Speaking on the difference between Law and Grace, the renowned Bible teacher C.I. Scofield writes:
"Law is God prohibiting and requiring (Ex. 20:1, 17); grace is God beseeching and bestowing (2 Cor. 5:18, 21). Law is a ministry of condemnation (Rom. 3:19); grace of forgiveness (Eph. 1:7). Law curses (Gal. 3:10); grace redeems from that curse (Gal. 3:1). Law kills (Rom. 7:9, 11); grace makes alive (John 10:10). Law shuts every mouth before God; grace opens every mouth to praise him. Law puts a great and guilty distance between man and God (Ex. 20:18-19); grace makes guilty man nigh to God (Eph. 2:13). Law says, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth' (Ex. 21:24); grace says, 'Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also' (Matt. 5:39). Law says, 'Hate thine enemy'; grace, 'Love your enemy, bless them that despitefully use you'. Law says, do and live (Luke 10:26, 28); grace, believe and live (John 5:24). Law never had a missionary; grace is to be preached to every creature. Law utterly condemns the best man (Phil. 3:4, 9); grace freely justifies the worst (Luke 23:24; Rom. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:15; 1 Cor, 6:9, 11). Law is a system of probation; grace, of favor. Law stones an adulteress (Deut. 22:21); grace says, 'Neither do I condemn thee' (John 8:1, 11). Under the law the sheep dies for the shepherd; under grace the shepherd dies for the sheep (John 10:11)."
The great mistake many Christians make after they have been saved (if in fact they have really been saved) is that they as Christians must endeavor to keep the law (i.e., conform themselves to God's righteousness) with all their might now that they have been saved; that they must strive all the more to be "perfect" - to be careful to "do good" and "avoid evil;" to exude a Christian piety and godliness appropriate to their new status as "followers of Christ." And while they might never admit it, they think that that's what the Christian life is all about: doing good and avoiding evil. The main object in their life becomes the attainment of personal holiness through which they can be brought into true "fellowship with Him."
They believe that as they force their lives ever more into conformity with the standards of the law, they will draw ever closer to God, and that this highly personal and individual endeavor is what the Christian life is really all about. This is certainly what Opus Dei believes, as well as most of the Catholic monastic orders; this is certainly what the followers of "Latter Rain" and countless other Protestant charismatic groups believe as well. Sadly, however, in holding to this kind of belief system, such people reveal that they have no real grasp of what God's righteousness is all about, and that the fact of their salvation stands in jeopardy of being proven a lie -
"For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and GOING ABOUT TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, [prove that they] have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:3)
Wow! That's heavy! - Paul says that such people are "IGNORANT OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS;" that they are oblivious and incognizant of what the Christian life is all about -
"FOR CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS TO EVERYONE THAT BELIEVETH." (Romans 10:4)
Listen to me very carefully here, brothers and sisters: The Christian life has NOTHING to do with our striving to keep the law and the ordinances of God. Indeed, the great Bible expositor J.N. Darby writes:
"To rest upon Christian ordinances [and force others to live by them as well] is EXACTLY to deny the precious and solemn truth which says ... that there is no longer any righteousness after the flesh ..."
And when one goes about "measuring" his brothers and sisters in Christ by some external standard he has in mind, he puts himself in great danger, for the Bible says -
"With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:2)
Are you able to bear the judgment you mete out to others? - because the Law says that "the man which doeth those things [i.e., who judges others according to the Law] shall live by them [i.e., by all the ‘jots and tittles’ of the Law]." (Romans 10:5) Are you able to do that? Are you able to live by the law?
But if you can't live by the law yourself, then you have no right to force that law down anyone else's throat. And lest you think that you are able to live by the law, the Bible says:
"... there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Romans 3:12)
This is what those in the church in Galatia were doing - going about to "establish their own righteousness" by ordering their lives to conform to an external standard of what they thought "righteousness" was supposed to look like; but, again - as Paul explains - this has NOTHING to do with the Christian life. Paul writes:
"O foolish Galatians, who hath BEWITCHED you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
"THIS ONLY WOULD I LEARN OF YOU, RECEIVED YE THE SPIRIT BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW, OR BY THE HEARING OF FAITH?
"Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)
The truth is, when we accepted what Christ did for us on the cross, we had HIS righteousness imputed (or credited) to us as a "FREE GIFT" (cf. Romans 5:15, 16, 18) from God; that we are now "found in Him" (Phil. 3:9a) -
"... NOT having ... [our] own righteousness, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith ..." (Phil. 3:9b)
The fact is, when God found us, we were yet in sin; all our works of righteousness had not advanced us even so much as one degree toward God; but -
"God commendeth his love toward us, in that, WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
And we continue on with Christ in EXACTLY the same manner (cf. Galatians 3:3). Darby explains:
"WE LIVE BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who has loved us, and given Himself for us ... If [our] righteousness were established on the principle of the law, Christ died in vain, since it would be by keeping the law ourselves that we should in our own persons acquire righteousness. What a loss, dreadful and irreparable, to lose such a Christ, as we, under grace, have known Him; such a righteousness; such a love; the Son of God devoted for us, and to us! It is indeed this which awakens the strong feelings of the apostle: "O foolish Galatians ... who hath bewitched you?"
Again I say, the law has NOTHING to do with the righteousness of God, and EVERYTHING to do with what the Bible calls the "flesh" (which is man minus the Spirit of God).
Does this mean that the law is sin or that it is bad? No! - by no means. Paul says:
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
"But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. (Romans 7:7-8)
Now listen to me here very carefully, brothers and sisters: When man disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, and ate of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil," the spirit in man died, and his ability to "behold and reflect" (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18) God in his spirit died with him.
You must always bear in mind that it's by "beholding and reflecting" the Lord in our spirit that we are made perfect. When we lose that ability, we become - ipso facto - sinful - AND THE LAW WAS GIVEN SO THAT WE COULD UNDERSTAND JUST HOW SINFUL WE HAD BECOME. Paul continues:
"Was then that [i.e. the law] which is good [cf. Romans 7:7] made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, THAT IT MIGHT APPPEAR SIN, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." (Romans 7:13)
Paul goes on to explain:
"... the law entered, that the offence might abound." (Romans 5:20a)
In other words, God gave man the law so that it would become ABUNDANTLY clear how sinful he had become when his spirit died and he was cut off from the ability to "behold and reflect" God in his spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18); indeed, Paul says that when man attempts to live by the law rather than by "beholding and reflecting" God in his spirit, he INEVITABLY finds himself in a situation where he is forced to cry our in desperation:
"... what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." (Romans 7:15)
And this situation is true EVEN AFTER ONE IS SAVED! - it certainly was true of the Galatian brethren, and it was for this reason that Paul cried out:
"Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)
Are you walking in the spirit (which is to say, "in GRACE"), or are you walking in the flesh? Do you follow Christ by "beholding and reflecting" Him in your spirit, or do you attempt to follow Him by conforming your life to standards which you think will gain you favor from Him? The fact is, THE FAVOR OF GOD CAN NEVER BE EARNED! - neither insofar as being born again is concerned, nor insofar as continuing on with Him after you have been born again. GRACE MEANS UNMERITED, UNRECOMPENSED FAVOR; add even the slightest effort on the part of man, and grace is no more grace. (Rom. 11:6) C.I. Scofield writes:
"So absolutely is this true, that grace cannot even begin with us until the law has reduced us to speechless guilt [and impotence so far as its requirements are concerned]. (Rom. 3:19) So long as there is even the slightest question as to our UTTER guilt before God, our UTTER helplessness before Him, there is no place for grace ..."
"Into grace Paul (the apostle) had called the Galatians. What was his controversy with them? (Gal.1:6). Just this: they were removed from the grace of Christ to 'another gospel'. (Gal. 1:7) But there could not be another gospel. Change, modify the grace of Christ by the smallest degree, and you no longer have a gospel."
And, again, why is that? - because man cannot even in the tiniest degree fulfill the righteousness of God. Lay even the smallest requirement of the Law on man, and he will fail. As Christians, we MUST recognize FROM THE HEART that we are -
"... crucified with Christ: nevertheless we live; YET NOT WE BUT CHRIST LIVETH IN US; AND THE LIFE WHICH WE NOW LIVE ... WE LIVE BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who loved us, and gave himself for us." (Galatians 2:20)
Moreover, as we live "by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us, and gave himself for us" (that is to say, as we "behold and reflect God in our spirit) and as we abide in His life, we -
"... grow ... up unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)
This is called the "growth in life" - i.e., Christ's life in us. Jesus said:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NOTHING." (John 15:1-5)
A real Christian understands that if he is to grow up in Christ, the only way he can do so is in humble relationship with Him by means of the Holy Spirit who is now resident in his spirit. This is what the Bible means when it says -
"We all, with open face beholding as in a glass [a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from [one degree of] glory to [another degree of] glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18)
There is no effort required here; we need but to "behold and reflect" the Lord in our spirit, and as we do so, we will be changed by degrees into His likeness. The Bible calls this "growing up in Him in all things." (Eph 4:15) Now that's important for us to grasp; we do not change overnight; we change by degrees - by the GROWTH of life - His life in us. The Bible says:
"The kingdom of God, is as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
"And should sleep, and rise night and day, and THE SEED SHOULD SPRING UP AND GROW, HE KNOWETH NOT HOW.
"For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
"But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." (Mark 4:26-29)
The kingdom of God - i.e., the rule of Christ in your individual life - is like a seed in you that is growing - "and you know not how." (Mark 4:27) It is a mystery. But it has been planted in you, AND IT WILL GROW! - "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Mark 4:28) And it grows by the power of life that is in the seed, and not by any power that is in you. It is not dependent on anything you do; the Bible says that as you "sleep, and rise night and day" (Mark 4:27) the seed just keeps on growing - and as you "behold and reflect" (2 Cor. 3:18) that life, you "are changed into the same image" (2 Cor 3:18) and "you know not how." (Mark 4:27).
Brothers and sisters, I tell you the truth: It is IMPOSSIBLE for this life to fail in you. THIS IS WHAT CHRISTIANITY IS ALL ABOUT! - this is the "gospel" (or "good news") of Salvation.
"Behold and reflect" the Lord (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18) - that's what we are called to do as Christians, and EVERYTHING will follow from that!
You object: That's too simple! Certainly there has to be some effort here. But that's not what the Bible says; that's not what the "good news" of the gospel is all about. The Bible says:
"Now it came to pass, as they [Christ and His disciples] went, that he [Christ] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
"And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
"BUT ONE THING IS NEEDFUL: AND MARY HATH CHOSEN THAT GOOD PART, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-41)
And what exactly was Mary doing? - NOTHING! She was simple sitting at the Master's feet and "beholding and reflecting" Him. This is what Jesus said was the "NEEDFUL THING." This is the "NEEDFUL THING" when you accept Christ into your heart, and this is the "NEEDFUL THING" as you "grow up in Him in all things." (Eph 4:15) Again, THAT IS THE "GOOD NEWS" OF THE GOSPEL.
Do you have some "besetting sin" in your life? - Behold and reflect Him, and by degrees it will fall away. Do you have problems of character in your life? - Behold and reflect Him in your spirit, and your character will by degrees and the growth in life be changed - and "you know not how." (Mark 4:27). There is no need to keep the law here; CHRIST IS THE LAW, and if you "behold and reflect Him" you will fulfill the Law - not all at once, but by degrees and by the growth in life. KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS! Remember what happened to Peter:
"And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
"And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
"And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
"And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased." (Mark 14:23-32)
Peter took his eyes off Jesus, and he began to sink. And this is what will happen to ALL of us when we take our eyes off the Lord: We will sink! But, again, there is "GOOD NEWS" when we sink. The Bible says:
"My little children ... if any man sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
"And he is the propitiation [or reparation] for our sins ..." . (1 John 2:1-2a)
And the Bible goes on to say:
"If we confess our sins, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS, AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. (1 John 1:9)
That's ALL unrighteousness; He will cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness!
And when the Bible says that Christ is the "propitiation [or reparation] for our sins," it means not only our sins, but the sins of the WHOLE world:
"... and not for our [sins] only, but also for the sins of the WHOLE world. (1 John 2:1-2)
And if that's the case, then who are we to judge ANYONE? - even the worst sinner.
Listen to me, brothers and sisters: Grace is not looking for men of "good character" that it can approve, but it is looking for men who are "down and out" - men who are helpless, men who are addicted to sin, whom it can save through faith, then sanctify and glorify.
The Bible says: "Where is there any room for us to boast? - boasting is EXCLUDED." (Romans 3:27)
In other words, if God has done ALL the work insofar as our salvation is concerned, and if He does ALL the work insofar as our walk with Him is concerned, then where is there any reason for self-righteousness on our part? Specifically, the Bible says:
"But now the righteousness of God WITHOUT THE LAW is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
"THEREFORE BY THE DEEDS OF THE LAW THERE SHALL NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED IN HIS SIGHT: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
"WHERE IS BOASTING THEN? IT IS EXCLUDED. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
"Therefore we conclude that a MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW." (Romans 3:20-28)
Now, if there is no room for anyone to boast, then there is no room for anyone to feel better than his peers. Where is there, for example, any room for us to feel the way the Pharisees felt toward the publican in the Temple? -
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While this word was still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Daniel chap. 4)
"And he [i.e., Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
"I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." (Luke 18:9-12)
This kind of thinking is an ABOMINATION to God and an attack against the grace of God, and whereas Christ forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery, He never forgave the Pharisees for the sin of self-righteousness. Instead He said of them:
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers [i.e., poisonous snakes], HOW CAN YE ESCAPE THE DAMNATION OF HELL?" (Matthew 23:33)
Listen to me here, brothers and sisters in the Lord: Grace cannot continue with us if we in any way entertain the idea that, "Having begun in grace, we can now be made perfect by the flesh." (Galatians 3:3) The fact is, even with the best of us,
"All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6)
Those who think otherwise, and who attempt to bring us as Christians once again under bondage to the law -– i.e., who judge their Christian brethren by the standards of the law; who carry about with them a kind of "holiness ruler" to measure their brothers and sisters -- prove that they are not living IN Christ (or by His life), but rather OUTSIDE of Him and by their own carnal strength. These are those about whom the Bible says are -
"... ignorant of God’s righteousness, and who go about to establish their own righteousness ..." (Romans 10:3)
These are those about whom Darby says are trying to ROB us of "such a Christ, as we, UNDER GRACE, have known Him ... the Son of God devoted for us, and to us!"
The Bible says that we must be on guard against such people -
"... FALSE BRETHREN unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our LIBERTY which we have in Christ Jesus, THAT THEY MIGHT BRING US INTO BONDAGE." (Galatians 2:4)
Now think about what the Bible is saying here! - it's saying that those who seek to impose their "standard of righteousness" on us are "FALSE BRETHREN;" and when we submit ourselves to their standards we are being BEWITCHED (Galatians 3:1). Now, that's a strong word! It means that we are being brought under the influence of witchcraft!
That's pretty heavy! - and, once again, it is precisely this that causes Paul to exclaim, "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"(Galatians 3:1-3)
The Bible says that when we try to live by the standards of such people, we are doing so in order to please them and win their approval. But the Word of God says that we are NOT to conduct our lives -
"... as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God FROM THE HEART." (Eph. 6:6)
Again, the Bible says:
"CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW [i.e., all external standards] ... to every one that believeth." (Romans 10:4)
Christ is "the end of the law!" - that's what the Bible says. The Bible continues:
"For ... the SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS hath made me free from the law of sin and death" [that is to say, the necessity of making our lives conform to the standards of the law]. (Romans 8:2)
And the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus does so, not by nullifying the law, but by fulfilling the law "after the Spirit:"
"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh [i.e., the Law], but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:4)
And the Bible goes on to say:
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14)
When we as Christians turn away from "beholding and reflecting" God in our spirit, and instead try to conform our lives to some external standard, and when we insist that others do the same, then we find ourselves back with Adam eating of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil;" and when we do that, all we can do is minister death to ourselves and all those around us. This is precisely what the Bible calls living in the flesh. And the Bible warns us that -
"... to be carnally [or fleshly] 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, neither indeed can it be.
"So then THEY THAT ARE IN THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD." (Romans 8:6-8)
That is to say, if you conform your Christian life according to the law or any such similar external standard - no matter how holy such a standard might appear to be - you will break off your relationship with Christ. You must remember this: "TO BE CARNALLY MINDED IS ENMITY AGAINST GOD" (Romans 8:7); that is to say, when you live after the law and you force others to do the same, YOU BECOME AN ENEMY OF GOD.
If on the other hand, you allow yourself to be led by the Spirit of God in your spirit - that is to say, if you "behold and reflect Him" in your spirit - holiness will be imparted to you as a natural consequence of your walk with Him; these are the true sons and daughters of God. Again, the Bible says:
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:14-17)
And the Bible goes on to say:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)