Law and Grace (part 2)
The Old Testament law was summed up by Jesus Christ
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Which one of us can say “I have kept these laws without varying from them at any time”? If we are honest with ourselves we must admit that we have broken God’s laws. And that, my friend, is the purpose of God’s law (not to make us righteous, but to show us clearly that we are not righteous in God’s eyes).
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. 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.
But thank God that he doesn’t leave us in this hopeless situation, for God in his grace has made a way for us to be righteous in his eyes without the law:
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 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: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26
This righteousness is not a righteousness that we earn or attain by our own willpower or by doing good (keeping the law). It is not a self-righteousness. This righteousness is entirely different for it is his righteousness offered to us freely. This is what is meant by God’s grace. It is a gift.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
God’s grace is what allows us to have this righteousness. Grace is not earned, and there is nothing that we can give God in exchange for it. Even participating in religious ordinances will not provide God’s grace. This gift was paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross and it can only be received through simple faith.
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
That this righteousness is given to us by grace and through our faith is evident in the life of Abraham even before the law was given:
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Have you come to understand that you are a sinner before God and that the only way to be saved from his judgment is by repenting of your sin (changing your heart’s attitude toward it and desiring to turn from it) and simply trusting in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross? If so, then understand that God is offering his free gift of salvation to you. You may receive it by faith right now by coming to him in prayer.
If you have received God’s free gift of eternal life, don’t hide his light within you. Let your light shine on those who are in darkness so that they may come to him and receive his gift as well.