Force of Law
Two plus two, my mother taught me, equals four. And this will be true when heaven and earth are gone, for it is truth, and truth does not depend upon the material universe. Rather, the material universe depends upon Truth itself.
These verses seem a random string of pearls, but it is not so. Jesus has simply put the pearls on a string, asking his hearers—who were, after all, experts at this sort of thing—to make the connection. Let's take it step by step:
· Under any form of God's law, old or new, the self-justification of the Pharisees is condemned. The Old Testament is full of passages in which God tells the people he despises their sacrifices—because they come from tainted hands.
· This does not annul the Law and the Prophets; it simply points out the abuse. But now the kingdom of God is at hand, since the time of John the Baptist. And consider the result! People who would never have considered the possibility of coming to God are now clamoring to get in; the prostitutes, the thieves, the tax collectors are all breaking down the doors to arrive. If that is what the wicked of this world do when the new kingdom arrives, then this new kingdom is even more powerful for righteousness than the old. If that is so (and it is) then the condemnation of the self-righteous is even greater.
· The old Law is sacred; it is immutable; it must be fulfilled; and why? Because it comes from God, and He is eternal. So therefore, from old and new, the self-righteous are condemned.
· Here's the killer application: look what you are doing to your wives. Throughout the time of the Old Testament, God made it clear that the measure of self-righteousness could be found in the question of divorce. The law forbids it, generally; so when it becomes common, you know you are living in a time when self-righteousness is more common than God-righteousness. (Does this sound familiar?)
There's the practical test. If self-justification rules, it won't be long until men begin to trade in their wives for younger models. Their wants will persuade their consciences. But have a care, men. Heaven and earth are still here—and so are Christ's words.