Saturday, March 26, 2011

But...Aren't we under Grace now and not Law?

I think this is the most common thing I hear quoted or taught in regards to a believer not needing to obey the instructions of our Father (the Torah) today. So I think it deserves a bit of a look at. These are just my own personal thoughts on this subject. Please test everything I say (and you say!) against the whole counsel of the Word of God! Ok, that said, here goes... :)

We have been taught in church (generally speaking) that once there was a hard God; the God of the 'Old Testament'. He was harsh and strict and punishing. He was all about the law. Then came Jesus; the kind God of the 'New Testament'. He was loving and gracious, merciful and compassionate.

Of course, not everyone has this idea but I'm speaking from my own experience and as I said, am speaking in general terms. However, during discussions with many people, we have found that we were not the only ones who believed that...many people in the church do believe in what I have said above to be an accurate description of how they understood God and the Bible.
What's wrong with this picture?

Well, it implies a couple of things that don't line up with the Scriptures.

Number 1: It implies that we have two different Gods.
We know that the Scripture say that we have only ONE God. Yeshua (Jesus) Himself said that He and the Father are one. You can check this out in many places in the Gospels (Mark 12:29-31, Mark 12:32, Romans 3:31, Ephesians 4:6)

Number 2: It implies that there once was a God who acted like a mean tyrrant but now there is a God who acts with grace.
We also know from the Scriptures that grace + law (instruction) went hand in hand! Just as when we parent our children, we do not stop loving them and extending grace to them when we need to give them instructions - the Father was gracious while He was instructing His children. In fact, He says that it is because of His great love and mercy for us that He gave us instructions to live by - to help and not harm us! If He truly was only gracious after Jesus' time on earth, then we should not see any references to Him being a gracious and kind God in the 'Old Testament'. Here are a few which show His true nature from the beginning of time...

"Yehovah (God), Yehovah (God), the COMPASSIONATE and GRACIOUS God, SLOW TO ANGER and ABOUNDING IN LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS, MAINTAINING LOVE to thousands and FORGIVING wickedness, rebellion and sin". (Exodus 34:6-7)

""May Yehovah (the LORD) bless you and keep you; Yehovah (the LORD) make his face shine upon you and be GRACIOUS to you; Yehovah (the LORD) turn his face toward you and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26).

Here are some other places where it talks about Yehovah (God) being gracious to His people...
1 Samuel 2:21, 2 Samuel 12:22, 2 Kings 13:23, 2 Chronicles 30:9, Ezra 7:9, Ezra 8:18, Ezra 8:22, Ezra 9:8, Nehemiah 2:8, Nehemiah 9:17, Nehemiah 9:31, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 116:5, Isaiah 30:18, Jeremiah 33:14, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2 and of cours there are many more!

Number 3: It implies that the 'Old Testament' has gone and is no longer applicable to us and that the 'New Testament' is now more important. It implies a separation in time of our sacred text - the Scriptures which we call the Bible.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, "And ALL SCRIPTURE is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." That's a great verse. But what we don't often think about is that the 'SCRIPTURE' that Paul is referring to here is the ONLY set of SCRIPTURE which they had at the time of the writing of these letters - the 'OLD TESTAMENT'. When Paul wrote this, there was NO new testament! And so he is saying that ALL of the 'Old testament' is God-breathed and useful! It is not correct to pressume that the New Testament is more correct or more current or more anything than the original scriptures! The Bible was separated into two cannons 'the old testament' and 'the new testament' by men!  It consists of the TANAKH which is an acroynm standing for:
'T' (Torah - law or more accurately instructions)
'N' (Neviim which means the Prophets) and the
'K' (Ketuvim which means the Writings (like the Psalms and Proverbs etc)).
The Tanahk is complimented by the Apostolic Writings or Apostolic Record; the writings of those in the church after Yeshua (Jesus) lived, died and rose again. We have writings by the apostles that tell us how the church lived, the challenges that it faced and prophecy of a time to still come. These are classified as the 'New Testament' in modern day theology. God Himself however never made these distictions -he never called one 'old' and the other 'new'. We have one book of Scriptures which does include both the Tanahk and the Apostolic Record. There is no part that has lesser or more importance - it is the Word of God!

So really, from this we can see that the Scriptures say we have ONE GOD, that we have ONE set of SCRIPTURES and that the God who was is the same as the God who is and who will always be!

So then why do we still have people holding to the 'we are under grace now and not law' argument?

Let's check out where that statement even comes from! Almost everyone I know who can quote that verse, can not explain the context of that verse. We need to be sure of the context of the verses we are quoting as doctrine!

It is from Romans 6. What is Romans 6 about? Romans 6 is about the law of sin and death. Romans chapters 5-8 are all really about the same kind of theme. Once, we were slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). Our 'old man' was really dead to God. Because of sin, we struggle when we do the very things that we shouldn't do (Romans 7:15) because it is sin living in us (Romans 7:17) We who were once slaves to sin have now been set free from sin (Romans 6:18 NOTICE IT DOESN'T SAY THAT WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE FROM GOD'S LAW!?!?!?!?) and that now instead sin shall not be our master (Romans 6:14) because we are no longer under law (ie: the law of sin and death) but under grace! (Romans 6:14)

The whole verse is, "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law but under grace". See how the context of the surrounding chapters and verses are not about being under the 'yoke of God's law' as some people try and say, but rather, under the law and penalty of sin and death?

Still not sure? Here's a good experiment. If indeed, as I have suggested, the context of Romans 6 really is about being under the law of sin and death, then you would expect to find the word sin mentioned several times within that chapter right? I went and circled how many times the word sin appeared in the chapter of Romans 6. Want to know how many I counted there (i have an NIV translation)? I counted the word sin, sinning or sinned 17 times! 17!!!!!!!!! WOW! To me that is clear evidence that we are talking about the law of sin and death and how since we are now under God's good grace, we will not have sin as our master (which is what the first part of that verse says!) for we aren't under the law of sin and death anymore! We are free from the control of sin over us!

Interested to know how many times it says in the same passage (Romans 6) that we are no longer under God's law or even mentions His law? 0 times. That's right - there is no mention of His law being completed, annulled, taken away, abolished, or anything similar.

We have heard this verse (taken out of context) being quickly quoted in many sermons, articles, and heard it said to us in many conversations. And yet, each time we have been told this is specifically in regards to God's Holy Instructions which He lovingly gave to His children as a kind Father does; the Torah. We have been told that since we are now in an 'age of grace' His law has been fulfilled and taken away. And yet, just from a very basic study of this phrase we can see that this is totally taken out of context, with the context simply being that we are not under the rule of sin.

So then perhaps the question is, if that's not what it means, then where do we get the idea that the law has been done away with? It is a big claim and one that Yeshua (Jesus) spoke clearly and passionately about. He said,

“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. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19)

So to sum it up, I would say, that as God's people, we have always been and remain under His grace. We are no longer under the law of sin. Yeshua came to redeem us from our life of bondage to sin and death! Yay! The verse regarding 'no longer being under law but under grace' is about SIN , since in its context, it does not even mention ithe law of God (torah) in that chapter whereas the word sin is mentioned 17 times. We are, thankfully, under the gracious hand of our loving God!

Well, woud love to hear your thoughts!
Love and blessings as you seek Him in spirit and in truth,


Enid said...

morning friend..well over here it is..I am going to share this with my hubby... will get back at you later.

Mum-me said...

This was really interesting to read. I've heard many others talk about keeping the old testament laws. But, seeing as I don't know a lot about the way you worship and follow God, I wonder how much of the old testament laws you keep? Obviously you don't sacrifice animals, because Jesus' sacrifice did away with the need for that. But what about all the instructions given to Moses by God? Do you follow all of those? Thanks for taking the time to read my comment.

Jeneen said...

Awesome love you lots but need tzitzit instructions lol, is it ok to direct people to your blog? xo

lusi said...

Hi there Mum-Me :) Thanks for taking the time to stop by, read and comment.
We do uphold the instructions (commonly translated as 'law' in our Bibles) that God gave to Moses just as Jesus taught us to (Matthew 5:17-19) and just as Paul also did (Romans 3:31.
Of course, I can't possibly keep all the laws - I'm not a Levite priest or a male so there are many of the Father's instructions that don't apply to me. There is currently no temple (interestingly enough when there was a temple even after Jesus died, Paul still sacrficied in keeping with the Mosaic instructions given in Numbers 6. You can read more about that in Acts 21). As there is no temple at the moment, we can't apply alot of the instructions in the 'Mosaic Law' regarding worship and conduct in the temple. We also don't live in the land of Israel with the Torah (these instructions) as our constitution so there are also other things that we are not permitted to do...yet. The Word (both old and new testament) speaks of time when Jesus will return as King reigning from Jerusalem and will gather His people to Himself there, establishing His law perfectly.
At the moment, while we (His people) are in exile still, we do the best to uphold and keep His instructions. We delight in Him on the set-apart day for rest that He have us (a Saturday sabbath - Exodus 20), we love remembering the 7 feasts throughout the years (Leviticus 23) which paint an amazing picture of what has happened in the past and what is still to come! We wear tassles (Nummbers 15)and eat the foods which God described as 'clean'. We also uphold other parts of the law like 'Love the LORD your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength' (deut 6:5), we do not believe that we should hold hatred in our heart towards our brother just like Jesus also taught from the law (Leviticus 19:17), we believe in loving our neighbour as ourselves (Lveiticus 19:18).

I hope that helps a little!
I've discussed some more of these topics in the 'but...' series which you can find in my sidebar >>>.

You might be interested in 'but...what is the torah?' which you can find here: and also 'but...isn't the law written on our hearts?'

Thanks for your comment once again,
Blessings and love,
Lusi x

Anonymous said...

I know I haven't prayed on this enough, but I do seek to know His truth. last time I was wrestling with this, I came to 2 Corinthians 3:7-18. I don't see the old and new testaments as presenting two versions of God's character. Rather the law showed us what sin is and the fact that no one is able to uphold it, hence our need for a Saviour. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang on the two great commandments of loving God with all your mind and soul, and your neighbour as yourself. These alone are a tremendous task. I don't see the N.T. as abandoning the wrath of God, and I very much believe in the sabbath, men being head of house, and the like. But I do struggle with the need to follow the law in what to wear, eat, etc. as my understanding is that the Lord is more concerned with the state of our hearts than our outward expressions. I so need to continue to explore this, and I do appreciate reading and speaking to others regarding their walk with te Lord. Shalom dear Lusi xx

Mum-me said...

Thank you for taking the time to explain. I always thought Paul sacrificed at the temple because he didn't want to offend those who believed it was still the right thing to do. I guess I should do a bit more reading about this topic. It's very interesting, and thanks again for your reply.

lusi said...

Hi Annonymous! (G is that you?)

Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

Here are my thoughts :)

I agree that part of the purpose of the law is to reveal our sin. We know this because in 1 John 3:4 the Word tells us that 'Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is lawlessness'. We know that sin is still present in our lives and the only way we can tell what God's standard is, is through the one standard He Himself gave which is the Torah.
I believe that God desires the heart that walks in faith with Him, trusting Him, believing in Him, He wants compassion, mercy and love. However, the torah shows us how to do these things! Abraham was a man of faith who walked with God, trusting Him with his life. And it is said of Abraham that he 'obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws' Genesis 26:5
Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 that hey should have been STILL giving their tithing of spices (the Torah command) WITHOUT neglecting the more weighty matters of the law - mercy, justice and faithfulness. It amazed me the first time I read that, that he didn't tell them that giving their spices according to the law was useless and that they should have ONLY been practising mercy, justice and faithfulness. No Jesus said they should have been practising them both - the Torah ALONG with the heart issues of mercy, justice and faithfulness.
Of course to just 'do' the law without doing it out of love and relationship with God is pointless! He is and has always been interested in the two going together. This is why James speaks so much about faith and works going hand and hand(James chapt 2).

I think that many of us have viewed the law like these heap of burdensome instructions that are limiting and are just too hard to live out today. Yet I think that we miss the fact that God, as our loving Dad, gave us these instructions for our benefit. The point of the sabbath is rest for God's people - it is a gift to us! The same goes for eating the food that God called only food - there is scientifically proven benefit for us i abstaining from eating blood and animals that He never deemed as food for us. The same thing has been shown scientifically about the clothing issue. Wearing only clothing made from one fibre and not mixed fibres has been proven to protect us from radiation in a certain way.
You are right that God is concerned with our hearts but He is also concerned about every issue in our life; big and small. He wants what is best for us - even in what we eat and wear.

Well, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts!
Love to you,
Lusi x

Anonymous said...

Cheers Lusi, love hearing your heart, and I know the Lord will help me to piece all this together, but first He needs me to put Him in front of all else and at present I am struggling with that. *hugs* to you as you adjust to your folks being afar. Love G

Mommy Set Free said...

Amen and Amen!

lusi said...

I know He will do exactly that mate as he leads you. I can truly testify from experience that as He showed me and helped me let go of things that were taking my time and attention unnecessarily, that then He also began opening up the Truth of his word in a new and exciting way (and he is continuing to show me what to let go of-we're all works in progress aren't we?!?) Praying for you my friend as He continues to lead you on the journey.
Love to you G,
Lus x

Jacque Dixon said...

Great article.
Great comments.

Shalom, and glad to have found your blog.

lusi said...

Thanks Jacque! Nice to *meet* you!
Shalom to you and yours,
Lusi :)


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