“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
I don’t usually ask this, but would you please glance back up and reread that opening verse?
Now, based on that passage, what if we had it all wrong? What if Jesus was not really full of grace and truth and the Law of Moses was still meant to guide our lives? What if the 613 commandments weren’t just for the Jewish people but for the entire world today? Would things be different? Would these commandments keep humanity in check? Would peace on earth be a reality?
Paul, a former devout Mosaic commandment-keeper, he said the opposite; that these commandments would increase sin, not decrease it:
“For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.” (Romans 7:11)
By way of the commandment–one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not covet” (see Romans 7:8)–sin went to work in Paul’s life; therefore killing him spiritually. This proves we cannot legislate grace and truth through the Ten Commandments or the other 603 in the same Law package. Why does this matter? Because Jesus is grace and truth and He is the only option on this side of the Cross.
As you can see in the opening verse of this devotional, John pit Moses’ commandments against Jesus Himself–as opposites. Law versus a Person. Moses had 613 commandments and Jesus had two. Do a quick Google search of “What are the 613 commandments in the Law”–which Moses gave–and you’ll have to get up and make a sandwich before you finish reading half of them. And if you want to live by them, first, you must be Jewish, second, you must do all of them. No picking and choosing what you like, or what you think you can do. Eat all 613 or eat none (see Galatians 3:10, James 2:10).
When Jesus came He gave us two new commandments, believe and love (see 1 John 3:23). Jesus’ commandments are not added to Moses’ commandments because the Law is unchangeable (Deuteronomy 4:2, Matthew 9:17, Hebrews 8:13). Also, Jesus’ commandments are simple, they’re not burdensome like Moses’. Believe and love are the only commandments of Christ.
If you love Him you will keep His commandments not the commandments of Moses. Even better, if you love Him, believe and love are a part of who you are. So there’s no need to “try” to do either. Just be yourself each day because believe and love is Christ in you.
Unfortunately the grace-confused people have a goal to stress others out about doing both as much as you can, as hard as you can, until you prove you’re on “their level” of faith. Overlook their mistakenness with gentleness and respect.
Jesus, on the other hand, wants you to simply be who He’s already made you to be (Hebrews 4:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17). The truth is, after salvation Jesus becomes your faith, so there’s no pressure on you whatsoever (see Hebrews 12:2). Don’t worry, Christ in you isn’t passive. Things will happen in your life but it won’t be because you’re trying to “increase” your faith. Only unbelievers have a need for such. You just need to be you (see 2 Peter 1:3, John 15:5). Grace and truth flow through you like a river, the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
This is part two of my But What About devotionals. As the Spirit renews our minds we naturally have questions.
“But what about this?”
“But what about that?”
By staying focused on Jesus–on grace and truth, not Law–Scripture becomes an effervescent fountain of confidence in which we can drink from. Here’s five new questions:
- But what about when Paul said “I die daily”? (See 1 Corinthians 15:31). The behavior-focused folks have taken this verse out of context for centuries in an attempt to cause a believer to think they have to kill themselves each day in an effort to not sin. Satan loves this because he knows it’s impossible. We only die in spirit once from the moment of faith in Christ. Our minds are renewed daily, but we are not dying daily (see Romans 12:2, Philippians 1:6). Yes, Paul said, “I die daily,” however, a more contextually authentic translation of the original text is “I face death every day.” Why? Because Paul was explaining the physical dangers he faced while traveling to preach the gospel. He even said in the following verse he was attacked by wild dogs on the road to Ephesus. God is not wanting us to die daily! He’s wanting us to renew our minds to who we really are–and live!
- But don’t we need to die to self? No. Those words are not in the Bible. The closest thing is “our old self died” or “our old self was crucified”–past tense–found in Romans 6. Christian, you don’t need to die to self. You already died when you believed Jesus forgave you. You’ve received a new self. You simply need to learn more about the fact that you have died, in spirit, you have received a new spirit, and Jesus’ Spirit has joined your spirit never to leave again! You have a good self so be yourself! (See Romans 6:6-11, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:22, 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17).
- Don’t I need to ask for forgiveness each day? If you’re a Christian why would you ask for what you already have? God isn’t handing out forgiveness at our beckon call because forgiveness requires a bloody death. Our Creator has never forgiven anyone based on asking, but only on blood and our one-time faith in it (see Hebrews 9:22, John 3:16). Why do you think the Cross was such a big deal? Friend, the words ask for forgiveness are not in the Bible. Think about it, some people don’t have a tongue nor a voice box. They don’t have the ability to ask. Will our loving Father not save them? Of course He will, if they believe (see John 1:12). God forgives us based on faith in Jesus’ blood, not words. We receive forgiveness not by speaking but by believing Jesus has forgiven us (see Galatians 3:2). Yes, there’s a verse in Romans which reads, “If we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart Jesus is Lord we will be saved” (see Romans 10:9); but Paul is writing to the Roman Christians. Those who had to constantly confess with their mouth that the government was lord. Further, you can see he mentions the heart. The heart is what justifies us with God, not our mouth. Another verse, 1 John 1:9, might also come to mind over this topic. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I’ve underlined all because all means all. This is a one-time deal. Secondly, John is writing to unbelievers in this verse. He’s evangelizing in the opening of this letter. He’s inviting people to join us in fellowship with Jesus by first admitting they need forgiveness. If you’ll start from the beginning of the chapter and read down for context, you’ll see. In chapter two, he then begins to address the believers. Whoever placed this chapter break in John’s letter picked a great spot to do so. God doesn’t forgive us by babbling or begging but by faith in His Son’s perfect blood (see Romans 5:1, 6:23, 1 John 1 [all of it], 2:1-2, Hebrews 1:3, 7:25, 10:10,14, Matthew 6:7, John 19:30).
- But won’t we be judged according to our words? Only if you don’t believe in Jesus. It can’t be both. If it were both–our words plus the Cross–how can we be sure we’ve said the right words and not said the wrong words throughout our lifetime? And what percentage is our words in reference to the blood of Jesus? This is a classic example of Covenant-mixing double-talk. A self-centered person will spout off the following passage in order to push people down, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Jesus isn’t talking to Christians in these two sentences but to some idiots who just compared Him to the devil. Start back up in verse 22 and work your way down. You’ll see that these type of people will be judged according to their words. You, Christian, will be judged according to the Cross! Be confident because it was a huge success!
- But what about when James said teachers will be judged by God more severely? (See James 3:1). This is true, they will be–if they are teaching the Law. That’s the context of this passage in James. Keep in mind, James was an apostle to the Jews, not to us Gentiles (see James 1:1). So he’s primarily chastising unbelief in Messiah to his own race. Yes, there would be many people who would read this letter and hear it read over time (Christians and non-Christians) but it was originally directed toward the Hebrew people. This is why he opens up the letter with “to the twelve tribes.” Who were the twelve tribes? Israel. The Jews. The people group who followed Moses out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea floor. To create order, Israel was split up into twelve tribes. So what were the Jews teaching in which they would be judged more severely? The Law, not grace and truth. 613 Thou Shalts given by Moses at the base of Mount Sinai. What’s the takeaway then? Well if we’re not Christians and we’re teaching Law we will be judged more harshly, both by God and by those who live by the Law (see James 2:10, Galatians 3:10-11). Christians aren’t judged by what we teach, but by our identity. We are children of God and we live by grace. Sometimes we don’t teach proper things and that’s okay because we’re all learning and growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we won’t be judged for that. Why not? Because improper things to God are called sins, and Jesus has removed those from us (John 1:29, 1 John 3:5). Teach away, my friend, and don’t be afraid. Grace and truth will prevail if you are one with the Son of God!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for grace and truth. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending Him here to remove all of my sin punishment for good! Please teach me even more about Him. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear readers have been taught a mixture of Law, grace, and truth. Please begin to help them sift through this terrible concoction. Teach them how to remove the stuff they shouldn’t be thinking about, and strengthen the stuff they should be. Help them grow each day. Amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Get your copy here!