Grace is not law

Series: Foundations of Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14

Wow. That is a powerful statement and there is a lot in there, but I want to focus on one thing: the distinction between law and grace. They are not the same thing. In fact, they are totally different and the Bible regularly explains grace by contrasting it with law, like in the verse above.

Some of you might be saying, duh, of course they are not the same thing. But I want to tell you that there are millions of Christians across the world who believe that law and grace are the same thing. And there are millions more who mix the two to some degree. Is it possible that you could be mixing law and grace as well?

As the popular hymn says, God’s grace is amazing. However the more you mix law and grace together, the more grace loses it’s glory. But when you are able to clearly distinguish between the two, the amazingness of grace will shine so bright that you won’t be able to keep your heart from rejoicing, your lips from singing, and your feet from dancing in worship and gratitude to the King of Kings.

Covenant of Law - Working for your reward

Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He as commanded us. Deuteronomy 6:25

When God established a covenant with the nation of Israel there at the foot of Mount Sinai, He made a promise to them that they would be His special people and He would bless them tremendously. But His promise to them was based on a condition: They had to obey His voice and keep His covenant.

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Exodus 19:5–6

The nation of Israel agreed to this arrangement and so Moses went up onto Mount Sinai and came down with two tablets of stone. Those stone tablets that Moses returned with were not tablets of grace, they were tablets of law. They established the commandments the Jews MUST obey in order to receive God’s blessing.

Now God’s covenant of law with the Hebrews was certainly a gracious offering. Without it the nation of Israel would not have any other access to the blessings of God as His special people. However, as kind and gracious as this offering was to the Hebrew nation, it was in no way, shape or form, grace.

Grace and law are different

Remember, that grace is when God offers his riches or blessings for free. No obligation, no labor, no works are required. This covenant of law offered to the children of Abraham was the opposite of grace. Even though God graciously offered his blessings to the Jews, it wasn’t for free. They had to carefully observe all these commandments as it says in Deuteronomy 6:25, in order to receive the offered reward.

When we read the story of God’s special treatment of the Jews, we have to remember that though God was so kind to them, the offer He made was a system of works and not a system of grace.

When righteousness through grace was introduced in the New Testament, it was specifically noted as being a new and different means of blessing apart from the law.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; Romans 3:21

Now righteousness could be acquired as a free gift without any requirement to obey a set of commandments as was required under the Law of Moses.

Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us. Deuteronomy 6:25

Law was the system that God kindly offered to the nation of Israel. But grace is the better means of blessing God is offering to the world today. Jesus shed His blood so that grace could be offered to us. Let us commit ourselves to never set aside that grace to return to a system of works that God did away with almost 2,000 years ago.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21

This post is part of a series entitled Foundations of Grace and is best read from beginning to end.
Nathan Rambeck is a full-time husband, father and software engineer; and a part-time Bible teacher, abolitionist and evangelist. He lives in the Dayton, Ohio area with his wife Jamie and 6 children. (Facebook)