Robert Jeffress - Laying Down The Law Without Giving Up Grace
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again, to Pathway to Victory. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "That when we trust in Christ as our Savior, we become a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come". But tragically, many Christians are still clinging to their old way of living. Well, today, we're going to look at seven radical changes that should occur in the heart of anyone who receives God's grace. My message is titled, "Laying Down The Law Without Giving Up Grace", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
I probably shouldn't admit this, but I love James Bond movies. I've liked watching them for 50 years, and for those of you who wanna be critical of that, you can blame my mother for it. Literally, she's the reason. When I was about 10 years old, my mom had to go to a teachers conference on a Saturday, an all day teachers' conference over at the TCU in Fort Worth, and she didn't have a babysitter for me, somebody to watch me, and so she took me with her and dropped me off at the movie theater across the street from the TCU campus. She left me there for eight hours. And I watched four complete showings of "Thunderball" with Sean Connery, four of them. I stumbled out of the theater, and for two weeks I would walk around the house saying, "Shaken not stabbed, please". I had no idea what it meant.
Today, even to this day, I can recite long passages from "Thunderball". But if you know anything about James Bond, you know, his designation was OO7. And double O, was a special designation of British spies on her majesty's secret service. The double O, meant that they had the freedom to kill without answering to anybody. The double O designation was a license to kill. You know, there are many Christians today who think, because they're saved, and serve on his majesty's service, that they've been given a special license, a license to sin. In fact, whenever they're met with any kind of standard whatsoever, they pull out that license and show it to people, it's spelled G-R-A-C-E. They think that grace is the freedom do whatever they want to do.
In fact, I read just this week of a Christian leader who had been confronted about his immoral life, and he put out that license and said, quote, "I'm living under grace, not under the law". That is an abuse of God's amazing gift of grace. In fact, in our series, Grace Gone Wild, we've really seen that there are two enemies to the great gift of grace. One, abusive grace is legalism. Legalism is trying to add to God's grace, in order to be saved. No, it is by God's grace we have been saved through faith. One extreme is legalism. The other extreme is libertarianism, that says, grace frees me to do whatever I wanna do. No, grace is not the freedom to do what you want to do, it is the liberty to live as God wants you to live. That's what real grace is. And in this series we're talking about how to use and how to keep them from abusing God's amazing gift of grace.
Have you ever heard anybody ask this question before? Well, wait a minute, if I'm saved and forgiven of all of my sins, and I know I'm going to heaven, regardless of what I do, what keeps me from sinning as much as I want to? Have you ever heard that before? That's an objection to grace. What is to keep me from sinning, if grace has freed me from the consequences of my sin? Well, that kind of question fails to take into account seven radical changes that have occurred in the heart of anybody who has been a recipient of God's grace.
Last time we began looking at the first three of those seven changes that have occurred in your life, if you've truly received the gift of grace. First of all, grace brings into our life a new awareness of sin. Remember, before we're born again, we're spiritually dead. We have no spiritual nerve endings, they're dead, they're dormant, we can't really feel the pain of sin, but grace brings with it an awareness of sin. Grace makes us aware of sin. Secondly, grace brings a new status before God. Our status with God has changed. That's why we don't wanna sin. We've been changed from enemies of God, to friends of God, Romans 5 says. In Galatians 4, Paul says we are no longer slaves, but we are sons of God, changes our perspective.
Thirdly, grace brings with it a new heart. When people say, "Well, what's to keep me from sinning as much as I want to"? Simple answer, my want-tos have changed. And now today we're going to look at four other changes that occur in the life of everyone who receives grace. Grace also brings with it a new master. Now listen to me. This is another misunderstanding about grace. Grace does not free me to serve no master, it frees me to serve a new master. Some people say, well, now that I'm a Christian, I'm so glad not to serve Satan, now I'm free to do whatever I want to, no, you've just changed masters. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters". That's true. But we all serve one master, we serve someone. And that's what Paul was talking about in Romans 6:16.
Look at this, Paul said, "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey. You're a slave either of sin resulting in death, or you're a slave of obedience resulting in righteousness". Paul is in effect saying, I've got some good news and some bad news for you. The bad news first. Everyone of us is a slave of someone. None of us is free. We may think we are, we're not free, we're all slaves of someone. How do you know whose slave you are? By what you're serving. You can be a slave of sin, and therefore, you are a sin of Satan, or you can be a slave to righteousness, and that makes you a slave of God. You know how to tell what you're a slave to? Simple question, what is it you can't say no to? Whatever you can't say no to, identifies what you're a slave of.
In 2 Peter 2:19, Peter said, "For what? By what a man is overcome, this he is enslaved. For by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved". If you can't say no to dessert, guess what? You're a slave for sugar. If you can't say no to television, to spend time with your family, or reading your Bible, you're a slave to the tube. If you can't say no to pornography, you're a slave to immorality. By what a person is enslaved, by what a person is overcome, by this he is enslaved. If you're a slave to sin, you can't say no to sin, that means you are a slave to Satan. That's the bad news, but here's the good news, you get to choose what you're a slave to, and whose slave you are.
That's what it says, in Romans 6:17 and 18. "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were committed. And having been freed from sin, you become slaves of righteousness". In Romans 7:22 and 23 says, "If you're a slave of righteousness, you're enslaved to God". We all pick who our master is going to be. Now, just imagine you're looking for a job, and you've got two possibilities, two offers of a company to hire you. How are you gonna judge which company to go to? Well, you're gonna know which company pays the best. Which offers the most benefits for you and your family. It's the same way when we choose who our master is going to be. Do we want Satan to be our master? Do we want God to be our master? Well, let's see what each one pays us.
In Romans 6:23, that famous verse, "For the wages of sin is death, but the wage, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus". If you have received God's grace in your life, guess what? You have a brand new master, who's much more benevolent than Satan. God offers you everything you've ever dreamed of. That's why you choose, and wanna choose God as your master, not Satan. Then, yeah, occasionally Satan tries to make us think we're under his control. He doesn't want us to know that we're under new management. That's what grace provides, a brand new master. Secondly, grace gives us a new location in which we serve and live, and please God.
Now, let me show you what that new location is. Where our new address is, if you will. It's found in Ephesians 2:4-6, Paul said, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, he has made us alive together in Christ, for by grace you have been saved. And he has raised you up, raise you up in him and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". You know, the best way to illustrate this new location that we live in after we receive grace is to go back to the story of Jesus' greatest miracle. Remember, the raising Lazarus from the dead? It's found in John chapter 11. Jesus received word that his friend Lazarus had died, and he waited until the fourth day, to come and perform his greatest miracle at all. He finally arrived in Bethany, and asked to be taken to the place where Lazarus was buried, the tomb in which he lay. And remember Jesus ordered that the stone of the scepter be moved. In John 11:43, "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth'". And the man who had died came forth. And Jesus, said to them, "Unbind Lazarus, and let him go". And they removed the wrappings and Lazarus was free.
Now, let me ask you a question, do you imagine after that great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, after Jesus and the crowd left, do you imagine when nighttime came, Lazarus, snuck back to that tomb, he wrapped himself in those wrappings, and, oh, I missed these clothes so much. And he crawled into that tomb and placed himself on the marble slab, and went to sleep in that grave, do you think he did that? Of course, not. Grave clothes are for the dead. Cemeteries are for corpses, they're not for people who are alive.
You say, well, what does this have to do with obeying God? Here's the question Paul asked, in Roman 6:2, "How shall we who died to sin still live in it"? If sin is put to death, it has no power on our life, why would we ever choose that? For us to live in sin makes no more sense than our choosing to go out to a resting in cemetery, digging a hole and jumping in it. For us to get wrapped up in our lives and in immorality, and gossip, and lying, and bitterness that makes no more sense than wrapping ourselves in stingy grave clothes that are meant for the dead. That's what he's talking about here. If you are truly saved, why in the world would you wanna go back to that old way of living? God has called us to a new location. There's a sixth radical change that has taken place in the life of every recipient's grace. And that is God has given us a new law. A new law.
You know, what are the characteristics of what I call bad grace, is the belief that grace means I have no standard which I live under, I can do whatever I want to. No, it's not that we're under no law, we're under a new law. In Romans 7:7, "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the law, for I would have not known about coveting, if the law had not said, 'you shall not covet'". Verse 12, "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good". There's nothing evil about the law, apart from the law would never know Christ. No, the law is not evil. But the purveyors of bad grace also say that, well, we're not under any law, because after all, Paul said, over and over again, in Galatians, I'm no longer under the law, I'm no longer under the law. No, we're not under the Old Testament law, we're under a new law, but we're still under a law.
When Paul says, he isn't under the law, and we're not under the law, he's not referring to the moral law, the 10 commandments, he's talking about the ceremonial rituals under the old covenant that had to do with dietary restrictions, and festivals, and sacrifices. Those things we're free from, because they've all been fulfilled in Christ. Paul said that, in Colossians chapter two. Remember, he talked about in verses 16 and 17, "Therefore no one should act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival, or a new moon or a sabbath day, those things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ". Those 600 plus regulations under the Old Testament law, they were shadows. They were foretelling of the coming of Christ, but now that Christ has come, we're no longer under those laws, but we've exchanged those laws for a new law. Not a law to earn our salvation by, but a law by which we please God.
Paul talked about the new law that we're under, in verse two of Galatians six, he said, "Bear one another's burdens, and therefore fulfill the law of Christ". Grace doesn't free us to be under no law, instead, grace gives us a new law. Finally, the radical change that grace brings into the life of every believer, grace brings with it a new incentive for obeying God. A new incentive. No longer do we only obey God out of fear, no longer do we obey him out of duty only, but also there's a desire to please the one who's done so much for us. Now, don't misunderstand what I'm saying, we do have a duty to obey God, that is a legitimate motive for serving God.
Look at Luke 17:7, Jesus said, "Which of you having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to that slave when he is come in from the field, do you say to him, 'come immediately and sit down to eat?' no, instead you say to him, 'prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat, and then afterward you may eat and drink'". The master doesn't thank the slave, because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, you should say, "We are unworthy slaves, we have done only that which we ought to have done". Guess what? You don't get a trophy for just obeying what you're supposed to do. God, doesn't fall down and say, "Oh, thank you so much, for saying no to sin, or for giving a tithe of your income to the Lord's work, or to sharing your faith".
That's what slaves do, they obey the master. But there's an additional incentive we have to obey God, it's not just duty, it's a genuine desire to please the one who's done so much for us. Jesus said it this way, in John 14:15. He said, "If you love me". Not, if you fear me, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments". Our incentive to obey God is both duty and desire. Yes, we do it because we have a duty to do it, but we obey God also because of what he's done for us. As Jesus said, "I no longer call you slaves, I call you friends". Our duty to obey God, our desire to please God, intersect at the cross of Jesus Christ. We are not our own, we've been bought with a price, that's why we obey God as recipients of grace.