I will continue where I left off last time to explain why Law and grace are incompatible. Last time I used a football analogy to illustrate this. My point was that living by Law or living by grace are polar opposites. To head toward one is to move away from the other. They are like two opposite end-zones on a football field.
Today, we will use Jesus’ analogy as a launching point. He used the metaphor of wine and wineskins to tell us why we shouldn’t try to mix the Old Covenant (old wine) with the New Covenant (new wine).
Here’s what He said…
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins;
or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled,
and the wineskins will be ruined.
But new wine must be put into new wineskins,
and both are preserved.
And no one, having drunk old wine,
immediately desires new;
for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:37-39 NKJV)
Jesus said that trying to put Old Covenant wine in a New Covenant container doesn’t just water down the new wine, it actually destroys the whole thing. Another way of putting it, the only way you can benefit from the New Covenant of grace is by only filling your “wineskin” with the New Covenant.
Trying to live by grace and the Law is not just a mixture, the whole thing is bad.
Secondly, we see that Jesus said we all prefer the old first. This is our humanistic response to grace. When we first come to Christ our unrenewed mind prefers drinking the old wine, which for us is being managed from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil–by outward fleshly restraint. But, as I mentioned last time, we must make the transition to eating from the Tree of Life, which is Christ and Him crucified in us (Rom.6:1-14; 1 Cor.2:2; Gal.3:1-5). This is the Law of the Spirit.
Also, as I mentioned last time, we cannot be managed by the Spirit if we’re looking to be managed by the outward restraint of the Law.
Am I against the Old Testament? Absolutely not. I love the Old Testament. It’s very relevant as long as we remember that the covenantal aspects represent types and shadows of the real thing (Heb.8:4-6). It’s relevant as long as we see it through the lens of the the finished work of the cross. The problem is that people read it indiscriminately and, thus, create a strange bewitching brew that frees no one (See Gal.2:21; 3:1-5; 5:1, 4).
I’m also not against the Ten Commandments, we just shouldn’t base our life on following them. Paul called it “this ministry of death, engraved in stones” (2 Cor.3:7-8). But when we remove the veil and look toward Christ, we are experientially and progressively transformed into His image (2 Cor.3:16-18). In other words, when we walk in the Spirit the Ten Commandments will follow us.
So, what do we do with the Ten Commandments under the New Covenant? Paul said they are valid as long as we use them legally. Here’s what he means by that (bold-type added).
“But we know that the law is good
if one uses it lawfully, knowing this:
that the law is not made for a righteous person,
but for the lawless and insubordinate,
for the ungodly and for sinners…” (1 Tim.1:8-9)
First, notice who the Law is NOT made for–it’s not made for the righteous person. Paul said that the Ten Commandments (Law engraved in stones) are for those who don’t live in Christ. We see this same principle in our national laws. They are only intended to contain lawless people. They are not meant for those who by their nature would do no harm to anyone, even if there were no laws of the land to regulate them.
Understand that the Law was “added” (Gal.3:19), which means it was never integral to God’s redemptive plan. It served as a temporary outward restrainer for God’s people who were still eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the way of the flesh. This is because they didn’t have the resident Holy Spirit to manage them yet. The Law was never meant to lead them into righteousness but to expose their unrighteousness. It was meant to be their guardian until Christ could become us so we could live in Him.
But once we live in Christ, the Law is no longer needed (Gal.3:24-25).
Grace is how we eat from the Tree of Life (Jesus), which is the way of the Spirit who manages us from the inside-out. We are no longer managed by the letter of the Law but by the newness of the Spirit (bold-type added).
“But now we have been delivered from the law,
having died to what we were held by,
so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit
and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Rom.7:6 NKJV)
So let’s throw out all our toxic mixtures of trying to piece-meal parts of the Law with grace that never gave anyone freedom and actually denies grace (Gal.5:4). Instead, let’s fully embrace the pure distilled intoxicating wine of God’s grace found by living our lives inside of Christ’s love that’s filled with His joy (John 15:9-11).