“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:13-20 NKJV)

This passage follows the Beatitudes and is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells the Disciples that they are the salt that should flavor the souls of the people around them, that they are the light to lead people into the truth of the gospel. Then he says something that doesn’t seem to fit with what has gone before. “I didn’t come to set them aside (the law and the prophets).” No, I came to fulfill them to make them come true in my life. If you are going to be salt and light, you too must live by the true law and the words of the prophets, not by earthly rules and laws. He is saying that the law, which God had given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, was still in effect, that those who profess him as Lord need to also live by that law, and be more righteous than even the scribes and pharisees.

How do we live our lives with a greater degree of righteousness than even the Scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day? Well for one thing we need to look at how we justify not living in that manner. One of the favorite sayings of so many Christians is, “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace.” In that way we negate the law, we make it of no account because we are “under grace.”

Then of course, when someone says something about our actions, we have the fall back position: “Don’t judge me, you know what the Bible says about judging.” Of course there is this from Matthew’s gospel: Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mat 18:15-18 ESV).

Now of course, there are those who will tell you that this language could not be Jesus, it had to be some priest later on who added these things to the Bible. But Jesus/God was the author of the law, for it was He who gave the law to Moses in the first place. Jesus indeed then, had come not to abolish the law but to establish it by His own life. Jesus lived as those around Him lived, only without sin. That was what He expected from those who would follow Him and teach others about the gospel. Now, let us take a look again at why Jesus was executed. According to the High Priest it was because he did not follow the law. He didn’t wash his hands in the prescribed manner, he worked on the Sabbath by healing people, and of course Jesus claimed to be God. But, were these things in the Law that God handed down on Mt. Sinai? No, these were man made laws that were superimposed over the Law of God.
The law and the prophets, what we know today as the Old Testament, was what Jesus was speaking about, but there was also the Scribal or Oral tradition, and this is what Jesus spoke against for it was mans law not God’s law.

If we look through the Old Testament we don’t really find a whole lot of rules and regulations, we find instead great themes and principles. Yes the Law that was given to Moses did speak of those things that were directly against God, but it also spoke of those things that God loved. God used the law to show people His way, and for 4000 years it was how God spoke to His people about ways to live. There were many more things about living in community that were there to guide the people in how they were to treat one another, and even the stranger in their midst. The Scribal additions were things that expanded upon the law. The Law of God said, remember the sabbath and keep it holy. The priests took that and made into, no work, no carrying anything, you cannot walk more that to the temple and back home. That is not a part of God’s Law, but it was expected that people would follow it as if it was.
We see this today in the Church as well, with rules and regulations about how we do things and when we do them. In some churches we find that musical instruments are not to be in the sanctuary, that only the priest is allowed in certain areas. There are many rules, there are also rules that say if you want to be a part of the church you must become a member, not just an attender, and in order to become a member you must learn the rules of membership first. I imagine that Paul would have a few things to say about all these rules and regulations we have made for ourselves. Jesus gave only a couple of commands, these were simply to love your God and your neighbor. To pray for those who would enslave you, or beat you or misuse you. So what we are to do is to live as Christ lived, obey the law of God, do not sin, be Holy as your God is holy.
Now that is a tall order, be Holy because God is Holy. Yet that is basically what Jesus said. If we follow the Law, and that means living within the limits that God sets, and not as man sets, we shall love one another, we will not steal or cheat or lie or gossip.

Just living within the 10 commandments will give us holy lives.
And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the LORD your God, “You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“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 do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exo 20:1-17 NKJV)

Just living within these commandments will give you a holy life. First and foremost is the commandment to recognize that God is God, next we are not to use God’s name in a curse or in any way that takes away from God’s love for us. Then we are to remember the Sabbath Day, the original sabbath was on Saturday, we in the Church observe it on Sunday as the day of Resurrection. It is a good day, for it is a day in which we rest from our labor, and worship God, study his word and on a nice day, BBQ with the food that God has given. Honor your father and mother, I like that one, since I am now a father, it is a good thing that we do bring honor to our parents and teach our children these things. The rest of the commandments are ways of living in community. You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, nor shall you steal. Murder is not a thing we do, instead we pray for those who we consider enemy. Adultery is a crime against God and neighbor, we see it over and over again in the scriptures, this crime begets so many other crimes.

No stealing, you steal from someone you have taken from them their peace as well as the item stolen, they are no longer secure in their person. Coveting of what is your neighbors, another way to put it is jealousy over what your neighbor has that you don’t. Wanting it until you ache for it, and then you will do whatever you can to acquire it. In today’s world that means spending money (credit cards) that you don’t really have, going into debt in order to have that bigger and better car, that big screen TV or whatever it is that they have that you want. Do not become consumed with jealousy, for that is also idolatry. Putting something between yourself and God.

Let us not do these things just because we think that it gives us a better name in our community, no let us do these things because Jesus did all this and then became our sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave of himself for others, can we do less? If we live our lives loving God and loving neighbor, we will live within the law of God. Anything we do if it is done because we love God, then we are living as Christ lived. Anything less than that holy living can actually find the gates of heaven locked against us. Mat 5:20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” So love the Lord your God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. Your reward is in Heaven not necessarily here on earth.

Father God, help us to live in your way, that we might come into your presence Holy and Blameless before you. That your name may be glorified and that others may come to know Christ as Lord. Amen.