Faith – vs – Law?

Romans 6:14 (NIV)

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

 

There are those who would attempt to convince you that because of the Grace bestowed on us by Jesus Christ that we no longer need to consider the law givers and prophets of the Old Testament.  They breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t have to worry about those ‘pesky rules’.  Let’s take a look at that position.  I believe that you’ll see that this isn’t a work release from the Law but rather an elevation of the bar to a higher goal.

 

Matthew 5:17-19 (NIV)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Wait! Are these two passages in conflict? Paul in Romans tells us we are not under the law but we are under grace, but Jesus states in Matthew the importance of the law.  What should we make of this? Is it a disagreement between Master and disciple? Well, let’s take a closer look.

 

There really isn’t a conflict.  Disciple didn’t stray from the Masters teaching here at all. Looking closely at the passage in Matthew:

 

Jesus came to fulfill the Law and predictions of the Prophets

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Again if taken out of the context of the surrounding verse, this would seem to confirm what Paul says in Romans. Jesus from here admonishes us with:

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

 

It becomes fairly clear here that Jesus isn’t backing away from the Law at all but making it clear that He completes these prophecies and is there to satisfy the Law. Where we will see is that Jesus isn’t wiping out the Law with an establishment of the new covenant, but rather that the new covenant will call for acting on faith and will speak to the condition of the heart rather than the physical adherence to the Law.

 

Time and time again we consistently see Jesus focused on faith as the condition changing component that makes the difference.  Instances of this include ‘The Centurion’ (Matt. 8:5-13, Luke 7:2-10), ‘The Healing of the Paralytic’ (Matt. 9:2-7, Mark 2:3-12, Luke 5:17-25), ‘The Woman who bled for 12 years’ (Matt. 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48), and ‘The Two Blind Men’ (Matt. 9:27-30).  There are more examples than this but what I’m pointing to is the demonstration of faith being the driving catalyst for Jesus to intervene on behalf of these people.

 

Faith is further shown to be requisite of Salvation as well.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

This spells it out clearly that acts we physically perform really have nothing to do with salvation. What is required is ‘faith’. Taking this a bit further:

 

Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

‘believe in your heart’ is the focus here.  We could declare all day long and the words would have no impact.  It is only when the essence of our soul declares by faith that Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead to wash away your sin and point the way to a new life in His resurrection.  The verse also goes on to tell us that this will be demonstrated in a physical manifestation as well.  ‘For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.’ Profession of your faith is an exercise of your faith.

 

John 14:15-20 (NIV)

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

 

“If you love me, keep my commands.” These are the words of Jesus.  So we will observe the commands of Jesus more shortly but till then look at what is going on as a result.

 

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.”  First God is going to send the Holy spirit to (Spirit of Truth) to be with us.  But it’s interesting to note that this isn’t just for anyone.

 

“The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.”  We’ll also want to look at how this special relationship impacts us.

 

“But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”  Wow!  The Holy Spirit in us.   As we look at what this fully means to us we’ll come to understand just how profound this is.  But what we so easily overlook in this passage is just exactly where Jesus is bringing us to.  That is the realization of just how close this relationship with God the Father and Jesus is through our union with the Holy Spirit! 

 

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”   We don’t just have a means of sharing with Jesus and the Father, our very being is intermingled with theirs.  What an impact this has in our outlook.  We ARE HIS and He is ours. This brings to light the descriptions of Christ’s Church being His bride.  We are His Church.  With this we realize just how literal Jesus meant this as just with a man and woman united in marriage; ‘The two become one’.  We become one with Jesus and with each other because all believers are His bride!

 

United in Christ Jesus!!!

 

 

John 3:6-8 (NIV)

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

 

What does Christ ask of us?

I said we’d take a look at what Christ asks of us.  This isn’t necessarily going to be an exhaustive listing of everything. In fact, there is no way that any text could cover the full gambit of what Jesus may ask of any of us.  Because while our reference is Bible as The Word of God, the Holy Spirit living us (as we’ll see in the next section) is our guide and teacher among other things.  If we are listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit there will be things that He will direct us to that are not specifically spelled out in the pages of our Bibles; regardless of what translations you have before you.

 

Examples of this might be the couple who find themselves being called into the mission field, or the future pastor of a church, or the youth minister. Or perhaps something as simple as sharing a word with a stranger under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  All of these and more are directions of Christ Jesus working through the Holy Spirit.

 

Christ tells us to be a salt and light for others

The Word says we are to be salt and light. That is to say we are to provide focus on God’s Word for those in darkness and the salt part is to let us know at times that is not going to be something comfortable to those wounded by sin.

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

Christ tells us to evangelize

Once we have been given our Salvation and the Holy Spirit, Jesus expects us to spread the Good News. This may be with your friends and neighbors or it could be on the other side of the globe.  The end game is that we are called to minister to a lost world.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Don’t flaunt your piety

Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

 

Jesus tells us not to worry

Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Don’t judge others

There is a distinction between being that salt and light that Jesus calls us to and becoming judgmental.  God is the only righteous judge.  Leave that to Him.  This doesn’t mean we condone that which we know is not in conformance with The Word.  Preach the Gospel and leave conviction to the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

Follow Jesus daily

Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

 

Jesus tells us to keep the commandments

Here we point back to the Old Testament directives that were give and we see that Jesus wants us to obey those thing.  This isn’t what saves us, our faith in Him does that, but this is how we demonstrate that faith.

Matthew 19:16-19 (NIV)

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?”

Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 

Jesus wants our actions to be driven by heart

We are repeating this passage just so you don’t have to look back to the beginning to see the text contained in it.  The prior verses in this section accentuate the need for leading with faith.  The New Covenant is all about faith, repentance and grace.  Straight forward here the sequence is we place our faith in Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation, as a result we make a change of direction (repentance) and choose to follow Christ, He then absolves our sin and forgives us via His unbounded Grace.

Matthew 5:17-19 (NIV)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Again back to our faith has absolutely nothing to do with physical action results in action repentance is the first stage of that action, here again we see that.  Jesus cautions, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Not the smallest letter or stroke of a pen.  This makes a fairly convincing argument that while we are saved by His Grace, He does expect the actions that result out of that Grace are demonstrated with a substantial consistency with the law. 

 

What does the Holy Spirit living in us mean?

Earlier we saw how the Holy Spirit lives in us.  The Holy Spirit is a Zero Day Birthday Gift God gives us being born again through the Grace of Jesus.   You’ll see below Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the ‘The Comforter’.  From the Holy Spirit comes many wonderful blessings. Again this is not a complete list is only enough to show the abundance given to us in the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Spirit sets us free from Sin and Death

The passage in Romans below speaks of how Jesus established the ‘Law of the Spirit’ which supersedes the ‘Law of Sin and Death’.  Jesus by becoming the perfect sacrifice for sin fulfilled the ‘Law of Sin and Death’. His resurrection defeated death which was consequence for sin. We are resurrected in him. Here the text tells us the Spirit is how that resurrected life is imparted to us. (remember earlier we read of that which is born of the flesh vs that which is born of the Spirit. Here it is New Life!)

 

Romans 8:1-4 (NIV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

The Spirit guides us in truth

Remember we talked about those the guidance noted above earlier. That guidance includes spiritual matters and guiding us in the actions God would have us do as well.

 

John 16:13 (NIV)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

 

The Spirit teaches us

The Holy Spirit is our teacher to provide insight into the scripture. Other passages spell out that without the Holy Spirit providing this instruction our minds are not even capable of understanding The Word of God.

 

John 14:26 (NIV)

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 

The Spirit aids us in our weakness and intercedes for us

Romans 8:26 (NIV)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

 

There is freedom in the Spirit

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

 

Allows us to abound in hope

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit is our ‘seal of salvation’

Ephesians 4:30 (NIV)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption

 

The Fruits of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Conclusion

I hope you’ve arrived at the same point I am through this walk through scripture.  For me that is that we are saved by faith.  There isn't a flicker of doubt to that.  But upon receiving that Gift and with it the Holy Spirit we as believers are directed to honor God instruction.  Sin and Death are no longer a concern but our actions must be driven out of our faith as it’s by product.  Doing so, the Holy Spirit is able to commune with us and provide the direction that God intends for us, enabling us to a successful journey in The Way. 

 

Finally, if this is the case we will see the Fruits of the Spirit manifested in our lives.

 

It is time to bloom!