‘Beware of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’ -Jesus; Matthew 16:12 ESV
They were known for their strict teaching of Mosaic law, the 613 commandments found in the Torah (first five chapters of the Old Testament). They would teach these things, use political power to enforce them, but never keep all of them themselves.
the law is crucial.
People made a mess of the law. There wasn’t anything wrong with the law itself, but once it interacted with human nature, it became more of a temptation and awareness of sin than it did anything else. The law was never a mistake, it was crucial. But, sin turned it into a piece of forbidden fruit.
The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel. -Romans 7:8-12
Sin is dead without the rules. With nothing to hold over your head, sin has no power over you. It doesn’t mean that you won’t sin, it means that sin has no ground to stand on. It’s an echo of a threat. It’s a gun full of blanks. It’s a ferocious dog with no teeth. Sin used the law to make sure you could never escape death. It was perverted entrapment. You couldn’t teach it without being condemned by it. You couldn’t practice it without failing and you couldn’t be on good terms with God without practicing it. Sin was an inescapable noose that hung from every letter of the law.
I can already hear your next question: “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?” No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own. -Romans 7:13
The teaching of people who rely on moral code and religious conduct should be sifted through a sieve. They can preach true and good things about right and wrong, do this-not that, but those things don’t bring life. What’s more, the people who preach the law don’t uphold it, therefore, they become targets of those looking for a reason to dismiss the whole thing. These teachers only teach the first part of a lesson and have nothing to show for their work. They’re not planting seeds of life, they’re staking reminders of death.
the law promises life, but proves death.
If you follow the commands, then you’ll live. If you don’t, you’ll die. No one can do it. Jesus brought life by faith and did away with life by the rules.
You can either trust in your ability to follow the rules or you can trust Jesus. There are always arguments about complete disregard or going the extra mile, but they’re made by people who don’t understand what this whole thing means. Micro-managing rule followers…
…are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it. -Romans 10:2-3
The law was given to introduce a need. It was a standard that no one can live up to and it was no surprise nor was Jesus an afterthought. God always knew that you would need to be rescued, but he let you in on it, too. What good is rescuing when you don’t know you need it?
The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. -Romans 10:4
If knowing right from wrong only solidifies how wrong you are, then the knowledge is not about trying to get it right, it’s a gateway to a Saviour. When you’re focusing on your failures and achievements, then you’re completely missing the point. You are supposed to feel the failure. It’s supposed to kill you (flesh) so that the real you (spirit) can live. It was designed that way. It was never about you and your ability, it was, is and always will be about Jesus.
Beware of preachers who preach the rules and bury you in what you ‘should be doing’. They’re better suited for funerals.
the point to pivot on…
Before God created the earth, He planned to send His son to die for our sins. Before God created a man who could sin, he planned to send His son to die for him. You sin does not change God’s plan. God’s plan came first and includes your failures. You may be just now finding this out, but it’s been God’s plan all along. If I didn’t have the clearest scripture to back this up, I wouldn’t be saying it. I don’t care what you were taught, I don’t care what this stirs up in you. You either trust scripture or you trust your religion. You can look this up in any translation you want. If you want to argue, then just know that if you were right, then your sin wins. I’m simply echoing a message laced all throughout the Bible that says your sin is dead and buried. Even the ones you don’t know about yet. You can either argue around the point or let your life make music when you pivot on it.
And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. -1 Peter 1:20-21