How does the Law of God relate to the Grace of God?
Man believes that he loves God
One constant among human beings is that we all believe we love God and are right with God. If you look around our culture here in the South virtually everyone “believes in God,” “loves God,” and is “going to heaven when they die.” However, when confronted with the Law of God, men usually turn to one of two things, legalism or license.
Legalism is the belief that one is made right with God through obedience to His Law. This is clearly seen in Scripture by the Pharisees. The problem that they encounter is that no one is able to keep the Law perfectly. In order to “help” this problem, Legalists add to God’s Law to make it easier to keep. In so doing they are really just laying aside the Law of God to keep their made up rules (Mark 7:8-9.) For example, a legalist could in no way shape or form actually focus on God and truly worship Him for the entire Sabbath. Instead, they made up a rule about how far you could walk. This enabled the legalists to ignore the Law of God (keep the Sabbath holy) by obeying his own made up rules (counting his steps.) The end result of legalism is that the Law of God no longer matters.
License is the belief that because of God’s grace His Law no longer matters. It is almost as if Jesus trumped God’s Law and made it a relic of the past. Those who hold to license would be those who reject any form of submission to the teachings of Scripture. They would say that it is possible to love God and live in all manner of sin because Jesus did away with the Law making nothing sinful. The end result of license is the exact same as legalism, the Law of God no longer matters.
The right use of the Law
The Law of God is perfect and unchanging. Jesus clearly affirms this in Matthew 5:17-19. The Law was not given to man to show him how to be right with God. The Law was given to show man that he is completely unable to do what God requires of him. More than that, the Law was given to show that man is completely unwilling to do what God requires of him. The Law of God stands as an indictment on the individual’s nature, will, and actions. We are in desperate need of a new heart, a new will, and a new life.
The Good News of Jesus Christ
Jesus came to fulfill the Law of God on behalf of His people. He died to take away their sin nature, and He rose from the dead to give them a new heart, new will, and a new life. This new heart has the Law of God written on it. The Law is now something internal to us; it is now a part of our very nature. As such we love God and keep His commandments because what we want to do is obey God’s Law. Thus, the one who truly loves Jesus will keep His commandments. This is what it means to be born again.
Do you see a desire within you to keep God’s commandments? Do you find yourself obeying God’s Law naturally? Do you study Scriptures to rightly understand what God desires from your life?