Jesus was born under law, Gal. 4:4, He taught under law, Matt. 5:17-20, He lived under law, Matt. 23:1-3. The new covenant and the old covenant were different belief systems. The old covenant concept was: forgive to get forgiven; in other words, it was conditional. After the cross, however, the new will, the new covenant, there was a change in the priesthood, therefore, a change in the law; it was now unconditional. Love God and love your neighbor; forgive as Christ forgave you.
When reading Christ’s teachings, we must pay attention; was He teaching in the here and now? Or was He teaching in preparation for something in the future? Remember, while Jesus was still alive, Israel, as well as the world, was still under the old covenant. The new covenant did not come into effect until after His death, Heb 9:15-17. So everything Jesus said, and everything He taught, concerning the law, before His death was in reference to the old covenant.
Now let’s stop for a moment and be completely honest. Think about the Sermon on the Mount; murder in the heart. Jesus directly equates anger with murder; then He equates these with judgment; do you think He meant it? Now what about you? How many times have you been angry in the last few months? Now what was the penalty for anger- judgment? So how can this be true after the cross; after the penalty for sin was paid, and our sins and lawless deeds remembered no more? It doesn’t make any sense right? Wrong! It makes perfect sense in that Jesus was teaching under the law. Proclaiming the penalty for sin was death. He was preparing mankind for the mercy of the cross.
Now you want to try a few more? How about adultery in the heart, or go the second mile! Oh, here’s a real good one; Love your enemy. Well how are we doing so far? Yeah; that’s what I thought! You see Jesus wasn’t giving us a list of laws. He was pointing us to salvation.
If you really want to test the love your enemies thing, just go tell the pastors of one of these big mega-churches that they are teaching in error. I guarantee they will circle the wagons, and accuse you of heresy, and condemn you to hell all with one spirit-filled charge. I’m not trying to bash anyone here; I’m simply telling you how fickle we are as human beings, and how much we need a merciful Savior. That even on our best spirit-filled day, we are not qualified to stand before God apart from who Christ has made us. Let us not forget this. Amen.
Footnote: If we are unwilling to teach this, we are unwilling to set people free. And if we are unwilling to set people free, we are holding them in bondage. It’s that simple! Lord please strengthen us that we may grow together in the unity of the faith. That we may walk in the liberty by which we were called; that your love may be manifest to the world. Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:8-11