Does Grace Make Light Of The Law?

Is Grace Taking The Law Seriously?

I’m often accused of not taking the law seriously.

I kind of find this amusing.

Why?

Because those that accuse me of this are never taking the law “seriously” themselves!

Let me say emphatically from the outset – I believe in the high standard of the law as given by Moses.

We should never make the law easier or lighter in any way.

But I believe that those who preach living by grace and grace alone are the only ones who take the law seriously in this way!

Because we don’t have to minimize it’s rules and regulations to make it more palatable or more attainable.

Why?

Because we recognise that it’s not for us as believers!

1 Timothy 1:8 states that the law “must be understood in the right context.” What is that context?

It’s only when you think Chrsitians are under the law that you start to abuse and diminish the law.

When you believe that Chrsitians are under the law you have no choice but to reduce the standard of the law. You must transition into a “pick & mix” gospel. This is because you can’t remove the law entirely yet you can’t uphold it entirely either.

Grace preachers are in fact the only ones who give the law it’s proper place.

The law is an all or nothing proposition.

So next time you hear someone accusing a “grace preacher” of making little of the law remember this:

Unless the person is a Jew they themselves do not take the law seriously!

Christians who choose to put themselves under the law choose to live in a form of law/grace mixture.

They choose to be lukewarm rather than hot or cold.

Just a thought anyway – I’d love to hear your comments below :)

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29 Comments

  1. The right context for the law to operate has passed away with the perfect perfecting Work of Christ! I believe Paul was sarcastic in 1 Timothy 1:7-10. Those trying to maintain moral uprightness by emphasizing the law, indict themselves and try to invalidate the justifying work of Christ…the law was made for sinners, not God’s justified ones!

  2. The law was never given to gentile in the first instance and it looks to me that gentile Christians who are trying to observe the law are deluded upholding something that is not theirs -Gal 4:4-5.The bible says the law is not the truth-John 1:17 but truth and grace came from Jesus Christ.The law demands but grace is given.How on earth could someone observes 613 laws of Moses.Believers are not under the law. Phil ride on with the gospel.Those ones are preaching another gospel.

    • Spot on!! The Gentile had absolutely nothing to do with the Law…even before Christ… So, it’s ludicrous to even suggest the Gentiles keep the law after Christ has come.. If we are antinomians, it’s because God is the Chief Antinominian!

    • Great point Taiwo – as you say – the law was not something the Gentiles were ever under – they would have been under their own religious codes etc. Ultimately whatever the “law” we find ourself under we have been set free from it! God hasn’t converted us to Judaism – He’s brought us into relationship with Him by His Spirit.

      • Phil, I wondered if you might briefing comment on using the law as a evangelistic tool. (Seems to be popular these days.) Knowing that Gentiles have never been under the law, is it necessary that we preach law to them in order for them to see their need for Christ? If the law isn’t veiling their minds, should we not just reveal the beauty of Jesus, His finished works, and the relationship He so desires to have with them? I’m absolutely loving the process of renewing my mind and receiving Gods love and grace. Thanks for walking with me on my journey…

        • Hey Ryan,

          Great question.

          I think for me that it’s not a great idea. However while the Gentiles were never under the law of Moses we have all been trapped in bondage to the law since the fall.

          The law comes in it’s fullest form in Ex 20 but actually originates in the garden.

          The law is ultimately represented by mankind saying “I will do what is right and do what is wrong”.

          It is a statement of independence from God and causes us to live in the flesh rather than the spirit.

          For that reason I think that Gentiles and Jews have always been in one way or another in bondage to the law.

          Our job is to point out a different way of living. Living with Christ.

          Hope that helped somewhat.

          I have a whole 2hr video module on this I’m releasing next week so keep an eye out for it! I will announce it on my mailing list, Facebook and Twitter.

  3. Spot on! The Law was given to the unrighteous, to those who could not keep it. The Law was given to sinners! It is the ‘same’ argument as those who believe they are ‘sinners saved by grace’ when 2 Corinthians 5: 17 declares: ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ The new creation does not need the Law as ‘he/she ‘ is righteous having received the gift of righteousness through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thinking about it they are not taking the law seriously since that would have to mean that they should keep the whole Law, ALL of it. I guess it appeals to people because it gives them responsibility to DO something which is just WORKS again. Thank God for grace! To me, grace is better understood when one begins to understand that the man in Christ is totally NEW and HOLY and PERFECT and CANNOT sin or break the Law. Check out 1 John 3: 9; ‘Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.’ It’s ALL grace through faith…

    • Yup – the best way to see the hypocrisy is to just start asking people which laws we are still under and which ones we aren’t under… just that causes mass confusion.

      Thanks for sharing Ronald!

  4. We know that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but instead He was the fulfillment of the Law (Mat 5:17). Jesus goes on to warn that “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (v19). Are Jesus’ statements in conflict with Paul’s writings cited in this article?

    In his sermon on the mount, Jesus transitioned his listeners from obeying the letter of the law under the OT to following the spirit of the law made possible by grace. In effect the moral imperatives of the law now find their fullest expression in the lives of Christians who for example refrain from adultery by not just committing the physical act but by not lusting with their eyes as well. Christians are no longer under the law in terms of following its civil and ceremonial observances – or works of the Mosaic Law – but we are not freed from following its moral fulfillment in our lives. In Romans and Galatians, Paul often uses the term “WORKS of the law.” So while the fleshly “rules and regulations” of the law don’t apply to believers, we are still under obligation to live out its moral teachings in the Spirit.

    • Thanks for sharing Stuart – absolutely as I said… we need to keep the law held high for all to see so that people can see the standard required if you want to do life without Christ.

      I think the danger of breaking up the law into different “types” is that it causes mass confusion.

      For example look at how Paul SLAMS the law in 2 Cor 3…

      The law is a ministry of death(v7), condemnation(v9), has no glory (v10), is fading away (v11 – referring to 70AD), blinds us from Jesus (v13-14)…

      That’s pretty harsh… but if we break up the law into civil, ceremonial and moral (something the Jews never did) we find ourselves in trouble… why?

      Because that passage starts by telling us which laws Paul is talking about…

      “The law engraved in stone”… even if you break the law up it’s the 10 commandments that it refers to.

      So no matter how you break it up Paul is referring to the moral laws in this passage!

      Just something to consider… you might really like my video on this topic as it goes into it in much more depth – http://phildrysdale.com/work/christians-are-not-under-the-law-full-13226mins/

      Thanks for sharing!

      • I agree with you that both Paul and Jesus refer to the written law and what it stands for. However I disagree with you that we cannot break up the law into its types because Jesus himself deconstructed or “broke up” the written law that is now fulfilled in himself when he preached his sermon on the mount. As new covenant people, we are no longer bound by the letter of the 10 Commandments however we are still bound by its moral imperatives which actually call for a higher standard of obedience now made possible through the Father’s grace and enabling of the spirit. The moral imperative of the 7th Commandment calls for not engaging in physical adultery. However, Jesus commands us as ministers of a new covenant to a higher moral standard by not even looking lustfully upon a woman.

        2 Cor 3:6 confirms that “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Paul confirms this delineation by writing that we are “not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law (1 Cor 9:21). We are no longer a people distinguished as belonging to God by the outward and physical mark of circumcision but by “circumcision [which] is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter” (Rom 2:29). The law of works has been replaced by the law of faith (Rom 3:27). Paul clearly states: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Rom 3;31).

        Therefore, I find no confusion at all. Under the old covenant, we were unable to keep the law in our flesh. As ministers of the new covenant, we no longer follow the letter of the law but are able to follow and keep the spirit of the law in our hearts. That is why Jesus said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:37-40).

        • Hi Stuart – unfortunately I really don’t have time to go into this in depth here in the comments – those resources I gave go into those scriptures in quite a bit of depth… especially the “greatest commandment” which we must remember is a summation of the LAW. Which again is something we are not under.

          Context again is important in understanding these things.

          I really hope you have time to watch at least the video if not the other resources as it goes into your thoughts in great depth and will give you a great deal of insight into what I’m saying that I simply can’t communicate in a few comments.

          Bless you bro – thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Just to share what I recieved one time as I read Deuteronomy, The Ten Commandents were not God’s original idea. As I was looking at the sequence of events before Moses went up on the mountain to recieve the law, I noticed that there was a visit by Laban, Moses’ father-in-law. Laban was a Midianite and while he told Moses that after seeing all the miracles God did to free His people he believed Yahweh was the one true God, Laban was far from a convert at that point in time. When Moses shared with Laban the burden of judging the people’s problems, Laban, not God, suggested to Moses that he appoint 70 leaders under him to share the burden. This was not God’s idea, though it’s been used to support the church system of elders for centuries. It was after Moses decided to follow the advice of his father-in-law that God spoke the law to the Hebrews at the foot of Sinai. I believe God decided that if 70 appointees were going to be in charge of dispensing His justice to His people He better give them some laws to go by! Yet once again, God’s intent was changed by His people’s messed up thinking. As God attempted to speak His laws to his people in a personal way-His voice to their ears, they became terrified at His greatness and begged Moses to tell God to not speak to them, but for God to speak to Moses and then let Moses tell them what God said. God’s law has always been a Who, not a what, and He always desired to speak to man heart to heart and teach us to live in The Spirit, but man always had a better idea, and unfortunately many believers still do.

    • Interesting thoughts Stephany – I’d never considered that about Laban.

      It is interesting to me for sure that when God offered people relationship they asked for rules… I think we’d like to think we wouldn’t make the same mistake but all too often we do even to this day!

  6. Romans 2
    9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
    10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
    11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
    12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
    16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

    what say you to these?

    • Hey Ben,

      I’d strongly recommend people to keep reading Romans or they might miss the whole point of the letter.

      We can’t alienate scriptures from the bulk of the text if they don’t line up with the rest of the text.

      It’s one thing to take a passage out of context when the bulk of the scripture backs it up. But in instances like this we can see very clearly the narrative that Paul is working in his letter to the Romans.

      Romans ch1-3 talk about how we were given the law and failed miserably as Jews (remember the book of Romans was written to Jews in Rome – not Gentiles) but He goes on to talk about how even though we have fallen short of that standard God has redeemed us while we were still sinners(ch3). He then goes on to talk about a new standard of faith that leads to works, not law or natural bloodline.(ch4) Then he demolishes the Jewish concept of sin being something external but rather is something internal.(ch5) He then talks about us being unable to sin if we step out of the law and into grace (ch6). He explains the purpose of the law and the dangers of going back under it. (ch7) Then he explains what our alternative is…walking in the law of the Spirit not the law of Moses (ch8). Then he talks about us being elect in the elected and elector (Christ) and so on…

      All that to say, I would tell someone to remember the context of Romans 2 as an introduction explaining to Jews the disastrous state they find themselves in under the law… that it’s holding them in bondage to knowing what is wrong and not being able to do what is right. It is the introduction to a message of freedom from the law to walk in Christ.

      Thanks for the question.

  7. The new testament is called new for a reason, its a different ballgame entirely; where He writes His laws on our hearts(not the Mosaic law). This is the still persistent problem of church memebers ‘following’ their leaders instead of Christ, that’s why the non-jews were trying to be ‘jewish’. And we (the church) have persistently fallen into the same trap. I pray for unity in the body of Christ under the one truth Who is Christ.

    • “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
      Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;”

      This speaks of an inward law written in the “Gentile’s” hearts and is compared to the Jewish law in the passage…to whatever Paul’s whole intent was in teaching, it does not take away from the profound truth of this statement, that the law is written in the heart, irrespective of any written on paper or stone. Thus the outward writing, was only a manifested truth from within. Hence, who can escape the law if it is the basis of conscience? It is not possible except through a rebirth into a new man which had the basis of the law(LOVE) in a relationship to teach and guide into the truth of the LAW OF LOVE. To simply identify the law as an outward icon is making the whole intent of God’s purpose for man disconnected from the giving of the law. How could the ten commandments be a thought in Moses’ mind, when they were written on tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai, not by Moses but by God?

      • Absolutely Ben – That’s my whole point… we are all in bondage to the law… it’s what came from eating of the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.

        Before the fall we had no law, either on our heart or on a stone tablet. The law was not God’s desire for us.

        Now we live walking in the Spirit – not trying to live based on our knowledge of good or evil but rather walking in step with the Father’s voice.

        I’d encourage you to check out the resources I link – there are a good 2-3hrs worth of resources that go into this in much more depth than I can afford here in the comments I’m afraid.

    • So true Nneoma! We love to put someone between us and God… that’s why we love pastors so much… it removes our obligation to hear from God… we can just ask the pastor to do it for us :)

  8. Hi Phil,

    I have greatly enjoyed your stuff. I think the perspective that you provide on scripture is much needed in the church. I really want to go all in on what you are saying, but some of Jesus’ words are preventing me. Maybe you could help me:

    I think you are saying that much of Jesus’ teaching about obedience and His list of commands was all to prove a point to the Pharisees, that it is impossible to obey God on our own, and that we should stop focussing on obedience, and simply believe on Jesus (works will follow). In one YouTube video, I think you said that Jesus had two ministries: one to the Pharisee type who strive to earn God’s favor by works, and one to the tax gather type who has given up and seems without hope but cries out to Jesus.

    But doesn’t this interpretation rely on Jesus using quite indirect method of teaching that might confuse simple-minded people like myself? For instance in Matt. 5-7, could Jesus really spend all those words giving people a list of commands and closing with an admonition to practice what He taught or else! (Matt. 7:23) – If He didn’t mean it literally, why wouldn’t He at least give a clincher that is plain-speak, such as: “You see, people, don’t be striving to obey all this list, but rather, come to me, spend time with me, and learn to believe in Me: then the good works will follow.”

    Thanks so much for your ministry.

    • Hi Mark,

      I have a few thoughts on this…and honestly some of them are conflicting :) Because otherwise it would be too easy haha

      Here are a couple…

      Firstly I do think we really mess ourselves up by not reading from the audiences perspective. We so frequently read as if we are in those crowds.

      Jesus was speaking to people before the cross and at other times when asked why He didn’t make the truth clear He flatly replied “I don’t want blind people to see the truth yet”.

      So there is a manner in Jesus’ ministry of preaching the law to those under the law without shame or holding back in any way.

      And yet on the flip side I have no problem with the message He preached. It’s a great message with great points to take away for life.

      It’s a kingdom message of the way God’s heart works and His heart for His children. The beatitudes are awesome! The sermon on the mount is full of kingdom wisdom. So I absolutely want to meditate on that and learn who God is and the way His kingdom works.

      The danger is that I make any of it a law. I still only want to walk in the Spirit as I conduct myself daily. Now He may well speak to me through those passages and start showing me areas of my life I need to renew my mind in light of those passages.

      Hope that helps – I know I’m just scraping the surface but I’m really pressed for time – hope you understand :)

  9. As I focus my walk on Grace and what Jesus did, and turn from the law as my guide. I encounter verses and events that I struggle with and don’t know how to answer.

    For instance Paul in 1 Cor 7 seems to be demanding that the church follow laws… In my case a friend is in the midst of a separation. She states that her husband was verbally abusive, very demanding, and corrects her based on law, including 1 Cor 7: 10-11 ..

    Though saved by grace, how does one address statements such as this, where the wording seems to indicate that these are commands (law).

    Thank you,
    Jim

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