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For the record, I am strongly against sin like Paul, and I agree with him that grace is not a license to sin. However, I agree with Paul that going back to the law is the exact opposite of how the Bible teaches us to deny ungodliness and be transformed into the image of Jesus. I also agree with Paul that the only place sin lies dead is apart from the law (Rom 7:8)
I one time I thought the Bible taught of the curse of sin but it does not. It clearly teaches of the curse of the law.
For years I misunderstood the following verse.
From the same mouth come [both] blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. James 3:10 NAS
I used to think that cursing in James meant swearing, foul language. But a benefit of studying the Word is understanding the truth.
The truth is that cursing spoken of in this verse is preaching the law mixed with grace, preaching blessing along with curses. Blessings come by Grace and curses come by the law.
Here are the verses surrounding our study verse in James 3 for further thought.
But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. James 3:8-12 ESV
These verses offer several word pictures to clearly tell us we should not be speaking blessings and curses unto people. But what is the Bible talking about when it speaks of curses?
The Old Covenant was comprised of the Ten Commandments and many other laws that had to be kept to be right with God, righteous, and thus blessed. The Old Covenant blessings and curses are listed for those under the law in Deuteronomy 28 after the following headline verses.
And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God Deut 28:2 ESV
“But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Deut 28:15 ESV
When a Christian speaks blessings (grace) and curses (law) out of their mouth, they are mixing the Old Covenant with the New Covenant, and they cannot be mixed. The law brings a curse and Grace brings blessing.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Gal 3:10 ESV
Preaching the law keeps one separated from God – outside the Holy of Holies.
Even today the preaching of the law leaves a veil over the heart of the hearer. The veil is describing the curtain that guarded the Holy of Holies and was torn in half when Jesus finished His work on the cross.
Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 2 Cor 3:15-16 ESV
The tearing of the veil signified that the way into the Holy of Holies was open and all who believe can approach the throne of God in their time of need, something that only the high priest could do under the Old Covenant.
In Christ, we are free to boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need – see Hebrews 4:14-16.
Under the Old Covenant an unclean person could never go into the Holy of Holies, they would die. Only the High Priest could enter once a year. Jesus is now our High Priest and He has opened the door for all who believe to enter freely. When one preaches the law to others, they point them to their sins, to themselves instead of to Jesus who has fully qualified them. Doing this keeps the person sin conscious and fearful to approach God. This is exactly what satan wants. He does not want believers to go into the Holy of Holies, to boldly approach God in their time of need. The enemy does not want believers to recognize it is really all about Jesus perfect sacrafice. Like he has from the very beginning, satan uses the law to trip up mankind. Even now when believers are not under the law, if he can get them to think they are, he can use it to hamper their ability for God's Kingdom. This is why satan is called the accuser of the bretheran. The word accuser is defined as a prosecutor of the law.
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:26 ESV
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Rom 8:33 ESV
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Col 1:12 ESV
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42 ESV
Jesus is the end of the entire law for righteousness.
Do you believe God’s word? Do you believe Christ is the end of the law for being right with God, righteous, to everyone who believes? This is clearly what the Bible teaches.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Rom 10:4 ESV
The Old Covenant system of blessing and cursing is now obsolete as God found fault with it and replaced it.
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Heb 8:13 ESV
For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Heb 7:18-19 ESV
but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Heb 7:21-22 ESV
For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. Heb 7:12 ESV
who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter (the law) but of the Spirit. For the letter (law) kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 ESV(emphasis mine)
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 ESV
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— Gal 3:13 ESV
Christians are not under the Old Covenant system of sin and be cursed, obey and be blessed. The Old Covenant was based on our actions or inactions. The new Covenant is based on Jesus finished work on the cross. Jesus is our righteousness. Jesus died to bring us the New Covenant. He placed it into effect with his shed blood.
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:20 ESV
The law demands righteousness and grace provides righteousness.
Law and grace do not mix. The Bible is filled with common sense language if you just read the words as written.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Rom 11:6 ESV
Salvation cannot be by grace if keeping the law (works) is required for salvation.
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Rom 6:14 ESV
Those who preach the law, do so because they still believe they are under the law. If we feel burdened to keep the law or be punished, our flesh will want to place this burden on others.
A sure sign that we are mixing the two covenants is if we are judging other believers and thinking they are not doing enough. Not doing what we are doing in comparison. Maybe we think they are not saved, not true or real believers based on their actions or inactions. “If they were saved they would be living more like I am living.” These thoughts are a telltale sign that we think salvation is based on grace plus what we do or do not do. They are reminiscent of the Pharisee judging the tax collector at the altar. According to Jesus, the tax collector was justified, made right, before God and he was not living the right way according to the Pharisee. The Pharisee, the judge, WAS NOT justified because he was not fully relying on the grace and mercy of God. He exalted, elevated, himself above the tax collector and refused to see himself in absolute truth, completely bankrupt and unable to pay his debt.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayeda]">[thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 ESV
If we compare what we do to other believers in this way, we are silently boasting about our actions to God like the Pharisee. Instead of fully relying on Jesus finished work and loving and helping our brother, we are relying on what we do and judging others based on our standard in error. When the Bible talks about the humble being exalted and inheriting the earth, it is talking about those who do as the tax collector did, rely 100% on God’s mercy, and grace found only in Jesus. Under salvation by grace alone, there is nothing to boast about for ourselves. Our boasting can only be in Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8-9 ESV
The error of relying on Jesus plus what we do is not easy to recognize and admit for the well-meaning Christian. I lived blind to it for years. As I witnessed to thousands of people for Christ, in my thoughts, I would judge other believers who were not sharing their faith and questioned their salvation. I was judging them based on the works I perceived they were not doing. Now I know there are many functions in the body of Christ.
None of us wants to be under the curse of the law.
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? Gal 4:21 ESV
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. James 2:10 ESV
Jesus spoke of judgment based on how a person judges.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matt 7:2 ESV
Do we use the standard of the law that Moses brought as the Pharisee’s did, or do we use Grace and Truth that came through Jesus?
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 ESV
If we do not want to be under the curse of the law, then we should not preach a mixture of blessings and curses. We need to stop elevating our own sin and that of others above God’s grace, take our eyes off sin and lean fully on Jesus finished work.
In Hebrews 10:2 it tells us that if the Old Testament sacrifice for sins had worked the people would no longer be conscious of their sins.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? Heb 10:2 ESV
Let me ask you, do you believe Jesus death on the cross and resurrection fully paid for your sins and justified us as the Bible states? If you do, then you should no longer be conscious of your sins. Do you know what you should be conscious of? Your forgiveness and righteousness in Christ. Being firmly established in His righteousness (Matt 6:33) in your mind is the key to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So how do you make this change, the same way you get an old song out of your head that keeps on playing, start singing a new song. Try singing “Jesus Paid for That One Too” every time satan accuses you of your failures. Focus on your righteousness in Christ. The Bible tells us that because of the blood of Jesus, we are forgiven, righteous, holy, sanctified and perfected in the spirit. The flesh will never be perfected, that is why it must die.
For further meditation read Matthew 18:21-35 NLT - Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor - Bible ...
New Covenant and Old Covenant comparison HERE.
Studies: Only Way to be Righteous
Read many more articles about the New Covenant and who we are in Christ HERE.
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