How do we walk on the narrow road of truth/law AND grace in real life practice? What does this look like for a Christian just beginning this walk? (Refer back to previous studies of Matthew 5-7 (scroll down) on how to build your house/life on the Rock of Yeshua Jesus if you have not started this walk with Him yet.)
First, it means a good foundational understanding of the “new birth” into salvation….. the new relationship with the Creator Father, through Yeshua Jesus and the opportunity of living in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It means recognizing that now we are a separated people unto Him….no longer in the world…but having come out of the world and into a new life and a new way to live…..His way. It means a clear understanding that this transfer into His family and kingdom is all by His grace and love.
Secondly, we must know that it is also by His grace and love that we will abide in Him and now live continually. We need to unlearn old corrupted things and learn new truth and rules to live by. We do not instantly know His truth, instructions, ways, laws and standards by mind possession! He transforms us into His image and likeness. It takes learning and practice. Being “born again” is only a beginning and now we must work out our salvation with reverential fear and humble trembling. But, He has made provision for our stumbles, falls, and failures. It means we need a correct understanding of repentance, obedience, law, truth, grace and so much more. This does not happen overnight and without effort. Being a follower of Yeshua Jesus is a fight of faith, a race to the finish, a “going against the grain” while in the world, swimming upstream when everyone else is floating downstream, a searching for hidden treasure and giving all to obtain it, battling an adversary, being a good soldier, etc. Do you get the idea?
The balance of truth/law and grace also has practical applications in our relationships with others. We need to have love, grace, patience, and perseverance with others…especially if we disciple them. That is why the great commission is to go and baptize (drown and kill/crucify the old world/flesh and be born again and immersed in His kingdom to come up a new creation/person) in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and then go to others and disciple them in salvation and in all His commandments. And He goes with us in this work!
Sanctification or separating from the world and purifying our lives is a growing process. We are refined like gold in the fires of learning and experience.
Some things may need quick attention, while other things can wait. For example, say a thief is “born again” and comes into salvation and relationship with Yeshua Jesus. It may be best to first teach the thief that it is not good to steal…expecting repentance and obedience to follow this new way. It may not be the time to be concerned about his swearing when he is angered. The Holy Spirit will lead beginning at the best place for each individual to start. The Holy Spirit is our ever present counselor, coach, teacher, guide, helper, comforter in this growing process. We were not left as orphans to figure this out on our own.
But, back to grace and law. Let’s consider this “born again” thief…who is saved by grace, who says he repents and believes in Jesus, who is instructed that stealing is against one of God’s standards of his new life…AND what if he leaves the assembly of believers and goes back into the world and continues to practice stealing…..his old lifestyle without thought of repentance, then what? Wouldn’t true love mean more instruction with discipline and corresponding consequences? What if there is no true repentance or change of behavior? Should we show unconditional grace and tolerance? More urgent would be a gang murderer who claims salvation yet continues to murder!
Corinth was a culture that tolerated sexual immorality and was signified by pagan worship, loose morals, and pleasure seeking. I imagine it was a lot like America is today. Remember when Paul had to correct them and teach them that the celebration of the last supper at Passover and Unleavened Bread was not an occasion for a fleshly party spirit? Now look at 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” Do you think Paul’s remarks may have been similar had the man been practicing homosexuality? What does that say about how today’s “Christian” church views homosexuality as related to God’s grace and God’s law in truth? What would the Father say?
There is grace to forgive, but grace is supposed to move towards goodness and righteousness or it is no longer grace and love, but rather becomes tolerance of evil. Grace is giving unconditional and unearned true love and mercy. But true love will not encourage evil and the destruction and death it leads to. True love desires the best for the one loved and will go to extremes to preserve the good life! And God’s true love and grace are not to be taken for granted or abused! In His over-the-top love, grace, and mercy, He has made the Way through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son so that we can be in relationship with Him and live in His kingdom and His family! He desires and expects a heart relationship. He expects our faith….faithfulness. Be assured, God knows the heart and He is not to be mocked.
Yet, for His children with pure hearts, our full of love and full of grace Father is so patient and long suffering with us. We are to honor and reverence and obey Him, but not be afraid of Him. He is a good Father….a Good Shepherd! There are steps in learning. Sanctification (being set apart to be righteous like Him in His laws and ways) is a growing process. When we fall, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Yeshua Jesus. The Holy Spirit will help us. He will show which next steps are more urgent…..which ones to focus on at which time… for each individual. We need to read God’s Word and listen to the Holy Spirit in times where we separate ourselves apart from everyone and everything…just to focus on Him. This is much more important than learning from someone else, reading a book, or even attending a church service! This is one-on-one relationship.
I have found that the Holy Spirit usually just shows one step at a time as we are able….and it will be totally relevant to your most urgent needs and knowledge required. Examples by parable – A child needs to learn to roll over and crawl before the child can learn to walk. A student needs to learn addition before they can learn multiplication. The Holy Spirit is full of grace, love, patience, and long-suffering to teach us just what we need at just the right time and stage of our life.
God’s law always stands true. God’s law is eternal and will never pass away. His law and ways are right, perfect, true, and just. The Holy Spirit will always agree with God’s Law and God’s Word. He is the Holy Spirit of God! It is we who need to change! His grace and love enable us to grow in it.
As His children, when we fail, we are no longer condemned, but rather forgiven, encouraged, and exhorted to righteousness. He has made a way for us to be delivered from sin and consequential death so that we might walk in the Spirit….walk in the light of His truth/law/way/word. His law (Word – Yeshua is the Word made flesh) is good with eternal life consequences! We are to delight in His law like King David (Psalm 119). We are to purify our hearts and hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5). I am thankful for His Grace and His Law! He is my HOPE of salvation and my HOPE of righteousness!