Fulfilled in Christ

Posted on 05/24/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

Public Prayer Requests:

My mom has gone to the court now to go through an eviction and I have no place to go. I tried to get a rental, but my credit didn't meet their standard, so they denied me. I don't know what to do or where to go.
   –Arella Springvale


Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.



I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice


You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There'll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands

And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy


I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

Week before last, we talked about being all the way in or all the way out. We read from Deuteronomy chapter 28, and saw both the promises of God and the curses of God, and we realized that the common factor was obedience, or the lack thereof.

Last week, we talked about finding rest in God, and saw from Scripture that the world cannot know true peace and rest, for it comes only from the Prince of Peace, as we obey and and put our trust in him.

Today, I'd like for us to put these two together. And I'd like for us to consider what it means for the Old Testament laws to be fulfilled in Christ.

From our Scripture reading the past two weeks, we saw that to be blessed by God, we must obey the laws and the voice of God. But we also saw that we cannot earn peace and rest or go through some legalistic ritual to obtain it.

So today, let's turn to the Word of God and dig a little bit deeper. The title of today's message is "Fulfilled in Christ."

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus shows us that he didn't come to do away with the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17-20

17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Hebrews chapter 10 and verse 1 says this:

"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect."

You see, the Old Testament Law was a shadow of things to come -- a type, a representation -- and they could not make those who practiced them perfect. They were outer acts of something only God can do on the inside. They were the foreshadowing of a covenant yet to come.

When the Bible says, "Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing shall offend them," it applies to us today, and that chapter contains dozens of references to loving God's law; but what I want us to consider today is that this does not speak to us of the shadow, but the substance; not the endless rituals and observances, but Christ.

When I read the Old Testament laws, I try to read them in the light of this, that they speak of Jesus, and of our New Covenant with him by his blood.

They reveal to us the nature of God, what pleases and displeases him, and the Spirit of God within us causes our spirits to yearn to act and think in ways that please him.

The chapters before the blessings and the cursings we read two weeks ago, we read the laws that obeying or disobeying would bring these blessings or cursings.

I'd like to quickly read a few of them, just so we can get an idea of what they read. I'm going to skip just to certain verses for time's sake, and of course you're invited to turn to Deuteronomy in your own time and ponder these in the light of today's message.

"When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge... And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God."

"You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the foreigners who is in your land... Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you."

"You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the orphan, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there..."

"When you reap the harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands... When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt..."

So this speaks of taking care of those in need, looking out for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, of giving fair wages and paying them on time. These certainly speak of Christ, and show us a part of his nature, wouldn't you agree?

From the next chapter:

"You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God."

This talks about being honest and fair; and this can apply to much more than just money.

Parsing our words so they can be taken to mean something that's not true; that is a false weight.

Acting as though we're working hard when the boss is looking, while in reality we're not doing nearly as much as we want him to think; that is a false weight.

And this speaks to us of the nature of Christ, that nature that we are to embrace and take on as our own, that nature that the Holy Spirit of God is forming within us as we seek after him and delight in his law.

In Deuteronomy chapter 27, we read a summary of the laws given that day. The priests were supposed to read these summaries, and the people would reply "Amen" to each one.

Here are just a few of them, and then we'll move on. As we move quickly through these, keep in mind that these are revealing to us the nature of God, what pleases him and what displeases him, and they reveal to us the nature of Christ, that nature that, by the Holy Spirit, should become our own.

"Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt."

"Cursed is the one who makes the blind wander off the road."

"Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the orphan, and the widow."

"Cursed is the one who lies with his father's wife."

"Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal."

"Cursed is the one who lies with his sister."

"Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly."

"Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person."

Do you see here the holiness and purity of God? Do you see his justice and his mercy? Do you see his heart for the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor?

I think too often, we in the Church today have gone to the extreme of completely dismissing the Old Testament laws, embracing only the grace of God and laying aside his holiness and numbing our hearts to the desire to please him by walking in the nature of Christ, and doing only that which pleases him.

But I know most of you have that desire to please God in everything you do. And where we are lacking in our hunger and thirst for righteousness, we can begin to cry out to the Lord to make us hungry, make us thirsty, to cause us to long after his heart.

If any modern-day Christian were to meditate upon the Old Testament laws, memorize them, and seek to obey them in everything, our first reaction might well be to remind them that they don't have to do all those things, for they were all fulfilled in Jesus.

And of course that's absolutely right. But we just might be wrong in this way: If that Christian brother or sister has a business dealing, and they refer to the Old Testament law that they shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, are they being legalistic? Or are they seeking to live in a way that pleases the One who is most dear to their heart, the Lord Jesus Christ?

I'll be perfectly honest with you, as I read the parts about not gleaning your own vineyard, but leaving what you missed for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, I have a bit of a negative reaction. "Lord, shouldn't we go back and gather all the grapes and sell them, then give that money to the stranger, the orphan, and the widow? It's just not good business to leave grapes or other resources around to rot."

But remember, as we embrace the laws in the Old Testament, we are not embracing a legalistic observance of them, but we are embracing that to which they point.

In the one that speaks of not gleaning your vineyard, as we meditate upon this a little more, we might realize that this shows a difference between welfare and helping those in need in a Godly way.

Welfare would collect every last grape, sell them, take a percentage of the sales, put that money in a bank account, and just write checks to people who are sitting at home doing nothing for the money except being poor.

But this one law shows us the nature of God. For the stranger, and even the widow and the orphan, to eat the grapes and have the food they desperately need to survive, they had to get up in the morning, travel to the field, and work hard gathering the grapes. If they didn't work, then they didn't eat.

You've probably heard the saying that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. It's much easier to let the government hand out checks with money you had no choice but to give. It's quite another thing to apply Godly principles to giving those in need a hand up instead of a hand out.

I've seen first hand what hand outs bring. They bring lack of purpose, lack of consideration to others, and overall restless misery to those who receive and rely upon them, generally speaking of course, there are exceptions to almost every rule.

On the other hand, hand UPs produce a feeling of purpose, an increased consideration for others, and a sense of fulfillment and happiness to those whose lives are transformed by them.

And this distinction was given to us thousands of years ago in the form of the Old Testament law. Not something we're forced to follow to the letter to avoid being cursed, but something that displays to us the nature and the ways of God, so that as we grasp the spirit of those laws, we can grow in the nature of Christ.

This is explained to us beautifully in 2nd Corinthians chapter three. Let's read this together; 2nd Corinthians 3, verses 4 through 18:

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech;
13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.

(Listen now...)

14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

So here we see the vital distinction between the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law. The letter of the law brings death, but the spirit of the law brings life.

The letter of the law brings condemnation, while the spirit of the law brings righteousness. Isn't that an interesting comparison? Some of our present-day doctrines would have said the letter brings condemnation while the spirit brings mercy. But instead of comparing condemnation with mercy, or condemnation with forgiveness, or condemnation with free will, in this passage, the Holy Scriptures contrasts condemnation with righteousness.

Let's think about that for a moment. Under the Old Convenant, you were blessed if you followed the letter of the law, and cursed if you did not.

Under the New Covenant, you are given the Holy Spirit who works in you to desire and fulfill that which pleases God, which is a life seeking to draw closer to God and be transformed into the image of the nature of Jesus.

Jesus said that if your righteousness is not greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

What was their righteousness? It was that of the letter of the law. They were clean on the outside, but wicked on the inside. And what did Jesus say to them? First clean the inside of the vessel, then the outside will be clean as well.

First clean the inside, then the outside will be clean as well. Isn't this what the New Covenant brings us? We exchange our life of sin and its guilt with Jesus' life of sinlessness and his righteousness. He gives us his Holy Spirit, who begins to form in us the image and nature of Jesus, as we seek after and draw closer to him.

In the passage we just read, it says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

We're being transformed into the image of Jesus. Why? Because we are beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord. How? Because the veil has been removed from our eyes concerning the law of God.

With the veil, we see a list of do's and don'ts, a legalistic litany of unending rules and regulations.

Without the veil, with eyes full of love for our Lord and longing to be closer to him, we see his nature revealed, shadows of the perfect covenant to come, that covenant of Jesus' blood, as we take on his righteousness and seek to walk in ways that are fitting those who are representatives of Christ in this world.

So, the mind of the letter which brings condemnation would condemn businesses for gathering every last bit of their produce and making a profit, while the mind of the spirit which brings righteousness would encourage them to find a way to help those in need and to give them the opportunity to gather what they need to survive.

The letter says "Do this and don't do that or you're cursed!" while the spirit says "Draw close to me, and I will place within you the desire to live a holy life, and will reveal to you the spirit behind the laws of Scripture as you delight in seeing Jesus in every one."

And as you read through the laws in Scripture, it might be helpful to keep something in mind. Take for instance the law that says a man can write a certificate of divorce and send his wife away. Jesus responded to this by saying that law was written because of the hardness of the people's hearts, but from the beginning it was not so -- divorce was not God's desire and his design. So this law, specifically addressed by Jesus, spoke of Jesus just as the rest.

In what way? Did Jesus allow divorce? Not except for in the case of adultery. In fact, he said that if you get a divorce and then marry someone else, you're committing adultery. In other words, no judge, court, priest, or law can really divorce you, since it is God who joins two in marriage. The only way to break that covenant is through adultery, and by reading the laws which say the adulterers should be put to death, we know God's opinion of THAT sin.

But the Old Testament laws are a shadow of what is to come, and they are fulfilled in Jesus. Including this one concerning divorce. Does this mean Jesus compromises with sin? Or does this simply speak to us of his nature concerning our human condition?

Perhaps it reminds us of the woman caught in the act of adultery, who was brought to him to test whether he would uphold the law. What did Jesus do? He said, "Whoever among you is without sin, let him cast the first stone." When all the people had left, Jesus turned to the woman and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go.... And Sin No More."

You see, as the book of Hebrews tells us, we do not have a high priest who is untouched by the feelng of our infirmities, but was tempted in every way just as we are, except without sin. Jesus is well aquinted with our human condition, and with the hardness of our hearts. But in setting us free from the letter, he calls us to live in the spirit of the law. The letter makes concession for the hardness of our hearts, while the spirit breaks up our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh which are being transformed from glory to glory into his image, so that we can be filled with his nature and therefore do that which pleases him. Once the inside of the vessel is clean, the outside will be clean as well.

And finally, verses 16 and 17 say this:

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

There are those in the church who would judge you because you eat pork, or because you work or go to church on Saturday, or because you have a glass of wine with your evening meal.

But excluding the wine, these laws concerning keeping the sabbath day and not eating pork or various other meats, are simply shadows, while the substance of those laws is of Christ.

(I said "excluding wine" because there never was a Bible law forbidding drinking wine, and only spoke against becoming drunk.)

To make this connection even more clear... Jesus is the substance of the sabbath, as we read in Hebrews, for he sets us free from earning our own righteousness, and has given it to us freely; and he has given us his Holy Spirit and his Word, so that we can rest from our own works and follow his example by doing only the works of the Father.

And when we fail, he has purchased our forgiveness, and makes intercession for us night and day, bridging that gap of sin and human imperfection so our fellowship with the Father can be unbroken.

Next, Jesus is the substance of the laws concerning what foods are clean or unclean. These move from being outer symbols involving what we eat and drink, and are revealed as being symbols of that which we take into our hearts, which is where we are truly clean or unclean. And in the book of Revelation, Jesus says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any one will hear my voice and open the door to me, I will come in to him, and we will dine." You see, the clean and the unclean foods are inside of us. And Jesus has sent his Holy Spirit and his Word so we can fill ourselves with it and the junk can begin to bubble to the surface and be removed. This is a life-long process, as Jesus, the substance of the laws concerning clean and unclean foods, dines with us, revealing to us the things in us that are unclean, as he works in us to make us clean, and new, and pleasing in his sight.

So the law is fulfilled in Jesus, and it reveals to us his nature and the will of God, giving us symbols of inner things and things of the spirit, so we can better know how to live lives of worship, ones that please and glorify God.

Next, not only is the law fulfilled in Christ, but there is one other thing I'd like to talk about that is fulfilled in Christ. And that one other thing... Is YOU. And me.

Let's read part of our passage in Colossians again, Colossians chapter two, starting with verse eight.

8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

There are lots of teachers, preachers, priests, and other spiritual and secular leaders who will talk to you in terms of philosophy, who will lead you in the traditions of men, and who will seduce you with the basic principles of the world.

But verse nine says they are cheating you. They are saying you can become complete through one or more of these things. They may also be saying you are not complete without them.

But by offering something besides, or even in addition to Christ, they are cheating you, for as verse 9 says, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." And in verse 10 we read, "and you are complete in Him."

You are complete in Jesus. Not in Jesus plus this, or in Jesus plus that, but in Jesus alone. Not only that, but you are complete in Him.. in who? In Him "who is the head of all principality and power."

Maybe you feel as though there is a certain thing in your life that, if you saw the law of God in the Old Testament as a revelation of the nature of God today, you'd have to say there's no way you can walk in the nature of Christ, because you simply cannot break through this thing, or you simply cannot change.

But if you are in Christ today, you are complete... And if you are in Christ today, you are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power. And in verse 15 it says, "Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."

You see, God didn't leave you without the means to walk in his ways. You are complete in Jesus, who is the head of all principality and power, and who has disarmed principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it! Glory be to God!

So lift up your head, and look to the sky. Your hope and your Salvation has come. He wants to dine with you, working inside of you to make your heart clean and pure. He wants to complete you as you rest from your own works and trust and follow him.

When you are walking in Christ, you are walking in the fullness of the fulfilled law. Verses 13 and 14 say this:

13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

This handwriting of requirements that was against us is the letter of the law. But Jesus has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

You see, the law was given in part to show us our wickedness. It reveals to us just how far short we fall of the glory of God.

But not only did Jesus fulfill the law, being that to which the law was pointing; Jesus also nailed the letter of the law to the cross, taking the punishment for our sins, and making it possible for us to enter into the New Covenant, a covenant not of the letter of the law, rituals, traditions, and burdens that are too great to carry, but a covenant of the spirit of the law, cleansing the heart and the mind, and being yoked together with Christ, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

You see, a yoke is used to keep oxen together. It evens out the weight. It keeps them moving in the same direction. It keeps them performing the same tasks.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The ministry team can come to the front now.

It's not a great burden to walk with Jesus, to go where he goes, to do the work he is doing, and to live your life in step with him. In fact, that's the only time you will find rest for your soul.

And he shares your burdens, for you are yoked.

When you are yoked with Jesus, you not only work with him in his work, he also works with you in your every day life. You no longer have to make difficult decisions alone, for you are partners with Christ. You no longer have to face trials and tribulations alone, for you are joined to Christ.

Those things that are too big for you to handle, he will carry the weight you cannot bear, partners with you in the responsibilities and events of your life just as you are partners with him in his will and his ways; In fact, it is no longer "my will and God's will," or "my ways and God's ways," or "my life and God's plans;" rather, it becomes "our will, our ways, and our life and plans," for you are yoked, partnered, with Jesus, and as you walk with him and accept the weight of his righteousness, he will walk with you and share the weight of your life in this earth.

You are complete in Jesus. Your life is fulfilled in him.

I'd like to open this altar for prayer, worship, and ministry. And if you are weary and weighed down, I'd like to invite you to come to Jesus and take his yoke upon him. Partner with Christ, and he will lead you on the path of life.

Love his law, learning about the ways of God and the nature of Christ in them, living by the spirit of those laws, as you seek to please him out of a heart overflowing with his love.

If you would like someone to pray or speak with you, feel free to instant message someone on the ministry team. If you need to go, you're dismissed, and to those celebrating the American holiday tomorrow, have a wonderful Memorial Day.

Come, and let's surrender our lives, dedicate ourselves to pleasing God, and rest in the yoke of Jesus, for the law and those who love him are completely fulfilled in Christ.