Law and Grace



Last week I talked about the Old and the New Covenants. We saw the old covenant was based on the Ten Commandments, which were carried in the Ark of the Covenant. Those Ten Commandments are the Law of God in a very concise form. We saw that nobody was able to meet all the requirements of the Law on a full time basis and thus there was a need for a New Covenant. An important part of the New Covenant was, Grace. Unfortunately, some people think the New Covenant did away with the Law. That simply is not true. The New Covenant did however provide a means to escape the penalty of law breaking. The penalty for law breaking is death. Under the Old Covenant there was no escape, but under the new covenant there is a way to escape the penalty we deserve due to our sins.


Suppose you received a speeding ticket. Presumably you received the ticket for breaking the law about acceptable speeds while driving. So now you will be punished and be required to pay a fine. Fortunately for you I have decided to pay your fine even though I didnít break the speed limit, you did. That certainly was nice of me. Because of the grace I exhibited towards you, you escape the penalty for your law breaking. You can see where this is going. Now letís ask a few questions based on the speeding ticket story.

  1. Did my benevolent act do away with the law?
  2. Did the law become unfair because of what I have done?
  3. Can you expect to continue to break the law without penalty?
  4. Do you have some right to expect me to pay your fines?
  5. What do you think I would expect from you, for me to continue to pay your fines?


Letís review a few scriptures.

  1. (Rom 7:12 NIV)So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. (The speed limit)
  2. (Rom 7:18 NIV)I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (I didnít know how fast I was going. Iím sorry)
  3. (Rom 3:21-24 NIV)But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. {22} This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, {23} for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, {24} and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Suppose you made a good faith promise to me that you would try extra hard to obey the speed limit at all times. And suppose you agreed to consult with me on a regular basis so we could talk about how you are doing and how you could do better. And suppose I agreed to continue to pay your fines as long as you respected me and lived up to that agreement. If all that were true would the law be done away with? Would it be OK for you not to worry about speeding? Could you expect me to keep paying the fines if you didnít live up to the agreement?)
  4. (Rom 6:1-4 NIV)What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? {2} By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? {3} Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? {4} We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (We need law to know what is acceptable and not acceptable, to know what is good and what is not good, to know what is expected of us. God is love and God is fair. How unfair would it be if we had to play a game without knowing the rules and yet be found guilty for breaking them? The Ten Commandments are the rules of life that show Godís love for us!)


Without law we have anarchy, which is to say disorder.

  1. (1 Cor 14:33 NIV)For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
  2. (2 Cor 12:20 NIV)For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.


You see Law is necessary for order and order is necessary for peace. That is why the Prince of Peace, Jesus, declaredÖ

  1. (Mat 5:17-19 NIV)"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. {18} I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. {19} Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


Letís conclude. The law is holy and good. Without law we wouldnít know the difference between right and wrong. Each person would be deciding for himself what is OK or not OK. Not unlike what we see in much of the world today is it? Law is necessary for order and peace. Itís because of lawlessness that we donít have order and peace in the world today.


Grace is necessary for salvation because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Grace accomplishes what the Law cannot accomplish, not because grace makes us righteous but because the righteousness of Christ pays the debt we owe and cannot pay. Thank God for Grace but do not think that Grace does away with law. It doesnít. Grace is an act of God that provides forgiveness of our trespasses. But forgiveness comes only through Christ and if we continue to break the Law thinking that Grace makes it OK then we are in for a big surprise! Grace is a good thing for us. Praise God. However, that Grace came at a terrible price, the death of Christ on a cross. Do you want even more Grace? Think about what Paul said.


(Rom 6:1-2 NIV)What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? {2} By no means!