Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Garment + New Wine = Grace

There are many Christians who oppose the gospel of grace because they feel that those who preach it are giving those who embrace it a "license to sin". They brand grace embracers as "antinomian" because grace embracers believe that the law is no longer relevant as a guide to holy living, therefore they consider grace embracers to be "lawless".

In my previous two posts, I examined the parable of the old and new garment, and old and new wine which Jesus told in Luke 5:36-39. Jesus tells us through the parable that He has come to establish the new covenant, and that the old covenant and new covenant cannot be mixed together i.e. law and grace are separate and cannot be mixed together.

The law is old and now made obsolete by the new covenant of grace - "In that He says, “A new covenant, He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Heb 8:13)

What was the function of the law then? "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Gal 3:24) The law was meant to bring us to the end of ourselves, to show us that despite our best intentions and efforts, it is impossible for us to keep it. The law is supposed to lead us to what Paul said in Romans 7:24, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"; the law is supposed to lead us to this "Who", i.e. Christ.

I have said it in my previous post and I shall say it again: those who embrace the gospel of grace truly uphold the law because they let the law be the law (Rom 3:31). The problem with churches today is not that they preach only the law for if they did, their people will eventually be led to Christ and be justified by faith.

No, the problem is that many churches today preach a mixture of law and grace, and in the process they are in fact preaching neither the law nor grace - they have ruined both the old and new garments, spilt the new wine and burst the old wineskins. They are afraid to let go of the law because they think that the gospel of grace only preaches forgiveness of all our sins which will encourage us to sin more. They think that we need the law to control the way we live so that we do not sin.

However, 1 Cor 15:56 says that "the strength of sin is the law"! Is it logical to control sin by using something which in fact strengthens sin? Of course not! God has already given us the perfect plan for righteousness - Christ!

Jesus himself told us how the plan works - "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5) This is also what Jesus is saying in the parable of the garments and wine (Luke 5:36-39).

When we wear the new garment, the garment of righteousness by faith, we are IN CHRIST. We must always bear in mind that we stand righteous at all times before God because we are IN CHRIST and God always sees us IN CHRIST.

Since we are always righteous before God, does that mean we can sin all we want and still remain righteous? YES! But let me ask you, when you are IN CHRIST, do you still WANT to sin? NO! Why? Because CHRIST IS ALSO IN YOU!

The new wine in the new wineskin is not meant to be kept there - you are supposed to drink it. Do you see the picture now? The new garment covers you - you are inside the new garment i.e. IN CHRIST. When you drink the new wine, the wine is inside you i.e. CHRIST IS IN YOU - "For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory." (Col 1:27, NLT)

Will Christ in you make you want to sin? Christ lives in you and therefore you are controlled by the Spirit of Christ - "But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God." (Romans 8:9-10, NLT)

The Spirit of Christ opposes the sinful nature and He will give you desires that oppose the sinful nature, therefore you will NOT want to sin - "The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. " (Gal 5:17a)

When we accept Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are in Christ and at the SAME instance, Christ is in us. "We in Christ" gives us right standing before God, and "Christ in us" gives us the right walking before men. The law is not meant to guide us to holy living; it is meant to guide us to Christ, and Christ then guides us in holy living.

Grace is not a theological concept; grace is a person - CHRIST.

2 comments:

Tan said...

SW,
Came across one article which further 'Amplified' GRACE ....
Grace is the Gift of God, and is not to be created by man.
A farmer may break the clods, may sow the seeds, but what can he do without the rain? What would the ground do without showers? Until God bestows the plenteous shower and sends Salvation down, in vain man labour.
Plenteous Grace to keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; Plenteous Grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life.
So, Let Grace be Grace ... and man has NO part in it!
ST ...

Anonymous said...

So does it mean that Grace and Law are in conflict ?