What is the result of trying to live by law?
Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them
Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Gal 5:4 (RcV) You have been brought to nought, separated from Christ, you who are being justified by l law; you have fallen from grace.
Continuing a line of questions about the law from a Bible study I did recently. Yes, there is an end in sight!
Objectively speaking, to put ourselves under the law is to put ourselves under its curse, because no one keeps the law in its entirety. James says that if we are guilty in just one point we are guilty of all of it, and Paul says that we are cursed if we do not continue in all of the things which are written in the book of the law.
This is why circumcision was so serious in Galatians. You might say “jeez it’s just one thing” but by trying to keep that one thing, they were obligating themselves to everything.
However we know that Jesus Christ became a curse for us, and that we are blessed with Abraham the believer. We have received the Spirit. Yet still we might be tempted to put ourselves under law. This does not mean that God will curse us, but he will surely teach us!
Romans 4:15 says “the law works wrath” – the more we are under it, the more we feel condemned inwardly, because the law magnifies and condemns our sins. It accuses us. It is against us!
We feel this very much when we strive under the law (unless we’ve deceived ourselves into thinking we keep it!) The voice at Sinai and the blast of the trumpet became louder and louder as God spoke the ten commandments. It was horrifying to the people of Israel and they could not bear it.
This is what happens in the mind of a believer who puts himself under the law. He hears everything through a “spirit of bondage unto fear.” Yet this is not God’s tone to his children.
He has not given us a spirit of bondage bringing us back into fear, but a spirit of sonship, crying “abba father”, and the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. This is a comforting voice that causes us to draw near.
But the voice at Sinai was a terrifying voice, and no one could draw near. That voice repels us from the presence of God and fills us with the sense of fear of His wrath. I believe from my experience that this is what it feels like for the law to “work wrath”.
Practically speaking, our conscience condemns us when we are trying to live according to law. We know we do not keep it. We know that we fail. and the law tells us that this failure separates us from God’s blessing and brings upon us His wrath. As New Testament believers, this is not where we should be living.
Galatians 5:4 says “You have been brought to naught, separated from Christ, you who are being justified by l law; you have fallen from grace. ” This simply means that trying to be justified by law keeping nullifies our relationship with Christ, insulating us from Him.
As believers, Christ dwells within our spirit, but when we turn to the law, we effectively turn away from Him. It amazes me when I hear teachers say that now that we’re joined to Christ, He wants to turn our heart to love and treasure the law. My reaction is that we are joined to Christ in a love betrothal – He is our bridgeroom. Shouldn’t we treasure Him and Him alone? When we turn away from Christ and onto something else for our spiritual living, surely we give Him no room to live in us and make His home in our heart!
This also means we fall from grace. This does not mean to eternally perish, but to lack the experience of grace. Grace is just God with us. John 1 says “of His fullness we have received, grace upon grace.” In many places in the NT Paul says things like “the grace of the lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit”, and “I labored, yet not I but the grace of God within me.”
Grace is not just God smiling from heaven at us, it is God with us in the person of Jesus Christ, living His life out among us and refreshing us with Himself, and directing our hearts into His love. By putting ourselves under law, we frustrate this experience.
There is much loss that comes from putting oneself under law. Christ “disappears” and is not the treasure of our heart, and without Him, there is no possibility of bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
Furthermore as Paul describes in Romans 7, the law of sin in our members takes advantage of the commandment to slay and kill us by working all kinds of sin in us. When the “law came, sin revived and I died”. That is mysterious, but it’s true. Surely by cutting ourselves off from the grace of Christ we will not see anything but darkness and sin!