Law, Flesh—Grace, Spirit

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Ordained Chaplain
Oct 12, 2011
United States
Concerning Israel and her relation to the land it is written: “trust in the lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land”; “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever”; “For the upright shall dwell in the land’ (Psa 37:3, 29; Pro 2:21).

No land had been given to the Christian. He is a “stranger and “pilgrim” here, an “ambassador” (Eph 6:20), a citizen of heaven. If he is taught in the Scriptures, he is not looking for a long life here; but he is looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus. He is not clinging to this life, for “to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better (Phl 1:23).

The serious manner in which people apply to themselves an OT promise, impossible under grace, is a revelation of the measure of inattention with which the Scriptures are too often read and quoted. Since every adaptable precept of the Law is restated in grace, it is not necessary to violate the Scriptures by forcing the Law into the sphere of grace (many trust more in their works and less in God’s grace for “forgiveness”; but this is just a babe-in-Christ maturity—NC). The Decalogue, in its moral principles, is not only restated in grace, but its principles are greatly amplified (because of the indwelling of the Spirit—NC).

This is illustrated, again, by the same precept concerning the obedience of children. In the teachings of grace, the whole issue of obedience is taking up at length, and to this is added the instructions to parents as well. Under the teachings of grace (in the NT—NC), the appeal to the first commandment is repeated no less than fifty times, the second twelve times, the third four times, the forth (about the Sabbath day) not at all, the fifth six times, the sixth six times, the seventh twelve times, the eighth six times, the ninth four times, and the tenth nine times.

Yet further, that which is even more vital should be noted. The teachings of grace are not only gracious in character and of the very nature of heaven itself, but they are extended to cover the entire range of the new issues of the life and service of the Christian. The 10 commandments required no life of prayer, no Christian service, no evangelism, no missionary outreach, no gospel preaching, no life and walk in the Spirit, no Fatherhood of God (just a “people of God”—NC), no union with Christ, no fellowship of Christians and no hope of heaven (restored Israel inherits the New Earth—NC).

If it is asserted that we have all these because we have both law and grace, it is replied that the law adds nothing to grace but confusion and contradiction (the law isn’t confusing unless attempting to melled it with the teachings of grace—NC), and that there is the most faithful warning in the Scriptures against that admixture (Ro 6:14b; 11:6).

A few times the teachings of the law are referred to by writers of the Epistles by way of illustration. Having stated the obligation under grace, they cite the fact that this is the same principle obtained under the law. There is, however, no basis here for a comingling of these two governing systems. The Law of Moses presents a covenant of works to be wrought in the energy of the flesh (carnal ordinances - Heb 9:10—NC); the teachings of grace presents a covenant of faith to be wrought in the energy of the Spirit!

—L S Chafer (1881-1952)

Poster’s Note: A Jew could obey the Decalogue but not trust in God. The obedience would gain the unbeliever physical blessings, but unbelief in the sin sacrifice of the priest prevented God’s forgiveness; for forgiveness came only by faith in the sin sacrifices of the priests (Num 15:25), and not by obedience to the Decalogue!

MJS daily devotional for January 9

“The world, the flesh, and the devil say, Be powerful. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit say, Be powerless — “for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). -MJS

“There would be little harm in trying to imitate Christ if such an endeavor did not hide from us what our Lord really desires; and so keep us back from ‘life more abundant.’ Christ has come Himself into our hearts to dwell there, and what He wants is to live His life in us, as the Apostle Paul says, ‘For to me to live is Christ.’ Christ was the very source and mainspring of all he was and did. What a wonderful thing this is! We would be driven to despair if Christ had simply left us an example to follow or imitate, for we have no power within ourselves to do it. We must have a new source—a new spring of action, and Christ Himself wants to be just that for us.” -E.C.H.