By Dr. Ebele UzorPeters
The key to understanding how grace and the law relates is simple: the law cannot be fulfilled by being under the law. It is fulfilled and surpassed, by being under grace.
If I want to travel, I have to lock up my house, and it is a very big house. I have to check the gas cooker, disconnect appliances from every socket. I have to put off every switch, shut every window, and close every door. It usually takes me about an hour to do all this
And on my trip, I’d be searching through my mind to see if I left anything undone. Most times, I remember a tiny window I didn’t shut and just pray some rodent or serpent does not climb in during the two or three weeks I’m gone.
When I get back, I check through every room to make sure all is well, before relaxing.
I travel a lot, and this is my routine. It’s extra stressful and imperfect, but I’m used to it.
That’s like being under the law.
One day, a friend tells me about these modern security systems that monitor your house especially when you’re gone, with CCTV and all.
Now when I travel; after I’m done packing, I shut down the whole house by pressing one button on the remote. All windows, all appliances, and all doors are shut down with just one click; and when I get back, I simply sit down over a cup of orange juice, and go through the computer generated analysis of the cctv footage.
All my struggle to do this and that has ended, yet I am achieving the same thing even more perfectly.
That’s like being under grace.
Grace means God does for me what I could never do for myself.
The law means I try to do everything myself and fail, grace means I allow something or someone who does it far better, to do it for me
So the law means struggle, and grace means surrender.
If I check from room to room after installing the modern security system, that’s trying to be justified by my works, and making the grace of Christ of none effect
I have to rely on a remote. I have to give up my old method of locking up for the new system. I have to give up my house to this new system and trust that it is secure even though I haven’t checked it myself.
I begin to experience grace by surrendering what I was struggling with (the old man).
If I don’t want to struggle, so I reject the law; and I refuse to surrender, that is not grace. My house will be burgled.
If I’m tired of struggling with the law and facing the condemnation the law brings, but I do not surrender my life to Christ and present myself to God; even though I have rejected the law, yet I am not under grace
I have simply entered into lawlessness.
Grace is not lawlessness; Grace is the in-working of the capacity for the purpose of the law to be fulfilled.
Another illustration (meaning the story above is an illustration,) is that before I got my modern security system, I never asked my steward to lock up the house because that was even more stressful. I’d have to explain everything to him and he still won’t totally get it; so when I had to travel, I’d give him a leave, and do the thing myself.
However, with my son, I don’t need to bother. I don’t have to say much; He knows exactly what to do. Where I’d have had to give my steward 53 separate instructions so that he does not forget anything; I just told my son…I’m travelling in three days, I don’t know if you could come give papa a helping hand. If he could take a break from school, I usually just said to him “Lock up the house, don’t forget the attic”. That’s all.
But my steward had to write all the 53 things down and go about with the list one by one….check this, check that, disconnect this, fold that up and put it up there. …it was more stress. Among those 53 things was the very same “Lock up the house, and all the windows in the attic”. The other 52 simply had to be added because he does not really know me and how I operate.
That’s the law.
Likewise the 613 laws of Moses contain the greatest commandments “Love the Lord your God with all your heart”, and “Love your neighbor as yourself”, but until Christ came, 611 other laws had to be used to explain those 2….because there was NO real CAPACITY TO LOVE God, generally speaking.
But when the Son of God came and renewed our hearts, we understood that on those 2 laws hang not only all the 613 laws, but also the prophets. He put in our hearts the capacity to love with the love of God.
It is by this capacity to love that grace delivers from being under the law, sets aside all the extra laws used to explain the intent of the law, sets aside that righteousness which comes by keeping the law; but powerfully upholds the law, by fulfilling it in us.
That is, the righteouness of faith (that righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ) fully satisfies the righteous requirements of the law and makes it unnecessary to try to attain to those requirements by keeping the law through your own effort.
Well then, is there a conflict between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it.
But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God’s promise is to believe in Jesus Christ.
Until faith in Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior.
Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God.
But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,
In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
There is only one God, and there is only one way of being accepted by him. He makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
And let the people of God say…