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

11 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.

      • March 28, 2018    

        om 3:21  But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 
        Rom 3:22  even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 
        Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 
        Rom 3:24  being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 
        Rom 3:25  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 
        Rom 3:26  for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 
        Rom 3:27  Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 
        Rom 3:28  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 
        Rom 3:29  Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 
        Rom 3:30  since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 
        Rom 3:31  Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. 

        Warning Against Neglecting Salvation
        Heb 2:1  For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 
        Heb 2:2  For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 
        Heb 2:3  how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 
        Heb 2:4  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. 
        The Founder of Salvation
        Heb 2:5  For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. 
        Heb 2:6  But one has testified somewhere, saying, “WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? 
        Heb 2:7  “YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; 
        Heb 2:8  YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. 
        Heb 2:9  But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 
        Heb 2:10  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 
        Heb 2:11  For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 
        Heb 2:12  saying, “I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.” 
        Heb 2:13  And again, “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.” And again, “BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.” 
        Heb 2:14  Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 
        Heb 2:15  and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 
        Heb 2:16  For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 
        Heb 2:17  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 
        Heb 2:18  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. 

        Christ Our Advocate
        1Jn 2:1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 
        1Jn 2:2  and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 
        1Jn 2:3  By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 
        1Jn 2:4  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 
        1Jn 2:5  but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 
        1Jn 2:6  the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 

        God Is Love
        1Jn 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 
        1Jn 4:8  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 
        1Jn 4:9  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 
        1Jn 4:10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
        1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
        1Jn 4:12  No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 
        1Jn 4:13  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 
        1Jn 4:14  We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 
        1Jn 4:15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 
        1Jn 4:16  We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 

  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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