Law & Grace: Old treasure is still treasure

What if you dug in your backyard or forest near your home and discovered a treasure chest full of old gold coins – would you throw it away?

I mean, obviously, you would just get rid of it, right? Who needs old gold coins, when you’ve got a new iPhone or iPad? Old coins can’t measure up to a flat screen HD television. They don’t compare to an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Think of all the amazing new treasures you have in your house. Why even bother with those old treasures?

At this point, you are probably thinking I’m crazy. Why would you get rid of old valuables simply because you have new valuables? You’re right. Treasure is treasure. Who cares how old it is? It’s silly to get rid of the old, when you can have the new and old.

Yet, so many Christians behave this way toward the Old Testament and the law.

Photo from by Zoran Ozetsky

In Matthew 13, Jesus is using parables to teach in such a way that many of his detractors miss the point, while his disciples can understand them. Still, his disciples have problems with the parables, as well. They have to ask Jesus to explain them.

After giving them even more parables and some explanations, Jesus asks the disciples if they have understood what He was teaching them. They answered that they have. Then, Jesus says something that I have missed until this past week.

He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52

These disciples, who knew of the Old Testament law, were now following Christ. It is not that they traded law for grace. They had the law and they now had the fulfillment of it. They knew the purpose of this treasure.

But that doesn’t seem right. Isn’t grace supposed to be the end of the law? Doesn’t Paul speak out against the law?

If there is one book of the New Testament that should speak harshly against the law, it is Galatians. In that epistle, Paul is challenging the Galatian believers who have left the true Gospel for a false gospel of works. They have a misunderstanding of the law. Even here, however, Paul does not tell them the law is worthless and should be discarded as trash. Rather, the law should be used according to its actual purpose.

He wrote that the law is absolutely not opposed to God. It was our guardian or tutor to bring us to Christ. (Galatians 3:24) It was to show us our need of a Savior and leads us to salvation. The law points us to grace.

So, now that we have grace, we are with Christ, should we discard the law? In doing so, we would discard so much of value, an old treasure. In Psalm 119, we see how much joy is brought from keeping the law.

I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.
Psalm 119:14-16

Seeing (and obeying) the eternal truths present in the principles of the law leads to joy and peace. The law can still point us to behaviors that please the Lord and instruct us in behaviors that displease Him. The law doesn’t save us, but it was never designed for that purpose.

The law was like a jeweled key leading to room with the greatest prize – Christ. No, the key is not the door, but it is the key. If you have a key, there’s a good chance there is a door to match it. The law, that we cannot obey on our own, shows us of our need for the One who can live perfectly according to the law. Then, it continues to show us how we can live our lives more like His.

The Old Testament in your Bible is not some antiquated piece of writing, eclipsed by the New Testament. It is the faithful and accurate recording that demonstrates the character of our God, whom we may see in a clearer way in the New Testament.

The law is not opposed to grace. According to Jesus, the law is a jewel to be displayed beside grace. Old treasure is still treasure.

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About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.