Do we need the Law and is the cross enough to cover us and save us by grace? There are many that believe that we need the Law, or parts of it and to simply live by grace is not enough. The problem with this is that it denies the power of the cross and means that the cross is not enough.
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the Law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the Law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose.
What Was The Law?
This is a big subject, so lets break it down a bit (I promise not to get too deep). There are 3 basic periods in the Bible:
The Law (Gen 1 – Acts 1)
Grace (Acts 1 – Rev 20)
Kingdom (Rev 20 – Rev 22)
The Mosaic Law was the Law given through Moses to the Israelite people per the Mosaic Covenant (the Pentateuch) and was a long list of legalisms created to justify one’s self because there was no redemption through the cross.
For instance if you built a new house, you had to make it with a parapet for the roof. You also could not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed and you had to have tassel on the four corners of your garment (see Deuteronomy).
If one contends that we must live by the Law or that the Law supplements grace, then one must live completely by all of the Law. The problem with this is that Paul said that you can’t pick and choose parts of the Law to live by, you must live by all of the Law and that he who lives by the Law, will die by the Law. Keep in mind that Paul calls the Law calls a curse.
3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole Law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the Law; you have fallen away from grace.
For all who rely on works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Purpose of the Law
What was the purpose of the Law? The Law was justification of self for a time when there was no justification or salvation through the cross.
So then, the Law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
Problems With The Law
The Law had many interpretations and disagreements on how to keep the Law. The laws had laws and those laws had laws. People became more concerned with the appearance of keeping the Law and self-justification than what was in their hearts and all the while their hearts were far from God. There was no justification from the Law and Paul makes it clear that the Law is not living by faith.
Here are a few scriptures I included for reference.
So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and Lawlessness.
(for the Law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the Law no one will be justified.
11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the Law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the Law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it
When we create laws to live for Christ by (religion), we are turning away from the cross by trying to put blame on something other than Christ to bear our sins. We aren’t giving up our issue, we are simply creating a scapegoat to blame our issue on and the issue is still in our hearts.
For instance if I have a problem with overeating (yes gluttony is a sin), creating a law to abstain from food, it will not remove my problem overindulgence, the problem is still there, thus my heart has not changed. God sees this and knows that this issue will just manifest itself somewhere else, then I’ll need to create another law to maintain that new issue because the sin was never given to Christ in the first place, I tried to manage it. Simply put, you can’t create enough rules to save yourself because you can’t save yourself.
A New Covenant
God new we needed something more, something that would bring us closer and reconcile us to Him, in a covenant relationship with Him. God planned this from the very beginning of time to give us His only begotten Son to be our ultimate sacrifice, cover us, free us from the curse of the Law and to bring us life.
The promise of grace and release from the Law were foretold in Jeremiah; Paul makes references to this in his writings (2nd dispensation: Grace). Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17), which means He was the completion of the Law and satisfied the Law for us that we might find redemption through Him instead of the Law.
Jeremiah 31: 31, 33-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my Law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 …I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
All this was done so that we could have a deeper relationship with God. Our faith is to now be in Christ; not ourselves. This means that we can’t save ourselves through works or by the Law; salvation is only through the cross by which we are justified through grace. We are to be free in Christ, living free of condemnation, confident in our faith that the cross was enough to cover us and there is nothing that we can do to cover ourselves. This new covenant means living by faith, trusting in God and believing the cross is enough.
Here are a few scriptures I included for reference.
22 The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under Law but under grace.
But now we are released from the Law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
Ephesians 2: 15- 16
15 by abolishing the Law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
What Does This All Mean?
This means that God isn’t concerned with how good you “look” as a Christian, but with the condition your heart. Do you have Christ in your heart; do you have and show love? Are you living a life pleasing to Christ or are you just keeping up appearances?
We don’t need to show that we are holy, or how much we pray or tithe, for our Heavenly Father knows all and our reward will be in heaven (Matthew 6). The cross is our release from these things, so that we can be closer to Him, free of sin and condemnation. He wants us to have holiness in our hearts by the renewing of our minds. This means you can’t accomplish this by buying a new wardrobe, rather by thinking differently from the world. You can’t save yourself; trust in the power of the cross, it will set you free.