LAW AND GRACE
By Don Bantum
What is the purpose of the law? The word of God, as expressed through the Apostle Paul, says:
Galatians 3:24. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
The King James Version puts it this way:
Galatians 3:24. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The law is meant to show us our sin and point us to Jesus. We must recognize our inability to obtain righteousness under a law that demands absolute perfection. We are greatly deceived if we think we can keep the entire law on our own. Jesus tells us:
Matthew 5: 48. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (KJV)
We may be tempted to respond, “Sure, Lord, no problem. I can keep the law standing on my head; that’s no big deal.”
But hearing, we do not hear, and seeing we do not see. Jesus said be as perfect as God; but even at this point we don't always view ourselves as incapable. We may think, "Well gee, it must be possible to be as perfect as God, otherwise Jesus wouldn't have said what He did, right?" Consider these words from Christ’s "Sermon on the Mount:”
Matthew 5:21. "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Jesus is talking about judgment derived from anger. That's something felt deeply in one’s heart. And going to HELL for calling somebody a fool? That seems like an extremely stiff penalty to my way of thinking – for just outwardly expressing one’s inward thoughts. As if that were not severe enough, Jesus adds:
Matthew 5: 27. "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Are you seeing what I'm seeing here? Though it’s odd, it sounds to me like everybody has a one-way ticket on the fast track to hell; unless of course, one has gouged out one’s eyes, or cut off one’s hands!
Do you think there's anyone on this planet that can stand up under this kind of scrutiny? God is looking on our hearts. He isn't simply seeing what we’re doing, He is also well aware of what we are thinking. You see, in God's economy, sin takes place in the heart before it is manifested in the flesh. So, if you’re seriously thinking of doing something sinful in your heart (your inner-most being), it's as good as done. As we read in
Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (KJV)
Yet people continue to believe they can please God through there own self effort. They are just kidding themselves. Are we going to be as perfect as God? We can't even be as good as the Pharisees, whom Jesus saw as hypocrites; mere actors -- people pretending to be what they were not. None of us are righteous in his sight, not even one. Yet we often pretend to be righteous, wanting others to see us as righteous, good and loving people. But we are just people after all.
So, has the law done its work in you? Have you come to Christ through faith in the One who did it all? If you have, then the law has fulfilled it's purpose in you. You now need to turn loose of the Old Covenant with it's laws and regulations and commands, and embrace the New Covenant between God and man. Otherwise, the law will keep right on killing you. Consider these words:
2 Corinthians 3:6. He has made us competent as ministers of a NEW COVENANT—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Galatians 2:16. Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Romans 8: 1. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2. because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4. in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Here's a verse of scripture the self-righteous love to quote, as they hope to put you back under the law Jesus came to free us from. Notice carefully…
Matthew 5:18. 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. (KJV)
So what's Jesus saying here? Does this mean that we will always be under the law as long as we live? No, what He means is we will be under the law, till we come to saving faith in Him. Remember the law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, so if we are in Christ we have no further need of a schoolmaster; no more use of the law, because the living word has now come to reside in us. Jesus fulfilled the Law with it's requirements, by hanging on the cross and dying in our place. The righteous requirements were all fulfilled through the very blood and death of God himself on the cross.
Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The wages of sin is death. We are the sinners, not Jesus. Jesus took our sins upon himself and died in our place, so the law could be fulfilled through HIM, and in us as well. He died a death he didn't deserve, so we wouldn't have to, but that is what the "Law" demands; i.e., punishment for sin. He took your sins and mine on himself. Death is what we surely deserve, but he loved us so much, he was willing to give up his own life, so we might live. The righteous sacrificed for the unrighteous. Praise God for all the great things HE has DONE. Yes he has done it, for you and for me. Let's start thanking him for what only he could accomplish. Can we do that? Or are we content pretending we are righteous, giving thanks to nobody but ourselves. The Christian life is the Spirit of Christ living within us. We can't live his life, we can only live our own own lives in complete dependence on him and what he did on our behalf. Thank you Jesus!
Colossians 2: 6. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7. rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
So, did you receive Christ by faith? Of course you did; that's the only way anybody can receive him. That being the case, continue to walk and live by that same faith.
Not faith in what you are doing, your ability to perform religious acts, like giving tithes and offerings, giving to the poor, etc. That's what you’re doing. You can't put faith in what YOU’RE doing, you must put faith in what Jesus HAS accomplished for YOU, through the power of the cross, burial and resurrection of Jesus from the dead, so he could impart that same life to you. It is everlasting life, time without end. Through what Jesus did, not through your obedience of laws and commands.
People want to try to add to what Jesus did, by making it about what we are doing. i.e., getting baptized, speaking in tongues, all kinds of things, the list just goes on and on. But all of those things, are things we are doing, and in even thinking these things, we are adding to the gospel. What's the gospel? Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose to life again on the third day. That my friends is the gospel that saves. And every bit of it, is what Jesus did, not what we are doing.
But people want to take part in their salvation, and put the emphases on themselves and what they are doing instead of resting in his finished work on the cross. I'm sorry, but it isn't about you, it's ALL about JESUS and what he did. Everything you try to add to the gospel, your taking away from the gospel. Any time your salvation becomes about you and what you are required to do, be sides placing 100% of your faith in JESUS and what he did. I'm sorry to inform you, your not saved.
Salvation is dependent solely on Jesus alone. Is baptism okay, sure it is, it's a beautiful depiction of what Jesus did for us. And it depicts us being buried with Christ in his death, and then being raise to life again in him. But if we make that or anything else a requirement to salvation, then our faith again becomes dependent on what we are doing, rather then solely on Jesus and what he did.
And that, dear reader, is exactly the way we are to live our lives today– by that same faith. Is that difficult to understand? Not if you’re in Christ Jesus and he lives in you, and is revealing truth to you. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, not me. So if you understand what you've just read, it's because God, through the power of his Spirit, is leading you to truth. Let's continue:
8. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
9. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10. and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12. having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
13. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14. having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
16. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20. Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21. "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" 22. These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Still, today people believe they are justified by obeying the law. They are a miserable lot, and they want you to be just as miserable as they are. Misery loves company. So they try with all their might to put you back under a law from which Jesus came to free you. They are condemning themselves and they don't even realize it. Let's go on; consider this:
Galatians 2:11. “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.”
14. “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”
15. "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16. know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
17. "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18. If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
Now if Saint Peter, who had come to KNOW freedom, could fall from grace (for a contextual explanation of the expression “fall from grace,” see Galatians 5:1-15), and regress because of those Jews who were under the law; the same Peter who spent 3 1/2 years with Jesus, as well as Jesus’ brother James, who had been with Jesus his entire life, are both capable of placing themselves back under the law, are we not capable of getting back under law as well? Or are we somehow better and smarter then they? We are all human and capable of making mistakes.
Don't let pride stand in your way of receiving truth. We don't live by laws, commands, principles, or anything but faith in the One who did it all. It’s all about Jesus. No, it's not about us; God didn't become a man and die on a cross to bring honor and glory to you or me, but so mankind would give thanks and glory to God the Father. It's time we gave credit and honor where they are due.
Remember "if Christ be lifted up, he will draw all men unto himself." We need to lift up the name of Jesus, and stop pretending we are the ones who deserve the praise, honor and glory. Since when is it an honorable thing to be a complete and utter failure?
Now don't take my word for any of this, I could be lying. I'm not, but I could be. You need to look these things up in the word of God yourself, and allow the Spirit of God to lead you into all truth. I'm simply trying to point you in the right direction. If you're looking for truth, you will find it. Think about this:
Do you want to begin experiencing victory in your life? Start praising and thanking God, for what he's accomplished for you, and stop taking bows for what he's doing. This is all about Jesus, the sooner we understand that simple fact, the sooner we will start seeing victory over our circumstances. Jesus has over- come everything, and he wants to live his life in and through us. Because he loves us, he was raised to life again, so he could give us life from the dead. Death is separation from God. We don't have to be separated from God; he wants to live in us, for he is our life.
Many in church “systems” are indeed under the LAW. Jesus didn't destroy the law, he fulfilled the law with it's commands for those of us who have come to faith in HIM, rather than still hoping to find justification through self effort. As long as you’re content trying to feel good about yourself, under the law, then UNDER the law is right where you belong. But if you've come to see what the law really represents, which is death, then you’re ready to receive Jesus and the life he came to give you.
Romans 3:20. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Romans 7:4. 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.
Galatians 2:19. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
Galatians 2:21. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
John 1:17. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:21. 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 6:11. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)
Galatians 3:14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (KJV)
Ephesians 1:5. he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Philippians 1:11. filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Galatians 3: 10. All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
Titus 3:11. For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13. while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14. who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Galations 3: 23. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
26. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27. for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
What exactly is sin, and how does God define sin?
John 16: 7. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9. in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
You see, according to Jesus, the world’s sin is unbelief in HIM. This Jesus died on a cross and took away the sins of the whole world. So sins plural have all been taken away through the blood of Jesus in our place at the cross some 2,000 years before we were even born. Needless to say, we were born forgiven, we don't get forgiven, we are forgiven, whether we like it or not. The only sin Jesus left us with was the sin of unbelief, "the unpardonable sin" if you will. The one that can't be forgiven.
And why can it not be forgiven? Because it must be repented of. We must turn from unbelief in Jesus to complete faith in Him, and all that he came to do on our behalf. Is that not plain? So we no longer live by laws and commands written on stone, but rather through the new life and grace which has been lavished on us by God.
This should put and end to all conversation regarding the law, check this out:
Galatians 5:18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
If that statement is true, and indeed it is, then the reverse of that is also true. If you’re under the law, you can't be lead by the Spirit.
And the Spirit is God. So do you want to be under a law that NOBODY HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO OBEY, EXCEPT JESUS HIMSELF, OR UNDER THE SPIRIT OF GRACE? The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. Your choice -- everybody has to make a choice. Either we live by faith in Jesus and what he did, or by the works of the law which can only bring death.
I want to leave you with just this one other excerpt from God's Holy Word. Chew on it, and let it sink in. It will help you to see, what God had done for us. Do we want to be left to fend for ourselves under a law that demands perfection, or do we want to come to Jesus by faith, in what he's already done. And he cried out from the cross, "It's Finished". And so it is.
Hebrews 10: 15. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16. "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." 17. Then he adds:
"Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." 18. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
19. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21. and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27. but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, 30. For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
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