Jesus’ Higher Standard, Understanding Law And Grace

gavelFar beyond the famous 10, the bible is full of commandments meant to identify what is right, and therefor righteous in the eyes of God. Yet so many times we hear the phrase now a days, “we’re no longer under law, but grace”. So what does that mean really? Does that mean that we can throw the commandments out all together? Can we guiltlessly ignore God’s law expecting to be covered by grace? Did Jesus come to do away with the law and lower the standards of righteousness for the purpose of making it more attainable? No, Jesus said these Words concerning those very notions and precepts.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” – Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭17-22‬

Jesus did not do away with the law, nor people’s requirement to obey the commandments of God that they might bare good fruit (or works), but rather raised an even higher standard of righteousness then even the preexisting law imposed. He goes on to give more examples of this when he said:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – ‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭27-28‬

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:” – Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭33-34‬

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” – Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭43-44‬

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭48‬

This seems a bit unfair, right? I mean, the law was unachievable as it was and Jesus says that it wasn’t strict enough? What’s the point?… Well, “that’s” the point. The purpose in the law is not to make us good but rather, to show us that we are bad. It is just as applicable today as it was then because it’s true purpose has not changed. We can not be saved by good works but when we are truly saved we will inherently produce good works as an evidence of our changed hearts. A good tree will produce good fruits as stated in Matthew 7. The law was simply a chart to identify good and bad fruit (or works). By having our bad fruit pointed out to us, we come to realize our depravity, our pride is broken, and our need for deliverance is acknowledged.

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭19-20

This is the true purpose of the law and it still applies. The law can not save us, only the grace (or power) of the blood of Jesus can do that, for what can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. However, without the law we never come to realize how much we need to be washed and transformed by that precious life changing blood. In the courtroom of life, sin guilties us, the law convects us, and the blood (if we so choose to receive it) pardons us, but it doesn’t end there! This is actually where grace steps in. Grace is not mercy, a more precise translation of the word grace is “God’s influence” or “power”. Once pardoned we do not receive mercy to go back to sin but rather, we receive power to fulfill the law and resist sin. This is the true essence of what Jesus meant when He said, “I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil.” This is also why Jesus now holds us to a higher standard. Because He knows that through His sacrifice He has overcome and granted us grace (or power) to resist the devil (James 4:7), to turn away from sin (Ephesians 5:3), and be overcomers ourselves (Romans 8:37). He knows that because of what He did, we can choose to turn away from sin, so if we don’t, it’s not because we can’t, but simply because we won’t. This is why grace does not excuse us from the law but instead takes away our excuse for not fulfilling it, setting an even higher standard then the law alone ever could.

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (turn away from sin) – Acts‬ ‭17‬:‭30

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” – Revelation‬ ‭3‬:‭19-22‬

“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” – 1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭16

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