24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,
29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
beat (v.25) = to fall upon (with violence)
beat (v.27) = to stumble against (strike lightly)
not as the scribes (v.29) — who were known for referring to tradition and what other teachers had said.
The Scribes (Sopherim) date as a distinct body from the period of Ezra. The name is derived from sepher, or “book,” and means “scripturalists” — those who explained and copied the Law … Their functions were to copy, read, amend, explain and protect the Law. It was in the latter capacity that they invented the “fences,” which, under the title of dibheri sopherim, “words of the Scribes,” formed the nucleus of the “tradition of the elders” (Matthew 15:2; Galatians 1:14), or oral law, any transgression of which is declared by the Mishna to be more heinous than a transgression of the words of the Bible … Secondhandness, the slavish dependence on precedent and authority, is the most remarkable characteristic of rabbinical teaching. It very rarely rises above the level of a commentary at once timid and fantastic. — Pentecost, page 189.
“Hears … and does” (v.24) is clearly law in this case because the Lord had been referring to the law all through the sermon and it was still very much in effect (see Stam’s quote below). For us today, the “do” is faith alone (Romans 1:5) because, as it has since been revealed, by Paul, the law was given to prove to us that we couldn’t gain righteousness by the law.
But there is an application for us today. The Word of God — rightly applied in context — is the only solid foundation that will hold fast. Not the teaching of theologians or traditions that have been passed on in the church. We should listen to those who teach the Word, but then we should do as the Bereans who were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). Paul returns to this theme in 1 Thessalonians 5:21: Test all things; hold fast what is good.
The Lord in this sermon was telling His disciples that the Pharisees’ interpretation of the law was false, as demonstrated by their lifestyle. And in spite of their passionate dedication to their version of the law, God’s standard was even higher and more unattainable. So, those who heard what the Lord said and obeyed it had a solid foundation, while those who listened to the Scribes and Pharisees would fall.
Under the Law perfect obedience to God was required (Exodus 19:5-6; Galatians 3:10). To the lawyer who sought to tempt Christ by asking Him, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” our Lord countered by asking. “What is written in the law?” And when the lawyer quoted to Him the gist of the Ten Commandments the Lord answered simply, “This do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:25-28).
And indeed, when our Lord proclaimed the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount, He demanded obedience to the Law in the light of His righteous interpretation of it. Technically, under the Law, if a man did not actually commit physical adultery, the law could not touch him, but our Lord, in His Sermon, showed that before God the lustful look is adultery committed in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28).
During the Kingdom reign of Christ, perfect obedience to God will be spontaneous as the Holy Spirit takes full control of His people. As we have seen from Ezekiel 36:27, God will put His Spirit within them and “cause” them to walk in His statutes and they “shall keep” His judgments and “do” them. Pentecost witnessed a blessed foretaste of this as “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).
In “this present evil age,” however, we stand between the requirement to keep the Law for acceptance with God, and the future day when God will supernaturally cause His people to keep the Law … Grace and faith are the characteristic features of the present dispensation. Not only is salvation declared to be “by grace, through faith,” but the Spirit also operates in the believer “by grace, through faith.” What He provides by grace we may appropriate by faith. He dwells within each believer (1 Corinthians 6:19) to provide needed guidance and strength to withstand temptation, and we may avail ourselves of His help in time of need. — Stam, pages 115-117.
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