Forgiveness, Legalism, Law and Grace (2)

  • James understood this whole truth of grace by revelation from the Spririt of God. Look what he wrote in James 4:6 – And He gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

    “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

    Romans 10:3 says “for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God”. Is this because the Lord doesn’t want to justify them? No, it’s because in their own self-righteous minds they don’t need to be justified.

    Also, those who trust in their own righteousness tend to judge others who seem less spiritual, according to their self-righteous abilities, and then they themselves get judged.

    It’s easy to measure your commitment to law-keeping and legalism by paying close attention to your reaction when someone else fails to live up to a standard you have established. If you are offended or angry when someone doesn’t live up to your moral compass or doesn’t get set free from a bondage imposed by man or tradition, then you too are in bondage. “Until grace moves you from judgement to compassion, everything you do will be difficult.”

    Jesus can do more with your life when you finally give up and rest in what He’s done for you, than He can when we try to continue to do it. These statements will offend religious people, because it rebukes their self-righteousness. They’ll think, well it can’t be that easy for sinners to be justified who don’t work for their justification.

    It wasn’t that easy. It cost Jesus his life on the cross. Your salvation is free to you as a gift, but it was never cheap. God bankrupted heaven to send Jesus to give His life. It cost Him everything. So, the better word is it’s that simple, because all we have to do is receive.

    Religious and legalistic people will argue with you because this will be so terribly offensive to those so proud of their own righteousness. They can’t receive that all that is required to be justified is to humble ourselves and request mercy. But see, I didn’t tell you this story about the self righteous pharisee (legalist), and the humble wretched sinner, Jesus told this story and I’m glad he did.

    Here’s the deal. Mercy is one point at which you can touch God and always find acceptance. The neat thing about it is, the rules for justification never change. The bible doesn’t teach that you are to grow out of justification by faith. Rather it teaches that you will grow in it by faith. It works the same for the rest of your life. Don’t let anyone try to convince you or try to scare you into returning to a religion of self justification and works.

    Does that mean that under grace and not law that anything goes, including sin? The only people that will ask this question are those who are weak in faith and have no revelation of the grace of God. But it does get asked. So, no, that would mean we are anti-law if we taught that. It’s called antinomian or anti-law. 

    The heresy builders see living under grace as a total rejection of the law, as if the law somehow contradicts grace. It’s not the law that contradicts grace, it is legalism that contradicts God’s grace. Works righteousness is diametrically opposed to grace. So we are not anti-law, we are anti-legalism.

    The grace of God does not contradict God’s moral law, rather God’s grace establishes his moral law. His grace ultimately produces obedience in us. Romans 3:31 says “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”.

    Did you see that? It says WE truly fulfill the law. Well, that’s a nice scripture, but what’s this got to do with grace. This scripture is talking about faith. Again, studying the bible requires that you look beyond a single verse and get it in context. So, in this case, Romans 3 has its emphasis on salvation by grace, not works. Hence, Romans 3:21 says “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.

    WHAT??? Did scripture just say what I think it said? “Without keeping the requirements of the law, we can be made right?” Hang on, it just gets worse for the religious mind. Look at Romans 3:28. It says “So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law”.

    That’s just from the book of Romans. Remember, we are saved by GRACE, through FAITH. So, in these scriptures in Romans 3, which is focused on salvation by grace, not obedience to the law, we recognize it’s all about the Grace of God, and God’s grace is not anti-law. Paul who wrote these verses was not anti-law, but clearly he was anti-legalism.

    You will be misunderstood when you preach and teach this gospel of grace, because legalists are unable to distinguish between anti-legalism and anti-law. Grace preaching and teaching contradicts legalism. It appears to encourage, or be soft on sin, but the fact is the grace message actually produces obedience.

    Again, it’s obedience to the faith. The faith that’s in grace not in the law. It’s obedience to the righteousness gift of God. Receiving it everyday without works. Obedience must always be preached in the context of grace not works. True obedience is no mere performance of some sort of mechanical laws or rules. Instead, true obedience is a response to God’s grace, empowered by his Spirit.

    So, let me close this out with one of my favorite scriptures that reveals so simply how we are afforded this great gift of salvation that leads to justification and righteousness. Romans 5:17 in the NAS – “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ”.

    The problem with this verse is that religion, legalism, and false teaching have made it difficult for people to do what this verse says. That being simply receive. There are no work statements in this verse, or for that matter in numbers of other verses in the Pauline letters that even hint at working or performing. It’s all about receiving.

    Let me leave you with this from Galatians 5:1 in the NLT. “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law”. Who made us free….Christ! So stay free, because the law only leads to bondage and slavery. If you want to be a slave to something, be a slave to righteousness. Romans 6:18. Grace and Peace.