1. Law & Grace
We do not keep the Ten Commandments (old covenant) for the same purpose that Israel was commanded to keep them. They kept it as a demonstration of faith in the promise of a Savior who would institute a new covenant. Once the old covenant was fulfilled there is no reason to still keep it. Now, instead we keep the new covenant of grace.
The new covenant of grace is not absent of elements of the Old Covenant. Like a caterpillar that is transformed into a butterfly, the Old Covenant was transformed into a new and more beautiful covenant. The caterpillar was not destroyed – it was transformed into a new shape. The old covenant (caterpillar) was transformed by Jesus Christ into a new covenant (butterfly) and looks different to those on the grace side of the cross than to Israel on the law side of the cross. We are not subject to the old covenant – it was transformed. We are now subject to the new covenant.
Jesus did not destroy the Ten Commandments, He molded them into a new covenant (new commandments) having the same moral values as the old, but now personalized, expanded and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Do we keep the Ten Commandments the same way as Israel? No. The Bible explains clearly that it is not enough. We now keep the commandments the way Jesus explained as transformed in the new covenant.
Law and grace work together as a team in bringing salvation in Jesus Christ. Law brings conviction of sin and shows our need for a Savior Grace is the lifeline extended to us from Jesus Christ through whom we receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Once a person is under grace, the old law changes form. It no longer functions as our master.
At one time Israel was under the law (old covenant), but with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection we are now under grace (new covenant). Even in the old covenant it was not keeping of the law that saved Israel – it was grace through faith in God's promise. Nevertheless, in keeping covenant with God, Israel demonstrated faith by living “under” the law. The law was external and written on two stone tablets (Ten Commandments). And thus, Israel's devotion to God was seen in external works of the law.
The law was in the drivers seat. It was in control for the purpose of leading Israel and all mankind to Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ came the law changed position, and grace took over the wheel. The law was exchanged with grace.
Law did not have the power of grace. The law was defeated by sin, while grace defeated sin. Those who lived under the law were in bondage to the power/control of sin. Jesus defeated sin and offered us grace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit all who partake of His grace have a new power that defeats sin.
We are under grace, but not at liberty to live in sin. Grace gives us the freedom and power to obey Jesus Christ. We are not under law. If keeping the law was enough to make us acceptable to God, there would have been no need for Jesus to come. The law proved our need for Jesus Christ.
In fact, it is possible to be an obedient follower of Jesus Christ without knowing the literal words of the Ten Commandments from the old covenant law. I say this only to emphasize that with grace in control it is the Holy Spirit that empowers the believer to “walk in the Spirit” so as not to fulfill the “lust of the flesh”. Should a believer in Jesus Christ should know the Ten Commandments? Absolutely! But when grace came, where did the Ten Commandments go? What happened to the law? There is great value and purpose in the Ten Commandments as you will see in the purpose section and by reading on.
The issues of law and grace and how they operate today is most clearly seen in an understanding of the old and new covenant. What was stated in the above introduction to law and grace is clarified in detail in the following:
2. Old Covenant
3. New Covenant
4. Old & New Laws Compared