The Paradox of Law and Grace


1 Corinthians 15:56.

Power of sin is ... Satan?
Evil people?
Televangelists?
Hitler?

No.

It's the Law. Specifically,  Biblical law.



The same Law I am told I must follow in order to please God, be blessed by God, and be in God's continual favour. The same law that says, "give 10%." (Leviticus 27:30Numbers 18:26Deuteronomy 14:242 Chronicles 31:5)  Let this sink in. The very Law, the good law, even the big 10 - that law cannot save anyone. In doing our best to follow it, we wind up putting on the most natural clothing we have: Religion. It will get us every single time.

If you rephrase things, you get this: the law is the power of sin.

Sin is fueled, not stamped-out by the Law. By the same token, enforcing the Law fuels sin even more. Tell me "do not touch" and "do not taste", and I'll probably do the opposite if left to my own devices.

So, here's the paradox.

I reject all Biblical law for the sake of Jesus. In doing so I reject the law indeed, but I embrace Jesus in its place. And in embracing Jesus, I am given over to Love. In living out Love, all requirements of the law are fulfilled. So what I rejected, I gained - but I can't take the credit.

What I've been realizing is that there can be no such thing a "balance" between law and grace. It seems wise to say we need that balance, but it's really misguided. They are diametrically opposed. As if I want to balance being enslaved and set free.

The idea that there can be a balance between law and grace is, I think the product of putting the wrong thing at the center of the logical system known as "systematic theology". But that's another post, for another time. I will say this: Truth is a 'whom', not a 'what'.

By the way, it's not the law itself that enslaves. I do that all by myself; I enslave myself to the law - I'm addicted to religion. It's so easy and natural, I don't even think about it most of the time. But I need to be set free from it. So if we really believe that the law of God is good (and I believe it is), we must learn to know God through Love above all other things. After all, those who don't love don't know God, because God is Love (1 John 4:8).

Here is perhaps the most radical thing I will say today to Evangelical ears: The most important thing to an ever vibrant Christian life is not "the Bible, then ...." It's "Love, then ...". Put properly, Jesus comes as an ultimate first, then Love, then the rest. The bottom line is that the more we love, the more we know God.

In other words, we read the Bible, but we follow Jesus. Make no mistake, the Jesus kind of Love can be dangerous. It threatens the foundation of religious systems built on keeping any sort of functional balance between law and grace.

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