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Do You Obey The Law Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
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I know that sounds like a silly question to most of you. Your response is likely to be, Well of course I do, after all I'm expected to enforce it aren't I?

Well, if you really are a cop, you know better than to assume anything. So I am going to have you go into a little bit more depth before you answer my question. I want you to do a little research on your own before you come to your final conclusion. Don't panic, I am going to direct you to the right location for some of that research so you can get off to a good start.

A good place to begin this investigation, I think will be in the "Book of Galatians". You didn't think I was going to go anywhere but to the Bible did you? Click on Read More to follow along.

 

 

 

I know a lot of us are used to seeing evidence and facts expressed in legal terms and laid out just like they would be presented in court, so I am going to refer to this spiritual venture as:


"Grace vs. The Law"

CLEF
Now, let's see what the verdict will be when this "trial" ends, shall we?

Just to set the stage let's look at a SitRep (situation report or initial briefing or how about the opening statement if I am going to use this criminal justice scenario) shall we?

"The Law" is full of things that we are barred from doing or things we are required to do, right? Well That means that the law is only effective if there is an empowering clause and a punishment clause referenced, attached or appended. That also means it necessitates our involvement in committing or omitting an overt act. This is true of both the "Law of Moses" as chronicled in the Old Testament and the "Laws of Man" with which we are so familiar. Since it is so full of mandates and sentences, and it depends on our actions, it is more concerned with our conviction than acquittal. I have been a cop or deputy sheriff for more than 37 years now and I know that it is impossible for me to obey all the laws that are recorded some where in this country 24/7/365. I certainly try but I can tell you there are stop signs I just didn't see, I don't watch the speedometer all the time and I don't always signal my intent to change lanes just to point out a few minor infractions. I am sure if we all take the time we can fill pages with infractions and if we are honest with God there may quite well be some biblical felonies on our individual lists as well.

Remember, we don't have to tell anything to God for Him to find out what we have really done in secret, He was there with us when we did it.

Now "Grace" on the other hand is based on Christ and is more concerned with forgiveness, compassion and justification. Grace does not require anything from us but acceptance. Grace is given, not earned, owed or taken. The great thing about God's love for us is that it really is blind, no matter what we have done in the past it stays in the past and disappears from His radar screen. He truly acquits us of our guilt. Instead of building up a "Spiritual rap sheet", God is interested in our future. His documentation of criminal history only exists for those suspects who fail to acknowledge the author and perfecter of our faith, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As we begin, I intend to make my "Case for living Under Grace" using the point counterpoint method. I will try and make my case by examining 12 scriptural exhibits. Each exhibit will examine a legal premise of the "Case for Living By The Law".

Exhibit #1: Galatians 2:16 "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (NKJV)

The law says justification is based on works. Neither the works of the Jewish law (often referred to as the Law of Moses), nor of any other law, can justify any man, since it is more concerned with conviction than justification; and if justification or pardon for our sinful lives could have been attained in some other way, then Christ would not have been sacrificed to open up heaven to us all. For what manner of man (let alone God) would have His only Son Crucified if some other propitiation was available.

Grace claims that justification is based on our faith and not our works. Lets look at our Galatians 2:16 evidence once again: "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (NKJV)

It is on the following premise I base my defense of Grace regarding this point. There is an axiom in theology, referring to Psalm 143:2, that compares these issues. "Moses and Jesus Christ; The law and the promise; The Doing and The Believing; Man's Works and Man's Faith; The Wages of Sin and the cost of the gift of salvation; The curse of the law and the blessing of Christ are represented through out the New Testament as diametrically opposed" [BENGEL]. Moral law is, in respect to justification, more legal than the ceremonial, yet the law is still made pre-eminently a type of legal bondage. Thus, justification by the law, whether the moral or ceremonial, is excluded as stated so concisely in Romans 3:20 "For no man will be justified in God's sight by works of the Law; for through the Law comes [only} the consciousness of sin. (MNT)

The defense has nothing additional to add on this point at this time.

Exhibit #2: Galatians 2:16-17 "yet because we know that no man is justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we ourselves also have put our faith in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law; for "By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified." But if while seeking to be justified in Christ we ourselves also have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? Far from it! (MNT) Galatians 3:11 And it is manifest that by the Law no man is justified in the sight of God: because The just shall live by faith, (MNT)

The law offers only proof of our inadequacy. It shows us just how sinful we are and allows for no justification (forgiveness), only showing us how inadequate our works really are. Psalm 143:2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. (KJV)

Grace, however, stands on its previous testimony as written in Galatians 2:16 wherein Paul points out "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (NKJV) Adding to that evidence with the fact pointed out in verse 17 and again in Galatians 3:11 that while seeking justification under the law all we find is that we ourselves are indeed sinners while Christ is the epitome of grace and our total justification.

Exhibit #3: Galatians 5:3-4 I solemnly testify to every man who submits to circumcision [referring to the Law of Moses] that he obligates himself to keep the whole Law. If you are being justified by law, you are cut off from Christ; you are fallen away from grace. (MNT)

The law points out that once you have decided it is through the works of the law (or your allegiance to that law) that your justification or forgiveness will occur, you have obligated yourself to obey the entire law, every letter, jot or tittle. Yes, the whole law. There is no middle ground. If one provision of the law (i.e. circumcision) is necessary to salvation, the whole law must be necessary and woe unto he who is not able to live up to that challenge. In addition, when you rely on the law,you cut yourself off from Christ and His grace and minimize His position, making Him insignificant.

Grace would like to offer additional testimony in the form of Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, so it is no longer I who am living, but it is Christ who is living in me; and the life I am now living in the flesh, I am living in faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. (MNT) Grace is living in Christ, the Alpha and Omega, The beginning and The End. Therefore, Justification (Salvation) begins and ends with trusting in and living for Christ. Enough said. God didn't apologize for putting this in His holy Scriptures and I don't apologize for pointing it out. Somewhere along your life long journey you will have to make the decision to turn your belief in God into Faith in God. That will be one of the best and most difficult decisions you may have to make since you can only achieve total victory by agreeing to absolute surrender.

Exhibit #4: Galatians 3:3 Are you so without sense? After beginning with the Spirit, will you now end with the flesh? (MNT)

The Law is designated as the way of the flesh and not of the Spirit. Paul is asking the Galatians who have begun the journey toward Christian maturity in the Spirit (The Doctrine of Grace), how they or anyone can expect to become perfected in the flesh (By the Law)? The Galatians were not turning away from Christianity, just as many "Cultural Christians" today claim to be remaining faithful to Christ. Yet, Both seem to be seeking to perfect themselves by observing designated laws and customs adapted and endorsed by men. If the law could perfect then the new covenant of Christ would have been and would still today be unnecessary.

Grace responds with this rebuttal of the premise that having grace and fine tuning it by trying to adhere to all the law (remember, to be under the law requires a complete and total compliance with the entire law) will result in perfection. Can you thing of one officer from the Chief on down who is perfect in their compliance with each and every law, statute, ordinance, General Order, SOP or Regulation? It is not a matter of following all the rules is it? You must know some folks that feel they are so much better cops than you because they are "never" going to break a rule. When that becomes their reference point then that ugly dragon called "pride" begins to devour their testimony. What happens to those who claim to be such individuals when the fact that they have had even the smallest departure from the "straight and narrow" becomes public? I'll tell you. Everyone waits for the "idol" to fall from their pedestal. Your behavior is always viewed as a reason to be like you or an excuse not to be like you.

Additionally, Paul asks in Galatians 3:2 Answer me this one question: "When you received the Spirit, was it from doing what the Law commands or from believing the message heard?" (MNT) This might be stated today as, Did ye receive the witness and the fruit of the Spirit by performing the works of the law, or by hearing of and receiving it by faith? At one point in his ministry Paul states that if the gospel is not true then we are to be pitied as we would be the biggest fools on planet earth for acting on our faith.

Galatians 3:14 Supports the position of grace and it's validity when it points out "to the end that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that through faith we might receive the promised Spirit. (MNT) Broken down a bit this appears to come out more like this: That the blessing of Abraham (The blessing promised to him) might come on the Gentiles as well. That means all Who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles should receive the promise of the Spirit. That promise includes all the other promises of Christ through faith and not by works; for faith looks wholly to the promise.

Finally, 2 Corinthians 3:6 sums things up quite nicely when it points out this: "It is He who has also made me sufficient as a minister of a new covenant; not of a letter [Law] but of a spirit; for the letter [Law] kills, but the spirit [Grace] makes alive. (MNT) or as it puts it in Romans 7:6 But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter [Law]. (ASV)

Exhibit #5: Galatians 3:13 "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is every one who is hanged upon a tree), (MNT)

The law could not be more clearly described as a Curse. The law is not based on faith but on the actions of man. Is not a system dependent on faith, but proclaims life by the following of the law, rather than by faith. The idea that the law is sufficient stems from Leviticus 18:5 which states: "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and mine ordinances; which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am Jehovah. (ASV) But since none can keep it [The Law] perfectly, all who try are under the curse. Galatians 3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them. (ASV) once again shows us why.

Grace, however, is not a curse. It is a blessing as indicated in Galatians 3:14 for we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, and faith is the only channel through which the promised gift of the Spirit can be received. Christ, by submitting to the curse of the law did not only appease the wrath of God towards us, and deliver us from the curse of the law so richly deserved by us, but He purchased all spiritual blessings for us. Blessings such as grace now, and glory hereafter. Christ was made a curse, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles.

Exhibit #6: Galatians 3:23-25 Before the Faith came we were perpetual prisoners under the Law, in preparation for the destined faith about to be revealed. So the Law has been our tutor-slave our pedagogue to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith; but now that the Faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor-slave. (MNT)

The law had a purpose, but only until the arrival of Christ. You see the law served as our "Tutor," Paul most likely used this term because of his familiarity with Roman families where a trusted slave, called a pedagogue, had charge of his master's children. He preserved them from harm and took them to school. The law is such a tutor; not a schoolmaster as much as a guide to lead us to the school of Christ. There we are justified by faith.

Grace begins where the law ends. Leaning on the latter part of the cited scripture Galatians 3:25 But now that the faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor. (ASV) Thus Grace is a blessing while the law is a curse.

Exhibit #7: Galatians 5:4 If you are being justified by law, you are cut off from Christ; you are fallen away from grace. (MNT)

The law requires total commitment and when you depend upon it, you reject the grace of Christ. Thus, Christ has become of no benefit unto you. It is vain for you to attempt to unite the two systems of grace and law. You must have the law and no Christ, or Christ and no law, for your justification. So it seems to me that allegiance to the law results in estrangement from Christ.

Grace on the other hand builds an intimacy with Christ. Galatians 3:27-29 For all of you who were baptized into Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ. In him there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham, heirs according to the promise. (MNT) This seems to say in Verse 27 that when you as have testified your faith by being baptized in the name of Christ, you have put on Christ and have received him as your righteousness. Therefore you have become sons and daughters of God through him. can you think of a closer relationship than that that exists between parents and children? In functional families that is.

Exhibit #8: Galatians 4:7 So each one of you is no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir, too, through God's grace. (MNT)

It is obvious here that the law keeps one a slave, or bondservant. Christ came to redeem all that were under the law. Those under bondage needed redemption in order to secure freedom. Paul has verified here that those under the law were in bondage, and from this bondage Christ came to redeem us all.

On the contrary, the case for grace also reminds us in: John 1:12 that we are now God's children. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {power: or, the right, or, privilege} (KJV) and again in the cited verse Galatians 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (KJV) What more can a person say? Bondservant/slave or child/heir, the choice is yours.

Exhibit #9: Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not again be held with the yoke of bondage. (MKJV)

The Law, it is pointed out, returns a person to the yoke of bondage. This verse relates back to the last chapter (remember, when Paul wrote this letter there were no chapter breaks) where it is shown that the gospel is freedom, but the Mosaic law is a covenant of bondage. Hence Paul bids them to cling to their freedom in Christ, and not to be brought again under the yoke by being drawn back under the law.

Grace provides liberty from the law and Paul is pleading for the Galatian Christians to remain in the liberty provided by the grace of Christ. He is reminding them that once they had been under bondage to a heathen yoke as referred to in Galatians 4:8 to accept the yoke of Jewish law would be to enter into a second bondage.

Exhibit #10: Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (MKJV)

The law deals with all of these issues and more. Now I ask you have you ever had to deal with any of the above issues, either personally or as a law enforcement officer in a duty status? Don't miss the significance of the specially formatted term in the last sentence. You tell me, is human effort sufficient to keep men from falling into the web of carnality woven by the issues in verses 5:19-21? If all it took was human effort then we would most likely be unemployed or farming.

Exhibit #11: Galatians 6:3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, being nothing, he deceives himself. (MKJV) & Galatians 6:13-14 For they themselves, having been circumcised, do not even keep the Law, but they desire you to be circumcised [To obey the law as they tell you to] so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. (MKJV)

The law is motivated by pride. It provides a measurement system by which to rate an individuals compliance level and compare those levels, thus developing a "pecking order". It allows a person to decide they are much less a sinner than someone else. Boasting in their level of compliance appears to be an empty boast according to Paul, who admonished them that if they subject themselves to the law, then their compliance must also be total. Unlike a football game the loser cannot take any pride in how well they played the game as the law is no game.
You either follow it perfectly or you lose and losing carries drastic and eternal results.

Grace considers everyone unworthy and therefore is based on and motivated by love. Paul points out that only in the crucifixion of Christ is there any glory, for through that event all men are found to be [sinfully] equal. Man can in no way take no credit for that act of compassion or the result. Paul says "God forbid that I should glory in anything except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Galatians 5:13-14 For, brothers, you were called to liberty. Only do not use the liberty for an opening to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (MKJV)

Under Grace no man can find himself any better than another. There is no room for pride in one's self "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Yet the essence the law is fulfilled and is comprehended in a single command, that of loving your neighbor as you love yourself. And as Christ loved you, enough to give His life for you without qualification. It is always easier. I will admit, to love those who love you, but loving and showing that love to those with whom you find fault in one way or another, requires the true grace of Christ.

Grace rebuts this premise by standing on Galatians 5:16-18 I say, then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another; lest whatever you may will, these things you do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (MKJV) This means to me that if you will let yourself be led of the Holy Spirit; If you submit to the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit, You are not under the law. You are under a different dispensation, the dispensation of the Spirit, of grace. You are free from the restraints and control of the law, and are under the control of the Spirit of God. Therefore you are not dependent on human effort but the divine power of the Holy Spirit.

Exhibit #12: Galatians 5:11 And I, brothers, if I yet proclaim circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the offense of the Cross has ceased. (MKJV) & Galatians 6:12-15 As many as desire to look well in the flesh, these compel you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For they themselves, having been circumcised, do not even keep the Law, but they desire you to be circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any strength, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (MKJV)

The greatest offense of the cross to the Jews was that Christ became the only atonement for sin, and that the whole Jewish system of ordinances over which they exercised some control perished at the cross. Of course, if those who professed to live by the law could show that Paul taught obedience to the law, it would be evidence to state that he rejected the doctrine of the cross. This was something, however, that they could not do.

So the cross is where the transition from the teaching of the law to the dispensation of grace takes place. Learn this if nothing else, that according to the terms of the gospel covenant, or Christian religion, nothing will help to secure our acceptance with God, except the real renovation of our hearts and lives. Doing a really good job of trying to live up to all the laws and ordinances will not be worth a hill of beans at the throne of God; only the evidence of being a new creature by the grace of Jesus Christ will be admissible in that courtroom.

In the Case of Grace vs. The Law, The attorney for Grace rests.

Now that we have finished our closing arguments and the jury is out, I ask you again, do you obey the law? Or are you under Grace?

This has been a long shift tonight but all shifts undertaken for God are worthwhile shifts.

As always God Bless you officers and members of our armed forces and if you feel like letting me know what you are thinking or if you need prayer or anything else Just let me know.


Stay Safe and I'll see you next briefing with another challenge or two.

Ray Fairman
Chaplain
Winterville (GA) PD
CWO4 USMC (Ret)
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