"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5: 17-20 (ESV)
The Bible says that in these last days we will be inundated with false teachings and heresies. People who will pervert the grace of God into sensuality. People who will want only to hear what their itching ears want to hear. Sound doctrine will not even be tolerated. One glance around Christendom and we can see that this time has arrived. By far the most dangerous heresy out there today is what is known as hyper-grace. It is the doctrine led by Joseph Prince, who claims God personally told him to create this false gospel. It is dangerous because so much of it is actually true but the leaven running throughout it will send you right to hell. The hyper-grace heresy is nothing new. It is merely a repackaged and slickly marketed false teaching known as antinomianism. The essentials of this false theology is that the law has no place in the life of a believer. The main strategy is to strip mine the Bible for every New Testament verse that contains the word "grace" and then mock anyone who dares to bring the law up. The primary confusion that is sown deals with our eternal position in Christ versus our temporal condition here on earth. The hyper-grace advocates are always quick to pretend that they do not advocate sin but that is exactly what you advocate when you so casually discard the law God has given us. Let me start this biblical examination with a simple statement of agreement. The law, as a means to judge us, is discarded for those found in Christ Jesus:
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. - Colossians 2: 13-14 (ESV)
Additionally, we are not mix law and grace as a means for salvation. This is another point the antinomians love to bring up because it is true but they miss the forest for the trees they focus so steadily upon:
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. - Galatians 5: 1-6 (ESV)
Now it does help to understand the local context of the letter to the Church at Galatia. It seems a sect of Jews known as the Judaizers were infiltrating the church and teaching that circumcision was also required for salvation, not just grace. Paul's point here could not be clearer. If you accept one part of the law, such as circumcision, to justify yourself before God - then you have fallen away from grace. Christ is of no advantage to you in that case. Here is the thing that seemingly gets lost on Pastor Prince and his followers. What do these two sets of verses deal with? Do they deal with this temporal life or our eternal life? If you answered eternal life, you are correct. Read those Colossian verses closely. What was nailed to the cross beloved? The law? Absolutely not. The record of debt that the law produces in our sinful states. That is what is nailed to the cross. The law shows our sin and convicts us. The sentence, which must be carried out by a just God, is death. Eternal death. Gnashing of teeth and eternal darkness type of death. Hell. But God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son so that we might have our eternal position with God back again. That whoever believeth upon Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Going back to the Galatian verses we see the same thing. These verses deal with how we justify ourselves before God when it comes time for judgment. If we are covered by the blood then the grace of God will cover the debt of sin we owe. We cannot think that any of our works can save us because they cannot. When it comes to these truths, we agree with the antinomian position. After that however, they jump off the theological cliff. Because here is the dirty truth they do not want to preach. The law still matters. It still counts. It is still holy. Let us realize some truths today.
First of all, the law is for our benefit. That's right. As long as it is not going to be used to pronounce judgment against us, it is actually a very positive thing. It is what tells us what is right and what is wrong. What God wants and what God does not want. Do we honestly think that God changed His mind about these things? I had someone argue with me that the Ten Commandments were for Israel and we should not pay any attention to them. Seriously? Do we honestly think that God does not care if we commit adultery? Or if we commit murder?
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insultshis brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. - Matthew 5: 21-22 (ESV)
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - Matthew 5: 27-28 (ESV)
Hmm, it sure seems like the moral law mattered to Jesus. It sure seemed like He was teaching the do's and the don'ts. Not only teaching them but raising the bar on the law. The law still matters to God. Yes, if you are truly saved and somehow commit adultery you will not face the fires of hell. You will however still lose your marriage, house, half your belongings, your self respect, position in the community, and ministries in church. The law still tells us what we should and should not do. What pleases God and what does not. You cannot dismiss the Old Testament, which is the precursor to Christ. Here is a verse for example from the Prophet Micah:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6: 9 (ESV)
Does God no longer feel this way? Did He send His only Son to die a criminal's death so that we could stop doing justly? Did He have His only Son crucified so that we could stop loving mercy? Did He sacrifice His only son to torment and ridicule so that we could stop walking humbly before Him? This is absurd theology! If we are trying to use the law to justify why we should not face judgment or hell, then we commit the sin of the Judaizers. We mix law and grace and by doing so, cast Jesus aside. That does not mean however that we get to ignore what God has decreed as holy. What He has decreed as righteous. Beloved, hear this well. Our works and respect for the law are not done to justify salvation - they should be a result of it. I cannot think of anything more frighteningly ignorant than to use the work of the cross to reject what God has deemed holy. This is why hyper-grace cheapens the work of Calvary.
You're teaching law preacher! Yes I am but the question is, why aren't you? That is what Jesus instructed us to do in the key verses today. I love when God gets real explicit in what He is saying. As if He knew full well that this type of hyper-grace heresy was going to lead so many astray. Of course that is because He did know! The key verses are what immediately preceded those earlier verses we discussed that raised the bar on the standard the law had set. Do not think for one second beloved that Jesus Christ came to earth to abolish the law or the Prophets; the Old Testament. Can that be any plainer? He fulfilled them because the entire Old Testament points to Jesus! Not one iota or dot will pass from the law until all is accomplished. It all counts. It all matters. Now, I will be honest. If the verses ended here there may be some wiggle room for those seeking to justify their own sin. God was not done however.
Next, we see a direct condemnation against the hyper-grace heresy. Anyone who relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven! Hyper-grace doesn't just relax the least of the commandments but they eviscerate all of them! I have heard Prince and others claim the Ten Commandments have no place in the life of a believer! Those are not just the iotas and dots in the law beloved. Take a look at how this is broken down in the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven--As the thing spoken of is not the practical breaking, or disobeying, of the law, but annulling or enervating its obligation by a vicious system of interpretation, and teaching others to do the same; so the thing threatened is not exclusion from heaven, and still less the lowest place in it, but a degraded and contemptuous position in the present stage of the kingdom of God. In other words, they shall be reduced by the retributive providence that overtakes them, to the same condition of dishonor to which, by their system and their teaching, they have brought down those eternal principles of God's law.