Give Me That Mountain

No Middle Ground

The Law and Grace. Day forty-five...

What child has not heard the words, “I love you,” and hoped that in Mom's or Dad's good mood, he or she might get off the hook for chores or homework or something else unpleasant.

But my hope that Mom's warm feelings toward me might get me out of cleaning my room was always unfounded: “Just because I love you, Mike, doesn't mean that you don't have to do your chores!”

messy room

Jesus begins His sermon on the mountain with the blessings discussed in Tuesday's article, and the command to be salt and light, as discussed yesterday. And then He continues on with what appears to be an unrelated thought.

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)

It sounds as if Jesus is saying to the people, “Just because I am extending you grace doesn't mean that you can get off the hook for the law.”

But that's not exactly what He's saying.

I live under grace and not under the law.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! (Romans 6:14–15 NKJV)

But I am certainly not free to behave in a way that is against the law.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:21–25 NKJV)

I am no longer under the law—not because the law has been done away with by grace, but because the grace Jesus extended to me implanted the law within me.

I have heard all too often that I have only two choices: Continue to live under the law like an old‐covenant believer, or reject the law and live under grace. But those are bogus choices.

The true choice I must make is to either continue living under an external law, or to adopt a lifestyle of grace—with every word out of the mouth of God (the law and the prophets included) written internally on my heart and in my mind.

Jesus made it possible for the infrastructure of my life to change.

He made it possible for me to internalize God's laws and to consequently come into agreement with God on every issue of life.

As Christians today, the choice we have is to live under the law by the sheer force of our willpower over our human nature, or to have the law (and every other word out of the mouth of God) implanted (engrafted) in our inner being by the power of God's grace.

There is no middle ground—where God's grace permits us to refuse having the law written in our hearts and minds. Instead, God's grace makes it possible to internalize everything God says (including His law) in a way that can bring us into complete agreement with Him.

“Imposssible!” you say. Yes, we have never been able to play by the rules, let alone “think” by the rules. But Jesus teaches us about a completely different lifestyle, where we can actually live by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Have a good day,
Mike

Image credit: bandita

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