2/6/17: The Law vs. Grace
Confusion exists for some concerning the balance between obeying God’s Law and living by grace. Somehow we’ve come to see the two as mutually exclusive; in other words, either you live by the Law or you live by grace. Those who believe we should obey God’s Law are accused of belittling what Jesus did on the cross and are labeled as legalistic. Those who believe we should rely on grace alone are blamed for encouraging people to ignore the Old Testament rules and live “looser” lives since they are depending on forgiveness.
We are making things much more complicated than they need to be. Folks on both sides of the controversy agree on God’s attribute of immutability; that is, that God does not change. Since God does not change, both God’s Law and grace must somehow be able to exist together. And they do.
The Law as revealed in the Old Testament, shows us our sin and reveals to us God’s holiness and His moral desires for us. We look at the Law and desire to fulfill it but we fall woefully short. Grace debuts in the New Testament and supplies the forgiveness that frees us from the guilt of falling short of fulfilling the Law. Now here’s the good news: now that the penalty has been paid and we’ve been freed from the guilt of our inadequacy to fulfill the Law, we can operate in obedience to the Law thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s revealed desire for us to be morally upright did not change with Jesus’ substitutionary death and His resurrection. To the contrary, we can now obey Him out of love for Him simply because we’ve placed our faith in Him.
Nowhere in Scripture is this balance better illustrated than in the book of Hebrews. The balance comes through faith. In the eleventh chapter, the writer gives us a phenomenal list of the Old Testament saints. From Abel to Enoch to Noah to Abraham and on through David, Samuel, and the rest of the prophets, the writer illumines their wonderful faith. However, the chapter ends by saying, “And all these [heroes of the faith], having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” Hebrews 11:39 – 40 (NKJ). You see, those Old Testament saints living under the Law were responsible to obey the Law, but even if they couldn’t do so perfectly, they obtained a good testimony anyway through faith. They could not be “made perfect apart from us” because the grace in which we now stand had not yet been supplied by Jesus Christ.
The twelfth chapter begins by referring back to the eleventh. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews12:1 – 2 (NKJ). We have now been supplied with grace, but are here admonished not to forget how our Old Testament predecessors “obtained a good testimony.” A good testimony is obtained by running the race that is set before us; i.e. obeying God’s Commandments, which are nothing less than His Law.
So we see that God’s Law – His ultimate will – goes hand-in-hand with grace; the two are not in opposition with each other. God the Judge is the same as Jesus the Redeemer.
©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.
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