Some things taste great together. Vanilla and chocolate soft serve swirl … good! Chocolate and peanut butter … good! Peanut butter and jelly … good! Chips and salsa … good! Bacon and, well, anything … good! I’d argue that these individual items were created by man, and just sat around waiting for their cosmic fates to be sealed and eventually put together in holy food unity. What a blessing to my belly!
Yet, this is not so for law and grace. They simply cannot be mixed together … and swallowed by the sheep successfully! They may taste ok separately, and they may have a healthy function apart from each other … but together they confuse the heck out of the stomach and cause religious diarrhea.
I’m not a doctor, but I do know that diarrhea is caused by contaminated food or water. Something that was meant to nourish the body … instead tears the body apart because of tiny bacteria and parasites. The same happens with religion. What was meant to nourish heart, soul, body, spirit, and mind … instead causes distress, pain, confusion, fear, hurt, and even self injury.
Law and grace are two OPPOSITE viewpoints … and CANNOT be digested well together by the body of Christ. Here are the mixed messages:
The law says … I must do or else. Grace says … He has already done.
The law says … it is up to me. Grace says … it is up to Him.
The law says … violators are towed and punished. Grace says … violators are loved and corrected.
The law says … follow the rules. Grace says … follow Him.
The law says … I love you with stipulations. Grace says … I love you without stipulations.
The law says … obey me. Grace says … love me.
The law says … fix it. Grace says … it is fixed.
The law says … if you don’t. Grace says … I already did.
The law says … you are broken. Grace says … you are fixed.
The law says … work off your sin. Grace says … it is paid in full!
The law says … God is angry and must be constantly appeased. Grace says … God already made peace with His creation through the blood of His Son.
Law and grace simply cannot be combined without giving the sheep the runs! You can’t legalize the person of Grace (Jesus) without making His sheep extremely weak and sick! Why??? Legalized grace separates the sheep from the shepherd (Galatians 5:4)! It scatters them into panic and confusion. It forces the sheep to focus on HOW to worship instead of WHO to worship!
You can’t put limits, rules, or conditions on His UNMERITED favor! Otherwise, His favor becomes merited favor! Merited favor is no longer even GRACE!
I received an e-mail last night from a child of God, who has been terrorized by religion with its rules, dictates, and mixed messages. She has been repeatedly told by her family – she can’t do this, shouldn’t do that. She must this, and must that. Told to fear God at all times, to fear the end times (GRRRR), and that the smallest of mistakes would send her right to hell. These lies have driven her to severe depression, drugs, self injury, and suicidal thinking … and she is now entering rehab for the 3rd time! This dear lady isn’t sure that God can even forgive her of past mistakes – she isn’t sure she is worthy of God’s love. Man and rules did this to her. This little sheep who loves God has been separated (in her mind) from her shepherd … because of law! Law separates us from grace (Gal 5:4)!
When I read that e-mail, I was filled with righteous anger – the right response to an unholy action that pushes the kingdom backwards. Filled with anger that man and rules of religion would separate this dear person (in her mind) from her loving Father! I’m still angry over it. I have sent her my cell phone number, and I do pray for the opportunity to speak with her.
Look, here is what it comes down to. And this is where man gets tripped up. How can the law be fulfilled, not abolished (or ended) … and still continue (Matthew 5:17-20)?
This is where man and religion adds on its list of rules with oughts, should’s, musts, have to’s, you’d betters, and or else’s! Do this, do that! Don’t do this, don’t do that! This is where unmerited grace gets legalized. We have such a hard time accepting what is already free … man with religion simply must put conditions on His person of Grace (Jesus).
But, the law wasn’t meant to be adapted to centuries of societal change. It wasn’t meant to legalize the love of God. No, according to Jeremiah 31:33 … the law was placed upon our hearts for safe keeping! It wasn’t discarded! It wasn’t tossed out the window! It does indeed continue … inside us! We don’t obey the law because a list of rules and religious expectations say so. No, we obey because we love Him! We obey because the sinless One dwells inside us! We obey because when you fill a person with another person … you become like that new person! The sinless One fills you and me … and last I checked … sin isn’t a fruit of The Spirit (Gal 5:22)! We are a NEW creation that has been changed from the inside out, not the outside in (Matthew 23:25-26)!
Anything in the legalized form of YOU … should, ought, better, must, or have to … is LAW that contaminates GRACE! Frankly, these are commands and expectations by and for others! Anything wrapped around traditions, that’s how we do things, or things that I must do to please God and to stay clean … is LAW! Don’t let anything formed by mankind stand between you and God … YOU are in relationship with His Grace! And, WHO is Grace? Jesus!!!
Colossians 2:20-23 (MSG)
20-23 So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.