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What is Grace?
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WHAT IS GRACE?

 

This is a question many denominations have definitions for, some of which are used to beat up on other denominations and their interpretations.  Some take the route of explaining grace as having to do with unmerited pardon and that the Law of God is done away, you are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that's it, period.  Others say, yes, your past sins are forgiven through unmerited pardon through faith in Jesus Christ, but upon accepting Jesus Christ, you're supposed to keep the Law of God.  Who's right?  True Christians of every persuasion who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, all, regardless of what is taught or believed on this question--all seem to be living by the royal Law of God and it seems to be their lifestyle (after they've been saved for awhile--if they're growing in the Lord).  So what gives?  If Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit is actually writing the royal Law of God within the hearts and minds of those who are truly his, over the period of their lifetimes, then what's all the disagreement about?  If both the Holy Spirit filled, led, and inspired believing Christians from the "Grace & Faith Alone" side, along with those on the Torah observant Sabbatarian (derogatorily termed legalists) side of the body of Christ are all living the same lifestyle--as inspired, enabled and empowered within us from God's precious indwelling Holy Spirit--then whatever the argument is over is due to misunderstanding in how each group defines the Grace of God.

Here is what I came up with on the subject while meditating on it.  I have dwelt within Holy Spirit inspired and led churches who dwell on both sides of this doctrinal fence and here is what I believe God inspired me to see.  By the way, I spent 25 years in a Torah observant Sabbatarian Christian church and 10 years in non-Torah observant, grace & faith alone oriented Christian churches.  What I found is that the two groups differ greatly in the language of how they describe what the grace of God is, but they do not differ on the substance of their Christian lifestyle.  This indicates to me that something is dramatically wrong with the way both sides are describing the subject of grace. 

        Based on 35 years worth of Bible study and being taught in God's Word, here is what I have come to believe the Grace of God means:  "Grace" never equates to disobedience to God's Law, but represents and is made up of four essential elements: 1) the covering sacrificial blood atonement and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ through faith alone, 2) time, the lifetime of the believer, 3) Mercy, the continued and unmerited mercy of God toward the believer, and 4) the enabling power of God's indwelling Holy Spirit, placed within the believer.  The time element, essentially the lifetime of the believer, is given so the believer can, through all the other elements within God's grace, come into living compliance and obedience to God's royal Law.  Now all you "grace & faith alone" people, hold on a minute.  Hear me out on this.  You have to look at all the Scripture on the subject.  Each side looks at only what they seem to choose to and never the whole Scriptural picture.  Now, which royal Law is the Bible talking about?  Paul says, that according to what you believe it is, that is your choice, and you'd better adhere to it and base your lifestyle on it.  If your Christian conscience guides you to believe that God wants you to be obeying the Old Testament law of God (Ten Commandments, Sabbath, Holy Days, dietary laws), then that is the standard you should use and adhere to.  If your Christian conscience guides you to believe that the New Testament law of Christ is the law God wants you to be obeying, then that is the standard you should use and adhere to.  (The New Testament law of Christ, by the way, makes no mention of Sabbath, Holy Days or Old Testament dietary laws.)  If you want to read Paul's words on this, read Romans 14, especially verses 22-23. 

        Our obedience to God's Law does not equate to works (as many grace and faith alone people accuse the other side of teaching)--not in any way, shape or manner does it equate to works, not even good works.  Why?  It is due to the fact that our obedience is enabled by God's indwelling Holy Spirit, one of the essential four ingredients of God's grace.  Our own efforts at obedience will always fail.  Let's read the whole chapter of Romans 7 to see what our human efforts at obedience amount to.

Now, let me finish the thought here--our own efforts at obedience will always fail unless they are coupled to and empowered by God's Holy Spirit which he places within each believer.  Romans 7 appears to be the apostle Paul's description of his own human efforts to keep God's royal law, and his utter failure to do so.  It graphically describes mankind's utter inability to keep God's law all on their own. Paul, at the same time, describes the transforming power of God's Holy Spirit within us, who actually writes within us God's royal law.  In the first part of Romans 7 Paul says that we are dead to the law of God, set free from it.  What does he mean?  Many are thrown off by the statement in Romans 7:1-6, which states "Do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to men who know the law--that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?  For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.  So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.   But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

        So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God."

Let's stop right there.  Here is where believers are thrown off tract by Paul's description.  How did we die to the law of God?  What does the sacrificial blood of Jesus do for us?  It covers us, so believers are dead to the penalty of God's law--that's what we're dead to--the penalty of God's law!  Paul goes on to say the law of God itself is good.  Let's read on, and see the entire text, and put it in context with other vital Scriptures on the subject.  Continuing in verse 5, ".For we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.  But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law [essentially, released from the penalty of the law, which is death] so that we serve the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."  What is this "new way of the Spirit"?  In Matthew 5:17-48, Jesus not only says the law is not done away, but brings the law to it's spiritual intent, to the thought level.  This is the new way of the Spirit.  It is none other than the Law of God brought by Jesus to its lofty spiritual intent.  Do look up and read Matthew 5:17-48 in its entirety, to put this in context.

Purpose of God's Law: Let's get back to Romans 7.  Paul next shows us what the purpose of the law is (just as James does in James 1:22-25)--he shows us that the royal law of God is a spiritual mirror, showing us where the dirt is.   Paul also shows in the same verses that this spiritual law-mirror has absolutely no power in the hands of humans to clean the spiritual dirt off which it reveals.  What I am saying, and what Paul is saying here is: There is no power in the Law of God itself to spiritually "clean up" those who read it, no matter how hard they try, if they are trying all on their own to use God's law this way.  This will become clearer as we go.    Lets read what Paul says, and then look at what James says.  Romans 7:7-13, "What shall we say, then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.  For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet' [Exodus 20:17; Deut. 5:11] But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.  For apart from the law, sin is dead [i.e. the knowledge of sin is dead, the knowledge that we're sinning is dead, is what I think Paul is getting at].  Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.  I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.  So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and  good." 

        "Did that which is good, then, become death to me?  By no means!  But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful."  This is the exact purpose of a spiritual mirror--which God's law is.  Paul goes on to describe a person who is reading the law of God and trying to obey it all on his own.  He is describing a person without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit actually writing those laws in his heart and mind.  Let's read on and see the futility of trying to keep the law of God all on your own.  Paul is most descriptive here, as this must have been his own struggle penned for our benefit.

        Romans 7:14-25, "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." 

        "So I find this law at work:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

        So we find Paul has just described a person who has discovered God's law, but is not yet at the point of living a Holy Spirit filled and guided life.  This person is now looking into the spiritual mirror of God's law and seeing himself maybe for the very first time, or maybe this  is a Christian who for some reason has back-slidden, maybe intense spiritual warfare and the trials of life have worn him/her down so they've grown weak in the spiritual sense.  This can happen to the best of us.  But nonetheless, Paul in Romans 7:25 is describing the attempts of someone trying to obey God's law all on their own, without the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Before we go on to read Paul's solution to this problem, let us re-focus on the theme which he brought out about the purpose of God's law in the very verses we just read, that of it being a spiritual mirror (Romans 7:7-8).  Turn to James 1 and let's read verses 22-25.  James 1:22-25, "Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the Word but does not what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard [or read and studied], but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does."

Now turn to Exodus 30:17-21.  God commanded that the Israelites make a brazen or bronze basin for the priests to wash themselves in before entering the temple or tabernacle to do their service.  This bronze basin is very symbolic, as were all the temple utensils and rites carried out therein.  First, we'll read of God's command concerning this basin, and how the priests were to use it, then we'll read about its construction.  Exodus 30:17-21, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing.  Place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water in it.   Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it.  Whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting [the Tabernacle, which later became the Temple], they shall wash with water so that they will not die.  Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting an offering made to the Lord by fire, they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die.  This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.'"  Now let's look at this bronze basin's construction.  Exodus 38:8, "They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting."  Now let's draw some conclusions.  We've seen both Paul and James, the flesh and blood brother of Jesus, say the Law of God is a spiritual mirror.  Mirrors don't wash people.  Mirrors are used to show where the dirt is, but they have no ability to wash people.  Say you look in the mirror and see dirt.  If you then just try to rub it off, what happens?  You have to turn on the water, fill up the sink, and use soap and water to clean the dirt off your face.  This bronze basin was similar, except the reflective mirrors were on the inside of the basin, and water filled it up, so that those washing themselves, saw their image as they looked into the basin, under the water.  It was a strange place for the reflective mirrors, but it symbolized something greater than its physical purpose. 

Without the washing of the Holy Spirit, the same thing Paul described in Romans 7, the dirt, sin, remains, and just gets smeared around a bit.  What does it take to wash dirt off?  It takes water (and soap, usually).

We are the royal priesthood of Jesus (see 1 Peter 2:9-10) How do we use the Law of God?  The Law of God is symbolized by this bronze basin made of women's mirrors, highly polished brass or bronze.  If we just look into it and rub the dirt, the sin that we see, it doesn't come off.  We can't rid ourselves of it.  Water must be added.  What is the water?  In the Bible, water has been used as a symbol for God's Holy Spirit.  God's Holy Spirit must be added to this mirrored basin, which is his royal law, and then the dirt of sin can be washed off.  Let's see if this is what Paul says.

Go to Romans 8.  Romans 8 is a continuation of Paul's dialogue which started  in Romans 7. Romans 7 dealt with this problem of how we should use God's law, and the impossible struggle that ensues when a person tries to use God's law, his spiritual mirror, all on his own to clean the sin.  Romans 8 goes on to show how to solve this problem of the sin which God's law reveals in us.  Romans 8 describes the "water" that we are supposed to put into the reflective bronze basin of God's law.  Romans 8:1-17, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do [all on its own, without the indwelling Holy Spirit], in that it was weak through the flesh [the law isn't weak, it's just a mirror, it is we that are weak, in the flesh, without God's indwelling Holy Spirit, that's what Paul is getting at], God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."--And here's the key verse: remember, the law of God is just a mirror. When you are carnally, fleshly minded, you are not subject to the law of God, can't keep it.  Paul just said that.  How is one spiritually minded?  How can we use God's mirror and make it work, cleaning off the dirt and living a holy, Godly life?  What's the key ingredient?  With the bronze basin, it was water (and I assume, some kind of soap)--"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ be in you"--how?  By the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, Paul just said that!--"the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  [This is talking about a spiritual quickening, taking us from spiritual death (disobedience) to spiritual life.  Read on and take that last statement in context with the next few verses, using proper Bible interpretation.]  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit [Holy Spirit] do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  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.  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together"  (Romans 8:1-17, King James Version).  Did you get that?  God's royal law--whether the Old Testament 10 Commandment law or the New Testament law of Christ--is a spiritual mirror.  The Holy Spirit which God places within each believer, is the water placed on top of the bronze-mirror-basin of God's law. Sabbatarians and Torah observant Messianic believers chose to use the Old Testament version of God's law as their spiritual mirror. Gentile Christians and non-Torah observant Messianic believers chose to use the New Testament law of Christ as their spiritual mirror.  Don't forget, Paul said whichever version of the law you chose to use as your own personal spiritual mirror is a free choice of Christian conscience.  You alone have the right of choice.  Read the entire chapter of Romans 14, especially verses 22-23 to see Paul's clear statement on the subject of Christian conscience.  Applying God's law as our spiritual mirror and washing off the sin in our lives using the power and ability of Jesus in us--the Holy Spirit--is not legalism in any way, shape, or manner!  This is not our works, but the works of Jesus within us, the works of the Holy Spirit acting within us, writing God's royal law in our hearts and minds.  This is the proper application of applying the grace of God into our Christian lives and lifestyle. 

 

 

God views us as sinless because of the sacrificial blood atonement of Jesus Christ that covers us--regardless of our imperfect obedience and stumbling in and out of sin from time to time.  Please understand, no matter how hard we try--even using the washing power of God's Holy Spirit--we will never achieve perfect obedience to God's royal law.  We will enter eternal life with the righteous covering and sacrificial blood atonement of Jesus Christ.  This blood atonement covers those who have faith in Jesus and Jesus alone for this covering, thus we are cloaked in Jesus Christ's own righteousness, not our own.  This is the essential first ingredient of the Grace of God.  [To read some real in-depth studies about this essential first part of God's grace, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/Romans3-34-25.htm   , http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/Romans3-24.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans3-24-26s.htm .]

 

Let's list again the four main ingredients of God's Grace: 1) Jesus Christ's atoning blood sacrifice that covers us who believe in Jesus and his sacrifice alone as being sufficient.  2) time, the time God gives us, 3) Mercy, God's mercy he extends us, and 4) God's Holy Spirit whom he places within believers.  These four ingredients are all given to us as believers so God within us can bring us into a condition of having "his law written on our hearts and minds", which is the definition of the new covenant, given both in the New Testament and the Old Testament (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 8:6-10, read both).  Grace is never a license to sin or go in the opposite direction of this definition given by God in both Testaments. (This doesn't mean it won't happen from time to time in a believers life.) Jesus--upon a new believer's conversion, being born-again--comes into that believer's life via the indwelling Holy Spirit he places right inside each believer.  Jesus lives his life afresh, anew, within that new believer to the degree that believer yields himself or herself to God, Jesus.  God's law has been described by some Bible scholars and teachers as the written expression of the mind of God.  When Jesus asked the lawyer which was the greatest of the commandments, he responded that the two greatest commandments were 'to love the Lord God with all your heart and mind, and the second, like unto it, to love your neighbor as yourself.'  Jesus commended the lawyer for his astute answer and told him he was not far from the kingdom of heaven.  Those two laws the lawyer quoted are a summation of the Ten Commandments.  The first four represented by the first, and the last six by the second.  All God's commandments boil down to one word, love, agape-love-a deep abiding love for our spiritual parent, God,  and outgoing concern for others equal to our love for self.  The whole epistle of 1 John is full of statements linking agape-love to the commandments of God (for they are inseparable).

How God writes his laws into our hearts and minds:  Now lets read about how God dwells within each born-again believer in Jesus, Yeshua, writing his laws in their hearts and minds.  We're going to read some key verses in John chapters 14-16.  It is God that does the writing of his royal Law on the hearts and minds of the believer.  He does this whether the believer is using the Old Testament Ten Commandment Law of God, or the New Testament Law of Christ as  his chosen spiritual mirror.  Since I have lived and dwelled for long periods of time in both groups, Torah observant Sabbatarian [25 years] and new covenant grace oriented churches that teach faith in Jesus alone [10 years], I have seen within both groups large numbers of Holy Spirit filled, led and inspired people.  So whichever version of the royal Law your Christian conscience guides you to use as being the proper one is totally left up to you--the believer--by God, and this is according to Paul in Romans 14.  Let's turn to John 14, 15 and 16 and see what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit whom he promised to put inside believers.  John 14:15-21, "If you love me [Jesus talking] you will obey what I command"--king James Version says "If ye love me, keep my commandments"--"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me."

What were Jesus' commands?  Read Matthew 5:17-48 where he re-iterated many of the Ten Commandments and brought them to their lofty spiritual intent--those are Jesus' commands.  All throughout the New Testament, Paul, Peter and James bring that same group of commandments--9 of the 10 Commandments--to their lofty spiritual intent.

But how does Jesus write these commandments "into our hearts and minds"?  Let's look at the last part of verse 21: "He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."  Let's read on in verses 23-27, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.  These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.  All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 15:9-14, 26-27, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out form the Father, he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning."  Jesus continues to describe the Holy Spirit in John 16.  Jesus is describing the work of the Holy Spirit within the believer in all these verses in John 14-16.

Jesus gives another work the Holy Spirit does in believers here in John 16.  Let's read John 16:5-7, 13-15, "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'  Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will bring to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine.  That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."

        Our part in the process:  It is the believer's job to ingest the whole Word of God, which contains both versions of this royal law.  Your personal Bible studies should be on a frequent (preferably daily) basis, coupled with daily prayer.  It is in this way that we commune with God and strengthen the influence of the Holy Spirit within us.  God cannot do much writing of his law within our hearts and minds if the influence of his Holy Spirit within us is weak.  It's our job through this daily communing to keep that influence strong, or else the influence of Satan's world around us will overwhelm us, and not much will be written on our hearts and minds by God.  It's our choice, and it's a life choice.  We--as believers in Jesus, Yeshua--cannot possibly "keep" God's Law as humans, on our own.  It is only possible by and through the indwelling Holy Spirit and the power imparted within us by the Holy Spirit that we can use God's law as a spiritual mirror and clean the dirt off, the dirt being sin.  What is sin?  Sin is the transgression of God's Law. 1 John 3:4, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."  1 John chapters 1-5 is full of teaching about keeping God's commands equating to loving God, and being filled with the Holy Spirit enabling us to be able to do so--all these things interconnected. 

The essential thing to remember, it is God who does the writing of his laws in our hearts and minds. When God is doing this writing, it is reflected in our ever-changing and ever-growing Christian lifestyle.  This Christian lifestyle grows ever more in tune with God's royal law being internalized into our "hearts and minds."  It is not some legalistic trip believers go through, it is more like a spiritual empowerment to apply and internalize spiritual laws into our lives , laws that 99.99 percent of the Old Testament children of Israel were powerless on their own to apply and internalize.  So this is not some legalistic trip for believers.

These next Scriptures show this, and are the Bible's very definition of what the new covenant is. Let's turn to Jeremiah 31:31-33 and then to Hebrews 8:8-10 and see the new covenant defined in both Old and New Testaments.  Putting it in context, Jeremiah is prophecying about when the House of Israel and the House of Judah would come into the state of being in the new covenant--at Yeshua's, Jesus' 2nd coming.   Paul is showing in Hebrews that starting with the Church age at the vital Pentecost in Acts 2, all Christians are now under the new covenant.  You'll see why when you read what the terms of this covenant are.  Jeremiah 31:31-33: "'The time is coming' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them' declares the Lord.  This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord.  'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"  Hebrews 8:7-13, "For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.  But God found fault with the people and said: 'The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I make with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.  This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.   For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.' By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."

As you can plainly see, it is God who writes his law in our hearts and minds.  As Paul showed us in Romans 7, when a human being tries to do the writing and placing of God's law into his heart and mind on his or her own, nothing but utter failure results.  In Romans 8, Paul then shows that when the writing and placing is done by God through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have victory over sin [transgression of God's law, cf. 1 John 3:4].  Anyone who says that such obedience to God's law is legalistic or preaching works is way off base.  If any works are involved in our obedience, they are the works of God within our hearts and minds.  Even when we as Christians strive to obey with God's help, the real success of our efforts really lie with God.  All of the glory for our success in obedience belong to God.  It is God who grants us the power, who does the writing of his law in our hearts and in our minds.  That is not legalism or preaching of works in any way, fashion or manner-no way!  Those who preach Jesus Christ as being sufficient and that we don't need anything else, are technically correct.  Why?  Because it is due to the fact that Jesus through the Holy Spirit is doing the writing.  But we do have something to understand and perform.  Understand, these folks are being simplistic in their explanation, which can deprive the new believer of understanding how the process of grace works.  This is a serious hindrance to growth for many believers, both new and old.  Such teachers do a serious disservice to those whom they teach.

We are to look into the perfect law of liberty, as James says, and continue in it, and we have seen, empowered by God through his Holy Spirit.  How do we do that?  We do that by having daily prayer and Bible study, ingesting the Word of God on a constant and daily basis.  Also,  it doesn't hurt to study God's law, both in the Old and New Testament versions, letting God's Holy Spirit speak to you as you study and read.  As you read, God is writing his laws within you.  That is an essential key to spiritual growth.  No Bible reading, no Bible study--no growth-it's that simple.  Prayer alone is not sufficient.  When you come across a sin in your life revealed by looking into God's mirror, what happens?  You take it to God in prayer--correct? God then will help you overcome your confessed sin with and through the power he imparts into you by his Holy Spirit.  So if any "works" are involved, they are the works of God's Holy Spirit within you, not your own works!

 

One important suggestion: I might add here, that it helps tremendously to be attending a church that teaches from the whole Word of God in a concise, accurate manner.  Try to find a Christian church that doesn't dwell on any one part of God's Word over others, but feeds it's believers with a steady diet of the whole Word of God (preferably going through the whole Bible in its sermon-teaching format from year to year).  There are churches and denominations out there that fit this description.  It's up to you as a believer to find them, should you desire this more thorough level of Bible teaching.  It's your life!  You're given one lifetime to apply and utilize God's grace, growing as Peter said in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  Let's turn there.  2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen."  In closing,  Deuteronomy 30:19, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For he is your life."  [Desire to chose a church?  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/choosingachurch.htm  for some helpful ideas and suggestions.]

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