Shall we sin because we are no longer under Law but under grace?” Romans 6:15
Again, Paul answers: “By no means!”
Wait . . . Rewind . . . Repeat that again? We (believers) are not under the Law . . . .? I admit, this sounds more like a riddle, especially when you look at passages like Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”
It helps to know that this section deals with sanctification: God growing the Christian in holiness. But the question remains . . . .
Which Law is Paul referring to?
The following excerpt from the NIV Study Bible helped me sift through this confusing topic:
Part of the Jewish Law included those laws found in the Old Testament. When Paul says that Gentiles (non-Jews) are no longer bound by these laws, he is not saying that the Old Testament laws do not apply to us today. He is saying certain types of laws may not apply to us. In the Old Testament there were three categories of laws:
- Ceremonial Law: This kind of law relates specifically to Israel’s worship (see, for example, Leviticus 1:1-13), its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ. Therefore, these laws were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial laws, the principles behind them—to worship and love a holy God—still apply. The Jewish Christians often accused the Gentile Christians of violating the ceremonial law.
- Civil Law: This type of law dictated Israel’s daily living (see Deuteronomy 24:10-11). Because modern society and culture are so radically different, some of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands should guide our conduct. At times, Paul asked Gentile Christians to follow some of these laws, not because they had to, but in order to promote unity.
- Moral Law: This sort of law is the direct command of God—for example, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). It requires strict obedience. It reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies to us today. We are to obey this moral law not to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.
Which Law do you think Paul is referring to in Romans 6:15?
And What About Grace?
Another analogy found in the NIV Study Bible helped clarify Romans 5:20, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“As a sinner separated from God, you see his law from below, as a ladder to be climbed to get to God. Perhaps you have repeatedly tried to climb it, only to fall to the ground every time you have advanced on one or two rungs. Or perhaps the sheer height of the ladder seems so overwhelming that you have never even started up. In either case, what relief you should feel to see Jesus offering with open arms to lift you above the ladder of the law, to take you directly to God! Once Jesus lifts you into God’s presence, you are free to obey—out of love, not necessity, and through God’s power, not your own. You know that if you stumble, you will not fall back to the ground. Instead you will be caught and held in Christ’s loving arms.”
I hope this makes sense. Although I’m not an intellect like Paul, his teachings challenge me (in a good way).
I hope you’re enjoying summer!
I especially appreciated this: “You know that if you stumble, you will not fall back to the ground. Instead you will be caught and held in Christ’s loving arms.” Thank you!
Hi Kathleen! Thanks for your comment. It’s so reassuring to know that God is for us, and that He is constantly with us guiding, helping, and catching us when we stumble. 🙂
I wish every Christian understood this. Years ago, when my daughter was like 14, she asked me why it was okay for Christians to eat ham, but homosexuality is still considered sin. I had to type up an explanation very similar to what you’ve done here. Like God Himself, the moral law is unchanging.
Hi Bill! Thanks for dropping by and for the encouragement! Your daughter’s observation is a great example. I know it took me some time to sort through questions about God’s Laws, which ones He expects us to obey, and where grace fits in. You summed it up beautifully: “Like God Himself, the moral law is unchanging.” Blessings, K.D. 🙂