Revealing the SIMPLICITY that’s in Christ

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"Differences between law and grace, part 2"



Look at Paul’s instruction to a young pastor in 2 Tim 2:1 — “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” This simple, yet powerful instruction to Timothy, as well as to us, is to be STRONG in grace. A few verses later, he tells him — “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” When you see this verse in the light of his instruction to be strong in grace, then we can understand that it’s when we accurately handle the word of truth, we are strong in God’s grace. So, let’s understand what it is to ACCURATELY handle the word of truth (For it doesn’t just say “THE WORD”, but “the word OF TRUTH”). The Bible, which is the word, is a book that contains 2 different Covenants — the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. And along with each covenant, are 2 systems, or ways of approach to God — Old Covenant law and New Covenant grace. These covenants were never meant to be mixed; for they clash, like me wearing a polka dot, yellow tie with a dark green suit (which I ignorantly did one time, and thankfully, someone told me that it doesn’t go together). So, to accurately handle the word of truth and become strong in grace is to discern New Covenant grace in what we read from the Bible.


I have been showing some main differences between law and grace, in hopes, that you can discern the distinction between the two covenant-systems. As our above picture shows — the law demanded man work, as God’s grace shows us the work He has provided for us through Christ. 


Law — the law condemned man; even at his best;

Grace — as grace changes man; even at his worst.


Romans 3 paints this vivid picture for us between Old Covenant law and New Covenant grace. Look at this popular verse in v.23 — “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. This was the condemnation under the law. Then Paul gives us what God has provided for us under New Covenant grace in the next verse — “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”


Law — the law graded one's performance; comparing it to its perfect standard;

Grace — as grace grades us according to Jesus’s standard. 


It’s good news when we know that God does not grade us according to our works, but according to the finished work and what it has made us to be in Christ — His very own Righteous children! Look at this from 1 Cor 15:58 — “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” Our instruction is to be STEADFAST, IMMOVABLE always ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord — which is His finished work. 


Law — the law was the ministry of condemnation and death.

Grace — as grace is the ministry of the Spirit and of His Righteousness. 


This comparison is seen in 2 Cor 3:7-9 — “7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones (which is the law), came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit (which is grace) fail to be even more with glory? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation (from the law) has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness (from grace) abound in glory.” The glorious ministry of New Covenant grace has surpassed the old ministry of Old Covenant law! So, anytime someone enforces something from the law — like the tithe — that are mixing in Moses with Jesus.


Law — the law demanded man's ability;

Grace — as grace provides God’s ability. 


I know that much of these points sound similar, but I want us to see the importance of grace from a few different angles, as it’s taught throughout the New Testament. Contrary to the law, which declared many, “You will nots”, New Covenant grace encourages us with what God will do in us. Look at this from Heb 8:10 and 12 — “10 For this is the (kind of) covenant that I will make… I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts… 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Under New Covenant grace, God said multiple times “I will”. This is why Paul said in Phil 1:6 — “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it (make the necessary improvements) until the day of Christ Jesus”. Paul carried this same thought in 2:12-13. Paul was confident about this, and we should be the same way! 


Law — the law issued an ultimatum; 

Grace — as grace gave us propitiation.


There were no second chances under Old Covenant law, see Heb 2:2 — they died without mercy, see Heb 10:28. But God provided something completely different under New Covenant grace. Look at what we read in 1 John 2:1-2 — “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Jesus is now the propitiation for our sins. The word propitiate means that Jesus has brought “complete satisfaction” to God through His finished work! The successful Christian life is not about seeing how much one can stay away from sin, but it’s about how much we can be aware of God’s grace through Christ!


Law — the law was a helpless dictator;

Grace — as grace is our helpful supporter.


As we saw, Old Covenant law was the ministry of death and condemnation, see 2 Cor 3:7 and 9. The law points out sin, flaws and disobedience, and on top of that, it is absolutely useless in helping man do what needs to be done. New Covenant grace, on the other hand, is completely opposite of that; it is God working in our lives as we rest in the finished work of Jesus. Look at what we read in Titus 2:11-12 — “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age”. God’s grace not only provides the salvation of a changed life for those who believe in Jesus, but it provides the instruction and ability to produce the character of Jesus in our lives! Grace is our best supporter!


Law — the law shuts people's mouth from true praise.

Grace — as grace opens hearts with gratitude. 


People like Ezra, in the Old Testament, tried to rev-up the people in Neh 8:9-12, but that feeling soon left them (Because it’s hard to stay joyful when guilt is present in one’s heart). But look at what Jesus said in John 4:23-24 — “23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Because of New Covenant grace, we are living in that hour! Through the new birth in us becoming Christians (children of God), God has made us His true worshipers! Because He has given us new hearts and poured His love into them, we have hearts of gratitude instead of hearts ridden with guilt, and are able to worship Him in spirit and truth, see Heb 10:22! With grateful hearts, we offer Him sincere and genuine praise!


Law — the law keeps one in bondage.

Grace — as grace keeps one standing in liberty. 


This is the only point I made about Old Covenant law that I put in present tense, and that is because so many people still use and live by cherry-picked laws from the Old Testament. Over the last couple of weeks, we have looked at several points in comparing Old Covenant law and New Covenant grace. I did this to show you proofs from the Bible how we should have nothing to do with the law. Our greatest liberty will come as we start living and behaving by grace alone through faith alone. I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again, God, by His grace, has rigged the system! He has made living the Christian life so easy and burden-free! I close this lesson by looking at what Jesus said to us in Matt 11:28-30 (the message) — “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” I love the phrase, “Walk with Me and work with Me”. And before we start getting the idea that we have to work by doing something, we are given the clarification by the words, “— watch how I do it. Learn the UNFORCED rhythms of grace”. What we are working is that of watching Jesus and learning from Him, and His grace does the rest!

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