“Without grace, even the New Testament becomes the Law.” -Pastor Tracy Harris
Everyone knows about the ten commandments – these make up the foundation of what is called “The Law.” If you're not sure what they are, let's take a quick look:
Following these commandments bring righteousness and blessing on someone's life – disobeying them will bring condemnation and judgment. But we have already established this fact; no one can keep these commands. Ten simple rules to follow, and we've all failed miserably.
At least we're living in the New Testament, right? On this side of Calvary, God's grace has freely forgiven us for breaking His original commandments. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace...” (Ephesians 1:7). Now that we've been freely forgiven of all sin, there's no more commands for us to follow, right?
Actually, would you care to guess how many commands are in the New Testament? Ten? Twenty? One hundred? Would you believe that there are one thousand and fifty new commands for the Christian to follow? If we were lost with only ten to keep track of, we must be completely hopeless with more than a thousand! There's no way we could even remember all of those – let alone keep them! Doesn't this put a believer in a worse place than they were before?
That would certainly be true if we had to keep these commands by ourselves. But we don't have to do this alone; we've been given something that makes it all possible – grace! Let's look again at Hebrews 12:28, “...let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably...” We can only serve God by grace, not by trying.
When we try to obey God, we're depending on our flesh to do what's right. This is what Paul calls “the weakness of the Law” in Romans 8:3. The reason the trying to keep the law never works is because your depending on your weak flesh to follow God's commands. But if you read the end of Romans 7, you'll discover that the flesh will never be able to follow God's commands.
This is why we need grace, to empower us to serve God and obey his commands. Look at what Paul says about grace in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Where the flesh is weak, God's grace brings power. The result of this empowering grace can be seen in Psalm 119:32 “I will run the course of Your commands, for You shall enlarge my heart.”
When you try to obey God, you'll fail. But when you step into the spirit and have faith in God, you'll find sin losing it's grip on you! Let's take another look at Romans 8, this time at verses 2-9:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit...”
The only way to keep the righteous requirements of the law is to stay in the Spirit – by fully trusting in God's grace.
And what is it we trust in? Put your hope completely in this one truth: God has never given a command without also giving the power to keep it! Let's take a quick tour through scripture and illustrate this point:
When God commanded Moses to move forward – He gave the power to split the sea.
When God commanded Joshua to capture the Promise Land – He gave the power for victory.
When Jesus commanded the man with the withered hand to stretch it out – He gave the power to be healed.
When Jesus called Peter out on the sea – He gave the power to walk on the water.
Now look at Lazarus. If there was any man that was weak in the flesh, it was this one! He had been dead for four days – and Jesus commanded him to come out of the grave! Lazarus didn't have the strength to get up...he was dead! But what happened? The command carried the power to obey it! This is what grace does for us, it empowers us to obey the commands of God – any command.
This is the power of grace – Grace turns any command in scripture into the power to obey! As you read the words of scripture, remember this; any command you read is actually a promise to empower you to obey. Put your faith in God, and He will enlarge your heart to obey every word He says...This is the Promise of Grace!