The Function of Grace

Some people may read Romans 6:14 and prematurely conclude that the law and grace are antagonistic. In this passage the apostle says, “For sin shall not have dominion over your: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

To understand fully the meaning of this passage of Scripture, one must be familiar with its context. The early verses of the chapter describe the experience of an individual who has been born again, one whose life is now in harmony with all the commandments. Such a person is not under the curse or penalty of the law, but, as a sinner deserving to die, he has received unmerited favor from Heaven, and is, therefore, ¬†“under grace”. The penalty of the broken law no longer hangs over him.

Dows grace then abolish the law? Paul hastens to assure us that he would not wish to convey such an impression. “What then? shall we sin [transgress the law], because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Verse 15.

Remember that grace is pardon or unmerited favor extended when law has been violated. If there is no law, there will be no violations, and consequently no need for grace. Grace is not something that exists apart from law; but, because a law exists and has been broken, grace is necessary to save the lawbreaker. Paul makes this clear in Romans 4:15: “Where no law is, there is no transgression.”

Is there sin in the world today? All will agree that sin reigns on every hand. Then there must be law, for Paul makes clear that there is no sin if there is no law. No law, no transgression; no transgression, no need of grace.

Suppose you are arrested for writing a letter to your wife and hailed into court on such a charge. What would be you reaction if the judge should say, “Well, there is no law against writing a letter to your wife, so I will pardon you”? Rightfully you would be indiginant. Since no law existed forbidding such correspondence, you would not be guilty of any misdemeanor and would need no pardon or grace. No law, no ¬†transgression. No transgression, no need of greace! When a man strays from “the straight and narrow road” and runs afoul of the law, deserving punishment, only then does he need pardon or grace.

Law and grace are inseparable. They have been thus all through the ages. No law, no transgression; no transgression, no need of grace.

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