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Sermon #1066

The Law given by Moses

A Sermon on John 1:17


John 1:17 ESV KJV
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Sermon Description

What is the balance between the law and grace? How should a Christian approach the law of Moses? Do they live as though they are under the law? In this sermon on John 1:17, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones elaborates on the right perspective on the law. The law that came through Moses is something to be studied and appreciated. Without the law, there is no need for grace and no one would feel the full weight of sin. However, the Christian is no longer under the law. This is the balance that must be struck. The Christian must look at the law and study it ravenously, not to gain righteousness by it, but instead to know the depth of the grace and mercy that is received through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian’s confidence is not in what they can do to obey the law, but in the one who perfectly fulfilled the law on their behalf. If the Christian finds themself constantly trying to measure up and falling short of their own conscience, the solution is not merely to try harder, but instead to trust in Christ who forgives and who gives His Spirit for sanctification and empowerment.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
  2. This verse is often misunderstood. It is not meant to depreciate the law or dismiss it as if it were of no value.
  3. The law was God's law, not Moses' law. God gave the law to Moses.
  4. There is grace and truth in the law. The sacrifices and ceremonies point forward to Christ.
  5. John is showing the superiority and all-sufficiency of Christ, not dismissing the law.
  6. The law and the gospel must not be contrasted absolutely. The law contained grace and truth.
  7. The Jews misused and misunderstood the law. John wants them to understand the law's proper function and relationship to the gospel.
  8. The importance of this for us: We will never know the grace of God in Christ until we understand our position under the law.
  9. We tend to dismiss the law and not allow it to do its work in us. This is a misunderstanding of grace. Grace does not dismiss the law.
  10. We can only measure grace in terms of law. We will never know what grace has done for us until we see ourselves condemned by the law.
  11. The parable of the two debtors shows that those who are forgiven much love much. We love little because we feel little is forgiven, and we feel little is forgiven because we fail to see our need, and we fail to see our need because we ignore the law.
  12. We tend to think of sin as a nuisance rather than against God. The law shows us sin in God's sight.
  13. We desire happiness rather than holiness. Happiness comes from holiness, not the other way around.
  14. Dismissing the law leads to antinomianism, the belief that it does not matter what we do since we are under grace.
  15. The second misunderstanding is mixing law and grace. We oscillate between the two instead of standing firmly under grace.

The Book of John

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.