Matthew 5:19, 20
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Called least in the kingdom of heaven – one would think that there would at least be some place for them in heaven, but the truth is that whoever leads another into breaking the law of God, will have no place in the kingdom of heaven. Why? If one breaks a commandment under the guise of truth, can he keep any of them? An offense in one point of the law he indeed breaks all the commandments.
David the great king of Israel, set up by God as a king before the people, broke one commandment: that of adultery, committed with Bathsheba. Oh, but I hear you say, “That is just one commandment, how about the other nine?” Ok, how about the other nine indeed? To break the seventh commandment he first has to covet what was not his. This would be commandment 10 according to Exodus 20:3-17. Not only did David break commandments seven and ten, he also stole from Uriah that which was Uriah’s, so this was commandment 8. He stole her by breaking the sixth commandment by committing murder and then broke the 9th commandment by covering the sin up.
David has successfully broken the last five commandments and now I can hear you say, “what about the first 5?” Thanks for asking. He broke the 5th commandment by not honoring his Father in Heaven and in turn broke the first commandment by placing his own wants and desires above God’s wants and desires. When we do this we worship ourselves not God. He broke the 2nd commandment by placing something of this earth, Bathsheba, above God by desiring her more than a relationship with God. And the 3rd commandment by taking the name of God in vain; saying you are a believer but not living up to the law is taking His name in vain. If a woman takes the name of her husband and then procedures to have an affair, is she not taking his name in vain? Yes, she certainly is. When we take the name of Christ, Christian, and then procedure to act in a way that is unchristian, are we not taking the name of God in vain.
Nine down and one to go. Some might consider it a stretch, but if the purpose of the Sabbath is to rest from the affairs of this earth and spend time with our creator and God, anything that would cause us to lose our focus on the Sabbath would cause us to break the Sabbath Commandment. If we have broken the other nine how can we find rest and enjoyment in Sabbath rest? We cannot for our conscience will trouble us daily, especially on the Sabbath.
Had David not repented, he would have missed out on resurrection and everlasting life at Christ’s second coming. Until there is repentance the heart is divided in its service and there is a virtual denial of God and rebellion against His laws.
If all were free to set their own standards for themselves there would be a variety of standards to suit the many personalities and the government would be removed from the hands of God. The will of man would be superior to God with no hope of reconciliation with God as it existed before sin. God the creator would be dishonored and disrespected. Therefore God set up the law as an extension of His character. Though accused of being unjust, the laws of God are pure, just and upright.
The truth is that when mankind places themselves above God by choosing their own way, they place themselves in controversy against God. How can we be at controversy against God and still enjoy eternity with him in heaven and the earth made new? It cannot happen.
So Christ makes it clear that whoever knowingly breaks the law of God will not enter into the Kingdom of God. He further says of those who purposely draw others into temptation and sin that they will be cast out, cut off from communion with Christ on the great day of His return.
Not by one word, not by many words, but by every word that God has spoken, shall man live. We cannot disregard one word, however trifling it may seem to us, and be saved. There is not a commandment of the law that is not for the good and happiness of man, both in this life and in the life to come. In obedience to God’s law, man is surrounded as it were by a fence and kept from evil. He who breaks down this divinely erected barrier at one point has destroyed its power to protect him; he has opened a way for the enemy to enter leading him or her to waste and ruin.
Yet a religion that is based merely upon the law and adherence to the law is insufficient to bring the soul into harmony with God. The rigid orthodoxy of the Pharisees, was destitute of true repentance offered to God alone, and being totally void of tenderness or love, was only a stumbling block to sinners. They were like the salt that had lost its savor; (flavor) for their influence had no power to preserve the world from corruption. The only true faith is that which “works by love” (Galatians 5:6) to purify the soul. It is as leaven (yeast) which is hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened (see Luke 13:21). For the leaven of Christ is that which transforms the character.
All this the Jews should have learned from the teachings of the prophets. Centuries before, the cry of the soul for justification with God had found voice and answer in the words of the prophet Micah: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? . . . He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:6-8.
The prophet Hosea had pointed out what constitutes the very essence of what being a Pharisee is, in the words, “Israel is an empty vine, for he brings forth fruit unto himself.” Hosea 10:1. In their professed service to God, the Jews were really working for self. Their righteousness was the fruit of their own efforts to keep the law according to their own ideas and for their own selfish benefit. Hence it could be no better than they were. In their efforts to make themselves holy, they were trying to bring clean things out of uncleanliness. The law of God is as holy as He is holy, as perfect as He is perfect. It presents to men the righteousness of God. It is impossible for man, of himself, to keep this law; for the nature of man is depraved, deformed, and wholly unlike the character of God. The works of the selfish heart are “as an unclean thing;” and “all our righteousness are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6.
While the law is holy, the Jews could not attain righteousness by their own efforts to keep the law. True Disciples of Christ must obtain righteousness of a different character from that of the Pharisees if they would enter the kingdom of heaven. God offered them, in His Son, the perfect righteousness of the law. If they would open their hearts fully to receive Christ, then the very life of God and His love would dwell in them, transforming them into His own likeness. Thus, through God’s free gift, they would possess the righteousness which the law requires. But the Pharisees rejected Christ; “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness” (Romans 10:3), they would not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God. Jesus proceeded to show His hearers what it means to keep the commandments of God–that it is a reproduction in themselves of the character of Christ. For in Him, God was daily made manifest before them.