Saturday, April 23, 2022

By the Law is the Knowledge of Sin




Suppose that life tapped a man on the shoulder and said, "You need a break slim, let's go for a drive."  The man comfortably saddles himself in his vehicle, drags the safety sash across his chest and glides the belt into buckle.  Relaxed, he slowly presses on the gas pedal.  The car doesn't move.  Still hopeful he decides to press the pedal with a little more force. Sadly, the car doesn't flinch an inch. In his frustration he stomps on the pedal with both feet in rapid succession over and over, faster and faster.  He yells at the car as if it's sentient, and stubbornly refuses to put the key in the ignition first.  Due to his Fred Flintstone complex, he firmly believes in exercising feet first, instead of key first. As a result the man never could take that relaxing drive that his life wanted him to enjoy.  My friend, did you know many people do this when it comes to their salvation? Often times they make the grave mistake of placing God's sanctification before justification. Many of those types believe that following the ten commandments or other aspects of the Old Testament will make them justified in the sight of their creator. What does the scripture actually say?

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God -Galatians 3:11

How is a man justified?  Well first we must define what biblical justification is. To be justified is to be declared righteous permanently (Galatians 3:6). Growing up I was taught I needed to "exercise" my faith to be justified before God.  This unfortunately is what the man in the illustration was doing, exercising his foot against the pedal first, instead of placing the key in the ignition. Here is the key my friend, faith itself is what justifies us before God, not exercising obedience to the works of the law.  You see the law is more like a compass, it points first to our sin,

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. -Romans 3:20

The law points to the fact that we all fall short of God's perfection, for by the law is the knowledge of our sin.  We have all broken God's moral standard the 10 commandments (James 2:10; Romans 3:10).  Since we all miss the mark, we all fall short of God's glory and his perfect standard (Romans 3:23).  The law is multi-faceted as it also points to something or rather someone else,

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  -Galatians 3:24

The main focus of the law first then is to illustrate that we are all sinners. By the law is the knowledge of sin, we are able to recognize we fall short and have sinned against a holy God.  The law states not to lie in the 9th commandment, have you ever lied? Well here comes the knowledge of sin, you have fallen short of God's perfect standard and thus his glory. If God was to justify us by our own efforts to do good then Christ's death is in vain! Don't believe me?  The scripture makes it abundantly clear, 

 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. -Galatians 2:21

So we learn that exercising the law as it pertains to justification is frustrating the grace of God.  If you think that trusting in your own moral efforts will get you to heaven you are gravely mistaken.  All our trespasses were forgiven at the cross (Col 2:13), all men have the choice to receive complete justification by faith.  Not by works of righteousness we have done, but by his mercy he saved us (Titus 3:5).  The law points us first to our sin, and then the law as our schoolmaster brings us to Christ. After that faith has come we become graduates of the law, because Christ fulfilled the law perfectly (Galatians 3:25). We are therefore justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law,

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. -Galatians 2:16

You see Christ takes us how we are, and by faith we are justified (Romans 4:5), our eternal destination is already set and we are made righteous.  By faith alone God seals us with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), and by his power and might (Col 1:11) we are to able to exercise our faith AFTER we have been justified (Ephesians 2:10). If James 2 is your hang up, see my article that goes more in depth here. A true believer is a new creature (2nd Cor 5:17), and God will start a holy work through him. Sanctification follows justification.  Becoming justified is NOT leaning on God by "faith" by exercising obedience to the law. Rather when we are justified by faith, first we are positionally sanctified set apart and made holy (Acts 13:39).  Secondly, the sanctification process is a purging process that grows our faith in the Lord (2nd Peter 3:18). The Holy Spirit teaches and chastens us (John 14:26).  We are still burdened by the flesh, but are promised a comforter to assist us in the meantime. We still wrestle between the flesh and the spirit (Gal 5:17), because we have not yet been glorified.  In this middle arena of being born-again, and yet in the flesh the Holy Spirit begins a new work in us to make us more holy here and now despite the desires of our flesh. He does this by assisting our faith while battling the old man in us until we pass onto heaven (Phillipians 1:6). In our passing we will be made blameless and our sanctification complete (1st Thess 5:23), perfectly purged by the blood of the lamb. 

As a side note, it is important to answer the critic that asks, "If a man is justified by grace through faith does that make it alright for a man to continue in sin? Wouldn't our sinful life further illustrate God's grace?" God's  answer is NO! We are dead to sin and that old man is crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6).

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:1-2

While on earth a man will never be perfect, but he can be made righteous through faith in Christ.  The Holy Spirit leads and resides in a believer and will instruct him/her to follow the 10 commandments (Nehemiah 9:20), but that is because the believer is ALREADY justified and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. It's the gently leading of the spirit that grows a man's faith. 

In the religious institution I grew up in I was taught an idea that completely inverted God's truth, it went as follows,

...that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  THIS ANSWER IS FALSE

I'd like to tweak this a bit and give it a bible-based makeover, so here it goes,

...that through faith in the finished work of Christ all mankind may be saved (fully justified) and nothing elseTHIS ANSWER IS TRUE

It's not by obedience to "laws and ordinances" that determines our final resting place (see Galatians 2:16).  The handwriting of ordinances that were against us were nailed to His cross, there is nothing that we can do aside from belief (Colossians 2:14). The atonement made payment for ALL our sins and through faith in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection we are justified (Romans 10:9). We are promised a one way ticket to the one spiritual heaven that exists (John 3:16)!  Our justification is why we are reconciled to be in the very presence of God in heaven for eternity (2nd Cor 5:18)! The rejection of Christ, or trusting in your own works is a one way ticket to eternal separation from God in Hell (Proverbs 14:12; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 20:15). Why?  Because you're trusting in yourself or something other than Christ to get to heaven. Jesus said he is the only way (John 14:6). Christ is the only one who can charge perfection to your account (2nd Cor 5:21). Why? He lived a sinless life, the eternal God through whom all of creation was spawned has provided a way to justify us, the only one who could ever pay our sin debt by his precious blood (Revelation 1:5).  Christ took it all upon his shoulders so you wouldn't have to die in your sin. We are all cursed (Gal 3:10), this is why Christ had to become a curse for us and suffer for our sins at the cross (1st Peter 2:24; Deut 21:22-23).   All God has ever wanted is a loving relationship with you, and what does that kind of relationship require? Trust. Believing God is trusting in him. He will not leave you nor forsake you, just surrender everything (Hebrews 13:5). God doesn't want your religion, he wants your whole heart (Acts 8:37). 

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. -1st John 5:13




Saturday, April 16, 2022

Quick Edification Series: Ephesians 5:5 and Salvation


 

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.


Scouring across the terrain of the internet one cannot escape vast valleys of deceit. More often than not these days, one has to work their way through the digital fog, and climb to a peak void of the noise to find the truth so often obscured.  As it is with the case of the Bible, many proponents of false positions love to take their anonymous blow horn touting their half baked opinion on scriptures such as these.  I have discovered many love to cherry pick their pet verses and build their straw hut of doctrine, that mere context could easily blow down. One of these such verses is Ephesians 5:5. So instead of the big bad wolf huffing and puffing and blowing down the poorly constructed dwellings of swine, let's allow instead the Holy Spirit's breath to melt away the misconceptions of swine like interpretation.

The misconception of this verse state that people who commit the sins that Paul mentions can: A. Lose their salvation or B. Cannot be saved.  Some expect that you have to broom sweep and squeak clean your life before God accepts you. Others that if you stumble as a believer into these sins you are at a grave risk of being voided of your grand inheritance in God's kingdom. Instead getting into a verbal tussle here, one should ask what saith the scriptures? 

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Ephesians 4:17

Throughout many of Paul's letters, he compares and contrasts what a Christian's walk should be, compared to that of the world of unbelievers. He talks of being imitators of God, and walking in his light (Ephesians 5:2). So when we get to Ephesians 5:5, Paul is saying not to walk like those in the world (Ephesians 4:17) because they have no inheritance in God's kingdom. Paul warns to stay away from these things because they are the very reasons that will cause God to pour out his wrath on sinful earth.  Notice Paul in 5:7 mentions to be not partakers with them.  Believers should not have yoke with the world (2nd Cor 6:14), and this is what Paul is talking about.  Those who live such lives void of regeneration will be judged for these things.  So Paul is not talking about losing one's salvation, but rather stating that we should all allow Christ to live through us, rather than give place to the vain spirit that plagues this world. We should not live vainly for these are the very reasons God will judge and carry out his penalty on a sinful world. After all, worldly things are temporal and will perish (Proverbs 14:12).  If you would like to see how scripture supports that a believer is eternally secure see my article: 7 Reasons All in Christ are Eternally Secure.

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