Day 8

Faith Upholds the Law

from the Romans reading plan


Romans 3:21-31, Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 1:13-14

What is it that makes a Christian right with God, innocent in His eyes? Can we gain it by being good enough and keeping God’s law? Most of us would pretty quickly answer no, we can’t. We must live by grace. We might even add that living by the law is legalism—trying to make ourselves right through actions and self-will. And we would be right to say this. Mostly.

What sets the Christian faith apart from every other religion in the world is that we are not justified by works—that is: we are not made right and upstanding in the eyes of God because of what we do. We recognize that our works can’t accomplish this. We are justified by faith in Jesus’ perfect life, innocent death, and death-conquering resurrection. He is our atoning sacrifice—the sacrifice that takes on the punishment for another.

But so often we love to oversimplify and create “either / or” propositions out of rich and complex aspects of faith. We say we are saved by grace, not law, and while it is true that Christ’s sacrifice is the most profound act of grace in history, it happened because of the law.

We needed an atoning sacrifice to fulfill God’s law. The two are inextricably connected—God’s Law and Christ’s sacrifice. Sin could not go unpunished, and innocence cannot be handed out like candy at Halloween. God’s perfect justice led to God’s perfect mercy. So yes, we live by faith in the work of Jesus, and in so doing we are evidence that the law’s requirement was met in Christ.

And our faith shows something more: we are now citizens of a new kingdom. We’ve been rescued from darkness and transferred to a “kingdom of light.” And what does it mean to be part of a kingdom but to be under the law of the land? We are under the new law that was ushered in through Christ’s perfect atonement—a law of grace.

We are governed by grace, shaped by grace, driven by grace. We obey God’s commands by grace and remember Christ’s work by grace. We cling to grace by faith, and so it is that we are saved by grace through faith, and that faith upholds God’s law. This is what makes us innocent in the eyes of God.

Written by Barnabas Piper

Post Comments (7)

7 thoughts on "Faith Upholds the Law"

  1. Ken Fuller says:

    “We are governed by grace, shaped by grace, driven by grace. We obey God’s commands by grace and remember Christ’s work by grace. We cling to grace by faith, and so it is that we are saved by grace through faith, and that faith upholds God’s law.” Those are such profound words. God’s law must be obeyed. But we cannot do it without fully grabbing hold of His grace and forgiveness for we will stumble. Thank you, Lord, for making a way that we can be saved.

  2. Chris Greenwood says:

    13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    – Col. 1:13-14

    We needed an atoning sacrifice to fulfill God’s law. The two are inextricably connected—God’s Law and Christ’s sacrifice. Sin could not go unpunished, and innocence cannot be handed out like candy at Halloween. God’s perfect justice led to God’s perfect mercy. So yes, we live by faith in the work of Jesus, and in so doing we are evidence that the law’s requirement was met in Christ. – Barnabas Piper on Romans 3:21-31

    Today, I am thankful for the “transfer” that occurred some 23 years ago. I am humbled by grace but also motivated by that grace. I didn’t earn the transfer but it is my joy to live out my citizenship in the new kingdom I’ve found myself transferred into. May my life be a life of thankfulness.

  3. Adam says:

    “What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.” Quit trying to run to do everything right and trying to run to show God how good I’m doing, but let God lead and show me his way and I respond to it.

    “Sin could not go unpunished, and innocence cannot be handed out like candy at Halloween. God’s perfect justice led to God’s perfect mercy.” The Old Law and New Law are not opposites. You can’t have one without the other. We still can’t live up to the old law, but through Christ’s sacrifice, we don’t have to.

  4. DES says:

    Because of God’s great love for us he came to rescue us. He couldn’t bear to be separated from us. God loves us so much he decided that even though we had driven this wedge between us and him, even though we chose rebellion, even though we chose lies, even though we chose death and destruction, yet he will redeem us. God’s great love and gift of grace is not just a sacrifice but an invitation to live in Him. To Abide. An opportunity to flee the mess we’ve made for ourselves and find our very being in Him. Praise be to God.

  5. Andrew Flack says:

    This whole devotion has been seriously calling my name. I have sinned constantly over and over and the guilt gets worse over and over but yet He always is there for me with open arms. He is always waiting for me to surrender to Him. And every single time that I buckle down and give the Lord time every day is when I get better with my life and sin less and have a positive mindset that helps me get through my day and life. And the one time when I decide to slack a little is whenever I fall into the same pattern of sin and evil. If I continue to stay on the right path with God then the evils of the world will leave me and I will be cleansed. God I can’t thank You enough for this. You are incredible

  6. Del’Shawn says:

    This was a difficult reading to understand at first but I’m thankful for God’s revealing Holy Spirit. The only way in which we can enter into heaven is through Christ Jesus and our obedience to the laws of the land. We need to acknowledge Christ’s death and examine the life he led. This reading has encouraged me to go back and read Christ’s time on earth. We must walk hand in hand with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we do this we will not only keep God’s perfect law and walk in grace but we will develop something more important; a relationship with God.

  7. Don Johnson says:

    Maker of all reality, thank you for this scripture you have given us. I am but dust and ashes, Father, but I want you. Please give me the strength to uphold your law, strengthen my faith that my heart yearns deeper for you. Take my heart. It is desperate to desire You and Your things.

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