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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

about jots and tittles

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven Matthew 5:20

2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.. . . 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21: 1, 27

The idea of jots and tittles has been running through my mind on a regular basis lately. And this morning the Lord connected it with the statement about in no wise entering the kingdom of heaven.

It seems to be a popular misconception that in order to get into heaven we need just ‘do our best’ or be ‘good enough’ It struck me forcibly just a few minutes ago how very particular God is. Jots and tittles are very small markings in the Hebrew alphabet, rather insignificant really, about like a comma or an apostrophe. I can’t read or write Hebrew so I have to relate to the idea in terms of our English language. So that would mean that not one ‘comma’ or ‘apostrophe’ would be ignored in fulfilling the law.

As a third grade teacher I spent a lot of time talking about how and when to use an apostrophe. (The intricacies of commas comes later) The placement of an apostrophe can change the entire meaning of the word. A familiar example is the combination of letters, i-t-s. If we put an apostrophe between the “t” and the “s” the word becomes ‘it’s’ meaning “it is” That is entirely different from writing “its” which means something that ‘it’ possesses.

Consider: “Its rule… ” is an entirely different meaning than “It’s a rule…” Two little marks change the logic completely. The first implies something that is just a common habit of something. For instance, “For this bull, its rule is to turn left” ( What can I say? I’m a bull riding fan.) denotes merely a common practice or self direction. But to say, “It’s a rule to turn left” is completely different. Now it becomes a necessity, a legal requirement. Yet it is based on just a couple tiny marks. So I was thinking along those lines as I considered the idea of jots and tittles.

Then the scripture of in no wise entering the kingdom of heaven came into my mind. I misquoted it to myself at first, but when I looked up the actual verse it said, ‘in no case enter the kingdom.’ Now here is the thought progression. Jesus said that all the law must be fulfilled –every tiny mark and indication. That is being pretty picky. But just a little further down he said that , except [our] righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,[we] shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven Wow. Talk about ‘picky’!

To me this all means that we must be very careful in our lifestyle. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus spoke of the Pharisees tithing mint and anise and cumin—very careful and particular adherence to the old laws of tithing. He didn’t say that was wrong. He just said there were other greater things they should be doing! And here he says we have to exceed that!

We have a long way to go in today’s religious world to teach this message. “Good enough” is not the standard for entering heaven. “Doing our best” won’t buy us an entry. Salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus is the first requirement. ( Luke 13:2-3; Acts 19:4) Next we must put off our sinful ways, and put on the ‘new man’ (Ephesians 20-24; Colossians 3:10) These are the “jots and tittles” of grace. They are the basic requirements. As we live for God we most certainly grow in understanding of the Lord and our godly walk will continue to improve and more habits and ways will be laid aside. Like the Pharisees we used as an example above, we will not only be doing the basic things but we will move on to much more as Christ advised them That’s the only way our righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

Why is this all necessary? Because we are entering into the ‘city of God, adorned as a bride for her husband”. God spent all of the 21st chapter of Revelations describing her to John. He was very particular in every “jot and tittle.” What a glorious church arrayed in beauty and holiness is portrayed! And men today expect to get in by being ‘good enough’ and ‘doing their best.’ even though the stain of sin is on their garments and the attachments of ungodliness drag on their heels! The warning comes at the very end of the chapter: 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth. . . We must be obedient in every jot and tittle. Our lives must be clean and measure to every little word of the Scripture

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