Skip Navigation Links

The New Testament teaching on Law and Grace

No question excites more controversy among professing Christians!
Are the Ten Commandments abolished?
Does Grace do away with the Law?
Here is what your Bible says — the plain teaching of your New Testament!


MANY sincere people believe God's Law is "done away." "It was nailed to the cross," they say. The Law of God, they will tell you, was a harsh, stern Law — but Christ came to free us from the "CURSE of the law"!

Christians, they will feelingly tell you, are NOT "under the Law." True Christians are under GRACE, and grace does away with the need for law! Often they will quote Romans 10:4 to show you that "Christ is the END of the law." They may go on to cite Romans 7:4 to show that Christians are "DEAD to the law."


Did Christ Know?

But what are you going to do with Jesus' words?

Jesus Christ Himself said: "If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS"! (Mat. 19:17) Did not Christ know? Was Jesus mistaken about the Law?

Now read what the apostle Paul told the Romans: "Do we then make void the LAW through faith? GOD FORBID: yea, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31).

Did Paul know what he was talking about? In one verse he says that Christians are "DEAD to the law." Yet he turns right around and says they "ESTABLISH the law"!

What a paradox!

It is time you understood the TRUTH about law and grace! It is time the truth were made PLAIN, so simple a child could understand!


The Great Controversy

Picture the common teaching in your own mind, if you can. A nation of Israelites, sinning, struggling under grievous bondage. Over them a harsh, stern, monstrous LAW, a terrible yoke of bondage.

To redeem them from such miserable bondage, God sent Jesus Christ to do away with law!

Now, does that picture make much sense?

Of course NOT!

There is something flagrantly WRONG with this concept of God! It pictures God the Father as having made a mistake — as a cruel, harsh Monster.

It pictures Jesus Christ as a "smart-aleck" young man who came to do away with His Father's Law. Christ is pictured as having more wisdom and knowledge than His Father, for He saw that the Law was a harsh yoke of bondage. So He came to abolish it — nail it to the cross! Such a picture totally distorts the mercy, love, and goodness of God!


IF There Were No Law . . .

Think for a moment! Let's just suppose that God did abolish His Law for some inexplicable reason. Suppose He decided to DO AWAY with it.

What then? Do you realize what this would mean?

This would mean that there would be NO LAW AGAINST committing idolatry, worshiping false gods, cursing, swearing, breaking God's Sabbath — but more, it would mean that murder would be all right; stealing would be acceptable as well; lust, adultery, rape, every sex crime; lying, cheating, bearing false witness — ALL THESE THINGS would be all right!

There would be no law against them!

And since there would be NO LAW, there would, of course, be NO PUNISHMENT!

SIN would be impossible, since "sin is the transgression of the law." If no law, there could be no transgression — NO SIN!

You would be living in a world where EVERYTHING GOES! Nothing would be wrong. There would be no definition of right from wrong. Anything you had a mind to do would be acceptable. If you murdered your mother-in-law, you could get away with it! There would be no such thing as a judge, or a cell, a prison, an execution, or any kind of penalty — and no hellfire!

You could do exactly as you please, regardless of how it affects other people!

You could be a real "devil," as they say. You could be a homicidal maniac, and no one would be able to have you arrested. And, spiritually, GOD would not be able to punish sinners since SIN would not EXIST!

If the spiritual Law of God were nailed to the cross, then from that time nineteen hundred years ago to the present, today, SIN WOULD BE NONEXISTENT! And there would be no need of a Savior — since there would be no need to be saved from sin! Hitler, Mussolini, and all the other arch-criminals — Dillinger, "Pretty Boy Floyd," Al Capone, and all the rest — would NOT BE GUILTY, in God's sight!

Now, does that really make sense? How does that strike you?

Can you BELIEVE it?

And if there is no sin, from the time of Christ to the present, then there is no such thing as a sinner, no need for repentance, no need for forgiveness, no need for mercy or pardon — No NEED FOR GRACE!

Absurd, isn't it!

But if you follow the reasoning of the NO-LAW advocates through to its logical conclusion, that is where you are finally left — that is where you end up!

But this is not the teaching of Jesus!

Was Christ "at odds" with His Father in heaven, as some say? Was it God's Law that separated man from God — or was it sin? Just what Is the Law? And what is this thing called GRACE? And where does SIN enter the picture? Why did Christ have to die? What who — was nailed to the cross?

No subject is more vital, more urgent, more crucial to your SALVATION!


What About Faithful Abraham?

To really understand, let's go back to the beginning. Let's get the TRUE PICTURE of God's dealing with man!

Many assume, first of all, that law did not come until Moses. Prior to the time of Moses, GRACE was the way God dealt with mankind. And the example of grace that ministers usually turn to is the example of Abraham, the "father of the faithful."

Notice, now, the fascinating — and vitally important — example of the patriarch Abraham, to whom the promises were made!

Was Abraham under grace? Did Abraham obey God's Law?

You have probably read what the apostle Paul wrote about Abraham: "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:1-3).

Further: "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness" (verses 4-5). Notice! Abraham was a man of faith. He believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham did not receive the promises, including the promise of salvation, by works. What the apostle Paul means by "works" will be made plain later.

Abraham did not earn salvation — or the promises! They were GIVEN to him, by God!

Does this therefore mean that Abraham did not have to OBEY God? Does it mean, even more importantly, that we do not have to obey God TODAY?

Turn to the book of James. Let's notice what the apostle James tells us about faithful Abraham. James relates, "Was not Abraham our father justified by WORKS, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" (Jas. 2:21)

Wait a minute! Doesn't that sound like a contradiction? Let's read on: "Seest thou how FAITH" — DOW he mentions "faith" — "wrought WITH his works, and BY works was faith made perfect?" (Verse 22)

How about that? James shows us that FAITH works together WITH works! This is no contradiction!

He continues: "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT by faith only" (Jas. 2:23-24). "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is DEAD, being alone," wrote James (verse 17). How clear! Faith and works, said James under inspiration, go HAND-IN-HAND!

God TESTED Abraham's faith by his obedience — his works. Abraham met the test without flinching, with dauntless courage. After showing God his willingness to obey, even if it required the life of his son Isaac, God confirmed the promises He had made to Abraham. Why? "Because thou hast OBEYED my voice" (Gen. 22:18).

Abraham not only had faith in God BUT BY FAITH HE OBEYED his Creator!

His faith went hand-in-hand with OBEDIENCE! God later told Isaac exactly why Abraham was blessed. What was the reason? "Because that Abraham OBEYED my voice, and KEPT my charge, MY COMMANDMENTS, my statutes, AND MY LAW'S" (Gen. 26:5).

HOW PLAIN! God's spiritual LAW was in force in the days of ABRAHAM — long, long before Moses!

Abraham obeyed God. That's what your Bible says! By faith he accepted God's promises — as a gift. God did not owe Abraham the promises. He gave the promises to him because Abraham was willing to obey! Abraham did NOT "earn" them by his works! Nevertheless, unless he had demonstrated his willingness to obey God, through his WORKS, he would NOT have had the promises given him.

The promises came freely through God's grace. But works were involved. Does this sound contradictory?


You Cannot EARN Salvation

That does not mean one can ever EARN salvation! Not at all! James said, "Faith without works is DEAD, being alone."

God's grace alone, by itself, will not save us since God will not GIVE His grace to a person who refuses to obey, who rebels against Him. Do we get the point?

Grace is simply free, unmerited, undeserved pardon or forgiveness. God gives us GRACE when He forgives us of our past sins. But, unless we are willing to OBEY God, and stop sinning, we will lose that forgiveness, or grace.

But the fact that Abraham's obedience was involved did NOT EARN him salvation!

Abraham did not "earn" the promises. And no Christian can ever "earn" salvation! No ONE can ever "EARN" salvation! It is not something which we receive as a result of all our deeds and works. Yet most people believe their faith earns them salvation!

It isn't your faith that gives you eternal life.

The apostle Paul wrote, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

Christ's faith in us is a gift. We do NOT receive it because of all our works. All one's good deeds cannot save anyone. They are only what ought to be done anyway. God gives it because of His merciful pardon and grace — not because we are ever "worthy" of such a gift!

But does this mean that works are not involved? Not at all!

Read the very next verse: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

There you are! Faith WITHOUT works is dead — a dead, useless faith. There are works involved! But these works, of themselves, do NOT earn us salvation — they merely demonstrate our WILLINGNESS to obey Him and be submissive to His government!

God will not GIVE salvation to any soul that He cannot govern! Before God will GIVE us His promises, we must prove our willingness to OBEY Him, even as Abraham did, to the very end! There are CONDITIONS involved.

These conditions involve repentance, faith, surrender and submission to God — as well as the condition of OBEDIENCE to His authority!

But these conditions do not earn salvation. They are the conditions God sets in order that He can give you eternal life.