I’ve heard some questions, and some protests, about my position that Christians are not under the law:
“If we don’t have to obey the law of Moses, what’s to keep us from sinning?”
“Isn’t anything sin anymore?”
Behind these questions lies a fear that the grace message is an invitation to sin. We’ve seen that fear before:
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1), the Roman Christians ask in response to Paul’s grace message in Romans 5.
Paul’s answer? “By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2).
Then, Paul speaks to the Law issue, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:14-15)
Two things seem real clear:
We are not “under the law.” I really don’t know how we miss that. How can Paul be more plain?
Being out from under the law does not give us a license to sin.
I’ve got a couple of questions of my own:
Why does a Christ-follower choose to live by the Law instead of the Spirit? I don’t get people who don’t like chocolate and I don’t get Christians who live by the Law.
“Law following” Christians claim to want to live like Jesus. I believe they really do. But following the Law won‘t get us there.
“through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) – The law brings death, not life.
“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” (Romans 7:4) There’s no fruit on the Law-tree.
“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” Galatians 5:4-5) If we choose to live a “righteous” life by following the Law then we cut ourselves off from the resources provided by God – His grace. Paul gives us a choice: Grace or Law? We can’t have it both ways.
Paul asks my next question. It’s a tough one: “O, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain was it?” (Galatians 5:1-4
Paul doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t sound happy. He uses some harsh language: “Foolish” literally – a “non-thinker.” “Cast an evil spell” -under the spell of false teachers. He sounds frustrated and angry that people are buying what the Judaizers are selling – the teaching that Christ-followers have to follow the Law. Maybe he’s mad at the sellers as well. He calls them “dogs” in Philippians 3:2.
“Let’s think this through, “ Paul seems to say. “If we aren’t saved by obeying the Law then we don’t live the Christian life by obeying the Law.” There’s a new sheriff in town. His name is the Holy Spirit and His law is love.
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” James 2:8
“…for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel…” Galatians 1:6
“…because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
Back in my childhood in every Baptist church to which I belonged, we sang songs by Philip P. Bliss: “Wonderful Words of Life” “Jesus Loves Even Me” and this one:
Free from the law, O happy condition
Jesus has bled and there is remission,
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Now we are free, there’s no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation. “Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.
Paul got it. Philip Bliss got it. I want to live the rest of my life getting it.