The Law and Grace. Day thirty-eight...
Why do you try to do the right thing? Is it for fear of punishment, if you don't? Or are you motivated by the benefits you associate with good behavior?
The fear of negative consequences is a major motivator in the choices I make. I don't speed, because I don't want a speeding ticket—not because I want to keep the roadways safe. I don't evade taxes, because I don't want to get prosecuted for tax evasion—not because I want to make sure government has enough money.
The old covenant believers lived in anticipation of reward or in fear of punishment.
Now if you faithfully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all His commands I am giving you today, the LORD your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the LORD your God: (Deuteronomy 28:1–2 HCSB)
As you probably already know, the Bible was organized into chapter and verse by man—not by God. It is interesting to note that God's Word in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy has been organized by man into sixty‐eight verses. The first fourteen verses go on to name all the blessings that will come and overtake those who faithfully obey God and follow all His commands. But the remaining fifty‐four verses contain the consequences (the curses) of disobedience.
But if you do not obey the LORD your God by carefully following all His commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you: (Deuteronomy 28:15 (HCSB)
It's no wonder that God's laws struck terror in the hearts of the Israelites back then.
And it's no wonder that His laws still strike terror in our hearts today.
When we see God's laws as judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one, we will live in anticipation of reward or in fear of punishment—just like the old‐covenant believers.
We know darn well that we can't keep all the commandments required (as mentioned in Deuteronomy chapter 28) to get God's blessings, any more than we can avoid breaking those commandments—ending up with God's curses as a result.
But take a look at what God's grace does to help us.
God makes a promise, through Jeremiah, to the Israelites of a new covenant made possible through Christ.
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31–33 NKJV)
Please note: I want to issue a caution against identifying the Jews only with the old covenant, but identifying all the rest of us only with the new covenant. In reality, there are many born-again Jews around the world who live under the new covenant of grace, while many born-again Christians with no Jewish roots act as if they are living under the law. The difference is not what people group we are a part of, but what covenant we are living under. In Christ we don't have a racial identity or a gender identity. We are just Christ's—making us all Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NKJV)
Notice how God's promise to write His laws in our minds and on our hearts has been fulfilled for new‐covenant believers, as it was promised to those living under the old covenant.
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:14–18 NKJV)
The acceptance of God's grace takes God's law from functioning as an external watchdog to an internal conviction. His grace empowers us to keep His commandments because of an internal conviction—not because of an external threat. His grace empowers us to keep His commandments through His strength within us—not through our strength.
Have a good day,