The Law Does Not Go Away Because of Grace, Only the Penalty of It

Posted: April 6, 2015 in 42-Gospel of Luke

Luke 16:16-18 — Today, you hear many proclaim that we live under grace and are no longer subject to the Law as handed down by God to Moses. You hear it said that we are New Testament people. The Old Testament does not apply to us.

Every time I hear this said I think of court claims that are made by people charged with crimes that they blame it on their childhood. It reminds me of when I was in my 20s, I blamed the problems of my life on the shortcomings of my parents. We are quick to assign responsibility for our failures on other people. It is the natural tendency to deflect consequences from ourselves. There was a comedian back in the 1970s, Flip Wilson, who during his act would drift into this character he called Geraldine. Her famous line was “the devil made me do it!” It was funny but it was a reflection of the growing trend to blame anything but ourselves for our actions.

If we claim that the law of Moses no longer applies to us and thus we can through away the majority of the Bible, then how do we square it with what Jesus says in vv. 16-17 of this passage. Jesus says,

“Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. But that does not mean the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.”

How is it that we can claim that we are no longer under the law when we have it here in Jesus’ own words that the law has more permanence than the physical world that we know and observe. He is saying that God’s law is eternal, more so than creation itself. Thus, the law existed with God and will exist with God eternally. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says himself that

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

How do we square off the concept of grace and the law? We say we are no longer under the law and are ruled by grace? Didn’t Paul say that? Is he contradicting His own Lord when says that? Are we contradicting the Lord when we say that the Old Testament no longer applies to us and that we are a New Testament church. We are a New Testament people. We might as well throw away the Old Testament. I think to grasp and to reconcile the seeming contradiction here we must think of our own children.

I would venture to say that 99.9% of all parents love their children dearly. You look at your little girls or your little boys and man you just swell up with joy to the point of tears sometimes. However, you have rules for their behavior. If they violate those rules, there are consequences. Because you enforce these rules and punish them, it does not mean that you do not love them. It means quite the opposite. Your rules for their lives are because you as a parent with many more years of experience living than your child, you know what is best for their future. You have rules for their lives so that they will not hurt themselves or hurt others or learn behaviors that are counterproductive to operating in an organized society when they grow up. The rules are to their benefit even though they do not know it. They often rebel against the rules and do not understand why you have them. When they rebel, they get punished. We ask them to simply trust us sometimes when they ask why they cannot be allowed to do what they want. Have you ever seen parents who have no rules for their children. No punishment ever. What a disaster that type of parenting turns out to be! However, when we punish our children, we still love them. After we have punished them, we actually restore them to a right relationship with us and we move on in love.

How do we reconcile Jesus’ grace with what Jesus says here. According to, we must look at it this way, “Can a murderer sentenced to death work for his freedom? No, because he is under the law and the law demands death. The only way he can be set free is if the Governor gives him a pardon. So waiting for the execution this man would truly be under the law in every sense of the word; under the guilt, under the condemnation and under the sentence of death. Just before the execution date the governor reviews the condemned man’s case and decides to pardon him. In the light of extenuating circumstances the governor exercises his prerogative and sends a full pardon to the prisoner. Now the prisoner is no longer under the law but under grace. Not under law but under grace. That is, the law no longer condemns him.”

That is what Jesus gives us. His grace is to pardon us from the penalty of the law. We are condemned by our first sin to the penalty of the law and we are repeat offenders. Our first transgression condemns us. Our repeated transgressions are like committing crimes still after we are in prison. It is only when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior that we are free from the PENALTY of the law. He is the Governor that pardons us from the full enforcement of the punishment that we deserve. Certainly, it is biblical that we are not under requirement of the ceremonial parts of the law that were distinctively for the Jewish people but the moral parts of the law are still in force and we are still subject to them even after salvation. We are free from the electric chair of our sin’s condemnation through salvation. Through salvation and the entrance of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, we desire to honor God by honoring the spirit of His law, His eternal law. Through the Holy Spirit, our violations of the spirit of the law cause us spriitual disgust at ourselves and lead us to repentance. Grace continues to be on display through our repentance and God’s forgiveness through the imputed perfection of our Savior Jesus Christ. The law is eternal and will never go away, Jesus said.

That is why the cross is necessary, oh so necessary. Without God defining that moment as Jesus, the sinless one, becoming sin in our place on the cross and dying a sacrificial death for it, we are condemned by the Law eternally in hell. We need the law to point out to us that we are flawed and in need of a Savior. Without the law, we do not know we are sinners. We are like children who are raised with no rules. They do not know that they are obnoxious little pricks because they have no rules, no consequences. We need the law to point out to us that we are dead to rights in our sins. We are at the judgment of a mighty and just God. The law points us to Jesus. The law teaches us of our need for a pardon! That’s why a true believer is just so in love with Jesus Christ. It is because we know what we deserve because of the law. We know that we deserve hell and are standing at the edge of eternity looking down at the fiery pit. We know we deserve the electric chair. But yet we receive a pardon through Jesus. He paid the debt we owed. He served the sentence that we deserved.

Father, your law is eternal. It is part of who you are. It was with you before creation. We thank you father for the law for it teaches us that we are incapable of being our own gods and we are incapable of keeping it perfectly. We thank you for Jesus who paid the price for our inability to keep the law and allows us to be viewed in Him when you look at us. We thank you for the Holy Spirit that teaches us to keep the spirit of your laws and to point out to us how we are violating your eternal law until the day we are perfected with you in heaven through the grace of Jesus Christ that gets us there. Amen.

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