I recently read an article written by Tullian Tchividjian about God’s inexhaustable grace, and it may or may not have revolutionized my perspective on law and grace. In an effort to not quote the entire article, I’m going summarize what stuck out to me and how it altered my attitude.
Misunderstood grace. As much as I hate to admit it, I think in some ways I am a victim of this. In what ways is grace misunderstood? One way that Tullian described it is ‘cheapened law.’ For some Christians, grace is the reduction of God’s expectations of us. Because of grace, many times we think we just need to try hard. Grace becomes this law-cheapening agent, attempting to make the law easier to follow.
“A low view of law always produces legalism; a high view of law makes a person a seeker after grace.” J. Gresham Machen
I think what I’ve grown to think is that having a high view of the law caused me to be legalist, when in actuality, maybe it’s the opposite. A low view of the law causes me to live as if I can do it — as if the standards are attainable, and demands doable. And I think I have lived that way, trying to find the ‘balance’ between having a high view of the law and a low view. But there really is no balance. A high view of the law reminds me that God accepts me on the basis of Christ’s perfection, not my progress. We fight sin, not because our sin blocks God’s love for us, but because our sin blocks our love for God, and others. Tullian said this, “Grace, properly understood, is the movement of a Holy God toward an unholy people. He doesn’t cheapen the law or ease its requirements. He fulfills them in His Son, who then gives his righteousness to us. That’s the Gospel.” Cheapened law, dulled and watered down, is the idea that God accepts anything less than the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
Only when we see that the way of God’s law is absolutely inflexible will we see that God’s grace is absolutely indispensable. I need to have a high view of the law, so I remember that I could not save myself nor can I add to my salvation by my performance, but that I am in desperate need of God’s grace, continually.
“We cannot use the doctrine of sanctification to negotiate our acceptance with God.” Scott Clark
The law shows our need. The Gospel announces our provision. We’re in constant need of hearing both.
To be completely honest, I think I’ve been looking at the law for the wrong motivation. For a long time, I was looking at it as a way to gauge my relationship with God, my love and obedience. Slightly wrong, I think. Since I am in Christ, the law directs me toward grace; the law makes me a seeker of the Gospel. Knowledge of the law should stir my heart to the reality of a good and merciful and faithful and loving God, instead of having a prideful heart and finding security in my performance.
“When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I beat my breast to think I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so and sought my good.” Charles Spurgeon