Law and Grace
Those who have grown up in the church have heard God’s commandments, or at least they are aware of the Ten Commandments. Imagine what the world would be like if no one knew these laws even existed. That’s what it was like in King Josiah’s day (2 Kings 23:1-8a). They were fixing up the Temple in Jerusalem when they stumbled across the book of the Law. No one even knew there was such a thing. The king made a covenant with God to keep these commandments and the people joined in the covenant.
We are not like King Josiah in that we are not in a position to effect national reform the way he did. It is not for us to impose God’s commands on others. God doesn’t force us to obey them and we can’t do what God chooses not to do. God gives us a choice to obey or not obey and we must allow the same freedom to others.
When given the freedom to choose, it is our nature—our sinful nature—to disobey. If God were not a God of grace and mercy, we would all be doomed. God continues to ask for our obedience and continues to forgive us when we disobey. So we can disobey and get away with it? Why obey at all? Why bother trying? Because once we know something’s wrong, we can no longer do it guilt-free. And our guilt weighs us down and builds a barrier between us and God. God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us so much that God will remove that guilt from us when we ask for forgiveness. That’s not a license to sin—that’s God’s grace at work.
—Rev. Marty Aden
- What does it mean to be a steward of God’s laws?
- How do law and grace interact?
- How did Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection affect the laws of the Hebrew scripture?
How Do I Act?
- The Confession of Faith for Cumberland Presbyterians includes not only faith statements, but also The Constitution of the church, Rules of Discipline, a Directory for Worship, and Rules of Order. Read the Rules of Discipline and find three that you didn’t know existed. Share these with someone from your church.
- Find one area in which you can be more obedient to God in your life. Pray for God to reveal this area to you and then pray for the strength to be obedient.
- Spend a day consciously trying to show God’s grace and mercy to other people. Give your co-workers the benefit of the doubt, be gracious to your spouse and children and other family members. When you succeed, praise God for your obedience. Note how old habits might work against your showing grace and mercy.
- Rewrite the Ten Commandments as they might read in today’s thought and language patterns. Do they seem to have different emphases with the language updated? Post these up in the church somewhere without identifying what they are to see if people still recognize their relevance in today’s world.