Stop Focusing on Rules

by Rick

(Read Matthew 15:1-20)


This morning we continue our series, “Grace that is Simply Amazing” by continuing our mini-series entitled, “Grace Based Success (Prosperity)”.  We have been studying the life of the Apostle Peter and our study has brought us to Matthew chapter 15.  Yesterday we looked at an interaction Jesus had with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.  They were upset because Jesus and His disciples ate something without washing their hands first.  Jesus called them hypocrites!  Jesus said they exemplified what what God said through Isaiah when He said, “These people honor me with their words, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is worthless.  The things they teach are only human rules.”  Jesus then said, “Listen and understand what I am saying.  It is not what people put in their mouth that makes them wrong.  It is what comes out of their mouth that makes them wrong.”  


Later on, when the disciples were alone with Jesus, Peter asked Jesus for clarification.  He said, “Jesus, please explain to us what you said earlier to the people.”  Jesus was seemingly still ‘hot’ over the issue.  I can sense His level of irritation in His response to Peter.  Jesus responded, “Do you still have trouble understanding?  Surely you know that all the food that enters the mouth goes into the stomach.  Then it goes out of the body.  But the bad things people say with their mouth come from the way they think.  And that’s what can make people wrong.  All these bad things begin in the mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, and insulting people.  These are the things that make people wrong.  Eating without washing their hands will never make people unacceptable to God.”


So what does this mean to you today?  There are layers and layers of implications to what Jesus said.  So I will be teaching on this for days.  For today, I will focus on rules vs. grace.


  1.  No one could ever be made right with God by attempting to keep the Law.  Paul said, “People who depend on following the law to make them right are under a curse.  As the Scriptures say, “They must do everything that is written in the law.  If they do not always obey, they are under a curse.”  So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by the law.  The Scriptures say, “The one who is right with God by faith will live forever.  The law does not depend on faith.  No, it says that the only way a person will find life by the law is to obey its commands.  The law says we are under a curse for not always obeying it.  But Christ took away that curse.  He changed places with us and put himself under that curse for us.”  (Gal 3:10-12).  Rules can’t make you right.  Rules can only show you where you are wrong.  The Pharisees were focused on rules.  Jesus looked past external rules and He looked into men’s hearts.


  1.  The purpose of the Law was not to make you right, but rather to show you how wrong you are.  Paul said, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are(Rom 3:20).  The purpose of the Law was to prove to man that we were not good enough; that we needed a Savior.  That Savior came and His name is Jesus!


  1.  When the Law was given, people became more conscious of sin. The Law is holy and perfect because it came from God. However, people could not keep it, which is why we need God’s grace.  Paul explained, “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant” (Rom 5:20).  The Law is so perfect that you, as a human, cannot keep it fully.  So thank God for grace!  Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more!


  1.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law we never could.  Jesus said,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” (Mat 5:17).  Jesus did what we could not.  We are righteous now, not because of what we do or because of what we fail to do.  We are only righteous because of what Jesus did!


  1.  Jesus freed you from the bondage of the Law.  Paul said, “Sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14).  God does not require you to live every second of your life attempting to comply with an external set of rules, which no human could ever fully comply with anyway.  God now, through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, enables and expects you to be led of His Spirit.  Your job now is to live your life from the inside-out, under the freedom and power of God’s amazing grace.  


Closing Confession:   Father, I thank You for teaching me about Your grace and my requirement to live by faith.  You gave Israel a perfect Law.  It was a Law so perfect no normal human could ever fulfill it.  The only human to ever fulfil the Law of Moses was the only perfect human to ever live.  His name is Jesus.  Jesus knew I could not fulfill the Law of Moses, so He fulfilled it for me.  Jesus knew I could never be perfect, so He was perfect for me.  Jesus knew I could never be righteous, so He was righteous for me.  Jesus fulfilled the requirement and His fulfillment, His perfection, and His righteousness were all transferred to me when I PUT ON Christ by accepting Jesus as my Lord.  I accept and embrace Jesus.  Jesus paid it all, and He paid it for me.  Not because I earned it, not because I deserve it, and not because I could ever be good enough.  Jesus died for me by grace.  I accept His finished work by faith and I now live my life by faith, that it might be by grace.  I live my life in honor of Jesus death, because He died for me!  I will succeed in life, I will accomplish what I was born to do, and I will leave a mark in this world that will not be erased.  But I won’t do it because I am so good, I will only do it because You are so good!  I will do it by Your grace.  First Your graced saved me.  Now Your grace empowers me.  I declare this by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper.

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