I hear a lot of talks and debates about grace. Some of them coming from a point of justifying one’s misdeeds while others come from a place of self-righteousness. These has led me to think more about grace and law and their relationship. We say that we live under grace but what does it mean to be under grace and not under the law?
We can trace grace back to the Old Testament. God saved the Israelites from captivity in Egypt through grace. They had absolutely done nothing to deserve God’s help, they lived more or less the same as the Egyptians. God saved them purely on the basis of His promise to Abraham (Deuteronomy 8:1). Moses had to remind them before they entered Canaan to possess the land that it is not their righteousness that gives them their inheritance (Deuteronomy 9:5-8). They were stiff necked like any other nation and this was very evident in the wilderness. This is still the case with us. God is the one who makes us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). There is more we can say about this but let us focus to freedom.
There is a great freedom that comes with grace. What comes to your mind once you hear freedom, depends on your definition of freedom. For many freedom is absence of restrictions. If you think in that line, I want to submit to you that you are mistaken. When we talk about freedom we need to be specific what we are being set free from. I will consider several scenarios to show you that freedom is not lack of restrictions. We need to consider freedom in a context when we talk about it.
If a country is colonized by another, they are under the rule of their colonizers. They follow whatever their colonizers impose on them. Once they get their freedom, they don’t just stay anyhow. They formulate their own rules and regulations to govern them. That is the basic reason why we have a constitution. We can check the scriptures and see what it has about the freedom.
Let’s consider how God set the Israelites free. When He sent Moses, the message was “let my people go that they may serve me” (Exodus 5:1). He set them free from the rule of the Egyptians to bring them under His rule. This meant they were no longer restricted by the Egyptians but they would live God’s way. That’s the reason he gives them the law to show them the way. We should not confuse this with following the rules to become His. He had already made them His.
Paul the Apostle shows us clearly in Romans that we are set free by grace from the power of sin. The law had no power to change the hearts of men and therefore could not set the people free from sin. Sin is any act and motive of rebellion against God. Grace touches the hearts of men and make them ready to obey, love and serve God. Therefore, grace does not give us a way to do what we want. It makes us alive to God.
Finally, freedom is serving better and high law than the previous. Grace is not liberalism. Grace brings you under God’s sphere of authority. Liberalism on the other hand gives you power to decide what you want to do, in which case you become a god yourself. Grace frees us even from ourselves since we are self-destructive too. Jeremiah 17:9 says our hearts are always deceptive. We can never trust them.