It is characteristic of the creature that he is subject to laws.
The Creator makes laws and creates His creatures according to laws. That creature is more important than the law according to which he is created, and therefore we may say that he is not created in order to keep laws but is created according to laws. Those laws are to his advantage. They serve him; and a wise man seeks to know the laws of his creation.
The doctor, the scientist, the research technician in the laboratory or clinic seeks to learn the laws according to which the organs of our bodies work, that we may then be healed of our diseases. We are created according to laws and we live only in the sphere of those laws.
These laws are very narrow. Let your body temperature rise a degree or two, and you feel quite miserable. Your normal body temperature is approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus we were created. The law of our physical life says that this must be the temperature of our bodies. Let it be lowered or raised only two degrees; and we will know it without a trace of doubt. What are two degrees over against 98 degrees? Whether an object costs 98¢ or $1.00 does not make such a great deal of difference. But in your and my bodies a matter of only a degree or two makes quite a difference. A matter of 5 or 6 degrees above normal, and you and I are desperately sick and at the point of death. For although a child can stand temperatures up to 106, this almost always proves fatal for an adult. So narrow is the line of our earthly life. According to the laws of our creation the cells of our bodies cannot live with a relatively small increase in body temperature.
Then there are the requirements of that body that must be taken in every so often and without which that body dies. Food must be taken in regularly. Water must be taken in even more frequently. And oxygen must be taken in several times in a minute. Therefore it is according to one of the laws of our earthly creation that we cannot live in the water while the fish cannot live out of the water. The fish, created with gills, is adapted to take out of the water the oxygen that it needs, and therefore it must by the laws of its creation remain IN the water to live. We who have been created with lungs that take the oxygen out of the air cannot live in the water and must, according to the laws of our earthly creation.
That which you and I may eat likewise is governed by the laws whereby a wise Creator was pleased to fashion us. This is also to be seen in the plant world very clearly. There are trees that cannot grow in a moist soil and others that cannot live in the dry desert soil. There are plants that will never be found at a low elevation—thus the Joshua tree of the high desert regions—and again plants that require soil at a low elevation. Some plants require an acid soil or a clay soil. Others thrive only in sandy soil and where the soil is definitely alkaline in chemical analysis. We are no different although in man there is a greater latitude in regard to these things. Men live at high and low elevation. Yet water of chemical analysis different from what he had been drinking can for a time upset his whole digestive system to a very marked degree. Foods some animals eat would make us sick. And even though we are required at times to take into our systems certain poisons to heal our diseases, we can take them in only in a very limited degree and according to a carefully prescribed dosage.
Violate any of these laws of our earthly existence and we will surely suffer the consequences. Take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, Paul writes to Timothy. Indeed, but take a little more and you will become aware of the fact that we are created according to very definite laws, so that when we violate them there will be a marked effect in our lives. And continued violation and disregard to the laws of life will end in death.
No different is it with man’s spiritual life. The other earthly creatures are created only according to physical laws and not according to spiritual laws, for their life is in their blood. But man was created after the image of God; and by the Spirit of Christ he is renewed after the image of Christ. He was, therefore, created according to very definite spiritual laws. Death for Adam and Eve was not the result of violating certain physical laws. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not poisonous fruit. That fruit did not kill them. It was mighty slow acting poison, if that is the case. For Adam lived another 930 years after eating that fruit. No, death was punishment for eating of that fruit. It was not the violation of a law of man’s physical being; it was a matter of violating a spiritual law. Man broke God’s ethical law, and God punished him with death because of that sin. And surely when we are renewed after the image of Christ, we are not given a spirit and freedom of lawlessness but the Spirit of Christ. And He was subject to His parents. He observed every single one of the laws of God.
We can live only as we remain in the sphere of God’s ethical law, the ten commandments according to their inner principle of love to God. When we sin we go over the line drawn by that law. And when we go over the line we are in death because God does not go over that line ethically and spiritually. When, we transgress, when we break His lam and go over the fence into what looks to us like greener pastures, we will find that God is not there in “His love, fellowship and grace. And since to ‘live apart from God is death, we are in the sphere of death when we transgress the law of God. It simply is not so that when we are under grace we are at liberty to walk contrary to, the law and in a lawless life still enjoy God’s grace. Christ did not enter into all the agony of hell in order to protect us in a life outside of God’s law. The fruit of His death is not that in the grace of God we may live a life that disregards God’s law and has no interest in the keeping of it. That we are under grace does not mean that God favors us with a liberty to walk where He will not Himself walk; or that then He will walk in the sphere of sin with us because Christ died for our sins. God will NEVER walk in the sphere of sin. He will never deny Himself. He will never go contrary to His own ethical, moral law.
Remember what Paul writes to the church at Rome, “Wherefore the law is holy and the commandment holy, and just and good,” Romans 7:12. True, he says in verse 6, “But now we are delivered from the law, being dead to that wherein we were being held.” But then let us also quote the rest of the verse as well, to be honest, “That we should serve in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Here again Scripture speaks of those who are delivered from the law servingaccording to the dictates of that law. And truly one who serves is under that which he serves.
The commandment which was ordained to life we find to be unto death, according to Romans 7:10. But this is not because the law is evil. Rather is this true because we are evil. And when we are under grace we exactly receive grace to see and believe that this law is good and that it is good for us to be under the guidance of that law. We repeat what we said last time, We are no longer under the condemnation of that law. That law can no longer kill us. Christ has fulfilled it for us. He has taken away its curse for us forever. But He has done this exactly in order that we may be under the grace of God whereby we desire to keep that law and know that it is the infallible rule and guide of our life. A man under grace will love that law and, as Paul himself indicates in this seventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans, will feel wretched when he finds that according to the flesh, he still breaks it and does not live under it. When Paul says, “For that which I do. I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I,” what does it mean but that Paul wants to be under that law, under its counsel, under its guidance and that he wants it as the rule for his life?
Let us look at it this way: The law does not fence us out from life. It is not something that God ordained unto death. No, that law draws for you and me the line wherein life is found. And that law says to you and me, “Keep me. Stay inside of this line which I draw. Do not go over the line for there is death. There you will never find God and His grace. There His Son will never be found. Keep me. Stay within my bounds. Stay under my shadow and let me tell you what to do. Let me rule you, for I am the word of God. I declare unto you God’s will in regard to your ethical-moral life.”
Once you and I have climbed over the fence of that law, and we all did in Adam, we are no longer under its influence and guidance but are under its condemnation. Then the law is an insurmountable barrier over which we can never, never climb to get back into the sphere of life. When we climbed over, we died and have no life to climb back into the sphere of God’s fellowship of life. But Christ came and paid the price for our disobedience and merited the right to breathe a new, spiritual life in us. What does He then do, leave us outside or on that other side of the fence from where God created us in Paradise? Does Christ merit for us the right to stay in that sphere of sin and encourage us to walk in all manner of evil by telling us that we are now under grace? God forbid, a thousand times God forbid! By His Spirit He brings us back to that side of the fence where we were created and writes that law in our hearts and in our minds so that we DO keep it in principle.
That is what it means to be under grace: We are under the power of the grace of God whereby we know ourselves once again to be under the good guidance and counsel of that law. We are given of God’s grace to see how good it is for us. We welcome it with open arms, have the grace to desire to stand before it every day as a mirror to show us how dirty we are, how crooked we are in God’s sight by nature in order that we may flee to the cross again and again for forgiveness and may learn again and again what to put down of the flesh and from what to flee. To be under grace means to be under the power of God’s sanctifying grace. And that sanctifying grace will always lead us back under the care, the guidance, the good counsel of that law. Grace will never do anything else. Grace will never move us to excuse our sins by arguing that we are under grace and not under the law. James says that it is the perfect law of liberty and we will look into that mirror. We will not despise it and say it is not for us. He will be a DOER of the work prescribed in that law and will not seek the lawlessness of the world under the erroneous excuse that he is no longer under the law in any sense because he is under grace. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love, serve one another.”Galatians 5:13.