Choose Wisely, Grace Or Law
By Grant Phillips
The natural tendency of man is to sin. What is sin? Sin is anything that is contrary to God’s will.
Since Adam and Eve, we have wanted to be like God, or should I say, we have wanted to be our own god? Yes, that would be more accurate. Where do I get that? I’ll tell you. Do you recall the serpent’s response to Eve in Genesis 3:4-5?
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, [emphasis mine] knowing good and evil.”
Yep, we have always wanted to be as gods, doing our own thing. Do the words “Do your own thing” sound familiar to you?
Did you happen to notice the rest of what the serpent said? It was, “knowing good and evil.” Oh yeah, we sure found out about “good and evil” alright.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.” (Hosea 8:7)
Before God gave the Law to Moses for all mankind, man pretty much did his own thing. He either tried to figure out on his own what was right and wrong, or listened to God. As you know, some people just don’t listen though. So God gave Moses the Law. Quite simply the Law says, “Here are the rules. Obey them. If you fail to keep even one, you are guilty of all, and you will die.” That’s the Law in very simple terms.
Let’s take this a step further. The Law says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This would be commandment number seven of the Ten Commandments. Now we know what adultery is. You mess around with someone sexually other than your spouse, its adultery. That’s a no-no, big trouble. But listen to what Jesus said,
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
WOW! I thought looking didn’t count as long as you didn’t do it! Now how many of you have committed adultery? Oh alright! How many of us have committed adultery? For those of you who said, “Not me!” you just broke the ninth commandment, by lying.
The Law says “Thou shalt not murder,” commandment number six. Jesus says,
“21You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
We are all guilty of breaking God’s Law. None of us have been able to keep it, and it doesn’t matter if we have broken just one commandment or all ten. If we break one, we are guilty of all ten anyway.
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
So where does that leave us? We’re all going to hell. Remember our very simple definition, “Here are the rules, either obey them, or suffer the consequences. If you break so much as one, you’re doomed.”
So what do we do now? There is nothing we can do. Let me repeat that, because it is very important. There is nothing we can do! We are doomed!
However, there was something God could do, and He did it.
Who made up the commandments by the way? God did. Where did He get them? He got them from Himself. He looked at Himself, and said man has to be without sin in order to fellowship (be in my presence) with me. (Sin again, is anything contrary to God’s will.) All the commandments have come from the very nature of God. They are a mirror to His absolute holiness.
When we listened to the serpent, via Adam and Eve, and sinned, we died spiritually. We were contrary to God’s will, and doomed to sit on the front porch of hell with Satan for the rest of eternity. The only hope for mankind was to be without sin, therefore always in God’s will. But we blew it. We can’t go back. It’s done. It’s finished. But wait, “It’s finished?” I’ve heard that somewhere else. I’ll get back to that.
By rising up against God in rebellion, God gave us His commandments, not to give us an opportunity to prove to Him we can keep them, but to prove to us we cannot keep them. Only God can keep His own commandments. We are not God, and cannot keep His commandments. But yet, some of us insist on trying.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
It would be more likely for a newborn baby to get up and walk, than be possible for any man to keep the commandments. We cannot save ourselves, but …God …can …save …us.
When we broke God’s command to “not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17), we died spiritually. The link between man and God was broken. We were doomed.
Sin must be judged. There is no getting around it. There is no avoiding it. There is no plea bargaining. We have sinned. We must be punished, and the penalty (punishment) of sin is:
“For the wages of sin is death;” (Romans 6:23a)
God, in His infinite love and mercy chose to take our punishment in order to restore the fellowship we once had with Him. Why does it have to be God to take our punishment, when we are the ones who messed up? It doesn’t have to be God. We certainly may, of our own choosing, accept our own punishment, but there’s a problem. None of us are without sin. So if we take our own punishment, the result is, we are forever, for eternity, separated from God and big buddies with Satan in the Lake of Fire. However, if God, who is without sin, takes our punishment, He makes it possible for us to be with Him throughout all eternity and without any sin.
Now as my wife says, “That’s a no-brainer.” This isn’t rocket science folks. It’s real simple.
In my left hand I hold the option of working my debt off with God by being a really good person from now on, but wait a minute, that isn’t possible unless I start out perfect, without sin. So guess where I wind up with this option? Man! It’s hot down here!!!
In my right hand, I throw myself at the mercy of God. I accept His sacrifice for me, His Son Jesus. Guess where I wind up with this option? It’s even more beautiful than I imagined!!!
Our Lord God made it very, very clear that there is absolutely nothing we can do to save ourselves from an eternal punishment of hell and the Lake of Fire, forever separated from Him. He made it just as clear that only through Him can we be saved from the judgment that hangs over our head.
“8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14 ESV)
Notice in Colossians 2:14 the term, “legal demands.” The legal demands are the demands of the Law. The Law demands eternal separation from God and eternal death to anyone who breaks just one part of the Law. Those who refuse Christ’s sacrifice for them are the living dead. They are dead men walking. But for any who will accept Christ’s sacrifice for them, they are freed from the judgment of the Law and are safe in the arms of God.
“1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4 ESV)
Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law for us, something we cannot do under any circumstances, no matter how hard we try. We cannot fulfill the Law and we cannot provide a sacrifice good enough to satisfy the Law. Jesus became our sacrifice and fulfilled the Law for us.
“11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16″This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:11-18 ESV)
The above verses are telling us that Jesus is our one time sacrifice. He satisfied the Law. He opened the pathway back to God. All is done. Now all that is required from each of us is to believe Him.
Now isn’t that simple? Yes it is, but why are there so many who still want to present a different sacrifice to God than accept the one He made for us? They don’t believe God.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” I said I would get back to this.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)
The verses in Hebrews 10:11-18 and the above verse, John 19:30, make it clear the sacrificing is over, finished.
What is the one requirement for salvation, to be born-again? It is “faith, belief.” That is all God requires of us. Why? Because that is all we are able to do, that will satisfy Him. If it weren’t for Him providing the faith, we couldn’t even do that.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
Let’s try something. Imagine there are ten people standing before God upon their death. They’re at the “Pearly Gates” hoping they can get in. Saint Peter asks each one “Why should you be allowed into Heaven?” Their answers are:
1. I walked the aisle.
2. I was baptized.
3. I was a good person.
4. I was a preacher.
5. I belonged to the right church.
6. I prayed through.
7. I spoke in tongues.
8. Jesus saved me.
9. I had a Christian Mom and Dad.
10. I donated a lot of money to good causes.
Now I’ll give you three guesses as to who was allowed into Heaven and the first two don’t count. Did you notice something else very striking about the other nine? With the other nine, it was all about “I.” Folks, it isn’t about “I,” it’s about Jesus, and until we learn that, we’ve got a serious problem with God that has eternal consequences.
“1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
The Law says,
“12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:12-13)
Who of us can be “doers of the law,” other than the Lord Jesus Christ? Now don’t be too hasty to answer that. Remember,
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
So which do you choose, Grace or the Law? I choose Grace.