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Susan 07-27-09 12:04 PM

Law and Grace
What do you think the relationship between Law and Grace is, or what do you think it should be? How do you think it might be distorted in a church setting?

I "follow" Michael Spencer's blog and his post today explores these questions. Due to growing up in a legalistic atmosphere, I found it thought-provoking, and wanted to share it and ask what others may think.

Ann 07-28-09 10:18 AM

Here's how I see it.

In the Biblical sense it is not law vs grace. Grace is not given to deliver us from the law but from the need for the law. Big difference. Jesus said as we can read in Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. " The purpose of the law (God's law not man's religion) in very simple terms was to show that sin kills and hurts and to offer protection from this by showing what brings life. You probably remember "I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live" I knew that was in what the Jews called the books of the law (It's Deuteronomy 30:19) but didn't realize that almost the exact thing is said through Jeremiah pleading with sin filled Israel and Judah.

Ideally when Christ is in our hearts and certainly to the extent that He fills all our lives our new Christ nature will instinctively do what is right and not need written rules of dos and don'ts. Paul wrote in Romans 2:14 and 15 "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;" The thing is that for many of us we are not dead enough. We bring or try to bring into our new lives so much baggage from the old life. Maybe the Jews of Biblical times had it easier in a way. Once they came to Christ their old life was over. - literally. When a person left the Jewish faith their family regarded them as dead, held a funeral, divided up such of their inheritance as they could get their hands upon, considered their spouse free to remarry as a widow(er). Baptism for them was not a ceremonial thing it represented a literal burial. In a similar way someone converting to the Jewish faith was baptized to signify death to all their life before that. Yet even in this situation people brought sin-life ways and baggage. Much of Corinthians is written to deal with that. The conclusion there is if as person chooses immorality even after warnings they can not be considered as being reborn in Christ but if they repent and choose Christ not sin they should be received as Christians.

I have yet to understand how long or how much this choosing Christ should be walked out and demonstrated before full restoration and it is something that troubles me right now in a real life situation. My own heart and mind are uncomfortable about someone who came saying they were a brother in Christ, a minister, proceeded to live a life including open adultery and abuse of people who finally after years of warnings and defiance and open threats against people in the church leadership got divorced and married the woman with whom he was living and less than a month later w/ no open apology to the church is preaching and in a leadership role. Yes I want him restored. However I want to have some assurance that he is indeed restored in Christ and living it before I want to hear him preach and definitely before I want him ministering to me at the altar. Yet I am far less troubled by another fellow who openly says he was delivered from drugs and more mess. Maybe because he does openly say he was in sin and needed Christ's deliverance and maybe because he is not trying to be in leadership and the center of attention. Or maybe I need an attitude adjustment from the Lord. I am not trying to set myself us as judge and jury over the first fellow as far as I know I just am not comfortable bec I don't see a major difference in his attitudes now from those then when he was bullying and hurting people. Should here be a time of walking it out before a person who scripturally should never have been in leadership in the first place is restored to leadership again? That is a law/grace/discernment issue that troubles me right now in the church.

Paul makes a difference between law and legalism that seems to me to go to the heart of as lot of things tho my limited understanding of it has not yet helped me with the concern I just mentioned. Preston Snowman who was one of our teachers at Bible School used to put it this way "Some things are essential, some are nonsense. We need to learn to tell the difference." Abuses are certainly possible. Legalism says you'll do it my way and earn your place in Christ. That is of course impossible. Long skirt or hair length or whether or not one watches the Incredible Hulk, or stands up when a leader enters the room, or sleeps with the bishop, does not earn a place in Christ. Only the sacrifice Christ made for us gives us a place in Him. Yet there are groups where every one of these rules and more even the last one have been demanded in the name of Christ and people have been condemned because they do not do them.

There are also situations in which the concept of grace has been so distorted that it has come to signify anything and everything is OK Apparently Paul say that attitude in the early church too. In Romans 6:15 he wrote "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. " We may think we are ministering life by saying that in grace there are no rules but are we? One of the first people I really tried to share Jesus with was a young woman who had made some choices that she knew were very wrong. She went to a minister for counsel and he assured her that God did not judge her or hold those against her. She called me furious "What good to me is a god that does not even know right from wrong? Does your God know right from wrong or shall I just kill [my child] and myself?" She demanded to hear it from a minister too and Pastor Phil agreed to meet us at the place where we held services. She accepted Christ that night and He accepted her and made her whole and clean. That's grace. Not saying sin's OK but getting rid of it.

I'm not sure this is at all how you wanted this discussion to go, Amada. Yes there is legalism in many churches that yells about sin but does nothing to really kill it and many Christians there is also pseudograce that coddles sin instead of bringing it to the cross and letting Christ deal with it.

Ann 07-28-09 10:36 AM

Two more points hopefully more quickly said

1. Things that the law in the Biblical sense of the word law speaks of do have consequences and we need freedom from them in Christ. For example even playing with things that are part of worship of so called other gods, lifestyles of selfishness, or of hate, the whole Deuteronomy catalog can open doors in the spirit ream and have hurting spiritual repercussions. The Holy Spirit can and will show us what these doors are and help us get free in Christ. Problems that persist or seem to be a famiy inheritance often have these kinds of roots. Knowing the law or the Holy Spirit showing it to us can help us see what these r0ots and entanglements are and where they came from. Grace through the power of Christ can make us free from them.

2. There is what some call "ritual abuse" in some cults and some nonchrstian religious practices. This takes many forms from torture to sexual abuse to mutilation and even murder. People who have been victims of such abuse can and do find freedom and healing in Christ. There are people whom the Holy Spirit has taught and empowered especially to minister to victims of such abuse. When I have heard both victims and helpers speak of these situations it seems that the keys to freedom lie in seeing the abuse as abuse and wrong and asking Christ to deliver and heal and from then on focusing in Christ and not on the abuse. It seems to me that the same would be true of the abuse oif reigious legaism. What do you think?

D.Alurb 08-28-09 05:16 AM

Law and Grace
c If someone interprets what we say about others as "judging and criticism" i.e. sin does that mean that it is sin? Not necessarily. Otherwise, we would have to throw out a lot of the NT concerning the exercising of righteous judgment. If we came to a place where we thought that true righteous judgment was criticism wrong judgment then our "freedom" and "grace" has actually trapped us and bound us into a new system of law, we have created, our conscience bound to something other than Gods Word bound to some one elses word.

Ann 08-28-09 10:53 AM

I like your wording

If we came to a place where we thought that true righteous judgment was criticism wrong judgment then our "freedom" and "grace" has actually trapped us and bound us into a new system of law, we have created, our conscience bound to something other than Gods Word bound to some one elses word.
We have seen that here at one time when someone taking a stand in agreement with scripture was told by some that their saying something was wrong because God's word says not to do it were told they were judging and that that was wrong.

A lot seems to have to do with heart attitude and whether the aim is to just keep- peace at any price, to bring life in Christ, or to use the scripture to minister death. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Him Jesus did not condone the adultery but neither did he condemn the person. He set her free from her sin and told her to walk in righteousness.

Ann 11-19-16 10:41 PM

Bumbing up in case anyone wants to add to this

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