Catacomb Resident Blog

Grace = Law

12 March 2023

A covenant is what a covenant does. The Covenant of Christ is not radically different in form from that of Moses. God operates in certain predictable ways -- He revealed that Himself -- and the nature of His operations have always been under covenant. Without a valid covenant promulgated by God, you have no dealing with Him at all.

And every covenant God has granted to humans has a law code attached. This is a function of grace: He wants everyone to be able to enter the gate. Offering a code of law allows the human mind to see functional boundaries so that he/she can discern where to start understanding God and His character. The goal of a law code is to give clues to God's nature. It does not end with the code, but the code is the path to a more personal relationship. But be warned: You cannot have a relationship with God outside of the Covenant. The law code is not the whole truth, but a shadow of the truth. It exemplifies how His covenant family acts under certain circumstances.

Thus, while the code is not binding in detail in all circumstances, it is binding in general. That's how law code has worked since the beginning of human memory.

Most western Christians have this bogus knee-jerk reaction, based on a very bad misunderstanding of Romans 6. They memorize the one part about "not under law, but under grace" as a mantra without paying any attention to the rest of the passage. You are under grace if you choose to be. If you do not make the willful choice to be under grace, you are under law. That's how covenants work. The choice is to engage your heart or not. Keeping your conscious awareness within the flesh means you will remain under law. Moving your conscious awareness into the heart and the territory of convictions means you walk in grace.

The covenant children of God are always lawful in their behavior, because they seek to emulate God's character. Jesus the Messiah is the Father's character in human form; He is the Father's law code. By surrendering to the Father's will from your heart, a feudal commitment to His Lordship, you are committing yourself to emulating His Son. You will become as much like Him as possible -- Hebrew minded, mystical and lawful, always seeking to glorify the Father.

To not be under the law means you have internalized the law and its intentions. It does not mean escaping the boundaries that define the Covenant of Christ. We use the law code to help us understand where the boundaries are. But leaving the boundaries will get you into trouble regardless of whether it is grace or law. Sin is still sin. That's in Romans 6, too.

It's the definition of "sin" that still chokes most western church folks. The whole Bible works on answering that question. It's not specific to the code; the church leadership in Acts 15 made it clear that Jewish Christians could still learn Moses if they like, since going to synagogue on Saturday doesn't conflict with going to church on Sunday. Meanwhile, the church is not restricted to the narrow confines of Jewish Law, so it defaults to the Code of Noah. I cannot explain why the Apostles didn't use the label "Noah" but I can tell you it's clear that the basic church code they laid down is right out of Noahic Law. With or without that label, it's the same thing: the fundamental law code for the human race as a whole. And it works the same way as the law code of Moses, in that it represents an example of God's character. Moses is specific to people who want to claim a Jewish heritage, but Noah is pretty much the same general code without the Israeli identity.

But this business of covenant boundaries, whichever covenant you prefer, is the key to understanding how God works in this world. You cannot construct a rational code and claim it meets the definition. Even the various law codes reject that, because they presume without stating that you will operate from the heart, not the head. All it takes is a brief examination of Moses to discover that he couches the law in terms of a heart-based commitment of will to a feudal master. Moses also discusses from time to time how the code is designed to restrict human behavior coming from those who just have not risen to the heart-based commitment to Jehovah as Lord. But there is never any doubt where the law code is leading: "Thou shalt love the Lord God with all your heart..."

Sin is falling short of that standard. And every individual sin follows from that failure. Defilement that makes you unwelcome in the Presence of God is anything that expresses your failure to love Him as your Lord and Master. He gave us the law codes to give us a chance to grope our way to His Presence.

Grace is the law, and the law is grace.

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