by Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Q. Do we still live by the Mosaic Law? Did the Law end with the death of Jesus? Do we live by Law or by grace? I have to answer this question for some people, but I am not sure myself. What does the Bible say about it?
In order to answer this, let’s start by defining both the Mosaic Law and the grace of God. In doing so, we’ll be able to determine what roles God’s Law and His grace play in our lives.
What is Law?
The Law commonly refers to The 10 Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The Ten Commandments are a reflection of the perfection of God and the perfect life that He calls us to (although we can never fully attain it).
Paul tells us that the “law is holy, and the commandments holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). The Law is all those things, but also understand that the Law is not capable of saving anyone. Only Jesus can save sinners. When Jesus came and lived on earth, He kept the Law perfectly, which means that He honored God by living in accordance with God’s will and did not break any of His commandments. That is something we cannot do.
We are also reminded that Jesus did not abolish, destroy or do away with the Law. We are told that He fulfilled the Law.
Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
What is grace?
Grace is being given something that we do not deserve—something that we have not earned. The gift of salvation is “by grace…through faith” in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). His death paid the penalty for our sins and His resurrection gives us life. The Lord’s life, death, burial and resurrection is the good news—the gospel of saving grace. We cannot do anything to earn it. We can only receive it as a free gift of God, received through Christ who earned it for us.
In addition to saving grace, there is also a sanctifying grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, and trust on His finished work on the cross, He saves us from the penalty of our sins. When He does this, He also gives us eternal life and the Person and presence of the Holy Spirit, who guides and teaches us in all things and convicts us of sin. That moment begins our life-long journey of sanctification on this earth. Sanctification is a process of growing in holiness and becoming more and more conformed to the image of our Saviour.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
So the gospel not only saves us from the penalty of sin, it also gives us sanctifying grace that saves us from the power of sin by enabling us to overcome sin. We are not capable of conquering sin by our power, so God graciously gave us His Spirit:
Zechariah 4:6 Not by [your] might, nor by [your] power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
What purpose does the Law serve today?
Since the Law cannot save anyone, why is it good? The answer is that the Law is good because it reveals our sin to us.
Romans 3:20 …for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
The Law is God’s perfect standard for righteous living. We are to measure our behavior by God’s standard. It is only when we see and understand our sin that we can repent and turn from our sin and turn to Christ. The Law works in the lives of all people.
1) The Law works in the lives of the lost to reveal their sin and to bring them to saving faith (salvation in Christ).
2) The Law works in the lives of believers to reveal their sin and to grow them in sanctifying faith (growing in holiness).
The Grace of God
In His last words on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” As Christians, we know that His finished work on the cross paid the penalty for our sins and opened the way to eternal life. That same grace that saved us from our sins in our justification is also active in saving us in our everyday walk in faith (sanctification). “It is finished” is true in our justification, and, in our sanctification, it is the Lord’s finished work and His gift of the Holy Spirit that grows us in holiness and conforms us to His image (Romans 8:29).
Preach the gospel to yourself every day, remembering Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection. Remember that He has forgiven every sin you have ever committed, or ever will commit.
Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Remember also the power of the Holy Spirit who equips and empowers you to grow in your love and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The answer to the question, “Do we live by Law or grace,” is:
We live IN His grace and BY His grace.
As Christians, who have repented and trusted in Christ’s finished work, we live in the grace of His gift of salvation and we live by the grace of His Spirit indwelling and sanctifying us. Remembering His grace will equip, encourage and empower us to understand and love His Law as another gift of grace…the “picture” of the holiness and glory of God—the holiness that we will one day attain and the glory that we will one day behold.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
As Christians, we live by the grace of God. But we also stand on the Law of God for our moral “footings,” the foundation of all that is righteous. The Law instructs us and directs our hearts and minds to seek God, as well as reminding us how far short we come in doing what God commands. So we thank God for the grace He gives us. Remember this: the Law will reveal the sin in your life that creates a barrier between you and God, but only grace will restore you to right relationship with God, and only by grace can you find rest in Christ.
We live by Grace!!!