“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Ah! I finally understand verses 17-20! Okay, let me try put it in to words here. When Jesus came to earth the law did not go away. In order to be righteous one MUST follow every letter of the law. The enter the Kingdom of Heaven you must be the most righteous person, as one who has never sinned.
But we can’t do that. It’s impossible! Only one man in the history of the world is free from sin. So how are we to ever hope of getting to Heaven? Certainly not on our own merits, our goodness, our law-following. Because we WILL make mistakes and be called the least. How, then?
Jesus says He has come to fulfill the law. How can we be righteous enough to enter God’s Kingdom? Through Jesus! If you accept Jesus you will be as righteous as if you had followed the law exactly all of your days.
So, it is no longer necessary for us to follow the letter of the law to enter Heaven. BUT, the law is not gone. So my question remains. Why am I not bound to abstain from pork? Shouldn’t I try, if it would please God? Why is it okay for me to wear polyester and cut my hair? Does the law not forbid these things? And shouldn’t I be trying to follow the law, even though I know my righteousness is not determined by my success or failure?
Verses 13-16 are much easier. We are the salt, but without Jesus our lives have no flavor, no purpose. With Jesus working in our hearts our love can’t be hidden from the world. It can’t help but shine out.