Jesus does for us what we cannot do for ourselves
I don’t know about you but as I read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5, 6 & 7), I am continuously struck by how far I fall short of the standards set out in it. Jesus sets a very high bar for righteousness! In fact, it is so high that it is impossible for anyone to reach.
For those that think they can be right with God based on their own merits, this poses a significant hurdle. If this bar is the standard which God requires for sinlessness normally, then how can they exceed it to “balance out” the evil they have done by not doing these things in the first place?
The answer is they cannot.
For the Christian, it can pose another problem as they feel the weight of their own sinfulness and their inability to maintain this standard. Their guilty conscience can drive them to despair. (The Apostle Paul seems to be struggling with this in Romans 7).
Thankfully, Matthew 5:17 helps us to put things in perspective. It serves as a key for us in understanding these three chapters of Matthew. In it, Jesus says to the crowd, “do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.”
In other words, Jesus fulfils the requirements of God’s law for us; he does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
This is an incredibly liberating verse! It means we do not have to do these things out of a fear of judgement (although our conscience can prick us to act) but out of the joy of knowing that God loves us so much that he came to not only fulfil the law for us but also to take on the consequences of the law for us.
And so, ‘there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).’
We have been freed by Christ to be able to do these things and, if we fail, we have forgiveness when we turn to the one who fulfils it for us. Hallelujah!