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Did you ever wonder how it works that Jesus came to set us free, yet He seemed to add even more to what God had already said in the Law of the Old Testament?  Come on!

God says, “Thou shalt not murder,” and Jesus said that even if we hate someone we have already committed murder in our heart.  We’re all doomed!  And how about this one:  God says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but Jesus said that if we even look at another with lustful thoughts, we have already violated this commandment.  Does this sound like freedom?

I find two principles in this idea which are very encouraging to me.  The first is that Jesus, though He did not come to negate even one letter of the law, is more interested in our motives than the fine legal points.  This is true of the positive stuff as well as these “shalt nots.”  Look at what He did on many Sabbath days:  He healed people, much to the horror of the religious folks of His day, and to His own demise.  This seemed to be a violation of God’s law, but He was, and is, more concerned with the intent of the law, and with compassion, than with keeping law for law’s sake.  The law is good, after all.

The other thing is that Jesus did not come to bring more law, but more grace.  I get chills when I think of this one!  Whereas it looks at first glance like He is telling us that no matter what we do or don’t do, we can never measure up (and yes, He is saying that), He’s saying that He offers forgiveness for not only the actions we commit or withhold, but also the intentions of our heart.  His ability to deal with our shortcomings and moral guilt are even greater than the scope of our offenses.

I can live with that.

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