[This post was written by my fellow pastor Bob Mundorff]
Why do so many Christians think grace is the opposite of law? (That sounds kind of proud, so I’ll admit that I thought that too). Or even that grace is “relaxed law”? (Yep. Thought that too).
However, Jesus said that he didn’t come to abolish the law and that none of it will pass until the heavens and earth pass away. Then he actually said that anyone who “relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven”. [see Matt. 5:17-48]
“Whaaahh? But… didn’t Paul say in Romans, that we are not under law, but under grace?” That’s right. And then Paul went on to say that doesn’t mean we can live however we want, but that we would be obedient from the heart (rather than from an external code – law). Like a weary wife living under the impossible standards of a perfectionist husband, Paul explained in Romans chapter 7 that before we were saved, we were that wife married to the law. This husband (law) demanded and expected intricate perfection in every task. But he never helped her. She wished he would die, so she could be free from this awful marriage. But God said the law is actually good and must remain [Romans 7, 1 Tim. 1:8, Matt. 5:18].
How then, can she (we) get out from under this burdensome marriage to this taskmaster named Law? There is a way… We can die. And that’s exactly what happened when you trusted Jesus. You died to the law! And now you are married to a perfect husband who actually helps you complete every task with joy. Romans 7:4 says, “…you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Then verse 6 explains, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
Praise God, we are no longer under law! But that doesn’t mean we should just let ourselves go. He calls us to strive for perfection [1 Peter 1:15]. Jesus doesn’t want to be married to someone who’s life looks like a guest on the Jerry Springer show. No way! The bar has actually been raised. But here’s the glorious difference – God works in us to fulfill his higher standard! Because of the Holy Spirit, we are able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think…[Eph. 3:20].
Here it is summed up in my favorite little poem.
Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings
Grace not only brings us salvation, but enables and empowers you to live it out! [Titus 2:11-12]