Why Does the Bible Have So Much Law If It’s About Grace?

Why Does the Bible Have So Much Law If It’s About Grace?

Galatians 3:17-19 – This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annual a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

I will never forget the first time I sat down to read the Bible from cover to cover. One of the first things I noticed was that God had a lot of commands. At the time, I did not know that the first five books of the Old Testament are called “the books of the law” because they are filled with 613 various laws.

As I got to the New Testament, it spoke a lot about grace and how Jesus fulfilled the law for us so that, as Romans 10:4 says, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Honestly, this confused me. Did God used to work through law but then changed His mind to work through grace?  Were Christians supposed to keep all of the Old Testament laws?  Why did God make so many laws in the first place?

This is precisely the issue Paul is addressing. The law of God could not empower a life of obedience or save us. But the law does accomplish four things that encourage us toward the grace of God offered freely in Jesus Christ.

  1. The law reveals God’s perfect holiness. To be holy means to be distinct and different in a good way. When we read the laws of God, we learn that God does not want people to behave any way they want but expects us to conform to His character.
  2. The law reveals our sinfulness. One you start reading that not only adultery is a sin, but so is lusting after someone you are not married to, you quickly realize that you are a sinner.
  3. The law reveals God’s patience. For years, God patiently worked with people and waited for them to fall in line. But people did not obey but kept choosing rebellion. God’s patience reveals that we are not good people who just need more time, but rather bad people who need God.
  4. The law helped keep God’s people distinct from other nations and their religions so that Jesus could come through the family line of Abraham.

In summary, the law reveals who God is, who we are, the size of the problem we have, and our desperate need for Jesus to be our perfection and righteousness since He alone is without sin and has fulfilled the law of God in total.

Take a look back at things in your life where you simply broke God’s law, but Jesus’ grace covered that sin and has given you a new future despite your past.

Mark Driscoll
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