Law and Grace Personal Notes

These are my personal notes on the topic of law and grace.

There is a wide variety of thoughts going around in Christianity about the status of "law" since the inception of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Some say that since we're saved by faith alone, then seeking to "keep the law" in any way amounts to legalism and denying God's grace. Others say that a life of faith in Christ demands a fundamental change in the way we live our lives. Some atheists criticise Christians for not being distinguishable morally from a secular person (e.g. divorce rate among Christians being much the same as that for atheists).

It's a big topic to figure out exactly what apostle Paul meant about justification through faith and grace (especially in Romans, Galatians and Ephesians), in light of the many Biblical exhortations to a life of pure living and commandment-keeping.

Law in Old Covenant

Deuteronomy 4:5-6
2 Chronicles 7:14
Psalm 1:1-2
Psalm 15:1-5
Psalm 119:1-6,97-104
Intent of law is to do good.
Psalm 34:12-16 quoted by 1 Peter 3:10-12
Jeremiah 22:3
Micah 6:8
Zechariah 7:9-12; 8:16-17

Grace in the Old Testament

Psalm 19:12-13 (coming after verses 7-11 which say the law is good)
Psalm 32:1-2
Psalm 103:11-14
Jeremiah 31:34
Romans 11:1-5 quotes 1 Kings 19:18 "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Election of grace in the Old Testament.

Law in New Covenant

Matthew 5:17-20
Sermon on the Mount amplified many Old Testament laws and showed their spiritual intent.
Matthew 7:21-23 "Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!"
Matthew 7:24-27 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock."
Matthew 13:41 At the end time judgment, the angels will gather up "those who practice lawlessness".
Matthew 19:16-22 Commandment keeping still a condition in New Covenant.
Matthew 28:18-20 Apostles' commission: teach all nations to observe all Christ's commandments.
Mark 10:17-22 Keep the commandments. Jesus showed a greater depth of spiritual living ("sell whatever you have, and give it to the poor, and have treasure in heaven, take up your cross and follow me").
John 3:19-21
John 8:11 "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
John 8:34 "Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin."
John 14:15,21 It is those who keep Christ's commandments who truly love Him.
John 15:9-17 Follow Christ's commandments centred on love.
Acts 5:32 Holy Spirit given to those who obey God.
Acts 22:12 Ananias was a good man, "devout according to the law", and having a good testimony with the Jews in Damascus.
Acts 24:14 Paul saw his faith as firmly based in Old Testament scripture--law and prophets.
Romans 2:1-13; 3:8,31; 5:13,20; 6:1-2,12-23; 7:1-12
Galatians 2:17-21
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
1 Timothy 1:8-11 Law is made for lawless people.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 Affirmation of Old Testament as foundation of New Testament.
1 John 2:3-6; 3:4-15,22-23
1 John 5:2-3 (following verses affirm faith in Jesus Christ)
1 John 3:4; Romans 7:7 law defines sin
Revelation 22:14-15

New Covenant: Law Written on Hearts and Minds

Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:7-10 New covenant: write God's law on people's hearts and minds.
Romans 8:1

Law's intent is love of God and neighbour

Leviticus 19:17-18
Matthew 22:36-40
Romans 13:8-10
Galatians 5:14

Weightier Matters of the Law

Jeremiah 22:3
Micah 6:8
Zechariah 7:9-10; 8:16-17
Matthew 23:23

Spirit Versus Letter

Romans 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Romans 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Law is Good

Leviticus 18:5; Nehemiah 9:29
Psalm 19:7-11 (then the following verses 12-13 affirm grace)
Proverbs 6:23
Romans 7:7-14,16,22,25
Romans 10:5
Galatians 3:12
Hebrews 8:8 Fault was with the people, not the law.

Law of Moses a Burden?

Acts 15:10-11,28 What was the yoke on the Gentiles neck that they couldn't bear, nor the Jewish fathers?
Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 23:4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
Luke 11:46 And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers."
Galatians 6:13

Hints "Law" Sometimes Means "Covenant"

Galatians 4:21-31
Hebrews 7:11-19 compared to Hebrews 7:22 and Hebrews 8:6-13

Law Can't Save Us

(Justification Not Through Law)

Because the law defines sin, it brings a penalty and not salvation.

John 1:16-17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:9,19-28; 4:15
Romans 7:5-13; 8:3-4
Galatians 2:14-21; 3:1-5,10-14,19-24
However Galatians 3:25 remains a puzzle.
Philippians 3:9 (nor by our own righteousness)
Hebrews 7:11-19

We're Saved by Grace not Works

Ephesians 2:5,8-10 Key scripture.
John 6:28-29 Believe in Him sent by the Father.
Acts 15:10-11 Is this anti-works, or anti-something-else?
Romans 3:19-28; 4:1-8; 5:1; 10:3-13
Romans 6:14 You are not under law but under grace. (yet read that verse in the context of verses 12-18)
2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Galatians 3:1-14 (nor by law)
Philippians 3:9-11
1 Timothy 1:9
2 Timothy 3:15 (then following verses affirm works)
Titus 3:5,7 (then verse 8 affirms works)
1 Peter 1:10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

Works Still Important

Matthew 16:27 Reward according to works.
Matthew 25:14-30
John 10:32 Jesus did many good works.
Acts 9:36 Dorcas was full of good works and charitable deeds.
Acts 26:20 repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Romans 2:6 which quotes Psalm 62:12 Reward according to deeds.
1 Timothy 6:18 Rich people should do good, to be rich in good works.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (follow on from verse 15 which affirms both Old Testament scriptures and faith in Christ)
Titus 2:7 show yourself to be a pattern of good works.
Titus 2:14 zealous for good works.
Titus 3:8 be careful to maintain good works (follow on from verses 5,7 which affirm grace)
Hebrews 10:24 Consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
Hebrews 11 Faith chapter is full of works.
James 2:14-26 Faith without works is dead. Abraham was saved by faith, but also works. Genesis 22:16-18; 26:5
James 3:13 works and conduct.
1 Peter 1:13-17
1 Peter 2:12 Our good works should be a witness to unbelievers.
2 Peter 1:5-11
Revelation 2:23; 20:12-13 future judgement according to works.
Revelation 2:26; 3:21 Keep Jesus' works until the end. Overcome.
Revelation 22:12 Jesus will give to every one according to his work.
Hebrews 6:1; 9:14 repentance and cleansing from "dead works".

Active Response to Grace

Genesis 15:6 (grace to Abraham) leads to Genesis 18:19; 22:12,16,18; 26:5
Romans 4:1-3; Galatians 3:5-9 (Abraham's faith was accounted to him for righteousness). Yet then Hebrews 11:8-19; James 2:20-23
Romans 6:1-2,12-18
Romans 8:12-14 Live and overcome by the Spirit. Put to death the deeds of the body.
Romans 12:1-2
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Run so that you may receive the prize.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 7:1
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 War by the Spirit; cast down every stronghold of the flesh; bring every thought into captivity.
Galatians 2:17-18
Ephesians 4:1 walk worthy of the calling.
Philippians 1:27 let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Colossians 1:10
2 Timothy 2:19 depart from iniquity.
Titus 2:11-14
Titus 3:5,8 be careful to maintain good works.
1 John 3:3 everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself.
Hebrews 3:15-4:2 The Israelites failed to obey because they lacked faith.
Hebrews 4:11-16 Let us be diligent to enter that rest.
Hebrews 11:4 etc -- notice faith leads to action.
James 1:21-27 Be doers of the word.
James 2:17 faith results in works.
James 4:1-10
1 Peter 1:13-19

Be Righteous as God is Righteous (Law Describes Godly Righteousness)

Ephesians 5:1-2
Philippians 2:5
1 Peter 1:13-16
1 John 2:29; 3:3,6-10


2 Chronicles 7:14
Ezekiel 18:30
Matthew 3:2-12 Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
Matthew 4:17 Jesus preached "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Mark 1:15 Jesus preached "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Mark 2:17 Repent of sin.
Mark 6:12 Disciples went out preaching repentance.
Luke 24:47 Apostles' commission: preach repentance and remission from sins in Christ's name to all nations.
Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; 20:21
Acts 26:20 repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Romans 2:4-5
1 John 1:5-10; 2:1-2
Hebrews 6:1 "Repentance from dead works" is listed as one of the fundamental doctrines.
2 Peter 3:9 God's will is that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We are saved from what?

Psalm 130:7-8
Matthew 1:21
John 1:29 Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 8:31-36 Jesus frees us from slavery to sin.
Acts 3:26
Romans 3:21-25 justification, redemption, propitiation, pass-over of "sins that were previously committed"
Romans 5:9 wrath
Romans 6:6 "Old man", the old sinful way of living.
Romans 8:1-11 Life of the flesh, including sin.
Romans 11:26-27
Ephesians 2:1
Colossians 1:21-23 Christ came to save us from wicked works.
Colossians 2:11-15 Our trespasses, resulting in the handwriting of requirements against us.
Titus 2:14; 3:3
Jesus died to save us from sin and from the penalty of death due to sins. Sins are defined by the law, and the need for Christ's sacrifice shows the ongoing seriousness of sin, and the ongoing penalty for sin according to the law. We should be zealous to flee from sin since Christ died to save us from it.

John 3:16-21


Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Matthew 12:33-37 Judgement according to our words, which are a window into our hearts.
John 5:29
Acts 17:30-31
Acts 24:15,25
Romans 1:32
Romans 2:1-16
Romans 3:4-7
Romans 14:12
2 Corinthians 5:5,9-10
Hebrews 6:2 "eternal judgment" is listed as one of the fundamental doctrines.
1 Peter 1:17 Judgement according to works.
2 Peter 2:9 Punishment on the unjust on the day of judgement.
1 John 4:17 (aside)
Revelation 2:23; 20:12-13 future judgement according to works.

Understanding Galatians

Paul addresses a heresy in his letter to the Galatians. The question is, do we properly understand the meaning of what he was saying to the Galatians? We have to "read between the lines" to discern the issue he was addressing.

Galatians 1:6-8 They were turning away from the grace of Christ to a different gospel.
Galatians 1:10-12 This "different gospel" was one more appealing to people than the true gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:13-24 The gospel of Christ clashed especially with Judaism (of which Paul formerly was a chief advocate).
Galatians 2:1-2 It's something to do with the gospel going to the Gentiles.
Galatians 2:3,7-9 Circumcision is a key issue.
Galatians 2:7 It appears that "circumcision" is connected with the "Gentile" issue. Circumcision is not just an action, but an intimate part of the Judaic identity that sets them apart from Gentiles. Romans 4:12 uses phrase "those who are of the circumcision", apparently to mean the Jews.
Galatians 2:14 Something to do with "compelling Gentiles to live like Jews".


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