Grace or Disgrace - Parts 1 and 2

Scripture: 1 John 3:4, Romans 3:20, James 1:23-25
Are you living under law or grace? Or perhaps you are living under disgrace. Many people profess to be Christians and say they live under grace, but in reality they are living under disgrace. Salvation is through faith in Jesus alone. This talk covers 8 Bible facts about law and grace.
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The topic today is Law, Grace, or Disgrace. There are some questions I would like to ask as we begin the broadcast today. First, are you living under the law? Are you? Whatever your answer, are you positive? Second, are you living under grace? Again, whatever your answer, are you sure? Third, could it be that you are living under disgrace? There are many, many people in this world who profess to be Christians who profess to be living under grace, but in reality are living under disgrace. Are you certain that you are not living under disgrace?

We've already established in previous broadcasts that God wrote the ten-commandment law with His own finger. Today we come to this important point: The first Bible fact about the law is that SIN IS BREAKING GOD'S LAW. There are hundreds of definitions of sin, but God has His own definition. The scripture is 1 John 3:4. This is what God says: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." That is God's definition. I want you to note that God did not have time for any of these weak definitions of sin that we hear today: sin is a mistake in judgment, or sin is a personality deficiency, or a plain, human weakness. No! It was left up to this modern and enlightened twentieth century to make up evasive definitions like that. The Bible knows nothing of them. The Bible definition for sin is the transgression or breaking of God's law. So you may be a church member in good and regular standing you may be a Sabbath School or Sunday School teacher, a deacon, an elder or a preacher but if you are breaking any one of these Ten Commandments, you are a sinner, because the Bible says sin is breaking the Ten Commandments. You may belong to fifteen churches and have experienced sixteen baptisms, but if you are not keeping the commandments of God, you are still a sinner, on the authority of 1 John 3:4.

The devil, I know, has invented a doctrine, and you have probably heard of it. It is very popular. The doctrine is this: All that is necessary is to become a member of some congregation it won't be necessary to worry about God's law, you'll be saved anyway. But I would like to remind you that the devil invented that teaching, and it is not in the Bible. The Bible teaches something entirely different.

Another Bible fact about the law: NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN SAVED BY KEEPING THE LAW BECAUSE SALVATION IS THROUGH JESUS ALONE. In Romans 3:20, the Bible says: "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." Now that is pretty frank, isn't it? Just put it down and remember it forever because God has forever cleared the air on this. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." You cannot be justified or saved or sanctified by keeping the law. It is absolutely impossible. The law only points out sin, "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." We must be saved by the Lord Jesus. He said that is why He came. In Luke 19:10 He says, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." There is no other hope. There is no other way. The law does not save anyone. In James 1:23-25, our lives are compared to a mirror. This is very important, I hope you will read this passage out of your own Bible. The law is like a mirror. I go to the kitchen or to the bedroom and look into the mirror and that mirror, if I have been working in the yard, may point out some dirt on my face but that mirror does absolutely nothing about the dirt, not a thing in this world. That mirror is helpless. It is of no value whatsoever when it comes to getting that dirt off. That takes soap and water. But the mirror is necessary because if I do not look in the mirror, I may think that I am clean when I am dirty. It is the same way with the law of God. When we look into the law of God we see spots on the character, but the law of God does absolutely nothing about those spots. It takes the blood of the Lord Jesus. When those things are straightened up and I go back to look, the law shows me there has been a change. It now shows I've been justified. I'll use two or three illustrations here, because this is so important.

Let us take a framing square that a carpenter uses. He takes this square and places it on a board. The square immediately shows that the board is crooked, if it is crooked. The end is not straight and the square shows it, but the square does nothing about it. It takes a saw to do something about it. Then you put the square back on the board and the square shows that everything is all right. The square had nothing to do with making everything all right it took the saw to do that, but you still had to have the square.

Take a fever thermometer placed under the tongue. In just a few moments the nurse comes back and says, "I'm sorry, you have a fever." Does the fever thermometer do anything about the fever? Not a thing in this world. You can become upset and take the thermometer and break it up and throw it out the window and say, "I've destroyed the thermometer, so I no longer have fever." But that would be very foolish. You would still have fever. Destroying the thermometer wouldn't cure you. It wouldn't make a bit of difference. It takes medicine. So the doctor prescribes medicine, and you take it. After awhile the thermometer is put back under your tongue and shows that the fever is gone. Something has happened. The medicine has conquered the fever.

That's the way it is with the law of God. It is helpless except as a mirror to show me what I lack. Then I must go to the Lord Jesus and that lack must be supplied. Then I can look back into the mirror and see a change has taken place. But, let me warn you, unless you are willing to go to that mirror and take a good, long, careful, prayerful look at yourself, you are very apt to end up thinking you are something that you are not and be lost because of it. That law of God, His mirror, shows us to be what we really are in His sight. The law of God is given so that I can see myself as the great God of Heaven sees me. It is very essential for me to look into this mirror often if I expect to be saved.

Point number three: PEOPLE LIVING UNDER GRACE MUST KEEP GOD'S LAW. It is the common belief today that if I am under grace I can forget all about the law of God. Let us see what the Scripture says in Romans 6:15: "What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." The strongest language the Bible ever uses is, "God forbid." That means, "Don't ever entertain such a thought as that." So on the authority of Scripture, people who are under grace must keep God's law. Romans 6:15 is proof positive.

To live under grace just simply means that I was supposed to die (Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death," and Romans 3:23: "All have sinned.") but the Lord Jesus came along and said, "No, no, I'll die for him. I want him to live. I want to give him My strength, My unmerited favor or grace and help him to reach that pattern that I gave him in the beginning so that I can take him with my holy, happy people into My kingdom." That's what grace means. Let's illustrate it a little. Suppose a man went downtown and stole a car, and he was caught and taken before the judge. The judge said, "Well, I've thought about this awhile. The law says you shall be punished, but I've decided to let you go, to give you another chance. You are going to go free because of my grace." Now, can this man walk off and say, "Wonderful, I'm under grace from that judge, now I can steal all the cars I want"? Wouldn't that be ridiculous? But that is the way many people feel about the law of God. I submit to you today that a person who is under grace is doubly duty-bound to keep the law of God. He should have died, but God spared him. He ought to be very, very careful about God's requirements. I say this: the person who claims to be living under grace and ignores the law of God is mistaken. He is living under disgrace of the very worst order.

Bible fact number four: LAWBREAKERS ARE THOSE WHO ARE UNDER THE LAW. People have gotten the idea today that if you keep the law you are under the law. That is not what the Bible teaches at all. Let's read the text, in Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Notice what this scripture is saying. This scripture is making it clear that the person who is under the law is under the law because sin has dominion over him. The person who is under grace is under grace, therefore, because sin does not have dominion over him. So the person that is under God's law is the person who is breaking God's law. He is under the condemnation of that law. God's people are not under the law because they are not breaking the law therefore not under His condemnation, but rather under His grace.

The fifth Bible fact: LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW. I wouldn't dare leave this out because it is mentioned so many times and it is true. Romans 13:10: "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." That is good Scripture and I believe it with all my heart. But the way that love fulfills the law is that it makes the keeping of God's law a pleasure. So many folk have gotten mixed up on this and felt that all that is necessary is to say, "Oh, I love the Lord God, so I don't have to keep His commandments because they are not important." But friends, a simple little illustration will clear that up. Suppose a little girl went to her daddy and said, "Daddy, I love you," and he replied, "That's wonderful, honey, because I love you, too." A little later on Daddy says, "Honey, will you run out to the garage and get my pliers for me?" And she says, "Oh, no. I'm not taking orders from you any more. I'm not keeping your commandments. I love you so much that that's not necessary." How do you suppose I would react to that? How would you react to it? Those are not important questions the question that counts is, How does God react when a person says, "I love the Lord so much that His old commandments are just no use to me anymore"?

Friends, love fulfills the law because when we love the Lord we want to serve Him. The first four commandments have to do with our duty to God. If we love Him we wouldn't want to swear and take His name in vain. We wouldn't want to steal from Him, hurt Him, offend Him, lie about Him. Would we? No, indeed. And it isn't hard. When you try to keep the commandments rigidly just in your own strength, it is impossible, but when the love of the Lord Jesus comes into your heart with love for Him and love for your fellow men, things are different. When you love someone, things that are otherwise very difficult are very easy. When I hear people speak about the terrible burdens involved in keeping the commandments I just know one thing for sure, they haven't fallen in love with the Lord Jesus yet, because when a person falls in love with Him it is very easy. Notice what Jesus says in 1 John 5:3: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." Law-keeping is a pleasure if you love Him. That is all there is to it. Love does fulfill the law. It makes it easy. I love my wife, so when I get up in the morning I don't have to worry about the commandments and say, "Well, I hope I don't kill her today, or steal from her." No, indeed I love her. It is the same thing with our neighbors, if we love them. Love fulfills the law. There is not a worry. It is easy to keep God's law when love is enshrined in the heart.

The sixth Bible fact: NO UNCONVERTED PERSON CAN KEEP GOD'S LAW. Let's read that. In Romans 8:7, notice this very clear, very plain and positive statement: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." I can't help but remember this text when people say, "No one can keep the law of God." The Bible says here that the carnal mind can't. But it also says, "To be carnally mined is death." (Romans 8:6.) So that is the first point we wish to establish: the unconverted person cannot keep God's law. If he tried, it would do no good. But in John 14:15 Jesus says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." So the saved, converted person will keep His commandments it will be a joy, because of love.

Now let me read Romans 8:3, 4. This is a beautiful passage. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, 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." Do you see what this verse is saying? People have said the law is weak. It doesn't say that at all. It says, "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." The flesh was weak the people were weak. The people could not keep God's law. They tried to do it, but made a terrible blunder. It just didn't work. So what did God say? Did He say, "Let's give up. Let's not fool with men. They're just not going to live like the pattern." No, indeed! He sent His own Son to pay the penalty for them and to arrange for them to have the power to keep His law, so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled, "by us?" Oh, no, "in us." Yes, the Lord Jesus has to move in, and then it's entirely different.

Let me illustrate it. Suppose I bought a new axe, a great big, heavy-duty axe, and very sharp. Then suppose I found a little two-year-old youngster and said, "Here, take this and cut down that tree." What do you suppose would happen to the tree? Nothing. Anything wrong with the axe? No, I couldn't blame the axe. The axe was all right, but the flesh was weak. So I take that same axe and hand it to a strong, stalwart man and the tree goes down in just a few moments. This is the same thing that God is trying to get across here. The weakness was not with His pattern, the law. No, indeed! It is a perfect pattern. The weakness was in the human heart. And so He sent Jesus. We must have Christ's power. That is what John 1:12 is talking about: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God."

Seventh Bible fact: COMMANDMENT KEEPERS ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO REALLY LOVE THE LORD AND WHO WILL BE SAVED. Now believe you me, I would not make that statement on my own, but it is in the Book. I would like to read it for you. Let's read 1 John 2:4. Let me say a word about this scripture. This is something I would never say if it were not in the Bible, but apparently God knew there would be some question arising regarding what it meant to serve Him, so He put this in. "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." So to know and love the Lord is to keep His commandments. There is no question about it. Revelation 22:14 states: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Now that's pointed, plain, clear, and positive, isn't it? Let me read you something else. It fits in right here. So many times when we talk about commandment-keeping, people say, "Oh, my, the terrible, heavy, burdensome, grievous law." Well, let's see what the Lord says about it in 1 John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." That is God's statement. You can put it down and believe it, because it isn't what I think, or what some religious teacher thinks, or some professor of some university thinks. It is what God thinks. He says, "No, it is not a grievous thing to keep My commandments. Not at all."

The eighth Bible fact: WE WILL ALL BE JUDGED BY THE LAW OF GOD. That is reasonable, isn't it? After all, the law is the pattern by which we were made in the beginning. Christ came to die so that pattern could be restored in us. So it is reasonable to think that we might have to face that law or pattern some day. But there is more than reason involved here. We have the Word of God, in James 2:10, 12: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." It specifically says that we are to be judged by the law that says, "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Search the Bible from beginning to end and you will find only one law with these commands, the Ten Commandment law of God. So it is positive that all will be judged by that law.

Don't you see, friend, why Satan is so anxious to do away with the law? If it is put aside and there is no mirror for the people to show them what they lack, then what hope is there when one has to face the law in the judgment? Religious leaders are teaching that God's law has been thrown out or done away with, and men have set up their own standards to replace God's. And here is where men really get into trouble.

A little boy came into the house one day and he said,"Mother, I'm nine feet tall." He was just five years old. She said, "Jimmy, you are not. What is the matter with you?" "Yes, " he said, "I really am." And she said, "That's silly, stop talking like that." He said, "Mother, but I am. I made a ruler and I measured myself, and I'm nine feet tall." Sure! Make your own law, and it is easy to live up to it. That is what people do today. The real standard is high, very high. "Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. God-likeness is the goal to be reached." So the standard is way up there. And people look up and say, "Oh, my! That's such a long way." There are two things you can do then. You can say, "Lord, bring me up to Thy great law standard, even though it hurts." Or you can say, "Down with the standard. Pull it down to my size." Then when you get the standard low enough, you begin to look pretty good nine feet tall, you know. We need to get used to living by the pattern God left so that we can face it unafraid in the Judgment Day.

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