Three Ways We Shortchange Law and Grace

First of all, I think we do injustice to God’s instructions in scripture — both testaments — by seeing them as merely law; arbitrary things we must do to gain His favor or to avoid obliteration. Psalm 119 saw the law as an insight into God’s deep love for us, and so did Jesus (Matthew 22:34ff). God gives us instructions for us to become more like Him, not only for our own good, but for the good of all.

Secondly, I think we understand poorly the concept that law has been supplanted by grace in the example and Person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Law is not bad, but it is insufficient to save (Galatians 3:21; Hebrews 7:11). Its time and function to lead us has past (Romans 6:14). It is now written on our hearts, which should be much softer than tablets of stone.

Third, God still has instructions for us through Christ. He repealed specific instructions through what He taught, did and suffered – rendering them obsolete: animal sacrifice, priestly tribes, sabbath observance, as examples. They were replaced by much broader, wider, more demanding, more perfect expectations: self-sacrifice, priesthood of all believers, constant spiritual act of worship, etc. But not all were specifically repealed.

Some were specifically reaffirmed. We still are not to commit murder … but neither are we to hate. We are still not to commit adultery … nor are we to look after someone not our spouse with lust, and thereby commit adultery in our hearts.

Some were left as matters of conscience and tradition, not binding on Gentiles.

And some of the 613 precepts of the law just don’t get mentioned at all.

This calls for discernment, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we can ask for it.

Does God still detest divorce (Malachi 2:16) and find remarriage to the original partner detestable (Deuteronomy 24:4)? When did it stop being an abomination to Him, so that some teach it as a requirement to please Him? Does Numbers 23:19 lie about Him changing His mind?

He commands (2 Chronicles 29:25) and is pleased with worship that includes singing accompanied by instruments of music, right through the the Old Testament– see Psalm 150 for a sample. When did He change His mind about this? Why would He not express this change explicitly as Jesus does about the Sabbath? Has He ever failed to tell — no, to SHOW — us what is expected of us?

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8


This article is expanded from a comment I made at Tim Archer’s blog.

8 thoughts on “Three Ways We Shortchange Law and Grace

  1. 2 Chronicles 29:25, “And he (King Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps. ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENTS OF DAVID…26, The Levites stood with instruments of David. 27, King Hezekiah commanded instruments of David.” Amos 5 is a call to repentance, 23, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” Amos 6:5 ‘Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments and INVENT for yourselves musical instruments like David.” Gal 5:1-4 ” Standfast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage (ie the old law) Indeed I, Paul say to you that if you become circumcised (ie to be like the Jews)Christ will profit you nothing, And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised (ie, to be like the Jews) that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ you who attempt to be justified by Law,(ie the old law) you have fallen from grace.” If we are going to go to the old law, which by the way was given only to the children of Israel and was never intended for the Gentile, you kb have become a debtor to keep the whole law. So you had better brush up on what did you say, the other 613 precepts. And you have fallen from grace.

    • You didn’t really read this post, did you, brother Jeff? I don’t know where you got the idea that I am calling for a return to the law. Of all people, I thought you would appreciate the fact that I recognize that the New Testament and Jesus’ teachings do contain God’s instructions.

      And by the way, the full text of 2 Chronicles reads: “He stationed the Levites in the temple of the LORD with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the LORD through his prophets.” – NIV
      “And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.” – KJV

      We don’t get to leave out the parts that are inconvenient to what we want to believe.

      Amos 5:23 doesn’t call the people to repent of worship with instruments, but of idol worship and injustice; until they repented of that, God would not hear their worship of Him, with or without instruments. Amos 6 condemns their sloth, instead of working to relieve suffering of their brothers. It’s not the instruments but the indolence that’s condemned.

  2. kb, in 2 Chronicles 29:25, are you saying “He” God placed those things there by the commandment of David? In your third paragraph you say, ” But not all were specifically repealed.” I would agree in part, nine of the ten are restated in the New Testament. Are we to keep the Sabbath? In your fourth paragraph you say, some 613 get no mention at all, this calls for discernment. I wonder why they are not? Could it be that they have no part of the New Covenant? We have the New Covenant in written form, therefore we can discern as to what we are to do.

    • Of course not all 613 precepts are part of the new covenant. Does that mean they no longer have any value in communicating what God desires for us?

      Just because bestiality isn’t mentioned specifically in the New Testament doesn’t mean God has changed His mind about it and it’s okay now and isn’t covered by the word porneia, for instance.

    • I’m not justifying anything. To justify something implies that it’s wrong and must be made right.

      I’m just pointing out that nothing in scripture indicates a change lof mind on God’s part regarding worship with instruments, divorce-marriage-divorce-remarriage or bestiality. Probably true for a hundred or so other things. Why do we assume a change for some but not others?

  3. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and body. Love your neighbor as yourself.
    I believe if we follow these precepts — really, TRULY follow — then everything else that is immaterial or irrelavant will fall by the wayside. Jesus has told us (and Paul in Romans goes into greater detail) exactly what we are to do to be followers of Him. Everything else is just hot air and chest beating.

    And that’s my 2 cents worth. . .

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