priest, has superseded the physical temple of God on earth. Through the intercession of Jesus Christ, each believer becomes a temple for God’s Holy Spirit, and the collective body of believers is built up as a holy temple in the Lord.


Jesus Brought the Circumcision of the Flesh to Completion

When Jesus brought the Old Covenant to an end, the requirement for circumcision of the flesh was superseded by spiritual circumcision of the heart. The apostle Paul makes this very clear: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is external in the flesh; rather, he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:28-29).

Under the New Covenant, God does not require physical circumcision. Rather, the spiritual circumcision of the heart has superseded the circumcision of the flesh. Spiritual circumcision brings conversion of the mind and heart, which physical circumcision in the flesh could never accomplish. To be circumcised in the heart, a person must repent of his or her sins and be baptized by full immersion in water. The act of baptism is a type of circumcision because the sins of the flesh are removed. Then, through the laying on of hands, the believer receives the Holy Spirit, converting the heart and mind. The apostle Paul describes the spiritual circumcision that takes place at baptism: “For in Him [Jesus Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, Who is the Head of all principality and power in Whom you have also been circumcised with the circumcision not made by hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, by which you have also been raised with Him through the inner working of God, Who raised Him from the dead. For you, who were once dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has now made alive with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:9-13).

Paul understood very clearly that the Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised in the flesh because they had received spiritual circumcision through faith in Jesus Christ. The spiritual circumcision of the heart has superseded the physical circumcision of the flesh. Likewise, all the animal sacrifices that were required for sin were superseded by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice once for all time. The physical priesthood of Aaron was replaced by the spiritual priesthood of Jesus Christ. The temple of God in heaven has superseded the physical temple on earth, which was only a copy of the heavenly one. When Jesus Christ brought the physical rituals of the Old Covenant to completion, He did not abolish the law. Rather, the physical foretypes of the Old Covenant were superseded by the spiritual fulfillment of the New Covenant.


Other Laws That Have Been Transferred to the New Covenant

Under the Old Covenant, God gave authority to the priests and Levites, who served at the altar, to collect tithes and offerings from the children of Israel. Under the New Covenant, there is no priesthood of men but only one High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who is “a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” The apostle Paul explains that Melchisedec was Priest of God at Jerusalem in the days of Abraham, long before the Old Covenant was established. In describing how Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec, Paul reveals that He was the one Who later came to earth as Jesus Christ: “For on one hand, those from among the sons of Levi who receive the priesthood are commanded by the law to collect tithes from the people—that is, from their brethren—even though they are all descended from Abraham; but on the other hand, He [Jesus Christ, Who was Melchisedec of the Old Testament] Who was not descended from them received tithes from Abraham, and blessed him who had the promises. Now it is beyond all doubt that the inferior one is blessed by the superior one.

“And in the first case, men who die receive tithes; but in the other case, He received tithes of Whom it is witnessed that He lives forever. And in one sense, Levi, who receives tithes, also gave tithes through Abraham; for he was still in his forefather’s loins when Melchisedec met him. Therefore, if perfection was indeed possible through the Levitical priesthood—for the law that the people had received was based on it—what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchisedec, and not to be named after the order of Aaron? For since the priesthood has changed, it is obligatory that a change of the law [for the priesthood and the receiving of tithes and offerings] also take place; because the One of Whom these things are said belongs to another tribe, from which no one was appointed to serve at the altar” (Heb. 7:5-13).

As Paul shows, the entire Levitical priesthood has been superseded by one immortal High Priest, Jesus Christ, who is of the order of Melchisedec. There is no longer a priesthood on earth ministering at the altar in the temple of God at Jerusalem. However, there is still a need to teach the true worship of God, and to preach and publish the Word of God as a witness to the world. Those who repent and believe the gospel must be taught the way of eternal life that Jesus Christ committed to His disciples. It is for this reason that Jesus Christ sent them forth as apostles to the world, and it is for this reason that He raised up His church. Within the church, He has provided a ministry that is able to teach the Word of God and to preach the gospel to the world. Moreover, He has provided a way to support the work of preaching the gospel and teaching the brethren of Jesus Christ. Instead of the priests and Levites at the temple collecting tithes and offerings, the authority to receive tithes and offerings has been transferred to the ministry of Jesus Christ by the command of the Lord. The apostle Paul makes this very clear: “Don’t you know that those who are laboring in the sacred things of the temple live of the things of the temple, and those who are ministering at the altar are partakers with the altar? In the same way also, the Lord did command that those who preach the gospel are to live of the gospel” (I Cor. 9:13- 14).

The command of God under the Old Covenant concerning the tithes and offerings that the children of Israel were to give to the priests and Levites was brought to completion. Instead of abolishing the laws of tithes and offerings, Jesus Christ transferred the authority to receive tithes and offerings to the ministers of the gospel, who are under His authority as the High Priest and Mediator of the New Covenant.


How Did Jesus Christ Fulfill the Prophets?

Jesus also said that He had come to fulfill the prophets. How did Jesus fulfill the prophets? During His life in the flesh, all the Old Testament prophecies concerning His first coming were fulfilled. These prophecies included His miraculous conception and birth from the virgin Mary, the flight to Egypt to escape Herod, the return to Galilee and dwelling in Nazareth, the announcing of His ministry by John the Baptist, the healings and mighty works during His ministry, the preaching of the gospel throughout the land of Judea and Galilee, the persecution and suffering that followed, His death by crucifixion, the place of His burial, and the time of the resurrection. Most of the prophecies that were fulfilled concern His suffering and death on the Passover day. (See the section Twenty-eight Prophecies Fulfilled On the Crucifixion Day on pages 268-273.)

Although nearly two thousand years have passed since these prophecies were completed, all the prophecies about His second coming have yet to be fulfilled. There are a great number of prophecies in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that are awaiting fulfillment. Every prophecy in the Word of God will be fulfilled in its set time as determined by God the Father. Jesus Christ did not abolish or set aside a single prophecy or even a single word of the Old Testament scriptures. Remember what Jesus said concerning the Scriptures: “For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).

Jesus gave an absolute guarantee that all the prophecies of Scripture will be fulfilled in their time: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branches have already become tender, and it puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. In like manner also, when you see all these things [the events prophesied for the end time taking place], know that it [the second return of Jesus Christ] is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, this [end time] generation shall in no wise pass away until all these things have taken place. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away. But concerning that day, and the hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:32-36).

According to the words of Jesus Christ, all the prophecies that are recorded in Scripture will be fulfilled at the time that God has ordained. Jesus did not come to abolish the words of the prophets, but to fulfill them. As He came in the flesh to fulfill the prophecies of a Savior, so He will return in glory to fulfill the prophecies of the coming King Who will bring the government of God to earth.


The Commandments of God Are To Be Taught and Practiced Under the New Covenant

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it absolutely clear that the commandments of God are in force under the New Covenant: “Therefore, whoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of [from] heaven; but whoever shall practice and teach them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).

Which commandments of God are rejected and considered the least by mainstream Christianity today? The two that are considered the least are the Fourth Commandment and the Second Commandment. As strange as it may seem, many of those who reject these commandments will profess to keep the other commandments and claim that they are doing the will of God. But as the apostle James shows, breaking even one of the commandments of God is sin, and brings the same condemnation as breaking them all.

Let us examine the two commandments that are considered the least by mainstream Christianity, beginning with the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter; your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your livestock, nor the stranger within your gates; for in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it” (Ex. 20:8- 11).

Nowhere in the entire Bible do we find a single scripture that changes the day of rest and worship from the seventh day of the week to Sunday, the first day of the week. Several scriptures are often used by Sunday keepers to support their belief that Christians should worship on the first day of the week. However, when those scriptures are correctly understood and interpreted, it is clear that Jesus Christ did not change the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week.

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man…” (Mark 2:27). Contrary to the teachings of mainstream theologians, God did not command Sabbath keeping for the Jews only. In the beginning, God created the Sabbath day, hallowing the seventh day as the weekly day of worship, when there was not a single Jew on earth. The only humans at that time were Adam and Eve, the progenitors of all mankind. It was for all humanity that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, making it holy: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And by the beginning of the seventh day God finished His work which He had made. And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [made it holy] because on it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Gen. 2:1-3).

The seventh day was sanctified at the creation of the world. God established that day as a time for rest and worship from the beginning. He sanctified it, and blessed it, and rested on it, setting the example for mankind. Down through the ages, the record of this act of God has been preserved in the book of Genesis, one of the books of the Law. Remember what Jesus Christ declared concerning the Law: “For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).

Since God created time, and time is measured by the movement of the earth in relationship to the heavens, time will exist as long as the heavens and the earth exist. As long as the heavens and the earth exist, the seventh-day Sabbath will not pass from the Law. Consequently, the Fourth Commandment is still in force and remains binding on all mankind.

Contrary to what mainstream Christianity may teach or what people may practice, Sunday has never been and will never be the Lord’s day. The seventh day of the week, called Saturday today, is the Lord’s Sabbath day. Jesus Christ emphatically declared that He is Lord of the Sabbath day: “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath; therefore, the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath’ ” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus Himself declared that He is Lord of the Sabbath—the seventh day of the week. Therefore, the Sabbath day is the Lord’s day—not Sunday.

Some have misconstrued Jesus’ declaration that He is Lord of the Sabbath as signifying that He was abolishing the Sabbath by His authority. This interpretation of Jesus’ words is completely unfounded. Among the scholars who understand the true meaning of these scriptures are the writers of The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Notice what they have written about these critical verses: “At times Jesus is interpreted to have abrogated or suspended the sabbath commandment on the basis of the controversies brought about by sabbath healings and other acts. Careful analysis of the respective passages does not seem to give credence to this interpretation. The action of plucking the ears of grain on the sabbath by the disciples is particularly important in this matter. Jesus makes a foundational pronouncement at that time in a chiastically structured statement of antithetic parallelism: ‘The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath’ (Mark 2:27). The disciples’ act of plucking the grain infringed against the rabbinic halakhah of minute causistry in which it was forbidden to reap, thresh, winnow, and grind on the sabbath (Sabb. 7.2). Here again rabbinic sabbath halakhah is rejected, as in other sabbath conflicts. Jesus reforms the sabbath and restores its rightful place as designed in creation, where sabbath is made for all mankind and not specifically for Israel, as claimed by normative Judaism (cf. Jub. 2:19-20, see D.3). The subsequent logion, ‘The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbaths’ (Mark 2:28; Matt. 12:8; Luke 6:5), indicates that man-made Sabbath halakhah does not rule the sabbath, but that the Son of Man as Lord determines the true meaning of the sabbath. The sabbath activities of Jesus are neither hurtful provocations nor mere protests against rabbinic legal restrictions, but are part of Jesus’ essential proclamation of the inbreaking of the kingdom of God in which man is taught the original meaning of the sabbath as the recurring weekly proleptic ‘day of the Lord’ in which God manifests his healing and saving rulership over man” (vol. 5, pp. 854-55).

As these scholars show, the Gospel accounts do not support the widespread belief that Jesus abolished the Sabbath day. Rather, as the Lord of the Sabbath, He taught the true meaning of the Sabbath day and set the example for its proper observance. His apostles continued to keep the Sabbath and to teach the early believers to keep it, as Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews clearly demonstrates. The apostle Paul wrote this epistle in 61 AD, more than thirty years after the beginning of the New Testament church. In his epistle, Paul makes it absolutely clear that the seventh-day Sabbath had not been abolished. At that time, there were false ministers who were teaching that Sunday, the first day of the week, had replaced the Sabbath. To counter these false teachings, Paul gave the brethren a sober warning that to reject the Sabbath and neglect to rest and worship God was sin, just as it was for the children of Israel in the wilderness:

“For He spoke in a certain place about the seventh day in this manner: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again concerning this: ‘If they shall enter into My rest—’ consequently, since it remains for some to enter into it, and those who had previously heard the gospel did not enter in because of disobedience, again He marks out a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying in David after so long a time (exactly as it has been quoted above), ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken long afterwards of another day. There remains, therefore, Sabbath-keeping for the people of God” (Heb. 4:4-9). Paul did not write, “There remains Sabbath keeping for the Jews.” He clearly declared, “There remains Sabbath keeping for the people of God.” The people of God include the Gentiles as well as the Jews (I Pet. 2:10 and Eph. 2:11-19).

Many ministers and theologians have applied the opposite meaning to Hebrews 4:9. They have completely misinterpreted the King James translation of this verse, which reads, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” They teach that Christians are no longer required to observe the Sabbath because Jesus Christ has given them “rest” by “fulfilling the law” for them and thereby releasing them from commandment keeping. Such reasoning is completely false. Jesus did not fulfill the commandments of God in order to release us from the obligation to keep them, but to set the example for us (I Pet. 2:21-22, I John 3:4).

When we understand the meaning of the Greek text, there is no question that the New Testament upholds the authority of the Fourth Commandment for Christians today. The Greek word that is used in Hebrews 4:9 is sabbatismos, which means “Sabbath rest, Sabbath observance” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek- English Lexicon of the New Testament). This definition of the Greek word, sabbatismos, is confirmed by other historical works: “The words ‘sabbath rest’ translate the GK noun sabbatismos, a unique word in the NT. This term appears also in Plutarch (Superset. 3 [Moralia 166a]) for sabbath observance, and in four postcanonical Christian writings which are not dependent on Heb. 4:9” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 5, p. 856).

The Greek word, sabbatismos, is a noun. The verb form of the word is sabbatizo, which means, “to keep the Sabbath” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). The meaning of sabbatizo is confirmed by its use in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament which dates from the third century BC. It is called the Septuagint, meaning “Seventy,” because the first five books were translated by seventy scholars who were Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt. The Septuagint was used by the Jews in synagogues throughout the Roman Empire, and by the Greek-speaking Jewish and Gentile converts in the early New Testament churches.

The apostle Paul quotes exclusively from the Septuagint in his epistle to the Hebrews. When Paul used the Greek word sabbatismos, in Hebrews 4:9, he knew that the meaning of this word was well known to the Greek-speaking believers of that day. The verb form sabbatizo, was used in the Septuagint, which was as familiar to the believers of New Testament times as the King James Bible is to Christians today.

A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint defines sabbatizo as “to keep sabbath, to rest” (Lust, Eynikel, Hauspie). The use of the verb sabbatizo in Leviticus 23:32 in the Septuagint leaves no room to mistake its meaning. Here is the English translation of this verse in the Septuagint: “It [the Day of Atonement] shall be a holy sabbath [literally, “a Sabbath of Sabbaths”] to you; and ye shall humble your souls, from the ninth day of the month: from evening to evening shall ye keep your sabbaths” (Brenton, The Septuagint With Apocrypha).

The clause “shall ye keep your sabbaths” is translated from the Greek words sabbatieite ta sabbata, which literally mean, “You shall sabbathize the Sabbaths.” The Greek verb sabbatieite, which means “ye shall keep,” is the second person plural form of the verb , sabbatizo. Since the verb sabbatizo means “to keep the Sabbath,” this verb applies to the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, which are also Sabbaths of God. This verb applies to God’s command for the seventh-year rest of the farming land. In the Septuagint, the verb sabbatizo is used in relation to Sabbath keeping and Sabbath rest.

In accord with this definition, the KJV translates sabbatieite in Leviticus 23:32 as “shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” There is no question that this form of the Greek verb sabbatizo is specifically referring to Sabbath observance. This meaning applies equally to the noun form sabbatismos, which we find in Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews. The fact that Paul uses the Septuagint translation in this epistle confirms that the meaning of the word sabbatismos in Hebrews 4:9 is in complete accord with the meaning of sabbatieite in Leviticus 23:32. Paul is clearly upholding the observance of the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

The use of the Greek word sabbatismos in Hebrews 4:9 clearly shows that the teaching that the Fourth Commandment has been abolished is a false interpretation and doctrine. As the context of this verse shows, the observance of the seventh day as a day of rest and worship is as binding for the people of God today as it was for Israel of old. In addition to the weekly Sabbath, the annual holy days that God commanded, which are also called Sabbaths, are included in the Fourth Commandment. In the same manner as true believers are commanded to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, they are also commanded to observe the annual holy days of God. The early New Testament churches kept the holy days of God, as determined by the calculated Hebrew Calendar. The apostle Paul kept the holy days and commanded Gentile converts to keep them (I Cor. 5:7-8). None of the apostles or the early converts to Christianity observed the pagan holidays that are now called Christmas and Easter. These holidays, which originated in sun worship, were later adopted into Christianity through the influence of the Roman church. They became false substitutes for the annual holy days that are commanded by God, just as Sunday has become a false substitute for the weekly Sabbath. (If the reader desires to know more about the Sabbath and the holy days of God, please write to the publisher at the address in the front of the book.)

The Second Commandment: As the Roman church succeeded in subverting the observance of the Fourth Commandment by Christians, so it succeeded in subverting the observance of the Second Commandment, which prohibits the use of idols and images in worship. There is no ambiguity in the wording of this command of God: “You shall not make for yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:4-6).

Because this commandment is so clear in its condemnation of idols and images, the Roman church has removed it from their listing of the Ten Commandments in all their catechisms. In order to make up for the missing commandment, they have split the Tenth Commandment into two commandments. Although they have officially removed the Second Commandment from their catechisms, because they cannot justify their unlawful use of idols and images, the full text of the Second Commandment remains in their approved Bibles as a testimony against their idolatry.

The Second Commandment makes it absolutely clear that God abhors the use of idols and images of any kind by His people. Yet the churches of professing Christianity are filled with idols, images and pictures. But no church, however great it may be in the world, can justify the use of idols and images in its worship when God has strictly forbidden this practice. God the Father and Jesus Christ cannot be worshiped through idols or images. Nor will God tolerate the use of images to worship and venerate other persons or beings. The worship of Mary and the veneration of the apostles and other saints has no place in true Christianity. All such worship is strictly forbidden by the Second Commandment. It is blatant idolatry to venerate any person or being in addition to or in place of God. The apostle Paul warned the believers of his day that those who take part in idolatry will suffer the judgment of God, as did the Israelites of old who committed this sin. Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, who were being tempted to return to their former idolatry, as Israel had returned to the idolatry of Egypt: “Neither be idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.’ Neither should we commit sexual immorality, as some of them committed, and twenty-three thousand were destroyed in one day. Neither should we tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted Him, and were killed by serpents….Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (I Cor. 10:7-9, 14).

Paul’s warning to the Corinthians makes it clear that the Second Commandment is still in force. It is even more binding under the New Covenant than it was under the Old, because Jesus has magnified it by His example and His teaching. The worship of God in spirit and in truth requires loving God with the whole heart and mind. The true worship of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ leaves no room in the heart and mind to worship others. As the Scriptures show, idolatry begins in the mind and heart. Notice the words of God in the book of Ezekiel: “And some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the Word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I at all be inquired of by them? Therefore speak to them, and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Every man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him according to the multitude of his idols: So that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart because they have deserted Me for their idols—all of them.’

“ ‘Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Repent and turn yourselves from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger who lives in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to ask of him concerning Me; I the LORD will answer him Myself. And I will set My face against that man, and I will make him for a sign and for a proverb. And I will cut him off from the midst of My people; and you shall know that I am the LORD” ’ ” (Ezek. 14:1-8).

Like Israel of old, the believers in the New Testament churches were drawn away from the true worship of God and led into idol worship. Images of pagan deities were introduced into the churches and palmed off as representations of Jesus’ mother and His apostles. More and more images were added, each said to represent a chosen saint of God. But the apostle Paul reveals the true origin of these idols: “What then am I saying? That an idol is anything, or that which is sacrificed to an idol is anything? But that which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not wish you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and the table of demons” (I Cor. 10:19-21).

The apostle John understood the pagan origin of the images that were brought into the early churches, drawing many believers into a false worship. Toward the close of the first century, John wrote three different epistles to admonish the believers to remain faithful to the true worship of God. At the end of his first epistle, he commanded, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).

There is no question that, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, any worship of idols and images is condemned. Those who teach and practice the use of idols and images to worship God are in direct defiance of the Second Commandment and will be rejected by Him. God the Father and Jesus Christ will not share Their glory and honor with an idol. Any attempt to worship God through the use of an idol, or physical object of any kind, including rosaries or prayer beads, is worshiping in vain. True worship requires loving God with the whole heart and mind, in spirit and in truth, leaving no room for reverence or devotion to images created by the imaginations and hands of men.


The Spirit and Intent of the Law and the Prophets

The purpose of the Law and the Prophets, and all the writings of the Old Testament, was to teach the people to love and worship God, and Him alone. Jesus Christ revealed the spirit and intent of the Law and the Prophets when He was asked which commandment was the greatest: “And one of them, a doctor of the law, questioned Him, tempting Him, and saying, ‘Master, which commandment is the great commandment in the Law?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment; and the second one is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” ’ ”(Matt. 22:35-40).

Under the New Covenant, true worship and love toward God is made possible through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables the believer to reverence God and obey Him from the heart. Through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the believer learns to obey every command of God in the full spirit and intent of the law, as magnified by Jesus Christ. This is the manner in which every true believer will be keeping the laws and commandments of God, because he or she loves God the Father and Jesus Christ with all the heart, mind, soul and strength. This righteousness, which is based on faith and love, far exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said, “For I say to you, unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way that you shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).

The righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, Who obeyed all of His Father’s commandments in the full spirit and intent of the law. Through faith, His righteousness is imputed to each believer who loves God and keeps His commandments. This imputed righteousness is a gift that the believer receives through the abundance of the Father’s grace. It is called “the righteousness of faith” because only through faith in Jesus Christ is it possible to partake of this righteousness.


The Righteousness of Faith of the True Believer

When a believer is justified from past sins through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and is baptized by full immersion in water, he or she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit as a begettal from God the Father. Then the Father imputes to the believer the very righteousness of Jesus Christ, that “so also might the grace of God reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).

The righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to the believer by God the Father, far exceeds the righteousness required by the letter of the law. His spiritual obedience was so perfect, pure and wholehearted that He always did the things that pleased God the Father. This perfect righteousness was accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus received without measure from the Father.

By His personal example and His teachings, Jesus magnified the laws and commandments of God and revealed the fullness of their intent and meaning. He showed that the spirit of the law does not nullify the letter of the law but requires a fuller, spiritual obedience. This spiritual obedience is beyond the capacity of the natural mind and human will and can only be accomplished through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures reveal that when the believer is begotten with the Holy Spirit of God the Father, he or she begins to receive the very mind of Christ. With Christ’s mind, the believer is strengthened to live by every word of God in the full spirit of the law. The apostle Paul describes this spiritual transformation in the mind as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Each believer begins to have the laws and commandments of God written upon his or her mind: “But He, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time, He is waiting until His enemies are placed as a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has obtained eternal perfection for those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after He had previously said, ‘This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days,’ says the Lord: I will give My laws into their hearts, and I will inscribe them in their minds; and their sins and lawlessness I will not remember ever again’ ” (Heb. 10:12-17).

Under the New Covenant, the laws and commandments of God are inscribed in the mind of each believer through the gift of the Holy Spirit, which gives the believer the power to bring forth the fruits of righteousness unto eternal life.


Rejecting the Commandments of God Is Lawlessness

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus left no doubt that the commandments of God are to be taught and practiced not only in the letter of the law but in the spirit of the law. Anyone who teaches that Jesus Christ abolished the laws and commandments of God is a liar. As He was completing the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned of false prophets who would teach that obedience to the commandments and laws of God is no longer required: “But beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, for within they are ravening wolves….Therefore, you shall assuredly know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but the one who is doing the will of My Father, Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many works of power through Your name?And then I will confess to them, I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:15, 20-23).

These prophets and teachers are not of God in spite of the fact that they use Jesus’ name, and call Him their Lord, and even do wonderful works in His name. They present themselves as His ministers and preachers of truth, but in reality they are serving the god of this world, Satan the devil, who rejected the commandments of God from the beginning. Everyone who teaches disobedience to the laws and commandments of God is following in the steps of Satan, who was the first lawbreaker. That is why Jesus told the Pharisees that their father was the devil. While professing to teach and practice the laws and commandments of God, they were teaching and practicing their own religious laws and traditions in place of the commandments of God.

During His ministry, Jesus condemned the religious leaders of Judaism for their traditions, which they held in higher esteem than the laws and commandments of God. He made it clear that in observing their own human traditions, they were rejecting the commandments of God: “…The Pharisees and the scribes questioned Him, saying, ‘Why don’t Your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from Me.But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. For leaving the commandment of God, you hold fast the tradition of men, such as the washing of pots and cups; and you practice many other things like this.’

“Then He said to them, ‘Full well do you reject the commandment of God, so that you may observe your own tradition. For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “The one who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.” But you say, “If a man shall say to his father or mother, ‘Whatever benefit you might receive from me is corban’ (that is, set aside as a gift to God), he is not obligated to help his parents.” And you excuse him from doing anything for his father or his mother, nullifying the authority of the Word of God by your tradition which you have passed down; and you practice many traditions such as this’ ” (Mark 7:5-13).

Most of the world’s professing Christians have committed the same mistake as the Pharisaic Jews. Many church denominations teach that divine revelation is contained in church tradition as well as in Holy Scripture. In the majority of churches, the religious leaders elevate their traditions to a higher status than the Word of God. It is evident that they have done so with the Fourth Commandment. They have exalted their unscriptural tradition of Sunday-keeping above the Sabbath commandment of God. In rejecting His commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy, they have become lawbreakers in His eyes. According to Jesus’ teaching, they are workers of lawlessness. Likewise, those churches that use any form of idols—including statues, pictures, relics, icons or other symbolic objects—are rejecting the Second Commandment for the sake of their tradition. Because they are breaking the commandment of God, they are guilty of practicing lawlessness.

In his first epistle, the apostle John clearly defines lawlessness: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4, KJV). Although this is a correct translation, it does not convey the literal meaning of the Greek text. Here is a more precise translation of John’s words: “Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness”.

To practice lawlessness is to live in a state of sin, committing sin as a habitual way of life. In other words, lawlessness is the habitual breaking of God’s laws and commandments, which is sin. Religious leaders who teach and practice lawlessness appear to be righteous, because they use the names of God and Jesus Christ and often quote Scripture. However, they are not true servants of God because they reject His laws and commandments.

The apostle Jude, the brother of Jesus Christ, witnessed the rise of lawlessness among the churches of his day. Jude delivered an urgent plea to the believers to reject ungodly teachers of lawlessness, who were turning the grace of God into license to sin by preaching a false gospel of faith without obedience, and by replacing the commandments of God with traditions that originated in ancient paganism. Jude wrote: “Beloved, when personally exerting all my diligence to write to you concerning the common salvation, I was compelled to write to you, exhorting you to fervently fight for the faith, which once for all time has been delivered to the saints. For certain men have stealthily crept in; those who long ago have been written about, condemning them to this judgment. They are ungodly men, who are perverting the grace of our God, turning it into licentiousness, and are personally denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4).

The apostle Peter also warned of false teachers who would reject the way of obedience to God’s commandments, as taught and practiced by Jesus Christ: “But there were also false prophets among the people, as indeed there will be false teachers among you, who will stealthily introduce destructive heresies, personally denying the Lord who bought them [by rejecting His teachings], and bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many people will follow as authoritative [exalting church tradition] their destructive ways; and because of them, the way of the truth will be blasphemed” (II Pet. 2:1-2).


Those Who Reject the Commandments of God Are Judging the Law and the Lawgiver

Those who teach that the commandments of God have been abolished have presumptuously passed judgment on the laws of God and declared them to be null and void: “In fact, the whole law of Moses has been rendered inoperative. The New Testament message is clear for all who have ‘ears to hear.’ The whole of the law of Moses has been rendered inoperative by the death of the Lord Jesus. The law, in its entirety, no longer has any immediate and forensic authority or jurisdiction whatsoever over anyone….Christ is the complete end and fulfillment of all of the laws’ 613 commandments, ending their jurisdiction over us completely” (Tardo, Sunday Facts & Sabbath Fiction, p. 26-27).

By nullifying the laws of God in this manner, the religious teachers of this world are denying the authority of God as Lawgiver. The apostle James condemns this ungodly attitude, which presumes to judge the laws that God has established for all mankind: “Brethren, do not talk against one another. The one who talks against a brother, and judges his brother, is speaking against the law, and is judging the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law; rather, you are a judge. But there is only one Lawgiver, Who has power to save and to destroy. Who are you that you presume to judge another?” (James 4:11-12).

Those who judge the laws of God are, in fact, usurping the authority of God, Who is the only Lawgiver. To judge the laws and commandments of God and reject Him as Lawgiver is the epitome of lawlessness. This spirit of judging God and His laws is the spirit and attitude of Satan the devil, and the foundation of all religions that are based on the traditions and commandments of men. This form of religion is rooted in human self-righteousness, not in the righteousness that Jesus Christ taught and practiced.

The book of Job holds a lasting lesson for all who exalt their own righteousness above the righteousness of God. The ancient patriarch Job viewed himself as righteous because he continually offered sacrifices to God. However, he began to exalt himself and trust in his own righteousness, rather than trusting in God. He bragged and boasted of his own righteousness so much that God brought a series of grievous trials upon Job. After losing his children and all his possessions, he was smitten with boils from his head to his toes. When his trial was more than he could bear, three friends came to visit him, but they did not give him any comfort. His friends began to accuse him of evildoing and urged him to repent in order to escape further punishment from God. The more they condemned him, the more Job defended his own righteousness. He began to condemn God and accuse Him of being unjust and unrighteous in His acts. When he expressed a desire to plead his cause before God Himself, God responded by answering him in person: “And the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, ‘Gird up your loins now like a man. I will demand you, and you declare unto Me. Will you even annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me so that you may be righteous?’ ” (Job 40:6-8.)

These words of God also apply to the self-righteous attitude that the workers of lawlessness have toward God’s laws and commandments. They disannul God’s judgment by claiming that His holy, righteous and spiritual laws are evil and harsh, and that keeping them is a curse. In doing this, they are condemning God and going about to establish their own righteousness. Because they use the Scriptures and retain some of the commandments of God in their self-righteous religion, they appear to teach the way to salvation. But their self-righteous traditions and false grace will not bring salvation. As Job learned, God, and God alone, is Savior. He powerfully declared to Job that his own righteousness could never save him: “And have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? Deck yourself now with majesty and excellency, and array yourself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of your wrath; and behold everyone who is proud, and abase him. Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in darkness. Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you” (verses 9-14).

After hearing these words of God, Job abhorred himself for his sin of selfrighteousness and repented to God “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). That is what professing Christians of this world need to do. They need to forsake the self-righteous traditions of men that they have been practicing and submit to the righteousness of God the Father and Jesus Christ.

The leaders of Christianity today need to remember the words of warning that Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees during His ministry. Like these self-righteous leaders of the Jews, the leaders of the Christian churches have adopted traditions and dogmas that conflict with the commandments of God. A close examination of the history of Christianity will show that the traditional doctrines and practices of the churches of this world are not the teachings of Jesus Christ. True Christianity, as originally taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles, was subverted from within by false teachers of lawlessness. The teachings of these “ungodly men” that Jude and Peter wrote about were passed down in the writings of the “early church fathers” and were accepted by the Roman church as authoritative traditions. Through the centuries the Roman church grew in power, using its influence to stamp out every remaining vestige of the true teachings of Jesus Christ. After a power struggle between the bishop of Rome and the bishop of Constantinople, the church split into the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches.

As the influence of the Orthodox church dominated the East, so the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church molded the thinking of the entire Western world. The authority of Catholic doctrine and tradition was not seriously challenged until the time of Martin Luther. When Martin Luther rejected the corruption and lawlessness of the Roman Catholic Church, he appeared to be seeking the truth of God. He labored diligently to translate the Scriptures into the German language so that the common people could read and learn from the Word of God. But the religion that developed as a result of Martin Luther’s teachings, known as Lutheranism, did not restore the true teachings of Jesus Christ. The reformation that Martin Luther initiated was never completed, because he rejected the Second and Fourth Commandments. As a result, the new religion that he founded began to promote another form of lawlessness.

Luther taught that a person who had been saved through the grace of God could not lose salvation, regardless of the degree or intensity of the sins that might be committed. This perverse teaching is clearly expressed in a letter written by Luther: “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your faith in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where righteousness can exist….No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery a thousand times each day” (Martin Luther, Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter 99, 1 August 1521, translated by Erika Flores in The Wittenberg Project, The Wartburg Segment, as published in Grace and Knowledge, Issue 8, September 2000, Article “Ecclesiasticus: The Wisdom of Ben-Sirach,” p. 27).

The words of Martin Luther reveal the depth of lawlessness to which many religious leaders have descended. This teaching is the epitome of the perverted “grace” that Jude condemned, which rejects the commandments of God and grants license to commit sin with no limitations whatsoever. Luther’s teaching concerning murder and adultery is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, Who magnified and greatly expanded the application of the Sixth and Seventh Commandments.

The promoters of lawlessness have succeeded in deceiving the vast majority of professing Christians into accepting a false grace. As the New Testament shows, this distorted view of grace does not lead to salvation. In the Judgment Day, the teachers of lawlessness, who have been honored as religious leaders and have even done noteworthy deeds in the name of Jesus Christ, will be rejected: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many works of power through Your name?’ And then I will confess to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:22-23).

The workers of lawlessness will depart into the lake of fire to suffer the judgment of eternal death, from which there is no resurrection: “But the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

During His ministry, Jesus declared that those who refuse to hear His teachings would be judged by the words He had spoken: “Then Jesus called out and said, ‘The one who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him Who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him Who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world so that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. But if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has one who judges him; the word which I have spoken, that shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken from Myself; but the Father, Who sent Me, gave Me commandment Himself, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. Therefore, whatever I speak, I speak exactly as the Father has told Me” (John 12:44-50).

The teachings of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount, carry the full authority of God the Father: “Now it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; for He taught them as one Who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:28-29). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the full intent and application of the laws and commandments of God, which is the spiritual standard for the New Covenant. This is the standard by which every true believer is now being judged, and by which all mankind will ultimately be judged.

 

51. TRUE CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH AND THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

MATTHEW 5

13. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, with what shall it be salted? For it no longer has any strength, but is to be thrown out and to be trampled upon by men.

14. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a mountain cannot be hid.

15. Neither do they light a lamp and put it under a bushelbasket, but on the lampstand; and it shines for all who are in the house.

16. In the same way also, you are to let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

52. JESUS CAME TO MAGNIFY AND FINISH GIVING THE LAW—HE PREACHED OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS OF GOD
MATTHEW 5

17. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

18. For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled.

19. Therefore, whoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever shall practice and teach them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20. For I say to you, unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way that you shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

53. EXAMPLES OF THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF THE LAW
MATTHEW 5

21. You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not commit murder; but whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgment.’ a

22. But I say to you, everyone who is angry with his brother without cause shall be subject to judgment. Now you have heard it said, ‘Whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca,” shall be subject to the judgment of the council.’ But I say to you, whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be subject to the fire of Gehenna.

23. For this reason, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24. Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

25. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him; lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.

26. Truly I say to you, there is no way that you shall come out of there until you have paid the very last coin.

a - Ex. 20:13; Deut 5:17

54. LUST IS SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
MATTHEW 5

27. “You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ a

28. But I say to you, everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29. So then, if your right eye shall cause you to offend, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than that your whole body be cast into Gehenna.

30. And if your right hand shall cause you to offend, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than that your whole body be cast into Gehenna.”

a - Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18

55. DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE CAN BE ADULTERY
MATTHEW 5

31. “It was also said in ancient times, ‘Whoever shall divorce his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.’ a

32. But I say to you, whoever shall divorce his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever shall marry her who has been divorced is committing adultery.”

a - Deut. 24:1

56. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT TO VOW OR SWEAR
MATTHEW 5

33. “Again, you have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not forswear yourself, but you shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ a

34. But I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; b

35. Nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.

36. Neither shall you swear by your head, because you do not have the power to make one hair white or black.

37. But let your word be good, your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no; for anything that is added to these is from the evil one.”

a - Ex. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Deut. 5:11; b - Isa. 66:1

 

59. HOW TO DO YOUR WORKS

MATTHEW 6

1. “Beware that you do not bestow your alms in the sight of men in order to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father Who is in heaven.

2. Therefore, when you give your alms, do not sound the trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.

3. But when you give your alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

4. So that your alms may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret shall Himself reward you openly.”

60. HOW TO PRAY
MATTHEW 6

5. “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, in order that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.

6. But you, when you pray, enter into a private room; and after shutting the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

7. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that by multiplying their words they shall be heard.

8. Now then, do not be like them; for your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.”

61. PRAYER GUIDE AND OUTLINE
MATTHEW 6

9. “Therefore, you are to pray after this manner: ‘Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name;

10. Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven;

11. Give us this day our daily bread;

12. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors;

13. And lead us not into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

14. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

62. HOW TO FAST
MATTHEW 6

16. “And when you fast, do not be as the hypocrites, dejected in countenance; for they disfigure their faces in order that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.

17. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

18. So that you may not appear to men to fast, but to your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret shall reward you openly.”

63. HOW TO USE YOUR MONEY
MATTHEW 6

19. “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust spoil, and where thieves break through and steal;

20. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor rust spoils, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

64. THE EYE IS THE LIGHT OF THE BODY
MATTHEW 6

22. “The light of the body is the eye. Therefore, if your eye be sound, your whole body shall be full of light.

23. But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

65. NO ONE IS CAPABLE OF SERVING TWO MASTERS
MATTHEW 6

24. “No one is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

66. ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD AND MATERIAL GOODS—SEEK THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS CHARACTER QUALITIES FIRST—AND YOUR NEEDS WILL BE SUPPLIED
MATTHEW 6

25. “Because of this I say to you, do not be anxious about your life as to what you shall eat and what you shall drink; nor about your body as to what you shall wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26. Observe the birds of heaven: they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor do they gather into granaries; and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?

27. But who among you, by taking careful thought, is able to add one cubit to his stature?

28. And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not labor, nor do they spin;

29. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.

30. Now if God so arrays the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much rather clothe you, O you of little faith?

31. Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we be clothed?’

32. For the nations seek after all these things. And your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

33. But as for you, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

34. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall take care of the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil of that day.”

68. GOD’S HOLY TRUTH NOT TO BE TREATED LIGHTLY
MATTHEW 7

6. “Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn around and tear you in pieces.”

69. ASK, SEEK, AND KNOCK, AND YOU WILL RECEIVE
MATTHEW 7

7. “Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you.

8. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it shall be opened.

9. Or what man is there of you who, if his son shall ask for bread, will give him a stone?

10. And if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent?

11. Therefore, if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father Who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?

12. Therefore, everything that you would have men do to you, so also do to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

70. YOU MUST ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE
MATTHEW 7

13. “Enter in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it;

14. For narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

 
 

74. JESUS WITHDRAWS TO PRAY
LUKE 5

16. Then He withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

75. JESUS RETURNS TO CAPERNAUM
MARK 2

1. And after some days, He again entered into Capernaum, and it was reported that He was in the house.

2. And immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer any room, not even at the door; and He preached the Word to them.

 
 
 

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