Perhaps one of the most subtle of things is the whole issue of law vs grace. The first thing to notice is how versus does not really belong there! But there’s a secret! Or so it seems.
The secret, or key, is one of “direction”. When it comes to law and grace, the formula is grace first. The law coming first, the imposing from the outside, is failure. For it demands compliance in one’s imperfect and flawed state. And denies the reality of the flawed state. And if sincere, it is frustration.
I have to think this is one of the top, all important things God is teaching us.
So what is the successful formula?
In answer to “Lord teach us to pray”, one of the things Jesus said was “if your child asks for a fish would you give him a serpent? How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them who ask Him?”
This suggests to me that the answer to all things is more of the Spirit of God. Grace. So the law in us is not an imposing from without, but a radiating from within. From a changed, born again heart.
The confusion is thinking when one says we are “saved by grace apart from the law” it’s assumed the thinking is anything goes, there are no standards to uphold. This is a wrong perception. Can we trust Grace? The working of God’s Spirit? His Spirit within results in change of character. For “God is love” and “love works no ill”.
”Love is the fulfilling of the law.” And paradoxically the law, imposed from without, does not produce love, nor any of the “fruits of the Spirit”. If we will remember, it was keepers of the law who plotted and finally carried out the crucifixion of Jesus.
The apostle John said – by this we will know if we know him, if we follow his commandments. (And if we love one another. And I believe, if we have true affection for our fellow person.)
Acts 15, when the apostles held a council (got together to decide) they said it seemed good to them and the Holy Spirit, that gentile (non-Israel) believers did not have to observe the covenant God had with Israel – as an observance. To abstain from sin of course. But they did not have to be circumcised, etc. And elsewhere about Sabbaths, Paul wrote to “let” each one be fully persuaded about it, in their own mind. Let each one make up their own mind – some observe one day above others (Sabbath) and one views all day’s alike (Sabbath times every day), let each be..
If God Most High and all powerful wants us all to observe a Saturday Sabbath, we will, but it will come from within.
This is a subtle twisting of truth. Any twisting of the truth robs the gospel of its POWER. “If we mix Law with grace we are fallen from grace.” If we remember right/know our New Testament history (Acts and the Epistles/letters) we know this was the first subtle assault upon the gospel.