LAW VERSUS GRACE [7/3/20]

A detailed study of the Scriptures reveals a noticeable and contrasting division of God’s administration over the Jews (Law) and the Church (Grace): “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” <Jn.1:17 (NIV)>. This quote does not indicate that there was no Law before Moses, since at the creation account God gave specific instructions and the ensuing consequence of breaking His command <see Gen.2:15-17>; neither does it suggest that there was no Grace before Christ came into the world; since in the response of God after Adam and Eve broke His command and sinned, God came down to earth looking for Adam and finally provided for Adam and Eve’s redemption from their sin a means of cleansing and forgiveness (His Grace), by clothing them in the skin of an animal that had to be killed in their place, representing a sacrifice for sin, that which the Law required <see Gen.3:21>; for the Law required the death of the sinner. Here then, we see the very first mention in scripture of the Grace of God and is referenced in the N.T. in the sacrifice of Christ Himself for the salvation of all sinners; “God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <2 Cor.5:21 (NIV)>; “He himself [Christ] bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” <1 Pet.2:24 (NIV)>.

It is important to observe that wherever the Law is mentioned in Scripture it refers to the Law given by Moses and covers God’s administration up to the event of Christ’s death on Calvary, the final and eternal sacrifice for all sin. From that point in time, and onward, God’s Grace is the characteristic of His administration over the Church age and will continue until He comes to call all believers (the Church) to be with Himself <see 1 Thess.4:16-17>. Furthermore, it should be observed that in any time period defined by God (dispensation), the Scriptures do not combine the two principles of Law and Grace, and Paul explains this in his letter to the Galatians’. Wherever the Law is mentioned it demands justice, condemnation, curses and the death of the lawbreaker; and a study of the books of Exodus and Leviticus will reveal the demands of the Law <see such passages as Ex.20-23; Lev.19-24>. In contrast then, where the Law brought terror, Grace brought freedom to the worst of sinners <see Lk.23:39-43; Rom.5:8; 1 Cor.6:9-11; 1 Tim.1:15>.

Another important observation that must be made is that the N.T. references to the “law” are to the Law given by Moses, but there are exceptions <see Rom.7:21-23>. In some cases, the reference is to the both the “moral law” (10 commandments) and the “ceremonial law” (offerings and sacrifices), both comprising the whole law. Examples are: of the whole law <Rom.6:14; Gal.2:16; 3:2>, of the moral law <Rom.3:19; 7:7-12>, and of the ceremonial law <Col.2:14-17>. Contained in the ceremonial law are the “types” or “foreshadows” of the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ as Priest and Sacrifice pictured in the Tabernacle and the Levitical Offerings <see Ex.25-30; Lev.1-7; cf 2 Cor.3:7-18>.

Three errors that have plagued Church teachings are those that affect the relationship between Law and Grace:

  1. ANTINOMIANISM: such maintain that believers in Christ have been freed from the moral law by virtue of faith and grace and therefore are not required to live holy lives: <see Titus 1:16; Jude 4>
  2. CEREMONIALISM: a system of rites and formalities and originally it demanded that believers should observe the Levitical ordinances, and the modern form is in the teaching that such ordinances are essential to salvation: <see Acts 15:1>
  3. GALATIANISM: or the intermixing of law and grace – teaching that justification is partly by grace and partly by law; or that grace is given so that the incapable sinner can keep the law. Such teaching has been addressed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians’ and is God’s conclusive answer: <see Gal 1:6-8; 3:2-3>

The following outline and scripture references, which speak specifically to the moral law, is what the Scriptures teach us on this important subject.

  1. WHAT THE LAW IS: It is holy, just and good <Rom.7:12>; spiritual <Rom.7:14>. It is something in which we should delight ourselves <Rom.7:22>. It is NOT of faith <Gal.3:12>
  2. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW: It exposes, or makes us conscious of sin <Rom.7:7; 13>; it condemns us before God, it cannot justify <Rom.3:20>. It was given because of transgressions <Gal.3:19>, and makes us guilty before a holy God <Rom.3:19>. It demands complete adherence in all it’s elements <Gal.3:10; James 2:10>. It is the administration of death and condemnation <2 Cor.3:7, 9>, and proclaims the death sentence upon all <Rom.7:9>. It is the power of sin <1 Cor.15:56>. It was given (2500 years after Adam) to convict guilty mankind of sin and complete helplessness in view of God’s just requirements – strictly an administration of condemnation and death <Jn.1:17; Gal.3:17>
  3.  WHAT THE LAW CANNOT DO: It cannot justify anyone before God <Acts 13:39; Rom.3:20; Gal.3:11>; or anyone who attempts to obey its principles <Gal.2:16>. It cannot obstruct God’s grace <Gal.2:21>. It cannot pass judgment on the sinful nature (only the sinner) <Rom.8:3>, and cannot make anyone perfect in God’s sight <Heb.7:19>.
  4. THE BELIEVER IS NOT UNDER LAW: Christ, through His death, burial and resurrection has freed us from the demands and condemnation of the Law, and through our faith in His sacrifice we are identified with Him in His death (through baptism), and death exempts us from the Law <see Rom.6:1-10> Now that we have been risen with Christ we should live according to the principles that direct our life-style as believers <Rom.6:11-23>. We are not delivered from the guilt of sin but from the control of sin <Rom.6:14>. However, this should not encourage us to lean toward Antinomianism where we say that a godly life is not important <Rom.6:15>. Another principle that is given to us is that since we are dead to the Law and alive unto Christ, our lives should demonstrate the “fruits” of our new life <Rom.7:1-6; Gal.2:19; 3:23-25; 1 Tim.1:8-9>. Note here that in Rom.7:1-6 Paul is not referring to the Ceremonial Law but to the Moral Law <Rom.7:7>.
  5.  THE BELIEVER’S RULE OF LIFE: The believer should live as Christ did <1 Jn.2:6; Eph.4:1; 5:1, 15-16>; and should love as Christ loved <1 Jn.3:16; Jn.10:11; 13:34-35; 15:13>. The believer must abstain from sinful desires <1 Pet.2:11, 12-23>; having turned from the “darkness” of sin, must live in the “light” of the gospel <Eph.5:8-11>. The believer should not indulge in the desires of the old sinful nature to which he/she has “died” <Gal.5:16-21>; and must follow Christ’s example <Jn.13:15>, in obedience to His commands <Jn.14:21; 15:10, 12; 1 Jn.3:22-23; Heb.10:16>.

In consideration of the above, it is instructive “to remember that God’s appointed place for the tables of the law was within the ark of the testimony [covenant]. With them were “the golden pot that had the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded” (types [pictures], the one of Christ our wilderness bread, the other of resurrection, and both speaking of grace), while they were covered from sight by the golden mercy-seat upon which was sprinkled the blood of atonement. The eye of God could see His law, so badly broken by Israel, only through the blood that completely vindicated His justice and propitiated [appeased] His wrath” (quote from Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth – Emmaus Correspondence Course) <see Heb.9:4-5; cf Ex.25:21; 34:27-28; 40:20-21>.

WHAT IS GRACE?

Grace is the undeserved mercy and kindness of God to a sinner; even though we as sinners are not deserving of God’s grace: <Rom.5:6-8; Eph.2:7-9>. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy….” <Titus 3:3-5 (NIV)>

GOD’S PURPOSE IN GRACE – We are saved from God’s wrath by His grace through our faith in Christ, and justified apart from the Law <Rom.3:24; Eph.2:8-9; Gal.2:16>. As a result of His Grace we should look forward expectantly to the hope of all believers – the hope of His return for us <Titus 2:11-13>; we have also been made heirs of salvation <Titus 3:7; Eph.1:13-14>. We now have direct access to the throne-room of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ <Rom.5:2; Heb.4:16; 10:19-22>, and are maturing through His written Word <Acts 20:32>. The Grace of God is therefore complete and all-inclusive, and these principles cannot be blended together with the Law, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” <Rom.11:6 (NIV); see also Rom.4:4-5; Gal.3:16-18; 4:21-31>.

In conclusion then, we see that believers in Christ are not classified as “children of the bondwoman (or slave)”, we have been freed from the bondage (slavery) of sin <Gal.4:31>, consequently we have no fear of what the Law demands (death of the sinner), and we should not attempt to divide the Law into “Moral” and “Ceremonial” for we are not bound by what Moses gave to the Israelites at Sinai <see Heb.12:18-24>. This is referred to as “the righteousness of God apart from the law” <Rom.3:21>. So all unbelievers, having violated the Law, should accept the sentence of the Law “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” <Rom.3:23 (NIV); Rom.6:23 >; but such can find in Christ a perfect and eternal salvation for; “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes……..if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” <Rom.10:4, 9 (NIV)>.

 

LAW AND GRACE [4/25/20]

LAW

Stone Tablets (pinterest.com)What is the difference between Law and Grace? The answer to this question first requires that we establish what is the Law and what was the reason or purpose for its institution. The first thing that is evident is that the purpose of the Law was never to provide salvation from sin; it was given to reveal sin in our lives and show us our need of salvation. The Law also reveals the “perfection” of God as opposed to the “imperfection” of mankind.

 THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW: “What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” <Gal.3:19, 21, 23-24 (NIV)>

Webster’s Dictionary describes LAW as a rule or principle of proper conduct sanctioned by conscience, concepts of natural justice or the will of a deity: a commandment or a revelation from God. “Biblical law is more than a record of human law. It is an expression of what God requires of man. It rests on the eternal moral principles that are consistent with the very nature of God Himself. Therefore, biblical law (the Ten Commandments) is the summary of moral law. As such it sets forth fundamental and universal moral principles.”   (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

The law reveals sin <Rom.3:20; Rom.7:7>; it declares the world guilty before God <Rom.3:19>; and reveals the real nature of sin <Rom.7:9>

The Law is from God, and the Law is holy: <Rom.7:12>. Sin is exceedingly sinful when measured by the standard of the Law: <Rom.7:13>. What then does the Law serve? <see Gal.3:1-19> “it was added because of transgressions”. Just as Abraham believed what God said and it was accounted to him for righteousness; so, it is for all saints, whether Old Testament or New Testament. <Gal.3:7>. Thus, we see that the Law was added to the Abrahamic Covenant, and that the covenant preceded the Law by some 430 years. In effect, God gave Abraham and his descendants a way of salvation 430 years before the Law was introduced <Gal. 3:17>.

 God gave a promise and He kept it! <Gal.3:18>. The Law was “added” to the covenant “until” <Gal.3:19>; the “seed” meaning Christ <see Gal.3:16>. Therefore, no one is justified by the Law in God’s sight <Gal.3:11>, and to substantiate this fact Paul quotes Habakkuk: “but the righteous will live by his faith” <Hab.2:4 (NIV)>

Why then did God introduce the Law? It was given that we might see just how sinful sin is. The Law is a measuring tool to show us that we do not measure up to God’s standards. When we measure ourselves against God’s standards, we all fall short; one person is no better than the other <see Amos 7:7-8; Isa.28:17>

So then, the Law was added because of transgressions to show us how sinful we are. The other reason is, that being found sinners by the standards of the Law, we might all be saved through faith in Christ, who is the descendant (seed) of Abraham. The Law implants into the heart of mankind a sense of sin and a need of a saviour, revealing our sinfulness and our lost condition. Consequently, we are led to seek God’s forgiveness for our sins by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ who bore our penalty that the Law required; introducing us to the subject of Grace.

GRACE

Cross [Source-Google search]Described by Webster’s Dictionary as favor or goodwill; manifestation of favor especially by a superior; mercy, clemency, pardon; favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity; the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. Grace is favour or kindness exhibited in spite of what an individual deserves, and is one of the key attributes of God <see Ex.34:6-7>. It is almost always associated with mercy, love, and compassion, and the supreme example of grace was the redemption of the Hebrew people from Egypt and their establishment in the Promised Land, and this did not happen because of any merit on Israel’s part <Deut.9:5-6>; and although the grace of God is always free and undeserved, it must not be taken for granted. Grace is given by God, <see Amos 5:15>, and is to be humbly requested <Mal.1:9>.  The only way of salvation for any person is by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” <Acts 15:11>.

What then is the difference between Law and Grace? How is Grace made possible? How is God’s grace extended to mankind? The answer to these questions is in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection.

Jesus was born under or subject to the law: being born subject to the Law He was in complete obedience to the Law <Gal.4:4>; and His earthly life was lived in accordance with the requirements of the Law <see Luke 2:21-24>.  He fulfilled the law – he did not destroy or discard the law <Matt.5:17>. He lived in perfect obedience to the Law <Matt.3:17; Matt.17:5 >. He confirmed the promises made to the fathers under the Law <Rom.15:8>. He fulfilled all types of the Law by His life and sacrificial death <see Heb.9:11-26>. He redeemed mankind from the curse of the Law so that the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant might be on all who believe: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” <Gal.3:13-14 (NIV)>. He is the mediator of the New Covenant by His blood: <see Heb.8:6-13>.

Before the Law there was no transgression. One cannot transgress (i.e. “to go beyond”) something that does not exist, the Scriptures make this quite clear: “because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.” <Rom.4:15 (NIV)>. Does this mean then that there was no sin before the Law? There certainly was! Sin was just as wicked and terrible before the law was given; but mankind did not understand the gravity of sin until God’s law revealed the sinfulness of sin; “the sin which had always been morally wrong now became legally wrong”. Thus, the Law revealed sin to be a transgression against God and to convince the sinner of a need for salvation: “for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.” <Rom.5:13 (NIV)>. Sin therefore was present before the Law, and the only specific penalty for sin was death (God said to Adam “…for when you eat of it you will surely die” Gen.2:17); there was no law for specific sins such as murder, theft, adultery etc., only the penalty of death was pronounced.

The Law did not produce sin, nor was the Law itself sin; it revealed the exceeding sinfulness of sin. God gave the Law with detailed instructions and specific penalties, showing the true nature of sin, causing an awakening in the heart of mankind: “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” <Rom.5:20 (NIV); Rom.7:5 >. The Law stirred up sin, and guilt was experienced because blame could now be assigned. This is illustrated by a parent’s command to a young child not to do a specific thing or go to a specific place. Prior to this the child had no desire to “do” or “go”, but now curiosity takes over and the desire to disobey is strong. The Law is therefore for sinners not saints: <see 1 Tim.1:5-9>.

Is the believer under or subject to the law? This is a question that is asked whenever we discuss the subject of Law and Grace, and we must answer this from the Scriptures. The Biblical answer to the question is NO!  Christians are NOT under the Law: <see Rom.6:14-15; Gal.5:18; 1 Cor.9:20>. The Law is not a means of anyone being saved: <Rom.3:20; Gal.3:12; Rom.8:3-4; Acts 15:1-11>. The Christian has been delivered from the Law: <Rom.10:4; 2 Cor.3:6-18>.

Since the Believer is no longer subject to the Law, does this mean that a Believer is allowed to live as if the Law is of no consequence? What is the effect or consequence when a Believer sins? Is the Law broken? Is the Believer’s sin a “transgression of the Law”? Many Believers who are faced with these questions arrive at conclusions that are not biblical, attempting to make themselves comfortable with their solutions. “The Bible never separates faith from obedience. Love is no longer love if there is no obedience.  Rather than being some sort of penalty, obedience is what makes faith strong. Far from being oppressive, the commandments are blessings.  God’s love is His law.  Without the law, God’s love becomes meaningless and God Himself is merely a dead abstraction.  Those who live as though God’s law does not matter are guilty of promoting atheism and unbelief.” (Christianity Today, Apr 29, 1991). Therefore, the sin of the Believer breaks the Law of God’s Love; in other words, we spurn His love and disregard His grace and are thus out of fellowship with Him, and can no longer enjoy communion with the Lord. <see Rom.6:1-2, 15-18>. “It must be carefully noted that the Christian is not under law; grace has imparted to him all the merit that he could ever need <John 1:16; Rom. 5:1-2; 8:1-2; Col. 2:9-10>. Being “ related” to Christ <1 Cor. 9:20-21> does not mean that the Christian is without law, but it does mean, as one redeemed by grace, that he has the duty, or rather gracious privilege, of not doing that which is displeasing to God and of fully discharging that which is well pleasing to Him on the basis of a manifestation of spontaneous gratitude for his salvation in grace.”  (from New Unger’s Bible Dictionary) (originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois.  Copyright (C) 1988.)

The knowledge of being free from the Law can cause some Believers to become spiritual “law makers” forcing other Believers to abide by “their laws”: that is, they establish laws by which others are judged, and fellowship among believers is dependent upon whether or not these “laws” are observed; attempting to restrict God’s grace to man-made rules <see Gal.5:13-15; 1 Pet.2:16-17>. “Grace involves applying the Biblical requirements with tenderness in an effort to help, heal, and restore. It means not going beyond what God has said in imposing consequences. Grace demands that we do all we can to minister to the hurts others suffer due to emotional or cultural pressures. It is a matter of grace for a congregation to set up a biblical standard and then to lovingly discipline members who violate that boundary. Grace demands that we work hard to understand the truth of Scripture so that we neither fall short of it because of emotional or cultural pressure or go beyond it and become more severe than God would be.” (Moody, Nov. 1991)

HOW DOES LAW AND GRACE AFFECT US TODAY?

The Law prohibits – Grace invites and gives. Law condemns the sinner- Grace redeems the sinner. The Law curses – Grace blesses. The Law condemns the best person – Grace saves the worst person. The Law reveals sin – Grace atones for sin. The Law demands obedience – Grace gives power to obey. The Law and its demands ended in Christ – Grace abides forever. The Law says “the soul that sins shall die” – Grace says “believe and live”.

Grace then, dismisses all human accomplishment and only requires faith in Christ our Saviour, and any combination of human capability violates the Grace of God.