What Does "Not Under the Law, but Under Grace" Mean?
Does grace do away with the law? If you keep the law, have you "fallen" from grace? Most people are confused by those who claim to expound the words of Paul. You may hear one group quote one set of scriptures telling of the law, and another group quoting verses mentioning grace. That is the wrong way to study the Bible. All scripture is given by inspiration. What does "grace" mean? Webster defines it as mercy, favor, unmerited kindness, an exemption or pardon as from a penalty. It is by grace, the undeserved pardon of God, that you are delivered from the penalty of sin. — Romans 6:23. Christ paid the penalty in your stead. If you accept the grace of God, who permitted His Son to die in your stead, to free you from sin, then you are under grace. You are under an unmerited pardon, not "under the law." "What then? Shall we sin (that is, transgress the law — I John 3:4) because we are not finder the law, but under grace?" Romans 6:15. That's what Paul asked! Shall we sin — shall we break the law? Remember, sin is the transgression of the law — I John 3:4. What is Paul's answer? "God forbid." "How shall we, that are dead to sin (transgressing God's Law), live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1, 2.) If we are under grace, the pardon of God, we are not to live in sin, we are not to break God's law. If we break God's law by sinning, then we come under the law. It is over us. It has a claim on our lives. It is only those who keep the law that are not under the law; it has no claim over their lives. Grace does not do away with the law; it pardons our sin, making it possible for us to keep the law through the Holy Spirit that is given to those that obey God — Acts 5:32. Wouldn't it be ridiculous for a judge to grant a pardon to a criminal and then tell him to commit the same crime again? Yet that is exactly how ridiculous most people make God's grace. They turn the grace, the pardon, of God into lasciviousness, license to do evil. If grace could abolish the law, then there would be no more sin, because there is no sin where there is no law — (Romans 4:15). And if there were no sin, there would need be no grace — no pardon of God — to deliver us from the penalty of breaking the law. Christ died in your stead and mine so that we could obey God unto righteousness and not serve sin. As long as we were under the claim of the law because of transgression, sin had dominion over us, we were its slaves. But now we are free to obey the law unto righteousness — Rom. 6:16.
Does God Hear Sinners?
Everyone has sinned and cut himself off from God. "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). God hears not sinners (John 9:31), He will have no fellowship with those who sin. He hears only those who do righteousness. But if everyone has sinned, then there must be a way for sinners to come to God, or else we could never become righteous. How can sinners seek GOD? The prophet Isaiah tells us the way sinners come to God. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near." But how do we call on God? How do we seek Him? "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:6, 7). Let him repent of transgressing God's Law, and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour from its penalty. Christ is THE WAY. That's how you can come to God Forsake the way you have been living, start to obey God. Once you REPENT of going the wrong way YOU ARE NO LONGER A SINNER IN GOD'S SIGHT. He will hear you and give His Holy Spirit to you, if you obey Him (Acts 5:32). You must be willing to forsake your ways and thoughts and go the way of God. Then He will hear you because you "keep his commandments and DO these things that ate pleasing in His sight" (I John 3:22).
Do the Commandments Forbid ALL Pictures and Statues?
Are you one of those who have been confused about the meaning of the second command? "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." As is always the case, we must compare scriptures to give us the keys that will unlock the true meaning of this command. In Num. 21:9 God actually commanded the Israelites to make a BRAZEN. IMAGE of a serpent. Whosoever had been bitten by a serpent, upon beholding the brazen serpent was healed. Now would God have commanded the Israelites to make this image of a snake had it been sin, and then healed them when they carried out His injunction? But when the Israelites later started to worship this brazen serpent and burned incense to it, it had to be destroyed. King Hezekiah, a God fearing king, "Brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made." (2 Ki. 18:4). This proves that any image or replica is an idol when it is worshipped. God gave the Israelites divine instructions concerning the building of the tabernacle and the temple. He had them make likenesses of flowers, almonds and pomegranates (Ex. 25:31; 26:31). If we were to apply the command to prohibiting everything that man has made how absurd it would really be! If we did this, we would not be permitted to make more than one machine, tool, implement or gadget of any kind, for if we made a second that would be making a likeness of something that was in the earth. But now go back to the beginning of this question, and read the second Commandment again — or read it all in your Bible. God does not forbid the making of images or pictures only. Look at Exodus 20, and especially verse 4. There is no period at the end of verse 4. It is not the end of the sentence. Verse 5 is part of the same sentence. And verse 5 commands us not to bow down to, or serve, or worship any image or picture. No place in all the Bible has God given any prohibition against making or possessing a picture or statue. In every passage the command is against worshipping the thing. If a mother worships a picture of her child, then that worship is idolatry. Otherwise it is not. It is never the thing, but always our wrong use of things which constitutes sin.