It has been a habit of mine for quite some time to begin listening to Christmas music around the end of September. In fact, I listen to some of the great Christmas hymns year round. This morning as I was listening to Joy to the World, I was reminded of John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Isaac Watts wrote: “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love.”
I have often said that people tend toward extremes. We want truth without grace, or grace without truth. We want God’s love without His righteousness, or we end up with righteousness with no love. Our world today has either turned away from God completely and will “receive the penalty of their error which was due;” or we want to play around the edges.
I am all about God’s love and grace, because without them we (I) would be hopelessly lost. But we have to come to terms with the fact that there is no grace without truth and there is no love from God without a corresponding righteousness. We cannot throw out God’s standards and expect to be received by Him because of grace. I cannot deny everything that God has revealed about Himself and expect Him to respond to me in love.
All that we receive from God is in Christ. God’s love just doesn’t float around in the atmosphere. His love is in Christ. When we are in Christ, we are in God’s love. When we are outside of Christ, we are subject to God’s wrath. There is no salvation outside of Christ. There is no relationship with God outside of Christ; and it is in this same Jesus Christ in which grace and truth have come. Not just grace and not just truth; grace AND truth!
If I deny the truth, I am living outside of God’s grace. I can’t have it both ways. If I live according to my own understanding, I am limited to the confines of my own mind; but when I submit my understanding to God’s revealed truth, I can experience His great grace. If I insist on living according to my own standards, which violate the truth, I cannot count on grace. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1-2) “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion (authority) over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:13-14).
Right living is not a result of obeying lists of rules (law); it is a result of living under grace. And there is no grace where we choose to turn away from the truth.