Looking through the Lens of Grace (Part 2) NY

by Creflo Dollar | 27 Apr 2019

Summary

We will never have a firm grasp of the gospel of Jesus Christ if we do not recognize the contrast between the old and the new covenants. As Christians, we cannot simply read straight through the Bible and ignore the differences. The Old-Testament Law of Moses was true, in its time. However, when Jesus brought grace, the truth under the law gave way to the truth under grace; failure to realize this makes the Bible seem like it contradicts itself. One of the major differences between the old and the new is that although faith is not needed to live under the law, it is needed to live under grace. Before the cross, perfect performance was required in order to be blessed; after the cross, faith in what Jesus did is now the only requirement to receive blessings. The knowledge that we no longer have to work hard to be blessed, forgiven, and saved frees us from bondage to self-effort.

  1. We cannot live right until we have the right understanding of God’s grace and truth.
    1. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, NKJV).
      1. This refers specifically to Jesus. Grace and truth are not two different entities; grace is the truth.
    2. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
      1. This shows us the need to rightly divide the law that Moses delivered and the grace that Jesus brought.
    3. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
      1. If we are to live by the Word of God, we must learn how to read it and rightly divide it.
  2. Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15, AMPC).
    1. Whether we correctly or incorrectly analyze the Word depends on our understanding of the contrast between, and rightly dividing, the law and grace.
    2. We cannot mix the law with grace; doing so gives us zero results.
    3. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:16, 17).
    4. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15, 16).
    5. Religion teaches the law; it tells us we are sinners saved by grace. Grace tells us that when we have been born again, we are not sinners, but saints.
    6. Before the cross, men had no opportunity to be born again and receive new natures. After the cross, they can be born again.
    7. Under the old covenant, man had to perform to be righteous; under the new covenant, righteousness is a gift.
  1. God deals with man through covenants. We are now living under the covenant of grace.
    1. The covenant of Abraham must not be confused with the covenant of Moses; the Abrahamic covenant existed hundreds of years before Mosaic law.
      1. The Law of Moses was a conditional covenant; it operated under the assumption that man had to do good, first, for God to bless him. By comparison, God blessed Abraham simply because Abraham believed. The blessing did not hinge on Abraham’s behavior.
      2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:2, 3).
      3. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
      4. Grace was working during Abraham’s time. No law existed yet, because this was a covenant of blessing.
    2. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God (Deuteronomy 28:1, 2).
      1. Before the cross, the requirements to be blessed focused on obeying all the commandments.
      2. No one could keep all the law; therefore, the annual blood sacrifice of animals was instituted. It was the only way the people could get forgiveness for their sins.
    3. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
      1. The law operated on the “if-then” principle. It said if the people obeyed all the laws, then they would be blessed. Otherwise, they would be cursed.
  1. What was necessary to do under the Law of Moses is now no longer necessary.
    1. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13, 14).
      1. Jesus paid the ransom to buy us back from living under the law. He paid with His blood to deliver us from performance-based Christianity, and from the consequences of not being able to keep all of the law.
      2. The cross changed the requirements to be blessed from what we do to what we believe. We are not blessed because of our actions, but because we are God’s redeemed.
    2. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25, 26).
      1. Jesus’ ministry was twofold. He was the only one who could keep all the law; He fulfilled it perfectly so that we would not have to.
      2. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17).
      3. The other part of Jesus’ ministry was to lay the foundation for the New-Testament covenant of grace.
      4. We must rightly divide the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The new covenant did not begin until Jesus shed His blood and died. Before that point, He was still operating under the law.
      5. We cannot simply read everything Jesus said and think we can do everything He did.
    3. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14, 15).
      1. What Jesus said was true under the old covenant, but the requirements for forgiveness also changed after the cross.
      2. This statement focused on man forgiving, first, before God forgave man; this is law-based.
    4. Jesus has already forgiven us; our faith in this enables us to forgive others. We cannot forgive through our own willpower or self-effort; we need Him to empower us to do this.
      1. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
      2. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Colossians 3:13).
  1. Under grace, the focus has shifted from works to faith. Not everyone understands this.
    1. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us (Deuteronomy 1:26, 27).
      1. We get the wrong impression of God if we see Him in the context of the old covenant. God does not hate us; He loves us.
      2. We do not need to judge others for their sins, thinking our sins are less offensive than others’ sins. God does not have a rating system for sin; all sin is the same to Him.
    2. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:16, 17).
      1. Everything in the old covenant focuses on doing; performance was everything.
      2. Jesus wanted the young man to believe in Him and see Him as God, but the man refused. Therefore, the answer Jesus gave him was according to Old-Testament law.
    3. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30, 31).
      1. The cross changed the requirements for salvation from doing to believing.
      2. Religion tells us we still have to do something because faith in Jesus is not enough. This is a return to the law; we must not mix faith with works.
      3. The difference between the old and new testaments can be illustrated by Moses striking the rock to bring forth water. God told Moses to speak to the rock, not to hit it (Numbers 20:7-12).
      4. We do not have to try to demonstrate how powerful we are by striking the proverbial rocks in our lives. We can stop beating them and simply believe.
  1. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sin. We are now forgiven, and free from guilt.
    1. Suppose you sin by violating one of the LORD’s commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin (Leviticus 5:17, NLT).
      1. Before the cross, man was held responsible for his sins. The people were at risk of sinning without knowing it, and being punished for their actions.
    2. Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience (Hebrews 9:9).
      1. Constantly living in the fear that we will sin without knowing it creates sin-consciousness in us.
      2. Animal sacrifices under the Old Testament could never get rid of sin-consciousness.
    3. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12).
      1. After the cross, God chose to forget our sins if we believe. The blood of Jesus gives us redemption and forgiveness, thereby freeing us from a guilty conscience.
      2. God forgave us, so we can forgive ourselves. This allows us to be conscious of our righteousness through Christ.