Law + Grace = Truth

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As I was preparing my next and final blog posting about the Ship of the Kingdom, I felt the Lord was prompting me to take a break from the Ship and focus on a verse that I mentioned in last week’s posting: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). 

When I first noticed this verse a couple of months ago, its significance hit me like a ton of bricks. The Law of God, received from God by Moses, is true, holy, righteous and everlasting, but it is not The Truth of God. John 1:17 says that Jesus brought the Truth when He came to earth as a man, some 1450 years after God had given Moses His Law. I realized that this is the Christian life in a nutshell!

I want to look carefully at each of the three components of the equation that makes up the title of today’s posting and see why that statement in John 1:17 is true. 

THE LAW. God’s ultimate intention for man is to rule over the earth, and the holy, righteous, perfect law He gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai is the behavioral standard by which that rule is recognized. However, it was originally incomplete. Though incomplete, this Law still has two essential jobs it does right now in our lives that prepare us to rule in God’s Kingdom.

1st Use of God’s Law – External Use. This is the original, universal purpose of the Law. This use of God’s Law is to be the standard by which we live, allowing us to  function as human beings in society together (Galatians 3:23). 

This use of God’s law deals with man’s external behavior, not his internal attitudes, i.e., his “crimes,” not his “sins,” a very important distinction. For example, a “hate crime” is impossible, because “hate” is not a “crime.” It is an internal sin, and cannot be addressed by the civil government, which has nothing to do with “sin” that is not a crime!     

So, by fulfilling its responsibility to protect and punish based on biblical crimes, the civil government is applying this 1st Use of God’s Law.  Properly and faithfully done, this will help make us citizens who are civil, on time, responsible, honest, thrifty, generous, diligent, etc. These are just some of the signs that the Kingdom of God is coming to this place!

2nd Use of God’s Law Internal Use. However, as one reads God’s law, he soon discovers that much of God’s law addresses internal sins of the mind and heart, not simply external behavioral crimes addressed by the civil government. Jesus emphasizes these internal sins in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 7:27

The Bible uses at least two metaphors to portray this internal use of the law—1.) a mirror that shows non-Christians how far they fall short from keeping God’s law in their hearts (James 1:23, 24); and 2.) a tutor (child conductor) who continually brings us as Christians back to Jesus Who has died to save us by grace alone (Galatians 3:24). When we fall back into living in the flesh by trying to obey God’s Law, our tutor brings us to repentance and back to the unlimited grace of God by faith alone.

GRACE – Grace, the second term in our title-equation, is a word that is difficult for us to understand because of our inherent addiction to trying to be good, and obedience has absolutely nothing to do with grace. 

Grace is always what is given or done TO US, as objects, never BY US, as subjects. For example, to become  a Christian we are not subjects who choose to do so by “Inviting Jesus into my  heart,” “make a decision for Christ,”  or choose Jesus in any way: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you“  (as objects – John 15:16). We were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), so how could we choose? 

 How could we do anything! We have nothing whatsoever to do with our own salvation. God has purposely and freely given us His unlimited, unconditional grace at the cross when He sacrificed His Son Jesus for the sins of the world!. “It is finished!,” was Jesus’ dying cry there as He died. Case closed.

When God opens our eyes to believe (faith!) this fact, in our hearts, not just our heads, we are “born again,” by grace, through faith, “who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). We are now ready to join our Heavenly Father in His “family business” of ruling over the earth!

That enterprise involves living on a continuing, daily basis with Jesus exactly as we began: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6)—naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously (NSU), by grace alone. Surprise, surprise, I see obedience to the law “just happening” to me as an object! I am just living, always with the vision of “digging this ditch is building a cathedral in which God lives!”

This is “living by faith,” or “walking in the Spirit.” It includes living daily “in the light “ about our sin openly with our brothers  and sisters in the church (1 John 1:5-10). As we do so, we are, NSU, walking in The Truth!  

We have solved the riddle of John 1:17. This  is the answer to the question of the difference between the Law of Moses and the Truth of God: The righteous Law of Moses, applied with the limitless Grace of God, produces the Truth of God, as His Kingdom comes on the earth!


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