Early in His ministry, Christ commands us to reject the idea that He has come to abolish God’s Law (Mt 7:17a): He didn’t come to destroy Torah, but to fulfill it. (b) This is evidently central to Christ’s teaching, so it’s important to get what He’s saying.
First, since Christ didn’t come to abolish Torah — He didn’t abolish Torah. Yes, it’s stating the obvious, yet most of us still don’t seem to get it, and somehow construe the passage as if He said: “I came not to abolish Torah, but to abolish it.” Perhaps the blinding power of presupposition is demonstrated here as well as it can be; some of us only see what we want to see in scripture, so we miss its message.
The fact is, if we aren’t diligently keeping all the Mosaic law we’re able to keep then we’re making this very basic mistake, which Jesus is telling us right up front, in plain and simple language, not to make.
Of course few argue whether God’s moral law is still valid; we know we aren’t free to steal, kill and destroy as we please. Virtually no one debates this since it’s so obviously wrong; the lie is generally more subtle, that Christ just abolished the civil and ceremonial parts of Torah, that these less important laws were temporary.
Yet, Jesus says that until Heaven and Earth pass away, no part of Torah will be abolished, until all is fulfilled. (18) In other words, not even the smallest nuance of Torah will become obsolete as long as Heaven and Earth remain; until every detail of God’s entire plan for the ages is accomplished. This includes every Old Testament prophecy and every New Testament prophecy.
So, those who arbitrarily classify God’s laws as moral, civil or ceremonial, claiming only moral law is still relevant, however we define it, are headed for trouble. (Ps 119:118) Christ is telling us in no uncertain terms that we’re not to neglect even the least of the commands: we’re all supposed to be trying to keep all of Torah that we’re able to keep; it’s all essentially moral in nature. (Mt 22:40)
Another lie is that since Jesus kept the law perfectly and has become our righteousness, we don’t need to worry about keeping Torah, that somehow His flawless obedience gives us liberty to be disobedient. Jesus rejects this when He tells us anyone willfully breaking any part of Torah as a manner of life will be the least worthy of His kingdom. (19) He’s referring here to our actual lifestyle, not imputed righteousness.
Sure, many texts of scripture are difficult to reconcile with this one, we get it; but we can’t just ignore the problem and pick the side we like. Stewards of the mysteries of God must be faithful (1Co 4:1-2), and not handle the Word of God deceitfully. (2Co 4:2)
It’s our duty to wrestle this out until we find a perspective which does justice to all scripture, including this key text in the introduction to the greatest sermon ever preached. Otherwise, we may find ourselves, unlearned and unstable, wresting Pauline passages out of context unto our own destruction. (2Pe 3:15-16)