Category Archives: Law

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PART 3. LAW & GRACE.

 PART 3. LAW AND GRACE

INDEX

PART 3. LESSON 1.

 INTRODUCTION

1.  THE PROBLEM OF THE MISUSE OF THE LAW

1.2  THE LAW IS GOOD

1.3  LAW KEEPING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS ALIENATES US FROM CHRIST

1.4  THERE ARE VARIOUS LAW SYSTEMS THAT AFFECT US

2.  THE LAW OF MOSES

2.1  WHERE DID THE MOSIC LAW COME FROM?

2.2  THE TORAH REVEALED BOTH GOD’S GRACE AND LAW

2.3  LEGALISM

2.4  JESUS CONDEMNED THE PHARISEES

2.5  WHAT ASPECT OF THE LAW WAS BEING MISUSED?

3.  THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW

3.1  THE GREAT NEW TESTAMENT DEBATE

3.2  THE LAW OF MOSES IS PERFORMANCE BASED

3.3  THE MOSAIC LAW BRINGS A CURSE

3.4  MOSAIC LAW WAS ONLY OUTWARD CLEANNESS

3.5  MOSAIC LAW CANNOT NOT BRING REAL RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS

3.6  THE LAW CONDEMNS

3.7  MOSES REPRESENTS THE LAW

3.8  THE MOSAIC LAW BRINGS A FADING GLORY

3.9  PENTECOST

3.10  IS THE LAW OF MOSES IS SIMPLY A MORAL CODE?

4.  GOD’S HIGH STANDARD OF HOLINESS

4.1  THE LAW REVEALS GOD’S HIGH STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

4.2  THE LAW EXPOSES OUR INABILITY TO SAVE OURSELVES

4.3  LAW EXPOSES OUR SINFUL NATURE

4.4  THE LAW INCREASES SINNING, TO MAKE US DESPERATE

4.5  THE LAW REMINDS US OF OUR SIN AND OUR NEED FOR GRACE

4.6  THE LAW POINTS TO THE NEED FOR A BLOOD ATONEMENT

4.7  LAW HIGHLIGHTS OUR NEED FOR SUPER GRACE

4.8  THE LAW POINTS TO JESUS WHO ALONE CAN SAVE US FROM SIN

4.9  THE LAW IS FOR THE WICKED

PART 3. LESSON 2.

5.  FOR BELIEVERS THE LAW IS NOW OBSOLETE

5.1  CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW

5.2  LOVE – THE LAW OF CHRIST

6.  THE  CONTRAST BETWEEN LAW AND GRACE.

6.1  LAW IS ABOUT US, GRACE IS ABOUT JESUS

6.2  JESUS SOMETIMES PREACHED LAW BUT DISPLAYED GRACE

7.  THE LAW AND GRACE AFFECT

7.1  ZACCHEUS AND THE RICH RULER

7.1.1  THE RICH RULER & THE LAW (Lk.18:18-24).

7.1.2  ZACCHAEUS, THE RICH TAX COLLECTOR AND GRACE

8.  JUDIAZERS

8.1  GROUP TIME

9.1  EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS

9.  GROUP QUESTIONS

PART 3. LESSON 1.

 INTRODUCTION

John 1:17  “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.

The Law was given by Moses for to people to obey and do. But grace and truth came through the person of Jesus. Unlike the Law, grace is not something we do but it is someone we receive, Jesus. When we received Jesus as Lord we receive grace.  The purpose of this part of the course is to explain what the Law is, it’s purpose today, how it should be used in the context of the New Covenant and how the Law has be erroneously applied and misunderstood  in a way that is undermining grace and believers identities in Christ.

An important part of understanding the grace that is ours through the living Word, Jesus Christ, is that we have a firm Biblical foundation on which this grace is established. This is so that the intimacy, hope and blessings that come with Jesus’ grace cannot be undermined. As you go through this study course we ask you to spend time looking up all the scripture references quoted in brackets and allow the Holy Spirit to establish the Word in your heart and mind.

1.  THE PROBLEM OF THE MISUSE OF THE LAW

1.2  THE LAW IS GOOD

1Ti 1:8  “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly”.

Let’s be clear from the start. We are not anti the Law. God makes it clear in scriptures what the purpose of Law, and it is good when it is used to expose unrighteousness and our need to be saved. The problem is that many have assigned the Law a different role to that which God intended – a roll that often opposes or belittles grace or adds conditions to God’s grace. There is a great debate that runs throughout the New Testament letters “What is the purpose of the Law”? There is obviously a proper reason why God gave the Law to Moses. The Law is God given and good if used in the way that God intended. Close examination of the New Testament scriptures clearly reveals the very special purpose of the Law and we will start looking into this in this.

1.3  LAW KEEPING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS ALIENATES US FROM CHRIST

Gal 2:21 ” I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Gal 5:4  You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

To be alienated from Jesus! What a powerful statement and terrible thing to happen, and yet this is exactly what the Scriptures teach happens when we embrace the Law. Ask most Christians what causes people to fall away from God’s grace and their answer would be sin. However this is not true, it is actually  the Law that  causes one to fall from grace. When we use the law to gain and maintain righteousness it is an offense to God. On the other hand the Scriptures teach that sin actually causes grace to increase (Rom.5:20). The Scriptures also teach that misuse and the wrong application of the Law can;

1. Alienate us from Christ (above)

2. Nullify God’s grace (above).

3. Dishonour the work of Jesus on the cross (above).

4. Curse God’s people (Gal.3:10)

5. Gives sin its power (1Co.15:56)
6. Provokes sin (Ro.7:5)
7. Produces lust (Ro.7:8)
8. Increases sinning (Ro.5:20)
9. Condemns us (2Co.3:9)

10. Bring God’s wrath upon us (Ro.4:15)

These are all horrible things and to avoid them and live a blessed and holy life it is crucial that we understand what the Law is, it’s purpose and how it should be applied today.

 1.4  THERE ARE VARIOUS LAW SYSTEMS THAT AFFECT US

As we study the Law we first need to clarify that we all live under a number of law systems which tend to interact. Firstly there are natural laws. These are scientific laws like gravity, inertia, sowing and reaping. Generally we are bound by these laws. However when we move in the supernatural these natural laws can be overcome. Miracles are a manifestation of this truth. Secondly there are secular laws. The civic law of the land. We are called to obey the civic law as far as possible. Provided they don’t oppose the Word of God. Thirdly there are spiritual laws. The Scriptures define a number of spiritual Law systems, the main ones :

i) The Law of Sin and Death (The Old Adamic Covenant).

If you sin you die both spiritually and physically Gen 2:16-17Rom8:2-4.

ii) The Law of Moses (The Old Mosaic Covenant).

If you obey all the ten commandments all the time, you will be blessed. If you fail in any one aspect at any time, you are cursed Deut. 28:1-68.  Blessing and curses are based totally on your performance. It’s bad  news!

iii) The Law of the Spirit of Life. (The New Covenant).

If you are ‘born again” the Spirit of Christ lives in you. You are righteous and in Grace. You now have full abundant physical and spiritual life along with God’s abundant blessings. Rom. 8:2-4. John 1:16-17. It’s good news. These are the laws we are concerned with. The world cannot understand the spiritual (1Cor.2:14), but as Christians these spiritual Law systems need to be understood as they affect our spiritual and physical well being.

2.  THE LAW OF MOSES

2.1  WHERE DID THE MOSIC LAW COME FROM?

The Torah  is the first five books of the Old Testament which were written by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word Torah means written instruction or teaching. Within the Torah a number of covenants are revealed, the last one under which Israel still falls is the Law of Moses given on Mount Sinai. This Law Covenant contains six hundred and thirteen Mitzvot or commandments (Go to http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm if you would like a list) , ten of which we know as the ten commandments. This we refer to as The Law. Over the centuries the Jewish Rabbi (teachers) have added thousands of sub laws or traditions to the Law of Moses. These are recorded in the Jewish books known as the Talmud and Midrash. Each Rabbi formulates a set of interpretations of the Torah and these were referred to as “his yoke” as they were often, heavy, controlling and burdensome (Lk.11:46). One of Jesus’ roles was that of  was a Jewish teacher. Jesus said in Mat 11:28-30   “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” as he considered the teachings of the Rabbi of the day to have missed the point. They were legalistic and lacked God’s grace.

2.2  THE TORAH REVEALED BOTH GOD’S GRACE AND LAW

It is a mistake to think that the Torah only revealed The Law. The Mosaic Law was just one part of the Torah which prior to Sinai revealed God’s grace and gift of righteousness to Abraham and his offspring. In fact the Abrahamic Covenant is the overriding covenant of blessing which shadowed and pointed to the coming New Covenant in Christ. We will examine the prophetic role of Abraham and Sarah in Part 5 on Righteousness. The Torah shows the contrast between Abraham who lived by faith and Moses who commanded people to live by laws.

2.3  LEGALISM

The problem with regard to the Law is not actually the Law but legalism. Legalism, in Christian theology, is a usually pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law at the expense of the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God’s grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption. The words ‘legalism’ or ‘legalist’ do not occur in the Old or New Testaments. Legalism’s root word, “law” (Greek nomos), occurs frequently in the New Testament, and sometimes connotes legalism. The Greek of Paul’s day lacked any term corresponding to the distinct position of “legalism”, “legalist”, or “legalistic”. One concept of legalism, the belief that salvation can be earned by obedience to laws, is referred to in various New Testament books, including Galatians. In this case, some Jews who had become Christians believed that in order to obtain salvation, both faith in Christ (as Messiah), and obedience to the Mosaic laws were required, such as the cases of the circumcision controversy and the Incident at Antioch. Generally, however, these cases are referred to as the Judaizer controversy, rather than a legalism controversy, but the two are related. Legalism refers to any doctrine which states salvation comes from adherence to the law. It can be thought of as a works-based religion. Groups in the New Testament said to be falling into this category include the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Judaizers, and Nicolaitans. They are legalists because they emphasized obeying the Law of Moses, in the case of the Pharisees and Scribes, to the letter without understanding the concept of grace. Jesus condemned their legalism in Matthew 23. The Pharisees love of the praises of men for their strict adherence is said to be a prime example of legalism. Legalism is sometimes confused with obedience. New Testament books such as Romans, speak of grace and obedience together. An example is found in Romans 1:5 (NASV) speaking of Christ ‘through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake…’ The goal of receiving the grace was to bring about obedience of faith. Here grace, faith and obedience are tied together. Other references are in Acts 5:29, 32; Romans 16:19; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Hebrews 5:9. Legalism is also confused with discipline, which is often spoken of in a positive light. See 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:7 and Hebrews 12:5–11. A third common misunderstanding of legalism is the word law. Law in many places in the Bible refers to the Law of Moses. In Galatians the Judaizers were trying to insist that salvation required that a person be circumcised prior to obeying the Law of Christ. Galatians 2:16 (KJV) says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” . The faith here is the Law of Christ and the law here is the Law of Moses. The legalism of the Judaizers was that obedience to the law of Moses was necessary to be saved.

2.4  JESUS CONDEMNED THE PHARISEES

Mat 16:21  “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life”.

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law set themselves up as enemies of Jesus and the gospel. They were more concerned with defending their positions and traditions based on the Law and Moses than they were with truth from God. They actively and willingly opposed God’s will and the revelation of the new and better covenant of grace and the kingdom that Jesus was teaching. It is very significant that the teachers of the Law were the only people that Jesus ever condemned. Sinners he forgave and showed grace but the Pharisee and teachers of the Law he called snakes (Jn.23:33) and sons of Satan (Jn.8:44). Strong stuff and a warning to us today not to take on the same judgmental and legalistic spirit as the Pharisees.  He condemned them because they had misused the Law for their own advantage to control, manipulate and hold people in fear to them and the religious system they had set up that gave them power, prestige and money.

Luke 11:46 ” Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them”.

This is not essential for the course but when you have time read through Matthew 23 and make some notes on why Jesus condemned the Pharisees and how this would apply today.

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2.5  WHAT ASPECT OF THE LAW WAS BEING MISUSED?

Acts 15:5  “Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”

The debate in the New Testament is specifically about The Law of Moses. In the Apostle Paul’s day, as today, the law of Moses was being misused to control and condemn believers. The Law of Moses was being used by some believers to deny the effectiveness of the Cross. It is the legalism that the Christians with a Jewish background were preaching is the problem that Paul addresses in most of his letters. Likewise today the misuse and misapplication of the Law and legalism are undermining the gospel of grace.

3.  THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW

3.1  THE GREAT NEW TESTAMENT DEBATE

Gal 3:19  “What, then, was the purpose of the law”? 

There is a great debate that runs throughout the New Testament concerning the purpose and use of Law that was given by God to Moses. Jesus challenged Israel’s understanding and misuse of the Law and through Paul completely turned the whole Law based religious system upside down. In the early church, Grace preachers like Paul, were heavily persecuted by ‘Christian preachers’ who focused on the Old Testament Law. The early church experienced major divisions and conflicts over doctrines concerning Law and Grace. Most of Paul’s letters deal with this debate, along with the consequences of the false doctrines that focused on the Law instead of on the finished and sufficient work of the cross. Sadly, the Church is still plagued by the misuse of the Law and a lack of understanding of the place of the Law in the New Covenant. It is important that we understand what the Law is, why God gave the Law to Moses, what His intentions were and how the Law affects us today. Without this understanding we may be susceptible to  manipulation, condemnation and control by Law preachers as well as be guilty of dishonouring God’s grace and Jesus ‘finished and sufficient work on the cross.

 3.2  THE LAW OF MOSES IS PERFORMANCE BASED

Deut.28:1 ” If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God.”

At first appearance the above terms and conditions of the Law of Moses may seem like good news as it appears that blessings are for the taking. However close scrutiny of the terms of the covenant show that the blessings only come to those who fully obey the Law in all its aspects all the time. Not such good news after all. The blessings under the Law are a big  “if”. It’s only our constant obedience and performance that can result in a blessing. The Law is extremely conditional – “If you, if you, if  you….” is repeated over and over. The bad news concerning the Law is that there are only 13 blessings (Deut 28.1-13) but 54 curses (Deut 28.14-68).  This is not good news as curses outnumber the blessings 4:1. It is symbolically significant that the Law was written in stone – it was rigid and unchangeable. In contracts the New Covenant of grace are written on living hearts of flesh. The Law is an outside thing of works by effort which is imposed on people by others. The Law Covenant fell short because of man’s bad performance (Heb.8:8-9).

3.3  THE MOSAIC LAW BRINGS A CURSE

 (Gal.3:10) “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 

But the good news is (Gal 3:13) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”   Most people think that it is sin that burses us, but in fact it is that it is the Law. The curse of the Law is bad news because everyone breaks the Law and therefore falls under the curses of the Law. The other bad news is that the Law increases the dominion of death as the Law gives sin and death increased power over us.  1Co 15:56  says; “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law”.

 3.4  MOSAIC LAW WAS ONLY OUTWARD CLEANNESS

Heb.9:13-15 “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

The Old covenant fell short because of sin and a lack of faith. It could not take away sin. It only gave an outward appearance of holiness. It never changed peoples inner sin condition.

3.5  MOSAIC LAW CANNOT NOT BRING REAL RIGHTEOUSNES AND HOLINESS

Rom 3:20-24  “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (See part 5 on Righteousness)

3.6  THE LAW CONDEMNS

Deu 31:26  “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.

Deu 30:19  This day I, Moses call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

2Cor.3:9 says that the Law is a ministry that condemn and sentences us to death. The above scriptures makes it clear that even Moses knew that the Law actually stands as a witness against us. It a witness for the prosecution not for the defence. The Law exposes and announces everyone’s failure and guilt . In contrast when we are in Jesus’ grace he stands in our defence (1Jn.2:1) and intercedes for us (Heb.7:25). The Law condemns but grace acquits. Since the cross there is now no condemnation for those in Christ (Ro.8:1). Condemnation is one of the major conditions that grace addresses and sets us free from. (More in part 5).

 3.7  MOSES REPRESENTS THE LAW

Heb.8:13 “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear”.

Moses represents God’s Law and wrath, just as Jesus represents God’s grace and love. Because of Israel failure to keep God’s commandments Moses eventually became very angry  with God’s people. This did not please and honour God, therefore God took away Moses leadership. Moses died at God’s command, he never entered the promised land. This is because the Law could never take God’s people into the promised land only Joshua could do that. Jesus name in Hebrew is Joshua. Only Jesus can take us into all the promises of God make throughout the scriptures.

3.8  THE MOSAIC LAW BRINGS A FADING GLORY

2Co.3:6-8 “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8  will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?”

Only the ten commandments were ever placed on stone (Exo.24:10) not the ceremonial laws. The above scripture confirms that it is the Ten Commandments that brings death and condemnation when preached. It is interesting to note that there is a degree glory in the ministry of Law which brings condemnation. It came with occasional miracles and signs. Even today many Law preachers still manifest signs and wonders. But Scriptures teaches that the ministry of the Spirit is much more glorious. Mixing Law and grace causes the glory to fade. Legalism and control leads to infighting in the church which grieves (Eph.4:30) the Holy Spirit. This control issue is one of the reasons we have see so many anointings and revivals fade away. As we plunge deeper into grace and free ourselves from legalism so we will see the work of the Holy Spirit being permanently established in our ministries.

3.9  PENTECOST

The Jewish feast of Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. Under this Old Covenant of the Law, Moses (Exo.34:30) shone with glory but also bought God’s wrath and condemnation through the decrees of the Law. This caused Sinners to flee in fear. 3000 died when the Ten Commandments were given and God’s wrath was provoked (Exo.32:28). In contrast, the first feast of Pentecost after the Cross was a completely different affair contrasting the difference between the Old and New Covenant and Law and Grace. Under the New Covenant of Grace the glorious ministry of the Spirit revealed God’s grace which attracted  sinners and caused 3000 to come to the Lord (Acts 2:41).

3.10  IS THE LAW OF MOSES IS SIMPLY A MORAL CODE?

Col 2:21  “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?  These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence”.

Christianity is not about obeying the ten commandments. Nor is it about trying to get other communities to do the same so that we can all be moral people. Christianity is about having an intimate relationship with a loving God, through Jesus Christ and proclaiming this good news to others…. this is what changes lives, communities and the moral atmosphere of  society. Christianity is not about living by a set of Biblical principles and rules…. one doesn’t  need a relationship with God to do that – all one needs is a list of Biblical does and don’t. Christianity is about a loving relationship with a God who speaks with us and guides us in everyday life. Our morality and righteousness can never come through the ten commandments, but only through being in a right and intimate relationship with a loving God.

Most of us have grown up believing the ten commandments (and other Old Testament Laws) are God’s moral code for mankind. There is no doubt that it is good to keep the ten commandments and that they offer good values for society. However from a Biblical perspective this is not the purpose for which God gave the Law (as we will see below).

There are many religions and societies that enforce very high moral standards e.g. Islam  …. but this does not make them righteous in God’s eyes. The Pharisees had very high moral standards but were far from God and were called son’s of Satan by Jesus. Victorian society proclaimed very high moral standards, based mainly on the ten commandments, but we now know that behind the thin veneer of decency was hidden corruption, debauchery and moral decay.

Right and moral living can only come from a relationship with a loving God, not through enforcing God’s Law.  It is only grace that enables us to live morally (Titus 2:11)  while a life focussed on Law keeping ultimately leads to moral failure, condemnation and a judgmental attitude towards other.

 

4.  GOD’S  HIGH STANDARD OF HOLINESS

4.1  THE LAW REVEALS GOD’S HIGH STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Rom2:13  “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous”.

Mat.5:20-28 v20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven”.

From day one mankind thought they could get right (righteousness) by their own works or ways (Gen.3). However the Law of Moses was given to emphasise an impossible standard of righteousness that no man can keep, except Jesus. Even the Pharisee’s fanatical self righteous law keeping was not good enough (Mt.5:20). Jesus confronted them in their wrong belief and exposed the truth that any righteousness based on self effort and good works simply fell short of God’s holiness. Jesus even preached a type of hyper law (Mt.5:20-48);  pluck you eye our, cut your hand off, just for even thinking or saying bad things – just in case anyone thought they were righteous enough. Jesus came to kill off any hope in our own independent self righteousness. Jesus’ was pointing to a new type of inner righteousness by the Spirit. (More on this in part 5.).

An analogy is: A group of people are locked in a room and are told that anyone who wants to get out has to jump and touch the ceiling. Now, a few put in huge effort and one or two eventually do it, and are set free while the rest remain captive in the room. The ceiling is reachable by a few with enough effort. However the exercise is repeated and the ceiling is raised by another three meters. No matter what anyone does they cannot touch the ceiling, it is simply beyond their reach. If they want to get free they cannot rely on their own effort or work but simply have to cry out for mercy and grace. So it is with the Law.

4.2  THE LAW EXPOSES OUR INABILITY TO SAVE OURSELVES

John 7:19  “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Rom 9:31-32  but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” Act 13:38  “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses”.

The law: “Given to bring us out of our deception that we could ever save ourselves. God revealed what real holiness is for those who think, I’m close. I’m a pretty good person. He gave a standard of holiness that was so detailed—step one through ten thousand—that it was impossible for anyone to ever keep it. The purpose of the law was to drive us to our knees, saying, “If this is what God demands, I can never keep it!” The law wasn’t given so we could keep it. It was given to show us that we could never keep it. Once we’re aware of this, we find ourselves shut up to the fact that we need a Savoir. We realize that forgiveness and mercy is the only avenue on which we’ll ever have right standing with God. That was the purpose of the law.  Imagine being in a large room with many people. If God walked in and said, “You must all jump up and touch the ceiling or die,” what would you do? If the ceiling was only eight feet tall, you might be able to jump high enough to save yourself. But what if the ceiling was thirty feet tall? You might be able to jump higher than someone else, but if thirty feet was the minimum, you’d be doomed. All you could do is plead for mercy. Likewise, God raised the bar so high through the law that no one can measure up. It was to show us that none of us can save ourselves. We need a Savoir!”  (Andrew Womack)

4.3  LAW EXPOSES OUR SINFUL NATURE

1Jn 3:4  “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. Rom 3:20  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin”.

Rom 7:7  What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

Gal 3:11  Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”

The law: “A stick is crooked, but you do not notice how crooked it is until you place a straight rule by the side of it. You have a handkerchief, and it seems to be quite white. You could hardly wish it to be whiter. But you lay it down on the newly fallen snow, and you wonder how you could ever have thought it to be white at all. So the pure and holy law of God, when our eyes are opened to see its purity, shows up our sin in its true blackness, and in that way it makes sin to abound. But this is for our good, for that sight of our sin awakens us to a sense of our true condition, leads us to repentance, drives us by faith to the precious blood of Jesus, and no longer permits us to rest in our self-righteousness. It was the practical result of the giving of the law that men became greater sinners than they were before, and it was the design of the law that they should see themselves to be greater sinners than before. The law is the looking-glass in which we see our spots, but it is not the basin in which we wash them away. The law has a provoking power, for such is the perversity of our (old) nature that, no sooner do we hear the command, “You shall not do so-and-so,” than at once we want to do it”. (Charles Spurgeon)

4.4  THE LAW INCREASES SINNING, TO MAKE US DESPERATE

Rom 5:20  “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more”.

When we realise the problem we have with sin we are able to turn to God for forgiveness and grace. However the proud and self righteous cannot see their sin problem was as a humble sinner can. The Law points all, but especially the religious and self righteous, to the need of God’s grace.

4.5  THE LAW REMINDS US OF OUR SIN AND NEED FOR GRACE

Heb.10:1-3. The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins”.

The Law is a constant reminder of both sin and failure to attain God’s holy standard. It could never make anyone clean of sin or perfect. The annual reminder of sin, on the day of atonement was in fact an annual reminder that  Israel needed a savior as they could not stop sinning by themselves. Likewise today, we all need to be saved.

4.6  THE LAW POINTS TO THE NEED FOR A BLOOD ATONEMENT

Heb.9:22 “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”.

Through shadows and types the Law as always pointed to Jesus, the lamb of God and his blood atonement for sin. This is the glory of the Law, to point to Jesus. Starting from God shedding an animal’s blood to cover Adam and Eves nakedness, through Abel’s lamb sacrifice, the Passover lamb and the animal sacrifices of the temple, Jesus, the lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world was being revealed (Jn.1:36).

4.7  LAW HIGHLIGHTS OUR NEED FOR SUPER GRACE

Rom.5:20-21 “Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more”.

New Testament scripture teaches that The Law actually adds to our transgressions, showing even more clearly our need for grace. We all blow it, we all sin, all the time! Albeit to lesser or greater degrees. In response to our weaknesses God provides us with super abounding grace (Greek word huperperisseuo). On the cross Jesus overpaid mankind’s debt of sin. Through Jesus, the Father now gives us grace not only for our sins but also for our blessing.  A helpful analogy would be one of a rich person depositing a huge amount of money into a bankrupt friend bank account that not only paid off all his debt but put him into a place of huge credit which enabled him not only to buy all the things he needed but also all the luxuries he desired.

Grace did not set aside God’s Law and the debit we incurred through it, but rather grace completely satisfied it.  As deep as sin goes, God’s grace goes deeper. As wide as sin is, God’s grace is wider. When sin abounded, grace super-abounded even more.  God’s grace is greater than all our sin. Grace is the only thing that truly enables us to overcome sin Titus 2:11-12. However performance orientated Christianity makes us double minded in this regard. We believe that when we are good we are in grace and can receive God’s love and blessing. But when we are bad we fall from grace and we become legalistic and sin focused.  We will look more at the issue of sin in part 4.

4.8  THE LAW POINTS TO JESUS WHO ALONE CAN SAVE US FROM SIN

“Gal 3:19  “What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come”.

Gal 3:24  “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.  John 1:45  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Act 28:23  “They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.”

The most excellent and the primary purpose of the Law is to show all people their depravity and self righteousness and that all need for Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This is the ultimate and Godly most critical purpose of the Law.

4.9  THE LAW IS FOR THE WICKED

1Tim.1:9-10 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.

The Law still has a place in the lives of unbelievers to set a standard for society and define sin. Unbelievers are not lead by the Holy Spirit and therefore may need the law to define what they already really know in their consciences. However this is no longer necessary for believers who are lead by the internal law of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 

PART 3. LESSON 2.

5.  FOR BELIEVERS THE LAW IS NOW OBSOLETE

5.1  CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW

Mat 5:17-18  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”

John 19:30  “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” 

Rom 10:1-4 “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”.

Jesus said the Law would never pass away until he had accomplished his mission to fulfill the Law on the cross. With Jesus fulfillment of the law through the cross (Col.2:14) Jesus proclaimed the judgment of the Law to be finished and fulfilled when he died in our place on the cross.  What is finished and fulfilled has legally become obsolete and been superseded by a new and better covenant. For believers under the New Covenant of grace the Law has passed away. For those still living by or under the Law, the Law is still valid but it is gradually fading as more and more are saved by grace.

If we are saved and born again we are not under the law but under grace and the Law no longer has any part in our lives (Ro.6:14).

5.2  LOVE – THE LAW OF CHRIST

Gal 6:2  “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

The good news, the gospel, is that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilled and effectively cancelled the bad news of the two Old Testament Law systems that cursed us. The Cross brought in the New Covenant law system of grace known as The Law of The Sprit of Life (Rom.8:1). For those who believe and are filled with the Holy Spirit there is freedom from the old externally applied law systems. God’s  way of living is now written by the Spirit in our hearts and consciences. In addition to the law of the Spirit of life Paul refer to the “law of Christ” (Gal.6:2). There is debate within the church as to what the law of Christ actually means. However if one reads Gal.6:2 in context it is clear that it is addressing how to practically live out the Law of the Spirit of Life and how to fulfill Christ’s new command to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The law of Christ is “love” for love fulfills all religious laws, rules and regulations (Rom.13:8-10)(Jas.2:8).

 

6.  THE  CONTRAST BETWEEN LAW AND GRACE.

6.1  LAW IS ABOUT US, GRACE IS ABOUT JESUS

John 1:16-17  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another for the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

THE LAW                                                                                    GRACE

Focused on us                                                                 Focused on Jesus

Is based on works                                                             Based on rest (Heb.4:1-6)

Is about doctrine & rules (Deut 30:10)                  Is a person, Jesus. (Rom5:15)

Leads to self righteousness (Rom.9:31-33)       Imparts righteousness. (Rom.3:20-21)

Demands of you.                                                              Imparts to you.

Condemns the best of us.                                           Saves the worst of us.

Brings death. (2Co.3:7)                                                 Brings life. (2Co.3:6)

Demands righteousness.                                           Gives righteousness.

Is focused on sin. (Joh.9:2)                                         Is focused on our righteousness in Christ

Defines sin. (Rom.7:7)                                                   Reveals true holiness

Leads to hardening of heart.                                   Leads to repentance.

Stirs up sin.                                                                         Overcomes sin (Ro.6:14).

Results in condemnation. (Rom.8:1)                     Affirms us.

Leads to people being cursed. (Gal.3:10)             Blesses us twice over (Joh.1:17)

Brings sickness (Deut:28:61)                                      Brings health (Acts 10:38)

Is fear driven.                                                                       Is love founded.

God is fearful (Ex.20:18)                                                 God is loving (1Jn.4:10).

Is about our self effort.                                                   Is our rest and peace in the cross

Causes us to be self focused (“I must”).              Is Christ focused (“Jesus has”).

Leads to control.                                                                Leads to freedom.

God will not clear sin to 3-4th generation.         God will never remember our sins.

Focuses on our obedience.                                      Focuses on Jesus’ obedience.

We serve God.                                                                     Jesus serves us.

We are God’s servants.                                                 We are God’s children

Angels are God’s representatives                           We are God’s ambassadors

Is conditional (“If you…”) (Deut 30:10).                Is unconditional (“Because Jesus has…”)

Is purpose driven.                                                             Is Spirit lead.

Is of outward appearances.                                       Is of a heart (inner) state.

Is flesh.                                                                                  Is Spirit.

Is to be achieved.                                                             Is received.

Is works based.                                                          Is faith based.

Exercise: Add any more contrasts that you believe may apply with scriptural references where possible.

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6.2  JESUS SOMETIMES PREACHED LAW BUT DISPLAYED GRACE

Jesus obviously knew that The Law was given to expose self righteousness and for bringing people to an end of themselves. This is the only reason Jesus preached the Law from time to time.  He never preached The Law to condemn people.  The Jewish teachers of Jesus’ day, the Scribes and Pharisees, had totally misunderstood the purpose of The Law of Moses. They used it for the exact opposite purpose for which it was intended.  They taught that people could be saved and holy by obeying The Law. (Our teaching on righteousness in part 5 will show that this is the exact opposite of God’s intention).

Jesus preached the Law to show that no one could ever be saved by keeping the Law and that all fall short, all have sinned (Ro.3:10-20) and all need a Savior and Grace. Jesus never preached the Ten Commandments as an external moral code for man to live by or for a way of obtaining righteousness. Jesus knew that righteousness and right living can  only come about through a heart transformed by God’s grace and by living in a love (Jn.13:34) whose source is God himself, the Spirit within us. Let’s be honest, we all would like to keep the Ten Commandments, but the truth is that we all fail like Israel did – no matter how hard we try. The good news is that under The New Covenant, our role is to recognize that we fall short of God’s holiness standard, we therefore rely on God’s grace and find rest in Christ from the Law. The Law just brings terrible condemnation and death (2Cor.3:7-9) so we need to get free from it. It is only from position of grace that we are able to live in the way God desires: a loving, generous, holy life full of the fruit of the Spirit. Right living flows from a heart that is full of grace and love, which can never come about by trying to obey the Law. Traditionally we have been taught that Jesus preached Law for believers to aspire to and live by. However we have missed the truth that both Jesus and Paul used The Law in a different way, in the way for which it was originally intended i.e. to expose the sin of self righteousness, pride and the sin of unbelief. Moral sin flows out of unbelief, moral sin is the fruit of man’s pride and independence from God not the fruit of grace. This misunderstanding of the purpose of the Law has led to confusion in the Church and has resulted in an erroneous deadly mixture of Law and grace that has produced terrible fruit in many Christian lives.  Looking at the two parables of the Rich Ruler and Zacchaeus help us understand how Jesus correctly applied Law and Grace with amazingly different results.

 

7.  THE LAW AND GRACE AFFECT

7.1  ZACCHEUS AND THE RICH RULER

There are two linked Bible stories reveal the differences between the effect of The Law and the effect of grace. Jesus gave the Law to the self righteous while to the humble and lost he showed grace.

               7.1.1  THE RICH RULER & THE LAW (Lk.18:18-24).

Luke 18:18-23 “A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’  “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

This parable typifies the Principle that to the self righteous Jesus always preached The Law.

The context of this parable is that Jesus speaking this parable to  men who trusted in themselves, their righteousness was something they had earned through the Law of Moses and consequently they despised others who they considered to be “sinners”. Jesus was out to expose the primary sin of pride and self-righteousness that the Law of Moses was producing in the religious Jews. He was also starting to reveal God’s grace once again to Israel. Jesus knew that the exposure of self righteousness is crucial, as the self righteousness cannot see the need for salvation, after all who needs to be saved if they are righteous through their own efforts. Self-Righteousness is the ultimate manifestation of man’s pride, man’s self sufficiency and the fallen nature of mankind. The issue of righteousness by self effort or righteousness by grace is in fact the key theme of Scripture, it is crux of the Cross and is one of the keys to fully understanding the Kingdom and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).

Points from the story of the Rich Ruler: Jesus’ intent in this encounter was not to give us another impossible Law to obey “You must sell everything and give all your money to the poor”. Jesus was actually exposing self-righteousness and the bondage to money from which self-sufficiency and self-righteousness often flows. Jesus was responding to a very specific question (v18) from a self-sufficient and rich ruler who asked: “What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?”. The rich ruler’s question reveals the foundations of self-righteousness i.e. self effort. This trait happens to be particularly pertinent to the rich because they are self- sufficient, able and  “doers” based on the erroneous and arrogant belief that we are able “ to do” things that make us worthy, holy and sufficiently qualified to spend eternity with God.

Jesus is also addressing the fallen assumption that if we are good we don’t need a Saviour and God’s grace. Jesus demolishes the mistaken belief that we can obey laws and keep the Law to the perfect degree that God’s Holy Law demands. Jesus’ usual response to people wanting to ‘do things’ to get saved was to preach the Law in an extreme form. In this case it was “Go and sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me“. Jesus knew that the rich ruler believed he was good, able and righteous. Jesus also knew that he was obsessed with money. Despite his claim of having kept The Law since childhood, through his money making, he had actually repeatedly broken the Law “Thou shalt not covet”. Sadly the rich ruler was blind to this fact. For the rich ruler ever to be saved Jesus had to first reveal his self-righteousness, spiritual blindness and bondage to money. What is interesting is the actual affect the preaching of Law had on the rich ruler. Did he repent? No! Instead he hardened his heart and turned away from Jesus because he realized he could not do what the Law required. In a way it seems like a strange story. No one was saved, no one repented and no one followed Jesus.  However it needs to be said that firstly, the rich ruler missed the point of Jesus’ teaching. Secondly, not everyone is saved and the Lord gives us freewill to turn away if we choose. Thirdly, the sermon was not wasted as the listening crowd understood what was being taught and responded in the right way to Jesus’ teaching. The response Jesus was looking for was actually for people to understand their precarious position and cry out for God’s grace. Luke 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Some of the lessons we can learn from the Rich Ruler. Self righteousness is a strong deception and bondage which spiritually blinds people. The religious-rich are particularly prone to self righteousness. No one can save themselves by keeping The Law. Law preaching results in condemnation and turning away from Jesus. Law preaching just reinforces how much we fall short and fail. Preaching The Law doesn’t get people saved. Preaching The Law does not lead to repentance.

Thankfully Jesus also didn’t leave us with just this story as He desired to teach us what happens when we preach the Law and what happens when we share grace.  The teaching continues and Jesus reveals the way of grace in the very next chapter. And thank God the results are astoundingly different!

              7.1.2  ZACCHAEUS, THE RICH TAX COLLECTOR AND GRACE

Luke 19:2-10  “A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.’”  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

The  context is that the rich man in this story is called Zacchaeus which means “an Israelite”. He was a Jew just like the Rich Ruler and as such he was also under the Law of Moses. Zacchaeus was a very rich Jewish tax collector who worked for the Romans. These tax collectors exploited and defrauded the Jewish people and they were intensely hated. The Jews considered him to be a traitor, a sinner and unclean (v7) -no one would associate with him.

What is crucial in this story is for us to see that Zacchaeus was desperate to have an encounter with Jesus. This desperation for Jesus is what determined Jesus’ actions and response to Zacchaeus. Unlike the Rich Ruler, Zacchaeus’ focus was not on ‘what he should do’ but on who Jesus was. This rich man humbled himself and climbed a tree just so he could see Jesus. This must have been quite a sight and quite an effort for this short man. Jesus’ response to the rotten and corrupt Zacchaeus was one of pure love and grace.  “ Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” This was amazing as Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was despised and a “sinner”. Jesus also knew that his offer to go to Zacchaeus’ house would offend people as Zacchaeus was clearly a Law breaker. However in stark contrast to Jesus’ response to the Rich Ruler Jesus never preached the Law to Zacchaeus. Jesus never once pointed out his sin or that Zacchaeus lacked anything. Jesus never indicated that he required Zacchaeus to do anything. He never condemned Zacchaeus in any way. Jesus simply showed him Grace and acceptance – by coming to his house to eat.  The affect of Jesus’ Grace and acceptance is nothing short of miraculous and is in stark contrast to the Rich Ruler who turned away from Jesus. Zacchaeus is overwhelmed by Jesus’ grace and he welcomed Jesus and was full of joy (v6). He received salvation through Jesus (v9&10). The kindness of Jesus causes him to repent of his sinful way of life (v8). He was contrite and humble of heart and confessed his sin. Without being told what to do, his heart led him to do what was righteous. He was set free from his bondage to money. He showed a heart for the poor and needy. He set out to make right the affects of his past sins.

It must be clearly understood that it is not his actions of giving away his money that gained him salvation and righteousness. Giving his money away was the result of his meeting Jesus, experiencing grace and receiving salvation.  True salvation and grace always results in a transformed character and Godly good works that are from the heart.

There are a number of  lessons we can learn from Zacchaeus. When people seek Jesus he responds in grace because Jesus is grace! Jesus shows grace to those who are humble and not self righteous. When we share grace; God’s unconditional love and acceptance, people will be saved. It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance, not the Law. People don’t need the Law to know that they are sinners and fall short in some way. Repentance is a change of mind, a change of belief which results in a change of actions. True ‘good works’ come from a heart transformed by grace. A  heart touched by grace will show concern for the oppressed and needy.

To conclude. The preaching religious Laws exposes peoples short coming but it doesn’t bring people to salvation. There is a better way than preaching Law, revealing God’s love and grace through Jesus Christ. Not only does the grace of Christ bring people to salvation but it transforms people’s characters and enables them to live righteously.

8.  JUDIAZERS

“Judaizers is predominantly a Christian term, derived from the Greek verb ioudaïzō  “to live according to Jewish customs”. This term is most widely known from its single use in the Greek New Testament in Galatians 2:14 where Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling gentile converts to early Christianity to “Judaize”. This is also known as the Incident at Antioch. This term also includes groups who claim the necessity of continued obedience to the Law of Moses found in the first five books of the Old Testament although this is sometimes disputed by members of these groups – notably the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as the term Judaizers is typically used as a pejorative. Most Christians believe much of the Old Covenant has been superseded, while some modern Protestants believe it has been completely abrogated and replaced with the Law of Christ. Thus, “one who has Judaized”, refers to a Christian who has accepted the necessity of adhering to the Mosaic Laws or to specific laws that are believed to be superseded, such as circumcisionSabbath observance, or observation of the Passover. The ongoing Christian debate over Judaizing began in the lifetime of the apostles, notably at the Council of Jerusalem and the Incident at Antioch, and parallels the ongoing debate about Paul the Apostle and JudaismProtestant views of the Ten Commandments, and Christian ethics“. (Wikipedia).

Reading scripture in context and using scripture to interpret scripture. There is an indication that Pauls thorn (Ezek.28:24) in the flesh (2Co.12:7) was not some sickness from God as many would have us believe, but the constant attack and Paul’s angry response to the demonically inspired (2Co.11:13-14) Legalists and Judiazers, false apostles, who purposely followed behind him and constantly undermining his preaching of the gospel of grace. God’s answer to this problem was that grace was sufficient to overcome them and Paul’s fleshy response. Historically this proved to be the case.

 

 8.1  GROUP TIME

1)  A scriptural exercise in legalism: Read through the following scriptures and then write some short notes on what they are  saying about legalism and misuse of the Law in the early church.

Act 11:2  “So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him”.

Acts 21:20  “When James and the elders heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law”.

Gal 2:11-16  “When Peter came to Antioch, I, Paul opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified”.

Gal 2:4  “This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves”.

Php 3:2-3 “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh”.

Tit 1:10-11  “For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain”.

Col 2:8  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”.

Col 2:16 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ”.

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2) Discuss and write down the purpose of the Law.

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9.  GROUP QUESTIONS

What is the Torah?

Who were the Pharisee?

What was their focus?

Who did Jesus condemn and why?

Name some of the different spiritual laws.

What does the scriptures say about the ministry of the law in 2 Cor.3?

What is the law of Christ?

What can nullify grace?

Was grace revealed in the Old Testament, give tow incidences.

List five purposes of the Law.

What does Pentecost celebrate in the Old and New Testaments?

Did Zacchaeus fulfil the Law in any way?

What spiritual laws apply to believers today?

9.1  EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS

If you are doing this course by Email it should ideally be done in a networked group setting with a minimum of five people so that an active discussion can take place and different viewpoints explored.  Those doing the course at a distance by Face Book or Email should discuss the questions below in a study group either on line or at an actual group meeting. Individual should then answer the questions and email a copy to us at study @gracelovetruth.com for evaluation as this will help us to see the effectiveness of the teachings and how to improve them. We will endeavor to answer any questions that are unresolved by the end of the course. This course is free but we do ask that you  help promote its use by telling your friends and other churches about it. Also please send us the names and emails of all participants so we can keep in contact with further course updates. All Email information will be kept private and confidential. Please answer the above questions.

 

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christ-is-the-end-of-the-law

Law in the New Testament

Q: WHAT DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACH ABOUT THE LAW IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? A: THE LAW ALIENATES AND SEPARATES US FROM CHRIST AND GRACE!!!      quick link

If this is so, which it is, then why are so many ministries obsessed with preaching law? This is what the New Testament teaches to believers and it will blow your mind if you choose to believe.

Gal 5:4 (NIV) You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fall from grace. (KJV)) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

The law alienates us from Jesus (Gal.5:4)
The law separates us from grace (Gal.5:4)(Gal2;21)
Seeking righteousness through the law means Christ died for nothing (Gal.2:21)
The law produces death in us (2Co.3:7)
Law keeping nullifies the promises of God (Ro.4:14)

Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of the law (Mt.5:17)
For believers Christ is the end of the law (Ro.10:4)
The law was cancelled on the cross (Col.2:14)
Jesus set aside the law (Eph.2:15)(H eb.7:18)
The law is now obsolete (Heb.8:13)
We are not under the law but under grace (Ro.6:15)
We are dead to the law (Ro.7:4)
We have been delivered and set free from the law (Ro.7:6)
Spirit filled believers are not under the law (Gal.5:18)
jesus paid
No one can be justified by the law (Gal.2:16)
No one can obtain righteousness through keeping the law (Ro.3:20)
Love has fulfilled the law (Ro.13:8)(Gal.5:14)

Those who try to keep the law are cursed (Gal.3:10)
Those who observe the law are under God’s wrath (Ro.4:15)

The law is useless in restraining lust and sensuality (Col.2:23)
The law gives sin its power (1Co.15:56)
The law provokes sin (Ro.7:5)
The law produces lust (Ro.7:8)
The law increases sinning (Ro.5:20)
The law condemns us (2Co.3:9)

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The law is powerless, weak and useless (Ro.8:3)(Heb.7:18)
The law is just a shadow not the reality (Heb.10:1)

We are not ministers of the law (2 Co.3:6)
The law is for the unsaved Jew who are under the law, not for born again believers (Ro.3:19)(1Co.9:20)

Yes, the law is good when it is used to expose unrighteousness, sin and the need to be saved, but for us who are saved it has no purpose and is obsolete. Mixing law and grace dishonors both the cross and Christ. We are instructed to get rid of the Old Covenant and it’s law, as it has no part in Christian life (Gal.4:24-31).

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hebrews

THE BOOK OF HEBREWS – CORRECTLY USED

The book of Hebrews is a wonderful letter written to the Jewish believers, probably living in Jerusalem. It declares the glorious divinity of Jesus, His eternal heavenly priesthood on our behalf, the finished work of the Cross, the sufficiency and uniqueness of His blood and the Grace of a new and better Covenant. It is an important letter for us all, in that establishes the replacing of the Old Mosaic Law Covenant by a New Covenant of Jesus’ Grace along with the foundational truth that no other sacrifice except that of Jesus, is effective in dealing with sin.

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Heb 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

 

THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF KEY SCRIPTURES IN HEBREWS

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Sadly, some parts of the book of Hebrews have been badly misunderstood and are being widely misused and quoted out of context by those who oppose The Gospel of Grace (Acts.20:24). Therefore, we need to be clear on how to rebuff these arguments that undermine the sufficiency and the finished work of the cross and rob Jesus of His glory. Certain scriptures from Hebrews, quoted in isolation can lead to condemnation, a lack of confidence and a waning assurance in the enduring sufficiency of the Cross. These scriptures need clarification in light of our foundational New Covenant beliefs that we are saved only by grace through faith and not by works (i), that we  proclaim the Gospel of Grace (ii), the Spirit of Grace (Heb.10:29) and Jesus’ New Covenant (Heb:10:16-17).

THE BATTLE BETWEEN GRACE AND LAW

Firstly, we must again reiterate that one of the major issues addressed by all the letters of the New Testament was the division in the Early Church between those who believed Jesus’ work on the cross to be sufficient for all sin and those that wanted to add Mosaic Law and religious rules to the Cross. Basically the fight was between two opposing camps….
1) Salvation and living by Jesus’ Grace alone.
2) A mixing of Grace and Laws.

This battle arose because the Early Church was made up of two distinct groups, Jews and Gentiles, both of whom had strong but opposing cultures. For more detail on these divisions see the teaching The context of Pauls letters. By the way the battle between Law and Grace still continues today.

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THE CONTEXT OF HEBREWS

The first thing that maybe a revelation to many modern Christians is that the letter of Hebrews was written to Jews and not to Gentile  – I’m stating the obvious, that’s why it’s called Hebrews. Unlike most of the letters (except James) it was not addressed to a specific church, to an individual believer or to the saints (meaning born again believers) but to Jews of various beliefs with regard to Jesus who were influencing the church in Jerusalem. This is a crucial point to understand as it was written to a specific people, the Jews interested in,  or  to committed to Jesus, for a specific purpose of bringing them free from the Law, their traditions and the Temple sacrifices. However as I said before it is also an important book for everyone, especially in the African context where many false teachers are mixing Christianity with ancestor veneration and animal sacrifices, just like the Jews of Paul time.

TO JEWS WITH CHRISTIAN LEANINGS

The tone of the book of Hebrews indicates that it is addressed to a mixed bunch who were either Christian or dappling in Christianity. Today there are many Jews who identify themselves as Christians, or with Jesus teachings, and still maintain their Jewish cultural identity. These Jewish background believers as well as Messianic congregations can be found throughout the world. Praise God! The common thread is that they all recognize Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. However as in Paul’s day, within the modern Jewish Christian / Messianic camp there are many different beliefs with regard to what it means to follow Jesus, who Jesus is, what He did on the cross and how this affects a Jews obligation to both Jewish cultural traditions and the Law of Moses.

In Paul’s day, we have shown in the link above, that there was a huge debate going on over these very issues. Even Peter, James and Barnabas, who like Paul all grew up as Jews, fell into error and sometimes even came out against Paul’s “grace only” teaching.

MIXED BELIEFS ABOUT JESUS

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Like today, the Jewish “Christians” of Paul’s time had a mixed bag of beliefs about Jesus. Many knew about Jesus, but did not know Jesus as Lord and Savior – they were not “Born Again” (Jn.3:3) and not all were saved despite their interest in Jesus. Even some of his closest disciples did not fully understand who Jesus was and eventually fell away. Here are some of the beliefs the Jews had about Jesus, some of which The Book of Hebrews was correcting.

  1. Like Moses, Jesus was a powerful and good Jewish Rabbi (teacher) – but nothing more (iii).
  2. He was the Messiah /Savior that would save Israel from Rome’s occupation and establish the final Messianic Jewish Kingdom (iv).
  3. He was the prophet Moses had spoken of – but not the Son of God (v).
  4. He was the Son of God to be worshipped (vi).
  5. He was the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world (vii).
  6. He was a God given sacrifice to unite Israel (viii)
  7. A blasphemer and false prophet (ix).

The Jews in Jerusalem were struggling and many had their feet in both camps, Christianity and Legalistic Judaism. Hebrews tries to draw them fully into Christ.

(To give you a taste of what some Messianic Jews believe here is a link to a Messianic fellowship in Israel Shema- what is Messianic Judaism?)

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THE JEWISH ISSUES ADDRESSED IN HEBREWS

The general themes of the book of Hebrews are:-

Chapter 1: Jesus was divine and provided a finished atonement for sin (1:3)

Chapter 2:  A call for the Jews to pay attention and receive Jesus’ salvation (2:3).

Chapter 3: Jesus is greater than Moses, but the Jews had hardened their heart to the gospel and were still in the sin of unbelief (3:12).

Chapter 4: Like their forefathers were still trying to obtain their righteousness by works (4:10) instead of accepting and resting in the finished work of the cross (Ro.9:31-10:4).

Chapter 5: They were spiritual infants, they did not understand that true righteousness is a gift received by faith (5:13).

Chapter 6:  Many of these Jews had heard the gospel and knew the doctrines of Christ and they had seen the Holy Spirit’s miracles. Sadly they still chose Moses Law and the Temple’s animal sacrifices over Jesus’ sacrifice. Having known what Jesus had done on the Cross and then rejecting it for another sacrifice, they could not have their minds changed (6:4). To repentant actually means to change one’s mind and actions and this they refused to do, they would not give up their animal sacrifices. They may have followed Jesus as a Rabbi but they would not accept his sacrifice for their sins and therefore were lost – and in fact were never saved in the first place.

Chapter 7: They were still following the Levitical Priests in the Temple and seeking perfection through the Law instead of righteousness though Jesus, our Eternal High Priest in heaven.

Chapter 8: These Jews were being called to let go of the Old Mosaic Covenant and fully embrace Jesus’ New Covenant in which their sins are totally forgiven (8:12).

Chapter 9: These Jews were rejecting Jesus’ blood sacrifice and still attending the Temple sacrifices (9:12). They were basically claiming that the blood of Jesus was not good enough and they could not enter into Jesus’ salvation because they could not let go of the Laws animal sin sacrifices that were so much part of their traditional culture.

Chapter 10: Here the Law is declared as set aside by the New Covenant (10:9). Those Jews who kept sinning through unbelief, despite knowing the good news of Jesus’ gospel – cannot be saved (10:26). Anyone rejecting grace and Jesus’ blood as sufficient is eternally condemned (10:26-29).

Chapter 11: These Jews are reminded that the father of the Jewish people was Abraham who received righteousness by faith (11:6). Their father was not Moses who taught righteousness by Law – which always failed to produce righteousness.

Chapter 12: The Jews are reminded that the sin of unbelief had always hindered Israel and the Lord had often disciplined and punished them for it (12:5) and yet they still rejected Him (12:14). They were now called to leave the Law given on Mount Sinai and come into the New Covenant through Jesus blood (12:24).

lost

WE CANNOT LOOSE OUR SALVATION IF TRULY SAVED

Hebrews 6:6 and 10:26 are often misquoted to teach that if a Christian backslides or deliberately sins, they lose their salvation. It can be seen that when they are taken in their correct context these scriptures mean neither of these things. Using these scriptures in this incorrect way shows a complete misunderstanding of God’s Grace, righteousness, the work of the cross and how we are saved in the first place. Our salvation is not and never was, conditional on our performance (i) or our self righteousness. Salvation has and will always be God unearned and undeserved gift of God’s love to all who would take hold of it in faith. If salvation is based on our performance then we are all lost (x) because at some point in our lives, if we are honest, we may either backslide or may intentionally sin – without grace, no one is righteous, so if we say we haven’t or won’t then we are deceived and are self righteous.

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The parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:22) clearly teaches that the Father never lets His sons go, once a son always a son, even if you reject being a son. We may be unfaithful to God but he will never be unfaithful to us. He will never let’s those who are truly saved walk away, it’s no longer our choice. We no longer live but Christ lives in us (xi), we are now an inseparable part of Him. We are sealed eternally by the Holy Spirit (xii).

RESCUED BUT THEN THROWN TO THE SHARKS

Teaching that we can lose our salvation is like a Coast Guard who rescues his own son from drowning only later to throw him back in the sea because he behaves badly or is not grateful enough. Come on, God’s not like that.

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So brothers and sisters, be of good cheer and get rid of any doubt that you can lose your salvation, it’s a lie that denies the effectiveness of the Cross and God’s unconditional love. If you are a “back slider” or have deliberately sinned and allowed that to separate you from God, call out to the Father and receive His forgiveness and love once again. He will empower you in grace to hold the course and say no to sin.

Be loved and blessed, Jesus is Lord!

www.gracelovetruth.com

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THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

(i)                  Eph 2:8  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Eph 2:9  not by works, so that no one can boast.

(ii)                Act 20:24  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Act 20:25  “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.

(iii)               Joh.3:2  He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

(iv)              Act 1:6  So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

(v)                Joh 6:66  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

(vi)              Mat 14:33  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

(vii)             Joh 1:29  The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

(viii)           Joh 11:49  Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! Joh 11:50  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Joh 11:51  He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, Joh 11:52  and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

(ix)              Mat 26:63  Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Mat 26:64  “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”Mat 26:65  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.

(x)                Rom 3:9  What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. Rom 3:10  As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.

(xi)              Gal 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(xii)             Eph 1:13  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

 

 

 

 

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context

UNDERSTANDING THE KEY ISSUES OF PAUL’S LETTERS

To properly understand some of the most important parts of the New Testament and to be properly founded in the New Covenant and Jesus’ Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24) we need understand one of  the major issue which most of Paul’s letters were addressing.

READ SCRIPTURE IN IT’S CONTEXT

Scriptures are often quoted out of context, when this a happens they can take on a totally different meaning. As the saying goes ” A scripture taken out of context is a con”. A very important principle is that the context of scripture is essential to correctly understanding scripture. For instance  Jesus said : Mat 5:29-30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away….. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.”
We all know that there is no was way Jesus expected us to go around doing this, otherwise we’d be a church of one eyed, one handed people. However taken out of context some may justify doing exactly what it says – as they do in Saudi Arabia. Taken in context of the whole teaching which starts at Mat.5:1 and ends in Mat.7:28 we see that the actual issue was the self righteousness of the Pharisee and the Jews not the chopping off or hands and digging out of eyes (see The Sermon on the Mount).

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THE CONTEXT OF DIVISION IN THE EARLY CHURCH

The major issue of Paul’s day was the division(i) and conflict within each church between Christians from a Jewish background and Christians from a Gentile (Pagan) background. Even Peter and James (i) fell into the trap of legalistic division and Paul rebuked them for it.

“So what!” you may say? “I don’t have any religious Jews in my church”. That may be true, but this basic issue is still evident today among all Christians and it affects the way we read the scriptures, the personal way we understand the gospel and live out grace.

THE DIVISION BETWEEN LAW KEEPERS AND GRACE FOLLOWERS

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The conflict between these two groups, Jews and Gentiles, arose because …
1. The Christians from a Jewish background believed that they were more Godly and holy because they and their families had kept Gods Law for generations (ii). They believed that their “Jewish culture” had refined them and made them a holy people. They believed that they came into the church with a holy advantage, a holy credit, earned by their families generational good works in keeping the Law of Moses.
2. Sadly these Jewish Christians looked down on, and judged the Christians (iii) with a Greek/Roman culture because their culture was idolatrous and prone to be sexually immoral. Admittedly many of the Greek believers had not fully come free from the “free love” that their culture permitted and in Jewish eyes this made them second class Christians. However the Jewish believers secretly did the dame things! (iv).
3. The Jewish Christians believed the Gentile (Greek/Roman) Christians needed a good dose of Mosaic Law to get their lives right. After all they claimed “It worked for us Jews”.
4. Intrinsically these judgmental Christian Jewish believers did not believe that Gods grace and the Spirit of Christ in the new Gentile Christians was enough for their sanctification.
5. They proclaimed to the Gentiles “The Law is needed as we are all saved by grace but only the Law can control the immoral lives of our The Christian Gentiles”.
This self righteous attitude of the Jewish believers and their call to implement the Law to curb the Gentile sin was found throughout the church, in Rome (v), Galatia (vi), Corinth, Ephesus and it caused great hurt and division in the churches.

christalone

It is this error that Paul’s letters address:
1) Holiness and righteousness is by the grace of Jesus Christ only (vii).
2) The keeping of laws imposed on us by others no longer has a place in the Christian life (viii).
3) We are now lead by God’s Spirit and God’s Word living in us (xi) and not by rules, cannons, regulations and laws.

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The interesting thing that has been missed is that Paul points out to the Jewish Christians is that their Godly inheritance and history was actually far from holy. As even though their Jewish ancestors knew and heard God (unlike the Pagan nations) they still chose to worship idols and engage in sexual immorality right under Gods nose …. Even when the Mosaic Law was being given at Mount Sinai.
Paul rebukes the Jewish believers in Romans 1:21-25 because of their sins (x) listed in (xi) (Jer.32:34)(Ezek.8:10) (Jdg.19:22) (Exo.32:1-6): Basically Paul says “How dare you judge the Gentiles who didn’t know God when you and your forefathers, who did know God, chose to do the very same things. So much for Israel’s Law keeping you holy, you self-righteous hypocrites!!”

People, the same applies today. We are called to live in the grace of Jesus Christ, He alone can enable us to live holy (xii) not outside laws and rules imposed on us by others. We are righteous by the blood, lead by the Spirit and empowered by the Word.

When we read the Bible let us read and seek revelation with the glasses of Grace on, not with the glasses of law.

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Praise God.
www.gracelovetruth.com

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THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

(i) Gal 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Gal 2:12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. Gal 2:13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. Gal 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Gal 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ Gal 2:16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

(ii) Rom 2:17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; Rom 2:18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law.

(iii) Rom 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

(iv) Rom 2:23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? Rom 2:24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

(v) Rom 4:13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Rom 4:14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, Rom 4:15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

(vi) Gal 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. Gal 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Gal 3:4 Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Gal 3:5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

(vii) 1Co. 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

(viii) Rom 2:27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. Rom 2:28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. Rom 2:29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.

(ix) Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(x) Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Rom 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

(xi) Jer 32:34  They set up their abominable idols in the house that bears my Name and defiled it.  Eze 8:10 So I went into the Temple and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel.  Jdg 19:22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” Exo 32:5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

(xii) Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Tit 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

 

 

 

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zacchaeous

ZACCHAEUS & THE RICH RULER

DO WE PREACH GRACE OR LAW?

Two linked Bible stories reveal the differences between the effect of The Law and the effect of Grace.

(Lk 18:18)  A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…….          (Lk 19:2)  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was………

It is not by coincidence that these two stories almost directly follow each other in The Scriptures!

1)    WHY DID JESUS PREACH RELIGIOUS LAW TO SOME AND GRACE TO OTHERS?

God gives The Law to the Self-Righteous while to the humble and lost He shows Grace.

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Jesus understood that The Law was given to expose Self-Righteousness and for bringing people to an end of themselves. This is the only reason Jesus preached The Law, he never preached The Law to condemn people.  The Jewish Teachers of Jesus’ day had totally misunderstood the purpose of The Law of Moses (The ten commandments+). They used it for the exact opposite purpose for which it was intended.  They taught that people could be saved and holy by obeying The Law.

In contrast Jesus preached The Law to show that no one could ever be saved by keeping The Law and that all fall short, all have sinned and all need a Saviour and Grace. Jesus never preached the Ten Commandments as an external moral code for man to live by or a way of obtaining Righteousness. Jesus knew that these things could only come about through a heart transformed by Grace.

Let’s be honest, we all would like to keep the Ten Commandments, but the truth is that we all blow it, no matter how hard we try.

The good news is that under The New Covenant, our role is to recognize that we fall short of God’s holiness standard, we therefore rely on God’s Grace and find rest in Christ from The Law. The Law just brings us terrible condemnation and death (2Cor.3:7-9) so we need to get free from it.

It is only from position of Grace that we are able to live in the way God desires: a loving, generous, holy life full of the fruit of the Spirit. Right living flows from a heart that is full of Grace, it can never come about by trying to obey The Law.

Traditionally we have been taught that Jesus preached Laws for believers to aspire to and live by. However we have missed the truth that both Jesus and Paul used The Law in a different way, in the way for which it was originally intended i.e. to expose the sin of Self-Righteousness, pride and the sin of unbelief. Moral sin flows out of unbelief, moral sin is the fruit of man’s pride and independence from God.

This misunderstanding of the purpose of The Law has led to confusion in the Church and has resulted in an erroneous deadly mixture of Law and Grace that has produced terrible fruit in many Christian lives.

 Looking at the two parables of the Rich Ruler and Zacchaeus help us understand how Jesus correctly applied Law and Grace with amazingly different results.

2)    THE RICH RULER & THE LAW (Lk.18:18-24).

This parable typifies the Principle that to the Self-Righteous Jesus always preached The Law.

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Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

The key context

Luke 18:9 Jesus spoke this parable to  men who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.

Firstly, To enable us to fully understand what issue is actually being addressed it is very important to establish and interpret scripture in its context. A scripture taken out of context can be a con.

The context of these two stories is that Jesus was exposing the primary sin of pride and self-righteousness and was starting to reveal Grace to Israel.

Jesus knew that exposure of Self Righteousness is crucial, as the Self Righteousness deny the need for salvation…. after all who needs to be saved if they are righteous (in right standing with God) through their own efforts.  Self-Righteousness is the ultimate manifestation of man’s pride, man’s self sufficiency and the Fallen nature of Mankind.

The issue of Righteousness by self effort or Righteous by Grace is in fact the key theme of Scripture, it is crux of the Cross and is one of the keys to fully understanding the Kingdom and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).

Points from the story of the Rich Ruler.

Jesus’ intent in this encounter was not to give us another impossible Law to obey “You must sell everything and give all your money to the poor”. Jesus was actually exposing Self-Righteousness and the bondage to money from which self-sufficiency and self-righteousness often flows.

Jesus was responding to a very specific question (v18) from a self-sufficient and rich Ruler who asked: “What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?”.

The Rich Ruler’s question reveals the foundations of Self-Righteousness i.e. Self Effort. This trait happens to be particularly pertinent to the Rich because they are self- sufficient, able and  “Doers” based on:-

  • The erroneous and arrogant belief that we are able “ to do” things that make us worthy, holy and sufficiently qualified to spend eternity with God.
  • The assumption that we are good and don’t need a Saviour and God’s Grace.
  • The belief that we can obey laws and keep The Law to the perfect degree that God’s Holy Law demands.

Jesus’ usual response to people wanting to ‘do things’ to get saved was to preach The Law in an extreme form. In this case it was “Go and sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me“. Jesus knew that the Rich Ruler believed he was good, able and righteous. Jesus also knew that he was obsessed with money. Despite his claim of having kept The Law since childhood, through his money making he had actually repeatedly broken the Law “Thou shalt not covet”.  Sadly the Rich Ruler was blind to this fact.

If this Rich Ruler was ever to repent and be saved In response Jesus had to first reveal the Rich Rulers Self-Righteousness, spiritual blindness and bondage to money.

What is interesting is the actual affect the preaching of Law actually had on the Rich Ruler. Did he repent? No! Instead he hardened his heart and turned away from Jesus because he realised he could not DO what The Law required. In a way it seems like a strange story. No one was saved, no one repented and no one followed Jesus.  However it needs to be said that firstly, the Rich Ruler missed the point of Jesus’ teaching. Secondly, not everyone is saved and The Lord gives us freewill to turn away if we choose.  Thirdly, the sermon was not wasted as the listening crowd understood what was being taught and responded in the right way to Jesus’ teaching. The response Jesus was looking for was actually for people to understand their precarious position and cry out for Grace.

Lk 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Lessons from the Rich Ruler

  1. Self-Righteousness is a strong bondage which spiritually blinds people.
  2. The religious-rich are particularly prone to Self-Righteousness.
  3. No one can save themselves by keeping The Law.
  4. Law preaching results in condemnation and turning away from Jesus.
  5. Law preaching just reinforces how much we fall short and fail.
  6. Preaching The Law doesn’t get people saved.
  7. Preaching The Law does not lead to repentance.

Thankfully Jesus also didn’t leave us with just this story as He desired to teach us what happens when we preach The Law and what happens when we share Grace.  The teaching continues and He reveals the way of Grace in the very next chapter. And thank God the results are astoundingly different!

3)    THE RICH TAX COLLECTOR AND GRACE

Luke 19:2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.’” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

house

The  context.

The rich man in this story is called Zacchaeus which means “an Israelite”. He was a Jew just like the Rich Ruler and as such he was also under the Law of Moses. Zacchaeus was a very rich Jewish Tax collector who worked for the Romans. These tax collectors exploited and defrauded the Jewish people and they were intensely hated. The Jews considered him to be a traitor, a sinner and unclean (v7) -no one would associate with him.

Points from the story of Zacchaeus

What is crucial in this story is for us to see that Zacchaeus was desperate to encounter Jesus.  This desperation for Jesus is what determines Jesus’ actions and response to Zacchaeus. Unlike the Rich Ruler, Zacchaeus’ focus was not on ‘what he should do’ but on who Jesus was. This rich man humbled himself and climbed a tree just so he could see Jesus. This must have been quite a sight and quite an effort for this short man. Jesus’ response to the rotten and corrupt Zacchaeus was pure love and Grace.

(v5) “ Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

This was amazing as Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was despised and a “sinner”. Jesus also knew that his offer to go to Zacchaeus’ house would offend people as Zacchaeus was a Jew, under the Law and clearly a Law breaker. However in stark contrast to Jesus’ response to the Rich Ruler:-

  • Jesus never preached The Law to Zacchaeus.
  • Jesus never once pointed out his sin or that Zacchaeus lacked anything.
  • Jesus never indicated that He required Zacchaeus to do anything.
  • He never condemned Zacchaeus in any way.
  • Jesus simply showed him Grace and acceptance – by coming to his house to eat.

 

The affect of Jesus’ Grace and acceptance is nothing short of miraculous and is in stark contrast to the Rich Ruler who turned away from Jesus:-

  • Zacchaeus is overwhelmed by Jesus’ Grace
  • He welcomed Jesus and was full of joy (v6).
  • He received salvation through Jesus (v9&10).
  • The kindness of Jesus causes him to repent of his sinful way of life (v8).
  • He was contrite and humble of heart and confessed his sin.
  • Without being told what to do, his heart led him to do what was right (eous).
  • He was set free from his bondage to money.
  • He showed a heart for the poor and needy.
  • He set out to make right the affects of his past sins.

It must be clearly understood that it is not his actions of giving away his money that gained him salvation and righteousness. Giving his money away was the result of his meeting Jesus, experiencing Grace and receiving salvation.  True salvation and Grace always results in a transformed character and Godly good works that are from the heart.

Lessons from Zacchaeus.

  1. When people seek Jesus He responds in Grace.  Jesus is Grace!
  2. Jesus shows Grace to those who are humble and not Self-Righteous.
  3. When we share Grace, unconditional love and acceptance, people will be saved.
  4. It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance, not the Law.
  5. People don’t need the Law to know that they are sinners and fall short in some way.
  6. Repentance is a change of mind, a change of belief which results in a change of actions.
  7. True ‘good works’ come from a heart transformed by Grace.
  8. A  heart touched by Grace will show concern for the oppressed and needy.

4)    CONCLUSION

Preaching Religious Laws exposes peoples short coming but it doesn’t bring people to salvation.

There is a better way than preaching Law-  it’s the way of revealing God’s love and Grace through Jesus Christ!

Not only does the Grace of Christ bring people to salvation but it transforms people’s characters and enables them to live Righteously.

 

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legalsim

WHAT IS LEGALISM

 Legalism, in Christian theology, is a usually pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigour, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law at the expense of the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God’s grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption.

 In the New Testament

The words ‘legalism’ or ‘legalist’ do not occur in the Old or New Testaments. Legalism’s root word, “law” (Greek nomos), occurs frequently in the New Testament, and sometimes connotes legalism. The Greek of Paul’s day lacked any term corresponding to the distinct position of “legalism”, “legalist”, or “legalistic”,

One concept of legalism, the belief that salvation can be earned by obedience to laws, is referred to in various New Testament books, including Galatians. In this case, some Jews who had become Christians believed that in order to obtain salvation, both faith in Christ (as Messiah), and obedience to the Mosiac laws were required, such as the cases of the circumcision controversy and the Incident at Antioch. Generally, however, these cases are referred to as the Judaizer controversy, rather than a legalism controversy, but the two are related.

Legalism refers to any doctrine which states salvation comes strictly from adherence to the law. It can be thought of as a works-based religion. Groups in the New Testament said to be falling into this category include the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Judaizers, and Nicolaitans. They are legalists because they emphasized obeying the Law of Moses, in the case of the Pharisees and Scribes, to the letter without understanding the concept of grace. Jesus condemned their legalism in Matthew 23. The Pharisees love of the praises of men for their strict adherence is said to be a prime example of legalism.

Legalism is sometimes confused with obedience. New Testament books such as Romans, speak of grace and obedience together. An example is found in Romans 1:5 (New American Standard Version) speaking of Christ ‘through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake…’ The goal of receiving the grace was to bring about obedience of faith. Here grace, faith and obedience are tied together. Other references are in Acts 5:29, 32; Romans 16:19; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Hebrews 5:9.

Legalism is also confused with discipline, which is often spoken of in a positive light. See 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:7 and Hebrews 12:5–11.

A third common misunderstanding of legalism is the word law. Law in many places in the Bible refers to the Law of Moses, see also Biblical law in Christianity. In Galatians the Judaizers were trying to insist that salvation required that a person be circumcised prior to obeying the Law of Christ. Galatians 2:16 says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (King James Version). The faith here is the Law of Christ and the law here is the Law of Moses. The legalism of the Judaizers was that obedience to the law of Moses was necessary to be saved

From http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalism_(theology)

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GET RID OF THE LAW IN YOUR LIFE

law grace

If we are to live the blessed, healthy and joyful lives that we all desire and believe Jesus for, we need to firmly establish ourselves in the truth that the purpose of The Old Testament Law was actually to expose Israel’s self #righteousness (Rom.9:31-10:3). (Likewise today the Law can convict the self-righteous (both the religious & the atheist) who think that they are “alright” without #Jesusgrace, that they fall short and need grace and salvation).

Gal 2:21  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” 

We need to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our thinking. Despite what we grew up being taught, the Old Testament Law , including the Ten Commandments, IS NOT an external moral code for Christians to live by! (Shocking news to some!). It’s purpose is to expose sin and self-righteousness and point to God’s grace and #salvation.

As New Covenant believers in grace, we are lead by the #HolySpirit within us and He guides us and empowers us to live a Godly life (that naturally fulfills the Law and Ten Commandments), not the Law imposed from without. Sadly most of us still live in a mixture of Law and #grace and therefore experience both the #blessings and the #curses that come with the Law (Deut.28) – which is based on their performance or lack thereof. The Law is not good news people, it always finds fault and always demands ‘just one more thing” of you. If you don’t believe me simply read the book of Deuteronomy and see if you can do all that it demands, all the time.

The reason why we have to confront this Law issue in our lives is that for a consistently fruitful and blessed life, that glorifies Jesus, we have to get rid of Law living and get rid of the curse that comes through Law living (Gal.4:21-31). Dive completely into #Jesusgrace and receive blessing upon blessing daily (Jn.1:16-17). I don’t know about you but I’m fed up receiving blessing that get robbed, healings that don’t last and revivals that fade away. The explanation is the Law that is mixed in with our belief systems, causes our blessings to fade (see 2Cor.3 below).

Stay away from teachings that are a mixture of Law and grace …  why, because any ministry containing even a little bit of Law ultimately brings death, and death always manifests in sickness. It also makes us feel condemned (2Cor.3:16). Take a stand and stop allowing your #Jesusgift of grace to be contaminated by Law.

2Cor 3:6-9 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was,  will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!

Have courage, say no to teaching that makes you feel condemned, that point out you are not DOING enough, giving enough, not good enough, not holy enough, etc., no matter who’s preaching and how many times grace and Jesus are mentioned – you will find that deep down it is actually Law based, i.e. you have to DO more to get more from God or to keep right with God. Judge all teachings by the fruit within you. Here’s how you recognize the two types of teaching:-
1.  The underlying message is: A “you must” focus that produces condemnation, guilt, performance and anxiety  =  The Old Testament Law
2. The under laying message is : A Jesus focus that produces  joy, peace, freedom, rest  = The Gospel of Jesus’ Grace
Discern carefully what you are hearing and get rid of Law teachings that focus on compliance to external rules and regulations imposed and administered by others. Focus on what the Holy Spirit is saying in your heart how to love, and then obey – be wise by the Spirit. You will then experience ongoing daily #JesusLife. Its #goodnews full of #gracelovetruth.

Heb 10:15-17 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

Please click like and share and get the #goodnews of Jesus’ grace out there.
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2014 A YEAR OF FAVOR NOT LAWS

Most of Paul’s letters were addressed to two distinct camps that divided the churches. Jewish background Christians who  mixed grace with Law. And Gentile believers with a Pagan background who accepted grace without the need for the Jewish Law.

law grace3

Paul never taught that those in Christ should come under the Law, he taught that we can live moral and righteous lives by the Spirit and in by loving.
We all desire right actions. Amen to that. But the scriptures make it perfectly clear that keeping rules and laws can never be the root of righteous living and actions -as Israel discovered over and over (Rom.9).

Law & grace mix

The Law (the 10 commandments etc.) does have value – in exposing self righteousness and religious hypocrisy i.e. it reminds us ALL that we sin and in our self effort we all fall short of God Holiness and therefore continually need God’s grace and love. Those who think they can mix grace and Law are mistaken , just like Israel was.
Thank God, Jesus opened up a new way of living:- Rom.6:14 “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace”.
It is only His grace, empowering us by the Spirit to love, that can fulfill the law. (Rom.13:10) and God’s Holy standards. We don’t need religious rules and laws in the New Covenant – we have the Spirit and grace. Both of which we have in overflowing abundance through Jesus whose Spirit lives in us.
Be confident that you are a blessed child of God and let 2014 be the year of grace and the Spirit. And see the abundant LIFE flow.

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