Mixing Law and Grace (1)

  • It’s just continuous. It’s the same old story. Paul ran into it when he was correcting the Galatians. They were saved and set free by the grace of God, but then they let others convince them there was something more they needed or had to do. It’s what we call Galatianism. Mixing law and grace. When you fall prey to that false teaching, there are only two options. You must either trust in your own ability to produce righteousness (self-effort), or trust in the sacrifice of Christ that made you righteous.

    I’ve had people ask me why I waste my time trying to show people the error that they’ve been living under and I tell them I have no choice. Here’s my situation. I’m driven by compassion to see them set free from the bondage of religion and legalism, and I’m dominated by truth. If it’s the knowledge of the truth that makes us free, then it’s error that binds us.

    The writer of Hebrews points out a contrast between the two forms of righteousness. One by works, and the other by faith. Let’s take a little time to look at these two.

    Hebrews 10:1,2 explains the works righteousness. (NLT)

    1. The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.

    Did you see that? The old system of the law under Moses was only a shadow, a preview. It wasn’t the main feature. They had to PERFORM or repeat them again and again. There are people today with this religious mindset that believe they have to repeat asking for forgiveness again and again. It’s not scriptural. They constantly tell God they’re sorry and then beg Him to forgive them. Newsflash. God can’t forgive you. I didn’t say he wouldn’t I said He can’t, because He already has. It was finished over 2,000 years ago. Look at verse 2.

    2. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.

    Wow. How powerful is that. Sin consciousness is a result of the constant belief that you have to perform to be forgiven and cleansed, and then the actions that surround those beliefs, when what is really needed is to receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. First you have to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was a perfect cleansing, once for all time. Then just receive that undeserved, unqualified, free gift.

    Hebrews 10:14 explains grace righteousness. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”.

    How many offerings? ONE. How long was the perfection for us? ALL TIME. I just have such a burden for those who will not lay down their old religious beliefs and receive the almost too good to be true news that it is finished. Again, it is the enemies ploy to keep them focused on the law and works.

    Under the levitical system (the law) the sacrifices could never take away the consciousness of sin. This caused man to strive and labor to earn his standing with God. This is the law at its best and we could never keep it. If we place ourselves under the preaching of the law, here’s what happens. First off, you will feel accused.

    John 5:45 – “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes”. This is Jesus speaking to the Jewish leaders. They were all upset about the fact that Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda. That man had been there 38 years. When Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk, the religious folks didn’t rejoice that he had been healed, they went on a mission to destroy the man and the one who healed him. The reason? Because it was the sabbath and you were forbidden to work on the sabbath and carrying a mat on the sabbath was working. Also, Jesus healed on the sabbath.

    How dare him. Jesus told the legalists that He does nothing but what He sees the Father doing, and says nothing but what He hears the Father say. That way, He said His judgment is always fair and never self serving. Then before telling them verse 45, He says to them – 43 “I have pursued you, coming here in My Father’s name, and you have turned Me away. If someone else were to approach you with a different set of credentials, you would welcome him”.

    Oh, how true this statement is today. Religious people will reject the power of Jesus and accept someone like L. Ron Hubbard, or a politician, or one of the mega televangelists that has the wrong message of works, performance, and giving. “Send me a thousand dollars as a seed offering and your debt will disappear, your healing will result, your marriage will be restored.” Really? Give me a Presbyterian break. I could have said Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, or any other type of break, so put down your offense, refasten your seat belts and hang on. We’re not done yet. I like that “different set of credentials” statement made by Jesus. So Jesus continues.

    44 That’s why it is hard to see how true faith is even possible for you: you are consumed by the approval of other menlonging to look good in their eyes; and yet you disregard the approval of the one true God.

    Paul didn’t see it this way at all. As a matter of fact, in Galatians 2, starting in verse 19, here’s what he said. This is in the Message.

    “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.”

    You see, in the first underlined statement above, Paul does the exact opposite of the religious legalistic Jewish leaders in the story in John 5. Instead of turning Jesus away, Paul identifies himself with Jesus and turns himself away. Then read the second and third underlined statements. They are the exact opposite of what the Jewish leaders strived to do. They were longing to look good in the eyes of men and disregarded the approval of the one true God.

    Wow. Even Jesus told the religious, works and performance oriented crowd that they were already approved by God. Paul says it’s unimportant to him that he appear righteous before any man or have their good opinion. Matter of fact, he said he was no longer driven to impress God. Why? Because he knew what Jesus said in verse 44. He knew he was already approved by God and God was already fully impressed with him.

    So, although we are not the audience specifically in these verses in John 5, you can see the correlation to us today. You can visualize people today acting the same way, and you can see how Paul, who was writing to us, completely destroys that mindset and way of behavior.

    In verse 45, what is being said is that if you have a performance oriented legalistic concept as a way to get God to accept you, you are operating under the law of Moses, and the law will continue to accuse you. You didn’t pray long enough today. God is not happy with you. Don’t miss church or God will not be happy with you. Make sure you don’t say anything wrong, or even think about saying anything wrong or God…..Well, you get the point.

    You’ve heard me say it before. Christianity is not about living up to a set of ethics or rules. It’s about relationship with Him, even in your most screwed up state. We do not have to walk out the law in order to be right. We get to walk it out because we are right. Grace is the provision that grants us the ability to walk according to the fullness of the law.

    We don’t repent of our sins to be forgiven, we repent of our sins because we are forgiven. You see the difference. It’s the renewing of the mind that brings you from last place to first place. From the tail to the head. Trying to perform and achieve will always keep you in last place, never realizing that the race has already been won for you.

    Now this is just the beginning so don't miss part 2. Grace and Peace.


  • Crystal Roeden likes this
  • Crystal Roeden
    Crystal Roeden I know we are totally forgiven for all our sins past, present and future when we accept Christ as our savior, but the truth is, if I mess up, if I even think the wrong things, I still silently ask the Lord to forgive me. It's just something I do.
    June 29, 2020 - Report
  • Crystal Roeden
    Crystal Roeden When the Lord spoke to the churches and talks about the one being lukewarm? I heard a preacher who'd visited that town say that one water source for it was a cold spring and the other was a hot spring. He said they had it where both came into the town...  more
    June 29, 2020 - Report
  • Mark Kunerth
    Mark Kunerth Barkley, you are absolutely correct that o ur sins are forgiven even before we committed them. The way I acknowledge that is through thanksgiving. I simply thank God for His Son Jesus who already has forgiven my sins and then seek deeper grace in that...  more
    June 29, 2020 - Report