“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” – Matthew 5:17-18.
In Sunday’s message, we talked about the fact you cannot earn God’s acceptance by obeying the law. We pointed out that no matter how hard you try, no matter how religious you are, no matter how many good works you do, or bad works you avoid, you cannot earn God’s acceptance by obeying the law. In this devotional, we will delve a little deeper into what God’s law and His grace mean in our lives today.
The Bible contains laws that God gave “for our good.” (Deuteronomy 10:13; Romans 7:12) They are the rules of engagement that show us how to love God the way He wants to be loved and how to love others. God’s laws are not a burden, but a blessing. (1 John 5:3) There is a significant “but,” however.
The “but” is that no one has ever, except our Lord Jesus Christ, perfectly obeyed God’s laws. Consequently, our inability to comply with God’s laws creates a rift between us and God. God is separate, or cut off, from everything that is sinful and evil-He cannot tolerate sin: “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” ( 1John 1:5) So sin must be removed in order to have a relationship with a holy and just God. God’s grace, His love and mercy, makes reconciliation and a relationship possible. Grace does not remove the laws but pays the penalty of sin because of God’s sacrifice.
We are saved by grace, through faith. Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” The keeping of the Law cannot save anyone: ”For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:20) Titus 3:5 adds, “he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…”
The purpose of the Law was basically to bring us to Christ: “Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.” (Galatians 3:24). Once we are saved, God desires to glorify Himself through our good works. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” And Ephesians 2:10 adds, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Therefore, good works follow salvation, they do not precede it.
So it is not a case of law vs. grace. God’s revelation is that law and grace work together.
- Read Romans 3:20: What does this verse mean to us today?
- Read Romans 7:4-6: What effect did the law have on us before we came to Christ? What is your relationship to the law now that you are a believer? What is the difference in how we serve God?
- Based on what you have read about the law in this devotional, how would you describe the purpose of the law? Grace?