Living under Grace not the Law : Part 1
I am writing this article with a great amount of effort. I have read the New Testament sans Revelation in preparation for this article. I will read the New Testament again to gather material for this article. There is nothing wrong with Revelation, its is a great and wonderful book, but it does not have the material I want to cover in this article. The material I am interested in is the numerous conversations that the apostles had about the concept of Grace and how it was different than the Law. I am writing this article mostly to address concerns that people have about what it means to live under Grace. Some people believe that when you live under Grace you do not have to follow the Law. To an extent this is true because when you live trying to do good to all, you do not have to check if you're breaking any Laws because you're doing what is right. But the people who are jealous of the freedom we have under Grace are trying to twist it up in words, and in a way, they're trying to define Grace into some sort of new Law. Grace is living under God in his will trying one's best to be good and loving to all. You might live under a nation of laws, but you live under a Heavenly King of Grace too. When doing what is good and loving, you don't have to check if what you're doing is acceptable or not because by nature of doing what is good and loving, you shouldn't be breaking a Law. As such, we live under the grace of Jesus Christ and do not consider remembering the long lists of Law in our life. This does not make the Law useless however, for people who have trouble living a good and loving life, it can show them they are a sinner in need of Grace if they are guilty of breaking the Law. As such the Apostles often say that we should live under the Grace of God, but caution that we do not fall habitual into sin.
The first thing about Grace that is important to understand is that if we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we are under it. God's Grace is bigger than anything we can screw up on Earth. If you're still breathing, you can at any time, get off the wide path that leads to Hell, and be assured Heaven. Yes, Heaven can be guaranteed you if you accept Jesus, repent of sin, and seek to be good and loving forever. A lot of people fail to see why it should be this way, and it is simple. God isn't concerned with what you have done in the past. Anyone can make mistakes. God is concerned with the person you can become. Once you seek to be good and loving to all, then you would make a good citizen of Heaven. What does it mean to be a citizen of Heaven? Everyone in Heaven is glad everyone else is there. Everyone in Heaven loves everyone else. Everyone in Heaven wants what is good for other people in Heaven. And everyone in Heaven accepts Jesus as the LORD because in case of disputes no one gets bent out of shape.
If you want to get to the place where everyone loves each other, people build each other up, where God loves you, can do anything you ask him to do for you, you meet your deceased loved ones, and time goes on forever then pray this: "I humbly request that you please transform my life in your timing according to the way you would want to, and lead me to use my gifts and talents to bring honor and glory to Your kingdom. Help me to pursue avenues that would progress your plans rather than harbor my own selfish desires, and please help me to avoid catering to the desires of my flesh. I know I have failed many times and will continue to fail at one point or another as a human, but I can rest assured that my salvation is secure through Jesus Christ and I am opening the door for you to use me in a way that would produce good fruit for Your kingdom. Jesus, I accept you as LORD of all Creation. I will seek to love everyone I meet. I will try and do good in all that I do. I seek to meet you someday and be your friend forever. Thank you for your love, mercy, and forgiveness - I would be nothing without them and without You. - Amen" If you prayed that prayer, you're set, you're going to Heaven.
There is a lot of education that will help you hone your life and attitudes. Scripture says,"Learning about the LORD is an education in itself." If you think about any of your educations that you've had, you remember that it was long, and in depth, and sometimes a pleasant process. An education of the LORD is something that takes a long time because there is so much to know. God is infinite, but he is also loving. This article is a good place to start for an education of the LORD. Just remember that while God is all powerful, he cares about you very much and can empathize with your strengths and weaknesses. He wants you to seek a personal relationship with Him, and whether or not you feel His presence He is there and does answer prayer. Jesus experienced the depths of every difficult experience a person could experience, so that he can relate with you in your trials and temptations.
Matthew 5:17 "(Jesus said)Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. 18 Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with - not until the end of all things. 19 So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven. 20 I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires"
Throughout the Epistles of the New Testament we see arguments if the Gentiles need to remain under all the things the law demands. Most specifically it is investigated if they need to be circumcised. Some of the apostles are not sure, but the other apostles correct them. What we find is that the apostles say that gentiles do not need to get circumcised. However, they do say that some things from the Law should be upheld.
The things we find that the apostles want us to uphold are not lengthy as the Law was. They are just a few simple things we should avoid as we come to maturity in Jesus. The verses can be found below, they are cited mostly as references, but you're welcome to read them if you want *v1 *v2 *v3 *v4 *v5 *v6 *v7 *v8. The apostles request in addition to living in good and love, that we should avoid the following things for modern believer: Keep yourself from sexual immorality, don't drink blood, don't consider idols, don't fight with others, don't have jealousy, don't get drunk, don't be greedy. If you look at these things, most of them are covered with living in good and love. Living under Grace isn't about a long list of,"Don't do this or that.", it is just those things we're to avoid in addition to being good and loving to all. Don't worry if you're addicted or fall prey to those things on a regular basis now because God will forgive you every time you fall. You can't out run God's Grace even if you're running in the opposite direction of God.
Remember Jesus is a shepherd. As LORD of all, he isn't an iron clad micro manager of our lives. Jesus just wants to guide you away from things that ultimately harm our bodies or souls. Sheep are dumb. Sheep don't know when they're wandering into danger, and all the rest of the sheep follow them. It takes a shepherd to guide them to green pastures where they can eat and play. Jesus loves us, and wants what is best for us. We wouldn't be warned against sins if they were harmless. Let us trust in Jesus and go forward.
-James Sager III
*v1 Acts 15:1 Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, "You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires." 2 Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter. 3 They were sent on their way by the church; and as they went through Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported how the Gentiles had turned to God; this news brought great joy to all the believers. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them. 5 But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders met together to consider this question. 7 After a long debate Peter stood up and said, "My friends, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, so that they could hear and believe. 8 And God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, showed his approval of the Gentiles by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he had to us. 9 He made no difference between us and them; he forgave their sins because they believed. 10 So then, why do you now want to put God to the test by laying a load on the backs of the believers which neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? 11 No! We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are." 12 The whole group was silent as they heard Barnabas and Paul report all the miracles and wonders that God had performed through them among the Gentiles. 13 When they had finished speaking, James spoke up: "Listen to me, my friends! 14 Simon has just explained how God first showed his care for the Gentiles by taking from among them a people to belong to him. 15 The words of the prophets agree completely with this. As the scripture says, 16 "After this I will return, says the Lord, and restore the kingdom of David. I will rebuild its ruins and make it strong again. 17 And so all the rest of the human race will come to me, all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own. 18 So says the Lord, who made this known long ago.' 19 "It is my opinion," James went on, "that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood. 21 For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town." 22 Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, decided to choose some men from the group and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two men who were highly respected by the believers, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, 23 and they sent the following letter by them: "We, the apostles and the elders, your brothers, send greetings to all our brothers of Gentile birth who live in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 24 We have heard that some who went from our group have troubled and upset you by what they said; they had not, however, received any instruction from us. 25 And so we have met together and have all agreed to choose some messengers and send them to you. They will go with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who will tell you in person the same things we are writing. 28 The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules: 29 eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes." 30 The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the whole group of believers and gave them the letter. 31 When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement.
*v2 Acts 15:28 The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules: 29 eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes."
*v3 Acts 21:25 But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent them a letter telling them we decided that they must not eat any food that has been offered to idols, or any blood, or any animal that has been strangled, and that they must keep themselves from sexual immorality."
*v4 Romans 13:13 GNT Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day - no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy.
*v5 Ephesians 5:3 GNT
Since you are God's people, it is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should even be mentioned among you.
*v6 Colossians 3:5 GNT
You must put to death, then, the earthly desires at work in you, such as sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed (for greed is a form of idolatry).
*v7 Galations 6:12 The people who are trying to force you to be circumcised are the ones who want to show off and boast about external matters. They do it, however, only so that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Even those who practice circumcision do not obey the Law; they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast that you submitted to this physical ceremony. 14 As for me, however, I will boast only about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; for by means of his cross the world is dead to me, and I am dead to the world. 15 It does not matter at all whether or not one is circumcised; what does matter is being a new creature.
*v8 1 Corinthians 6:9 Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God's Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts 10 or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves - none of these will possess God's Kingdom. 11 Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 Someone will say, "I am allowed to do anything." Yes; but not everything is good for you. I could say that I am allowed to do anything, but I am not going to let anything make me its slave. 13 Someone else will say, "Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food." Yes; but God will put an end to both. The body is not to be used for sexual immorality, but to serve the Lord; and the Lord provides for the body.