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Lesson 8: The Law of God and the Law of Christ *

Introduction: Are you bored? I hope not! You may be concerned that the last few lessons seem to repeat the same concepts. If you are bored, I apologize. On the other hand, understanding grace is critical - and hearing about it more than once is a blessing. The good news for the bored is that our lesson this week takes a turn to explore what grace means for everyday life. The good news for those who feel they could still use a little repetition about grace, is that we are still generally on that subject. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about the law and grace!

  1. Law and Love

    1. Read Matthew 22:34. How smart are Pharisees? (Apparently they think they are smarter than the Sadducees. They think it is their turn to play the game called "outsmart Jesus." The Sadducees could not win, but the Pharisees think they can.)

    2. Read Matthew 22:35-36. Is this a difficult question? If you think so, why? (I consulted some Bible commentaries and found that Jewish theologians could not agree on the answer. By asking Jesus to state His opinion, the Pharisees would create a conflict between Him and at least some of the leading scholars - or so they hoped.)

    3. Read Matthew 22:37-40. Let's go back to a topic I have repeatedly mentioned: the moral law was established by God as a reflection of His love for humans. God knew about the operation of the natural law, and to protect us from unwittingly being damaged by natural law, God gave us the moral law. Does my theory fit with what Jesus says here? (Jesus says God's laws are all about love. If the goal of the law is to produce love in us, it makes perfect sense that God's motivation to give us the law was also love.)

      1. If reason for the law is God's love for us, and the goal of the law is that we would love others, would God ever have a reason to end the law?

      2. What advantage is there in being free from the law? (Being free from the penalty of the law is one thing (grace), but being free from the protection of the law is foolishness.)

  2. New Law on Love

    1. Read John 13:33. If you were one of Jesus' disciples, would this worry you? (You are a disciple! Why can't you go everywhere Jesus goes? This is worrisome.)

    2. Read John 13:34-35. How can Jesus say this is a "new command" when we just read in Matthew 22:39-40 that loving our neighbor is a summary of both the law and the statements of the prophets of old? This is a very old command, right?

    3. Let's re-read Matthew 22:39. Think carefully about this: What, exactly, is the standard for conduct when we are told to love our neighbor as our self?

      1. Let's consider an example. If you've been reading my lessons for a long time, you know that I used to regularly mow my elderly neighbor's lawn. Does that mean that when I get older I expect someone younger might mow my lawn? (Yes. This is the standard I've set for myself.)

      2. Assume that I would never expect that someone would mow my law. Would I be following Jesus' command if I failed to mow the lawn of an elderly neighbor? (Jesus seems to make us the standard for how we treat our neighbor. If we would not expect it for ourselves, then we need not provide it for our neighbor, right?)

    4. Re-read John 13:34. Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going to His death and resurrection. Would you die for your enemy? See Romans 5:10. Would you give up your son's life so that someone else might live? (No! Never!)

      1. How is Jesus' command to His disciples "new?" (It is absolutely new. The old standard for loving our neighbor turned on our own standard. Jesus tells us that the new standard is His standard - He was willing to die for us when we were His enemies! That is the new standard for love!)

  3. Law of Christ

    1. Read Galatians 6:1. Is this sinner one who came to church and confessed? (This person is caught when they did not expect it.)

      1. What kind of attitude would you expect from the person who was caught?

      2. What kind of attitude should the spiritual people have? (They should be gentle. The goal is restoration, not condemnation.)

      3. I was just reading a condemnation of the way our church handles homosexuals. The claim is that we condemn, rather than trying to restore. Do you agree?

    2. Re-read the last part of Galatians 6:1. What do you think complicates the issue of how the church relates to homosexuality? (This lesson reaches many cultures. I can only speak about the United States. The complicating issue here is that those condemning the church do not think that homosexuality is sin.)

        1. How do you "gently" "restore" those who do not admit their conduct is sinful?

        2. Is warning about being caught up in the sin teaching us to keep a clear vision about the nature of sin? (Yes. When we come close to the sinner, our sympathy for the sinner may transform itself into sympathy for the sin.)

    3. Read Galatians 6:2. Consider two questions. What does it mean to carry the burdens of others? What is the law of Christ? (We just learned that the "new law" of Jesus is to love others as Jesus loved us. Thus, carrying the burden of others is to help them with their sin problem.)

      1. Let's go back to homosexual behavior. How would you carry the burden of a homosexual? (Kindness. Many homosexuals say that they are by nature attracted to others of the same gender. We know that our own sin problem is stubborn and arises from our sinful nature. Sympathy in restoration goes a long way. But, restoration is always the goal.)

    4. Read Galatians 6:3. How can we think we are something when we are nothing? ( James 2:8-11 tells us that if we break one point of the law, we have broken all. We cannot congratulate ourselves for being heterosexuals, for the sin of pride means we are like other sinners.)

      1. Would the attitude that we are also sinners help in our restoration efforts?

    5. Read Galatians 6:4-5. Why are we now told to "carry our own load" when we were just told we should "carry each other's burdens?" (Carrying our own load is recognizing and taking responsibility for our own sins. If we merely recognize the sins of others, and not our own, we can hardly help others with their sins.)

      1. Why is it important not to compare ourselves with others? (This gets back to the new law of Christ - the standard for comparison is Jesus' love for us.)

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-21. Does this help us to understand what it means to carry the burdens of others? (Yes.)

      1. Exactly what would you do if you were following Paul's directions? Would you become a sinner to win sinners? (This cannot be the meaning because Galatians 6:1 teaches us to be alert to temptation when we are carrying the burdens of others. Instead, I think the practical application of this advice is to avoid stressing the differences in our points of view.)

  4. Reaping from Love

    1. Let's return to Galatians. Read Galatians 6:7-9. We have been talking about carrying loads - not only our own but that of others. I'm not normally excited about carrying things around. What is the good news here? (We are rewarded for it!)

      1. Is our reward eternal life? If so, carrying loads earns our salvation? (Read Galatians 2:15-16. Paul is not saying that our works earn salvation. Rather, he is telling us that choosing to live by the Spirit rather than by our sinful nature makes a huge difference in our life. Our works do not save us, but our decision to accept Jesus as our Savior is naturally followed by decisions to treat those around us with love.)

    2. Read Galatians 6:10. Who should be the special target of our help? (Fellow believers.)

    3. Friend, grace is about more than receiving unearned eternal life as a result of Jesus' life, death and resurrection on our behalf. True grace produces in us a love like Jesus showed to us. A love in which we give up our life for others. A love which recognizes that we, too, are terrible sinners. A love which blesses us more than if we lived a selfish, narrow life. Will you commit today to ask the Holy Spirit to infuse your life with love?

  5. Next week: Christ, the Law and the Gospel.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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