The World Tomorrow

The Spirit of The Law

by Herbert W Armstrong


(tape starts here) ... known as the greatest sermon ever preached, and yet they actually don't believe a word of it; they don't believe it was practical; they don't think it is a good standard to live by at all. And they believe just the opposite of what Jesus said in that sermon. Why?

Jesus, in that sermon, said He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, He came only to fulfill (Matthew 5:17). And I've shown you that according to the New Testament in James that we are commanded to fulfill the law (James 2:8) following in His steps - He set us an example that we should follow His steps (I Peter 2:21), and we too must fulfill the law or else we are sinners and love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10). And He said that not the dotting of an "i" or the crossing of a "t" would be removed from the law until everyone is really fulfilling it (Matthew 5:18) - that is the meaning of the words and He said that "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and teach men so shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven but whosoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19)

Well, today they just reverse that and they say that if you are trying to keep the commandments of God and preach so - that you are the least, and you're all wrong. And "don't you know that Jesus did away with those commandments?" Why, He here says He didn't come for that purpose but today they say, "Oh, yes He did". Apparently they think He didn't know what He was talking about. And so today they tell you that He nailed the commandments to the cross, and the one they consider the least is the one they tell you not to obey or to keep.

Now, Jesus put a magnifying glass on the Ten Commandments, on the law of God - the spiritual law of God. It isn't moral code. It's a spiritual law. Nowhere does the Bible talk about a moral code. Nowhere does the Bible call the Ten Commandments a moral code. You heard men use that expression. That's wrong! The Bible says that law is spiritual. You'll find that in the seventh chapter of Romans and let me see, I think it's the fourteenth verse. Yes, "the law is spiritual:" (Romans 7:14) - it's the fourteenth verse.

"...the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good." (Romans 7:12) And it takes the holy love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit to fulfill that law (Romans 5:5). Now, Jesus magnified the law. He put a magnifying glass on it. He brought a close-up, so to speak, instead of a far away picture. He changed the focus and brought the camera right down into close-up in individual commandments.

And we have gone through this - how He had said you've heard it said of them of old time, "Thou shalt not kill...whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment [and so on. Then He magnified that, said], I say unto you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be in danger of the judgment. Whosoever shall say to his brother Racca [which is an epithet of condemnation] shall be in danger of the council and whoso shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of [Gehenna] fire." (Matthew 5:22)

Then He said, "You have heard it said," and He's quoting here from some of the Old Testament teaching.

In Old Testament Time People Without God's Spirit (PLAY from 03:20)

Now, by the way, in the Old Testament time, my friends, the people did not have the Spirit of God. You've heard it said it today that they were saved by works and we get saved by grace and I say that that is the biggest error and batch of poppycock that ever came out, because there was no salvation at any time except by grace. They had no salvation in Israel of old - that is the people in general - the prophets are apparently going to be in the kingdom of God. They had the Holy Spirit of God but they were called as if before time for a special purpose. But the population of Israel was not offered salvation, they were not offered the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was not in Israel and Israel of old was the congregation of Israel, as it was called. It was not really the Church of God, it was the Church of Israel or Congregation of Israel yet in a sense it was the Church of God because it was God's only Church - a group of people on earth. But it was a carnal-minded group and 'church' merely means 'a group' or 'a gathering of people' - an assembly. It was a church that was of the flesh, pure and simple. And membership came by physical birth. It was a national matter. Everybody born in the land was in that church and a Gentile could come into it by just taking up, what we would call today, being naturalized and 'naturalized' is citizenship in the land.

Now, they did not have the Holy Spirit. And remember that the Ten Commandments constitute a spiritual law and it is the spiritual love of God spread abroad in our hearts that fulfills the law. Now they didn't have that. It was impossible for them then to keep the law in the spirit and all they could do was keep it according to the letter.

Now a man can keep the law according to the letter. According to the letter, a man was not dead and you had not killed a man and committed murder until he was completely dead and his breath had ceased, the blood had stop beating in his...through his heart or through his veins and the man was totally dead. But now, according to the spirit of the law, we break that law when we're even angry with a brother, especially without cause. And all these things of anger and resentment and bitterness toward others and hatred and all that sort of thing breaks the spirit of the commandment against murder.

Now, they weren't able to keep that law according to that spirit in those days because you can't do that, my friends, without the Spirit of God. But let me tell you that Jesus did keep the law; and Christ in you can keep it! And it can be done if we become the children of God and are begotten of Him and have His Spirit within us - it can be done. With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Now, today we have available the Holy Spirit of God and the love of God shed abroad in our hearts and it is possible for us, it was impossible for them so that is why they kept only the letter of the law.

But now, Jesus was now preaching to a people who should receive the Holy Spirit of God and who would be able to keep it according to the spirit and so now He is magnifying it and showing the difference between keeping it according to the strictness of the letter - as they did then - and according to the obvious intent and meaning and the Spirit and the all-inclusive meaning of keeping it according to the spirit as we are commanded to do today, and as can be done with the Holy Spirit within - and only by the Holy Spirit within.

Now, here again, He said, "You have heard it been said [and He's quoting here from Exodus or rather from Deuteronomy 5:18, well, Exodus 20:14 - the Ten Commandments but], Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you that everyone that [even] looketh after a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). I tell you, my friends, a man is so made and so constituted that probably no man can live his life through without offending in that manner unless he is begotten of God and has the Spirit of God and is in constant prayer to God and close enough to God that God can give him a pure mind and a pure heart.

Now, under the old law or the letter of the law, a man had not committed adultery until the very act had been performed. But now according to the Spirit, a man can commit adultery with a woman with a woman not even know anything about it whatsoever, it's all in his mind. Jesus is now elaborating and giving us a close-up and expanding the Law, magnifying it and making it honorable as Isaiah had prophesied that He would (Isaiah 42:21).

Christ Magnifies The Law (PLAY from 08:15)

Then again, He said, "I say unto you whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication and shall marry another, committeth adultery and whoso marrieth her that is put away doeth commit adultery [Then His disciples said unto Him,] If the case of man be so with his wife, it is good not to marry. But he said unto them all men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given, for there are some eunuchs which were so born from their mother's womb and there are some eunuchs that were made eunuchs of men and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it" (Matthew 19:9-12).

In other words, my friends, a carnal-minded man alone without the power and the Spirit of God could not keep that commandment. And that's why Moses permitted a divorce for any cause. Moses knew and God knew in those days and God allowed it, it wasn't God's way, it wasn't God's law but it was allowed and simply because they did not have the Spirit of God and they could not keep it according to the strictness, you might say, of the very intent and the Spirit. But in this time and this New Testament day we can and we have the Spirit of God.

Now, "You have heard it said of them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself" (Matthew 5:33), and so on, but He said, "Let your speech be, Yea, yea or Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than [just a "yes" or a "no" in plain modern English] is of the evil one." (Matthew 5:37 American Standard Version)

Now, we go a little further, "You have heard it said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth (Exodus 21:24, Matthew 5:38 ASV)... And in carnal-minded Israel that didn't have the Holy Spirit that's what they did and if a person killed one then they killed that person and if a person hit you, you'd hit him back. Well, that's human nature and that's what people do today. But here according to the way of God and being perfect like God and having the mind of God, having the nature of God and the Spirit of God, here's what a Christian is to do:

"He said, I say unto you, resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:38-39 ASV)

How many people do that today? I wonder how many church people today really believe what Jesus said - or do they think He was some kind of sissy that didn't know what He was talking about? You know people today don't think that's very practical. No, if someone hits you today, you're going to double up your fist and get good and angry and hit him right back, aren't you? Well, that's all the carnality in you and that's hatred and that's a spirit of murder in you that is doing it, that's what it is. And it takes a lot more courage and it takes a lot more self-control and power and strength to turn the other cheek and let him sock that one too, then it does to start socking away at him - that's all there is to it. Oh, Jesus wasn't any sissy.

"If any man would go to law with you, and take away thy coat, let him have your cloak also [and you better do it before he takes you to law because you'll get out easier. Old Solomon wrote that]. And whosoever will compel you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him that asketh you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not away." (Matthew 5:40-42). But don't expect to get your money back because very often you'll probably won't, if you know human nature. "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy." (Matthew5:43) And He quotes that from Leviticus 19:18 and from, well, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" is Leviticus 19:18 and then from Deuteronomy 23:6 and 25:19 ..."and hate your enemy." "But I say unto you, love your enemies (Matthew 5:44)

Oh, but surely we're not to that are we? Now, that wouldn't be practical would it? People today don't believe that. People today don't do these things. Why, people today don't believe we should obey God's Law and keep it. People today don't magnify the Ten Commandments and obey them. People today don't believe in loving their enemies and He says], "...and pray for them that persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). If anyone would persecute you and accuse you unjustly of things, deliberately, maliciously, knowing that they're doing wrong. I'll tell you, humanly, the thing that has always been the hardest for me to resist of anything is to avoid a real indignation over an intended wrong. If somebody makes a mistake and they didn't mean it, why I don't - that doesn't offend me a bit, I don't think it ever did. But if someone really intends wrong and does it maliciously and purposely, that has always been the hardest thing for me to forgive. But you know in Christ we must - even that.

"Love your enemies, pray for them that persecute you that you may be sons of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45). Well, there it is.

Now again, He says again later, verse 46: "If you love them that love you, what reward do you have? do not even the publicans the same" (Matthew 5:46)? Now, the publicans were the tax collectors that were hated in those days. In other words, they were not always Gentiles either, I guess, but people that were despised and hated.

"And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others [that's what the people of the world do]? do not even the Gentiles the same? [unconverted or Gentile or worldly people] You therefore shall be perfect,as your Father, [your heavenly Father] is perfect." (Matthew 5:47-48 ASV)

How Can We Be Perfect? (PLAY from 14:00)

Now, how can we be perfect? We are to become perfect and, my friends, you cannot make yourself perfect, but with God's help you can improve but it is a gradual process in this life. Now, if we overcome, if we grow in grace and in knowledge, and the knowledge must come of the way of the God before we can walk in the way of God. And even after the knowledge comes to live by every word of God and understanding the Bible so that you know God's way which is the only right way that will make you happy and make you a blessing and a source of happiness to others and make life good and sweet and worthwhile - it takes the help of God. You can't do it alone but in this life it will have to be a gradual walk. You can't do it all at once.

Oh, I've known people that claim they were suddenly made perfect. Oh no they weren't, they're just bragging. And they have the worst sin of all - spiritual pride - and it's based on nothing but error. Why, I've known people like that go around bragging, and they have the worst sin of all and they think they're perfect. But my friends, there will come a time when, quicker than you can bat an eye, God will change you from mortal to immortal, from human to divine and then you can be perfect because God will make you so - if you want to badly enough; if you hunger and thirst after righteousness and the things that are right. But how many really hunger and thirst after those things today? No, we hunger and thirst after the evil things and after the things of the flesh and after the things of vanity of pride and of greed - that's what people are hungering and thirsting for today - the things that do not satisfy and are not making people happy. We can be happy if we want to. The whole world could be happy. It's breaking God's laws, it is rejecting God as ruler and men are doing the things that seem right to a man - that's why we're suffering. "There is a way [says God's Word and God says it] that seemeth right to a man, the ends thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 16:25)

Now, let's continue here coming into the sixth chapter now as it's divided by men into chapters - God never had the Bible divided into chapters. It is entirely uninspired, it was not written that way originally but it is a help to us so I have no objection to that part of it. I don't know that there's any objection on God's part at all and this dividing into paragraphs and all the punctuation as a matter of fact and the dividing into verses and paragraphs and into chapters has been done by men and by editors and the Bible originally as it was written in the Hebrew language in the Old Testament and the Greek in the New was not written like that, that is it was not divided up that way. However, it makes it easy for us to find what we want and to tell a person where to find anything that we want them to find, it's just a help.

How To Pray (PLAY from 16:55)

"Take heed [He continued] that you do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them or else you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1 ASV). Well, now people today, they want it to be known if they give a big gift. They want their good works to be known and seen of men because they want the praise of men. Then they like to pray in public. And now coming to verse five, Jesus said, "And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men" (Matthew 6:5 ASV). Well, I don't believe that very many men of dignity like to go down on the street corners and stand praying today, but they do love to stand in the big dignified and fashionable churches and to utter a prayer that is very gracious and that is a very fine diction and rhetoric and that will be praised by men and make men think well of them.

But you know all too often their hearts are not in their prayers and God won't hear a prayer unless your heart's in it, my friends. Listen, "Verily I say unto you [said Jesus], They have received their reward" (Matthew 6:5 ASV). There isn't going to be any future reward for them, they're getting it now. That little fleeting bit of vanity, it's the something in a human being that makes a human being want to be God right now and he wants the worship, the adoration that belongs to God. He wants the respect, he wants men to look up to him in a way that it belongs to God instead of to man. He's trying to take away from God that which belongs to God and take it for himself. Now, whatever pleasure a man gets out of that sort of thing, he's getting now. It's the only pleasure, it's the only reward he's ever going to get because there'll be no future reward in the World Tomorrow for him.

"But thou [here's what Jesus taught. Do people do this in the churches today? Not very many] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber [a private room] and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth thee in secret shall recompense thee." (Matthew 6:6 ASV)

You know, I have a special private prayer room in my home. And you know the people that would persecute - I have even heard the people using that against me - that I have the extravagance of a special room for prayer. Oh, my, my. I don't believe there's a thing you can do that God tells you to do that someone won't accuse you and try to condemn you for it. Now, everybody may not be able to have a special private room for prayer. I went through most of my life before I was able to have such a thing and it just suddenly came, it was a gift of God, that's all. But I think it's a very wonderful thing if you can.

"Verily, I say unto you... Thou when thou prayest enter into thine inner chamber and having shut the door..." (Matthew 6:5-6). And when I'm in my prayer room, I'm behind two locked doors and no one can get in and I don't hear them if they pound on that outer door. I'm alone where I am not going to be disturbed and there's no telephone in there to ring and to buzz me or to bother me and I just can't be reached. I have a room that is sound-proof and a room where nobody can come and knock or get in or disturb me at all and I can go in there and be alone with God and know I am going to be alone with Him and not disturbed. "Thou when thou prayest enter into thy inner chamber and having shut the door prayeth to thy Father which is in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee" (Matthew 6:6 ASV).

Oh, the answers to prayer that have come from prayers that have been made in that little room and hundreds and hundreds of people have benefited and miracles have been performed because God does hear. But we don't have to say those things out in a rhetorical flowery prayer to impress men. You know when Jesus prayed, He set us the example: He went out into a mountain and prayed all night to God before, and it was the very night before He said these words. And He was speaking these words on that very day after He had prayed alone all night to God (Luke 6:12). And again another time, He rose up early, long before it was daylight and went out into the desert to a solitary place where He could be alone and away from other people and pray to God alone in secret (Mark 1:35).

Pray in Private (PLAY from 21:29)

The first man that I ever worked with way back almost a quarter of a century ago in my ministry, my first, well, it wasn't my first evangelistic ministry either, but it was the first time that I was getting full-time into the ministry with another evangelist and at that time I was on salary by a church conference that employed both of us. And this man said, "Well, Brother," he said, "we're going to have a tarry meeting and we're going to have a bunch of people there and we want you to come and join us and we're going to pray all of us together so that we will get more of the Holy Spirit."

"Well," I said, "I believe, I'll have to ask you to excuse me." I said, "I would rather go to a private place and lock myself in a room and pray to God or I would rather go up on the top of a hill or a mountain or someplace away and pray all alone to God."

"Well," he says, "you'll never get your baptism that way, Brother."

Well, you know that kind of baptism, my friends, is something I don't want. And I said to him, "Anything I have to get from other men that I can't get from God when I pray the way Jesus commanded me to pray is something I don't want!" How many of you are disobeying God's command and are going with other people, and as they call it 'tarrying' and tarrying merely means to remain awake, it doesn't mean a prayer meeting at all. It's just some modern language that some modern deceived and misguided people are using today. How many of you do that way, trying to get something that you can only get from other people? I say to you on the authority of Jesus Christ - you can get demon possession that way but that is not the way that Christ commands you to get the Holy Spirit. It's about time we woke up to the way Jesus told us to do.

No, we don't believe these things that Jesus said in this sermon, though it's acclaimed as the greatest sermon ever preached. You know it's a good deal like Ezekiel said that God's people come as they do now, I find that so many people that I will preach to they come as God's people, they sit before me as the people of God and they love the words and to them it's like the words of a very lovely song, it's music in their ears and they say, "Oh, we enjoyed the sermon Brother Armstrong, it was so wonderful."

"But," God says, "they go away and they hear your words but they do them not." (Ezekiel 33:32) If the words that I preach are the very words of the Bible, the very words of Jesus then you should obey them, because it comes from God and I am merely giving you His Word but the people will not obey them. It's just a lot of little music they love to hear. My friends, if you're listening to me with that idea in mind you're wasting your time and I would just assume that you would get more enjoyment or more pleasure out of some detective mystery or some, what'll we call these crazy, you know, these shows that supposed to just have a lot of wise-cracks and all that sort of thing - insanity programs I think we might call them, I guess that's good enough. Anyhow, if you're just looking for entertainment and amusement this program isn't intended for that.

But Jesus said to go into the secret place and pray alone to God. Now, I have just a few seconds, listen. "And in praying use not vain repetitions as the Gentiles do for they think that they shall be heard by their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7 ASV). Now, we're going to come to the Lord's Prayer here a little later and people want to repeat that altogether and Jesus said or Paul said in I Corinthians 14 one is to speak at a time in church and yet they stand up in church and everybody speaks all at once and they repeat that same prayer over and over and over and that was only a sample to show us how to pray and not a prayer to be repeated all the time. And yet people read prayers and repeat prayers - vain repetitions - Jesus condemned it: "For they think they shall be heard for their much speaking." (Matthew 6:7 ASV)