It seems today in our Christian “religions" we have two extreme ideas. On the one side of the spectrum, we have those who believe and teach that as Christians we are obligated to live our lives according to the Old Testament laws. They teach and preach and condemn using the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament teachings. They teach we must obey the law to be pleasing to God. On the other side, we have the “I am under grace" folks. They teach that since we are saved by grace then we are not guilty when we sin. We are always saved no matter how we live. Grace gives us liberty and freedom to life a relaxed and peaceful life. . . . . which usually is translated to “walking according to the flesh". Both of these extreme views are wrong and both are SIN. Both of these ideals sadden the heart of God.
First let’s see why trying to live according to the law is wrong. To begin with, the law was given in the Old Covenant. It was NEVER able to save anyone. The law was given as a “tutor" to lead people to faith and to lead to Christ. Faith has always been the only way to salvation.
He lived a perfect life and completely fulfilled the law and as result He delivered us from the law. Romans 7 tells us that through Christ we have become dead to the law. Death brings an end to a covenant. For instance, when you are married and your spouse dies you are then no longer in that covenant relationship and you are free to be married to someone else. Through Christ the old covenant. This death of the old covenant now frees us to be married to the new covenant, the covenant of grace. Jesus himself told us this at the Passover meal. He told us that He has given a new covenant, not a variation of the old, but a new. Not new wine in old wineskins, but everything new.
There are many, many verses in the New Testament (covenant) that clearly shows us to be true. Galatians 5:4 says we are estranged from Christ ( an estranged spouse is one who no longer life's with, communicates with, relates with the other spouse)if we try to follow the law. It also says that we have fallen from His grace when we attempt to live by the law. So now we have the other extreme. Those people who live and teach and preach that we are no longer under the law but under grace. (Which this is 100% a truthful statement, we are not under the law and we are under grace. ) Jesus Fulfilled the covenant of the law to take our heavy burdens and gives us grace which frees us from the burden of being good enough to live by the law. How then can being under grace be sin??? Simple, people use this “under grace" extreme to justify what is really “living according to the flesh". They say since they are no longer under the law but under grace, then they no longer have to worry about weather they sin or not, since God's grace frees them from sin.
We cannot use the grace of our Lord to justify our own sinful desires. We cannot say because we under grace if I sin we are forgiven and then continue IN sin. Yes, when we sin, we have complete forgiveness in Christ. But if we continue in sin we are no longer under grace but a slave to the law of sin.
Galatians 5:16-22 tells us the importance of walking in God's Spirit and not in the lust of the flesh. It shows us that our fleshly desires (and gives a small list of some) are an enemy of the Spirit of God. Then it clearly states that those who are “in Christ" (or as some might also say “under grace") have crucified their flesh and its desires.
There are probably as many verses in the New Testament (Grace Covenant) which speaks against using “grace" to free you from following Christ. As James might have put it (well he basically did say this), grace without works is dead. What I mean is that to say you are under grace and then live your life how YOU want to means you are not truly “under grace" at all. The true grace, true liberty, true freedom that Jesus bought for us does NOT produce sin. To live under real GRACE will ALWAYS result in a Christ-like lifestyle. (Not a perfect life, but one where the heart of the person desires to please God. ) True grace and liberty produce fruit worthy of Christ, for you shall know them by their fruit.
Wait, am I saying then we must obey and follow both the Old Testament and its laws, and the New Testament and its grace? NO WAY!! The old covenant died and was buried with Jesus’ death and the new covenant was made alive and established with Jesus’ resurrection. The law was fulfilled perfectly in Christ. Does that mean the law was evil? NO! The laws of God are pure. “Do not murder" could never be mistaken as an evil thing. But to try to live by the law is the same thing as denying Christ and His work. No one ever could live by the law, Jesus did and when we have Christ in us we have the perfected law in us. We don't have to work to fulfill it; He already did it for us. We must realize that we are no longer under the burden to fulfill the law. Our burden, which is light, is to receive Jesus Christ by faith, receive the freedom and liberty from the burden of the law, and out of LOVE for HIM seek to follow His ways. We cannot truly follow Him with our own ability. We can only really follow Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our lives must be nothing of their own. We can't be saved by being good enough. We can't be saved by acknowledging Jesus and His death and resurrection and then trying to obey the law. We are not saved by some magical “grace" that some how makes our sins become not sin as longer as we are “under grace”. We can only be saved through faith in Jesus (this faith is not even our own but a gift from God), then everyday seek God's strength to walk in His Spirit which is to live in really grace. All burdens to obey the law are off our shoulders, we can't. But the responsibility to walk in the Spirit and not after the flesh is ours, yet we are unable to walk in the Spirit unless we have received the grace Jesus gives. Romans 6:15-16 " Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly Not!" You are a slave to whatever you give yourself to. If you continue in sin “because you are under grace" then you are not really under grace, but rather a slave to sin. Or through the grace which Christ gives, we can give ourselves to righteousness and become a slave to live by the Spirit of God and thereby fulfill the law!
Tracy Finney is a published author. She has written a Chritian Fiction Novel titled “God Will Make a Way". To find out more about Tracy and the book please visit her web site. http://www.tracyfinney.com