“…Unless your righteousness, [Isa 54:17, Rom 3:21-22], is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees [John 3:1-5; Isa 64:6], you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 5:20, NLT). “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity…” (Matt 6:2, NLT). “Woe to you, Pharisees, and you other religious leaders. Hypocrites! For you won’t let others enter the Kingdom of Heaven and won’t go in yourselves.
Demonstrating the principles of Christianity in one’s life is much like putting into practice the competencies of a vocation. It is not enough to pass the written test! One must master skills in the laboratory and ultimately become proficient at work, if one wants to achieve expert status. A similar requirement exists in Christianity. Being a “talking head” is not enough. Let us review the theory of one principle and a few examples of its application. Christ said, “…Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44, TLB)!
The Law of Moses required animal sacrifices and offerings (Ezra 3:1-2; Heb 10:6-10, NLT) and obedience to various instructions, decrees and regulations (Deut 25:17-19; 26:1-14, NLT). Connected to these instructions and regulations were blessings for obedience, (Deut 28:1-13; 30:10; 31:12, NLT), and curses for disobedience” (Deut 27:9-26; 28:15-40, NLT).
“…You died… with Christ and this has set you free from following the world’s ideas of how to be saved—by doing good and obeying various rules—why do you keep right on following them anyway, still bound by such rules as not eating, tasting, or even touching certain foods? Such rules are mere human teachings, for food was made to be eaten and used up. These rules may seem good, for rules of this kind require strong devotion and are humiliating and hard on the body, but they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires.
“You shall not make yourselves any idols: no images of animals, birds, or fish. You must never bow or worship it in any way; for I the Lord your God am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other god…” (Exo 20:4, TLB)! “…Worship only the Lord God. Obey only Him” (Matt 4:10, TLB). “…I know how rebellious and stubborn you are…. While I am still here with you, you are defiant rebels against the Lord…. I know that after my death you will utterly defile yourselves and turn away from God and His commands…” (Deut 31:27-29; 4:15-19 & 25, TLB).
A physical building stands on a foundation; likewise, a spiritual building—human beings who walk by faith—need the foundation of God’s plan to guide decision making and character development in accordance with the divine likeness (Pss 144:12). In God’s plan, ceremonial requirements were “…a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, …[and] can never… make those who approach [God] perfect” (Heb 10:1, NKJV). “…The substance is of Christ” (Col 2:17, NKJV).
God wrote the original Law on Tables of Stone (Exo 34:28, NLT), and housed it in an earthly temple (Exo 25:8-9, 16, 21; 26:30-34, NLT). That plan did not work well, God constructed a new temple for the Law. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God…” (1 Cor 3:16-17; 1 Cor 6:19, NKJV)? Where ever God’s temple exists, you will find His Law. “…This is the new covenant I will make with the people, [not nation], of Israel after those days. ...I will put My instructions, [My laws], deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts/minds.