Law and Grace Cannot Co-Exist

Law and Grace Cannot Co-Exist

Written By Ken Alexander

The Law and Grace cannot co-exist even as Christianity often times tries to make the two do so. Standing firmly on God’s Word is our goal and yet it is as hard to do as riding a horse bareback.  You can ride a long way at times tightly to the mane of your stallion, but it is almost impossible to get up the hills and through the woods without getting knocked off a couple times and having to get back on. When you sit slightly too far to one side of the truth it is easy to slip off, so the believer is always making adjustments trying to stay balanced in the full Word of God, not just one verse, or one chapter or one book.

I could list a multitude of truth issues like election, eternal security, depravity, church polity, submission, but nothing throws believers off the horse of truth more than Grace versus the Law. Some are so far off the truth that they are sitting in the mud of unrighteousness proclaiming “love wins” and everyone is going to heaven, and their counterparts are “black and white” legalists declaring that no one can be a Christian and drink wine, dance or smoke a cigar. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said,

“Well, dear friends, you know that some men can do to the glory of God what to other men would be sin. And notwithstanding what brother Pentecost has said, I intend to smoke a good cigar to the glory of God before I go to bed to-night.  If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, ‘Thou shalt not smoke,’ I am ready to keep it; but I haven’t found it yet.”

There you go:  By grace people are all running out to buy cigars and the legalists are calling him unsaved. I hate anything and everything about smoking and can’t stand to be around the putrid and disgusting stuff, but when the Christian boys once a year pull out the Poker cards, whisky and cigars, I am never invited, but I am not about to call them sinners or unsaved because they are exercising a freedom that I do not have.

The apostle Paul found himself between the era of the Law and Grace and God used Him, and his Pharisaical training to be the ideal writer of the horse of truth on these matters. As much as he loved the laws of Judaism and the easy nature of living within a set of “do’s and don’t” and rules, he refused to allow Peter and the others to throw the yoke of the law upon the Church. He battled ferociously to begin the church as “new wine skins” and outside the old box of Judaism and the law that could never achieve the righteousness of God.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4)

The apostle Paul devotes almost an entire letter to the Galatians challenging them not to go back under the old law that is weak and fading away. To instead grab a hold of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus; that law that is now written on our hearts, that we might walk in the freedom of our newness of life. No longer focused on sin, but righteousness. No longer focused on the “do’s and don’ts” of religion, but instead allowing the Word of God to be living and active inside of us:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

Lori’s 87 year old Mom recently asked Lori what she wanted from her home when she passed on and Lori told her all she wanted was her old KJV Bible. Her Mom told her she can’t read it anymore and wanted her to have it now. So Lori brought it home and was so happy as she showed it to me and said, “I would love to have a new Bible every year because I love to highlight and mark it up as I read it.” She started with the book of Galatians and this was its introduction:

“The Christians at Galatia had become so involved in the message of the Judaisers that they had even become involved in Jewish festivals and ceremonies. Paul insisted that the two systems were not to be combined. He said that the teaching of the Judaisers ignored the limitations of the law (3:1-22) and also misinterpreted the true function of the law (3:23-4:11).

Paul also said the Judaisers in their teachings disregarded the inferiority of the law to the Gospel of grace (4:21-31). The law had limitations (3:1-22), including the fact that it could not create a spiritual experience. Neither could the law secure right standing with God or establish the covenant. The true function of the law was to serve as a guide to lead men to Christ (3:23-29), and it helped prepare the world for redemption (4:1-11).

Dealing with the essential inferiority of the law as compared to the Gospel of grace (4:21-31), the example of Ishamael and Isaac is given. Ishmael was the son of bondage, and Isaac was the son of promise. Law and grace cannot co-exist.”

Christian, do not let anyone tell you that you are missing out on the Christian life if you don’t keep the do’s and don’ts of the Regular Baptists. Don’t go put yourself under Judaism again, or Catholicism or anything that is against what Galatians teaches. Please don’t fall prey to those who would have you think that you need some second work of grace so you can speak in tongues, or need to exercise quiet solitude and meditation to find a higher level of spirituality.  There is no higher level of spirituality than walking in the Spirit that God has given to you.

But, please also don’t fall so far off the horse of truth that being under grace means you can sin without consequence, and that “God’s love wins” so everyone, but the worst of the worst are going to heaven. If you are not showing the fruit of God’s Spirit by walking in obedience to His Word, by having the joy of the Spirit and by having a desire to please the Lord Jesus, please find someone who can lead you to the Lord Jesus. You are either not saved or you have some big set of sins that have so encumbered you that you cannot live the Christian life as God intends you to live.

Hey Christian, you do understand don’t you that the Christian life is impossible? That the only chance you have of being happy, whole and fruitful is to plug directly into the source of life itself, Jesus Christ.  You have been made a new creature who is freed from sin and dead to sin, now go out each moment of the day and begin to live out your new reality. It takes time, not to be freed from sin but to learn how to walk in your new found freedom so that the joy of the Lord may shine through you.

So how are you doing riding the horse of truth today? Does Satan have you right where he wants you either so focused on how unworthy and sinful you are, or worse yet, so focused on not sinning that it perturbs you to watch your brother or sister in Christ sip on a glass of wine?  We must as believers keep pointing each other to our walk in the Spirit and when we sin, we must swipe it off quickly and move straight away into righteousness without giving the dust a second thought, instead of jumping into the mud and wallowing. Stop trying so hard, or not trying at all. Instead use your new found freedom to shine the righteousness God.

If God calls you righteous than sure enough you are, so go about living like a free child of God whose one heart focus is living in Him and pleasing him.  Hold on tightly to that horse of truth as it is a wold and thrilling ride for those who can live without the do’s and don’t yet walk in the Spirit of the righteousness of God.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Galatians 2:16

5 thoughts on “Law and Grace Cannot Co-Exist

  1. Hello Ken. I appreciate the grace versus law article yet I must say smoking is indeed a sin. Galatians 5:20 list the word witchcraft. The word witchcraft is the English translation of the Greek word Pharmakos. Pharmakos definition in Greek means drugs and more specifically drugs that were used to enhance one’s mind, give a euphoric feeling, etc. which is what cigarettes do. So, smoking is a sin. I always ask myself the famous question. Would Jesus smoke? Could we envision him smoking a cigarette? No. So we shouldn’t. No one can be a Christian and be a smoker. They are living in sin and utilizing witchcraft to produce a feeling that God should satisfy.

  2. Hi Marlon,

    You write: “No one can be a Christian and be a smoker.” which could not be further from truth. God does not say we are saved by grace through faith + not some smoking or doing drugs.

    Now I will agree with you that one who smokes habitually, especially cigarettes is not displaying the fruit of the spirit and is not caring for the temple of the Holy Spirit that God has given them. I would have to study the Pharmakos issue more, but I think we can both agree that not all drugs are bad for a person. For that matter, smoking Marijuana for certain illness and pain may be appropriate, but again that is in a medical sense, not recreational.

    Smoking is an awful habit for far too many, and I fear that even some believers are caught up in it. They got hooked on it when they were young and although they do not smoke often or habitually anymore, they have to have that drag on their cigarette from time to time, especially during stressful times.

    It is certainly sin in almost all cases, but I am unwilling to say it is always sin … unless one wants to categorize that anything that does not glorify God is sinful. Then we are all sinning each day in that way… what and how much we eat, what we see and watch, how we use our time and free time… the guy who puffs his cigarette may well be a more righteous Believer than those of us who watch TV :{.

    And hence the reason for the post. Christians should not be going around judging each other on non-habitual things that we disagree wit find for ourselves would be sin. WE need to leave that to the Lord to judge the heart, and besides, we are not in a “do and don’t” religion, but a faith where we are to honor and serve our Lord Jesus in spite of the weakness of our flesh. To consider our flesh dead and to be alive in Christ, no longer focused on the bodily appetites but on doing the will of God. Yikes… easy to say… now we need to believe it and live it out!

    My reference to smoking possibly not being sin for some is related to the great preachers of old, many who needed their pipes and others their cigar fro time time. Certainly many of them back then did not know how bad it was on the body to smoke, but if Spurgeon could smoke with a clear conscience, I am not about to call all smoking sin :). That man was definitely filled with the Spirit and a powerful witness for His Lord.

  3. Hi, brother Ken. Yes, based on my understanding we are saved by grace through faith but the entire book of James deals with “true faith” versus “false faith/dead faith” being evidenced by works. Works do not save you but if you are saved then there will be evidence of good works or fruits as Jesus called them in Mathew 7:16. Thus, in my limited and ever growing understanding, I see smoking a cigar as evidence of the work of the flesh versus a work of the spirit. Yes sir as I mentioned before, Pharmakos in Galatians 5:20 is a work of the flesh. Pharmakos is where we get the Word pharmaceutical for but with a slight difference of it being used in the Greek to describe drugs that were used to achieve a euphoric feeling or high. If there’s nothing wrong with spurgeon smoking a cigar then there can be nothing wrong with a crackhead, heroine user, etc. They are all narcotics and recreational drugs which pose much harm to the body purposefully. I still can’t picture Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, or any of the apostles “rolling one up” and calling it okay because we have grace. Grace should push us to NOT want to abuse our body (God’s temple) to get it high, cause lung cancer, and bodily problems via smoking cigars. Furthermore, I don’t believe that just because spurgeon had good notes that they qualifies him as someone who was filled with the Spirit. I don’t look at someone’s knowledge and good quotes to denote they are filled with the Spirit but I look for the fruit of the Spirit. One of spurgeon’s fruit is missing and contra-wise the work of the flesh evidenced, the work of drugs/witchcraft that is. I speak this all in love not to debate but for a healthy discussion. ?

  4. Like Paul in 11Corinthians 7 & 8
    Had to die daily to the works of the Flesh. In Corinthians talks about sexual immorality not food and Drink. Defilement comes from the heart not what you eat or drink. If anyone can can live a perfect life in the flesh let me know. When you know you are Born Again you would practice sin. You will have to war with your flesh daily. because your flesh fights your Spirit daily as in Galatians 5 : 16 – 22

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