We have spent a great deal of time lately thinking about God’s “Amazing Grace.” In Les Misérables, a classic novel by Victor Hugo, the main theme is the conflict of law versus grace. The two main characters represent the two sides. Javert, a policeman/investigator, and Valjean, a convict-turned-entrepreneur. In it there is a tension between law and grace. Scripture teaches us that the Law of God is holy and righteous and good (Rom 7:12) in that it shows us how life works best. The problem is that sinful people can’t keep it perfectly; the Law exposes their need for rescue (Rom 3:20-21).
Peter Krol in an interesting article says that “if we don’t acknowledge our need for rescue, we do one of two things: Either we lower God’s standard just enough so we can pretend to keep it, or we lower God’s standard all the way and pretend there is no standard. The first approach is called legalism; the second is called license. Legalism and License are not opposites but cousins. In either case, we use the Law for something it was never meant to do. We attempt to gain God’s favor through it. This approach will never work (Gal 2:16).”
God holds us to a standard of perfection (Matt 5:48). When we fail, He rescues. That is the gospel message. Jesus came for this very purpose (Acts 4:11-12). We use the term “Grace” to label God’s great favor given through Christ to those who deserve His curse. Such grace cannot coexist with a faulty “law” approach. So Javert and Valjean will conflict. One, being transformed by grace, will lavish grace on others. The other, not so much. Notice in Scripture how often God directs people away from their performance and toward His mercy. The question is will you trust in His rescue? It is transformative!