Question: Which came first; the chicken or the egg?
Question: Which came first, a law code to guide people’s lives or grace through faith?
Most would answer that God saved people in ancient times by having them obey His laws, and when they did not, a sacrificial system covered their sin. (Check Romans 4 to see more,,,)
Question: What if they went through the system but were not really trusting and loving God?
Answer: It did them no good! Isaiah 1
Habakkuk 2: 4 “ ,,, the righteous will live by faith”
Romans 9:30 -32
The actually way it happened was God has always shown grace to those who would have faith in what He said to do. The premiere example is Abraham. He was a man who was around years before Moses and the written law code for Israel. How did he get saved if no law was written?
God offered him something, he did not deserve, and He believed what God was promising.
Because of his acting on what he believed , by moving to another place, it was said, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6. He now had a “right standing” with God, not because he was perfect, or deserved it, but because he believed what God was offering him.
What is grace?
A loving acceptance of us, by God, based on what Christ did for us on the cross.
We enter into this grace by believing what God says about Jesus Christ. Grace is activated in our life by accepting His gift of eternal life through faith. It includes forgiveness of all sins, and the removal of the crushing guilt associated with those sins. We receive a new heart that “wants to” please God. We receive the Holy Spirit who now empowers us to live the Christian life we are called to live. It is because of what Christ has done for us that we are saved, and therefore we have assurance that we will be saved forever. This gift is eternal and it is irrevocable.
So the pattern is:
Grace through faith-
Then a temporary period of Law- ( II Corinthians 3: 1-18, Galatians 2:11-21, Titus 3:5-7, Hebrews 4:1-2, 10:1-23)
Then the fullness of grace through faith in Jesus Christ-
We must spend a bit of time revealing the meaning of Galatians 3 to explain this and clarify our verse for today. In this way, if you will bear with me, we see most clearly the meaning of the “law of liberty” of which James speaks.
Galatians 3: 16-29 Acts 15:7-8
James, a strict Jew all his life, has met Christ, received His grace, trusting what Christ has done for him over what he was able to do on his own, in his own performance of good deeds, (which was always doomed to failure.)
He is now a transformed man and continues to be transformed throughout his life, simply by believing in Jesus and receiving this free gift of grace. Of course he does good deeds now, all the time,but he does so not to get saved- on his own merit- but because he is already saved and has assurance of that salvation because of Christ’ work done for him. He knows the limits of the Law and now knows the “law of liberty’ in Jesus Christ! (ck. Romans 8:1-4)
Review of context: James 2:1-13 *********************
Focus today on James 2: 8-13
v. 8-9 Leviticus 19:18 and 19: 15
Royal law- the king of all laws (relating to human relationships)
A comprehensive law Matthew 22:36-40 Galatians 5: 13-16
It includes not evaluating a man’s character by appearances. II Corinthians 5:16a
v. 8 Many times the Jews, in practice, showed partiality by limiting “love thy neighbor”
to fellow Jews.
Ex. Good Samaritan Luke 10:29
v. 10-11 What James is dealing with are people who want to “pick and choose,”
buffet-style, from God’s standards of right living.
But to fail in one point of the Law is to fail it all, because it is a failure to love others.
It does not mean a man who steals is automatically guilty of a murder he did not commit.
The point he is making is that obeying one law ,does not cancel out the failure to obey another law.
Examining the word, “transgress” might help us understand. It means to break through a boundary one is forbidden to cross.
Ex. Police catch man who jumped over the fence, into your yard, on the north side.
He criminal wants to know why he gets no credit for not crossing over at the
east or west side? It does not matter! He is over the fence at some point,
and a crime has been committed.
v. 12 a better way – “law of liberty”
Remember how you are to be judged because you have believed the Gospel.
The moment you placed your trust in what Christ did for you on the cross, and believe God raised Him from the dead, you were saved for all eternity. Grace through faith. You were, and forever will be, free from being judged by the Law.
Romans 8: 1-4 The word “now” is emphatic by position in the sentence. (In Greek original)
You do not have to ‘wait and see” if you will some day be saved. ( check Romans 8:28-30 where we see the plan of God for every believer. Once you have accepted Christ, these things take place. It is such a sure thing to take place He can put “glorified” in the aorist (past) tense; even though you have not been “glorified” yet! WOW!
Romans 4: 25
A theologian said, “ And it is just man’s utter failure to obey that Law, in its entirety, that makes it necessary for his salvation to depend, not on his own righteousness, but upon another; Christ Jesus.”
Question: How do you know you have entered into the “law of liberty?”
You have a changed heart that shows mercy to all, as mercy has been shown to you!
Song: “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay”
Ex. Matthew 18: 23-35
v. 13 “mercy triumphs over judgment”
Mercy is a feeling of compassion expressed in action; what Christ did for us.
He took the judgment we would have suffered and then set us
free from it consequences.
Ex. Florida Flight 90
Judgment for our sins fell on Christ. God’s perfect standard was not done away with or compromised. Christ fulfilled the standard and we are credited with His righteousness! Now by His mercy He provided grace to us, all based on His work. It is ours when we believe this, and accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
God’s mercy triumphs at Calvary over His rightful judgment of our sins.
Ex. The brush fire and the dead hen with live chicks
Ex. Matthew 23: 37