Ambush by Legalist

This is a transcript of a sermon by Pastor Doyle Williams from August 12, 2012.  Being transcribed by human hands makes this an edited account of the words spoken by Pastor Williams. To hear the audio of that sermon, click HERE.

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In answer to the routine question “How are you?” One day at the store, I answered “I’m great! I’m wonderful! Grand, just like the biscuit,” on and on. The response was “Do you have to be so blankety, blankety, blank happy all the time?” I said, “Yeah, I do!” You see the Bible says that Jesus is anointed with the oil of gladness above even His brothers. To repeat; He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His brothers. That might not sound like a whole lot until you stop to think who His brothers were and are.

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Doyle Williams

Today I am going over to the book of Matthew. Most of you probably expected Galatians, but we are going to read Chapter 5:18-20 to begin. I use this particular scripture a lot because, if you have not noticed, in the last several years grace has become my favorite topic. I grasped the grace of salvation but I did not initially grasp the grace of everything else. I have been ambushed with these verses and want to share them with you. Starting in verse 18, Jesus is speaking: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

That is tough. I mean that is rough right there. And you have got, I shouldn’t say you’ve got to because you don’t have to, but I would like for you to understand who the Pharisees and the scribes are, particularly the Pharisees. They were a very small group. Most people think there were lots and lots of them. Between 3,000 and 6,000 Pharisees tops at that time. You see, these people were almost paid professionals to keep the law because all they could do was just constantly strive to do absolutely everything perfect and then they would sit around and scratch their head and say did I do this perfect?

We have people today who are trying to keep the same kind of laws. When I was in Chicago the Jews actually had what they called a Sabbath Goyim, The Shabbat Goyim. That means the Saturday Gentile. You see it was against the holy rules of their Haddasic high-keeping order of Jewishness to get on an elevator and push the button because even just pushing the button was, to them, work, so they would be condemning themselves by pushing that button. They had to hire a good Gentile to stand there on that elevator every Saturday and push the button for them all day long. Some of the Jewish decided they would solve the problem by putting in those little heat sensitive buttons that light up when you touch them. Oh those are fun. We had them at Moody. As you are getting off and everybody else is getting on, some of whom are wanting to go to the 19th floor, if as you walk out you take your two fingers and go brullllllllp! it lights everything up like a Christmas tree. The doors shut, they have to go up every floor one at a time and they are mad. They put those buttons in their elevators.

Then they came to the conclusion, this is how crazy it gets, that if they put their finger on that button the heat from their finger transferring over to turn that on was work; therefore, they could not do that either. They could not Christmas-tree it like I was telling you about, or have somebody else do it. Finally someone said well our weight is causing work. The only way they could get around it was to actually climb up and down the stairs and prop the doors open. Excuse me?

This is the fastidiousness that they go to, and this is the way the Pharisees were. They would count mint and rue. Remember Jesus says you tithe on your mint and rue. They had a mint plant and they would pick the leaves to harvest and they would go one, two… well actually they would go God’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. God’s one, two, and so on, because He got one tenth of everything, or the first fruits, the tenth part of everything they did.

They would go to great lengths with some of the rules and the way they got around them is truly amazing. Remember we talked about how they were allowed so many steps from their house. Brilliant idea; they declared that wherever their property was, became part of their home. They would have a Gentile take all their junk from their house on the day they wanted to travel, like from Jerusalem over to Emmaus. They would have the Gentile count out so many steps and throw down an old sandal of theirs, on and on and on and throw down another piece of their junk so whenever they decided to go on Saturday walks they would have to follow that path so as they walked by their junk they were still qualified as being at home. Uh? It’s pretty good.

And Jesus is saying, folks if your righteousness does not surpass that, you’re not going to get in the kingdom of God. You are not going to make it, and that’s what people would come to me and say, “Doyle, you do not understand, you’ve got to tell these people.”

I had one person here in town tell me, “Brother Doyle, I agree with you. You’ve got to get saved, God wipes your slate clean, and from then on you cannot commit one sin or you won’t make it to heaven. Not one.” And I am looking at that person thinking, you’re doomed! You are so doomed! But they had thought that they had kept that kind of perfect life and, therefore, they weren’t sweating it, you know? I’m doing alright. I haven’t committed sin. And I’m thinking you don’t know what sin is, and I did not want to argue with them at that point because it was in a public location, and what’s the point of arguing?

However, the reference is that you cannot make it if you aren’t more perfect than the scribes and the Pharisees, and then he goes on from there to the next bunch of verses and he sharpens the edge of that sword of the law and he goes on to say it is not just don’t murder, you cannot murder, you cannot commit adultery, you cannot divorce, if you take an oath you’ve got to pay it, you’ve got to love your enemies and if you don’t do that, you’re in trouble and to top it off, if you think about doing that, it’s as good as doing it because you’re already starting the process of the murder, you’re already starting the process of the oath breaking in your mind; therefore, that seed of sin is in there. That is enough to keep you out.

He goes so far as to say this, and this is where I was really in trouble, you know. I had siblings. That’s a fancy 8-dollar word for brothers and sisters. I had siblings and He says, “If you say they are foolish or Raca,” if you say Raca or whatever, you’re in danger of being hauled before the Sanhedrin and if you say “you fool,” you’re in danger of going to hell’s fire, and I’m sitting there going, I have called them fools, idiots, numskull, igits, dunderheads and just right on down the line. I am doomed. I am doomed. I am not going to make it.

So, this ever increasing thing is what He added on top of what they already had and His is a finer point than what theirs was is…Ouch! Ouch! Who is going to make it into the kingdom of heaven? Now, if you will let me continue a little bit more as Paul says. For some reason I get choked up every time I get into here. As Paul says, bear with me in a little foolishness. I think that’s in 1 Corinthians chapter 11:11. Somewhere in there anyway. Bear with me with a little foolishness as I go along because the law was codified. Codified just means it was put down into a code. When Moses went up on the mountain, God took it. He used His finger and chiseled in stone. That is where it comes from. It is put there. It is not alterable. You cannot erase it. You cannot mark it out because if anybody erases it or marks it out you will be able to tell it has been altered.

So, it is chiseled in stone. It cannot be done, and then He adds on top of that in Hebrews chapter 4:12-13: “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and the intents of the heart.” It goes right along with what Jesus is saying. “And there is no creature hidden from his sight: but all things are open and laid bare to his eyes to him with whom we have to do.” To repeat, With Him whom we have to do. This is more gloom and doom on top of what we already said, what we already read, that the word of God which was codified law, written down, unchangeable, it is sharper than a two-edged sword.

By the way, this is a rabbit I’m going to chase. There are different views of mankind. What is man like? There is the dichotomist and the trichotomist. The dichotomist says that man is only made up of body and spirit and you can refer to that as spirit or soul. The trichotomist says, no, man is made up of body, soul, and spirit. It says we are made in the image of God, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. This here, and this is my fall-back verse, people get to arguing about stuff. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Well, if they are Baptist angels they can’t dance anyway. You know. How many parts are there to a human being? The Hebrews viewed humans as a unit even though they saw them as here, body, and if that sword can divide the soul from the spirit, to me that just settles it. There has to be three parts. Body, soul and spirit. Now, that is an aside. Put that away for future reference in case you end up in a theology discussion with a dichotomist, you can say well what are you going to do with that verse in Hebrews?

Anyway, more gloom and doom, because this word is active; sharper than a two-edged sword. We know that Jesus is the word of God and He has the ability to look right into our hearts, right into our minds and judge our intent, it says that out of His mouth is a sword that comes. This is in the book of Revelation. Out of His mouth is that sword, and He is the guy that is looking, He is the guy that is going to end up judging, He is the guy that is going to end up using that law to look upon us and to look upon every created being upon everything that He has ever done from the beginning of time to the time He shuts it down and we go into the new phase. He is the one that looks upon it, and we are now in a bad, bad position.

Let us go back over, don’t lose your Hebrews place, but if we flip back over to Matthew chapter 5 and if you will skip down because we’ve talked about how He sharpens the sword of making it a finer point and a still finer point, chapter 5:25-26: “Make peace quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” The word opponent is the word that we use for adversary, but He adds on top of all the fine point that He puts on it about the thinking part, He adds on to this, I see your hearts, I know what’s going on. That’s over in Hebrews, and He says and when it comes time you shall pay the price. You had better make peace with the adversary that is taking you to law.

Who’s the guy that we know is the adversary? The devil. Anybody have a fancy Hebrew word for it? It’s the cool sounding word, you can say it. Who? Satan? Now let’s give it a little Hebrew spin. Ha Satan. It means the adversary. Ha: The Satan: Adversary. Ha Satan. Ha Satan. The adversary. He is the prosecutor. You see that guy, he goes before God and he accuses us. Now, he can’t get up there and stand before God and lie about us because God knows everything and He would know that guy was lying to Him. So his strength, his power, his authority and what he uses to condemn us before God is the law. He stands before God and he says God is it not what you said? Thou shalt not lie, and listen to that little liar down there. As the husband answers his wife’s inquiry as to whether or not her dress makes her look heavy; No dear, what you are putting on is slimming . It makes you look good. Shame on you guys. I don’t blame you. You want to live to see another day. Looks great.

The whole idea though is he’s up there using the law against us, and he says if the law is used against you and you are taken to the judge, the judge has no option but to throw you in prison and there you will stay until every cent is paid. Every cent. One thing I never understood about debtors’ prison is if they threw me in jail because I did not have any money and they said you do not get out until you pay every cent, how am I going to earn the money? Why didn’t they say okay, we’re going to put you to work and you’re going to work this off. But no, they throw you in prison. So, here we have the same idea of that day. You sin enough, God is going to make sure that you go to prison and you stay there until every last cent is paid, and since your sins, your failures are so huge and you are tied up into a prison system that you cannot get out of, what are you going to do to rectify those files? To balance your books? There is no escape. Alas, all is in despair.

I have ADD folks, so here’s another rabbit we’ve got to chase. When it came to the Egyptian gods, they said you have to balance your books too. They would say when you die you would stand before this group of gods and there was this one with a scale, and on the scale would be placed a feather, and standing next to you on this empty side was this god-being who had the head of an alligator and the body of a hippopotamus or some such thing as that, or body of a lion and tail of an alligator, but, no head of an alligator. Ah! A big ugly thing with a crocodile head, you know? So he would stand there and they would take all your bad deeds and put them on that empty side and they would go down, then they would take all your good deeds and put on that and they go back up. Now you think well, if I had a lot of good deeds and they cancel each other out and it went up, yeah! And if it went down, you know what happened if it was lower, heavier than the feather? The alligator ate you! How would you like to tell that to your kids at night? You be good or the gator god is going to get you. Now, go to sleep.

But they would be sitting there holding that and you think well, if I was good enough then there would not even be anything on it and the scales would start to lift because they are light, they are good and it would be…but you know what happens if you’re good and the feather dropped down heavier than all your good deeds? The alligator ate you because you’re a show-off. No lie. It’s a no-win situation. And this is what this kind of puts us into. Alas, we have no win. There is no way out of this. We’re doomed.

This sounds like a television ad right now. But wait, today and today only I’ve got news for you. It reminds me of that old song, and I have the words here. I will not sing it, but it is about the guy who sits down in front of channel 2 and he starts watching television and this guy named Salty Sam grabs Sweet Sue and he ties her up, and he throws her in the saw mill. And what happens then? Well, he tied her up and then what happens? He turns on the band saw and then what happens? And then what happens? Do you guys remember that song?

Then just as he is turning on the band saw the guy would say, and then, and then. And the chorus would start: Along came Jones, tall thin Jones, slow walking Jones, slow talking Jones. Along came long, lean, lanky Jones. Come on. This is the point of the rescue. This is the exciting part of the old television shows that you used to watch. Everything is caving in. We’re in deep trouble here and wait, and wait.

If you learn nothing else today, remember this. You guys remember what heroism is but remember this, context, context, context. Three times. I’m trying to get this across. You’ve got to put whatever somebody quotes to you into context.

You remember I said that I was ambushed with these verses? Context gives us the salvation because this starts with verse 17. When you go up and you start reading it this way, “do not think that I come to abolish the law,”Uh-huh. “Or the prophets.” Uh-huh. “I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” Then it goes on and says, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Jesus came to accomplish it. He did not come to break the old contract; He came to fulfill the old contract, and so He is saying this is the beginning of a furtherance of the revelation of the New Testament, the new contract. The old is the Mosaic contract. The new is the Jesus contract, the contract of grace and He is saying there are two ways out of this. The law will never pass away until the earth does or until all is accomplished. Then remember, He says I came to fulfill that law.

So from the time He was born until the time He sacrificed His life, He did nothing but keep that law perfectly. He did everything that was required by the law of God, not all those things; you cannot push a button, you cannot walk past the sandal, you know all those things. He kept the pure law of God like it was intended to be kept, and then when He did that He laid His life down choosing, remember He was not murdered, He chose to lay His life down on our behalf. Therefore, He accomplished/fulfilled the letter of the law and the contract as far as He was concerned is now over for Him, and remember we said that since He is God and His value is so great that we add this on. He gives this to us. Whosoever shall believe on Me.

Remember when He is talking to Jerusalem He says, I would have spread My wings, like a hen does, and gathered you under My wings. In the Old Testament when they have a prayer shawl, those little edges with frills on it is the word, we would use the word frill, but it can also be translated as wings because that is the edge of the bird. So what it is saying is “this prayer shawl”, that is why it says there is healing in His wings. It is actually saying there is healing in the fringe. That is why the lady with the issue of blood touched the hem of His garment and was healed. Because what we use the word wings for, they understood it also. When they put that prayer shawl on, they would hold it out like wings.

Even the Jews today, the Levitical people, when they are doing the Levitical blessing at the end of synagogue, and they are saying the Shamah, which is a Hebrew thing, they’re using the prayer shawl. If that person’s children are around they will gather around behind him, lift up his prayer shawl and try to stand underneath it because that is his prayers and his protection being spread over his family. He is saying all the people that gather underneath that are under my protection. They are under the righteousness that I have. They are under all the things that I have garnered before God. That guy is not perfect.

We’ve got Jesus Christ who says gather underneath My wings children. Gather underneath My white robe of righteousness. I will cover you. Gather up under here just like chicks who are around a hen because My robes will cover you. My righteousness will cover you and that’s what He is saying. I have fulfilled this law and Me and Mine stand separated because now the law is accomplished and Mine gather around Me and they are gathered up underneath My robes of righteousness. They are touching the hems of my garment. Christ fulfilled it. Therefore, there are two ways to deal with these verses here.

One is the common way, and my advice to you is, if you cannot do the time, do not do the crime. That’s the way it is. I have heard people I know say “I do not need a Savior and I did not ask Jesus Christ to die for me. I am going to make it on my own, pull myself up by my bootstraps. I am going to stand before God and say I gave it my best. How did I measure up?” I hope it is not an alligator standing there because CHOMP! No matter how good he’s not going to make it, and I’ve heard people say “I do not need and I do not want Jesus in my life.”

The other way is to say I need Jesus! Get me underneath that prayer robe. Get me underneath that shawl. Get me underneath the protection of righteousness of Jesus Christ. Let me stand in there because He says if you are under that, and remember it until all is accomplished, when He accomplished that, He gave us the out. He gave us an out.

By the way, a lot of people think where it says God gives us the way of escape, that is it. He does but also what that word actually means is He gives us a safe harbor to escape to. So, He not only says here is a safe way to go, but I am also giving you a place to be when you get there. I am giving you a safe place. I am giving you a safe escape and a place to dwell forever and ever that is perfect.

Now, one thing I want to continue is finishing with the context, context, context, then we will conclude. Going back to Hebrews chapter 4 where they talked about that sword and I have had people talk about sharper than a two-edged sword. Remember it says the word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, and it says in 13, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to his eyes with whom we have to do.” Get the context here. Since then, or the King James translates it, “Therefore, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in a time of need.” It meshes in with what Jesus Christ was teaching and talking about Matthew. This word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, but let us hold fast to that confession that Jesus Christ is our sacrifice. He paid it all. The blood of Christ washes away my sins, and I am going to gather right up as close to Him as I can get, going with confidence, going boldly to the throne of grace, not whimpering, but going because He gave us the right to stand before God. Before it was the accuser standing before God. Now we get to go there and He says I understand your sins. It says we will know even as we are known.

There are a lot of things that I do that I don’t understand. I have just done them this way. Now, is it in my DNA or is it my upbringing and environment that caused it? I don’t know, but one of these days I’m going to understand why I did do the things that I did, and He is going to say I understand why you failed at these points and you know what? I am not going to condemn you. You are my child. You are underneath my righteousness. The blood has washed away your sins. I’m going to go boldly right now to the throne of grace and ask for mercy.

Mercy and grace are like a coin. One side says mercy, one side says grace. The coin is unmerited. You did not own it. You did not earn this coin. But, if you look at one side it is mercy and that means that if you are in a world of hurt, He just has mercy on you because you are hurting. And if you are not in pain and struggle, He has grace upon you which just means He is good to you because He likes you, you little scoundrel. You little scamp. He likes you.

And to tell the truth, I have friends that are scoundrels and scamps and I like them. I don’t know why I like them, but I’ll do things for them even though they are scampish. I’ll help them out when they call me. And He is the same way. He says here is mercy and here is grace. You need mercy, you come up and you ask for it. If you need grace, you come up to Me and you ask for it because it’s in abundance up here and I have lots of it, and it is a perfect fit, and He says anytime that you are in a time of need. Will we have needs in heaven? No. Do you have needs now? Yes.

So, now is when you go boldly to the throne of grace and say things like I need your help at this point. You said thus and such in Your Bible and I trust that it is true, and I’m going to keep repeating that not to nag You but to remind myself that You will meet all my needs according to Your riches in glory. That all things will work together for my good. No matter what they are, they will end up working together for my good. I am trusting You because You do not lie. You are a great and almighty God and God I know it sounds like I am nagging You. I’m not. I’m reminding myself, and I’m going to say it again and again until that peace settles on me and I know that I know that You have answered my prayer.

I know you guys would like me to close. But wait, there’s more to this story. That knife which is sharper than a two-edged sword which Satan has been trying to use against us to skewer us with the law, it cuts both ways. At the end of time, that law is going to turn on him, and God is going to say have you got a perfect sacrifice? No. Schhh. Get in the fire! The law is going to be used against Satan like he has been trying to use the law against us and all of humanity for thousands and thousands of years. He has no hope. He has no sacrifice. He did the crime. He will do the time and it will last forever and ever and ever and ever, but we His children who gathered up around Him, He says come on in My children.

Come on in, there’s a banquet waiting. I’ve got many rooms, many mansions. I’ve got things. Paul says there are things that the mind can’t think of. People, I can think of a lot. And he says heaven is better than you can possibly imagine, and that’s the place for us and we will end up there when we have accepted Christ. But remember, the just shall live by faith so from day to day we are not just saved by it, we live by it. We live by that grace that is coming through the faith that we have in Christ. We live by it, that He will take care of us and meet our needs and when bad things happen to us and we’re passed over for promotion, no matter what is going on in our life, we can cry out to Him and say, God I need Your help, and according to Hebrews that sword is laid aside because now we are not at a judgment seat, we are at the throne of mercy and the throne of grace, and only we, His children, have access to that.

Does life get any better than that? Is there a promise that’s better than that? If I told you that you could win the biggest lottery right now that has ever happened in the United States or having the promise to the access to the throne of grace, which would you choose? If you are a smart person, you will pick the throne of grace because it is not just cash, it is everything. Everything you could possibly need. He will be with you, He will lead you, He will guide you and there is a safe harbor. So that some of us have to have a way of escape He is saying it’s okay, I’ve got a place for you to come over here that is going to be safe, and I will keep you even then until all your loved ones gather around with you. Ooooo! That is good. That is good.

Shall we pray? Father in the name of Jesus we thank You that You sent to us a rescuer in Jesus Christ. Someone who has put a sheath over that two-edged sword that is out to get us that has been looking at our lives. Thank you Jesus for no condemnation. No matter what happens in our life you’re going to be there for us and you’re going to walk us through it, and God thank you, thank you, thank you for all the great blessings You have done so far and not to be greedy God, but I want all the rest of them to be manifested also in my life so that I can share it with other people, and I ask the same blessing upon these people who are trusting in You. Give them blessings so that they can bless other people. I ask it all in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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