Last week I mentioned that I was studying in Acts chapter 21 and there were two lifestyles that were mentioned there. It is my belief that Paul, being a Jew by birth, devoted himself to keeping the Law. This was not done to be made righteous or for salvation but for his own conscience. We can see this in Acts 21:17-24 where he purifies himself to show all of the other Jews that he "walks orderly, keeping the Law” (verse 24). Then in verse 25 he says that the Gentiles were only required to live by four guidelines.
Now, why would Paul and the apostles in Jerusalem believe this and teach this if we are to obey the Law and commandments? I do not believe this is the purpose of the Law and commandments today. I believe that Jesus "abolished in His flesh…the Law of commandments in ordinances…that in Himself He might make the two into one new man…and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:15-16). What is that enmity? If you look back to the beginning of verse 15 it is the Law of commandments. So, in order to reconcile both Jew and Gentile back into a right relationship with God, Jesus “abolished in His flesh” the requirements of the Law so that we would not have to try to obey the letter of the Law to keep our right standing with God. We are now friends with the Most High through what Jesus has accomplished.
So, what is the purpose of the Law? Paul wrote in Romans chapters 5, 6, and 7 that the purpose of the Law was to awaken our knowledge of what sin is. Paul said that the Law awakened coveting in his life and without the Law doing this, he would have never known what coveting was. Now that he knew what coveting was, he could not stop coveting on his own. You see this is the purpose of the Law. To awaken a knowledge of what sin is in our lives. The problem is, the Law (or any set of rules and regulations) cannot give you the power to please God.
I really like how Paul wrote Romans chapter 5. In verses 20 and 21 he say that rules and regulations (law) "came in that transgression might increase; but where sin increased grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I love the way the New Living Translation words the phrase 'grace might reign.' It says that:
For me I think that is so great. GRACE RULES…everything. We get what we cannot earn, work for, or accomplish with our own efforts. Grace truly rules in every aspect of the Christian life.
Won't you let grace rule and quit trying to earn the favor of God?