As part of a series on Misconceptions with Partial Truth, we’re examining some lines of thought Bible teachers might have that can affect what they teach, how they teach, and how they live.
We’re looking at the truth in it, the problem or lack of truth, and how Jesus would correct it based on His words in Matthew 5:19.
Misconception #1: We should teach the New Testament about Jesus and God’s grace.
Problem: This agenda implies that we neglect the Old Testament, and the law, as no longer having relevance or usefulness.
Truth: We do live under grace rather than the law (Rom. 6:14). Jesus should have supremacy (Col. 1:18). But, ALL Scripture is God-breathed and useful (2 Tim. 3:16-17) which includes the Old Testament history, law, poetry, and prophecy. It lays the foundation, showing us why it was necessary for Jesus to come and die for us. The Old Testament provides evidence that Jesus really is the Messiah as He fulfilled prophecies therein. Jesus Himself said that Scripture, which would have been only Old Testament books when He lived on earth, testify of Him (Jn. 5:39). We lose a fuller understanding of Jesus when we set parts of the Bible aside.
Lessons from Jesus in Matthew 5:19 about What We Teach
Jesus said, “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven …” From this we learn the following:
1) Jesus did not minimize the law. Why should we?
The first word, “therefore,” requires context for a better understanding. We read just prior in verses 17-18:
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. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Then Jesus goes on in verses 21-28 to give examples of how the fulfillment of the law went beyond where the teachers of that day took it. He put displaying anger toward someone and murder on the same level. He also likened looking lustfully at someone to adultery. Jesus elevated the law by emphasizing the heart and attitudes, not just actions.
Yes, only Jesus could truly fulfill the law. And, when we put our trust in Him, His righteousness becomes ours. But, that doesn’t mean we neglect teaching that part of God’s Word. All Scripture lead us to Him, not away from Him, when properly taught.
- Teaching About God’s Laws
- Tips for Teaching about God’s Laws
- Teaching from the Old Testament Prophets
- Tips for Teaching from the Old Testament Prophets
2) Jesus warned that those who invalidate any part of His law will not be commended. We will not hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
He said, “anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” The phrase “set aside” means loosing or rendering them as unbinding, much like the annulment of husband and wife. We’re laying it aside as unbinding or no longer relevant or valid. We shouldn’t be doing this in our own lives, but Jesus makes it clear that it’s especially grave when we teach others to do the same. We’re accountable to teach the whole counsel of God, not just the parts we perceive as important.
We may have good intentions thinking we should teach the New Testament about Jesus and God’s grace. We should want to raise Jesus up as supreme but it’s only commendable when we do it the way He tells us to which is not to invalidate any part of His law (Matt. 5:19) but rather to view all Scripture as God-breathed and useful (2 Tim. 3:16-17).