Author: Ron Graham
Law and Grace
—Not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14)
This lesson allows Paul to cast some light on the statement he makes in Romans 6:14, "You are not under law but under grace."
This statement would be easy to misunderstand if we did not have other statements from Paul to clarify what he means. In this lesson we will work through some of those scriptures so that we will know what it means to be "not under law but under grace".
1 We are Under Obligation
Paul contrasts the mind transformed by Christ with the mind still in darkness. He says, "the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).
Then Paul says, "For the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so" (Romans 8:7).
You can see how clear Paul is about the problem anyone has who "does not have the Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8:9). The problem is that this person is disobedient to God’s Law.
When Paul says "You are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14), he certainly does not mean that we have no obligation to keep God’s law.
2 We are Under Christ s Law
Some will say that what we are under obligation to keep is not law but something other than law. This is not Paul’s view.
Paul holds that "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God because it does not subject itself to the law of God" and concludes, "Therefore brethren we are under obligation, not to live according to the flesh" (Romans 8:7,12).
Putting both statements together, we find Paul showing that, in his mind, being under grace involves being under an obligation to keep God’s law.
Paul tells Titus, "the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age... zealous for good works" (Titus 2:12,14).
Paul, in his teaching, links the grace of God to the keeping of the law of Christ and the leading of an obedient life.
So we have established that Paul in saying, "You are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14), does not mean to say that you are under no obligation to obey...
- "The law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2),
- "The law of faith" (Romans 3:27),
- "The law of the Spirit of life" (Romans 8:2).
Paul is not referring to that law when he says, "You are not under law".
2 We are not Under Condemnation
When Paul says "You are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14), he has in mind not obedience to the law, but rather condemnation by the law. We are not under law in the sense that we don't stand condemned by any law.
Paul shows that those who are in Christ, are not under condemnation because they have been set free from law. But he is not talking about God’s law, but rather "another law" in opposition to "the law of God" (Romans 7:22-25).
It would make no sense to say that the law of Christ sets us free from the law of God. Paul is talking about "the law of sin and death". Paul says, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death"
So "there is no condemnation" because by God’s grace you have been able to get out from under the wrong law (the law hostile to God because it condemns us), and get under the right law (the law of Christ which saves us).
It is important to understand that those who are under "the law of sin and death", who "live according to the flesh" are under condemnation by God’s law.
So when Paul says, "you are not under law..." he means that in Christ we are no longer under the law of sin and death but set free from it, and we are no longer under condemnation by God’s law but saved by it.
It is the law of God that anyone who wishes to be free from the law of sin and death, and to be no longer under condemnation by God, shall be granted this grace and shall be enabled to live no more according to the flesh, but to live according to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is what Paul means when he says, "You are not under law but under grace".