The Greatest Law Preacher

“Don’t stray too far from the red letters,” is a piece of advice often given to new preachers. It means, stay close to the teachings of Jesus and you can’t go wrong. It sounds good, but it’s actually bad advice. Everything Jesus said was good and wonderful, but not everything He said was meant for you. Read the red letters of your Bible and you will find both stories of unprecedented grace and merciless declarations of law. Mix these messages and you will end up confused and double-minded. The solution is not to balance law and grace – you can’t – but to filter everything you read through the finished work of the cross. To make sense of what Jesus said, you need to understand what Jesus did and why.

Jesus lived under law

Jesus lived at the crossroads of two covenants. As humanity’s representative He came to fulfill the old law-keeping covenant in order that we might relate to God through a new and better covenant forged in His blood. Since the new covenant could not begin before He died, Jesus lived all of His pre-cross life under the old covenant of the law:

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Gal 4:4-5)

Jesus was born under law, circumcised by law, and presented in the temple according to the law. Every Jewish person that Jesus met was also born under law. We need to keep this in mind when we read the red letters of Jesus.

What law did Jesus preach?

To those under the law, Jesus preached the pure and unadulterated Law of Moses. When religious people came to trap him with theological puzzles, Jesus would respond with, “What did Moses command you?” (Mk 10:3). If someone asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the law,” Jesus would provide an answer from the law (Mt 22:36). In His law-keeping ministry, Jesus honored the Law of Moses:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. (Mt 23:2-3)

Since the law-teachers often made Jesus angry, we might conclude that Jesus was opposed to the law. He was not. Jesus had no problem with what the Pharisees were preaching. “Do everything they tell you.” What really burnt His toast was their hypocrisy – they weren’t practicing what they preached:

Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. (Joh 7:19)

Why did Jesus preach the law?

Like every grace preacher, Jesus esteemed the law and the purpose for which it was given. The law was given to silence every mouth and hold the whole world accountable (Rms 3:19). The purpose of the law is to make us conscious of sin and reveal our need for a Savior.

Since Sinai, the Jews had had fourteen centuries to learn what the law would teach them – that the flesh is incapable of dealing with sin. However, the law-teachers and Pharisees had ring-fenced the Law of Moses with their traditions and interpretations. By honoring their traditions ahead of the law, they diluted the law and removed the key to knowledge. As a result, the menace of sin was not fully recognized and the self-righteous weren’t silenced.

Nativity_crowdsIf the law had been allowed to do its proper work, the Jews would have been primed and ready for a Savior. Every one of them would have had an experience like the one Paul describes in Romans 7. “Nothing good lives in me. Oh wretched man that I am!” Live under the condemning ministry of the law and you will inevitably come to this question: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” If the law-teachers and prophets had done their job, then the entire nation of Israel would have gathered outside that stable in Bethlehem in eager expectation. “He’s here! The Savior has come!” they would have said. “The One who will deliver us from the curse of the law and reconcile us to God has been born. Glory to God in the highest!”

Sadly, it didn’t happen. Since the law-teachers had been negligent, Jesus had to do their job before He could do His own. Before He could save the world from sin, He had to preach the law that made sin utterly sinful. Before He give Himself as the answer, He had to make sure we were asking the right question. Who will deliver us?

So Jesus became the greatest law preacher of all time. As the prophet Isaiah had foretold, He made the law magnificent. He lifted up what others had knocked down and raised the standard to glorious levels of perfection. Never again would mankind be without excuse. You want to know what God expects? Just read the Sermon on the Mount. In it Jesus says that God demands perfection and nothing less.

How did Jesus preach the law?

Preaching the red letters of Jesus is a bit like drinking whatever you find in the laundry. If you’re not paying attention – if you fail to distinguish His life-giving words of grace from His death-dealing words of law – then you could really do some damage. Don’t believe me? Then consider these red letters:

If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Mat 6:14-15)

This is one of the most-quoted passages in the Bible and it is vintage law. It is a killer scripture. It is not good news. This verse should make us shudder for it says that our forgiveness hinges on our ability to forgive others and we are poor forgivers indeed. Men sin against us repeatedly. Have we honestly forgiven them all? What if we miss one? And what do we say to those who have been raped and abused? What do you say to a young child who has been molested? “Sweetie, you need to forgive that evil man otherwise God won’t forgive you.” That’s not grace. That’s the condemning ministry of the law in full bloom. How do you forgive the unforgiveable? You can’t! Then you’re in trouble. The law condemns you as an unforgiver. Now you’re beginning to recognize your need for grace and this is a good thing.

Any time you read a conditional statement from Jesus, you should interpret it as law. “Do not judge and you will not be judged” (Lk 6:37). That’s good advice but it’s also law. To avoid something (judgment) you have to do something (don’t judge). It’s a blessing you have to pay for. And anytime Jesus makes a threat, you should interpret that as law as well. “Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Mt 5:22). That’s bad news for anyone with a brother!

The law is not for you

Jesus came to reveal grace but those who are confident of their own righteousness are incapable of receiving it. They don’t see their need. What they need is the law and Jesus gave it to them in spades. But Jesus’ larger purpose was to give us His life and His righteousness. So He also told stories about God justifying sinners and shepherds finding lost sheep. Then He went to the cross fulfilling the law on our behalf that He might be the end of the law for all who believe (Rom 10:4).

Jesus’ came to set the captives free and give sight to the blind. The law sets nobody free. But the law does reveal your need for a Great Deliverer.

___
Related posts:
- 5 ways Jesus revealed grace
- Seven signs that you might be living under law
- Rightly dividing the word: How to read your Bible without getting confused

Comments

  1. Hi Paul, this is a very good articulation of the teaching of Jesus. It is definitely one of your better posts. I especially like that you are careful to point out that many of those law teachings are still very good advice and worth “practicing” but not for the sake of salvation or right standing, rather for peace and fruitful living. Sometimes people can pursue something that they should be pursuing but have the wrong foundation or motivation behind it.

  2. Clare E.McKee says:

    “how go you forgive the unforgivable? You can’t” you say. Certainly not without the grace of the Holy Spirit,i agree! But surely we can , with Him, be like Jesus who said ” Father forgive them,for they know not what they do”? And Stephen who, if I remember rightly, cried out as they stoned him (surely unforgiveable?)” Do not hold this sin against them?” but yore right that it is hard to tell what constitutes ” the fulfilment of the law ” that Jesus said he came to implement, and laws which no longer apply to us, like the sacrifices and circumcision. I’ve been taught that if it’s a spiritual law, it still holds good.

    • Clare,
      Hi. We can do things with the HS that we otherwise couldn’t do and God would prefer that we did however the point is that He does not withdraw His salvation if we fail to appropriate our potential.
      Great post Paul.
      Many blessings to you both.

  3. Andre vd Merwe says:

    Good one Paul! Man you have a way with words…

    Bless you bro.

  4. This is phenomenal! Thank you for such a good word! Love it!

  5. This is hard to wrap my head around but it makes sense! Thanks!

  6. Its seems that some in the early church wanted to keep the law and the message of salvation while others wanted to abandon the law and other scriptures altogether, make a clean start. Jesus does tend to read like a sock puppet used by different authors with different agendas, though perhaps this is the result of a single editor’s attempt to fuse these ideas and make everyone happy; Polycarp that is.

  7. Eric Lionhaus says:

    I would only take issue with your use of the term ‘Jews’ when you mean Hebrews. “Since Sinai, the Jews had had fourteen centuries…..”
    There were no Jews until the Babylonian captivity! A common mistake that supports the error that the Patriarchs were Jews!
    Jesus condemned “Judaism” which is not the Torah at all, but the Oral Traditions which became the Talmud. Modern day Judaism is Zoroastrian, Babylonian, New Age, Witch Craft.

    • Eric, this is probably a grammatical, rather than historical issue, since the Jews I’m referring to are the Jews of Jesus’ day. Those Jews had had the law for 14 centuries, since Sinai. The Hebrews at Sinai hadn’t had the law for 14 centuries. But I take your point.

    • Hi Eric.
      I don’t know where you’re getting your info but the Jew is a descendent of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob.
      Lots of luck with you Zoroastrian Judaism. :)

      Tony

  8. Great teaching! Thats helped clarify some things for me. Thanks heaps!

  9. Gregg Scheibel says:

    Paul,
    Hats off to you my brother! You have a gift for combining simplicity with the profound! After reading today’s post I came away so wanting what you wrote to be true. It would help clarify and explain certain matters which have been difficult for me to reconcile, such as the example I’ll cite below. But alas (sigh), I’m still wondering… Reinterpreting the words of Jesus is not something I can do easily, especially when certain passages appear to be very straightforward. Such is the case with your explanation/interpretation of Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness falling under the teaching of the Law, in particular when a condition is attached to it as you said. Again, I’m your friend and brother and come to you with grace and admiration. But specifically, do you have a revelatory understanding concerning Jesus’ teaching/parable of the king and his forgiven servant (who went on to not forgive another) found in Matt 18:23-35? It certainly does not end well and wouldn’t be considered good news to hear “So My heavenly Father will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” I can already hear you saying, “Didn’t you read my post, Gregg?” Yes, but my difficulty comes with Jesus’ opening words within the passage… “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who…” How can we safely and accurately attribute this teaching to what the Law required when Jesus says he is painting a picture of life within the Kingdom? Am I missing something? I have always believed that Jesus’ teaching regarding the Kingdom was New Covenant based and enduring. I do value your input and would love to know your thoughts on this. Know that I will be seeking the Holy Spirit’s counsel here and praying the same for you. Love and peace, Gregg

    • Hi Greg,
      Thanks for the comment. I have a series of posts coming down the line on Jesus’ preaching – this isn’t a one off – so some of your questions may get answered along the way. Regarding the parable of the unforgiving servant, I can recommend two posts, one written by me and the other written by Cornel. A good rule of thumb is to ask, How does the cross change this? Or, How do we interpret this parable in light of the cross? If the cross changes nothing said or done during the old covenant, then the cross is of no effect. The good news – as far as conditional forgiveness goes – is that the cross changed everything.

  10. Maryann Partridge says:

    Yes!!! I have come to see this. Though it took some time to be convinced for me the Holy Spirit was patient. Thanks so much. I really appreciate your notes.

  11. Did I just get born again! No, but hearing this is like getting born again.Thanks Paul anxiously waiting your wow factor posts.Keep it up we so need this.

    • So right! I’ve known this deep down since I got saved 33 years ago, but you’re helping put meat on those bones bro. Paul! I’m so thankful to have discovered your blog through another pure grace believer!! Thank you, your messages of HIS grace are meeting my hungry soul’s need from all the law preaching I’m getting every Lord’s day. God Bless you.

  12. Paul, a great post again!

    this is the preaching that is much needed. Many think that when we preach grace, we preach univeral love without any regard for the law, sin and judgement. Of course not! We have the highest regard towards the law because we know only God Himself can keep it. We have the highest regard towards sin because we know sin shall have no dominion over us for we are not under law but under grace. We have the highest regards for judgement because we have faith that if Jesus said he took our judgement on Himself, He did a FINISHED and COMPLETE work!

    When we yield to the salvation of Jesus, knowing that only Jesus Himself can justify the law as our substitution, we are saying that none of our outward holiness can ever fullfill the law. And that is precisely why we rest in Jesus’s grace.

    • Thanks Kit. When I was uncertain about grace, I used to say “Don’t ask for justice, ask for mercy.” Now that I have seen His grace I say, “Lord give me justice!” A just God cannot punish for the same sin twice. A just God has already made us righteous in Christ. Mercy is good, but His justice is even better.

  13. - “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Mat 6:14. The Greek word for Forgive – “aphēte.”
    – “Forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” – Col 3:13. The Greek word for Forgiving/Forgave – “charizomenoi/echarisato
    – “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ,” – 2 Cor 2:10. The Greek word for Forgive/Forgiven – “charizesthe/kecharismai
    – “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” – 2 Eph 4:32. The Greek word for Forgive/Forgiven – “kecharismai/echarisato

    ———————
    Interestingly the root word for forgive in Matthew is “aphiémi” – means to release, send away. Then the root word for forgive in Paul’s letter is “charizomai” means – graciously give, show FAVOR to.

    Under Law – Forgive or You will not be not forgiven
    Under Grace – Forgive, because You have been forgiven

    amazing grace. everyday we discover new things..
    grace and peace bro.

  14. Love your stuff Paul. I have been reading for the last 6 months or so, along with Ryan Rhoad’s and Cornel’s Blog. You have each inspired me to start my own blog site, in which I have recently done, after a long while of using face book to spread the message of grace. Please continue to preach truth and love as you are. You influence more than you know,. Blessings

  15. Hi, Paul. I’m fortunate enough, I realize now, to not have grown up in any of the dominant branches of the Church. None at all, in fact. Saved at 18 I had no infection of the Law, but no revelation about Grace. When I was saved I was soon attracted to the teachings of Kenneth Hagin – Mark 11:23-24 in particular. I look back upon years of barking to mountains in the wrong way entirely (you’ve taught me the difference between the Covenants). My application of it was all Law: hands clenched, and all performance. Now it’s all an easy verbal declaration of position. Not trying to wring anything out of Heaven, but simply a declaration of my rights as a son, King and Priest.
    I was wondering if any other readers have experienced a similar renewal of understanding on this scripture?
    Also, taking that and the enormously expansive promises Jesus gave us in John 14-15 about prayer requests – all prior to the Cross – what are your thoughts about 1John 5:14 being post-Cross? Mine is that “according to his will” is in fact an understanding of Grace. All of my desires have changed since being enlightened on this relationship. I used to think “Well, if it’s not His Will…”. Now I think it’s even more powerful, and an understanding of the scripture brings a corresponding responsibility. We can indeed alter the world.
    I apologize for rushing – but we do have an enormous and opened heaven upon us, do we not? And all of its contents.
    I expect I’ve exceeded the limit (apologies) and look forward to your comments and those of your followers.
    Paul.

  16. It’s actually the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. (Rom. 10.4.), Not the end of the law for all who believe.
    In Gal.5:5, it says that we, through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. And in other places, we are called to pursue righteousness and flee from youthful lusts or die to sin etc.
    1John 3:7, it says “Little children, make sure no one decieves you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
    Why is it that most grace teachers, have contempt for those that want to follow the Commandments of God, and vilify them as “being under the law”.
    1John 5:3 says that “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” and 1 Cor 7:19 “….what matters is keeping the commandments of God.”
    And just because many are zealous for good works, they assume that they are trying to attain to their own righteousness.
    This actually has the effect of stopping many people from doing good works, as they don’t want to be accused of being under the law.
    I know I am saved by grace, I am guilty of many things, including all the works of the flesh that Paul, in saying to the Corinthians and Galatians, that if they do these things, they will not inherit the kingdom of God, but I know that I have been forgiven and my hope is still in Jesus.
    Paul says in Gal 6, that they only wanted people to be circumcised so that they wouldn’t be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
    This may be my perspective, but I am not ashamed to consider myself, one who deserves death, but have found grace and mercy from a precious Saviour and loving Father. All Glory to Him.

    • Hi Peter,

      I think you may have missed the point of 1 John 3:7. Let’s read the full chapter in its context.

      The Imperative of Love
      10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

      If you look at what is saying, you will realise that the context of practicing righteousness is found in Genesis 4:
      Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
      6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

      Clearly, the “Evil” works and “Righteous” works in Gen 4 refers not to their behaviour, works or law-keeping, but the WAY they offered to God! Cain offered fruits, which is a work of his flesh, while Abel gave his flock, a symbol of Jesus the lamb! Today, God is saying: Righteous works is reminding God of the lamb, Jesus. Producing the fruits from the ground by self-effort is evil works.

      In Gen 4:6, God also gave a clearer understanding with these words: “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.”
      In Hebrew, the word sin can actually be translates as sin offering, and the word “lies” can be translate as “crouch”. In other words, God was not angry with Cain, but rather, He is telling Cain not to be angry – The Sin offering is crouching (possibly a lamb) just near the door! The lamb’s desire is for you! Rule over it, sacifice it as a reminder of Jesus.

      Letting the Bible interprete itself, 1 John 3:7 is talking about what we offered to God as works, not our behaviour, but rather, what we are mindful of – Our self-effort (fruits) or our lamb (Jesus)? Let’s not do more evil works, and turn to the goodness of Jesus!

  17. On point, this is very true even the beautiudes like’ blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled’ is for those under the law because we are already the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus

  18. Perhaps Paul should comment on these last two posts, makes me wonder what you’ve been smokin’………..
    I think, Kit, your drawing a long bow to suggest that God didn’t accept Cains sacrifice because of the way it was offered.
    More likely, Cain already had a problem with sin and was “of the evil one”
    And a very strange twisting of scripture to come to your conclusion.
    The letter of John is just that, a letter, not an enigma to be pulled apart in such a way that it has no reference to what is being said.
    Hi Alli, I assume your referring to 2 Cor. 5:21, it doesn’t say that we are already the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, but that we may BECOME the righteousness in Him.
    Don’t put the cart before the horse, In Timothy 1 and 2, he is told to pursue righteousness, why would he have to do that if he already had it?
    A lot of Christianese sounds good, but it doesn’t hold water when dealing with the reality of many peoples walks.
    Better to dig a little deeper and get the meat of the word instead of looking for things to justify our behaviours.
    Cheers.

    • Peter, other than making ad hominem queries and getting a bit preachy, I am not sure what you are trying to say. If you would know my views on good works, read this post. I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but in future please keep your comments limited to the post in hand, otherwise they won’t get posted. Cheers.

    • HI Peter, your remarks “More likely, Cain already had a problem with sin and was “of the evil one” And a very strange twisting of scripture to come to your conclusion” are not supported. Clearly John wrote: 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

      Apparently, the context is in Genesis. I went to great lengths to explain the Hebrew language and how the translation should be. In fact, Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), which is a LITERAL word for word look at the bible, translate it as such:

      Genesis 4:6-7 And Jehovah saith unto Cain, `Why hast thou displeasure? and why hath thy countenance fallen? Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance? and if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching, and unto thee its desire, and thou rulest over it.’

      There you see it! Sin-offering. In fact, this scripture was contested among Jewish scholars. Jewish Masoretic translation says clearly that it is sin-offering, not sin.

      MOST IMPORTANTLY is this piece of scripture in HEBREWS 11:4 that Paul wrote. The hall of faith states the reason why Abel is accepted before the Lord: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (Heb 11:4)

      Notice that God testifies of Abel’s gift, not his behavour? Notice that the SACRIFICE is what obtained witness to Abel’s righteousness? Is that not clear enough that the evils works in John 3 is what Cain offered (self effort) and good works is what Abel offered (the lamb)?

      Instead of rebuking by scripture, you went down the road of “human reasoning” and accuse me of twisting the scripture. I pray that you continue to understand the bible through the lens of what Jesus has done for us, the forgiveness forever and complete.

      • Hi Kit, I also have the YLT version, and it does say “sin offering”. Good pick-up there! I believe that because Cain offered from the fruit of the ground, not the first fruits, like Abel, who bought the firstlings from his flock and fat ones at that.
        He loved God and wanted to please Him with the best, but Cain just bought an offering like a religious duty. Perhaps the “better” sin offering was lying at Cain’s door, but as Cain was selfish, he desired it for himself and offered God other fruit. Even then, it seems that God was giving him another chance to offer it, or “do well” as Cain had the rule over it to do what he wanted. In Heb. 11, the focus is on faith, Abel’s hope was in God, his assurance and conviction that God was his Abba Father and he did all things to please Him. His gift to God was from a heart of love and worship, not religious duty. It wasn’t the gift that he was deemed righteous, but by the obedience of faith, which works by love.
        Cheers.

    • Hi Peter,
      Which one will God accept?
      – a. The fruit of the ground
      – b. The blood of an animal
      The fruit of the ground represents the cursed ground. Self effort is involved here because you have to plow the soil, plant, water…
      The blood of an animal, typifies Jesus. If you look closely after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, God killed an animal
      You asked “why would he have to do that if he already had it” Paul wasn’t talking about righteousness through faith.
      Alli is right. upon receiving the gift of righteousness, we have become, so we are already.
      the word “BECOME” is the same root in greek as “(grace and truth “CAME” through Jesus)” *ginomai* Jesus became grace and truth.
      so we became righteous when we believe and we are already are now.
      grace and peace

      • What about Rev. 19:8, when talking about the Bride, “8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. ”
        Don’t you think, that we should do righteous acts, to be dressed in fine linen.
        Or Jesus in Math 6:1, 1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
        Seems He wants us to “practice righteousness”
        Or Rom.6:16, Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
        Seems we should be slaves to righteousness.
        or Gal. 5:5, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”
        Seems that when Jesus returns, and we all stand before Him and,”He WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
        I know that our righteousness is Jesus, but we also have to do something, to put off the “flesh” and put on Jesus in all we say and do and treat others.
        Not in lipservice, but in truth, and even if we have to be faithful unto death, like Jesus, so let it be.

      • Yes, we should absolutely do those things. However, we don’t do those things to obtain salvation or righteousness. We do “acts of righteousness” out of obedient loyalty and appreciation. There is a difference between how righteousness is obtained and showing evidence that Christ’s righteousness is at work in us. We still have to continually yield to the Holy Spirit’s leading so that the fruit of the Spirit may be cultivated in us. “Acts of righteousnes” are ways that God’s Kingdom is advanced and His power is demonstrated. We don’t do these acts to become righteous, we do these acts because we are righteous.

      • @Peter
        I see your point.
        – Love, produces love.
        – Righteousness produces righteous acts
        – Hate produces hate
        – Unrighteousness produces unrighteousness acts
        ————————————————————-
        – Math 6:1 talks about works righteousness (flesh). NOT righteousness by faith (spirit)
        you said “righteousness is Jesus, but we also have to do something, to put off the “flesh””
        **YES YOU ARE RIGHT! WE HAVE TO PUT OFF THE FLESH
        **THE FLESH AS – “PUTTING EFFORT TO DO RIGHTEOUS WORK IS FLESH”
        WE NEED NOT DO SOMETHING. RATHER THE SPIRIT DOES IT IN US. OUR PART IS TO REST
        WALKING IN THE SPIRIT IS “BELIEVING YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH”
        sorry caps. making a point.
        – grace and peace

      • @Peter – i miss this part
        Rev 19:8 “It was GIVEN to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean…for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints”
        – You said “Don’t you think, that we should do righteous acts, to be dressed in fine linen.”
        – Clothe with linen first, the then righteous acts
        – Righteousness here is a gift, received by faith. You can never earned God’s kind of righteousness
        – When you are dressed with this robe of righteousness, you produce righteous acts
        – It was GIVEN, BECAUSE/FOR it is the righteous acts. see righteous acts are given
        grace and peace
        – peter

  19. Peter, the reason they both brought sacrifices to the Lord was because of sin. Are you implying that Abel was sinless and Cain was sinful? Then why did Abel bring a lamb to sacrifice if he had no need of animal sacrifice?

  20. Excellent Paul, i felt the message appealed to my greater understanding of the fact that under the Law, there is SIN/PUNISHMENT/DEATH….. and as our precious LORD Jesus Christ did endure all these in our place, so we could enjoy AMAZING GRACE…hallelujah….GLORY TO THE KING OF KINGS….”The Beautiful Exchange…” Our saviour endured SIN…though he has no sin in HIM, we who are born of sin….get to receive his righteousness/holy spirit and walk in HIS, truth, life, wisdom and LOVE….what a saviour???? Thank you dear LORD.

  21. Romans is the best scripture for anyone who doubt the purpose of the law. The entire romans touches on the fundamentals of the gospel: Romans 5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
    20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Notice that Paul states clearly that the law entered that SIN (offenses) may abound! This is exactly what Paul (Ellis, hahaha) is writing here: that Jesus have brought the law to its highest standard, which no one can keep, in any form or manner. Paul himself have problems with keeping the last commandment: Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”[a] 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.

    He went to say how the more he tries to keep the law, the more sinful behaviours manifested in him.
    Thank God, in Romans 8, right after his struggles as a “Wretched man that I am!”, he found Jesus’s grace as his solution: Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Rejoice! The law is no more. Grace is here!

  22. Can you comment how to continue in this message of Grace when there are so many WOF preachers that incorporate a mixture of Grace and law when they exclusively teach on doing the sayings of Jesus.
    I attend a WOF church that amplifys that “what we need to do” to get victory. It’s almost discouraging when you have leaders that put pressure in you to continue in a mixed based Gospel and you take a stand against and you’re considered being a heretic.

    The mixed message has been prevelant in WOF churches.

    • Hi Grant,

      At the end of Jesus’ time on earth, he admitted that his instruction to the disciples was still incomplete: Jn 16:12 I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But he promised to fill in the gaps by way of the Holy Spirit (Teacher, Comforter, Counselor). Jn 14:26 the HS will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Jn 16:13-14 the HS will guide you into all truth, and he will tell you what is to come, taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
      My point: red letters are good, but if we purpose to abide only by Jesus’ words during his earthly sojourn, we will be lacking. By the Holy Spirit we access the full library of God which is in Christ, and like Paul (apostle and Ellis) continue in the Word and the ongoing revelation by the HS.
      In parting, two prayers from Ephesians: 1:17-18, 3:15-19.

      Best,
      Gerry

    • Hi Grant – sorry I completely forgot about your question! Thanks Gerry for weighing in. The simple solution is you could change your church! But Gerry’s right, ask the Holy Spirit. He might think it’s a good idea to stay. (The whole world needs to hear the good news of the finished work. Even Christians!)

      BTW, my answer to the “What we need to do” question is “Trust Jesus!”

  23. Lovely. :)

  24. Does anyone have any explanation about Ananias & Sapphira in Acts according to the message of Grace? I have a preacher asking me this and honestly I don’t know how to respond. Appreciate any info. Tommy

    • This question is not related to the post and would be better placed on E2R’s FB page. But just this once I’m going to do you a favor and let you know about this post by Ryan Rhoades.

    • Loo Kit Fan says:

      Hi Tommy! Pastor Prince gave a great explanation (very scriptural) of the context of the verses. Hope you can take a look at the video and see for yourself if what he preached answers your question.

  25. Paul ur blog has helped me a lot. It’s like a gift i give to people. I tell them: hey buddy, have u heard about Escape to reality? Please clarify me on Jesus’ words to his disciples: the sins u’ve forgiven, will be forgiven, the ones u didn’t, won’t be forgiven.

  26. The law, the Torah, the 613 commandments is a complete system in itself. What Jesus preached was not the law, but the way of life that His disciples were to follow. In the sermon of the mount, in handling irreconcileable dispute, Jesus says to “go tell it to the church”. Jesus’ words are so important that the early church fathers placed it first in the New Testament before all other books. Under the New Covenant, we no longer have to follow the Torah – the festivals, the sacrifices, etc. However the spirit of the law – Love God and love your neighbor is still required of us. Jesus explains how this is lived out in the Sermon of the Mount. The New Covenant is a higher covenant – whereas the old covenant is an eye for an eye, the new covenant, is turn the other cheek. It is not the same. Lived out in its entirety,it will lead us to love our neighbor, to bless those who persecute us, to forgive and love our enemies. The apostles did all things as recorded in the book of Acts and the letters of Paul.We can never do it on our own strength, but under the New Covenant,we have received new hearts, filled by the Holy Spirit,who gives us the power to do so. Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”. Do you think so many of His words have no relevance for His disciples?

    • Jason, you lost me at the second sentence. No, I don’t take Jesus’ words as suggestions on how to live, a “way of life,” as though they were mere guidelines and tips provided by a newspaper columnist. Jesus is the Living Word so if the Living Word says “If your eye or hand causes you to sin, get rid of it,” then, yes, I think we should take Jesus seriously. Sin is a serious business. Those who don’t see grace – those who promote sin-management and behavior modification through a system of group accountability and will-power – are paradoxically soft on sin. Tell them that Jesus wasn’t prone to exaggeration and hyperbole and they chuckle. “Oh, he didn’t really mean those hard things he said. He was just exaggerating to make a point.” I disgree. Jesus meant everything he said; everything he said is important. But it does not follow that you should do everything Jesus said.

      • Hi Paul. Thanks for your reply. However, you can’t throw out everything Jesus commanded as irrelevant to New Covenant Christians just because nobody will literally gouge out their eye or cut off their hand to escape hell. As you said yourself, the purpose of Jesus using that example was to show people how serious sin is. In light of this Scripture, if a Christian still wants to persist in sinning in adultery, he should say to himself, am I willing even to gouge out my eye to continue in this sin – of course not and he should repent and ask God for help to overcome! I agree that on our own strength, we can’t possible meet this standard, but I put it to you that if you live by the Spirit, you will receive the power to live like Jesus commanded. How is love God and love your neighbor lived out? It is there in the Sermon of the Mount! If Jesus did not spell out great truths like “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies”, we would still be practicing an eye for an eye and think it is fair and acceptable.

      • Jason, we are talking past each other, we’re not on the same page. You think Jesus was speaking figuratively – for the purposes of illustration only – and thus weaken the law to accommodate your own standards of behavior (whatever they may be). I think Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said and was the greatest law preacher of all. He preached the pristine law so people would stop doing what you are trying to do and trust wholly in Him instead. There is no law that, if kept, can make you righteous, not even the command to love God or your neighbor (Gal 2:21, Rom 10:4). Does that make the teachings of Christ irrelevant? Not at all. Far from it in fact. But if you are going to live by the words of Jesus, be honest and live by all of them; not merely the ones seem right to you (Pro 14:12). Jesus doesn’t give us the Spirit to help us keep His teachings; He gives us His Spirit so that the dead might live. Thanks for your comments.

    • Hi jason,

      Let’s put it this way. Jesus is for holiness and good behaviour. Granted. Paul Ellis is for holiness. All grace preachers, in their right mind, will never preach “go and sin so that you can have grace and forgiveness”. It is like saying “go and get sick so that you can get healing”. That’s stupid.

      Since we are all for holiness, and following his commandments, the main difference is this: You believe it’s by trying to keep Jesus’s commandments, we believe it is only by God’ grace. Cos the greatest commandment is love. And no amount of “instructions or laws” can produce love and the the good works that follows it.

      Philip Yancey puts it best:
      “A state government (in this context, through the law and commandments) can shut down stores and theaters on Sunday but it cannot compel worship. It can arrest and punish KKK murders but it cannot cure their hatred, much less teach them love. It can pass laws making divorce more difficult but cannot force husbands to love their wives and wives their husbands. It can give subsidies to the poor but cannot force the rich to show them compassion and justice. It can ban adultery but not lust, theft but not covetousness, cheating but not pride. It can encourage virtue but not holiness.”

      Only grace, which stirs up love in us, knowing that especially WHEN we fail Jesus, He still loves us. Jesus put himself through the cross not to make bad men good, but to make dead men LIVE. It’s the knowing of this love which makes us want to do things for Him.

      So stop looking at Jesus as the example to live a Christian, comparing His words and life to your own. He did not die to make you a karma police, or unbending law keeper. Moses law would have been enough – If we had been able to keep Moses commandments, then Jesus need not die. BUt He did, because none of us will ever be able to keep the law.

      See Him as the bread of life, the lamb of God. Feed on His Grace – and see how this grace transform you from the inside out.

      • Thanks for your comments, Kit. Just wanted to clarify that my stand is not trying to earn or keep our salvation by using
        human effort. I fully agree that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith in Jesus Christ. However, once we are saved,
        we are to follow Jesus – His commands, not by our own human strength which is impossible but in dependence on the Holy Spirit, our Helper whom Jesus has given us to help us. The closer we are to Jesus, the more we want to obey Him and do what He does, I agree. However, if we say we follow Jesus, but don’t forgive others, that means we don’t really following Jesus at all. I just feel when you classify Jesus’ words as law, you automatically shut people’s minds off reading the Lord’s words. Through the centuries, Christians following Jesus’ words of wisdom have done great good and God has used them to win over millions to Christ. You can just ask how precious the gospels are to persecuted Christians in China who love Jesus. Loving Jesus and loving His Word come together.

    • Colleen G says:

      When we treat the teachings of Jesus as a list of rules to follow we are simply substituting one type of law keeping for another. If you are basing your acceptance or salvation on anything other than what Jesus did on the cross you are looking to yourself and how well you can toe the line. Keeping Jesus words as if they are a law is still law keeping. It seems like nuances and nit-picking but the difference between the two Christian life views is life and death itself. Under one view you study out your list of “do and don’t according to Jesus” and then you spend your life trying, failing and praying for Holy Spirit power that frankly never really shows up. Life becomes a behavior modification program of training yourself to not sin here and to do spiritual stuff over here. If you luck out and have an easier time in the sin struggle department then life bumpily goes on its way. However if you were like I was your sin defeated you daily and God seemed far away and disapproving because of the failures. The hopelessness of it all drove me to the point of pulling back from God for a season. I knew there had to be a spiritual answer for my spiritual problem instead of the behavior modification methods and creeds that any atheist could use. Tossing a little praying into the mix doesn’t make something spiritual.
      It was then I learned that New Covenant living is not a new form of the law keeping. It is a mindset not a lifestyle. Yes it does carry over into your life but it starts in your head/heart. Now instead of running around trying to make lists and keep them I rest secure that God accepts me and that my failures do not remove or alter my adoption. I can stop and listen to what the Spirit is really saying to me instead of following what my human teachers or “bible study” said I should be doing. Sometimes it is the same thing but most of the time I get a “don’t worry about that yet” sense. Instead of referring to my list of “Jesus said” I listen and slowly the changes start in the areas of nudging. Yes I still need to do some of the work like being aware of my sin habits and taking a stand against the problem but the heavier part of the equation rests with Him. Trying to describe the subtleties of the difference is hard sometimes. We aren’t supposed to go looking for a list of rules to follow. We are supposed to be looking at Him(the real Him not just His record in the bible) and then everything else will eventually fall into place.

      • Hi Colleen, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree that we should not make even the sayings of Jesus a list of rules to follow and feel condemned when we miss out something on the list. As human beings we can’t possibly follow it all perfectly. However, I still hold to the view that living by the Spirit will lead us to follow His Words. As you said yourself, the Spirit speaks to you too. However, how do you know that it is the right Spirit ? You have to see if it is consistent with the Word of God, how Jesus wants us to live – forgive others, love your enemies, etc. To me, its not about a little praying but about faith. I believe that God speaks to me through His Spirit and leads me to act according to His Word. What I’m trying to get at is not making Jesus commands a list of rules, but at the same time, recognizing its importance as telling us how the Christian life is lived. If you call Jesus’ teaching part of the law or Torah, you actually discourage Christians from paying much attention to it at all.

      • Colleen G says:

        I think it comes from the different teachings that we are around. I came from an teaching where you followed Jesus teaching but in the spirit of rules to keep and while token words were said about the Holy Spirit it all boiled down to working in the flesh. It’s hard because all the words are the same but in application they are different. The folks that I was around knew that the Holy Spirit existed but they were so hung up on getting all the rules down “just so” that they didn’t have time to really stop and listen to Him. By calling the approach to Jesus teaching a law mindset might cause some people to stop and look at exactly how they are going about life and realize that everything they are doing is actually flesh based. Basically are you looking at Jesus or are you looking at the list of Jesus sayings in your hand? THe second group are the ones articles like this are directed at. Folks with a Jesus list who forgot that they need to look to Jesus first before they act.

      • Thanks for sharing about your background, Colleen. I guess that’s quite common among churches. Some focus too much on works by human effort, while some go the other extreme, and think once they are saved, they don’t need to do anything! I fully agree, our relationship with Jesus comes first, but there are deeds that naturally flow from that relationship, that faith. If we have faith without works, its not a true faith at all. What are the works that prove our faith – those in the teachings of Jesus , Paul, etc. in the New Testament. For me, knowing Jesus is not just focusing on the finished work of the cross, but also on His sayings. I love the Lord’s prayer, the beautiful principles of wisdom in the Sermon of the Mount, the parables. Grace teachers like Joseph Prince says new Christians shouldn’t read the gospels first but the letters of Paul, straight away giving lower priority to the gospels and Jesus’ words. This saddens me. Some call Jesus’ words law, which leads to death, those who try to follow it are deemed under a curse – but to me, they are precious, they are life.

  27. Nice post Paul. I spend my time in E2R almost everyday with my Bibles, jotter and pen.

  28. Hey Paul could I get your opinion? Do we need to use the law through evangelism? Or do we use the law only on religious people?  Thanks

    • Hi Presley,
      I used to include the law every time I preached to sinners. Because of Gal 3:24, I thought that’s just what you did. Then I realized Jesus met many sinners to whom he didn’t preach law but showed grace. So here’s how I understand it now. If I meet someone who is self-righteous – they don’t think they need saving – the mirror of the law works a treat. It’ll silence them. It’ll reveal their need for Jesus. But many sinners know they are sinners – they know they’re not perfect, they have regrets, they know they are far from God. This group gets grace. I’ll tell them about the love of God. If the first group responds with silence, the second group usually responds with “I never knew God was like that.” The good news is a complete revelation to them.

      Then there’s a third group that has no opinion one way or the other. They make no claims to being righteous or unrighteous. They just see themselves as ordinary folk, muddling through life, loving their kids and doing the best they can. Since they are strangers to the love of God, that’s what I give them.

      • That’s good Paul. That makes since. What about Christians who mix law and grace? Do you still try to overwhelm them with the law if they don’t want pure grave?

      • That’s a different kettle of fish because those caught up in mixture are not frightened by the impossible claims of the law – they just say “God will help me do it by grace.” And then they will try really hard to do it in their own strength. When they fail, they’ll repent and resolve to try harder. Although they consistently fail to attain the standard, they think God is impressed with their sincere effort.

        Of course, this is folly, as Paul said to the Galatians. The cure is found in Galatians 3:1: “Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was portrayed as crucified.” We must preach the FINISHED work to those who are still working. A book like The Divine Exchange unpackages this well.

  29. Hi Paul, how do you recommend we deal with you reap what you sow, we know this is a spiritual principle and this has always been seen as relevant to Christians. However doesn’t this suggest it is a conditional statement and based upon performance ? Appreciate your input.blessings

    • Sowing and reaping is not uniquely a Christian principle; it’s a universal principle that goes back to Genesis 1. It’s how the world works. You sow apples, you don’t reap corn. You want friends? You need to sow friendship. Sowing and reaping (a.k.a. karma) can be distinguished from grace. Karma is where you get what you deserve – what you have sowed or invested; grace is where you reap what Christ has sowed. This is why every blessing comes to us through Christ.

      If sowing and reaping are like the law of gravity, then grace is the law of flight. Everyone knows gravity, but some of us can fly!

  30. ocayanickson says:

    Hi ,Paul,i love the post

  31. Bullseye :)

  32. Brian Midmore says:

    Doesn’t the bible tell us what Jesus was preaching – ‘the gospel of the kingdom’. Matt 4.23. Why does Jesus place law in the middle of his model prayer (Matt 6.12)? What was he up to? Surely he knew that this would be a foundation of the Christian faith for centuries to come, why does he deliberately mislead people?

    • Jesus didn’t mislead anyone. He preached law to those born under the law so that every mouth might be silenced and they would see their need for a Savior. If the law-teachers had done their job, Jesus would not have needed to say a word about the law. But since they were negligent, he had to do their job (preach the law) before he could do his own (the cross).

  33. Brian Midmore says:

    I hear you, but on an everyday practical pastoral level what should Christians do with Matt 6.12. Should they edit it from the Lords prayer when in obedience they pray the Lord’s Prayer? Should they pray it but think ‘that doesn’t apply to me’. Should they stop praying the Lords prayer altogether? Although your exegetical scheme establishes parts of Jesus teaching as Law you don’t say how the Christian should relate to those verses. Matt 6.12 is an obvious example.

    • If you read this scripture as law, then you cannot submit to it without falling from grace and cutting yourself off from Christ. Either you will trust in his grace or you will trust in your law-keeping performance. You cannot do both.

      • Brian Midmore says:

        Presumably therefore you would not teach the Lords prayer to new Christians (in spite of Matt 28.20) lest they submitted to part of it and fell from grace and cut them selves off from Christ.

      • I would encourage any believer – old or new – to filter everything they read through the lens of the cross. I would encourage them to read the written word through the lens of the Living Word.

  34. Brian Midmore says:

    I am fascinated by your statement ‘Any time you read a conditional statement from Jesus, you should interpret it as law’. Well the gospels are not the only place that Jesus makes conditional statements. He makes many in Revelation, a good example of which is 2v5. Surely if there was anyone who would understand the full significance of the finished work of the cross it was the risen Messiah, but according to your definition he continues to preach law. Can you explain?

    • Interesting observation. I wouldn’t interpret Rev 2:5 as law but an exhortation. It’s different from the conditional statements made in the Sermon on the Mount – no threat of hell, damnation, etc.

      • Yr view on Mt Ch 5-7 is that Jesus teaches the meaning and standards of The Law at their fullest depth, giving full expression to Father’s “requirements”, I.e its not New Covenant.
        That is tenable regarding Jesus’ teachings like “love your enemies”, where Jesus expounds the full meaning of “love thy neighbor”. “love thy neighbor” was being obeyed partially, selectively. Jesus was saying: “the law of love is absolute. love. always. fully. Everyone”. That can be interpreted as teaching the full meaning of The Law.
        But that is different to ALTERING the law.
        The nature of The Law is a covenant between 2 parties, a legal contract. It is fixed and cannot be changed, and Jesus does not change it one iota (Mt 5:17). “My covenant will I not break, nor alter” (Ps 89:34).
        Yet in Mt Ch 5, if Jesus is teaching The Law, then He did “alter it”. The Law says “you may swear an oath”. Jesus said “you may not”. The Law says “you may divorce”. Jesus said “you may not”. That is not clarifying The Law. It is changing The Law. But Jesus can’t alter The Law. Therefore “do not swear an oath” is a *new* requirement, *not* based on The Law. Therefore, it cannot be true that Jesus was teaching The Law. It defies the biblical nature of covenant and Father’s faithfulness to it.
        Please consider this biblical inconsistency in yr teaching on Mt Ch 5 – 7. With love. Jason

      • If you take the lawlike statements of Jesus as mere suggestions, then you’re effectively saying, “Jesus didn’t mean what he said or say what he meant.” I’m of the view he did.

  35. Dylan Stover says:

    What verse in Isaiah does in say “he lifted up what others had knocked down and raised the standerd to glorious levels of perfection” ? Thank!

  36. Beware of this dangerous error. Jesus’ teachings are the most important. If you don’t follow the teaching of *Christ*, you cannot be his disciple.

    “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to **my teaching,** you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

    Years into the new Covenant, John reminds and warns us:

    ” Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in **the teaching of Christ** does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” – 2 John 9

    Jesus was clear about what we should be teaching:
    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey **everything I have commanded you.**” – Matthew 28:19-20

    How is it you can so carelessly make yourself the judge of Jesus’ words, to declare that because you have an understanding of what’s “legalistic” — you can PARSE his teachings and commands, choosing which ones apply to us.

    For shame! Teachers will be held more accountable. For your own sake, you’d better be right! Otherwise, in a few short years, on that day before the Great Judge, He will remind you that you were warned both in Scripture, and by a caring brother.

    Please be more careful before you try to relegate the teachings of the Son of God to some category that no longer applies to his disciples. You are in danger, brother.

    With love, but deep concern for you and those who follow your teachings.

    • Darryl Pendlebury says:

      Ouch, been under the law much there Lance. Must be a burden carrying around all that responsibility to be so good. With love and patronising (like yours) and deep concern for those who read your mindless legalistic ramblings.

  37. Darryl Pendlebury says:

    “Then He went to the cross fulfilling the law on our behalf that He might be the end of the law for all who believe” (Rom 10:4)……Somehow I don’t think you understand the meaning of “all who believe”…What you fail to understand is salvation was for ALL mankind…..don’t believe me ?…..”Every knee shall bow every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”…. you like all Paul loving Christians seem to forget that NOWHERE in the bible does it say you must “accept” Jesus before you die. In fact it says quite the opposite. It says that in the end EVERY person will believe and is therefore saved. That’s all folks, lock the church doors and go home stop wasting your time chasing a non-existent Paul induce system of law. As Yehsua said “It is finished”..so sad Christians are deceived by the false apostle Paul and the Christian cult he is responsible for.

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