Those who live completely by grace through faith in Jesus alone and not by the law (Ten Commandments, rules, rituals, requirements, spiritual disciplines) and those who teach we live by grace through faith in Jesus and not by the law are many times accused by church leaders of not caring about or upholding the law.
Many of these church leaders believe we are saved by grace through faith, but also believe we live by the law (Ten Commandments) as a guide for moral living.
Many Pastors do a series on the Ten Commandments to teach people to live moral lives.
I’ve seen sermon series titles on the Ten Commandments called First and Ten and God’s Top Ten.
Rather than these series being designed to convince people they are sinners, convict people of sin, and condemn them to death, which is what we find in Romans is the purpose of the law, they teach the commandments as a rule of life...a moral guide for living.
They accuse us (those who live by grace and not law) of being light on sin and giving people a license to sin because we do not teach people to live according to the Ten Commandments.
Are they correct?
Let’s see what the Bible says.
After teaching in Romans 1:18-3:20 that the law reveals we are sinners, guilty, unrighteous, and ungodly and in need of grace from God, which he freely, fully and forever provided for us in Jesus, and that the law condemns us to death, Paul then teaches in Romans 3:21-30 that we are justified (declared by God to be righteous, innocent of breaking the law) by grace through faith in Jesus, apart from the works of the law.
This teaching led to Paul being accused of not upholding the law. Paul responded to this criticism by saying it is those who live by faith who uphold the law rather than those who live by the law (Romans 3:31) and that those who live by the law don’t uphold the law.
What does Paul mean that faith upholds the law? Why can’t a person trying to uphold the law not uphold the law?
The law (the Ten Commandments in Romans) shows all people their sin.
The law is an x-ray machine that exposes the sick, sinful condition of the heart but has no cure for the sickness.
The law requires internal and external obedience...the law must be upheld in our thoughts (mind), in our desires (heart), and with our deeds (hands).
The law requires we love God will ALL our heart, soul, mind, and stregnth, and that we love others as we love ourselves.
To break one part of the law is to break them all.
Paul teaches about a man in Romans 7:7-25 who tried his best, gave a sincere effort to live by the law...yet the more he tried to obey the law, the more he sinned.
No matter how sincere and how hard a person tries to obey the Ten Commandments, it can’t be done.
Jesus said if we have anger in our hearts, we are guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-22).
Jesus said if we lust, we are guilty of adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).
The 10th commandment says “Do Not Covet”.
All of us have coveted...that is breaking commandments 1-9 in our hearts.
Therefore, we can't uphold the law through obedience to the law.
So the law convinces us we are sinners then condemns us to death.
Therefore, the law can’t make us godly, righteous, or innocent...no, it shows us our ungodliness, unrighteousness, and guilt...ultimately showing us our need for grace, our need for Jesus (Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 3:16).
The law then becomes our tutor by educating us about our sin for the purpose of leading us to Jesus (Galatian 3:24).
We then place our faith in Jesus to be justified - meaning we are declared by God himself to be righteous (innocent of sin, not guilty, clean, right with God - just as if we had never broken the law).
This righteousness comes freely by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus (Romans 3:21-24; Galatians 2:16).
So, by allowing the law to do what it was designed to do...convince us of our sin and condemn us to death for the purpose of leading us to faith in Jesus for righteousness, we uphold the law.
The purpose of the law is to lead us to faith in Jesus for righteousness.
When we allow the law to lead us to Jesus, we uphold the law. Jesus then becomes the end of the law for righteousness for those who believe (Romans 10:4).
Additionally, we uphold the law because the Spirit of Jesus lives in us and produces love within us (Romans 5:5).
Galatians 4:6 says God redeemed us from the law and sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, enabling us to call God “Abba (Daddy, Papa) Father.”Paul says in Romans 13:8-10 that love is the fulfillment of the law.
As we walk in a love relationship with God as Father and not by the law where God is judge, the Spirit will produce the love of the Father within us (Galatians 5:18).
This is called the fruit of the Spirit where no law is needed (Galatians 5:22-23) because love does not need a law.
The fruit of the Spirit is love...the rest of the fruit are just manifestations of love (joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control).
So, by not trying to fulfill the law, but by simply walking in the Spirit, free from the law, where we call God Abba, Daddy, Pappa, we fulfill the law through love, yet at the same time, love doesn’t even need a law!
Therefore, we uphold the law through love, even though we are not under law (Galatians 5:13).
As Paul says in Galatians 5:6, all that matters is faith expressing itself through love.
Those who live under the law by trying to obey the Ten Commandments and using it as a moral guide will sin more because the law increases not decreases sin (Romans 5:20; 7:14-25)...therefore they do not uphold the law.
By seeking to be righteous by the law or by any religious, ministry, or church system, people deny just how sinful they are and believe in their hearts their works somehow mixed with faith justify them...make them righteous...therefore they do not uphold the law.
It is only those who live by faith who uphold the law.
Paul said in Romans 3:31, “Do we [those who live by grace through faith in Jesus and not by the law], then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
Those who live by grace through faith in Jesus uphold the law by allowing the law to lead them to Jesus and then the Spirit of Jesus produces the love of the Father in and through them which fulfills the law because love is the fulfillment of the law.
So, who upholds the law...those who live by the law or those who live by grace through faith in Jesus?
According the Bible, it is those who live by faith.