If you’ve ever watched any television crime shows and heard the judge ask the person taking the witness stand if they promised to be truthful, you most likely remember the familiar phrase that was uttered. At first glance it’s always good to dig and uncover the truth of a matter; however, from a biblical standpoint, what was once true under the Law of Moses isn’t necessarily true anymore under grace. The world may tell us half-truths about Jesus Christ and religion may mislead us with lies. Thankfully, carefully studying the Bible through the lens of grace reveals what’s actually true now.
Knowing the truth about something affects how we live our entire lives. It can change the context from a hopeless struggle to a joyful celebration. In the Old Testament before Jesus came, mankind was expected to follow a long list of rules to avoid punishment from God (Exodus 20:3-17). Violating any rule, even unintentionally, resulted in God’s wrath. “For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:21).
This was the truth under the old covenant of the law, which is what most churches still teach. Therefore, most Christians still operate with this mindset. However, the finished works of Jesus changed all that; God doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him. He has gone from being our judge to being our Father. “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him” (1 John 3:1, NLT).
This marks a significant shift in mindset that most churches haven’t caught up with; therefore there’s a good chance that many of us are being taught law-based doctrine that no longer applies. Jesus has ended the covenant of the law and replaced it with the covenant of grace. “If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said: ‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah…’ When God speaks of a ‘new’ covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:7, 8, 13, NLT). What this means for us is that we no longer have to work hard and perform perfectly to please God; He’s already pleased with us when we accept His Son as our Lord and Savior.
We don’t have to rely on our self-efforts to do the right thing; under grace we now have the help of the Holy Spirit, who wasn’t available under the law. He reminds us that God isn’t angry with us anymore. “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (John 3:17, MSG). Under the present covenant we don’t get the punishment our shortcomings deserve, but forgiveness, mercy, and undeserved favor instead. Knowing the truth as is it now makes us free.