#44 From Law to Grace

22 June 1999

"But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter"-Romans 7:6 A Pharisee of the Pharisees, Paul knew what it was like to worship under the old law service. But in Romans, chapter 7, he gives his experience of coming from law to grace. And what was it that brought about this change? He met Jesus! Under the law service, Paul had seen the priest rise up and echo forth a string of "Thou Shalt Nots" while giving the people the opportunity to present their sacrifices. But how much better was grace. Being delivered from the eternal consequences of the law, Paul was thankful to worship under the gospel dispensation, to "serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." When he could admit that he had fallen short of the requirements of the law and point to one who had kept the law for him, Jesus, the friend of sinners. This is coming from law to grace. Before Paul met Christ, his only knowledge of sin was "by the law." His knowledge was that of the head and not of the heart, "For I had not known sin, but by the law"-Rom 7:7. Though the law was taught to Paul by one of the most knowledgeable men of his day, this religious training did not change Paul's heart. Nor can it change any heart. By law is knowledge, not feeling. While he saw sin as a transgression of the law, his heart was not smitten and his conscience was not wounded by it. Therefore, one may be taught what is right and what is wrong by the letter, but until Christ lives in the heart by His spirit, performance can only be one of duty and not of love. The law was not designed to make a person love God no more that a speed limit sign will make one love those who enforce it. C.H. Spurgeon said, "Many preachers must confess the uselessness of mere moral preaching. There is no instance on record that I know of that the mere preaching of the law made a man love God, or, where the heart ever was, or ever could be, renewed by doing good works." If Christ does not live in the heart, God's laws are hated and the lawgiver is abhorred; laws are seen as negative restrictions rather than positive guides and helps. But when we come to grace, we learn that the law is for our good and for God's glory as they warn us of the sin that will surely destroy us. And rather than keeping them for fear of punishment, we keep them because we love the one who gave them. Paul learned that the law had limitations. Though it was just and holy and revealed his sin, he could not get to heaven by keeping the law, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain"-Galatians 2:21. While under the law, Paul thought he was doing a great job and deserved Heaven's highest seat. Paul and his Pharisee friends had made gates(excuses) around God's laws and he could say "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." But when he met Christ, the law was magnified. He saw sin in a way that he had never seen it before. He saw it in Paul! And no matter how hard he tried to be keep the law, evil was still found within. We read of his struggle in Romans 7. How sad was the plight as the man verily tried to work his way to heaven. And how cruel was the law that he could not fulfill. But how kind was the Savior as he revealed Himself to Paul as the "end of the law". Our faith must stand in the finish works of Christ and not in our ability to fulfil the law. He also learned that keeping the law will not give one spiritual life, no matter how grand and glorious the priest's requirement, "for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law"-Galatians 3:21. As the wind blows where it "listeth(pleases), and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit"-John 3:8. Who can command the wind? While it blows in one place and not another, so the Spirit blows where it pleases and imparts Spiritual life to the objects of God's grace. While law and grace do compliment one another, they say different things. When I see the law, it thunders and smokes as Sinai did before the children of Israel. It is strong and powerful, much more powerful than a sinner. But grace is stronger than our sin, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound"-Romans 5:20. While the law says "do". Grace says "I have done for you". The law says "guilty". Grace says "not guilty, I became your guilt". The law says "Give". Grace says "Freely receive". The law is a cruel taskmaster and says "make more bricks". Grace says "It is finished." Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115. by His Grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.