The Truth About Law and Grace - Part 2 or 2

By I. M. Haldeman, D. D.

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Christians are not under law as the rule of life.

"Ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

"Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Romans 7:4).

The Apostle was referring to those Christians in the Roman Church who were Jews.

He says:

"I speak to them that know the law" (Romans 7:1).

He compares these Jewish Christians to a married woman, the law to her husband. As long as her husband lives she is bound by the law to him; but when he dies she is loosed from the law of her husband.

She is loosed from him in two ways.

He is dead and no longer can exercise any claim upon her.

She is dead too; that is, as a wife. She judicially died in him, his death was her death legally. (This is true in common law today — the woman dies as a wife in her husband's death.)

Just so, when our Lord dies on the cross, the law ceases to have any further claim on Him. It has no more claim on Him than a dead husband has over his wife. Since He is dead to the law, the law is dead to Him.

When Christ dies on the cross as a substitute for believers, they also are reckoned of God to have died in Him. The law therefore has no more claim upon them than it has on Him; no more claim than the law of the state has upon the man it has put to death in the electric chair; so far as that dead man is concerned the law is dead to him, as dead and without jurisdiction as though it never had been a law.

Since the Jewish Christians died in Christ who answered for them under the law of Sinai as well as under the general law of God against sin, they were like the woman legally dead in her husband. They were dead to the law and the law was dead to them.

Since a woman whose husband was dead was free to marry another and by him bring forth children, so the Hebrew Christians who had been under the law of Sinai as a first husband were now through faith married to another husband, even to the risen Christ; and where before that first marriage was sterile, so that they could not bring forth fruit unto righteousness, now by union with Christ and His union with them, they could bring forth fruit unto God.

By this statement the Apostle not only testifies that Hebrew Christians are dead to the law and the law dead to them, but that Gentile Christians who never were under the law, by the death of Christ and the consequent end of the law in Him, are not and could not be under the law of Sinai today.

The Apostle says those who preach the law of Sinai to Christians are troublers.

He says:

"There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:7).

He says the teachers who have endeavored to put the Galatians, the Gentile believers, under the law have "bewitched" them; that is, deceived them.

He asks a question of them:

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

"Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh" (Galatians 3:1,3)?

He here makes it plain that the law has to do with a man in the flesh, not a man in the spirit.

He calls the law a "yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).

In this he is in accord with the Apostle Peter, who in the first great council of the Church at Jerusalem, himself protesting against the Judaizing teachers who sought to put Gentile believers under law, raised his voice and said:

"Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10)?

For Jewish believers to go back under the law vv-as to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage; therefore Paul exhorts them to stand fast in the liberty of Christ.

"Stand ye fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us (Jews) free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).

He says further:

"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4).

He calls legal preaching and teaching "a persuasion," and says they did not get it from the Lord who called them and compares it in its corrupting influence to leaven.

"This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

"A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Galatians 5:8, 9).

Leaven in Scripture is never a symbol of good, but always of that which is evil. Seeing that it is in itself, essentially a sour, rotten and corrupting thing it cannot be a symbol of the Gospel.

It is a symbol of false doctrine, and is so declared by the Lord Himself.

"Then understand they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16:12).

Thus in clear terms, speaking by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle denounces the preaching and teaching that would put the Christian under the law.

To those who under this teaching were being circumcised he says to attempt to keep one part of the law is to be under bonds to keep the whole law.

"For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law" (Galatians 5:3)

It is either law or grace!

You cannot mix law and grace any more than you can mix "woolen and linen."

The woman who lives with two husbands is guilty of adultery. The Christian who seeks to live under law and grace at the same time is guilty in God's sight of spiritual adultery.

The moment you touch the law and attempt to keep it in any particular, whether it be circumcision or keeping the Jewish Sabbath, you are a debtor to the whole law — you have fallen from grace.

Writing to Timothy the Apostle says:

"The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners" (I Timothy 1:9).

But Christians are not ungodly (genuine Christians) neither are they sinners in the sight of God. On the contrary, the righteousness of God is upon them; as it is written:

"The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe" (Romans 3:22).

That is, by His faith which led Him to become "obedient unto the death of the cross," His obedience is transferred to the account of the believer, and He thus becomes legally and judicially the believer's righteousness before God.

But more than that —

The believer in Christ — in Him — is the very righteousness of God; as it is written:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we mighty be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corinthians 5:21).

And again:

"As he is, so are we in this world" (I John 4:17).

How immense that is.

He is in Heaven on the throne of the universe, beautiful, glorious, not only very God, but the Man in the glory, the perfect man in the glory. And God looks upon us, faltering, feeble and failing Christians as we may be, as perfect as He is, because He sees us in Him, and see us in that way only.

The fact is, the gracious fact, that God looks upon us as crucified with Christ, "risen with Christ" ascended with Christ, with Him already gone into Heaven and seated with Him in the Heavenly places:

"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6).

To such a risen and heavenly people, a law, intended for the ungodly and the sinner, has no place and cannot be preached to the Christian without an insult to the Christian, without offence to God and to His blood-sealed and measureless grace.

The law has to do with the Aaronic priesthood; the priesthood which on earth has to do exclusively with the family of Aaron, the tribe of Levi and therefore with the Jewish nation alone.

Grace has to do with the Melchizedec priesthood of Christ (effective not on earth, but in Heaven; "for if he were on earth, he should not be a priest" (Hebrews 8 Li), and a people risen and seated with Him, as to their character representatively, in Him — in Heaven.

The moment a Christian puts himself under the law he comes down from the heavenly places in Christ to the region of the earth, the flesh and the priesthood in Levi. He is on Jewish, not on Christian ground at all.

The Gentile Christian who puts himself under the law and keeps the Jewish Sabbath becomes a counterfeit Jew.

He is so styled by the risen Son of God:

"I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan" (Revelation 2:9 ).

There were persons in Smyrna who professed to be believers in Christ, and said they were Jews.

Our Lord says they were not Jews.

If they were not Jews they were Gentiles.

They were Gentiles then who, while professing to believe in Christ, called themselves Jews.

They could claim to be Jews only on the ground that they kept the law; that they were circumcised or were observing the Jewish sabbath.

There are Christians today who hold that a believers in Christ are — spiritually — Jews.

They quote a certain Scripture in support of that claim.

"He is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter" (Romans 2:29).

The application of this text to the Gentile believer is shut out by the context.

The context shows the Apostle is speaking of a Jew who is such by nature — not of Gentiles at all.

He says:

"Behold, thou art a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God" (Romans 2:17).

A real Jew, a chosen and elect Jew, is not merely a Jew as to his flesh, he must be a regenerated Jew.

The Apostle emphasizes this further on.

"They are not all Israel, which are of Israel.

"Neither, because they arc the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

"That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Romans 9:8).

The regenerated Jew, the chosen and elect Jew is the real Jew in God's sight.

It is true the Gentile who believes is called a child of Abraham, because through faith (the faith Abraham had before he was circumcised, and more than four hundred years before the law) he is a child of God; but because through Abraham's faith he is a child of God he does not become a Jew, any more than the Jew who through Abraham's faith becomes a child of God — is a Gentile.

The Gentile therefore who puts himself under the law whether he be circumcised or keeps the sabbath is a counterfeit Jew; and any so called Church assembly formed on the ground of the law of Sinai is not a Church at all, it is a synagogue — and a synagogue of Satan.

It is urged on behalf of law keeping that our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to destroy or do away with the law, hut to fulfil it; as it is written:

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matthew 5:17).

This is absolutely true.

But it took two things to fulfil the law.

1. To obey it perfectly and earn life by it.

"This do," said the Lord to the lawyer who tempted Him concerning the law, "and thou shall live" (Luke 10:28).

2. To undergo the sentence of death against sin.

Our Lord did both.

He magnified the law and made it honorable in and by His life. He so kept the law as "minister of the circumcision for the truth of God," that He could challenge the Je^^s about Him and say unto them —

"Which of you convinceth me of sin" (John 8:-6)? '

He so kept the law that He earned eternal life.

By this it is not meant to say He did not already have it; but, rather, by the keeping of the law He justified Himself as that eternal life which was with the Father, as the one who had the right to it.

He not only magnified the law and made it honorable by His life. He did so by His death.

On the cross as the burnt offering He fulfilled that side of the law which demands the surrender of self in unmeasured devotion to God — even unto death.

On the cross as the sin offering, "made sin for us," treated as "sin in the flesh," the nature of sin. He justified the law of God in its edict of death against sin and the sinners He represented.

That He fulfilled all the law's demands in death is proclaimed by His resurrection from the dead and His ascension to, and session on the throne of God.

Risen, ascended and seated in glory, having fulfilled the law. He has legal right to give the eternal life He earned for others to all who shall believe.

What the law demanded man should earn He freely and fully bestows. This is what is meant by the Lord's fulfillment of the law.

But because He met all the demands of the law in life and death does not mean that He puts that law in any respect upon those who have been owned of God to have died in His death, risen in His resurrection and in Him, representatively, are seated in Heaven. Such a conclusion from His fulfillment of the law would he childish reasoning, if it were not so monstrous.

Nay! His fulfillment of the la\v delivers them from the law, not that they may become lawless, but bound unto Him as their true law, as their new and spiritual life, owning Him as their law; wherefore it is written:

"Not without law to God, but under law (literally enlawed) to Christ" (I Corinthians 9:21 ).

There is another Scripture quoted continually by those who insist the Christian is under law.

This is the familiar and oft repeated passage:

"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24).

As this epistle was written to Gentile believers in Galatia, it is confidently asserted that in using the pronouns we and us the Apostle was involving the Gentiles with himself as both being under the law.

But, if this were so, then those who quote it as proving Christians are now under law are cleanly knocked down by their own argument; for, the succeeding verse declares these Galatian believers were no longer under a schoolmaster.

Hear what the verse says:

"But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Galatians 3:25).

This is just as plain as language cm make it; for, even if the Gentile Galatians had been under the law, since the schoolmaster is a symbol of the law, and they were, after faith, no longer under a schoolmaster, then by every line and link of logic — they would he no longer under law.

But by the very use of the pronouns "we" and "us" the Apostle conclusively proves the Gentiles never were, and now that they believed, never could be, under the law. For when the Apostle uses these personal pronouns in relation to the law in this epistle he is making a distinction between Jews and Gentiles.

The proof is to be found in his own words:

"We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:15).

By all these facts it is evident —

The law is not the rule of life to the Christian.

The law as already seen is not the ministration of life, but death.

It would be impossible for those who are risen and living in Christ, and in whom Christ is living by the indwelling Spirit, to go by such a rule or regulation as that.

There is a rule, a clear and definite rule, by which the Christian is to live and walk every day; as it is written:

"In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

"And as many as walk according to this rule (canon), peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:15, 16).

The rule is stated in verse 15.

"A new creature."

Literally, "a new creation."

Scripture tells us clearly what that new creation is:

"If any man he in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).

This new creation signifies:

"Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

The Apostle puts it in unqualified language:

"I am (was) crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20).

The life of the risen Christ in the believer, that is' the rule, the canon, the law and regulation for the Christian's daily life.

If the Christian yields to this life it will lead him to glorify God in his body and spirit and be a blessing to his fellow men.

And now, mark you, side by side with this clear enunciation that the Christian is not under the law of Sinai, but under the indwelling power of the life of a risen Christ, the Holy Spirit has given us the most monumental witness that the Gentile believers are not spiritual Jews, but that believing Jews become themselves spiritual Jews and constitute those of whom Paul speaks as being such "inwardly."

You have it in the expression —

"And upon the Israel of God."

The emphatic and turning word is the conjunction — and.

Peace and mercy upon all Gentile believers who walk according to Christ in them — and — upon the Israel of God.

And who, I ask you, can the Israel of God in a Gentile Church in addition to the Gentile believers be — but Jews, Hebrews who, by the grace of God, had been led to accept Jesus of Nazareth as their crucified and risen Messiah, their Lord and Master?

These and these only form the Israel of God in this age. They are the "remnant according to the election of grace" of whom the Apostle speaks in the eleventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans.

And these all, both Gentile and Jewish believers, are to walk as new made persons, as persons who have been made over, created anew in Christ. They in Christ and Christ in them.

How far is this law of life, this life that becomes a law, above the stony writing, the terrifying thunder and the blazing, flashing fire and smoke of Sinai, in the presence of a trembling crowd of self righteous, yet condemned and sinful people!

This then is the law for the Christian —

Christ reincarnated in the soul.

The Holy Spirit in the name of a risen and ascended Christ dwelling in the believer's body as His proxy, manifesting Him to the consciousness of the believer so that Christ may actually dwell in that body and exercise His own faith and power as when He was on earth.

It is life — not law — contained in commandments that will produce devotion to God and consideration of man for man.
If a mother does not love her child, all the law and all the renewed legislation in the world will not make her love it. If she have a true mother heart, she will need no law to make her love her child.

All the law accented by thunder and illuminated by lightning cannot make human beings love God or be unselfish in relation to one another.

But when the life of Christ is in the soul; when the believer gives the right of way to that life in him, he needs neither the reverberating crashes of Sinai, nor is fiery challenge, nor the threatening whiplash sting of command to love God, or be interested in the soul of another.

For those who live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit, it is written:

"There is no law" (Galatians 5:23).

The preaching and teaching that would put the Christian under the law and call him to live on Jewish ground began with the very beginning of Christianity. As already stated it came up as a disturbing issue in the first great Church council held at Jerusalem, the very hotbed of Judaizing and legalizing preachers.

So widespread, perverting and disturbing was this heresy, that the Apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was set to writing the epistle to the Galatians as a divine treatise on Law and Grace.

The distinction between the two is easily summed.

The Law brings a work to do.

Grace brings a word to believe.

The Law says do and live.

Grace says believe and live.

The Law tells you what a man ought to do.

Grace tells what God has done.

Law is a "yoke of bondage," "unbearable servitude," and the end — death.

Grace is the bestowal of life, the service of free men and — the power of an endless life.

The epistle to the Galatians teaches that the Christian has been removed from the plane of law and lifted into the plane of life — even the life of God in the soul.

So false, disastrous and rapidly widespread was this contagion of legal teaching, so upsetting to faith and spiritual peace, so turning the believer away from the finished work of the cross and the emancipating and sustaining power of the resurrection, that the Apostle writing to the Galatian Church utters the most intense and terrific of denunciations.

He says:

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed ' from him that called you unto the grace of Christ unto another Gospel:

"Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9).

Those who today are preaching and teaching the law; who are demanding Christians shall keep the Jewish sabbath (and let it be remembered the Jewish sabbath, the seventh day, is an inseparable part of the law), who pervert the Gospel, rob the cross of its glory, grace of its virtue, put the yoke of bondage on the freemen of Christ, make them the keepers of times and seasons, such troubling and perverting teachers would do well to hear the solemn denunciation of the Holy Spirit coming through the ordained and Heaven-given words of the Apostle.

"Let him be accursed," are words spoken of any teacher who shall pervert the Gospel of the grace of God and put the blood-ransomed believer under the law of condemnation and death.

Remember — not law, but grace, the offer of mercy for the sinner.

Because of the grace that has sought and found those of us who believe, this grace that can keep us, we should, indeed, live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit.

Because of this grace that holds back judgment and speaks with the voice of invitation, every soul who hears the Gospel message should turn, and turn at once, before grace gives way to judgment; for, always, and unfailingly, rejected grace becomes added judgment.

Remember — not law, but grace, the rule of life for the Christian.