The Law and Grace. Day fifty-three...
“Do you believe a display of the Ten Commandments should be required in all public buildings? Sir, I'm waiting for your answer. Please, just answer the question. Give me a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.”
I don't know about you, but I'm not touching that one with a ten‐foot pole. The person doing the questioning is not interested in what I am thinking, but in framing the debate to further his or her own agenda.
This subject, by the way, is central to the controversy that surrounds the intent of God's law and the wonder of God's grace.
If the topic was brought up by someone who favors a public display of the Ten Commandments, a “yes” would put me on his or her team. But a “no” would put me on the opposing team—the one with all the heretics, the liberals, and the God‐haters.
If the topic was brought up by someone who opposes a public display of the Ten Commandments, a “no” would put me on his or her team. But a “yes” would put me on the opposing team—the one with all the legalists, the conservatives, and the Bible‐thumpers.
We normally think of framing the debate as a tool used in trying to win elections or pass legislation.
But it's also a favorite tool for those who wish to frame doctrinal debates in trying to get others to go in their direction.
As recorded in Matthew chapters 5–7, Jesus reframes the debate on law and grace in such a way that human opinion about either topic cannot stand on its own.
Last Monday I began to teach that our current internal infrastructure is not equipped to handle the demands Jesus makes with this new covenant. We are used to living our daily lives, for the most part, in isolation from God. But this new covenant demands a real‐time working relationship with Him.
Now that you've had some time to think about communion with God as opposed to isolation from God, let's look again at what Jesus says about the Law and the Prophets.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17–20 NKJV)
Some might say, “See there! I told you that we still have to follow the law.” While others might say, “Oh, don't take what Jesus said literally, because we now live under grace.” But both sides are framing the debate incorrectly.
It's not an either‐or situation.
It is a both‐at‐the‐same‐time issue.
But it is not living under the law and living under grace at the same time.
Clearly, God does not intend for any born‐again believer to continue living under the law.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:11–14 NKJV)
But Jesus makes it equally clear that living under His grace does not give us permission to abandon His commandments.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21–22 NKJV)
There's a lot of the Mosaic Law that I can keep up with. For instance, I believe I have enough self‐control to keep from killing somebody. But let me start listening to some national news and it won't be long at all before I “feel” like killing somebody—which makes me equally guilty before God.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27–28 NKJV)
I believe I have enough self‐control to keep from committing adultery. But to never have a moment of lust? Even if I never saw another woman, there's enough crap in my head from the old days to blow that one all to heck.
From the way Jesus frames the debate, if I try to follow the law without grace I am trying to do the impossible. In the same way, for me to try to live under grace apart from the law is equally impossible.
Jesus integrates the law into our hearts and minds and empowers us live by every word out of the mouth of God. And this empowerment is a part of His grace. But we can't do it apart from Him.
Have a good day,