Law and Grace
Why do we have distinctions such as the Old and New Testaments, Law and Grace, Faith and Works, or Spirit and the Letter?
Many of these distinctions are not necessarily contrary to each other. While some may be, the others may indicate a transition or progression from one to another, but they are distinctions nonetheless.
The understanding of these distinctions is what ultimately affects our view of the Cross and the the work God has done through the Redemption. We don’t do ourselves any favors by recklessly declaring how something is obsolete or abolished, but on the other hand, it is just as reckless to not acknowledge what is a true distinction according to the Bible.
While a great deal of effort is made by the Hebrew Roots Movement to confront those that may impulsively, or unnecessarily dismiss certain aspects of the Bible, they themselves error by refusing to acknowledge what has changed according to the Bible.
Let’s focus on 3 distinctions:
1)Law and Grace
2)Spirit and The Letter
3)Faith and Works
-LAW AND GRACE
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”(Romans 6:14)
Two things to note in this verse are that it does not say “the law”, but only “law”. The second is that in both cases, we are “under” something.
This verse is describing a certain legal status, or legal position of a believer. These legal positions can also be found in the Bible as, “Bond” or “Free”. When a person is under law or bond, they are held because of a transgression. Prior to the Cross of Christ, mankind was in transgression due to the nature of Adam within him. This is why the Bible says that the law entered because of transgression, or to make that transgression known.
“Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound…”(Romans 5:20)
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions…But scripture has confined all under sin…we were kept under guard by the law…”
Now that our old man or sinful nature is crucified with Him(Romans 6:6), we no longer need to be held under law or bond. We are in a different legal position. Let’s read the second half of those verses in Romans and Galatians:
“…But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 5:20-21)
“till the seed should come to whom the promise was made…kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
This is also why Paul, in describing the legal marital status of a woman to a man, says this:
“For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband…Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another…”(Romans 7:2-4)
-SPIRIT AND THE LETTER
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the SPIRIT and not in the oldness of THE LETTER.”(Romans 7:6)
“who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of THE LETTER but of the SPIRIT; for the LETTER kills, but the SPIRIT gives life…But if the ministry of death, WRITTEN and engraved on stones, was glorious…how will the ministry of the SPIRIT not be more glorious.”(2 Corinthians 3:6-8)
The will and mind of God in Christ comes to us by the Spirit and not the letter of the Law. It only came by the Law previously because our sinful nature prevented communing with God through the Spirit. To think it still only comes through the Law, is to believe our old man was NOT crucified with Christ. The Law is not contrary to the Spirit unless a person believes we have to be under the Law. This belief is a denial of the work of the Cross.
-FAITH AND WORKS
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”(Romans 3:27-28)
“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”(Galatians 2:16)
This is all fine and good if we want to think this is only speaking of a one time salvation experience, but understanding what the Bible says about faith vs. works is comprehended psychologically more than it is doctrinally. Everyone is sure there salvation is by faith, but how many people really trust and depend on nothing else but Christ? Paul’s letter to the Galatians is more about their continuance as Christians, not just their conversion, and there are probably untold millions who have walked away from their conversion by faith only to base their life off of something else with more substance. How many people make some defense of their faith, whether publicly or privately, based on things such as doctrine, denomination, biblical knowledge or wisdom, ideology, obedience or contrast to others? It’s what you think that first determines whether you are living in Jesus Christ or not. If you are not, then it will show eventually. Simple belief in justification by faith can have little affect in whether or not you trust Christ only.
-IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MEANS, OR IS IT THE SUBSTANCE?
In conclusion, what people fail to realize is that God has been working to reconcile man unto Himself through the revelation of sin and His character.
He does this through “means” or “methods”.
When we look at the grammatical composition of phrases such as “through faith” or “by the Law” or anything that contains the words, of, by, through, in; the text itself is speaking of a medium or means by which the substance is obtained or exists. For example, if I said, “I received money from the bank”, then “money” is the substance; “from the bank” is the medium or means.
-Once, the righteousness of God was once revealed through the means of the Law, but now it is through the means of Jesus Christ.
-Once, the righteousness of God and His will was understood and obeyed through the means of the Letter of the Law, but now it is by the means of the Spirit.
-Once, we secured our position to God through the means of faith in a covenant of works and circumcision and animal sacrifices, but now it is secured by the means of faith in the works of Jesus Christ and the Cross.
Anyone can simply add the phrase “by faith”, or “in the Spirit” to whatever they want, but this is dishonest because it is a false way of justifying or spiritualizing something. It cannot be said that we should keep the Law in the Spirit. These are two separate means and sources. To use the old means for something new may be what Jesus meant by putting new wine into old wineskins.
God has provided different means, mediums and methods to secure our redemption. The Pharisees were not looking for any revelation and fulfillment. This is why they had such a hard time accepting a different medium of revelation through Christ. They trusted in the means or medium not the substance that came by it.
Jesus Christ has become both the means and the substance. He is the new wine and the new wineskins.
Think about it.