Here is a challenge. If we can find grace operating in the Old Testament, side by side with the law, then would you agree that grace doesn’t replace the need to obey? You would realize that grace is an important part of obedience that is taught in the Old Testament (first covenant).
Everyone knows that the Old Testament is a collection of books that teach lots of law, obedience to that law, and punishment for breaking it. So if we find grace in the Old Testament operating alongside the law, then there are no contradictions between the two concepts. Grace could not supplant the law.
And if we should also be able to find both law and grace in the New Testament, then there should be no contradictions anywhere in the understanding that law and grace go together. True enough, we can find both law and grace in the New as well. They operate side by side in both testaments.
Take a look at Exodus 34:6-7. The setting here is Moses on Sinai about to receive the law: “And Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, Yahweh, Yahweh Elohim, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
The accompaniment of grace even while giving the law was a fulfilled promise of Yahweh in verse 19 of the previous chapter.
Obedient Noah and Abraham Found Grace
Back in Genesis 6:8 we see the same with Noah, as Yahweh treats him with grace: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Yahweh.” Noah was also a law-keeping individual, Genesis 6:9, and that is a key element in why Yahweh chose him to preserve the human race. You don’t walk with Yahweh by being disobedient. Adam and Eve learned the hard way that disobedience literally gets you nowhere.
What about Abraham, the father of the righteous? Genesis 26:5 tells us that Abraham “obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
This tells us not only that the law was in effect long before Moses and Mt. Sinai, but also that Abraham knew he had to obey Yahweh through Yahweh’s statutes and commands. That was a given as part of the covenant. No argument or discussion. Yahweh’s covenants are unilateral and non-negotiable. The Old Covenant centered on obedience. Read about it in Hebrews 8. As you read it, notice that very little actually changes between Old and New Covenants. In fact, a prominent characteristic is that the Covenant is dearer to our hearts. We live obedience closer out of an inner desire.
Was Abraham, then, living outside of grace by being obedient? Absolutely not. Titus 2:12 tells us that grace actually teaches obedience. Although Jude 4 says people like to turn grace into disobedience, Paul tells us in Romans 6:1-2 that disobedience stops at the acceptance of grace. So grace doesn’t negate obedience, it initiates obedience.
If all it takes is belief and faith to be worthy in Yahweh’s eyes, then why was Abraham, a man experienced in Yahweh’s grace as Noah was, still obedient to Yahweh’s commandments, statutes and laws? Because faith without obedience is a contradiction.
We show our faith by our obedience. We prove to Yahweh that we have faith and love for Him by doing what He commands us to do. What kind of faith do we show if we walk all over everything He tells us to do, and treat with contempt what is sacred to Him? Obviously, no faith at all!
In perfect harmony with this truth James tells us that faith without works is dead, 2:17-22.
Paul in His Obedience Was Under Grace
Did Paul say he was under grace? He did, 1Corinthians 15:10. Was he still obedient to the law? Yes, he was, Acts 21:24; 24:14. Did Paul tell us the law was abolished in his day? No, he said just the opposite. He said all men are under the law as long as they live,Romans 7:1.
Later Paul said the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, as we obey, Romans 8:4-7. We fulfill the law by being observant to it. If I fulfill my obligation to pay you what I owe you, it means I give you your money. If I fulfill my duty it means I do all my duty. If Yahshua fulfilled the law as it says He did in Matthew 5:17, then he observed it completely.
He even says in the next verse that nothing will pass from the law until heaven and earth vanish. Fulfill cannot mean abolish. He couldn’t have expressed a stronger image of the laws immutability. So long as the universe is here and the earth keeps spinning, then the law is here and in force as well. A world without law is anarchy, just as a world whose laws are not obeyed.
Yet, in total contradiction to all of these plain facts it is constantly hammered into today’s nominal worshiper that Yahshua came to destroy the law! Even back in His own day He was accused of destroying the law. He plainly and clearly answered the accusation by saying don’t even think it, Matthew 5:17. And obviously that was because they didn’t understand what He performed under the New Covenant to change only the administrative aspects of the law, as in the fleshly priesthood and animal sacrifices.
Yahweh’s Law Always in Effect
Circumcision is now of the heart. But is that anything new? Read Deuteronomy 30:6-8. Even after circumcision of the heart Israel was expected to obey all His commandments. Nothing was changed there.
The same misunderstanding has been ongoing for 2,000 years. Even when Yahshua denied from His own lips the accusation of destroying the law, people still don’t believe Him. “The law was nailed to the cross” has almost become a mantra of the uninformed or misguided.
Faith, grace, and obedience all live together in perfect harmony in the Scriptures. They are never mutually exclusive anywhere.
Yahweh Always Had Mercy
What about mercy? Is it only a New Testament concept? Is the Old Testament nothing but a bloody book of war and vengeance? Is Yahweh a vengeful Elohim who has no mercy for anyone who steps out of line?
In Psalm 85:7 the psalmist asks Yahweh to show His mercy. Then in a beautiful statement in verse 10, he says, “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
The Hebrew language is filled with word pictures and is highly poetic. It is not the technical language Greek is, but a language of artistry and vivid imagery. One reason so many have problems with the writings of Paul and others in the New Testament is because those letters and writings come to us filtered through Greek from the original Hebrew, and Greek doesn’t do well trying to render poetic language in its characteristically more technical way.
Mercy and truth go together. In Psalm 147:11we read, “Yahweh takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those who hope in Hismercy.” In Micah 6:8 Yahweh tells us to do justly and to love mercy. Why, if He is a merciless Elohim, does he tell us to love mercy? In Hosea 4:1 Yahweh has a problem with the people because there is no truth or mercy among them. He says it again inHosea 12:6: telling us to keep mercy and judgment.
People ask why does Yahweh allow suffering? If He were a loving and merciful Father, He wouldn’t do that. But if we were all obedient, there would be no suffering. Suffering and death are a result of sin, Romans 5:12; 7:5; Galatians 5:19-21; Mark 7:21-23. And if Yahweh didn’t have mercy then just one sin, committed by one person one time…and it would all be over for all of us. He has taken his hands off this world and is allowing us to come within an inch of destroying both it and ourselves through sin.
But you see, sin is repugnant to Yahweh. It is our own fault that we find ourselves suffering when that was never supposed to happen in Yahweh’s plan. It may not be politically correct to bear the consequences of our own failings, but it is Scripturally correct (Isa. 59:1-2).
Do you want Him to answer your prayers? Stop sinning. Turn in obedience. He says turn to me and I will turn to you. When He calls, it is up to you to answer. The next step is entirely yours. He is not going to save you in spite of yourself.