In older days, before running water and electricity, people bathed in small pans of water that would be filled with water so they could wash. There were no drains or plumbing, attached, so after they were washed, the water in the pan would be dirty. They would then “throw out the dirty water”. So a saying arose to “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. The point in the saying was that we don’t throw out that which is still valuable along with that which isn’t.
I see a perfect example of this demonstrated through Christ’s teaching. He demonstrated that grace brings the cleansing waters, but that we don’t throw away the law, we just need to see the law in the light of Christ’s teachings. Jesus told us that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He told us not to throw it away, but to understand the Spirit and the purpose of the law, not just the letter of the law.
And His reaction to the crowd seeking punishment for the lady caught in the act of adultery is a great example to me of how we are meant to view the law and grace working together in unity.
They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
John 8:7 NLT
You see, Christ did not say, “the law is wrong”, He did not go against the law, He did not tell her to ignore the law and continue sinning. No, He taught the people who had pointing fingers and accusations and stones eagerly in their hands ready to execute judgement and punishment upon this sinner a lesson about compassion and mercy. And He still upheld the law and Word of God as faithful and true when He tells her to go and sin no more.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ———-
John 8:10-11 NLT
He doesn’t tell her that she is protected by grace to continue in her sins, He doesn’t hand her a get out of hell free card and send her back to her old life, He doesn’t tell her that He’s the Savior and she doesn’t need to obey the law anymore – He tells her that He does not condemn her and to go and stop sinning.
This represents a significantly different message than many will live by and teach who claim the name of Christ. Many fall into camps who are either focused on living by the letter of the law and measuring and judging and condemning those who aren’t like themselves – falling into legalism and the leaven of the Pharisees that is the spiritual pride of those practicing an empty religion who are lost in the deep darkness of a separation from the Truth and the love of our Heavenly Father. Or they fall into camps that excuse sin and worldly living, ignoring the Word of God or dismissing it as not having value or purpose or instruction for their lives because they’ve once said a prayer about Jesus and received a baptism by water and called His name – never having repented of their sins and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit or been freed from their captivity to a life walking in communion with God alive in their lives teaching, guiding, and comforting them.
You see, the narrow path is not throwing out the value ofthe instruction ofthe Word of God because of the living waters of grace. Nor is it ignoring the cleansing powers and purpose of grace by leaving the baby sitting in the dirty waters. The narrow path is accepting grace for its cleansing powers and understanding the value of the Word of God as holy and divine instruction for our lives that is more wise than our own opinions and cultural influences and preferences.
I encourage you to not use grace as an excuse to walk contrary to the Word of God saying, “I’m only a human sinner, I’m thankful that Jesus forgives me because I’m still in sin.” There is nothing in error with that statement, you babes in Christ seeking His touch upon your life, so I encourage you to strive on. But those who have been walking, we are not meant to remain babes, but to strive for spiritual maturity so that we can say, “I’m a child of God, thankful that Jesus loves in me and through Him I am empowered to go and sin no more.”
So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, and don’t leave the baby sitting in the dirty water either.
Know the value and purpose of grace, of your being equipped daily – in an appreciation and meditation upon the Word of God and in an attentiveness to the instruction of your teacher the Holy Spirit.
A slave is not yet free. Do not remain a slave.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34-36 NLT