Grace – “No Law”

Modern evangelical Christianity has at times lost its way when it comes to the role of “the law” in the life of the believer. Ask the average Christian their perspective on “the law” and they will most likely tell you that it “isn’t for us today” . . . “No law” for the Christian! To attempt to clarify that thinking we must highlight the following statement from Paul in Romans:

  • “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)

The Greek for “make void” is “καταργέω”, katargeō, which Strong’s tells us means “to be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively: — abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.” Ouch! The church has been busy doing all of those things with the law, when we are in fact supposed to “establish” it. “Establish” in the Greek means to “abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up)”. The “God forbid” tells us that Paul anticipated the errors that a surface understanding of all that follows in Romans might lead to. He uses those “God forbid” alerts sparingly.

Clearly Paul’s labors in the book of Galatians leave no doubt that “establishing” the law is not “becoming a circumcised Jew” as some were preaching in his day. Rather it points to the fact that God’s notions of right and wrong have not changed since the creation of the world. Salvation in Jesus, rather than giving us license to live as we see fit, gives energy and ability to live our lives holy, to God’s defined standard, just like He did.

Let’s focus on this concept of “no law” for Christians as an expression of “grace”. In the Greek the particle “a” means “no” . . . and the word for “law” is “nomia”. Put them together and we get “anomia” – “no law”. And that word is used in the New Testament, here by Jesus himself:

  • “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (ἀνομία, anomia)” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus tells us that there would be those who were into “anomia”, “no rules”, that would bear His name, preach in pulpits, even see miracles done in His name. Yet they never knew Him at all, and will be cast into hell at the final judgment. That should solemnize us all – there really is a need to get this right. Now we know that “anomia” – “no rules” – for the Christian not only is not grace, but is in fact bad, very bad.

Now God has a pecking order of “righteousness”, some things more important than others. Although not a Bible term, “legalism” refers in simplest terms to a condition where we ignore God’s big commandments and spend all our time focusing on little, largely inconsequential stuff. If our group is distinguished by how we observe a day of rest or by how and when we perform “the act of marriage”, or by not eating pork or even by what Bible translation we use – instead of by our love – we are in trouble. Jesus addressed this in His rebuke of the religious leaders in His day who were meticulous about “tithing” the mint from their gardens – every tiny tenth leaf went to the temple – but ignored widows and the needy.

We can’t hide imbalance, no matter how sincere we are. And to whatever extent some of us in ATI have been guilty of that, we bear our shame. Some, finding imbalance, have rejected all attempts to live a holy life, citing the “freedom” of this fake grace. Neither is correct. Solomon wisely said:

  • “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:27).

Conservative, liberal, right, left, let’s be done with that. Let us learn how – in simplicity – to obey, follow and love Jesus in the power of His righteousness seeking grace.

Continue to Grace – The Rejection of or visit previous in series, Grace – True vs. Fake

10 Comments

  1. inhisgrip inhisgrip
    November 10, 2015    

    God’s pecking order of righteousness is always way more righteous than we could imagine — it’s His own righteousness. That is the only righteousness that is acceptable to God and if you are born again, you have His righteousness and have certainly died to the law that should be upheld for its purpose all along — to condemn us so that we would see our need for Jesus. Once a person has been truly born again by the Spirit, they are no longer under the law, but are under grace. This is abundantly clear in the New Testament. The law – and any rules – are useless for attaining righteousness and, in fact, have no power to change a person’s heart at all – and as Paul stated, even stir up sin.

    We live by the Spirit, not by rules, regulations or laws. And, of course, as Paul says, by no means do we sin so that grace will increase. The “balance” is found in walking by the Spirit – not following rules or regulations to try to live the Christian life – and not living according to the old, dead nature in an attempt to magnify the grace of God. Both are equally as wrong and ugly (even though one might appear to outsiders to look very “holy”).

    • Thomas Ackerman Thomas Ackerman
      February 17, 2017    

      You seem to have ignored the passage quoted above, about establishing the law through grace, not making it void. But I’m not sure entirely of your view. It is true we cannot justify ourselves before God through works. Our salvation is dependent on God’s saving grace. However, one cannot take this truth and stretch it into a “no rules” or “no law” argument. The New Testament teaches righteousness and holiness truly over and over again. It is not some secondary attempt to justify ourelves. No. it is the holiness of Christ flowing through us through faith.

      And of course if there are truly “no rules” in life, then you don’t think it’s a good idea to take out the recycling when the city says to? Or should we be rebels to such things because we are Christians? Of course that example is a regulation, but let’s look at a moral law. Should we ignore the law — you shall not commit adultery — or do we find that the same law exists through grace in Christ? Do we find that we know that law through His love? You see, we are no longer under the law of Moses, but the eternal moral law lives in our hearts because of grace in Christ. We should live by that law. Christ said — if you love me obey my commandments. The apostle wrote; For his is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.And His commandmesnts are not burdensome.

      It is true that “rules” could be considered either moral norms (such as you shall not murder) or various regulations which are not about intrinsic morality (such as putting out the recycling) but either kind Christians should respect. I believe if we are walking in the Spirit, we will respect them.

      • Moderator Moderator
        February 17, 2017    

        Thanks for the comment. The “No Law” – anomia – was aimed at others who believe that to be the primary characteristic of “grace”. We certainly do not believe that. Grace gives us both the desire and energy to actually do what God is expecting us to do . . . which fulfills not only the written laws but most of all the higher “mother” laws. Of course we will not commit adultery . . . but we will also not lust. Yes, we do not murder . . . because we have the joyful power of grace to not hate.

  2. Moderator Moderator
    November 10, 2015    

    “The law – and any rules – are useless for attaining righteousness”

    For balance, what do you make of this: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6)

    This is in reference to Zachariah and Elisabeth. Clearly this “blameless” aspect was given as a way to commend them, not condemn them. They were called righteous before Jesus came. What does it mean?

    • inhisgrip inhisgrip
      November 10, 2015    

      I would say that their righteousness was not from following commandments and laws, but was based on their faith in God (just like with Abraham – his faith was credited to him as righteousness). From the power of God in their lives and in them, they were able to walk in God’s commandments blamelessly. You and I probably read that verse a completely different way. Believing what I believe about righteousness, I look at that verse as two separate statements….they were righteous before God (yes, hallelujah, we who are truly in Christ are righteous right now before God!) and their lives were lived in a blameless way. As believers under the New Covenant, we can also walk blamelessly before God as we allow His life to be lived through us by the power of the Spirit…..but ultimately, our righteousness only comes to us as a credit (gift) from God to us as we believe in Him and what He has said.

      Based on all I know about righteousness and where it comes from, I cannot interpret that verse in any other way.

      • Moderator Moderator
        November 10, 2015    

        So they were righteous IN the law while living by faith. They, like David, loved the law . . . it was their meditation all the day long. They found it “perfect, converting the soul”.

        “7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:
        the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
        8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart:
        the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
        9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever:
        the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
        10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
        sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
        11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
        and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19)

        Were they wrong to feel that way? And it what way has the law changed to not cause such delight in us who, just like they, trust God and love Him? Do you see the disconnect that I do?

        • inhisgrip inhisgrip
          November 11, 2015    

          I think I disagree with your wording that they were righteous IN the law, that is what I was trying to explain by my previous comment (but I could be reading that sentence wrong). God makes it clear over and over in His Word that righteousness is credited to us by our faith. So, clearly, it was their faith that made them righteous in God’s sight and by His empowering, they lived blameless lives – and yes, they were under the law.

          No, they were not wrong to feel that way. :)

          In what way has the law changed? I guess it hasn’t, but thankfully, we have a Savior who has provided another way. So, our choices are — follow every command of the law to attain righteousness – every single one, not picking and choosing the ones that seem relevant today to our culture….or run to Christ and put our faith solely in Him for our righteousness.

          He changed everything and I can’t imagine living under the Old Covenant and its demands. If we believe that we are bound by the law as believers, then we have to follow every single part of the old law – we can’t just pick and choose which commands and laws to follow. All of them must be followed if it is to be followed at all. Stoning our rebellious children, etc., etc.

          This is the very essence of the gospel.

          I do not see the disconnect like you do any longer. But, there was a time in my Christian life that I did and was very confused about this issue.

          • Moderator Moderator
            November 12, 2015    

            IF the OT saints were living by faith, then they never had any confidence that the law would save them. The two are mutually exclusive. So . . . can we explain their delight in the Law of God that they were honoring that they knew could not save them?

            The problem I see is the chasm between the rapture that David and others felt as they meditated on and applied what they learned of the law . . . and the evil thing that Christians spend their lives running from. IF they could delight in it by faith, can we? What have we missed?

            97 O how love I thy law!
            it is my meditation all the day.
            98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies:
            for they are ever with me.
            99 I have more understanding than all my teachers:
            for thy testimonies are my meditation.

  3. inhisgrip inhisgrip
    November 14, 2015    

    What have we missed? Apparently, Jesus.

    You are hung up on how the OT saints operated under the Old Covenant and are missing that
    things have changed under the New Covenant. Radically. If you can read verses that clearly say we have died to the law, that Jesus nailed the written code with its requirements that stood against us to a tree (along with many, many others) and still choose to defend your view on this issue, then further conversation on this is really kind of a time-waster for both of us.

    Here’s the real question…. Under the New Covenant, should we be delighting and meditating on Jesus or on the Law? I know which one I’m going with. :) I hope and pray that one day, you will know the truth that sets you free.

    • Moderator Moderator
      November 15, 2015    

      Tell me . . . WHAT is it about Jesus that you are delighting and meditating in? What gets you excited? See, I get excited in part because the searchlight of the Law reveals Him to be beautiful, perfect according to God’s revealed standards . . . and also proves that He is the Son of God. Maybe you say that you get excited about Him because He loves you. Yet, the meaning of that love is completely determined by who He is, what credentials He brings to the table to be someone whose love even matters to you. All of that comes from the law.

      Here is what we should be meditating on:

      “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

      The law is, of course, all of those things. Being as it is our “schoolmaster”, always pointing us to Christ, it is a very good thing.

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