Friday, March 26, 2010

Grace vs. Law

Enjoy this article from First Fruits of Zion. It digs into whether or not Christians should still uphold the laws of the Torah, now that our Messiah has come. I feel I really benefited from it and hope you feel the same! You can find many more insightful articles on their site:

Thought for the Week:

Things get backward if we start to believe that we must keep God's Law in order to be saved. Instead, we should keep God's Law because we are saved.


This week's Torah portion contains a lot of laws. Exodus 21-23 reads like an ancient legal code. Of the 613 commandments that the sages traditionally derive from the Torah, more than fifty of them are found in this week's portion.

For some reason, many Christian teachers seem to view the laws of the Torah as if they are a bad thing. It is commonly taught that the law is the opposite of grace. You might hear someone say, "We are no longer under the law. We are under grace." The implication is that since we have received the Messiah, we need not concern ourselves with the laws of the Old Testament. We can call this idea "Grace vs. Law."

Let's think about the Grace vs. Law idea. What do we mean when we say that we are not under the law? Does that mean we do not have to keep God's rules? For example, does it mean that we can commit adultery and theft? Of course not. No one would say that. So what does it mean?

The Grace vs. Law concept is derived from the writings of Paul. In his epistles, it seems that Paul pits the two in opposition to each other. He often says things like "Before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law" (Galatians 3:23) and "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law" (Galatians 5:18). One might misunderstand these statements to mean that Christians do not need to keep God's rules. Of course, that would be absurd. Paul realized that some people might misunderstand his teaching, so he cautioned us not to suppose that grace gives us free license to sin against God.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)

Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. (Romans 3:31)

If Paul was not teaching believers that they did not have to keep God's rules, what was he talking about? In Paul's day, many of the Jewish believers taught that before Gentiles could be part of the kingdom of heaven, they needed to become Jewish. The idea that a Gentile must become Jewish before being saved is what Paul calls "being under the law." Paul believed that Gentiles became sons of Abraham and part of the people of God through faith in Messiah. They did not need to earn that status by becoming legally Jewish. They did not need to first come"under the law" in order to enter the kingdom.

The Bible does not actually teach the idea of Grace vs. Law. Grace is God's free gift of salvation for those who believe in his Son. Law is His loving instruction for how His people should live. Grace vs. Law is a false dichotomy. They are not opposed to each other. They are meant to work hand in hand.


Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Serenity! :D I have been struggling with this for some time now...I have a few friends that have become "torah believers" and it gets confusing about what we as Christians should believe at times. I agree with you, and that is what my dad had said to me when I was asking about it the other day. ;)

And thank you dear for your birthday wishes the other day! :) It was nice to hear from you! :D

Blessing to you dear!
~Miss Rachel~

Lanita said...

Very thought provoking.

Kalina said...

I have been getting into a ton of deep theological research lately on this topic, which is helpful but can also seem a bit overwhelming at times. This simple article was refreshing! Thanks for posting.

Kate said...

Thanks for sharing this! It makes so much more sense to follow God's laws because we have been saved by grace than to use grace as an excuse not to follow His laws!

Shani said...

Hi there, stumbled across your blog when searching for more information the Botkin Sisters. Thought I would say hello . . I am always encouraged to find young women that share the Lord's vision for our lives! God bless!

His beLOVEd ,

Miss Jocelyn Tzahala said...

Great info here! Thanks for sharing. We linked to it on Feelin' Feminine. :)