Law and Grace, Old Covenant and New Covenant
In our meditations upon law and grace, we have also been considering (though not yet mentioning) the principal characteristics of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. When the Lord wrote the message of His law upon stone tablets for Moses, He was prescribing the terms of the Old Covenant. "The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant." When Jesus came into the world to die on the cross, the Lord was establishing the New Covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."
These two covenants of law and grace present one of the major contrasting themes in the word of God. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Understanding the differences between these two covenants is of utmost importance for living the Christian life as God intends.
God's law tells us that He desires holiness to characterize the way we live. Only God's grace can provide such godliness in our lives. God's law tells us that He wants Christlike love to permeate our attitudes and relationships. Only God's grace can develop such love in us. God's law tells us that He desires the perfections of the Father to be growing in us. Only God's grace is sufficient to carry out such a process of transformation.
The law of God is the "what"; the grace of God is the "how". The law of God reveals sin; the grace of God forgives sin. The law of God indicates man's problem; the grace of God provides God's remedy. The law of God demands performance by man; the grace of God offers provision from God. The law of God is the standard; the grace of God is the means. The law of God is the spiritual measuring rod that evaluates lives; the grace of God is the nurturing resource that produces spiritual life. The law of God tells us of the character of God; the grace of God reproduces that character in us. The law of God is the effect God wants to see; the grace of God is the cause that brings forth that effect.