At first glance, it’s easy to think there would be tension between grace and the law. Most of the world’s religions ascribe to some form of earn your way theology. Do the right thing, follow the rules and you’ll be right with God. Christianity presents salvation by grace. It’s not about what we do or don’t do; it’s about what Jesus has already done.
But, let’s admit it, the Bible has its share of rules. What do we do with all the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”? What is the role of the law?
The law is not the standard by which God chooses to show his love. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s law is only a subtext in the bigger story of God’s grace.
When we look at the most well known laws in the Bible, the Ten Commandments, we see that God is good. He is just. And he values relationship.
The first four commandments address our relationship with God. Exodus 20:1-11
1. You shall have no other gods before me – God places a trusting relationship as top priority.
2. You shall not make an idol – This law keeps us from reducing God to some cheap, fickle imitation.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain – God doesn’t want us to abuse his name or manipulate others in his namesake.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy – God values a rest, recreation and spiritual rejuvenation.
The next six commandments address our relationships with others Exodus 20:12-17
5. Honor your father and your mother – This is where we learn the importance of honor.
6. You shall not murder – Respect life.
7. You shall not commit adultery – Live faithfully.
8. You shall not steal – Work industriously and don’t take what belongs to another.
9. You shall not lie – Be truthful.
10. You shall not covet – Life generously.
Jesus said you could sum up the whole law with just two thoughts – love God and love each other. Matthew 22:36-40
Through the law we see God’s grace revealed. We see his passion for us to receive his love and trust him with our lives. We see the heart he has for us to live in love-based relationships with each other.