The Scriptures make a clear distinction between “Law” and “Grace,” putting “Law” in one Dispensation and “Grace” in another. “The `Law’ was given by (through) Moses, but `Grace’ and `Truth’ came by (through) Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. By the “Law” we are to understand the “MOSAIC LAW,” the “Law” given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. It was threefold.
We are not to understand that there was no “Law” before Moses, or no “Grace” before Jesus Christ, for “sin” is the “transgression of the law,” (1 John 3:4), and Adam’s sin was the transgression of the law that God laid down as to the eating of the fruit of the Garden, and “Grace” was revealed and exercised when Adam and Eve were spared the penalty of their sin. In Romans 2:12 the Apostle Paul speaks of those who were “without law” from Eden until Moses. He does not mean that they were not accountable for their conduct, for by their actions they showed that there was an “unwritten law” in their hearts that their conscience bore witness to, Romans 2:14-15. What Paul meant was that there was no “Written Law,” that is, no “MOSAIC LAW,” before the days of Moses. Let it be understood then in this discussion that by “Law” is meant the “Mosaic Law,” and that there can be no mixing or blending of “Law” and “Grace” in this or any other Dispensation.
I. THE LAW
1. THE “LAW” WAS NOT GIVEN TO THE GENTILES.
“When the Gentiles, WHICH HAVE NOT THE LAW do by nature the things contained in the Law, these, having NOT THE LAW, are a law unto themselves.” Romans 2:14.
The “Law” was given to Israel exclusively. For illustration take the “Law of the Sabbath.” It was not given to the Gentiles. It was given as the “SIGN” of the “Mosaic Covenant.” Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 19-21. The “Sabbath Day” belongs to the Jews alone and is not binding on the Gentiles (the World), or on the Church (Christians), though Christians are expected to observe the “First Day of the Week” for rest and worship. Nowhere in the Bible do we find God finding fault with any nation or people, except the Jews, for not observing the Sabbath. As a Jewish ordinance it has never been abrogated, changed, or transferred to any other day of the week, or to any other people. It is now in abeyance as foretold in Hosea 2:11; 3:4-5, it would be. It is to be resumed when the Jews are nationally restored to their own land, Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 44:24; 46:1-3.
2. THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW.
The “Law” was not given to JUSTIFY men, for by the “deeds of the Law” shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight, Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16. The “Law” was given that men might know what sin is, “for by the `Law’ is the knowledge of sin,” (Romans 3:20), for men would have not known that “covetousness” was sin, if the “Law” had not said– “Thou shall not COVET.” Romans 7:7. The “Law” was given to “stop men’s mouths,” and keep men from boasting of their own righteousness, and see themselves guilty before God, Romans 3:19. The “Law” was given to be a “Schoolmaster” to lead men to Christ, Galatians 3:24-25. All the rites and ceremonies of the “Ceremonial Law” pointed to Christ, such as the Feasts and Offerings. Now that Christ has come neither Jew nor Gentile is under the “Mosaic Law.” for He fulfilled the “Law,” that is, all the rites and ceremonies of the “Law” found their fulfilment in Him. Christ then “is the `END OF THE LAW’ for Righteousness to everyone that BELIEVETH.” Romans 10:4. Therefore Believers are “DEAD TO THE LAW,” (Romans 7:4; Galatians 2:19), that is, they are no longer under the bondage of “Legalism,” but under GRACE.
From this scripture we see that “Grace” is a GIFT. If a man receive salvation in exchange for his works, then salvation is but another word for “wages.” Or if Salvation is given in exchange for benefits bestowed, then it is simply a “reward.” Now if a man receives Salvation as wages, or as a reward, then Salvation is not a GIFT but something that he was entitled to, and therefore is not of GRACE. Grace is not something given us to help us keep the Law, Grace is UNDESERVED MERCY.
The “Source” of Grace is GOD’S LOVE. “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
The “Channel” of Grace is CHRIST. “Grace and Truth came BY JESUS CHRIST.” John 1:17; Titus 2:11.
The “Instrument” of Grace is FAITH. “By Grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH.” Ephesians 2:8. Not faith in a thing, as some good deed we have done, but faith in a PERSON, and that person JESUS CHRIST.
That we may the better see the difference between “Law” and “Grace” let us contrast them.
The first miracle that Moses performed as the representative of the “Law” was to turn water into BLOOD, typical of DEATH. Exodus 7:19-21. The first miracle that Jesus performed as the representative of “Grace” was to turn water into WINE, typical of LIFE. John 2:7-11.
2. “DARKNESS” AND “LIGHT.”
All the “Law” can do is to produce DARKNESS, as when Moses caused a “thick darkness” to cover the land of Egypt. Exodus 10:22-23. But “Grace” gives LIGHT. Jesus said– “I am the LIGHT of the World.” John 9:5. Jesus came to give not only sight to the physically blind but to the spiritually blind as well.
3. “DEATH” AND “LIFE.”
The last scene in Egypt was DEATH. The death of the first-born. Exodus 12:29-30. The “End of the Law” is DEATH. Romans 6:23. One of the last miracles of Christ was to give LIFE, the resurrection of Lazarus. John 11:41-44. Jesus came to bring LIFE and IMMORTALITY to light, through the “Gospel of Grace.” The first time the “Law” was proclaimed 3000 were KILLED. Exodus 32:26-28. The first time that “Grace” was preached 3000 were SAVED. Acts 2:41.
4. “STRIPPED” AND “CLOTHED.”
We are by nature like the man in the Parable of the Good Samaritan robbed and stripped and left by the wayside to die. Luke 10:30-37. The “Law,” like the “Priest” and the “Levite,” passes by and gives no help, while “Grace” comes where we are, and like the “Good Samaritan” pours in oil and wine, and puts us in his place on his beast, and provides for our future.
5. “SEEK” AND “SAVE.”
The “Law” says– “SEEK the Lord while He may be found.” “Grace” says– “The Son of Man is come to `SEEK AND TO SAVE’ that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. What a vista the Parable of the “Lost Sheep” opens up. It was not so much the sheep that was lost, as that a man had LOST A SHEEP. When Adam sinned and wandered away, God Himself took the initiative to look for him.
6. “DO AND LIVE,” AND “LIVE AND DO.”
The “Law” says– “DO and thou shalt Live.” Leviticus 18:5. “Grace” says– “IT IS FINISHED.” No man is justified by his works, but as a Believer he will be rewarded for his works. We are not to work to the Cross, but from the Cross.
7. “SERVANTS” AND “SONS.”
The “Law” said to Moses at the “Burning Bush”– “Put OFF thy shoes.” Exodus 3:3-5. Why? Thou art a SERVANT. Hebrews 3:5. “Grace” said to the “Prodigal” when he returned home– “Put ON thy shoes.” Luke 15:22. Why? Because he was a SON. Luke 15:24.
THE LAW SAYS “Keep Off,” GRACE SAYS “Embrace Him.” THE LAW SAYS “Bow the Knee,” GRACE SAYS “Kiss Him.” THE LAW SAYS “Punish,” GRACE SAYS “Forgive.” THE LAW SAYS “Strip Him,” GRACE SAYS “Best Robe.” THE LAW “Kills,” GRACE “Makes Alive.”
Under the “Law” the “SHEEP” died for the “Shepherd.” Under “Grace” the “SHEPHERD” died for the “Sheep.” John 10:14-15.
THE LAW demands holiness.
GRACE gives holiness.
THE LAW says– Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
GRACE says– Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity.
THE LAW says– Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.
GRACE says– Herein is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
THE LAW speaks of priestly sacrifices offered year by year continually, which could never make the comers thereunto perfect.
GRACE says– But this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever . . . by one offering hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
THE LAW declares– That as many as have sinned in the Law, shall be judged by the Law.
GRACE declares– That there is no condemnation (Judgment for Sin) for those who are in Christ Jesus for they HAVE PASSED from Death unto Life. John 5:24.
THE PURPOSE OF GRACE
The “Purpose” of God’s Grace is revealed in Ephesians 2:7, as being– “That in the `Ages to Come’ He might show the EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE.” In the British Museum there are gathered from every nation and land under the sun specimens of all kinds of animal, vegetable, and mineral life. No expense has been spared to make the collection complete. So God is gathering from every tribe, people, and nation specimens of His “Grace,” so that in the “Ages to Come” He may exhibit these trophies of “Grace” as samples of what the Gospel can do, and the sweet thought of it is, that there are no duplicates. You may think that you are too bad, too vile, too cranky, too odd and peculiar to be saved, but that is why God wants you, for there will only be SPECIMEN SINNERS up there, and God wants to show the Universe that the Gospel is the “POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH.” Romans 1:16.
*This post has been adapted from the book 'Rightly Dividing the Word' by Clarence Larkin.