One of the most treasured theological tomes on my bookshelf is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, a work collected from 60 sermons by the Doctor.
In a recent discussion on the role of law in the believer, I was reminded of some quotes from that book.
It is, in other words, that all the law and all the prophets point to Him and will be fulfilled in Him down to the smallest detail. Everything that is in the law and the prophets culminates in Christ, and He is the fulfillment of them. It is the most stupendous claim that He ever made. (p. 163)
Is the Sermon on the Mount codification, or is it a description of the believer? The “blessed are” statements of the Beatitudes are indicative in the Greek; they are descriptive of the new creature that is the believer.
About the Law — which Paul calls our pedagogue/tutor/guardian, Lloyd-Jones wrote:
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not treat us like that. It does not treat us as children. It is not another law, but something which gives us life. It lays down certain principles and asks us to apply them. Its essential teaching is that we are given a new outlook and understanding which we must apply with respect to every detail of our lives. That is why the Christian, in a sense, is a man who is always walking on a kind of knife edge. He has no set regulations; instead he applies this central principle to every situation that may arise. (p. 216)
Lloyd-Jones further explains:
What is of supreme importance is that we must always remember that the Sermon on the Mount is a description of character and not a code of ethics or morals. It is not to be regarded as law – a kind of new “Ten Commandments” or set of rules and regulations which are to be carried out by us – but rather as a description of what we Christians are meant to be, illustrated in certain particular respects. It is as if our Lord says, “Because you are what you are, this is how you will face the law and how you will live it.” (p. 21)
Ultimately, the eternal standard of righteousness is Christ Himself, the revelation of and reflection of God, the perfect image (Greek eikon) of the Father. He is and always has been the righteousness that the Law pointed to. And He is the standard of our righteousness. No law has ever encompassed His holiness, the only standard that matters. No law, no letters can encompass the righteousness that exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees. Only the living Torah, Christ whom the written Torah pointed to, is that righteousness.
Christ’s teaching, Paul’s exhortations, all point to being that which we as new creatures are recreated to be.
The Spirit of Christ, indwelling the believer and informing him in His word is not a set of rules. Looking at God’s law merely as rules to follow inherently misses the heart and focuses on the external. What the Law pointed to was fulfilled in Him and in is being fulfilled in us. While it is shrouded in this body of death now, it is realized fully in glory.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (ESV)
5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (ESV)