5 Differences Between Law and Gospel Everyone Should Memorize

There is a difference that makes all the difference in Christianity. It’s a difference that takes the pressure off so there’s no Christianity left to do—everything has already been done. All because of that difference, now you are—for the first time—freed to do.

The difference that I’m talking about is the difference between “do this” and “done”—it’s the difference between the law and the gospel. This difference is easy to understand but it’s so hard to practice because we are both forgetful and self-righteous.

We often want to take credit for something we didn’t even do. (“Look at all of the good things I’ve done.” Or “I’m a good person.” Or “Lord, look at all of the things I haven’t done—I’m not as bad as she is…”) All the while, in justification, God credits us with something we never did but Christ did for us. That gift is a credit we don’t deserve, but God nevertheless gives freely.

This is the difference between “doing” and “done.”

The law says, You are a sinner, and because of that are condemned (Romans 7:2).

 

But the gospel says, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved (1 Tim. 1:15; Acts 16:31).

 

The law comes back and says, Didnt you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor 6:9) and, therefore, you will not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

But then the gospel says, God has made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, that you might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).

 

The law tries again and says, Pay me what you owe me, or else I will throw you into prison (Matt 18:28-30).

 

But the gospel says, Christ gave himself as a ransom for you, and so you have been redeemed (1 Cor 1:30).

 

The law shouts, You have not done all that I required of you, therefore you are cut off from me and you are not my people (Deut 27:6).

 

But the gospel sings even louder, Christ has redeemed you from the curse of the law, he was even made a curse for you (Gal 3:13).

 

Again, the law demands, You are guilty before God and cannot escape the judgment of a holy God (Rom 2:3; 3:19)

 

But the gospel promises, The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:12).

Do you hear this difference? Can you feel the difference? Do you believe this difference between doing and done? You don’t have to try to earn it anymore—Jesus earned it for you and has never failed. You don’t have do anything to make yourself more acceptable before God. Jesus has made you acceptable by what he has done. There is nothing you need to fix—because the truth is, you can’t fix it. In Christ, God turns all of your doing into done.

So, give up the tireless and futile effort of trying to justify yourself before God. Drop out of the rat race. When you are busy trying to do something, trying to bring something, trying to change something, God stops you and says, “It is finished. Now go and sin no more.”

It’s that difference that makes all the difference.

[This post was adapted from an appendix attached at the end of E.F. The Marrow of Modern Divinity, penned by Thomas Boston.]

Photo of Nicholas Davis

Nicholas Davis

Nicholas Davis is lead pastor of Redemption Church (PCA) in San Diego, California. Nick has worked for White Horse Inn for several years, has contributed to Modern Reformation and other places, and is a writer for Core Christianity. Nick and his wife, Gina, have three sons. He blogs at nicholasmartindavis.com. Connect with Nicholas on Twitter @MundaneMinister.

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