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Matthew 5:19-20

Law Enforcement

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.


Jesus taught that God's word is permanent and unchangeable. He told His followers not to think that He was going to change, nullify, or destroy any of the Old Testament scriptures. God's word is the revelation of who He is, and He never changes. (Mal 3:6).

Passing, now, from the permanence of the law to the enforcement of the law, Jesus begins to build a foundation of teaching that will demonstrate our need for a Savior. This passage is a warning to those who live sinful lives and lead others to do the same. Such people are held in strong contrast to those who were described in the nine beatitudes and given the charge to be salt and light.

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments.." Correctly interpreted, goes beyond the mere breaking of a commandment. The Greek word means to "Loose, dissolve, or nullify." It goes beyond mere action and cuts to the heart of a person. If we obey all of the commandments, but do so for the purpose of self-realization instead of out of our love for God, we are literally nullifying the commandments. Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:" and, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:" (John 14:21,24) Obedience is an expression of love and a form of worship. To be valid it must come from the heart.

Furthermore, He includes in this statement more than just the major commandments. The smallest of commandments are included. Perhaps this is referring to small infractions of the major commandments such as stealing a few paper clips from the office where you work. It appears to be building off of the "jot" and "tittle" of verse 18. Not only will every jot and tittle stand forever, but they will also be enforced.

We teach others to break the commandments by our very actions. Others see us doing things and assume that they can also do them with impunity. Children are very apt at copying the sins of the adults around them. So, it is not necessary to stand in front of your Sunday school class and teach them to break the Ten Commandments in order for this statement to apply to you. Every sin we commit teaches others to do the same.

Law breakers will have no standing in the courts of heaven. They will be held in the least esteem and will be refused entry. It will become increasingly obvious that this includes everyone, as the Sermon on the Mount develops. The only hope that Jesus offers to them at this point in the sermon is for them to be much more righteous than even the scribes and Pharisees.

Now, there are many in the modern church who need to hear the Sermon on the Mount. There are many who are leading congregations in prayer, preaching righteousness, and leading in worship on Sunday mornings who leave the church building to return to their weekly routines of sin. They cannot even come close in their righteousness to that of the Pharisees. At their best, they are but filthy rags in the eyes of God.

True righteousness must be found in Jesus Christ and the forgiving, merciful grace of our Father in heaven. The original audience to this sermon did not yet understand where their hope would come from, but we do. You can receive Christ as your Lord and Savior today. He will fill you with the Holy Spirit and will live in you. You will have His righteousness, which is the only righteousness sufficient for entry into the kingdom of heaven.

Before The Throne:

If you do not know Jrsus Christ as your Savior, pray to receive Him right now. If you already have committed your life to Him, confess your sins and He will forgive you. Pray that you would be able to express your love for Him by your obedience. Thank Him for removing your guilt and for protecting you from any condemnation.

For Further Study:

(v.19)
** shall break. Deut 27:26; Ps 119:6, 128; Gal 3:10-13; Jas 2:10-11; ** these. Matt 23:23; Deut 12:32; Luke 11:42; ** shall teach. Matt 15:3-6; Matt 23:16-22; Mal 2:8-9; Rom 3:8; Rom 6:1, 15; 1Tim 6:3-4; Rev 2:14-15, 20; * the least. Matt 11:11; 1Sam 2:30; ** do. Matt 28:20; Acts 1:1; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14-24; Phil 3:17-18; Phil 4:8-9; 1Thess 2:10-12; 1Thess 4:1-7; 1Tim 4:11-12; 1Tim 6:11; Titus 2:8-10; Titus 3:8; ** great. Matt 19:28; Matt 20:26; Dan 12:3; Luke 1:15; Luke 9:48; Luke 22:24-26; 1Pet 5:4;

(v.20) ** exceed. Matt 23:2-5, 23-28; Luke 11:39-40, 44; Luke 12:1; Luke 16:14-15; Luke 18:10-14; Luke 20:46-47; Rom 9:30-32; Rom 10:2-3; 2Cor 5:17; Phil 3:9; ** ye. Matt 3:10; Matt 7:21; Matt 18:5; Mark 10:15; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:17, 24, 25; John 3:3-5; Heb 12:14; Re 21:27;

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