Law versus Grace

 
 

Law versus Grace 
(Caution: This s a doctrinal sermon. You should be familiar with both
the Old Testament and New Testament)

Scripture (Matthew 5:17-20 NASB)
17. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
18. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
19. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

This is one of the most complicated passages in the Bible. The whole church is divided over the interpretation of this passage. There are many interpretations! Many believe that we must continue to keep the Law of Moses or Torah. But some Christians feel rather strongly that we belong to the New Covenant, and we don’t need to keep the Torah at all! But there may be others who may say that we need to keep some old covenant laws, but not the ceremonial laws! Which position is right?
Apostle Paul seems to tell us through the letter to Romans that we are dead to the law, that we may live for Christ! But Christ seems to say something different in Matthew 5:17-20. He is giving a strong warning for anyone who undermines this law. What do we follow? If we can only understand Matthew 5:17-20, we will have an excellent understanding of the entire Bible. Let us try to comprehend this passage bit by bit.
First of all, we must understand that Jesus “did not come to destroy the law”! The Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples that they were breaking the law. They blamed disciples for not washing their hands, eating from the fields on Sabbath day, blamed Jesus for healing people on Sabbath day, not fasting on designated days, and associating with sinners. Their oral tradition of men prohibited many regular activities. But Jesus did not break any written law. If at all He broke any law, it was their man-made oral tradition! Jesus pointed out clearly that “Pharisees were teaching as doctrines, the commandments of men.” We don’t have to obey any man’s commandment if it adds or removes or modifies the Word of God!
The only law that appeared to be broken was this: You shall have no other gods before me! Jesus tried to tell the truth! “I and My Father are one” He that hath seen me has seen my Father also: Jesus, God’s only begotten! You and I know that Jesus Christ came from Heaven, and He is indeed God who became flesh! The entire gospel of John deals with this tension of Jesus as the Son of God! Jesus had to be very tactful in telling them who He was. But He did not break any written law at all!
He did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it! How? First of all, He fulfilled it by obeying every part of the written law through His sinless life! He lived a perfect, sinless life! Heb.4:15. “For we have not a
high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Paul says in Romans “He who knew no sin became sin for us!” He fulfilled the Law on our behalf through His sinless life! We have this imputed righteousness: We are perfect in Him because He is perfect!
Second, Our Lord Jesus Christ not only fulfilled the law through His living, but He also fulfilled it through His death! Sinless, unblemished Lamb of God took our transgressions upon Him and died for our sins and delivered us from the punishment of Law of God, which is death. Instead of marching us toward this death, and then the lake of fire, He paved the way for Eternal life! Jesus paid it all for us! It is a finished work for those who believe in Him! Paul interjects an interesting fact here:

Romans 7:1, 2, and 4
1. Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
2. For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning that husband.
4. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. When we die, the Law has no jurisdiction over us! Remember that!

We are made to die to the Law of Moses through the body of Christ!
Third, Our Lord Jesus fulfilled the requirement of the law through His Resurrection also. He abolished the old covenant and initiated new covenant in Him through Resurrection! Pay attention to this particular passage from Hebrews.

Heb. 8:7-13
7. “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
8. For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold , days are coming , says the Lord , When I will effect a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah ;
9. Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers. On the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt ; For they did not continue in My covenant , And I did not care for them , says the Lord .
10. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they shall be My people.
11. “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know Me , from the least to the greatest of them.
12. “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
13. When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

Old covenant is obsolete after death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had fulfilled the old covenant through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection that made everything new. Now after resurrection, we are called into the New Covenant through His Blood and we wait patiently for His return.

1 Corinthians 11:25
“In the same way, He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

The new covenant is established when we receive Lord Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord of our life and believe in His vicarious sacrifice for our sins, and resurrection for our justification. There is only one commandment in New Covenant; love one another as I have loved you! Loving God and people are the only commandment. The Holy Spirit helps us accomplish this if we abide in Him and walk in the Spirit, and not after the law. We don’t have to look at old codes of Law of Moses anymore! The Spirit will teach and guide us to walk in the Spirit. The “anointing” that is in us will lead us into all truth. Don’t turn back toward the old Covenant to become a pillar of salt. You should not mix and match. You either belong to the old Covenant or the New Covenant as a wife who is supposed to be married to just one husband and not two at the same time. There should not be any in between mix and match laws! You either use a 78 RPM record to listen to your 78 RPM recorded Gramophone music or you listen to your MP3. You cannot take the 78RPM to play in MP3, and vice versa! Let’s not make the same mistake as Galatians did! (Read the whole book of Galatians!) Let us not mix both the covenant of the law and the covenant of grace.
So if we are not under the old law could we covet, steal, kill, commit adultery, etc.? No. We exceed the expectation of the law through the law of the Spirit. Sermon on the Mount sets the bar so high. Richard Neibour calls such standard as an impossible possibility! No man can attain it, but through God all things are possible. The Holy Spirit motivates us to love one another, and that helps us to move toward much higher standards than the Law of Moses. When we work hard on anger management, and if we try to avoid even raising our voice, then we will not think about raising our hands to kill someone. If we focus on loving our enemies and strive to bless them and pray for them, our mind will not meditate on murdering our enemies! If we focus on controlling our lustful eyes, then we could refrain from committing adultery. If we concentrate on the heavenly things, there will not be any covetousness at all! Let’s look at prayer. According to the Law, they prayed three times (morning, noon, and evening). Muslims pray five times a day! What about the Christians? We are expected to pray without ceasing (24 hours a day!).
So far so good! Every one of us may be able to exceed the righteousness of a Pharisee in all these things. But when someone brings the topic of tithing, we become angry and walk away sad like the young rich ruler! In everything God wants us to go above and beyond the demands of the Law of Moses! Then why don’t we follow that principle when it comes to tithing? As far as the New Covenant is concerned, it demands 100 percent of our time, talents, and treasure! But both the tithers and the non-tithers tend to stay at the same level of giving year after year, and they refuse to increase as the years go by. My advice is, push yourself to give higher than the previous year in percentage. In few years, we will all exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees in this area too! The Pharisees tithed from everything in spite of all Roman taxes. Press on. Learn to give more! Status quo is not what Jesus wants. It does not matter how much you are giving now. What is important is are you pressing on to give more now than before, or have you settled at a certain percentage. Keep pressing on to give it all and see if the Lord blesses you beyond what you give or not! Press on. Status quo is the loser. Our God wants us to be constantly
striving for perfection as He is perfect! Test the Lord also through your giving! See if He would bless you or not!

Malachi 3:10 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be ]food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

One pastor announced in his church that he would refund the entire amount of anyone’s tithe if the Lord had not blessed that person that year more than what that person gives! No one had to claim that refund! Everyone who gave was blessed abundantly by God! New Covenant demands much more than the Old Covenant. It demands every ounce of ours! Since we are saved by grace, some of us think that we could live as we please! Just because Jesus is our “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: we tend to live by the imputed grace alone, and not by His sanctifying power! Just because our salvation is solely based upon God’s grace and imputed righteousness, we do not take the effort to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy.
Press on and walk in the Spirit! He will teach us the law of the Spirit, which leads us to surpass the expectation of the Old Covenant easily! IV. Abiding in the Spirit becomes everything in our life, and He trains us to fulfill all the laws. Let’s not mix and match the old and the new Covenant!

Deut. 22:10, 11
10. “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
11. “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.

I do not understand very much about this law of mixing wool with linen. But we can use it in the following context. The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant. Let us not mix and match. The law of the old covenant brings the knowledge of sin. So we could use the old covenant law to teach an unbeliever about transgressions of the law and its consequences. Also, it is there for our self-evaluation, examination, and checklist. Abraham did not go through the Law of Moses. He bypassed that and walked in the way of faith and the law of the Spirit in his heart! Law of Old Covenant is obsolete for those who walk in faith in Christ, and abide in the Spirit! In any case, most of the laws of Old Testament became obsolete because there is no longer a temple in Jerusalem. But we celebrate the Spirit of the law in the New Covenant through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Love one another as Christ loved us is our ultimate spiritual law because it contains all the laws within that one law! When we practice it diligently, it produces tremendous positive energy within us and among us.
So how are you going to answer when someone tells us that we must observe the Sabbath? Just say that we rest in the Holy Spirit always, and the Holy Spirit works within and through us and for us. He will tell us when to do his work, and when not to work. Romans 14:5, 6 What about Tithing? OT emphasizes 10 percent, but New Testament demands 100 percent which is almost impossible! It is not how much we give now is the question. The question – are we willing to move up slowly every year through better management of cash for the Lord? We may start with just 1 percent now. But are we ready to press on upward every year? Those who are giving 10 percent, are we willing to edge up slowly upward toward
that mark of perfect 100 percent? The New Covenant demands every bit of ours. Not only our money but also our Time and Talents. Are we willing to give more time to the Lord than now? Status quo is not what the Lord desires! Press on forward always!
Conclusion: It is true that God saved us through grace and not through works. But it does not mean that we stay in the same condition as we have been called. It is time we pick up our cross and move forward to the goal of attaining 100 percent perfection in every area.
Press on! Jesus fulfilled the old covenant through His sinless life, death, and resurrection. Now it is our turn to go way over these expectations of these old laws so that there will not be even any question concerning this matter!!
Are you going to keep both the new and old covenant of the law? Or are you going to be the wife of two husbands? Choose today! Beware; New Covenant demands everything of ours! It will be a cross, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, it will become a light yoke! What a great church this would be if we truly love one another? What a great life this would be if we could only cling to love at any cost and give it all for Jesus! Let us strive to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect!

Rev. Daniel Israel
Delivered Sunday, March 17, 2013