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Law & Grace

   aymon de albatrus 

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalms 85:10)

At the Beginning
Beginning at the rebellion in the garden of Eden, the whole humanity, nobody excluded, is born with a rebellious nature that rejects all that is good and wise preferring what is evil and absurd. 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12)

From Adam to Noah, the Law was not given, even though some men. through conscience, sensed the knowledge of good and evil, as Enoch did.   12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Romans 5:12-13)

Man's nature is so rebellious and so strong that God said: 5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6) "repented" from an anthropological point of view, that is, for God cannot make a mistake, by definition.

Man without the Law did not grow better, but worse, so God decided to give the Law, firstly to Noah and after, more specifically, to Moses. 

What is the Law of God?
The Law of God is composed of all instructions of behaviour the He has imposed on men to put into practice, with punishment if disobeyed.  The Law can be divided in two parts: the Moral Law of God (the 10 Commandments that change not) and the Ceremonial Law in the Old Testament such as: animal sacrifices, priestly class, etc. The Ceremonial and Priestly law has ceased on earth for it has been fulfilled by Christ with His divine blood and His continued intercession in Heaven for His people. 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (Hebrews 10:9-12)

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

The Moral Law (that changes not) is the 10 Commandments: 

  1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods besides me. (Exo 20:2,3)

  2. You shall not make no statue or graven  imagine of anything to worship it. (Exo 20:4,5)

  3. You shall not name the Lord your God in vain.  (Exo 20:7)

  4. Remember the Sabbath, it shall be a holy day to you. (Exo 20:8,9)

  5. Honour your father and mother (Exo 20:12)

  6. Do not commit murder (Exo 20:13)

  7. Do not commit adultery (Exo 20:14)

  8. Do not steal (Exo 20:15)

  9. Do not lie (Exo 20:16)

  10. Do not desire what belongs to your neighbor (Exo 20:17

Someone may object about these Laws imposed by God on men, but there are two things that have to be understood very well:

  1. God has every rights to do what He wants with His creation, for He has created it from nothing and keeps it in existence by His great Power.  Therefore, it is perfectly lawful for Him to impose His Law on what is His, and ALL is His: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (Matthew 20:15 AV)  and besides, nobody can stop Him:  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (Romans 9:20 AV) 

  2. God changes not, He is not like man that is unreliable and capricious: For I am the LORD, I change not; ...... (Malachi 3:6)

Thus the Law is unchangeable and It is good, indeed the Psalmist says: 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Psalms 19:7-11)

In fact the Law was given for the benefit of man to limit sin, as Moses says soon after having received It on mount Sinai: And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. (Exodus 20:20)

The statutes of God are rooted in His character, and He changes not, thus the characteristics of the OT and that of the NT are the same and correspond with the Law of God and the Word of God.  There is no difference between the OT and the NT because He is always the same. He is the only one that is: Holy  ..... for thou only art holy ...  (Revelation 15:4)  Good ..... there is none good but one, that is, God. (Mark 10:18)  Righteous  For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness ... (Psalms 11:7).  The Law is also Holy, Good and Righteous for It is spoken by the mouth of God: Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Romans 7:12) 

Nevertheless, the Law cannot save has stated by Heb 10:11, but then, why was the Law given?  For at least these two reasons:

  1. To moderate the wickedness of men.  In fact we see it ourselves in our society that the human laws are used to restrain the human evil.  I did see on TV an interview with a famous Canadian liberal that, rather saddened, was admitting to have been wrong on human nature, that he considered good and just, after witnessing what had happened in a Canadian city during a Police work stoppage.  The result was a massive destruction of the city by ordinary citizens, like us, that were destroying and looting shops and things. Human nature, left without restraints, is really evil.  

  2. To demonstrate to man that, given his wickedness, it is impossible to save himself,  for it is impossible to satisfy what God requires and consequently everyone would be lost.  The main function of the Law is to condemn us of sin, which is rebellion against what God commands. Also to prove to us that we are incapable of good works with our resources. This leads to the need of a Saviour, which is Christ and Him crucified, He is our Grace. In Scripture the Law has the ministry to take us at the cross where the Spirit with Grace revive us in a new life in Christ.  At the cross is where the Law (justice) and Grace (forgiveness)  are reconciled. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalms 85:10Those graced of God have passed from the Law to Grace through the cross of Christ. Amen

Consequently, we see that the Law was given for our protection and to make sin known to us: Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. (Romans 7:13 ) and to take us to Grace: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24

Grace demonstrates the enormous love (agape) God has towards His own even when they were dead in sins and trespasses: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Grace is not something that we can work out or gain, or it is due to us, for if this were so, then it would not be of Grace anymore: 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:27-28 AV)

Grace is defined by the Law for without the Law there would not be knowledge of sin and thus, without sin, there would not be the need of Grace, logically.  Some unbelievers say: "sin exists only because God has imposed the Law, if He had not done so I would be without sin".  But the answer is:  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4) and  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (Romans 9:20)

How shall we understand Grace?
First of all we must recognize that Grace is a gift of God, and that it is undeserved in every way, thus we will always be debtors to God for having sent His only Son to die on the cross to atone the sins of His own.  

The much heralded phrase "we are under Grace and not under Law", must not be intended that we are free to do what we want, including those things contrary to the Law of God:  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:15). But we must be conscious that having received from God a new heart and a new nature that permit us to be free from the dominion of sin and thus being able to discern what is good from what is evil, we are in a position to choose the good.  For example, perhaps our eye may casually fall un a pornographic picture once, but we can choose not to see it a second time. 

We must be conscious of what the Law says, for the Law is good and it is our reference to know what God wants from us, but we must not seek to be justify by It in front of God, as, in no way, we can keep it fully for only Jesus, the perfect man, was able to maintain It.  Grace is our only Hope of salvation. 

Only in Christ we can appropriate Grace and the Truth of God.  The Grace of God is His goodness towards His own: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8

As in the times of Jeremiah, today's people cry "peace, peace", but there will be no peace.  There will never be peace in this world, only in God's Grace in Christ: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

How is then the Law and Grace applied in the N T?
Let us take the textual words of our beloved Lord: For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18).  Taking these words of Jesus, can anyone honestly say that the Law has been taken away?  Surely, NO way?  The Law is certainly still valid and applicable to all, from the beginning till the end of time, without a tittle changing.  The difference in the NT is the sacrifice of Christ that God inserts between the believers (His elect) and the Law and Himself.  This way His Law remains intact, perfectly satisfied by Grace through the Holy Blood of Christ Jesus, shed for His own. And they sang a new song, saying, "Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood, from every kindred and tongue, and people and nation, (Revelation 5:9)

The Law is applicable to All, but for the believers His Grace is interposed between their sins and God, thus they are justified in front of God for He "sees" the justified sinner through the blood of Jesus, that is Grace for them.  Moreover, Jesus continually intercedes for their sins through His Holy Blood shed once for all:  Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25The Law is written in the hearts of the believers (Eze 36:25,26,27) and they now have a new nature to satisfy Jesus' command: If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Moreover: knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (1 Timothy 1:9), demonstrated clearly that the Law is in full activity, especially for the non believers, for they are not covered by the precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The non believers do not seek God, at all, and the Law is applied directly to them and It is satisfied in their condemnation to Hell.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36 )

Here is then the scriptural difference between the Law and Grace:

  1. The Law tries to restrain the passions of the flesh,

  2. Grace puts to death on the cross what is carnal and says: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Jesus Christ is our Grace and our Peace with God. 
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)

Law and Grace in 7 points:

  1. The Law is: Good, Holy and Righteous because God Gave It,

  2. Due to our wickedness, the Law condemns us of sin (sin is transgression of the Law). For this reason the wicked ones say that the Law is done away with,

  3. The Law is perfect, but no man can keep it, only the man Jesus Christ,

  4. Jesus Christ is the Grace for His own for He has atoned all their sins on the cross: Past, Present and Future,

  5. Being under Grace does not mean one can sin as much as one wants, indeed, au contraire.  If one says to be under Grace and continually sins, has not understood what the Grace of God is and he is not under Grace,

  6. With the coming of Grace the Law was not put aside, for God changes not.  Besides, on which other basis could He judge the world.  The Law is always active until the world is in existence.  To the non-believers the Law is satisfied in their condemnation to Hell, whilst, for the believers, the Law is fully quenched in the divine blood of Christ spilled for His own, which is their Grace.  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)

  7. At conversion, God gives a new heart (the essence of man) of flesh, removing the heart of stone and placing there His Spirit that allows the converted to walk in His statutes and to observe and to put into practice His Decrees. (Eze 36:26,27).