Time and again in the New Testament, we read passages like this:
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and lto live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself ta people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Does it remotely appear in this passage that law and grace are opposed to one another? No. Grace has appeared and is God’s instrument for bringing salvation to his people. Verse 14 says Christ redeemed us from all lawlessness and purified us for himself. God’s grace makes this possible.
God’s law is also active in making salvation happen, too. Here are two ways law plays a part in the giving of grace according to this passage.
1. Christ lived by the law and died by the law.
It is implied in the passage that without law, redemption by grace would be impossible. God’s law demonstrates his perfect righteousness and holiness, which Christ also demonstrated in his earthly life perfectly. The law is also what calls for the condemnation of sinners, which is the penalty Christ took upon himself on the cross. Plus the law commands that people love God and love their neighbor, which is what Christ did on the cross to the highest degree on both sides (for both God and neighbor).
2. Grace trains saved people to keep the law.
Notice verse 12. Grace applied trains people to follow the dictates of the law (to live godly lives and renounce worldly passions, etc). People are not saved by God in order to live wicked, unfruitful, or meaningless lives. We are saved in order to be zealous for good works and that happens when we obey the law.
The law of God is true, right, beautiful, and an expression of God’s mercy, love, and character. People can’t keep the law because they are bound in sin. But this does not make the law bad. The problem lies with sinful people.
So Christ keeps the law and dies on the cross in order to provide grace and salvation to people unable to keep the law. This grace is also an expression of God’s mercy, love, and character. But grace does not nullify law.
Bottom line: When people are saved and justified by the grace of Christ, it should be their highest desire to obey the law. Obedience is the fruit of grace.
1 John 3:24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
When a police officer pulls you over for speeding, he might give you grace and let you off with a warning. But his grace does not nullify the law. He still wants you to slow down, even though you have received grace and have not been condemned for your transgression.
New Testament Christians saved fully and only by the grace of God through Christ’s finished work on the cross need to seek obedience to the law in their daily lives, every single moment. It is never right to commit adultery, steal, or lie, even for people who are justified by grace.