Law and Grace

John 1:17, ESV
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Recently, I had to drive a long distance, overnight, after receiving a telephone call from my sister informing me that my Mum was seriously ill, and might be near death. It was near midnight when I left my home, already tired from that day’s events, for what would be a seven-hour journey across the UK.

Thankfully, my Mum responded to medical treatment and surgery and is now recovering at home. About a week after that night-time journey, I received an official letter informing me that, during the early hours of that morning, I’d violated a speed limit on a motorway. As a result, I was facing a fine and penalty points on my driving licence.

My offence occurred on a stretch of the motorway where average speed was monitored, and I had clearly exceeded the stated average required. I felt ashamed that I had broken the law, because I always try to keep to speed limits, and to honour the Lord in the way I drive. But, as an alternative to prosecution and the inevitable fine and penalty points, there was an offer in the letter of paying to attend a course designed to make drivers more speed aware. I took the offer, and booked a place on a course.

As I’ve thought about my experience above, it’s caused me to consider the difference between law and grace. I can’t in anyway deny that I committed the speeding offence that night – the speed camera didn’t lie. In the letter I received I was given no opportunity to plead my case or ask for mercy. The law declared me guilty.

When they’re good, human laws help promote peace and safety within societies. But they can, and do, become ungodly and corrupt through the pressure of popular opinion and minority groups. God’s laws, however, are always righteous and good.

As human beings with a sinful nature, we have a problem. We not only break the laws of our country, but we break God’s laws as well. But breaking His laws carries a much severer penalty – judgement and separation from Him forever, when we die. How can we escape such a terrible penalty?

The amazing good news of the Gospel is that, although we’re guilty sinners who’ve broken God’s laws and deserve death, Jesus, God’s perfect Son, died on a cross to pay that penalty. He offers us the unmerited grace gift of forgiveness and eternal life, if we turn to Him in repentance and faith. What amazing love! It’s what Christmas and Easter are really all about. I have to accept the consequences of breaking the speed limit on my recent night time journey, but I’m so grateful that, because Jesus died in my place on the cross, I don’t have to face the penalty for my sin.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, how can I ever thank You enough for paying the penalty for all my sin on the cross. I was the guilty one, yet I go free. I can only offer You my heart and life in gratitude. Amen.

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