Grace’s Relationship to the Law
With the exception of Jesus Christ, every man has inherited sin from the first man, Adam (Rom 5:12–21). All of us have been conceived in sin (Ps 51:5) and our very nature is sin (Eph 2:3). Sin led to the death of our souls, which means we are spiritually dead to God from the beginning (1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1). All of this leads to the practice of sinning (Rom 3:23; 5:12), which is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4).
The wages of sin is death to the body, too (Rom 6:23). Death was the promised consequence for rebellion against God (Gen 2:17). It is the just judgment for sinful people, who are guilty before God’s throne of judgment (2 Cor 5:10; 20:11). It is appointed for each man to die and then comes the judgment (Heb 9:27).
The judgment of God is a righteous judgment. No one can stand on his own merit before the holy God because there is none good, none righteous (Rom 3:10–12). No one can work his way out of this state of condemnation (Is 64:6), which is the universal plight of all who were ever conceived in the line of Adam (Jn 3:18).
The standard by which sin is judged is called, “the Law of God.” The Law is a light that exposes the evil in the darkened heart of every person. The human heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer 17:9), and its every intention is inclined to evil all the time (Gen 6:5). Man was originally made in the image of God, but now he bears the image of the devil, who led the angelic rebellion against God before he deceived Eve, the first woman.
Men and demons are ungodly rebels who love darkness because their deeds are evil (Jn 3:19). One would expect that with the introduction of the Law of God, given through Moses (Jn 1:17), that sin would abate, if not cease. The reverse was true. The Law actually exacerbated man’s sin problem (Rom 5:20). This only confirmed the total depravity of man.
Sin reigned in the natural man. This enslavement to sin (Rom 6:6) denied man of any ability to keep the Law of God (Rom 8:7). Endeavors to obey the statutes only led to pride in those who managed some prowess in their imagination. The standard was so high that to break the Law at even one point was to be guilty of the whole Law (Jas 2:10).
Sin separated unrighteous man from the holy God, leaving the sons of disobedience without God and without hope in the world (Eph 2:2, 12). Only the fearful expectation of judgment and wrath from God remained for the children of wrath. Those who walked in darkness, captives in bondage to sin and death saw a great light, however. This Light was the source of light that is the Law.
God is light (1 Jn 1:5), and this light came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Light of the world (Jn 8:12; 9:5). People did not comprehend the Light (Jn 1:5) because Satan, the god of this world, blinded their minds from the good news (2 Cor 4:4) that the promised Savior of the world had come into the world to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21; Jn 4:42).
Salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1), who is our God and Savior (Tit 2:13). He saved us (Tit 3:5), that is, those who had been chosen for salvation from the beginning (2 Thess 2:13). God’s chosen people (1 Pet 2:9), predestined to adoption (Eph 1:4–5), as children of God (1 Jn 3:1, 10) before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8), are saved by the grace of God (Eph 2:8–9).
God has mercy upon whom He wishes to give life (Jn 5:21; Rom 9:15–16), evidenced by those who receive Jesus by God’s gracious choice (Rom 11:5) and sovereign will of God (Jn 1:12–13). It is God’s Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, who implants the Word of God in the heart He Himself has opened (Acts 16:14; Jas 1:21), causing the ungodly sinner to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3), to new life as a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
God is just to forgive the unjust with their debt of sin having been cancelled (Col 2:14; 1 Pet 3:18). In other words, elect sinners have been redeemed (Lk 1:68; Rom 3:24; Eph 1:7). They have been bought for a price (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23), a ransom paid for many (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45) with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:19).
Jesus our Savior fulfilled the perfect standard of the Law by His active obedience in life and passive obedience on the cross (Mt 5:17). He bore our sins in His body when He died on the cursed tree at Golgotha (Rom 5:8; Gal 3:13; 1 Pet 2:24). His substitutionary death was offered to God one time, for all of the sins of all of His people, given to Him by God the Father before Creation (Jn 6:37; 10:29; 17:2, 6, 24) and whose names were written in His book of life (Rev 13:8; 17:8).
In love, the Father chose to adopt them (Eph 1:4–5). In love, the Son redeemed them (Rom 5:8). In love, the Spirit was poured out in their hearts (Rom 5:5).
The grace of God, which is the entire work of God to save His holy nation (1 Pet 2:9), is sufficient to fully satisfy the Law. Therefore, to him who does not work to be justified before the Judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25; Acts 17:31; Rom 4:5; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5) but who only believes (Rom 4:5), his faith is reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom 1:17; 3:22). Even his faith is not a work, of his own will or choice, but it was granted to him as a gift of God (Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29) and received by him and all the saints (2 Pet 1:1; Jude 3).
The Christian lives by faith in the Son of God, even as the Spirit of the Son indwells him and will never leave nor forsake him (Rom 8:9, 11; Heb 13:5). The Spirit causes the child of God to walk in obedience to God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27), as a labor of love as unto the Lord (Jn 10:2; 1 Cor 15:58; 1 Thess 1:3). The obedience of faith is all of grace and for this reason God is glorified for doing all the work (Phil 2:13).
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
February 2, 2021