John condensed the history of salvation into one verse: The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17, NKJV). As a result of Adam’s sin, all humanity has been affected by the curse of death. The curse is intensified by the fact that no one born to human parents, except Jesus, has been free from sinful inclinations. Therefore, God selected a people to whom He revealed His law, intending that those elected would be His light to the other nations. God did not give the law to Israel as a means to salvation but as a constant reminder of their need for righteousness.
When he disobeyed the express command of God, the first Adam plunged the entire world into disarray and bondage. On the other hand, through His obedient life, the Second Adam, Jesus, came to deliver the world from the bondage that the first Adam had brought. When Jesus walked this earth, He voluntarily subjected His own will to the will of His Father and chose not to sin. Unlike the first Adam, who brought condemnation and falsehood into the world, Jesus brought in grace and truth. Grace and truth did not supplant the law. Jesus showed, instead, why the law alone was not enough to procure salvation. The truth that He brought was a more complete understanding of grace.
The Greek word translated as grace (charis) can also mean gift and is related to the term for joy (chara). The gift that Jesus gives to humanity is eternal life. Further, grace manifests itself as the indwelling presence of Christ that enables the individual to participate in the righteousness that the law promotes. Paul states that in condemning sin in the flesh, Jesus has made it possible for the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4, NKJV). Grace not only frees us from the condemnation of the law, but it enables us to keep the law in the way that we are called to do.