Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 24, 2019

“Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, … you have taken away the key of knowledge”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 11:45-54.  Here is a link to this Scripture –

I quote only the following verses.

“One of the lawyers *said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”  But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well!  For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.  …   Woe to you lawyers!  For you have taken away the key of knowledge;  you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”  Luke 11:45-46 and 52.


The lawyers and Pharisees lay law upon law on the people:  “For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”  Verse 46.  See also Matthew 23:4.

In contrast, Jesus said:  “Come to Me, all 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 humble in heart;  and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light”.  Matthew 11:28-29.

What is a yoke?  According to Oxford American Dictionary, published in 1980 by Oxford University Press, a yoke is a “wooden crosspiece”.  It is a foundation for pulling or work.

The cross is a wooden crosspiece that was fastened to Christ as a foundation for His work of carrying away the sins of the world.  The yoke that Christ endured was the cross, but the yoke that Christ give us is His Spirit.

In contrast to the lawyers and Pharisees, Christ tied up the heavy loads of the law and laid them on His own shoulders and gave us His Spirit as a yoke:  “in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”.  Romans 8:4.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:8-9.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.”  Romans 7:4-8.

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:19-21.

“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;  for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:10-14.

“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:4-5.

What then is the purpose of the Law?  

There are two purposes of the Law:  one for the elect (righteous) and one for the non-elect (unrighteous).

The purpose of the Law for the elect (righteous) is to lead them to Christ.  After the Law accomplishes that purpose, we are no longer under the Law and even should consider ourselves dead to the Law.  “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:24-26.

We now walk by the Spirit, not the Law.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23.

The purpose of the Law for the non-elect (unrighteous) is to hold them accountable and under judgment.  “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;  because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;  for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19-20.  The Lord knows how “… to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,”  2 Peter 2:9.

In summary, 1 Timothy 1:8-10 states it this way.  “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”  1 Timothy 1:8-10.

There are those who dismiss this pervasive teaching about the Law.

Some argue that all of this Scripture only applies to ceremonial law.  But, we have seen above that Romans chapter 7 refutes that limitation by referring to one of the Ten Commandments, in sum, the moral law.  “… I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” Romans 7:7.

Some think it is sufficient to label those who present such Scripture as “antinomians” but they do not sufficiently explain what these Scriptures mean.

Some point to one verse, the following verse, as ending the debate, but they ignore a great amount of Scripture, even books of Scripture devoted to this point, such as the Book of Galatians.  They thus act hypocritically, because in teaching other points, they mock those who who only raise one verse and ignore other Scriptures.  Here is the verse upon which they rest their case.  “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”  Matthew 5:18.

But, even if we look at that verse alone, we first can understand that “until heaven and earth pass away” refers to the Second Coming of Christ.  “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”  2 Peter 3:10.

For the elect, the Law shall not pass away until it leads the last elect person to Christ.  The very preceding verse is 2 Peter 3:9 which states;  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

For the non-elect (unrighteous), the Law shall not pass away until the day of judgment for them.  The Lord knows how “… to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,”  2 Peter 2:9.  “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”  2 Peter 3:7.

Finally, in verse 52 of today’s Scripture, “the key to knowledge” leading to righteousness and eternal life is “knowing about God’s righteousness”.  “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  Romans 10:1-4.


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