The most obvious
and striking division of the Word of truth is that
between law and grace. Indeed, these contrasting
principles characterize the two most important
dispensations: the Jewish and Christian. "For the
law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by
Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
It is not, of course, meant that there was no law
before Moses, any more than that there was no grace
and truth before Jesus Christ. The forbidding to
Adam of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil (Gen. 2:17) was law, and surely grace
was most sweetly manifested in the Lord God seeking
His sinning creatures and in His clothing them with
coats of skins (Gen. 3:21)-a beautiful type of
Christ who "is made unto us . . . righteousness" (1
Cor. 1:30). Law, in the sense of some revelation of
God's will, and grace, in the sense of some
revelation of God's goodness, have always existed,
and to this Scripture abundantly testifies. But "the
law" most frequently mentioned in Scripture was
given by Moses, and from Sinai to Calvary,
dominates, characterizes, the time; just as grace
dominates or gives its peculiar character to the
dispensation which begins at Calvary and has its
predicted termination in the rapture of the church.
It is, however, of the most vital moment to observe
that Scripture never, in any dispensation, mingles
these two principles. Law always has a place and
work distinct and wholly diverse from that of grace.
Law is God prohibiting and requiring; grace is God
beseeching and bestowing. Law is a ministry of
condemnation; grace, of forgiveness. Law curses;
grace redeems from that curse. Law kills; grace
makes alive. Law shuts every mouth before God; grace
opens every mouth to praise Him. Law puts a great
and guilty distance between man and God; grace makes
guilty man nigh to God. Law says, 'An eye for an
eye, and a tooth for a tooth"; grace says, "Resist
not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy
right cheek, turn to him the other also." Law says,
"Hate thine enemy"; grace says, "Love your enemies,
bless them that despitefully use you." Law says, do
and live; grace says, believe and live. Law never
had a missionary; grace is to be preached to every
creature. Law utterly condemns the best man; grace
freely justifies the worst (Luke 23:43; Rom. 5:8; 1
Tim 1:15; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Law is a system of
probation; grace, of favor. Law stones an
adulteress; grace says, "Neither do I condemn thee:
go, and sin no more." Under law the sheep dies for
the shepherd: under grace the Shepherd dies for the
Everywhere the Scriptures present law and grace in
sharply contrasted spheres. The mingling of them in
much of the current teaching of the day spoils both,
for law is robbed of its terror, and grace of its
The student should observe that "law" in the New
Testament Scriptures, means the law given by Moses
(Rom. 7:23 is an exception). Sometimes the entire
law (the moral, or the Ten Commandments and the
ceremonial) is meant; sometimes the commandments
only; sometimes the ceremonial only. Among passages
of the first type, Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16, and
3:2 are examples. Of the second type, Romans 3:19
and 7:7-12 are examples. Of the third type,
Colossians 2:14-17 is an example.
It should be remembered also that in the ceremonial
law are enshrined those marvelous types-the
beautiful foreshadowings of the person and work of
the Lord Jesus as priest and sacrifice, as in the
tabernacle (Exod. 25-30) and levitical offerings
(Lev. 1-7), which must ever be the wonder and
delight of the spiritually minded.
Expressions in the Psalms too, which would be
inexplicable if understood only of the "ministration
of death, written and engraven in stones" (2 Cor.
3:7), are made clear when seen to refer to Christ or
to the redeemed. "But his delight is in the law of
the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and
night" (Ps. 1:2). "0 how I love thy law! It is my
meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:97).
Three errors have
troubled the church concerning the right relation of
law to grace:
Antinomianism- the denial of all rule over the
lives of believers; the affirmation that men are not
required to live holy lives because they are saved
by God's free grace, "They profess that they know
God; but in works they deny him, being abominable,
and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate"
(Titus 1: 16).
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who
were before of old ordained to this condemnation;
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into
lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and
our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude verse 4).
Ceremonialism- the demand that believers should
observe the levitical ordinances. The modern form of
this error is the teaching that Christian ordinances
are essential to salvation.
"And certain men which came down from Judaea taught
the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised
after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved" (Acts
the mingling of law and grace; the teaching that
justification is partly by grace, partly by law, or,
that grace is given to enable an otherwise helpless
sinner to keep the law. Against this error, the most
wide-spread of all, the solemn warnings, the.
unanswerable logic, the emphatic declarations of the
Epistle to the Galatians are God's conclusive
"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the
Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of
faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the
Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal.
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that
called you into the grace of Christ unto another
gospel: which is not another [there could not be
another gospel]; but there be some that trouble you,
and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though
we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel
unto you than that which we have preached unto you,
let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6-8).
The following may be helpful as an outline of
Scripture teaching on this important subject. The
moral law only is referred to in the passages cited.
WHAT THE LAW IS
law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and
good" (Rom. 7:12),
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am
carnal, sold under sin" (Rom. 7:14).
"For I delight in the law of God after the inward
man" (Rom. 7:22).
"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it
lawfully" (I Tim. 1:8).
"And the law is not of faith" (Gal. 3:12).
THE LAWFUL USE OF
"What shall we
say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not
known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust,
except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom.
7:7; see also verse 13).
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no
flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is
the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20).
"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added
because Of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19).
"Now we know, that what things soever the law saith,
it saith to them who are under the law; that every
mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become
guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19). Law has but one
language: "what things soever." It speaks only to
"For as many as are of the works of the law are
under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every
one that continueth not in all things which are
written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet
offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James
"The ministration of death, written and engraven in
stones" (2 Cor. 3:7).
"The ministration of condemnation" (2 Cor. 3:9).
"For I was alive without the law once: but when the
commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (Rom.
"The strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56).
"It is evident, then, that God's purpose in giving
the law, after the race had existed twenty-five
hundred years without it (John 1: 17; Gal. 3:17),
was to bring to guilty man the knowledge of his sin
first, and then of his utter helplessness in view of
God's just requirements. It is purely and only a
ministration of condemnation and death.
WHAT THE LAW
"Therefore by the
deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified
in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of
sin" (Rom. 3:20).
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of
the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we
have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be
justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the
works of the law: for by the works of the law shall
no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16).
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if
righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead
in vain" (Gal. 2:21).
"But that no man is justified by the law in the
sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall
live by faith" (Gal. 3: 11).
"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" (Rom. 8:3).
"And by him, all that believe are justified from all
things, from which ye could not be justified by the
law of Moses" (Acts 13:39).
"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing
in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh
unto God" (Heb. 7:19).
THE BELIEVER IS
NOT UNDER THE LAW
Romans 6, after
declaring the doctrine of the believer's
identification with Christ in His death, of which
baptism is the symbol (verses 1-10), begins, with
verse 11, the declarations of the principles which
should govern the walk of the believer-his rule of
life. This is the subject of the remaining twelve
verses. Verse 14 gives the great principle of his
deliverance, not from the guilt of sin that is met
by Christ's blood, but from the dominion of sin-his
bondage* under it. "For sin shall not have dominion
over you: for ye are not under the law, but under
Lest this should lead to the monstrous Antinomianism
of saying that therefore a godly life was not
important, the Spirit immediately adds: "What then?
Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but
under grace? God forbid" (Rom. 6:15). Surely every
renewed heart answers 'Amen" to this.
Then Romans 7 introduces another principle of
deliverance from law. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye
also are become dead to the law by the body of
Christ; that ye should he married to another, even
to him who is raised from the dead, that we should
bring forth fruit unto God. 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. But now we are delivered from the law, that
being dead wherein we were held; that we should
serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness
of the letter" (Rom. 7:4-6). (This does not refer to
the ceremonial law; see verse 7.)
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I
might live unto God" (Gal. 2:19).
"But before faith came, we were kept under the law,
shut up, unto the faith which should afterwards be
revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to
bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by
faith. But after that faith is come, we are no
longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:23-25).
"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it
lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for
a righteous man" (I Tim. 1:8-9).
WHAT IS THE
BELIEVER'S RULE OF LIFE?
"He that saith he
abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even
as he walked" (I John 2:6).
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid
down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren" (I John 3:16).
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and
pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul" (I Pet. 2:11; see also verses
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you
that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are
called, with all lowliness and meekness, with
long-suffering, forbearing one another in love"
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us, and
hath given himself for us" (Eph. 5:1-2).
"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye
light in the Lord: walk as children of light" (Eph.
"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools,
but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days
are evil" (Eph. 5:15-16).
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall
not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).
"For I have given you an example, that ye should do
as I have, done to you" (John 13:15).
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my
love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments,
and abide in his love" (John 15: 10).
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another,
as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he
it is that loveth me" (John 14:21).
'And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because
we keep his commandments, and do those things that
are pleasing in his sight. And this is his
commandment, That we should believe on the name of
his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he
gave us commandment" (I John 3:22-23).
"This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws
into their hearts, and in their minds will I write
them" (Heb. 10: 16).
A beautiful illustration of this principle is seen
in a mother's love for her child. The law requires
parents to care for their offspring and pronounces
penalties for the willful neglect of them; but the
land is full of happy mothers who tenderly care for
their children in perfect ignorance of the existence
of such a statute. The law is in their hearts.
It is instructive, in this connection, to remember
that God's appointed place for the tables of the law
was within the ark of the testimony. With them were
"the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that
budded" (types: the one of Christ our wilderness
bread, the other of resurrection, and both speaking
of grace), while they were covered from sight by the
golden mercy seat upon which was sprinkled the blood
of atonement. The eye of God could see His broken
law only through the blood that completely
vindicated His justice and propitiated His wrath
It was reserved to modernists to wrench these holy
and just but deathful tables from underneath the
mercy seat and the atoning blood and erect them in
Christian churches as the rule of Christian life.
WHAT IS GRACE?
"But after that
the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man
appeared . . . according to his mercy he saved us"
(Titus 3:4-5). "That in the ages to come he might
show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his
kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom.
WHAT IS GOD'S
PURPOSE IN GRACE?
"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).
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath
appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present
world: looking for that blessed hope, and the
glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour
Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13).
"That, being justified by his grace, we should be
made heirs according to the hope of eternal life"
"Being justified freely by his grace; through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24).
"By whom also we have access by faith into this
grace wherein we stand" (Rom. 5:2).
"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the
word of his grace, which is able to build you up,
and to give you an inheritance among all them which
are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).
"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he
hath made us accepted in the beloved: in whom we
have redemption through f. his blood, the
forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his
grace" (Eph. 1:6-7).
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of
grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to
help in time of need"(Heb. 4:16).
"How complete, how all-inclusive! Grace saves,
justifies, builds up, makes accepted, redeems,
forgives, bestows an inheritance, gives standing
before God, provides a throne of grace to which we
may come boldly for mercy and help; it teaches us
how to live and gives us a blessed hope! It remains
to note that these diverse principles cannot be
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works:
otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of
works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is
no more work" (Rom. 11:6)
"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" (Rom. 4:4-5;
see also Gal. 3:16-18; 4:21-31).
"So then, brethren, we are not children of the
bond-woman, but of the free" (Gal. 4:31)
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be
touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto
blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound
of a trumpet, and the voice of words: which voice
they that heard entreated that the word should not
be spoken to them any more (for they could not
endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a
beast touch the mountain, it shall he stoned, or
thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the
sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and
quake). But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto
the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to an innumerable company of angels, to the
general assembly and church of the firstborn which
are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all,
and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to
Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the
blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things
than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:18-24).
It is not, then a question of dividing what God
spoke from Sinai into moral law and ceremonial
law-the believer does not come to that mount at all.
As sound old Bunyan said: "The believer is now, by
faith in the Lord Jesus, shrouded under so perfect
and blessed a righteousness, that this thundering
law of Mount Sinai cannot find the least fault or
diminution therein. This is called the righteousness
of God without the law."
Should this meet the eye of an unbeliever, he is
affectionately exhorted to accept the true sentence
of that holy and just law which he has violated:
"For there is no difference: for all have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:22-23).
In Christ such will find a perfect and eternal
salvation, as it is written: "If thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in
thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9); for Christ is "the
end of the law for righteousness to every one that
believeth" (Rom. 10:4).