Law & Grace
Do we need law? Is all nailed to the “cross”? Do we now have this license to sin? Can we now tear up the 10 commandments?
…Shall we continue in sin...? God forbid…(Romans 6:1-2).
The answers to these are simple and we need not be confused by them. Do not let the word “law” be a curse or burden to you. Let us jump right into the root meanings of the word law.
1. A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority.
a. The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority; a legal system: international law.
b. The condition of social order and justice created by adherence to such a system: a breakdown of law and civilized behavior.
3. A set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system: tax law; criminal law.
4. A piece of enacted legislation.
a. The system of judicial administration giving effect to the laws of a community: All citizens are equal before the law.
b. Legal action or proceedings; litigation: submit a dispute to law.
c. An impromptu or extralegal system of justice substituted for established judicial procedure: frontier law.
a. An agency or agent responsible for enforcing the law. Often used with the: “The law... stormed out of the woods as the vessel was being relieved of her cargo” (Sid Moody).
b. Informal. A police officer. Often used with the.
a. The science and study of law; jurisprudence.
b. Knowledge of law.
c. The profession of an attorney.
8. Something, such as an order or a dictum, having absolute or unquestioned authority: The commander's word was law.
a. The body of principles or precepts held to express the divine will, especially as revealed in the Bible.
b. The first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
10. A code of principles based on morality, conscience, or nature.
a. A rule or custom generally established in a particular domain: the unwritten laws of good sportsmanship.
b. A way of life: the law of the jungle.
a. A statement describing a relationship observed to be invariable between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions are met: the law of gravity.
b. A generalization based on consistent experience or results: the law of supply and demand.
13. Mathematics. A general principle or rule that is assumed or that has been proven to hold between expressions.
14. A principle of organization, procedure, or technique: the laws of grammar; the laws of visual perspective.
As defined by dictionary.com
Languages can so often lump many meanings into one word or one meaning into several words. In Hebrew, eight words are translated into the word law, here they are and their meanings:
-dath -- law, sentence (commandment, commission, decree, law, manner)
-choq -- statute, decree (bound, commandment, custom, decree, decreed place, due, law, measure, necessary food, ordinance, ordinary food, portion, set time, statute, task)
-chaqaq -- To decree, grave (appoint, decree, grave, note, pourtray, set)
-mitzvah -- Commandment, precept, charge
-mishpat – Judgment
-tsaddiq -- Right, righteous, just, rigid
-shallit -- A ruler
-torah -- Direction, teaching (law, manner)
The Greek is a little simpler with two words:
-agoraios -- Belonging to the forum, (of the baser sort, law, court days)
-nomos -- The law, ordinance, custom (law)
Nomos is the Greek word most often used though the word entole, meaning commandment, can be used as “law”.
Law is very important. If it wasn’t, I don’t believe my Saviour would’ve spent nearly one third of the bible discussing it, revealing it, enforcing it, warring over it, giving us holy Sabbaths to celebrate and remind us of it. I’ve heard many say that the “law” is a burden and a curse as it can be taken out of context. So, I’ll start with some scriptures that say contrary.
Deuteronomy 33:1-41 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery (dath-commandment) law for them.3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.4 Moses commanded us a law (torah-direction), even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
Deuteronomy plainly says, even without the Hebrew meanings, that God loves us and blessed us with his fiery law. A blessing out of love, a good example of this would be the rules or “laws” we give our children to keep them safe, healthy and respectful. Christians, like our children, want to rebel sometimes or just simply don’t think and when that happens, we fall, skinning ours knees, our hearts, and many times, our relationships. Including the relationship we have with God. Like our children when they cry to us and tell us they’re sorry, we too can go to God in repentance and be forgiven of our rebellion, law breaking and sins. Psalms 94:12 goes on to confirm that the law is a blessing, not a burden; 12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest (yacar-correct), O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law (torah-teaching);
I’m sure most can relate to Psalms. I look back at the punishments I received during my youth and can be thankful for it because it stopped me from continuing down a bad road. I also look at those things that I thought I got away with and now see it only allowed me to get further down another bad road where I got into bigger problems. Not to get off topic, but it reminds of a story. When in my youth, after getting my first pick-up truck, I discovered it was fun to go off the roads, down trails and such. Well, my truck was two-wheel drive and it got stuck a time or two, each time it did I would wish I had a four-wheel drive. After some time I got my four-wheel drive, boy, I thought that I was unstoppable, I can go through anything. Heh, heh, my first time off the road I got stuck. I was stuck so bad that no amount of digging would get me out. Before, in my two-wheel drive, I would maybe have to jack up one side and put something solid under it or dig a little. Now I was buried up to my axle, not just the rear drive axle, but the front axle, too. What I could do before with my shovel for free now cost me over a $100.
Sinning, and “law” breaking is a lot like that off-road experience. The more we think we can get away with, the more we justify our actions, the deeper we get, the more we have to pay. How many of us are driving our spiritual 4x4’s? Thinking that, even though the spirit inside is saying otherwise, I can do this just once, I’m saved by grace. I have a license to sin. I won’t get into that just yet.
Isaiah tells us where we get law, and who gives it; Isaiah 33:22, For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver (chaqaq-one who decrees), the LORD is our king; he will save us. I know I’m stating the obvious with this verse, but, God gives us “law”. Because he loves us, he wants us to become as he is, perfect and righteous, a truly blessed way to be.
Let’s jump ahead and see what our Saviour says about the “law”. In the book of Matthew Jesus says, 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law (nomos-anything stablished/command), or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law (nomos-anything established/command), till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments (entole-law), and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:17-19 (KJV) Heaven and earth are still here, and though the Bible tells of future changes to come, it doesn’t mention that those two places will ever cease. Jesus says that if we do and teach the goodness of the law we’ll be great in heaven. What a blessing that will be.
In the Book of Acts, Paul admonishes and confesses the “law”. 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it Acts 7:51-53 (KJV). Don’t resist God’s Spirit, let Him guide you into righteousness, into His grace. 14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: Acts 24:14 (KJV). Paul says he believes all the law. The “law” isn’t a burden or a curse; it’s the “truth”, the “light”, the “life”. Jesus is says He is all these. When we are in the Spirit the “law” is automatically in us and we need not think about it. This no Christian can/will deny. It defines righteousness; it’s the way a Christian lives. 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law (nomos-anything established/command) and the prophets.13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt 7:11-14 (KJV) I’ve never had one Christian that could point to any of the Ten Commandments and say, ‘We can kill now, we can lust after our neighbor or their things.” Just because we’re not under the “law”, doesn’t mean they’re not in effect. 36 Master, which is the great commandment (entole-law) in the law(nomos-anything established/command)?37 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.38 This is the first and great commandment (entole-law).39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.40 On these two commandments (entole-laws) hang all the law (nomos-anything established/command) and the prophets. Matt 22:36-40 (KJV). J Jesus is confirming the “law”. When we love someone, truly, from the depths of our heart, we do all we can to please them. I quit smoking for my wife, before she even knew that I smoked. I learned to curve my temper and not just blow up, because I didn’t want her to be turned off by my filthiness or fear my rage. The same goes with us Christians, when we truly love our LORD we change ourselves, we follow God’s “laws” and we repent. We wouldn’t need repentance if the only thing needed was acceptance. This process isn’t instantaneous, we change per conviction. The more we read, the more we pray, the more we do, many times without realization, the more convicted we become. Truly righteous and “lawful” we become without even knowing until an individual comes up to us and says, ‘you’re different, you’ve changed’. Sometimes it hits you when you’re watching your favorite show and it’s no longer entertaining to you. It’s because the “law” is alive, it’s in the Spirit that fills us after our acceptance and desire to turn to Christ.
The Book of Romans explains it best. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Romans 7:14-16 (KJV) It’s a good thing, a Spirit filled thing. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: Romans 7:22 (KJV) We can rejoice in it. 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:25 (KJV) We serve with our hearts, the very thing God judges us with. 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.3 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:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:1-5 (KJV). This is where “grace” abounds.
Let’s talk a little about the “curse of the law”. This we are all subject to, but, not all are condemned to. We are all going to die and shed this flesh, save the few mentioned that just shed their old selves at Christ’s return. This is for the carnal man, those who live in the world. Those people who reject the love of God, the selfish man who thinks of himself before anyone else. When we transgress, when we sin, we come under this curse. 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4 (KJV) This verse also up holds my earlier statement that the “law” is very alive and with us today. Part of this curse is its ultimate penalty, death. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (KJV). Praise God for His mercies. And pray for those who refuse God and are living in the world and under this curse. Pray for each other, that the Spirit will abound in us and keep us from being under this curse. If we keep God close, He will help us keep sin far and lead us in His righteousness. We keep Him close so that when we do die, we can partake in His promises at the first resurrection.
The books of Moses discuss many minor “laws” as well. Food laws; given for our health and longevity, not to deprive us of flavor. Given to keep the temple “our body” pure. Many illnesses and ailments are attached to foods. An example is “fat”; we, as a society consume a lot of it and we suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and aneurisms. Sacrificial laws; which we no longer need because Christ’s blood now makes atonement for our sins. And Holy days which are set to give us rest and remind us of the miraculous things God has done and will do. Proofs, to me, of His power and promises fulfilled and soon to be fulfilled.
Let me give some examples of God’s rewards and grace throughout scripture. Oh yes, rewards on earth as well as the reward of salvation. 46 And he said unto them, Set (suym-lay upon) your hearts (labab-mind/understanding) unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command (tsavah-charge/order) your children to observe (shavah-keep) to do, all the words of this law(torah-teaching).47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. Deut 32:46-47 (KJV) Promises of prolonged life. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law(torah-teaching), which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. Josh 1:7 (KJV) And prosperity. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:19-21 And BEST of all, life eternal. And grand new beginnings, but that’s a different study.
Let’s now discuss grace…the grandest thing of all. God’s mercy in action, a continuance and proof for the reason our Lord Jesus Christ died. Salvation unto life eternal, a covering for our wretched lives as sinners and the very reason we should show God our love. Grace means to have or to show favor. God is gracious enough to show us his mercies and give us the best gift of all. All we need is to believe, right? No. Belief is only a part of it. Even Satan with his angels believes. We need Faith in God. Faith is belief put into action. Most don’t realize that faith is an action word, a verb. Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. What do we act on? How do we act? Look to Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We get faith by hearing God’s Word. What is God’s Word telling us? Is Jesus telling us, “I died for you, so go do your will, not mine.” That would be blasphemous. I read a study recently on prayer and many people said their prayers weren’t being answered or listened to until it was shown to them the sins they were refusing to repent from. When they repented and got closer to God their prayers became alive and many saw miracles happen. Sin is what? Sin is transgression of the “law”. We act on Faith! We act in the “spirit of the law”! Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy. When we live in the Spirit the law lives in us. Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. We don’t nail the law to the cross; we nail it to our hearts. We try to do that which pleases our Lord. Show God our love, after all, He shows us His love. James can sum this up with; 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. James 2:14-24 (KJV) Powerful scripture. If we need faith to have grace, then we better do God’s will, because faith without works is dead. We often are so ready to discard one thing for another when in fact we need all things to get the job done. Don’t feel burdened by the law, feel the love of our Saviour. We are blessed when we follow His laws, His instructions, for a proper way to live. If you’re feeling burdened, pray to God, ask Him for guidance. Ask Him to fill you with his Spirit and to take the burden from you and when we submit ourselves to God wholly; we can’t help but feel the love.
May we all come into God’s grace and let Him live in us.