Most of us can remember times in our lives when we were faced with a monumental task and wondered if we could actually get the job done. We may have felt helpless and overwhelmed at the thought of struggling by ourselves to complete it without forgetting any of the important details. Our chances of succeeding under the Law of Moses, which requires self-effort, are shaky. However, living under the new covenant of grace, which focuses on Jesus’ finished works, gives us success.
Under the law, no one but Jesus could keep all Ten Commandments, plus more than six hundred additional mandates. It was just too much for the people to do. Under grace, our chances of pleasing God increase dramatically when we get born again and begin living by the Word of grace. “…But thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
The law constantly reminded people of their sin. It created a guilty conscience and reinforced the fear of God’s punishment for breaking any part of it. It didn’t get the job done because it tied God’s ability to bless the people to their good behavior, so He replaced it with grace (Hebrews 8:6-13).
The end of the law means radical changes in our own lives. Instead of having to rely on ourselves to do everything right, we can rely on the Holy Spirit. He convinces us of God’s love for us and helps us apply the finished works of Jesus to our lives. All we need to do to receive God’s favor is to believe in His Son. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4).
This isn’t to say that Mosaic Law itself is sinful. It contains God’s moral law and is actually good and perfect—too perfect for imperfect man to keep. The law was given to make man aware of the need for a Savior, and it points us to Jesus. “But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not!… So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me… For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:17, 20, 21, NLT).
God doesn’t want us to try to do good through religious works; this is impossible. He wants us to succeed by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, given to us as a gift. Religion tells us about all the rules we must follow, but the end result is that we get trapped in sin and fail miserably. “But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead” (Romans 7:8, NIV). Living under grace frees us from bondage to useless works and enables us to do what we can’t do by ourselves.
What Jesus did on the cross is permanent and solid. We no longer have to strive for perfection, but simply let Him perfect us. We can rest in the knowledge that His grace is all we need.
For more on how God’s grace empowers us, click on the link below for the three-CD series, Tune in to God’s Favor.