Paul's Passing Thoughts

Good Works, Sin, and the Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 7, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology.”

Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved…Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience.”

Truth be known, most professing Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that salvation is a mere legal declaration by God based on a signed contract. According to the contract, we are declared legal by God if we denounce all self worth, declare all of our works and the works of others as “filthy rags,” and submit ourselves to “godly authority.” According to Luther and Calvin, we are in breach of contract if we think we can do a good work. And because of our supposed natural pertinacity to think we have some goodness within us, we can never be sure that we are upholding our end of the bargain. Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology. Of course, this so-called gospel is couched in spiritual sounding terms like “covenant” and “grace” and “justification,” etc.

Most Christians are uncomfortable with what goes on in the institutional church, but what else is there? Protestantism, like all doctrines of tyranny, seeks to dumb down the masses they seek to control. Why? Because one of the major essences of sin is a desire to control. Collectivist doctrines and Sin have always walked closely together, and always will, be driven by low information. Protestants can make no sense of the world at all without paradox as a primary hermeneutic; and in fact, paradox is the primary hermeneutic of orthodoxy. Funny, if not so sad, would be the Protestant assertion that “walk by faith and not by sight” means that it is perfectly alright that life makes no sense at all. After all, we are “totally depraved,” and cannot really know anything except “Christ and Him crucified.”

The Catholic Church has never been shy about stating that information in the hands of the great unwashed is like handing a toddler a loaded gun, but Protestant academics skinned the cat a different way: knowledge about the fact that you can’t know anything is really, really deep, and shame on any saint that does not “study [this fact] to show yourself approved.” And, but of course there is work in the Christian life; as Tullian Tchividjian also said, seeking to see your depravity in a deeper and deeper way IS hard work! Again, because of our “natural” tendency to think we can do something good.

So, a knowledgeable Protestant will interpret the following event this way: a garage mechanic finds 10,000 dollars left in a car, and the former owner was unaware that her dead husband left it there to surprise her. He turned in the money to his manager; seemingly a good deed. But, this auto mechanic is going to hell because he thinks he did a good work. According to Luther and Calvin, believing you can do a good work is “mortal sin,” and the belief that one can fulfill any aspect of the law perfectly. Less knowledgeable Protestants are merely confused by these kinds of events because they, by design, have no real knowledge of biblical law/gospel.

First of all, we must begin with a very, very short philosophy lesson that dumbed-down Protestants don’t think they need. But, fact is, if you don’t have at least a basic knowledge of Gnosticism, you will be unable to understand little going on in the church today, if anything. However, I am going to make this very simple: holiness can dwell with weakness. The present creation, though fallen, is not inherently evil, but rather weak. Weakness does not equal evil. Let me demonstrate. Are the angels weaker than God? Yes, but are they also “holy”? Yes.

Our mortality makes us weak, and Sin abides in our mortal bodies, but Sin does not define mortality. We have the treasure of the new birth in clay (weak) vessels. Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved. In the lost who are not born again, Sin’s foe is the law written upon the heart’s of every individual born into the world. The conscience is the judge that sits over this law and either accuses the individual or excuses them. Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience. If the conscience (judge) has no law, there is no condemnation.

Hence, lack of a developed moral compass via teaching will generally determine the potency of a child’s conscience, and also determine one’s moral compass into adulthood. A judge without a law sits silently. We see this dynamic at work in the aforementioned article cited by the embedded link. Christ often noted that the law written on every person’s heart is a sort of thumbnail version of the more specific law that is the Bible. It is not uncommon for the secular “Golden Rule” to be biblically consistent. This is why the mechanic said he gave back the money; it’s the way he was raised (learned common decency that gives the conscience [judge] a law to work with), and he imagined how he would have felt if the money was his and he lost it (do unto others as you would have others do to you).

So did he do a good work? Yes, of course he did. He obeyed the law written on his heart by God. Will that good work save him? No, of course not. The conscience may temporarily reward him with good feelings, but that will not save him either. This is where we must segue into a little more philosophy. What is your perception of God? Is He an invisible aloof God that disdains everything material? Should we be amazed that He would even acknowledge our existence on any level? Or is He a God that makes Himself known and wishes to see all people saved? Does He actively push all to the precipice of salvation through the very design of His gospel? I think it is the latter, and this is where freewill comes into play: God creates a conscience and a law within us, but it is up to us to develop the conscience through choices. If parents understand this biblical dynamic, they have a clear choice in how they raise their children including the acceptance of contrary philosophies regarding the conscience.

So, God sought to further define what we will call the common heart law with the Old Covenant law, or the law of Moses. There are two laws being dealt with here, and Sin is against both laws. Therefore, the increase of law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn. Sin came into the world as an enemy of good, and its mode of operation is to incite rebellion for purposes of condemnation. Sin seeks the destruction of God’s creation on all counts. More law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn through sinful desires. Sin appeals to the individual through sinful desires, and those desires will prevail according to the strength of one’s developed conscience. Have no doubt: there is a warfare going on inside the unbeliever. Remember, the mechanic acknowledged that keeping the money was a desirable thought, but he knew that would be wrong, was not how he was raised, and wouldn’t be treating others the way he wants to be treated. Moreover, he probably knew his conscience would not allow him to enjoy the booty anyway.

The law is also good. The more law the better. The law is the standard for loving God and others. What if God ended the law’s ability to condemn and only made it useful for love? This would disarm Sin; if sin cannot condemn, it has no power, purpose, or incentive. This is where we talk a little bit about the gospel of Moses. The law can condemn leading to death, and it can love leading to life. As far as those born under the law, they can choose life or death, but ultimately, their end is death. They will suffer lesser death to the degree that they obey their consciences.

This is where the true gospel comes in according to the new birth. The law of Moses not only defines all sin leading to death, but it also defines all love leading to life. Until Christ came, all sin was imputed to the law as a possible indictment. The law held sin “captive” until “faith” came. Of course, the law could still be used to love as well. Christ’s primary gospel role was to die on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, and thereby ending it. Sin or the law? Both. Christ’s death ended the law’s ability to condemn. His death on the cross paves the way for the Spirit to baptize a believer in His death, and resurrect the believer in the same way He resurrected Christ. The new creature born of God cannot be condemned by the law, and therefore, Sin is stripped of its power. That is, IF the believer knows this. Sin can still make an appeal through desires, but the new birth counters that with NEW DESIRES infused by the new birth, specifically, a love for the law that did not previously exist. A believer can still experience the consequences of temporary death from disobedience and the fear thereof, but not the fear of eternal death because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, viz, born into His literal family with God the Father.

So, yes, everyone does good works, but for the unsaved it is lesser death; for the believer it is more life. The unbeliever is still under the condemnation of the law, has an indifference to God’s law, and doesn’t see God’s law as the definition of love. This is why unbelievers often distort the meaning of the word, for one example among myriad, “I love you, but I am divorcing you.” This makes the unbeliever captive to sin. Depending on one’s upbringing, and consequently the strength of their conscience and good habits, their life will be commended by lesser death, but not more life.

In contrast, the born again believer is free from all eternal condemnation, thus stripping Sin of its power, is given a new-found love for the law and truth, and experiences life more abundantly unless he or she obeys sinful desires still present leading to death albeit temporary consequences.

BUT, if so-called believers are taught that they cannot obey the law “perfectly” (which is not the point to begin with) which is supposedly the standard for being truly justified, and thereby leading to a relaxing of the law, you can now easily understand why secular people often live better than church members: their lesser death looks better than lesser life. In other words, the lost world can obey their consciences better than “God’s people” can obey the Bible because they don’t believe they can.

Moreover, so-called saints can also see the law written on their hearts as equally futile because law is law either way—law can only condemn. This totally eliminates the concept of justice which is not absent from the law written on the hearts of all born into the world. This means that the world will have more of a concept of justice than the church. Sound familiar?

Justification is not a mere “legal declaration.” In fact, law has not one wit anything to do with justification. The law either condemns or loves depending on whether a person is saved or unsaved. For the true believer, the law is for love—not justification. The belief that Christ keeps the law for us, because all are unable, accomplishes nothing because the law cannot justify—it can only love.

paul

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2 Responses

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  1. lydia00 said, on November 7, 2015 at 5:51 PM

    “However, I am going to make this very simple: holiness can dwell with weakness. The present creation, though fallen, is not inherently evil, but rather weak. Weakness does not equal evil. Let me demonstrate. Are the angels weaker than God? Yes, but are they also “holy”? ”

    This is a great way to put it. A far cry from “unable” and totally depraved.

    Like

  2. Anonymous said, on November 7, 2015 at 8:59 PM

    “Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology. ”

    Just reading around social media after his announcement was interesting. Tullian fans were in a lot of turmoil sorting through the doctrine and his leaving.. Why would he need to resign since “good” not only does not matter but is impossible. It was very sad to see them so confused. They had bought into it hook, line and sinker. But behavior matters. Good matters. What do these people think is the foundation for all relationships? Trust. If Christians can’t be trusted because they are so depraved what was the point of the cross/resurrection?

    Like


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