Law V. Grace

 

The Ten Commandments

1. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol

3. Remember the Sabbath day…it holy.

4. You shall not use the Lord’s name in vain

5. Honor your father and your mother, 

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not give false testimony…neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

Exodus 20

The Law

When the “Law” is mentioned, the thing that most commonly comes to mind is the Ten Commandments. But there are nearly 613 Commandments or Laws.

The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus 20 and are repeated in Deuteronomy 5. (Please see chart on the right)

Jesus Condensed these two into Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

What was James’ pronouncement concerning the seriousness of breaking even one of these laws? “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)

But the question is do we follow the Law or are we under grace? First let us look at the Law. Do we follow all 613 laws? For Moses said, “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deu. 27:26)

 Some examples:

 1) Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period; 2) Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable; 3) Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material; 4) Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy; 5) Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it; 6) You shall not make for yourself an idol.

“And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (Deu. 6:25) If we follow these God will Bless us. But we must follow all of these laws and if we don’t, “Cursed is the man, who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out,” says Moses. We must hold on all of the 613 laws.

We as Christians continue to condemn others of there so called sin by condemning them from the Law. Do you know all of the 613 laws? Do you follow these laws daily? Most Christians don’t know the Ten commandments in order. Like Ezra, “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10)

What the Law does

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronmy 29:29)

 “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20)

The Law of Moses was a covenant of works. God said, “You shall” and “You shall not.” The laws were definite, and the attached penalties were definite if the conditions were not obeyed.

Webster defines law as “a rule of conduct or action prescribed by the supreme governing authority and enforced by a sanction.” Law always implies two things: a standard and a penalty.

These laws were presented as God’s standard of righteousness for that time. They were literally a yardstick for man. The New Testament reveals that “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Jesus Christ came to “fulfill the law,” and now God’s standard of righteousness is Christ Himself.

Grace Through Jesus Christ

What does the Law reveal? “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3:19, 20)

 The Meaning of grace is defined by Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “An expression not used in Scripture, but employed (1.) to denote those institutions ordained by God to be the ordinary channels of grace to the souls of men. These are the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer. (2.) But in popular language the expression is used in a wider sense to denote those exercises in which we engage for the purpose of obtaining spiritual blessing; as hearing the gospel, reading the Word, meditation, self-examination, Christian conversation, etc.

To what did the Law bear Witness while failing to reveal it fully? “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.” (Romans 3:21) How has a full revelation been made to us? “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24)

Jesus V. the Law

Did Jesus come to abolish the law? Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” No Christ did come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law of the prophets. “Fulfill the law of the prophets,” means that Christ came to fulfill them from prophecies concerning the Messiah, the Christ. (Compare Isaiah 9:6) “He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44)

“All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40) What are they? “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39) These are the only Commandments that we need and all the others fall into place.

 Grace Through Christ

The passage recorded at John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The Law was given to Moses, then given to Israel to follow. Grace came through Jesus Christ our Savior. The one who died for OUR sins.

“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39) We know as Christians that we do not need the Law. We have a greater hope then Law or that man can try to give us. The hope we have is that Jesus came as a ransom for us all (John 3:16) That God sent his son so that we might have Grace. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) Here in Acts chapter 13, verse 39, Paul states, Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” With the law we have no hope. But through Christ Jesus we have the Eternal Life that no one can take away from us, Unless we walk away from Him.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.” (Romans 3:21) This constitutes the second major section of the epistle. Paul explains how God has provided a solution for the problem of man’s sin. Man can be declared righteous and justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ alone, whom God set forth as atonement for the satisfaction of sin.

 “Do you not know, brothers–for I am speaking to men who know the law–that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. “(Romans 7:1-6) Here the Apostle Paul uses a illustration to help us understand that we are not under the law anymore. If a woman marries and her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. But if she marries another man, she is committing adultery. If her husband dies she is also released from the law of marriage and can remarry. We also died to the law through the Body of Christ, that he was raised from the dead, in order that we might have grace and have eternal life. We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Ten Commandments, Holiness Code).

 The Book of Hebrews
Gives Examples of Moses

“When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.“-Hebrews 9:19-22. I don’t think that we want to live by the Law. If we did, would have to sacrifice for our worship. Israel was told to keep the commandments that were given through Moses. Do you want to follow the law then you remember that there are 613 of them. Or you can have grace that is freely given through Christ Jesus.

 “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

Then I said, ‘Here I am–it is written about me in the scroll– I have come to do your will, O God.'” First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.“-Hebrews 10:1-10. For us today, we need not offer Sacrifices to God. Jesus has come and made that sacrifice on the cross for us. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. So that is why Christ was prophesied in Scriptures so that we would have a hope.

Grace Freely Given

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

-Acts 20:24, NIV.

“No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved.” (Acts 15:11) Yes, it is through grace through Christ Jesus that we are saved. It can not be from anything else. It not through images or stone, or anything else that saves us. But it is through the only one savior, Jesus Christ!

We can rest assured that we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”-Romans 3:24. “Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:2, 15, 17, 20, 21) We have gained access by faith into grace through Christ Jesus. Just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through Christ Jesus.

We also can not “sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15) If it was by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

In conclusion, Paul sums it up in Ephesians 2:5, 7-8, Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.

7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–.” It is not by works that we obtain grace. It is freely given to us through Jesus’ blood, his life that he laid down for you and me. “Who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Today are you going to make the choice to either follow Grace or the Law? The writer of the Book of Hebrews best describes Jesus best. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:29) Yes Jesus was made lower then the angels he came down as man, to be put to death and raised on the second day. That he may taste death for everyone. But then he would be glorified and to sit on the right hand of the Father Almighty that he would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Through this grace, we have been justified by his love, that we might be heirs having hope of eternal life. We cannot have both Grace and the Law! Which one are you going to choose?

I leave you with these Scriptures:

“Who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”-Timothy 1:9

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV)

 

© 12/1998

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV). Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The Law or Grace