Do Grace and the Holy Spirit Conflict with the Law?
Romans Six to Eight Give the Secret on Avoiding the Ditches
Jerusalem, Twice Destroyed, Having Fallen in Both Ditches.


There are two ditches along side the Christian road upon which we need to travel. The path to heaven is narrow, the ditches are wide. One ditch is for those who focus only on grace and throw away or belittle obedience to God's commandments. The other ditch goes to the other extreme, where they lose sight of Christ and try to work their way to heaven. Both ditches lead to destruction. What we have witnessed upon the forums is a major push into the "only believe" ditch.

The apostle Paul talked much about grace and the law, and many have come to some rather dangerous conclusions.

I have been told that the Holy Spirit and law cannot live together! They quoted Galatians 3.2 "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

Yet is it not the Holy Spirit that writes the law in our hearts? It is true that we do not earn the Holy Spirit by doing good works and obeying the commandments, but the Holy Spirit within us does leads us into good works and obedience to those very commandments.

We often hear it said that the law was nailed to the cross.

Yet what was nailed to the cross? Our sins were placed upon Christ and nailed to the cross. The ordinances demonstrating the dying of a lamb for the sins of the penitent — that is what was nailed to the cross! We can have complete assurance that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 Because "Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered," Hebrews 13:12 "and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

Many say the law is not binding to Christians, that once saved, a person automatically knows and does what is right!

Then why are so many Christians having so many sin problems if this is automatic from some special point when they supposedly "are saved"? The cleansing must go much, much deeper than merely erasing our record of sin. For if we continue in sin, that record cannot be erased no matter how much we believe it will be.

Jesus said: "Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also." Matt. 23:26

We know what sin is by the law:
For Paul says
"I would not know sin if were not for the law...the commandment said ‘You shall not covet" Romans 7:7

John tells us:
Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abides in him does not continue in sin: who ever continues in sin has not seen him, neither known him.
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
He that continues in sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God does not continue in sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 3:4-9

A closer look shows that Paul, as well as John, did not place the law in opposition to the grace of God. Rather, he contrasts law and grace as to their role in the plan of salvation. The underlying principle is that law keeping will never save anyone, we can never earn any merits toward our salvation, we are completely dependant upon Christ for salvation. Yet a person who is committed to Christ and controlled by the Holy Spirit will live in harmony with God's law.

While obeying God's commandments will never earn us any merit, it does show who we belong to, who we give our allegiance too. For whom we obey shows whose servants we are. (Romans 6:16)

While we cannot obey on our own, our obedience shows what spirit is guiding our lives--the spirit of our own sinful desires or the Holy Spirit.

By their works (fruits) God's people are identified. Therefore obedience is the identifying mark! Obedience to all God's ways. In the end the Sabbath will become the special identifying mark in the last big crises. However, one who is not in relationship with Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit into obedience in all the other facets of God's commandments.

As I tried to show in my "Journey through the Sanctuary" post, without Christ it is impossible to be what God wants us to be. Yet with Christ, as we walk with Him through the sanctuary, we can be declared perfect.

The difference between legalism and living a life perfectly surrendered to Christ is crucial to understand.
Legalism believes that we, in ourselves, with a little help from Christ, can earn our way to heaven. But a person living a life surrendered to Christ, never looks to self for salvation, they believe that Christ's presence in the life puts to death the carnal nature, that our old nature is crucified with him, (Rom. 6:6) and this allows for Christ's works to be developed in us.
"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."(Phil. 2:13)


Romans chapter 6-8 gives us the whole picture of living a sanctified life.

Romans chapter 6, referring back to Paul's discussion that justification is by faith without any works, asks,"What should we say then, because we are justified by grace should we continue to sin so more grace can abound? CERTAINLY NOT! The rest of the chapter emphatically states that sinning must stop and obedience is important. The "old man" is to crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be done away with and that we should no longer be slaves of sin--sin is no longer to reign in our bodies, we are no longer to obey the lusts thereof, sin shall no longer have dominion over us. (Romans 6:6,12,14)

Now being then made free from sin (justified- forgiven, with a clean slate), you become the servants of righteousness. You used to be servants of sin, but now being made free (justified--forgiven--with a clean slate) become servants to God with fruits unto holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. (Romans 6:18,20,22,23)

Chapter seven tells us what SIN is:
Please don't twist it to your own destruction!
The commandments that define sin are the same commandments that contain the words that tell us not to covet! The commandments alert us to the deceitfulness of sin, for -- sin through the commandments becomes exceedingly sinful -- sin is still sin --- The commandments define sin. (See Romans 7:7)

PAUL SAYS THAT IF WE OBEY SIN WE ARE HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION. "For sin, which became obvious by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." Romans 7:11

"Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." James 4.17

Oh yes, we now come to the much quoted verses in chapter seven, where Paul presents a dilemma. The person knows he should live according to the commandments but his carnal nature will not allow him to do it. What can he do?

Chapter eight gives us the solution:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT." (Romans 8.1)

The secret to obedience is to be sure God's spirit dwells in us. Repeatedly chapter seven mentions we cannot obey because sin DWELLS in us. (Romans 7:17,20,23) Repeatedly chapter eight mentions that this problem is solved when God's Spirit DWELLS in us. (Romans 8:9,10,11)

Don't stop at chapter seven -- go on to chapter 8!

"The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. They cannot please God." Romans 8:7

Do you want to please God? Then we must allow the Holy Spirit into our lives, for only then can we please Him.

"For if we live after the flesh, we shall die, but if BY THE SPIRIT YOU PUT TO DEATH THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, and you will live!" (Romans 8:13)

Only Christ can justify and only he can sanctify. Our focus must be continually on Christ. Our lives need to be continually submitted to Him. His Spirit must be in our lives. It is by the Spirit of truth, working through the word of God, that Christ sanctifies His chosen people to Himself. It's is by the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the flesh and live. (Romans 8:13)

So yes, it is God who justifies and it is God who sanctifies. That sanctification however can occur only as we surrender our lives and wills to God. That sanctification can occur only as we crucify self and let God's Spirit lead in our lives. And He will lead us into obedience of God's commands.

I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: Hebrews 8:10


As I have mentioned before, I believe the Old Testament stories were written to be lessons for us to understand present day issues.

God's chosen people, as you will recall suffered two major destructions. One by the Babylonian armies in 586 BC and another by the Roman armies in 70 AD. Both times, we are told, it was because they failed to be in a covenant relationship with God. It is a very revealing study to search out the reasons why God allowed these two destructions, for they graphically portray the two "ditches" a Christian can fall into when he/she loses balance.

1st destruction.
The historical background shows us that about 100 years before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian armies, good king Josiah had reinstated all the temple services, cleansed the country of idols and encouraged everyone to worship the true God. Amazingly the temple services continued to operate right up till the end. Josiah's sons and grandson, who reigned after him continued to support the services. From all outward appearances Israel was worshiping God. So what's wrong here?

The prophets of the time reveal that while there was worship in the temple, just about anything else was acceptable as well. Ezekiel 8 shows they were worshiping, but it was not true worship. Jeremiah 7:8-10 sums up the attitude of the people:
"Behold, you trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know; And then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?"

This ditch is the "only believe and you will be saved, it doesn't matter that much what you do" ditch. Israel didn't get away with it, and neither will we. Let no one deceive themselves with the belief that they will be accounted holy while willfully violating one of God's requirements. The commission of a known sin silences the voice of the Holy Spirit and separates the soul from God.

The other ditch shows up in the 2nd destruction.

Once again we see the Israelites engaged in religious activities revolving around their temple. They believe in God and they believe in obedience. In fact they believe in obedience so strongly that they carefully outlined to the minutest detail how obedience is to be carried out. Yet God rejects them. Why?

Romans 9 and 10 tell us why: (Romans 9:31-32, 10:3)
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone; For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

THEY DID NOT SUBMIT TO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD AND TRIED TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS. They rejected the Son of God, who alone could bring them to righteousness. There is no righteousness apart from God.

This is the opposite ditch Christians can fall into. It is just as dangerous as the other ditch. The devil doesn't care which ditch he gets us to fall into, as long as he can keep us from fully surrendering our lives to Christ and walking with Him. If he can keep us focused on self, either our selfish pleasures or our perfectionism, he succeeds.

The true path is one where believers walk hand in hand with Christ. Sin has no place there, self righteousness has no room there, only a heart and will that is totally surrendered to Christ and totally dedicated to serving the Lord, recognizing a total dependence on Christ. Conscious of our own imperfections, we long to become more like Christ, and to live in accordance with the principles of His holy law. This continual sense that we can not be perfect on our own will lead to such entire dependence upon God, that His Spirit will be exemplified in us. This can never mean that we throw out God's law, no, His will and His law become our delight, we long to please Him. We search out how we can please Him. To earn heaven, no! But to glorify God. It's God's glory never for our own.

Then the Sabbath will become a beautiful experience for us. It will no longer be just a command, it will be to us the will of God for us to fellowship with Him. Imagine, God wants to spend a whole day every week with us. He has designated that day. A day to rest in His love, and fully surrender self to God's will and God's purposes.

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