God communicates righteous behaviour through the setting of various kinds and levels of doctrines in the form of commandments and laws. God’s desire and expectation is that we obey those doctrines. He does chastise us sometimes for our disobedience, sometimes rather mildly. Yet, sometimes he does so rather harshly; for example, God took David’s child for his sin involving Bathsheba.
To understand the relationship between grace, law, and judgment one must understand that the Old Covenant is passed away and the New Covenant came into full effect at Jesus death on the cross. One must also accept the biblical doctrine that Jesus fulfilled all of the Mosaic law on behalf of those who become his disciples indeed. More information on God’s Covenants may be found at the link at the end of this article.
Some Christian may to various degrees teach the whole law is obsolete. I will not attempt to explain what they mean but only what I as a Christian Minister teach. I do not teach the whole law is “done away with”.
The laws regarding sacrifices are clearly obsolete in the sense of being no longer applicable under Christ yet there are other OT laws which are no longer applicable, e.g., law of male circumcision.
The Sabbath and dietary laws are less clear perhaps than the others. For sabbath and dietary laws I apply the principle of being an able minister of the spirit rather than the letter of law (2 Cor 3:6) being informed on these by Mark 2:23-28; Colossians 2:16; Acts 10:9-20; and John 8:1-11.
As to who will go to Hell for doing or not doing something, I leave that up to Jesus as I don’t have that power to condemn or determine who is condemned; I derived this principle from the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).
Commandments and the Law
As I see it, commandments tell us what to do and not to do. Laws include commandments but also the penalty for violating the commandments.
Some Old Testament (OT) commandments and laws apply to the disciples of Christ today. Yet, some of them are no longer applicable. Some Old Testaments commandments/laws are brought forward into the New Covenant as revealed in the New Testament (NT) under Christ but some are not.
We are not required to obey every commandment/law found in the Old Testament. We are expected to obey those biblical commandments brought forward and/or established under the New Covenant as revealed in the New Testament.
Some people believe we are required to keep the Old Testament Feasts. Information on these feasts may be found here.
Some say we should obey all human government laws; but, that is not true. God does not expect us to obey government laws when they require us to do that which is contrary to his commandments, Word, Will, and Way. To those who say such I say the following:
Are you saying that Jesus the Jew violated a commandment when the people of that day wanted him to do so as the Jews were in captivity to the Romans? I recall the Apostles telling the Sanhedrin Council (the Jewish religious, political, and legal body of that time) that the apostles would rather obey God than man. Are you saying that while the biblical Jews were sent into captivity God did not expect them to obey his commandments? What about Daniel in captivity? What about the three Hebrew boys Shadrach, Mechack, and Abidego in captivity? They seemed to risk their lives while in captivity in order to not disobey God? Jesus said fear God not Satan and man. You seem to be saying that you fear Satan and man and do what Satan and man requires of you rather than what you believe God requires of you. Are you saying that what Satan and man requires of you is superior to what God requires of you. If so, then I would say Satan and man is your god not the one true God.
We are to strive for perfection. Part of striving for perfection is seeking greater understanding of what God requires. The true disciple keeps praying and studying for greater spiritual maturity. That we all ought to do and never think we have arrived or attained perfect understanding. Humility is a key characteristic of a true disciple. Praise God that his grace and mercy gives us time to grow so he can use us for his glory. Let us all keep seeking the Lord in his fullness.
One key example of the difference between being under the Old Testament Law and the New Covenant of Grace is illustrated by the doctrine of circumcision.
Under the Old Testament/Covenant male circumcision was a God established commandment (Genesis 17:10-14; Leviticus 12:1-3). But under the New Testament/Covenant, circumcision is not a requirement for the disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 15:5-11; Acts 16:1-3; Gal 2:1-3; Gal 5:1-11) as circumcision of the heart reigns supreme over physical circumcision.
Salvation by Grace Through Faith
Some people think you can be saved by keeping the law perfectly and totally. But that is an unbiblical faith. Not even Moses and the Old Testament makes that claim. That is why they killed animals and shed animal blood as atonement for the people sins.
I remind all that only one person whoever lived has kept the law perfectly and totally and that person is Jesus Christ.
My faith is the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. I am saved by Christ. I am not saved by my righteous works; but, I am saved by Christ to work righteously. This I strive to do (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Some people reject Paul’s presentation of salvation through faith in contrast to salvation by works. Yet, if one rejects Paul, one might as well reject Matthew and the rest of scripture (Old and New) because you and I were not there for any of it. It is all about faith. It is all about what one hopes for righteously. It is all about the greatest hope. There is no greater hope than the hope of salvation through the prophetic virgin born sinless Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected and ascended.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9)Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Faith is the key to salvation by grace. A person does not win, earn, or merit salvation. Human effort is insufficient. Salvation is a free gift of God. It is eternal and lasting. It is spiritual not earthly. Therefore, salvation is by grace of God, the grace of God alone. A person is saved by the grace of God through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The source of grace is God the Father and God the Son Jesus Christ (Gal 1:3). Grace is the undeserved and unmerited favor and blessings of God. The words undeserved and unmerited are the key to understanding grace. Man does not deserve God’s favor. Man cannot earn God’s favor nor can he earn God’s approval or blessings. God is too high and man is too low for man to deserve anything from God. Man is imperfect and God is perfect; therefore, outside of mercy and grace, man cannot expect anything from God.
God’s perfect love grace, and mercy saves us from judgment undo punishing condemnation. Through love, grace, and mercy God gives us favor and blessings that we do not deserve. This all comes through his Son Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks of grace in Romans, Ephesians, and I Timothy where he says: The believer is justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Rom 3:24); That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:7) And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 1:14).
For grace are we saved through faith in the Son Jesus given that we not be condemned (John 3:16-18; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 1:6).
Jesus gives a precursor/foreshadow example of the difference between being under the Mosaic law and under grace. Jesus gives this in the account of the women caught in adultery in John 8. In John 8 people brought an adulterous woman to Jesus who they wanted to condemn and stone to death according to the law. But Jesus showed them all that they too was guilty of sin. Jesus told her he was not going to condemn her (grace) but she was to go and sin no more.
This sinning no more is to be the goal of every Christian or disciple of Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:13-16; John 8:31-32; Romans 6:1-2; James 2:23-26). This goal is rooted in a repentant faith. Yet, if we sin we have Jesus as our advocate. The scriptures says if we confess our sins God is ready willing and able to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
God knows who is being sincere and real about repentance and who is not being sincere and real. So I leave it up to the Son Jesus as authorized by the Father (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Cor 5:9-11; Phil 2:9-11; Hebrews 9:27-28) to judge unto condemnation if he so pleases to do so. I simply try to live by faith (Hebrews 11:6) one day at a time and respond each day in a righteous way to everything and everybody that I encounter.
For more information on God’s Covenants with his Creation, click here.