The Dispensations of Law and Grace Understood with Karma

by Joshua Tilghman on October 27, 2013

6744045_7facb76396_oThere’s a silly notion prevalent in some religious circles today. It goes something like this:

“Since there was a Biblical dispensation of grace through Christ, all our debts (sins) can be instantly nullified when we believe and accept what Christ provided for us, and a much better life awaits us.”

Many years ago, I was taught that by accepting Christ my debts would be cleared. I was assured I had a brand new slate to start from. In essence, I had been born anew. This sounded really good, because I was quite confused about life. But I quickly discovered that this attitude can be very misleading.

It is an awesome desire to want to accept Christ and live for more lofty ideals. It can be a great experience that shows a man’s willingness to seek out something better than what he or she has known. It can even be the beginnings of a much better path, but ultimately we still have to realize we are essentially the same person. All the issues we had before are still buried in the subconscious and we are not magically transformed into a new creature just because we have made the decision to believe.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about this subject, perhaps a discussion on the Biblical concept of karma and what the different Biblical dispensations of law and grace truly mean can help clear some confusion.

What is Karma?

Karma comes from a Sanskrit word that translates “action,” but this isn’t the complete picture. The original meaning encompasses everything about action, including both actions and reactions. Karma governs all realms of existence, from the physical to the psychological and spiritual. Science is good at explaining actions and reactions in the physical world, but many of us aren’t very conscious of how karma effects the psychological and spiritual realms. And these components of our existence are really who we are! Everything we think, say, and do has an effect on ourselves and others no matter what our conscious state.

Karma is a fundamental law of the universe, a cause and effect relationship that cannot be escaped. Karma will continue to operate even after physical death, and it determines your afterlife experience in the astral and mental realms before another round of birth and death. Later in the article I’ll discuss why this phenomena doesn’t deserve the negative hype it has been given. Understanding Karma and applying certain attitudes to our life experiences aid our spiritual growth. Karma is an awesome fundamental law of the universe that aides us in our spiritual journey if we only come to understand more about it!

Karma in the Bible

The concept of karma is taught in many ancient religious texts, even if you don’t see the word; the Bible is no exception. Consider the Law of Moses. We are all familiar with the Biblical expression, “an eye for an eye.” This reveals the fundamental truth that what you do will have an opposite and equal reaction.

Jesus basically stated the same thing. He says,

“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye meet, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2).

Paul reiterates Jesus’ teaching in Galatians 6:7:

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap also.”

We reap what we sow because karma is always in effect. And yes, karma remains even in the dispensation of grace. Some would like argue that karma is not a Biblical concept, but it is my belief that they are robbing themselves of some very important spiritual knowledge.

The dispensation of law

Most people would agree that the Law of Moses was a moral code. But what they might not understand is that ultimately Moses’ Law is symbolic of the evolution of man’s thoughts and emotions. Near the end of Deuteronomy, Moses gives the Israelites an ultimatum:

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).

In other words, Moses is adjuring the people to follow the moral code set forth so that they and future generations will have life more abundantly. How do we have life more abundantly? By being happy and fulfilled, which is a state of being that stems from our thoughts and emotions. The blessings in Moses’ speech represent pleasant experiences, and the curses are negative ones. Our experiences eventually teach us how to enjoy social welfare. This takes time, energy, and effort. It takes devotion to an ethical code. It is the process of life before we can enter the Promise Land, or higher states of conscious well-being. We have to tangle with negative thoughts and emotions (the Canaanites), but when we apply ethical codes, they are already in the process of being defeated. Most of us are still in this stage of our spiritual evolutionary journeys, even Christians! So in very real sense, yes, Christians are still symbolically under the Law.

Remember that Jesus stated:

“Think that I am not come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).

Jesus was not necessarily ushering in something new, something that hadn’t been around before. The idea of the Christ has been around in enlightened circles for thousands of years before. Even Paul stated that Christ followed the Israelites out of Egypt over a thousand years before Christ’s biography appeared in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:4). The Christ within has always been available to people. It didn’t matter what dispensation people existed in.

This truth certainly eliminates the need to wonder where people went after they died before Christ was resurrected! J The answer is the same place as it’s always been; at death, some sleep in unconsciousness for a cycle, others have unpleasant experiences for a cycle, and some remain conscious in the upper mental planes (heaven) for a cycle. Few go on to states of existence we can’t even imagine, but ultimately the law of karma is the cause for our conscious states.

The Dispensation of Christ and Grace

If the Law of Moses is symbolic of the evolution of man’s thoughts and emotions through an outside moral code, what is the dispensation of grace through Christ? What is the story of Jesus ultimately symbolic of? The answer is that the dispensation of grace is symbolic of intuition where love and wisdom are comprehended directly from within (the heart), not some outside moral code.

As the prophet Jeremiah said, there will come a day when God’s law will be written in the hearts and minds of the individual, and they won’t need the law (of Moses) anymore. The person able to do this is the person who has birthed the Christ within. This is the reason Paul wrote:

I travail in birth till Christ be birthed within you. (Gal. 4:19).

We don’t birth the Christ by just giving a verbal expression of higher ideals, we eventually birth the Christ within through spiritual evolution, whereby experience and life become the ultimate guide. These truths bring us back to karma! When the Christ is manifested, a person’s karma isn’t really nullified, but there does come a balance within the soul.

Why karma is God’s Just Law

There are many misconceptions about Karma. Many people refer to “good karma” and “bad karma,” but this silly. Karma is indifferent. It doesn’t judge, nor is there a higher power that enforces it. It’s an inherent component of manifested spirit and consciousness (God). Karma should not be viewed as evil. In fact, it’s perfect justice. Not only is it perfect justice in the sense that everyone experiences what they sow, but it is also perfect justice because it is responsible for the evolution of our souls. Thus, karma should be viewed as ultimately positive because it is responsible in helping us to realize how to manifest pleasant experiences over negative ones (good and evil.)

Why we need to understand Karma

When karma is understood, life becomes more intelligible. It begins to make more sense, and when things make sense, usually we can begin living in a way that produces better experiences. This is true for both ourselves and the world around us.

Karma eventually forces us to evolve. When we keep producing negative or painful experiences, it causes us to reevaluate what we are doing. This process make take a hundred or thousands of years and many lifetimes over the long run, but it eventually motivates individual change. Since our karma is the driving force in building the intellect and emotions, eventually that person will have the intellect to properly evaluate the cause and effect relationships that constantly bring them pain. Intellect alone is not always motivation enough to do what is right. Emotions can distort our judgment. Physical desires may also override all else. But when a person gets to the point where they cannot take the pain any longer, usually a person will begin taking steps to break negative attachments, habits, and desires. This is the beginning of a higher intellect and emotional nature, and it takes an outside moral agent to help begin to develop this procedure. That is why the Law of Moses had to come first in scripture.

How this all means for the Christian

Many new Christians often wonder why life goes back to the way it was after accepting Christ. They may even doubt that they had the true “born again” experience, which can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and general negativity overall. Sure, there are emotional highs that may come and go. But usually when they get back out in the real world, they get beat up again. The problem is thinking this beating is coming from an outside evil force, like the Devil. The truth is that the problem is within them, and has been all along. All they have to do is begin changing the way they think and feel about themselves and their situations. The true devil, our own lower egos, which is comprised of negative thoughts and emotions, can keep us in negative cycles that repeatedly manifest in our lives.

I’ll quote one of my favorite Bible scriptures below:

“My people perish for a lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6).

Knowledge truly is power. Knowledge is a key to life, and ignorance is usually the true devil. I would recommend looking more into the concept of karma if you get the chance.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Delaney October 28, 2013 at 6:25 am

Dear Joshua,
I love the way you write. Simple, straightforward, honest and courageous! Thanks very much. I am with you all the way…
Very best wishes


Joshua Tilghman October 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Joe!


anny October 28, 2013 at 7:32 am

Hi Joshua,

You write: Consider the Law of Moses. We are all familiar with the Biblical expression, “an eye for an eye.” This reveals the fundamental truth that what you do will have an opposite and equal reaction.

This in itself is something positive, as Jewish scholars say that this commandment/Law is given in order to put a restraining influence on taking revenge.

Before that time people were even killed for something someone else thought of as an insult. The deed of revenge far exceeded the original deed, if even there was one. Moses put an end to that by saying an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. NO MORE. That was something people could accomplish, just after the escape from the slavery of ‘Egypt’, the complete control of the ego.

Telling them to turn the other cheek, like Jesus did later, would be far beyond their power at that stage and all too often it still is.

Personally I believe that Karma is a very useful tool for growth in this material world we live in (also called illusion or maya, or in biblical terms ‘tardema’, deep sleep) but I do not think that it still exists in the world of the Absolute Reality.



Justin October 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm


It is interesting to link Eye for Eye to Turn the Other Cheek. I would have never come to that on my own, but after some thought I have to agree with you. I guess I never looked at Eye for Eye as a restraint for revenge and looked at more as consent to get revenge. But people don’t need consent to get revenge, its bestial in nature.

Thank you for that insight.



anny October 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Hi Jake,

Thank you for your comment.

It is precisely because everyone always thinks that this Eye for an eye thing is all about revenge that I decided to comment on that. I too was very pleasantly surprised to hear what was the idea behind this when I heard it first.

It is a pity that so often things that are meant to be positive are taken by people and used in a negative way. The example above is not the only one by far and it is also not limited to the Bible.



Joshua Tilghman October 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Anny, I agree with you that karma does not exist in absolute reality, but whenever spirit is manifested, I believe it is still in operation. Great thoughts!


Brian October 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

My Physics Teacher, at school, used to give us riddles to deepen our understanding of the subject area.

One question he sent us home to solve, related to Newton’s Third Law of Motion; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Imagine a horse in a cart. The horse pulls forward and the cart pulls backward with equal force. Why doesn’t the horse and cart stay rooted in the one spot?

The answer, of course, is that the ultimate motion is determined by a difference between the force of the horse’s hooves, relative to the lesser frictional forces of the wheels of the cart.

As with Karma, it helps to look at the bigger picture; what may be happening within our spatial and temporal surroundings.

Too often, our misguided faith makes us like the devotee who jumped from a 30 story building to prove the power of his faith. As he passed by the second floor, he was heard to utter, “so far, so good!”

One of the truest religious thoughts is in the musical, Porgy and Bess; “It ain’t necessarily so.”

I think karma is a very helpful reminder that our faith and our various other belief schemas, however vigorously maintained, can never absolutely guarantee the future.

I too shuddered when I heard about what may have actually been an urban myth. When asked if US global aggression may result in Armageddon, Dubbya replied, “It doesn’t matter, I am born again, so I will be saved.”

I say thank God for disciplinary notions of karma; and inspired Physics Teachers!


Tony March 25, 2014 at 7:10 am

This truth certainly eliminates the need to wonder where people went after they died before Christ was resurrected! J The answer is the same place as it’s always been; at death, some sleep in unconsciousness for a cycle, others have unpleasant experiences for a cycle, and some remain conscious in the upper mental planes (heaven) for a cycle. Few go on to states of existence we can’t even imagine, but ultimately the law of karma is the cause for our conscious states.

Please can you expound more on this, thanks?


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