What is the Law of God and what is the Grace of God?

The Grace of God in Jesus Christ

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Understanding Bible Doctrine

The Ten Commandments and the Law of God

January 23, 2009

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10 Commandments - The Mt. Sinai Covenant

"I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the Law,
then Christ is dead in vain" (Galatians 2:21 KJV)

    If you were to ask 10 people why they think God will let them into Heaven, 8 out of 10 will usually reply that they will get in because they've kept the 10 Commandments.  Not only are they inaccurate in their own personal assessment; they're also wrong Biblically.  Why?   Usually because they've been taught unsound doctrine.  Surprisingly, the correct Biblical doctrine is just the opposite of what the natural man or woman might think.

    Why is this true?   It's because most Christians are not ready for what the Apostle Paul calls the "meat" portion of the Gospel; they are still infants on "milk"!    The Apostle Paul rebukes the believers at the Church in Corinth for this very reason (1st Corinthians 3:2 KJV) as does the author of the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJV).  It's time that Christians understood the Grace of Almighty God in Jesus Christ so that they may effectively and accurately spread the Good News of the Gospel.

    This teaching is hard for people to understand and accept.  However, by carefully examining the Scripture, we shall see that this truth is quite clear.  No person can or will keep God's Laws and Commandments: it's impossible.  Those who think they are, are only fooling themselves, not God.  The Pharisees couldn't keep the 613 Laws and Ordinances, no Jew could keep the 10 Commandments of God and Adam and Eve couldn't keep 1 Commandment from God!  Having learned our lesson and graduated from "milk" to "meat" we shall be able to witness to others more effectively.  And we'll learn why the Grace that Saves us can also Save others!

Grace and Truth Through Christ - John 1:16-17 (KJV)

    The Apostle John became the oldest surviving Apostle of Jesus Christ, surviving 60+ years after the Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, and instructed to write Revelation around 95 A.D.  In the very first chapter of the Gospel According to John, the Law and Grace are contrasted.  The Law of God came first, but God's Grace and Truth came by His Son Jesus:

16 And of His Fulness have all we received, and Grace for Grace.
17 For the Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.

An Allegory from Galatians 4:21-31 (KJV)

    One of the most effective Grace arguments written by the Apostle Paul is found in the Book of Galatians chapter 4.  While much of Galatians is written on the subject of Law vs. Grace, Paul's allegory is quite effective and clear.  Reading the passage in its context leaves no doubt about the conclusion to be drawn: The Christian is under Grace.  And not only is the Christian not under the Laws of Deuteronomy and Leviticus; the Christian is not under the 10 Commandments!  Paul strongly instructs the Galatians to not come under the Law again; rather, they should understand who they are in Jesus Christ. 

    We must remember that the 10 Commandments were delivered to the Jews by Moses who had received them directly from God on Mount Sinai.  This occurred while the Jews wandered in the wilderness after they had escaped from Egypt but before they entered the Promised Land of Israel.   The 10 Commandments was a covenant between God and the Nation of Israel as conditions for them being able to remain in the land.  Israel didn't keep the 10 Commandments and they eventually wound up in Assyrian and Babylonian captivity.   Before they were scattered in 70 A.D., in the event commonly called the Diaspora, they were successively ruled (after Babylon) by the Medo-Persian empire, the Grecian empire and the Roman empire.

    A little background for the allegory.  Abram, whose name God changed to Abraham had a very beautiful wife named Sarah.   Sarah had a little problem, though: she wasn't able to bear children.  Abraham had been told by God that he would be the father of a great nation.  So what to do when your wife is barren?  Well, Sarah came up with a solution all by herself.   She had a handmaiden (a slave for all intents and purposes) named Hagar.  Sarah suggested that Abraham have a baby by Hagar and therefore fulfill the promise of God that way.  Abraham followed her wishes ... 

    Well, you don't have to think too hard to guess what happened ....yup, Hagar got pregnant,  had a baby and named him Ishmael ... and, Sarah got a little jealous ... well, a LOT jealous and demanded that Abraham send Hagar AND the boy Ishmael out to the desert to DIE!!! (wasn't this all Sarah's idea in the first place?  well, we don't want to point fingers!) ... Anyway, God wasn't pleased either, but that's another story!   Miraculously, Sarah later had a child, Isaac, by Abraham ... But Isaac was of God's timing, not Sarah's ... Now that we know the real story, let's look at Paul's allegory regarding Law vs. Grace in light of this event ... the allegory will be explained parenthetically, verse by verse, in this passage from Galatians chapter 4:

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law, do ye not hear the Law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons (ISAAC and ISHMAEL), the one by a bondmaid (HAGAR), the other by a freewoman (SARAH).
23 But he (ISHMAEL) who was of the bondwoman (HAGAR) was born after the flesh (LAW); but he (ISAAC) of the freewoman (SARAH) was by promise (GRACE).
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the Two Covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai (LAW / TEN COMMANDMENTS), which gendereth to bondage (SLAVERY), which is Agar (HAGAR).
25 For this (OLD COVENANT) Agar (HAGAR) is Mount Sinai (LAW / TEN COMMANDMENTS) in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem (EARTHLY=LAW) which now is (EXISTS), and is in bondage (SLAVERY) with her children (PHARISEE JEWS).
26 But (NEW COVENANT) Jerusalem which is above (HEAVENLY) is free (GRACE), which is the mother of us all (CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF BORN-AGAIN BELIEVERS).
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not (SARAH); break forth and cry, thou that travailest not (NOT PREGNANT): for the desolate (SARAH-GRACE) hath many more children (CHRISTIAN CHURCH) than she which hath an husband (HAGAR-BECAUSE SHE BORE A CHILD BY ABRAHAM).
28 Now we, brethren (CHRISTIAN CHURCH), as Isaac was, are the children of promise (GRACE).
29 But as then he (ISHMAEL) that was born after the flesh (LAW) persecuted him (ISAAC) that was born after the Spirit (GRACE), even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman (HAGAR=LAW) and her son (ISHMAEL): for the son (ISHMAEL=BONDAGE) of the bondwoman (HAGAR) shall not be heir with the son (ISAAC=FREEDOM) of the freewoman (SARAH=GRACE).
31 So then, brethren, we (CHRISTIAN CHURCH) are not children of the bondwoman (HAGAR=LAW=BONDAGE), but of the free (SARAH=GRACE=FREEDOM).

Scriptural Evidence from Matthew 17:24-27 (NASB)

    Here's the story about the fish that didn't get away.  Those who opposed Jesus were constantly testing Him to see if He would offend.  Here Jesus takes advantage of the tax challenge to demonstrate a Spiritual Truth to Peter as well as the miracle-working power of God the Son.  The parallel drawn here reveals that those born-again by Grace into the family of God are exempt from the penalty of the Law:

24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?"
25
He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon?  From whom do the kings of the Earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?"
26
When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt."
27
"However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me."

Another Allegory from Galatians 3:21-25 (KJV)

    Earlier in Galatians, the Apostle Paul uses the term "Schoolmaster" metaphorically to demonstrate that the Law of God is specifically ordained to prove that all people were guilty of sin.   Having done so, the Law then points to the only logical choice: acceptance of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to avoid the penalty of sin.  Paul is not saying the Law was without purpose; quite the contrary.  However, after a person has been driven to the Messiah (accepted Christ as Saviour), the Law is no longer applicable to that person, but stays in force for unbelievers to bring them to the Messiah.  In other words, we go to school (CONVICTED BY LAW) to learn about Christ, but after we have accepted Him (SAVED BY GRACE), we are out of school (GRADUATES).

21 Is the Law (LAW / TEN COMMANDMENTS) then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a Law given which could have given (ETERNAL) Life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law.
22 But the Scripture hath concluded all (FOUND EVERYONE GUILTY) under sin, that the promise by Faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before Faith came (REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST), we were kept under the Law, shut up (BLINDED TO) unto the Faith (GRACE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST) which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the Law was our Schoolmaster (TEACHER) to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by Faith (HAVING ACCEPTED HIM).
25 But after that Faith is come
(PERSONAL BELIEF IN CHRIST), we are no longer under a Schoolmaster (LAW / TEN COMMANDMENTS).

All Concluded Under Sin:   Romans 3:19-25 (KJV)

    What does the Book of Galatians mean when it says "the Scripture hath concluded all under sin"?   It simply means that God has found everyone guilty of breaking His Commandments and Laws.  And God knows that no person is capable of or willing to keep His Commandments and Laws.  Therefore, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to Earth, lived a PERFECT life and was then offered at Calvary as a Blood Sacrifice for reconciliation to the Father, for all who believe on Him.  This passage from Romans demonstrates that knowledge of the Law, brings conviction upon a person, leaving them no choice but to accept God's free offer of Grace in Jesus Christ.  The Law of God and the Prophets of God all pointed to Christ ultimately.  This culmination was verified when Moses, representing the Law of God and Elijah, representing the Prophets of God, appeared with Jesus on the Mount of TransfigurationRomans explains that the Righteousness of God can only be found in Christ:

19 Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (IN NEED OF A MESSIAH).
20 Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the Law is the knowledge of sin (SINCE EVERYONE BECOMES GUILTY BY THE LAW, THERE IS NO HOPE IN THE LAW).
21 But now the Righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets (GOD OFFERS RECONCILIATION TO HIM WHICH DOES NOT DEPEND ON THE LAW);
22 Even the Righteousness of God which is by Faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference (EVERYONE CAN BE SAVED BY A PERSONAL BELIEF IN CHRIST):
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (EVERYONE NEEDS THE MESSIAH);
24 Being justified freely (AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE) by His Grace through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom (JESUS CHRIST) God hath set forth to be a propitiation (ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE) through Faith in His Blood, to declare His Righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

More Scriptural Evidence from Galatians 2:16-21 (KJV)

    Paul's Epistle to the Galatians is rich is demonstrating the Christian's freedom from the penalty and bondage of the Law.  The passage from chapter 2 exhorts the Christian to not come under the Law again; for if the Law was inadequate in the past, it is certainly nothing to build the future on:

16 Knowing that a man is not Justified (FOUND RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD) by the works of the Law, but by the Faith of (BELIEF IN HIS ATONING WORK) Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be Justified by the Faith of Christ (IN HIS VICARIOUS SACRIFICE), and not by the works of the Law: for by the works of the Law (OBSERVING THE LAW BY HUMAN EFFORT) shall no flesh be Justified (SAVED).
17 But if, while we seek to be Justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners (USING THE GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST AS A LICENSE TO SIN), is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed (UNBRIDLED SIN), I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God (A LIFE OF FAITH).
20 I am crucified with Christ (MY FORMER FLESHY NATURE): neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (BY THE PERSONAL INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD): and the Life which I now live in the flesh (A LIFE OF FAITH) I live by the Faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.

More Scriptural Evidence from 2nd Corinthians 3:3-9 (KJV)

    Paul's reminds the members of the Christian Church at the city of Corinth, that the obvious evidence of their changed lives is a testimony of the accomplished work of Christ in their hearts.  The Corinthians had not attained Righteousness by observing the 10 Commandments, but by the work of the Spirit of God:

3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the Epistle of Christ (EVIDENCE OF HIS WORKMANSHIP) ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not in tables of stone (10 COMMANDMENTS), but in fleshy tables of the heart (A LIFE OF FAITH).
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward (CONFIDENCE TOWARD GOD THROUGH CHRIST):
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves (OUR EFFORTS) to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God (OUR FAITH IS BY THE MERCY AND GRACE OF GOD);
6 Who (GOD IN CHRIST) also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter (LAW), but of the Spirit (GRACE): for the letter (LAW) killeth (BRINGS SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL DEATH), but the Spirit (GRACE) giveth Life (BRINGS SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL LIFE).
7 But if the ministration of death (CONDEMNATION), written and engraven in stones (10 COMMANDMENTS), was glorious (HONORED AND GLORIFIED GOD), so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance (HAVING STOOD IN THE PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD ON MOUNT SINAI); which glory was to be done away (TEMPORARY):
8 How shall not the ministration of the Spirit (GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST) be rather (ETERNALLY) glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation (10 COMMANDMENTS) be glory, much more doth the ministration of Righteousness (ETERNAL GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST) exceed in glory.

More Scriptural Evidence from Colossians 2:6-15 (NASB)

    The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christian Church at Colossae of the amazing accomplishments God the Father wrought in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Because God the Father did a complete work in Jesus Christ, those that are "In Him" are complete also:

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted (SOLID FAITH BY SOUND TEACHING) and now being built up (INSTRUCTED) in Him and established (STRENGTHENED) in your Faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive (ROBS YOU OF YOUR JOY) through philosophy (SPECULATION) and empty deception (CLEVER TRICKERY), according to the tradition of men (NON-BIBLICAL TEACHINGS), according to the elementary principles of the world (SECULAR SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS), rather than according to Christ.
9 For in Him (JESUS) all the fullness of Deity (EQUAL WITH ALMIGHTY GOD THE FATHER) dwells in bodily form,
10 and in Him (JESUS) you have been made complete (WITHOUT BLEMISH BEFORE GOD), and He (JESUS) is the Head over all rule and authority (EARTH, HEAVENS AND UNIVERSE, SEEN AND UNSEEN);
11 and in Him (JESUS) you were also Circumcised (MARK OF OWNERSHIP BY GOD AND FOR GOD) with a Circumcision (SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD) made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh (WEAKNESS OF THE LAW / 10 COMMANDMENTS THROUGH HUMAN EFFORT) by the Circumcision of Christ (PERSONAL INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD AS A MARK OF OWNERSHIP BY GOD THE FATHER);
12 having been buried (DIED TO YOUR FORMER SELF) with Him (JESUS) in Baptism, in which you were also raised (SPIRITUALLY RESURRECTED IN NEWNESS OF HIS LIFE) up with Him (JESUS) through Faith in the working of God (HIS GRACE IN CHRIST JESUS), Who raised Him (JESUS) from the dead.
13 When you were dead (WITHOUT ETERNAL HOPE) in your transgressions (SINS) and the uncircumcision of your flesh (UNBELIEF), He (GOD) made you alive (WHEN YOU BELIEVED) together with Him (RESURRECTED JESUS), having forgiven us all our transgressions (SINS HAVE BEEN TOTALLY AND FREELY FORGIVEN),
14 having canceled out the Certificate of Debt (OFFENSES ACCORDING TO THE LAW / 10 COMMANDMENTS) consisting of decrees (RECORD OF OFFENSES) against us, which was hostile (BROUGHT SPIRITUAL DEATH) to us; and He (GOD) has taken it (CERTIFICATE OF DEBT) out of the way, having nailed it (CERTIFICATE OF DEBT) to the Cross (REMOVED OFFENSES UNDER THE LAW FOR BELIEVER IN FAVOR OF JESUS' ATONING SACRIFICE).
15 When He (JESUS) had disarmed the (SPIRITUAL / DEMONIC) rulers and authorities, He (GOD) made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (JESUS-IN HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION).

More Scriptural Evidence from Philippians 3:8-9 (KJV)

    The Apostle Paul teaches the same doctrine at Philippi, like he did at Galatia, Rome and Corinth.  The Grace of God in Christ should be considered a glorious prize by the Christian:

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss (MY FORMER LIFE AS A JEWISH PHARISEE) for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung (TRASH TO BE DISCARDED), that I may win Christ (ETERNAL LIFE IN HIM),
9 And be found in Him (SAVED), not having mine own Righteousness (HUMAN EFFORT), which is of the Law (10 COMMANDMENTS), but that which is through the Faith of Christ (BELIEF IN HIS ATONING WORK), the Righteousness which is of God by Faith (GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST):

So Why Aren't Christians Perfect? - 1st John 2:1-2 (KJV)

    A popular bumper sticker reads "Christians aren't perfect: just Forgiven".  This is quite true, especially of any Christian who has experienced honest self-evaluation.  The Christian life is one of growth and yes, failure.  God's purpose is to continually exhort and encourage a Christian so that their level of spiritual maturity will grow resulting in even more fruitful good works.  However, having accepted Christ, the Christian has available to him or her the wonderful Grace of God in Christ, Who comes to meet their needs, even when they fail:

1 My little children (CHRISTIANS), these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate (DEFENDER BASED ON HIS ACCOMPLISHED WORK) with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous:
2 And He is the Propitiation (SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE) for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world (ANYONE MAY FREELY ACCEPT GOD'S GRACE IN CHRIST).

The Royal Law of James 2:8 and Mark 12:28-34 (NASB)

    Jesus gave a new and better Law to the Christian.  His brother, the Apostle James, reiterates:

8 If, however, you are fulfilling the Royal Law according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well.

    Found in several other passages in the Gospels, Jesus' explanation of the Royal Law in Mark chapter 12 is quite thorough.  Having defeated the Pharisees and Herodians who posed a trick question, Jesus answers a scribe possessing substantial spiritual insight into the Kingdom of God.  Here is Spiritual Truth:

28 One of the scribes came ... and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?"
29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'
31 The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
32 The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that 'HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; 
33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF,' is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God" ...

"Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight:
for by the Law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20 KJV)

Are you counting on your own righteousness?  Don't!  Get under the Blood and Grace of Christ now!

10 Commandments image 1999 Duncan Long - Used by Permission

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