Law and Gospel
Sometimes I think Christians are as confused now as they were during the Reformation Era of the 1500’s. Back then it was all about rules and legalism with no grace. I see that today too. On the other hand, some think it’s all about grace; I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I have freedom in Christ. Maybe what we need is a new Reformation, living with a healthy balance of law and gospel (grace). The question for us today is: where is that balance?
Let’s look at the purpose of the law first.
Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. (Galatians 3:23-25 NLT)
The Apostle Paul also tells us in Romans 3 that the law shows us our sin. That’s a good thing because we want to show our devotion to Christ by living right, though the question remains; if we don’t need the law curbing our tendency toward sin, what will?
But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. Rom. 7:6
Oh… I see. The Holy Spirit is our answer. We don’t have to struggle with whether or not we have to tithe (give 10%), we are directed by the Spirit how much to give; maybe even more than a tithe! We don’t have to struggle with lying (thou shalt not bear false witness); the Holy Spirit is there to help us maintain our integrity in those tight spots. We are not under the Law to keep the Sabbath holy (or separate) but we are directed by the Spirit how to spend that day. We can live in freedom from the Law and under the direction of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of life and that is a better way to live, don’t you think?
He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6 NLT)
It seems to me that our healthy balance of law and gospel should be to show our commitment to Christ by living under His direction, obeying Him as He is leads us away from sin, and enjoying that freedom: that’s the good life, the higher life.