Are We Under Law?

By Larry Ray Hafley

Due to a misunderstanding of Romans 6:14, some conclude that Christians are not under any kind of law. We are not under law for justification (Rom. 6:14; 10:1-5; Gal. 2:11-3:29). Does the grace and truth Christ brought contain laws which we are bound to obey (Jn. 1: 17)? Is grace incompatible with law as light is to darkness?

(1) Absolutely not, for without law there would be no need for grace. “Where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15), “for sin is the transgression of the law” (I Jn. 3:4). And without sin there would be no need for grace (Rom. 4).

(2) “Do we make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). True grace, true justification by faith, establishes law, Hence, false grace, phony faith, voids law.

(3) We are to “look into,” “be under” (subject to) and “fulfill” (obey) the law of Christ, because by it we shall be judged (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2; Jas. 1:25; 2:12).

(4) One cannot receive the crown of life “except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:5). How can one strive lawfully without law?

(5) “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) The very concept of “Lord,” its essential nature, implies law. “The things which I say,” equals Christ’s commandments (Matt. 28:20), and they are law (Rev. 22:14; Heb. 5:9).

(6) All agree that Luke 24:44-49 refers to the New Testament system of salvation by grace. “It is written, ” Jesus said (Lk. 24:46). Where was it’ 4 written” “in the prophets” that salvation through Christ would be “among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:44,47)? One place is Isaiah 2:2,3 – “all nations . . . from Jerusalem.”

Further, note: “And he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3). The terms, “ways,” “paths,” “the law,” and “the word of the Lord,” are equivalents. So, the law went forth, “out of Zion … .. beginning at Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3; Lk. 24:47). Salvation by grace, repentance and remission of sins in the name of Christ, is the law that went forth out of Zion, beginning at Jerusalem. It is the gospel (Mk. 16:15).

(7) Isaiah 42:1-7 refers to the Christ. It, among other things, describes his nature, mission and ultimate success. Isaiah says, “and the isles shall wait for his law. ” Matthew says, quoting the same passage, “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust” (Matt. 12:21). Have Gentiles received “light,” “salvation” and “eternal life” (Acts 13:47,48; Isa. 42:6; 49:6)? If so, they have received his law, or trusted in his name. If Gentiles are not under law, they have not trusted in his name, nor have they received light, salvation or eternal life.

(8) Christ now reigns on “the throne of his father, David” (Lk. 1:32,33; Acts 2:29f.). Does a king reign without law?

(9) Jeremiah prophesied of the New Testament (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-13; 10:15-18). The Holy Spirit said, “This is the covenant that I will make with them I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (the laws). To those who say we are not bound by laws, we inquire, are we bound by the new covenant?

Also, the “word of God,” “the word of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:19; Lk. 8:11), is sown in the heart (Lk. 8:12). That word in the heart is the law written in the heart (Lk. 8:11,12, Heb. 8:10; 10:16).

(10) “The law of the Spirit” is the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16; 8:2). Are we under the gospel, subject to it?

Law cannot justify, for all have sinned. Grace through Christ provides forgiveness to all who have sinned. Under law for justification, sin reigns unto death. Under Christ, grace reigns through righteousness which it provides. This the good news of the gospel (Rom. 5:21).