A New Grace
“And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” (Luke 5:33)
In yesterday’s post (READ HERE) we ended with the reality that when you came to Christ, you were not only forgiven, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, right standing with God, was given to you that very instant:
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
In other words, we didn’t earn our standing with God by our good behavior; it was a FREE GIFT – the “much more” grace of God. Ephesians 2 goes on to explain:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
This radical reality of the grace of God was bound to stir up controversy, and it still does today!
Grace vs The Law
One person says, “Salvation is by grace and grace alone.” The other counters, “That idea leads to lawlessness. God’s righteous standard in the Law must be upheld.” And someone else chimes in with, “Salvation is by grace, but grace only comes to those who obey God’s Law.” At the root of the debate are differing views on the basis of salvation, and the importance of the issue fuels the intensity of the discussion.
What about the law?
The Law was given to separate God’s people from the pagan nations around them and to define sin (Ezra 10:11; Romans 5:13; 7:7). The Law also clearly demonstrated that no human being could purify himself enough to please God… in other words, the Law revealed our need for a Savior.
By New Testament times, the religious leaders had hijacked the Law, and added their own rules and traditions (Mark 7:7–9). Keeping the Law, as interpreted by the Pharisees, had become an oppressive and overwhelming burden (Luke 11:46).
It was into this legalistic climate that Jesus burst upon the scene, and conflict with the hypocritical religious leaders was inevitable, as we see happening in Luke chapter 5.
But, Jesus came to fulfill the law…
Jesus, the Lawgiver, said,
“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” (Matthew 5:17)
The Law wasn’t the problem; It serves as a mirror to reveal the condition of a person’s heart (Romans 7:7). John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Yet while the Law itself was (and is) good, it was weak in that it lacked the power to change a sinful heart (Romans 8:3). What Jesus did was reveal and teach the perfect balance between grace and the Law.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Good works are an indicator, not a qualifier…
See, the purpose of the Law is to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Once we’re saved, God desires to glorify Himself through our good works. As we learned last Sunday (LISTEN HERE), once we’re in Christ, we possess the power of God to overcome sin (Romans 6:17-18).
Therefore, good works follow salvation; they do not precede it.
This helps to put the law in it’s proper context in the life of a Christian. Christ fulfilled the law on our behalf, and He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit who motivates a regenerated heart, to live in obedience to Him.
In effect, Jesus brought a new grace to God’s people, not a grace to live in disobedience to God, but a grace that is fueled by LOVE that propels us towards obedience. Jesus said:
“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)
We can change the world, one life at a time…