Tuesday, September 17, 2013

By Grace Alone: Effects of the Law

I am going to break from blogging about the Psalms for a little bit, although I'll still be studying them on my own. I've just finished an incredible book called "By Grace Alone" and I really want to share some thoughts from the book. I think it contains extremely important concepts for Christians and some misbeliefs that nonbelievers may hold. Please join me on this journey and share with your friends. If there is anything you want to look more in depth about, please consider purchasing the book. "By Grace Alone" by Derek Prince is available at most bookstores and on Amazon.

We've looked at why the Law was created, and it was not to achieve righteousness. So now we look at nine results the Law brings to us if we come under its influence.

1. The Law stirs up sin.

Romans 7:5 - "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."

Romans 7:9 - "For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."

There are a few ways to interpret these verses. If there had never been any commandment, Adam would never have sinned. When the commandment came, sin came to life, and we died. One thing to think about is the story of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. They broke the first commandment basically as soon as it was put into place. The commandment stirred up sin. Sin had been dormant until the commandment came. The Law doesn't bring people near to God. It keeps them away from God. 

We are saved by grace and then we determine we are going to earn our way. Then what happens? We lose our joy, we lose our peace, and we become a slave again. If we continue, we become nasty, edgy, critical, religious people whom no one cares to be around.

Prince suggests that coming back under the Law is the great danger that threatens every believer. We are saved by grace and then after a little while we think, "Now I'm living a really clean life, I've learned a lot of very valuable principles, I know the Scripture, and I have my quiet time every morning. I can walk in victory by my own efforts." Clearly, the end of this kind of thinking is a disaster. Endeavoring to live the Christian life by your own efforts is the greatest single hindrance to walking in the Spirit.

Romans 8 is a great passage about the Spirit-filled life. But if you are to live that kind of life, you cannot expect instant results. 

2. The Law strengthens sin.

1 Corinthians 15:56 - "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law."

Romans 6:14 - "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

If you are under the law, sin will have dominion over you, because it is the law that strengthens the dominion of sin over you.  

3. The Law produces transgression and wrath.

Romans 4:15 - "Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression."

You are not a transgressor without the Law. And transgression produces wrath on the part of the one against whom we transgress.

Think of this like a situation with a child. A child may jump off your coffee table. You can't get mad at them the first time, because they didn't know not to do it. So you explain to them that that is wrong and dangerous and not to do it again. Five minutes later, they are doing it again. So guess what? There's a little wrath involved the second time! Once there is a line set (the Law) and then it is crossed (transgressed), there is a consequence (wrath).

4. The Law causes condemnation.

Romans 8:1, 3 - "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh."

The Law can never set you free from condemnation; it can only bring you under condemnation. As long as you live under condemnation, you cannot live in liberty. And condemnation can only be abolished by dealing with the problem of the Law.

5. The Law keeps us under Satan's dominion.

Colossians 2:14-16 - "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."

God annulled the Law through the death of Jesus, and having done that, these verses confirm that He disarmed the principalities and powers. Jesus stripped them of their ability to dominate us. How? He revoked the Law. A radical transformation must take place inside us before we will abandon our faith in the Law.

6. The Law brings a curse.

Galatians 3:10 - "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."

If you are under the Law, you must do the whole Law, all the time. If you don't, you are under a curse.

Jeremiah 17:5 - "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord."

Legalism is the attempt to achieve righteousness with God by keeping a set of rules; it is adding to what God has required for righteousness. This is the person who has tasted the grace of God, but we go back to trusting in our own ability and our own rules. In so doing, our hearts depart from the Lord.

Almost every significant movement in the Church began in the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, however, many are relying on the flesh; they are relying on their own efforts, programs, promotions and rules.

Legalism is a person who has begun in faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, but now they are seeking to become perfect in the flesh. Do not try to keep the Law, because you certainly will not succeed!

7. The Law brings a double enmity.

Ephesians 2:14-16 - "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."

There is not only enmity between God and man (because we become transgressors if we don't keep the Law), but there is enmity between those under the Law and those not under the Law (particularly with Jewish people). 
8. The Law produces bondage.

In Galatians 4:21-25, Paul uses an allegory of Abraham's two sons. One of his son's mothers was a slave, and produced a slave. Paul is warning the Galatians that if they come under the Law, they will come under bondage. 

Romans 8:14-15 - "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 Law uses fear to motivate us. We have become so used to that kind of motivation that we believe religion is supposed to be a fearful existence. The New Testament message, however, is not a message of fear.

9. The Law produces persecutors.

Galatians 4:29 - "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now."

Grace always frightens and offends legalism, and the religious legalist will always react with some form of persecution. Who persecuted Jesus and the apostles? The religious legalists.

The root: self-dependence.

The hardest tendency to curtail in our own lives is depending upon ourselves. The inner motivation of sin, in its essence, is the desire to be independent of God. The essence of Adam and Eve's sin was the desire not to depend on God any longer. The one person who perfectly sets forth the opposite of the desire to be independent is Jesus. The picture of Jesus is total, continuing dependence on His Father. 

John 5:19 - "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."

John 6:57 - "I live by the Father."

Jeremiah 17:5 - "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord."

The one who trusts in himself makes his flesh his strength, and in so doing, his heart departs from the Lord. If we rely on our own efforts all we ever propagate is more flesh.

Habakkuk 2:4 - "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." (Also quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38)

You can humble yourself and in faith depend on the Lord, or you can trust in yourself and your soul will be lifted up in arrogant religious pride.

If I am always doing the right thing in my own strength, I can boast. But if I am simply trusting in the grace of God and depending upon Him, I have nothing to boast of. Faith excludes boasting.

Here is a list of five things we commonly trust in rather than depending on the grace of God.

1 - Wealth

2- Nobility or social position

3- Education or knowledge

4 - Power

5 - Religion

God gave the Law to bare open the root of self-dependence, and the Gospel of grace puts the ax to it.

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