God, renew our hearts according to thy holy law. Amen.
Matthew 5, 17-19. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
God’s law, the law of love, can not be abolished or changed; for God is unchangeable, and love is ever the same. He was, and is, and shall be, love; and what should he then command us to do if not to love? Or could we be blessed, do you think, if we did not love him with all our heart? No; there is no life for us mortals save in loving fellowship with God. — Can it be, then, that Christ came to destroy the law? Impossible! Our Savior must fulfill and establish it. The law is not to be changed, but we; not the demands of love are to be taken away, but everything in us which is contrary to love.
Christ fulfills the law, establishes the law; in the first place, by living a life in perfect love, and obeying to the letter its every command; and as God has ordained that Christ shall be in our stead, he counts it as our fulfillment of the law. Note the marvelous confirmation of the law by Christ: The Son of God becomes man, and dies, that the law may be fulfilled; as was done in Bethlehem, on Calvary, and wherever he spent a part of his life on earth in the form of a servant. It is finished, and is now extant as an accomplished fact; and lean stand without fear before all who may wish to accuse me as a transgressor. Christ has fulfilled the law to the letter; and I have done it through him. — It is an incredible mercy that the Son of God is become my servant to fulfill the law; but the eternal love of God has so ordained, and it is a fact. Blessed be his name!
In the second place, Christ fulfills and establishes the law by writing it anew in my heart by the Spirit of faith. The love wherewith he loved us is in us, and he in us (John 17, 26); and what is love but the fulfillment of the law? Now that we of his grace alone have received so rich a blessing, and are the children of God and heirs to eternal life, absolved from the demands and the curse of the law, because all is finished in Christ; should we not love him who loved us first? Should not our faith work by love? Having been made free from the law, we now do that which the law demands: We truly love God; and in that wherein we still fall short we shall increase gradually as the flesh dies, until we once more bear the perfect image of God in the state of glory beyond the grave. — In this manner Christ came to fulfill the law for us and in us.
Holy and righteous God, teach us to know the gravity and rigor of thy law, that we may see our sin and be truly penitent. Teach us also to believe in Christ’s fulfillment of the law for us, that we may receive the adoption of sons, and may have the law written in our hearts. Pour out thy love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Create my nature pure within,
And form my soul averse to sin;
Let thy good Spirit ne’er depart,
Nor hide thy presence from my heart.
Though I have grieved thy Spirit, Lord,— TLH 325, “O Thou that Hear’st when Sinners Cry” [melody]
His help and comfort still afford;
And let me now come near thy throne,
To plead the merits of thy Son.