For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Having just stated that our sole experience as believers in Jesus is the fullness of His continuous grace—grace upon grace—John emphasized God’s law in order to highlight and contrast it to Christ’s grace.
Why did God give His law? Paul gave the answer: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Later on Paul illustrated that as follows: “For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Rom. 7:7). Since the law discovers our sins, it also “brings [God’s] wrath” (Rom. 4:15). We don’t deserve anything but God’s righteous indignation.
However, that’s not the ultimate goal of God’s law. The goal of His Law is the simple confession: Jesus is my righteousness. Paul stated that as follows: “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:3-4). He is the One who truly fulfilled the Law (see Matt. 5:17). Consequently, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
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The Devotional Writer
Author of “An Unfathomable Gift!“