Finding Grace to Obey
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Matthew 5:17
suggested further reading: Galatians 3:19–29
God promised a new covenant when Christ came to earth. At the same time, he said the new covenant would not be different from the old. Rather, its purpose would be to give perpetual sanction to the covenant that he had made with his own people from the beginning. God says, “I will write my law … in their hearts, and I will remember their iniquities no more” (Jer. 31:33–34). By these words, the Lord is far from departing from the former covenant. On the contrary, he declares that the old covenant will be confirmed and ratified when it is succeeded by the new.
With respect to this teaching, we must not imagine that the coming of Christ frees us from the authority of the law, for the law is the eternal rule of a devout and holy life. It must, therefore, be as unchangeable as the justice of God, which it embraces as constant and uniform. There is some appearance of change in some ceremonies related to the law. But it is only the use of these rituals that is abolished, not their meaning, for that meaning is more fully confirmed in the new covenant. The coming of Christ takes nothing away even from ceremonies; rather, it confirms them as shadows of the truth. When we see their full effect, we acknowledge that they are not vain or useless.
Let us therefore learn to maintain as unbreakable the sacred tie between the law and gospel, which many improperly attempt to break. It is easier to confirm the authority of the gospel when we learn that it is nothing less than a fulfillment of the law. Both unite in declaring God as their author.
for meditation: There is no disharmony between the law and the gospel: both aim for the glory of God in saving sinners. This implies many things about how we understand the Christian life. For example, how does grace free us to obey God and walk more willingly in his ways? Do you regard obedience to God’s law as a tedious trial?