What does the Bible say about law and grace?

Are God's law and His grace really contradictory, as many seem to think? Or do they work together?


How does the Bible describe God's law?

God's commandments show us how to love and are not burdensome (1 John:5:3). The apostle Paul said that love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans:13:9-10). Jesus Christ summarized the whole law as love for God and man (Matthew:22:37-40). Christ also said those seeking eternal life should keep the Ten Commandments and He listed several of them as examples (Matthew:19:17-19).

James called God's law a royal law and a law of liberty (James:2:8, 12). The psalmist loved and meditated on God's law—it gave him wisdom and understanding—it was sweet to him (Psalm 119). The apostle Paul called it holy, just and good and spiritual (Romans:7:12, 14). The heart of the New Covenant is that God's laws will be written on our hearts and minds (Hebrews:10:16).

What happens when we disobey the law?

The Bible calls this sin (1 John:3:4). As obedience brings blessings, disobedience naturally brings curses (Deuteronomy 28). All unhappiness, misery, anguish and woe have come from transgressing God's law. Sin leads to death and, sadly, we have all sinned (Romans:6:23; 3:23). God hates sin so much that He made the penalty for sin death. But He loves us so much He let His Son pay that awesome penalty for us (John:3:16).

What about grace?

Grace is undeserved favor that we receive from God, and it includes the gift of forgiveness. We deeply appreciate God's grace and forgiveness, made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Law and grace are both wonderful gifts of God. Law shows us the wretchedness of our putrid evil sins and points us to repentance and forgiveness through God's grace. Grace leads us to utter appreciation for our holy and merciful God and to a deepening desire to be like Him. How? By doing what He says—obeying His law of love in its full spirit and intent.

For more information, please read our booklet, The New Covenant: Does it Abolish God's Law?

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