(The Abundant Life Series – Batch 2)
We are all born in an unrighteous, unjustified, sinful state because our first ancestors Adam and Eve sinned against God the Creator, thereby plunging all the rest of humanity into sin. Simply put, we are all born with sin in our DNA and there is no exception.
This poses a problem because God’s Word the Bible makes it clear, that only the righteous (the justified) will be allowed into his perfect, sinless heaven. In fact, no human being can have access to heaven and eternal life when they die or leave this world, unless God grants them justification and makes them righteous. It is something that only he can give.
HOW CAN A PERSON BE JUSTIFIED/MADE RIGHTEOUS?
The Bible teaches that a man can be justified (made righteous/saved) by God in either of two (2) ways:
1. By grace through FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- “For by grace are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)
- “Even the righteousness of God which is by FAITH of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…” (Romans 3:22)
2. By the LAW, provided that the person did everything the law required.
- “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the LAW shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13)
JUSTIFICATION (RIGHTEOUSNESS) THROUGH THE FAITH (GRACE) ROUTE – POSSIBLE
The FAITH route to justification and righteousness (salvation) is a possible and easy road for every human being to take. For, all it requires is that a person through faith, believe that the testimony of Jesus, as recorded in the Word of God is true.
That is, although he or she never met him and were not eye witnesses of his death and resurrection, he or she still genuinely believes in his or her heart that Jesus Christ (the perfect Son of God who took on human form, came to earth many years ago and was killed by men), truly rose from the dead as he said he would on the third day and as is recorded in the Word of God. In believing this, he or she then confesses that Jesus is Lord with his or her mouth because that is exactly who he is, turning his or her back in repentance on his or her sinful way of living and surrendering his or her life completely to the Lordship of Jesus.
To explain how the FAITH road to righteousness works solely through a person’s BELIEVING, Abraham, a man in the Old Testament who lived before the law was given to the Israelites, who had strong FAITH in God and BELIEVED whatever God said to be true is mentioned in the Bible as an example for us.
Although he and his wife were very old and their bodies practically as dead, when God told him that he would make him a father of many nations, in FAITH, he BELIEVED God, that he would raise up his body and Sarah his wife’s body to do it, simply because he is God and he said it. This FAITH that Abraham had in God and BELIEF that whatever he said would happen, would take place, pleased God and so because of Abraham’s FAITH in God to resurrect the deadness of he and his wife’s old bodies to bring about conception, God made him righteous.
Romans 4:3,13,17-25 and 5-1-4 state:
- “For what saith the scripture? Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…
- For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed, through the LAW, but through the righteousness of FAITH…
- (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he BELIEVED, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope BELIEVED in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
- And being not weak in FAITH, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in FAITH, giving glory to God; And being FULLY PERSUADED that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
- Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we BELIEVE on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
- Therefore being justified by FAITH, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by FAITH into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
JUSTIFICATION (RIGHTEOUSNESS) THROUGH THE LAW ROUTE – IMPOSSIBLE
The second route to justification is the law, as is spelt out in the Old Testament as comprising the law of the ten commandments and the Mosaic law.
This law, which was given by God to the Israelites through Moses was and is very good. Romans 7:12 states of it that: “… the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
Taking the road of the law to justification and righteousness however is not only difficult but impossible. For, after a man has done his very best to comply with the law, God still declares him a failure because ‘very best’ is not a good enough standard under the law.
Simply put, the law demands absolute perfection and that the person under its authority, do ALL that it says without any breach whatsoever. The reality is though, that ever since the time of the Israelites in the Old Testament when the law was given, nobody, no matter how good a life he or she may have tried to live, has been able to reach the standard required by the law, which is absolute, one hundred percent (100%), no room for error, perfection.
Based on this standard, God has already assessed the hearts of all men since the law was provided to the Israelites and He has given everyone (past, present and future) a grade F for failure. This is why in Romans 3:10-12, it states:
- “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
The person who tries to attain God’s righteousness and to be justified by the law therefore, will fail miserably. If he insists on continuing along this path, He will remain in his sins and die in his unrighteous state and therefore, not be able to access heaven.
In Romans 2, God’s Word makes it clear that it makes no sense to even teach the law, as the teacher himself is being hypocritical because he himself cannot honestly say that he has complied with everything under the law, 100% of the time and reached that place of absolute perfection. For, he is carnal and sold under sin and therefore, he cannot meet the law’s perfect requirements (Romans 7:14).
If such a person insists on living under the law therefore (and does not instead take the faith route, which God has made available) but continues to teach and mislead others in this direction, the Bible reminds him that he himself will not make it to heaven, as he has chosen the path of condemnation.
Are you teaching something (the law) that you yourself cannot live up to? The law is to be followed in its entirety, so it is not sufficient to do only part of it. For example, it is not sufficient to practise circumcision or just the sabbath and ignore all the other aspects required by the law. Remember, the law is not just the ten commandments (which, even if it had been, you cannot honestly say that you have never broken any of them). The law, which is to be followed in its entirety by those under its authority in order to qualify for justification, also comprises the Mosaic law and God gave dozens of these laws to the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Ultimately, if you insist on doing the law to be justified, the law requires so much and is so burdensome, that you will fail even as the Israelites failed. As a result, you will not be justified by God but condemned to hell because the law demands perfection. If you refuse to avail yourself of the grace being freely offered by God through the easier route of faith alone in Jesus alone, then, given that you are outside the parameters of grace (by choice), you will be judged by God under the law and the full brunt of the law will be brought upon your head.
In fact, under the law, God has already condemned you and declared you a failure. This is why in Romans 3:20, it states: “… by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.”
In Romans 2:12-25, Paul reminded the Jews (Israelites) who were placing confidence in the law route to get to heaven and making a boast of the fact that the law was initially given to them by God, that it is the doers of the law that are justified and nobody else. Therefore, even if the law was given to them and they knew what it said inside out, so much so that they considered themselves qualified to teach others, if they failed to do just one iota under the law, they would be condemned just like other Gentiles. In other words, Paul was letting them know that they were not special because they knew the law. It was not those who knew the law and taught it to others that would be justified but those who did it.
The problem is, nobody has thus far done the law perfectly, not even those who teach the law to others. Sadly, today, the main teachers of this doctrine of hopelessness which is in the law are not even Israelites but Gentiles, people who the law was never given to in the first place! Such people have a form of godliness but they are on the wrong track.
Gentiles are all people on the face of the earth who are not Israelites. It therefore includes you, me and the average person you meet on a day to day basis.
Of those who insist on trying to make it to heaven through the law route, Paul, an Israelite, stated:
- “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
- For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
- Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, IF thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.”
THE LAW ROUTE COMPARED TO THE FAITH ROUTE
Unlike the LAW route, which demands 100% sinless perfection in order to be justified, the road of FAITH requires no such thing because the price has already been paid for sin by the sacrifice of the perfect one, the Lord Jesus Christ and the shedding of his perfect blood. That blood, being the blood of the Son of God, has justifying power to all in the world that believe that God raised up the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and place their faith for salvation in him alone (Romans 5:9).
God has already declared the whole world to be guilty under the LAW and found that we cannot keep up with its demands (Romans 3:19). It makes no sense at this stage therefore, for you to try to rewrite history or to foolishly think that you are better than all that have gone before and failed and that somehow, you will make it.
Also, under the LAW, it has stated that the penalty for sin is to be death. Failure under the law therefore carries the penalty of death, not just physical death of the body in this life but spiritual death after physical death, of the soul in hell.
This is why the Bible urges people to take the road of FAITH to justification (which has been offered solely through the grace of God) and not try to make it on the impossible road of the law which (although the law is good in itself) will surely lead them (due to their many imperfections and inability to do every act, work and deed perfectly all the time) to condemnation and destruction.
In Romans 3:19-28 for example, it states, when comparing the LAW route to the route of FAITH in Jesus Christ:
- “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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.
- But now the righteousness of God WITHOUT THE LAW is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST unto all and upon all them that BELIEVE: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- Being justified freely by his GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through FAITH in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which BELIEVETH in Jesus.
- Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of WORKS? Nay: but by the law of FAITH. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by FAITH without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:19-28)
Whereas keeping the law is hard, requires constant work and is exhausting, frustrating and hopeless, FAITH in Jesus Christ alone which comes by BELIEVING in his resurrection is much more promising and provides rest, as it guarantees righteousness, justification and salvation, without having to focus on complying with the Old Testament law.
Hebrews 4:3,9-10 states:
- “For we which have BELIEVED do enter into rest…There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
Romans 4:4-8 states:
- “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but BELIEVETH on him that justifieth the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Once a person is justified by FAITH, they are then enabled through the Holy Spirit which comes to dwell in them, to obey the New Testament commands of Jesus, not in their own strength but His. These New Testament commands for all who have taken the FAITH route to justification and righteousness are referred to in the Bible as ‘the law of liberty’, the law of faith’ or ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’.
In lamenting the fact that Israel, God’s chosen people in the Old Testament were still focusing on trying to be righteous before God based on the LAW (the Old Testament law) and not on FAITH, while some Gentiles (non-Israelites) had already accessed this righteousness and justification through the FAITH route, Paul stated in Romans 9:30-33:
- “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of FAITH. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by FAITH, but as it were by the works of the LAW. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone.”
The law, though good therefore was to the Israelites (and continue to be to them), a stumblingstone, as, in focusing hopelessly on it for righteousness, when another easier route has been provided by God, they missed out and continue to miss out on the great opportunity to obtain that very justification, which comes through FAITH in Jesus Christ his Son.
To attain God’s righteousness, the Bible makes it absolutely clear, that all of mankind (including the Israelites) must access it by FAITH. For, the alternative law road to righteousness will lead inevitably to failure.
In Romans10:1-13, Paul continued:
- “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
- But the righteousness which is of FAITH speaketh on this wise…That if thou shalt CONFESS with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt BELIEVE in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever BELIEVETH on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
WHY THE FAITH ROUTE TO JUSTIFICATION AND RIGHTEOUSNESS BECAME AVAILABLE TO US
When we are born into the world, automatically, we are born under the authority of the law (the Old Testament law) and therefore embark upon the LAW route. This means therefore, given that we are born with sin in our DNA and we also commit our own sins, that we are born in a state of condemnation.
However, every human being can make the choice to pass from this path of condemnation and futility that is characteristic of the LAW route and to take the FAITH route which is easier, safe and secure.
Taking the FAITH route so as to escape the LAW route which condemns is not however, automatic. We gain access to the FAITH route because of the sacrifice Jesus, made for us years earlier.
Given that mankind had failed colossally under the LAW and God knew that they would continue to fail every time they tried to keep it and therefore were in a state of hopeless condemnation, Jesus came to earth for mankind and died in your place (and mine), so as to pay the penalty for sin, reverse the damage that Adam caused when he sinned and in so doing, redeem mankind back to himself.
1 Timothy 1:15 states, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
When Jesus allowed himself to be captured and killed by men therefore, it was God’s plan that he pay the price of death as a substitute for sinful human beings and in so doing, satisfy the just demands of the law for your sins (and mine). For, the law stated that the soul that sinned must die.
In this way, in love, Jesus served as a substitute because it was not the will of God that any soul should perish and go to hell. By the will of God, the penalty for sin under the law was applied and paid for in full by his Son Jesus Christ, the perfect one, who, although he was without any sin, died as a substitute for you (and for me).
Given that he was the Son of God and had never sinned but was perfect, him paying for the sins of the whole world by shedding his perfect blood through death, once, for all was sufficient to meet the demands of the law, which pointed out our sins and therefore, the penalty that lay over each of our guilty heads.
Having completed this work and having met the just demands of the law by dying on our behalf, all who BELIEVE on Jesus, in his resurrection and in the finished work he did on the cross when he died for the sins of all humanity and therefore CONFESS him as Lord (which is his rightful position), freely gain access to the FAITH route that brings justification, righteousness, redemption and salvation.
No money is required to get on this route and there is nothing you can do to earn it. All that is required is that you BELIEVE through FAITH that God rose Jesus from the dead and CONFESS with your mouth that he (Jesus) is Lord, meaning Lord over you, Lord over your life and Lord over all creation.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO INSIST ON HOLDING ON TO THE LAW?
All who refuse to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and refuse to confess that he is Lord, remain on the LAW route which condemns. Furthermore, all who claim to believe in Jesus through faith but insist on holding on to the law or any aspect of it, not recognizing that when Jesus Christ came and died for our sins, he abolished this Old Testament law, such persons will not be able to access the FAITH route to eternal life. For, you cannot walk on both the LAW route and the FAITH route at the same time. You cannot wear the label of FAITH and the label of the LAW at the same time. You must put off one, in order to put on the other. You must make a choice.
Ephesians 2:13-16 states that Jesus Christ abolished the Old Testament law of commandments which previously separated the Israelite people from Gentile people. It reads:
- “But now in IN CHRIST JESUS ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; HAVING ABOLISHED in his flesh the enmity, even THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”
Once you insist on holding on to any aspect of the LAW therefore, you become ineligible for the FAITH route and its gate is closed to you because you are refusing to accept through FAITH alone, the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for you.
In Galatians 2:16, 18-21, 3:1-3 and 5:1-14, Paul sought to make it clear that those who have come to Jesus Christ by FAITH are no longer required to follow after the LAW or any part of it, meaning the law of the Old Testament but are to be led by the Spirit of God, which indwells every true believer.
Where the Galatians who had claimed to place their FAITH in Jesus Christ were being tempted by others to mix their new found FAITH with aspects of the LAW, like circumcision, Paul was stern in his assessment of them, referring to the law as a “yoke of bondage” and to the Galatians as “foolish” and “bewitched”.
The scriptures read:
- “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… For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the GRACE of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
- O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the TRUTH, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of FAITH? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?…
- Stand fast therefore in the LIBERTY wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the WHOLE law. Christ is become of NO EFFECT unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
- For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by FAITH. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but FAITH which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the TRUTH?
- This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
- I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto LIBERTY; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
On the whole therefore, persons who insist on trying to keep any aspect of the LAW in the Old Testament (whether this be circumcision, the sabbath, refraining from eating certain meats or otherwise (and whether together with faith or by itself), as a prerequisite to being made righteous and getting to heaven, delude themselves into thinking that they have FAITH in Jesus Christ.
For, in holding on to aspects of the LAW, they demonstrate (1) that they underestimate or do not understand the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, (2) that they believe that they are still under the authority of the Old Testament laws or some of it and (3) that there is something that they can do in their flesh (human effort) that will be considered good enough by God to add to what Jesus Christ has done on the cross.
That is such people are not in the FAITH and are therefore not IN CHRIST, as they are in essence doubting that Jesus Christ alone, devoid of works and completely devoid of the Old Testament LAW is sufficient. Simply put: Alleged ‘faith’ in Jesus Christ mixed with the LAW is evidence of no faith at all. For, of necessity, FAITH must stand alone. It can stand alone, for Jesus is enough.
In particular, some people think that they must add the Old Testament LAW to FAITH or some aspects of it, so as to make themselves acceptable in the sight of God. This reveals that they have confidence in their flesh, meaning that they think highly enough of themselves to believe that, despite what scripture clearly says, there is still something that they can contribute of their own character and goodness, so as to earn God’s merit. They find it hard to believe that there is absolutely nothing that they can do which will be acceptable in God’s sight, other than ceasing from their own efforts and instead, having complete and absolute acceptance of Christ’s work on the cross for their sins.
Sadly, if such persons never come to their senses and never completely abandon the LAW route for the FAITH route, such persons will be condemned, will die a failure in their unrighteous state and be banished to hell because they do not believe that Jesus alone is sufficient and that he already fulfilled or satisfied all of the requirements of the law for us, on the cross.
Because Jesus fulfilled the law and perfectly, those who believe on him and have therefore received spiritual life in Christ Jesus are no longer required to try to keep it. It is fulfilled in us when we walk in the Spirit because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. We therefore have no confidence whatsoever in our flesh or anything that we can do to please God and only in Jesus Christ who is our focus because we know that our best works are as filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6).
In Philippians 3:3, Paul stated of those who had taken the FAITH route and had therefore completely abandoned works and the flesh (self-effort), “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in THE SPIRIT, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.”
Having been justified freely by grace through FAITH and destined for heaven, we are only now expected to continue on with Jesus in FAITH, living in the Spirit and in obedience to the fresh commands he has given for all believers under the new Covenant in the New Testament, either directly or through his apostles.
Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:5-17 and Romans 8:1-4 clearly state of the LAW (which it refers to as ‘the ministration of death’ or ‘the ministration of condemnation’ or ‘the law of sin and death’) and FAITH through Jesus Christ (referred to as ‘the ministration of righteousness’ or ‘the ministration of the Spirit’ or ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’):
- “BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, that being dead wherein we were held: that WE SHOULD SERVE IN THE NEWNESS OF THE SPIRIT and NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER.“
- “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the NEW TESTAMENT; NOT OF THE LETTER, but of THE SPIRIT: for the letter killeth, but THE SPIRIT giveth life.
- But if the MINISTRATION OF DEATH, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; WHICH GLORY WAS TO BE DONE AWAY WITH: How shall not the MINISTRATION OF THE SPIRIT be rather glorious?
- For if the MINISTRATION OF CONDEMNATION be glory, much more doth the MINISTRATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious (N.B. referring to THE LAW) had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth (N.B. referring to FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST). For if that WHICH IS DONE AWAY WAS glorious (N.B. referring to the LAW), much more that which remaineth is glorious (N.B.: referring to FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST).
- Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of THAT WHICH IS ABOLISHED: BUT THEIR MINDS WERE BLINDED: FOR UNTIL THIS DAY REMAINETH THE SAME VEIL UNTAKEN AWAY IN THE READING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; WHICH VEIL IS DONE AWAY IN CHRIST….NOW THE LORD IS THAT SPIRIT: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY.“
- “…There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN CHRIST JESUS, who walk not after the flesh but after THE SPIRIT. For THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HATH MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the SPIRIT.”
THE FRESH COMMANDS GIVEN UNDER THE FAITH ROUTE
On a final note, for those who have been justified by FAITH alone in Christ Jesus and are therefore saved and destined for heaven (not through anything that they have done or by keeping any law but by simply believing on the resurrection of Jesus), Jesus has provided fresh instructions and commands in the New Testament, which, those who genuinely BELIEVE on Him, will aspire through his enabling Spirit which indwells them, to obey.
In this regard, being justified by faith and under grace does not mean that the Christian (believer and follower of Christ) gets to live life as he pleases, licentiously, without rules and lawlessly. No. We cannot just do as we feel and claim to have liberty. While not bugged down anymore by the Old Testament law which has been abolished by Jesus Christ (Praise the Lord!) we are now to operate by the commands given by Jesus in the New Testament, referred to in the Word as “the law to Christ.”
1 Corinthians 9:21, in referring to those who are now under grace and no longer the law (meaning the Old Testament law), Paul wrote: “To them that are without law, as without law (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,)… We are therefore no longer subject to Old Testament ordinances which we have been freed from but we are now subject to Christ’s commands.
In looking now as a child adopted by FAITH into God’s family, to see these fresh commands (which have been given by Jesus either directly or through his apostles for those who are in the body of Christ), you will find that some of the commands/directives are completely new, whereas some are the same as the old and have therefore been restated or taken to a greater level.
Some people take the fact that some commands have been restated, to mean that God expects the Church to continue the Old Testament law and to continue to be under its authority or some aspects of it, like the sabbath. It must be made clear though, that:
- (1) The Old Testament law has been abolished in Christ Jesus and so has the Old Covenant under which it was made;
- (2) Those who have taken the FAITH route in Jesus Christ are therefore no longer under the authority of the Old Testament law known as ‘the law of sin and death’; and
- (3) Of the Old Testament commandments which have been restated as fresh commands in the New Testament, the sabbath has been completely omitted. That is, it was not given afresh by Jesus, either directly or through his apostles.
We are not therefore to continue the Old Testament Law and especially the sabbath but to focus on the New Testament commands under the New Covenant, whatever they may be.
If it is found that a moral command is the same or similar to an Old Testament commandment, we are to obey exactly what it says in the New Testament, not because it was given under the Old Testament but because the Lord Jesus Christ saw it fit to include it afresh in his New Testament commands and the New Testament commands are now what are applicable to the Church. These commands don’t have the power to justify us. They are for those who have already been justified by FAITH in Jesus Christ alone.
Romans 13:9 lists the New Testament commands which were repeated. In addition to the fact that the sabbath has not been included, it is important to note that of the commandments which were re-mentioned, in Matthew 5, Jesus himself developed some of these commandments to an even greater level (as he as Lord is authorized to do), focusing on the root cause of the sins forbidden. For example, in verses 27-28, he stated that, although under the law, it was said that one should not commit adultery, he was now stating even further, that if one were to look on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery in his heart.
Under the New Covenant therefore, which we enter into by taking the FAITH route, our responsibility before God as saved people, in terms of obedience is greater and therefore goes beyond the law of the Old Testament. However because of the finished work of Christ and his enabling Spirit indwelling us, from our justified and righteous position in Christ Jesus, we are able to obey in love, serving in newness of spirit, not so as to earn our salvation (because we are already saved by FAITH) but demonstrating by our works, that we do indeed have FAITH in Jesus Christ.
(Written on 04th May, 2020)
Today, I was meditating on some verses in the Bible and it reminded me of the problem with those who insist that we must keep the Old Testament law, including the sabbath, today.
They are busy trying to keep the law (and failing miserably) but God’s Word has already made it clear that when God is ready to judge the world, he will not be doing so based on the deeds of the law (as some have been led astray to think) but in righteousness. Righteousness will be the criteria, NOT the law.
What then is this righteousness and how is it attained?
Well, the Word of God is clear that this righteousness (otherwise referred to as ‘justification’, means that one has faith in Jesus Christ ALONE, believes that he was risen from the dead, has confessed him as Lord and in repentance for all his or her sins, trusts and relies on him ALONE for salvation.
In plainer terms, a person is RIGHTEOUS if he or she believes God’s testimony, as given in his Word, the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ. Although that person has never seen Jesus face to face, he or she believes by faith, that he is alive, having died (because God is greater than death and he has testified that he rose him from the dead and God does not and cannot lie but is truth) and that he, Jesus, the Son of God, is that person’s Lord and Lord over all. He or she believes by faith (without doubting) that He (Jesus) is God the Son. He is the one who God hath appointed to be heir of all things and by whom also he made the worlds, being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, the one who he ordained and by whom he will one day judge the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Hebrews 1:2-3; Acts 17:31)
That God has one criteria by which he will judge human beings one day and that this criteria is whether a person is righteous or not and that a person is only made righteous where he or she has believed by faith, that Jesus rose from the dead and has therefore confessed that he is Lord, is evident in the following verses:
- “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”) (Romans 5:17)
- “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)
- “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. But now the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto ALL and upon ALL them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:20-23)
- “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is IN Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-26)
- “But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him ALL that believe are justified from ALL things, from which ye could NOT be justified BY THE LAW OF MOSES.” (Acts 13:37-39)
- “But of him are ye IN Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, and sanctification, and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
The Lord will therefore NOT be judging the world by the deeds of the law (as some have been led astray to think) but in RIGHTEOUSNESS, meaning, solely based on whether people have faith in Jesus Christ alone because they believe he was risen from the dead and have confessed him as Lord and in repentance for sin, trusted him alone for salvation or not.
God will therefore not be concerned with how well you kept the law while on earth, whether, as a Gentile and not an Israelite, you kept the Old Testament sabbath or abstained from meats or any other such factor but whether you are RIGHTEOUS, meaning, whether you are IN Christ Jesus or not.
That is, when you die or Jesus returns (whichever is sooner), the only issue that will be relevant in determining whether you should have access to heaven or be sent to the lake of fire is whether you are found to be IN CHRIST JESUS AND HIS RIGHTEOUS COVERING or not. The works of the law cannot cover you. The law is good but you are carnal, sold under sin and therefore, cannot meet the righteous demands of the law.
You will only be washed in Jesus’ sanctifying blood, cleansed from all your sins and made righteous with his righteousness, if you have faith in Him alone, believe that he is alive, having risen from the dead and therefore admit the truth with your lips, that he is Lord.
If you are wasting your time on earth, trying to keep the law or any aspect of the law like the sabbath and you never put your trust in Jesus Christ ALONE, through faith ALONE, you will be found to be without a wedding garment, meaning the spiritual covering of Jesus Christ. You can’t wear two garments. It is either you try to clothe yourself in the works of the law or allow Jesus Christ to clothe you, by faith ALONE, in his perfect righteousness.
Hence the reason that Romans 10:6-13 states:
- “But the RIGHTEOUSNESS which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH the Lord Jesus, and shalt BELIEVE IN THINE HEART that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man BELIEVETH unto RIGHTEOUSNESS; and with the mouth CONFESSION is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto ALL that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Those who insist on keeping the law, including the sabbath, to please God and obtain salvation and therefore refuse to have faith in Jesus Christ ALONE for salvation are like those in the parable Jesus gave in Matthew 22:1-14, who dared to try to show up at the King’s Wedding for his Son, without wearing the garment of clothing provided by the King for guests to wear.
Matthew 22: 1-14 states:
- “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding… Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
- And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
(Written on 29th November, 2021)
DEAR READER, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 82 – ‘Trying To Be The Best You Can Is Not Enough – Jesus Is The Answer’
- Note 93 – ‘Must I Keep The Law?’ (Part 1/3)
- Note 237 – ‘Why Your Good Deeds/Works Are Not Enough To Earn You A Place In Heaven’
- Note 243 – ‘What The Bible Says About Keeping The Law’ (Part 2/3)
- Note 244 – ‘Are You Trying To Establish Your Own Righteousness?’
Under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters’ Page:
- Note 184 – ‘Could You Be Sincerely Wrong?’