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New Wine for the End Times
Law vs. Grace in the
What does it mean to be under the law, or under grace? Does being under grace mean sins are more forgivable than under law? If being under grace still means that we must overcome sin, then why is it easier than being under the law?
We do the good deeds of God’s law because we love the Father and our neighbors. But those deeds do not save us. We are saved by faith. However, faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26).
Hebrews 10:1-4 For the law, having a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. (2) Or else wouldn't they have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins? (3) But in those sacrifices there is yearly reminder of sins. (4) For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.
As the writer of Hebrews says, under the law, people kept sinning and would have to sacrifice more animals every year. Does that mean that we don’t keep sinning under grace? If we keep sinning under grace, then how is grace better than the law?
Does grace somehow make continual sins be covered, and forgiven, whereas they were forgiven under the law only by animal sacrifice? No, because Hebrews 10:4 says that it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, it has always been the blood of Christ by which sins have been forgiven. Animal sacrifice was simply a shadow and teacher of that which was to come.
Romans 6:14-18 For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace. (15) What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be! (16) Don't you know that to whom you present yourselves as servants to obedience, his servants you are whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? (17) But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were bondservants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto you were delivered. (18) Being made free from sin, you became bondservants of righteousness.
It’s not just a covering by the blood of Christ. We are actually free from the slavery of sin. So why do we keep sinning? If we have been set free from sin, why do Reformed preachers say that we cannot completely stop sinning?
In Romans 6-8, Paul is discussing the difference between being under the law, and being under grace. Is Paul simply talking about a theological difference, with all Christians under grace and Old Testament believers under the law? Or is Paul teaching that each of us today can still be either under the law or under grace? If we have been set free from sin, as Paul seems to be saying, then what do we have that allows us to be free from sin, which Jews under the law did not have?
The major practical (not just theological) difference between Jews under the law, and Christians under grace, is Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. During Old Testament times, some people were filled with the Holy Spirit at times. After Pentecost, every believer can now be filled with the Holy Spirit at any time. To better understand the significance of being filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to look at passages in the Old Testament where people were filled with the Spirit.
Genesis 41:36-39 The food will be for a store to the land against the seven years of famine, which will be in the land of Egypt; that the land not perish through the famine." (37) The thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. (38) Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?" (39) Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Because God has shown you all of this, there is none so discreet and wise as you.
Joseph was able to prophecy only because he had been filled with God’s Spirit.
Exodus 31:1-5 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, (2) "Behold, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: (3) and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, (4) to devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, (5) and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of workmanship.
This was for the making of the Tent of Meeting, a precursor to the Tabernacle. God wanted to make sure the Tent of Meeting was made exactly right. So God filled the worker with his Spirit, and the worker did God’s work directly under the will of God’s Spirit.
Numbers 11:17 I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit which is on you, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you not bear it yourself alone.
Here, the Spirit of God was only in Moses. But Moses needed help. So God tells Moses that he will put his Spirit on seventy elders in order to help Moses govern the people.
Numbers 11:25-30 Yahweh came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was on him, and put it on the seventy elders: and it happened that when the Spirit rested on them , they prophesied, but they did so no more. (26) But two men remained in the camp. The name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the Spirit rested on them; and they were of those who were written, but had not gone out to the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. (27) A young man ran, and told Moses, and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!" (28) Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his chosen men, answered, "My lord Moses, forbid them!" (29) Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all Yahweh's people were prophets, that Yahweh would put his Spirit on them!" (30) Moses went into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.
Only the few, such as these 70 elders are given the Holy Spirit. Notice that the people knew a person had been filled with the Holy Spirit because of the gift of prophecy. (This was not an unknown tongue.) They were shocked to see the prophecy happening outside the Tabernacle. Moses however, desired that all of the people could have this gift. This desire of Moses would seem to be prophetic of Pentecost.
Judges 14:6 The Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on him, and he tore him as he would have torn a kid; and he had nothing in his hand: but he didn't tell his father or his mother what he had done.
Most of the time, the gift of prophecy is related to being filled with the Spirit, in the Old Testament. But in Samson’s case, it was physical strength. (And this gift wasn’t even on Paul’s list of gifts.) Later, Samson had problems with sin, and the Spirit left him.
1 Samuel 10:6-9 and the Spirit of Yahweh will come mightily on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man. (7) Let it be, when these signs have come to you, that you do as occasion shall serve you; for God is with you. (8) You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: you shall wait seven days, until I come to you, and show you what you shall do. (9) It was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs happened that day.
This is talking about Saul. Saul was given another heart. He was changed. “He turned into another man.” But it didn’t last. The Spirit would come and go.
1 Samuel 13:13-14 Samuel said to Saul, You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of Yahweh your God, which he commanded you: for now would Yahweh have established your kingdom on Israel forever. (14) But now your kingdom shall not continue: Yahweh has sought him a man after his own heart, and Yahweh has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept that which Yahweh commanded you.
1 Samuel 16:13-15 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers: and the Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. (14) Now the Spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Yahweh troubled him. (15) Saul's servants said to him, See now, an evil spirit from God troubles you.
The following story shows how Saul and his men could not sin when they were filled with the Spirit. Normally, the Spirit does not fill people to prevent them from sinning. We all have the free will to sin. If we decide to sin, the Holy Spirit will back off and allow us to sin. Sin and the Holy Spirit do not co-exist. Here we see that it’s impossible to sin while the Spirit has filled someone.
1 Samuel 19:1,4-6,9-15,19-24 NIV
(1) Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David.
(4) Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, "Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. (5) He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The LORD won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?" (6) Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: "As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death."
(9) But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, (10) Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape. (11) Saul sent men to David's house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, warned him, "If you don't run for your life tonight, tomorrow you'll be killed." (12) So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. (13) Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats' hair at the head. (14) When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, "He is ill." (15) Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, "Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him."
(19) Word came to Saul: "David is in Naioth at Ramah"; (20) so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also prophesied . (21) Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. (22) Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, "Where are Samuel and David?" "Over in Naioth at Ramah," they said. (23) So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth . (24) He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
No doubt God could have sent angels to protect David and could have accomplished the same thing. Neither Saul’s servants, nor Saul, wanted to be filled with the Spirit. Saul wanted to kill David, and continued with his schemes to kill David after the Spirit left him. There was no repentance before or after being filled with the Spirit. This passage only goes to show us that you can’t sin while you are filled with the Spirit.
1 Samuel 16:13-15, quoted above, says that the Spirit filled David from that day forward. While being filled with the Spirit, David would not have sinned. But later, David did sin. No doubt the Spirit left him as he yielded to the temptation of seeing Bathsheba bathing. But David was restored. This Psalm is about restoration after sinning.
Psalms 51:1-19 Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. (2) Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I know my transgressions. My sin is constantly before me. (4) Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight; that you may be proved right when you speak, and justified when you judge. (5) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity. In sin my mother conceived me. (6) Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts. You teach me wisdom in the inmost place. (7) Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (8) Let me hear joy and gladness, That the bones which you have broken may rejoice. (9) Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all of my iniquities. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. (11) Don't throw me from your presence, and don't take your holy Spirit from me. (12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. (13) Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners shall be converted to you. (14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation. My tongue shall sing aloud of your righteousness. (15) Lord, open my lips. My mouth shall declare your praise. (16) For you don't delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You have no pleasure in burnt offering. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (18) Do well in your good pleasure to Zion. Build the walls of Jerusalem. (19) Then you will delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, in burnt offerings and in whole burnt offerings. Then they will offer bulls on your altar.
Notice the relationship between "Don't throw me from your presence," and, "Don't take your holy Spirit from me" (verse 11). The Holy Spirit will not stay when there is sin. But repentance brings the Holy Spirit back.
1 Chronicles 12:18 ESV Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said, "We are yours, O David, and with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers! For your God helps you." Then David received them and made them officers of his troops.
This idea of the Spirit clothing a person can also be found in Judges 6:34 and 2 Chronicles 24:20. Not all translations are this literal. Others simply say the Spirit came upon the person and leave out “clothed.” It’s likely that Paul understood about this idea of the Spirit clothing us in the following verses:
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NIV Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2) Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, (3) because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (4) For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (5) Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
1 Corinthians 15:51-56 NIV Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— (52) in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (53) For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (54) When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (55) "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (56) The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
Paul states that the power of sin is the law. When we are filled with the Spirit, we don’t sin. But when we in our own efforts try to stop sinning simply by doing the commandments, we will fail. We are operating under the law when we attempt to obey the commandments with our own efforts. Such self-efforts have always failed, both in Old Testament times and in New Testament times. This self-effort, according to Paul, is the power of sin.
Isaiah 44:1-4 NKJV "Yet hear me now, O Jacob My servant, And Israel whom I have chosen. (2) Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you: 'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. (3) For I will pour water on him who is thirsty , And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants , And My blessing on your offspring; (4) They will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.'
Isaiah is a book of poetry. Many translations put in an implied “land”, making it be translated as pouring water on thirsty land. But I believe the “floods on the dry ground” is simply a poetic metaphor of the Holy Spirit that was later poured out at Pentecost. Jesus uses this same metaphor with the woman at the well (John 4). (See also, John 7:37-39, springs of living water.)
Joel 2:27-32 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else; and my people will never again be disappointed. (28) "It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. (29) And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days, I will pour out my Spirit. (30) I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. (31) The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. (32) It will happen that whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.
Peter quoted this prophecy of Joel at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21). It’s clearly a prophecy of Pentecost. It’s thus a prophecy about the new covenant and the present age. The covenants are progressive in nature (see chapter 9 of this book.) In other words, this prophecy began to be fulfilled at Pentecost. But its fulfillment is not yet complete. The Holy Spirit is still being poured out on God’s people.
The prophecy, and Peter’s quote of the prophecy, says that the Holy Spirit was to be poured out on “all flesh.” Reformed commentators will say that “all flesh” means Jews and Gentiles, but not all people. However, the final fulfillment of this prophecy is when Christ returns.
Notice the part about the sun turning to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is the millennial reign of Christ, beginning when Christ returns. (See section 17.9.) At that time, everyone who has not hardened their heart to the point of no longer being able to hear Christ’s voice will be resurrected. And God will pour out the Holy Spirit on “all flesh.” The fact that the Spirit is poured out on “all flesh” makes this verse be another strong verse in support of the New Wine System.
In the Old Testament times, only those who had special favor with God would be filled with the Spirit. In both the Greek and the Hebrew, the word for “grace” is the same as the word for “favor.” After Pentecost, all those who accept Christ as their personal Savior receive God’s grace, which is God’s favor. The grace of God is receiving the Holy Spirit.
Grace is doing God’s will because God is in us. Our will is God’s will, because the Holy Spirit is in us. Being under the law is trying to do God’s will by obeying commandments. God is within us when the Holy Spirit is within us. Our will becomes God’s will. There can be no sin when the Holy Spirit is within us.
When we do sin, the Holy Spirit leaves. However, we can be restored by repentance. The Holy Spirit fills us again, especially when we ask. In Old Testament times, few had God’s grace (favor) to receive the Spirit. Sin would cause the Holy Spirit to leave, and perhaps never return. Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit is poured out on all who believe. The Holy Spirit leaves when we sin. But he comes back and fills us again when we repent and ask to be filled.
It’s the same as being under the light, or being in darkness. We go back and forth between light and darkness. We go back and forth between flesh and Spirit. We go back and forth between being under the law and being under grace.
The process of sanctification is getting to the point where we spend all our time in the light, with the Holy Spirit in us, and no time in darkness. Baptism of the Spirit is the first filling and occurs when we accept Christ as Savior. On the other hand, becoming a believer might actually be a slow process. But at some point in that process the Spirit fills us for the first time and we become very much aware of God in us. We do not sin while we are filled with the Spirit. Then, we are filled with the Spirit time and time again as the Spirit changes us to overcome our addictive habits of sin. Eventually we can reach the point where we are filled with the Holy Spirit all the time. At that point, we are completely sanctified.
However, it’s not for us to say that we are completely sanctified. Perhaps we may sense it, and believe it. But it’s not something to be declaring. For some, sanctification may take a relatively short period of time. For others, it takes a lifetime. For each of us, there still may be some sanctification that the Holy Spirit needs to accomplish that we do not yet understand. So we must stay humble and continue seeking to overcome sin.
The important thing to know is that we can reach the point in which we are filled with the Holy Spirit all the time, to the point of complete sanctification. We need to believe that entire sanctification is possible, is God’s plan for the elect, and does not have to take a lifetime. Without this belief, it’s very easy to believe that sin cannot be completely overcome, and thus one would tend to remain addicted to sinful habits. The alcoholic must believe that he can stop drinking, with God's help, before he can overcome that habit. Likewise, any sinful habit can only be overcome if you believe you can overcome it with God's help. All sin is like that. All sin can be overcome through God's help.
We are saved by faith and through grace, which means favor. Being saved through grace means we are being changed by the Holy Spirit. Being saved by faith means we are trusting God, through the Holy Spirit, to make these changes in us. We become new creatures in our journey of salvation. Eventually, if we complete our journey in this age, we will be “born again” into new bodies that have eternal life. This is salvation by faith and through grace.