Paul's Passing Thoughts

My Reply to Linda: Yes, I Am a Christian, But Not Sure You Are

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 19, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally published December 15, 2015

I no longer have patience for the evangelical regurgitation of orthodox talking points. Protestants don’t own their own faith that they have seen in the Bible with their own study.  What they think they see and understand is what Protestant academics have told them, including the idea that only they have authority to tell them what to believe. So, what is wrong with church? Church is wrong with church because it is predicated on a false gospel. That’s right, the Protestant Reformation was a false reformation founded on a false gospel. And this is why Dr. James White and others have refused to debate me publicly; the Protestant gospel as stated in its orthodoxy is the biblical definition of a lost person…under law as opposed to under grace.

Martin Luther and John Calvin et al proffered a gospel that is under law, but that is supposedly OK because Jesus keeps/kept the law for us, and that obedience is imputed to our Christian status. This is a perpetual covering of sin, or sometimes referred to as “atonement,” but not an ENDING of sin that requires no further justification. Hence, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day” to “keep ourselves in the love of God” (CJ Mahaney) etc.  White and others know that this is a simple matter of theological math, and do not intend to address it until enough people catch on. The only case they can make presently is for a historical-redemptive interpretation of Scripture that interprets every verse as a justification verse. Sanctification is defined as progressive justification via Protestant talking points.

One day in my personal Facebook account I noticed the following comment to me by a “Linda”:

“Are you a Christian Paul? And secondly do you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? That would be my two questions for you. Romans says, ‘There is none righteous, no not one.’ That includes you and me. This doesn’t mean that we never do a kind act or good deed. It means that we don’t and can’t do enough of them to be declared ‘RIGHTEOUS’ by God. We could never do enough good deeds and kind acts to get us into heaven. Therefore we need the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us in order to go to heaven. God imputes this kind of righteousness to those who believe and accept HIS son Jesus and his shed blood as atonement for their sins and their UNrighteousness. We are part of God’s family by adoption. Nothing can make us righteous enough to go to heaven. The righteousness that is applied to our never dying soul can only come from Christ. The ‘part and parcel’ of our own being is puny compared with what God demands. In one place in scripture our puny ‘part and parcel’ is described as ‘filthy rags.’ So our own human effort at righteousness is from our flesh. Our flesh is not saved from sin and unrighteousness. Only our soul is. We are not capable of learning and loving enough to be declared righteous enough for heaven. We could learn and love enough to help another person with a kind act or good deed. But that does not fit our soul for heaven. I don’t understand your third question……’Christ imputing sin’ ????”

Her comment was in reply to previous comments I had made in regard to a post. She was replying to a comment I made regarding her initial comment.

“I am a never dying soul whom Christ died and rose for, approved of by God because I have HIS righteousness. Just by learning and loving we are different. Better means ‘improved in some way.’ Not hard questions for me.”

Here is my reply.

“Linda, where does the Bible say you have the righteousness of Christ? That’s the first question. The second: Are we only approved of God because we ONLY have the righteousness of Christ and none of our own? What about the new birth? If we are literally born of God and now part of His lineage, would that not make us righteous? Do you mean to say that we have a righteousness LIKE Christ’s because we are a member of the same family, or ONLY His righteousness and none that is part and parcel with our own being? Are we truly righteous, or only declared righteous? Third question: was Christ’s role in salvation an imputation of sin AND righteousness, or just sin? On the one hand, you seem to state that we only have the righteousness of Christ, but on the other, you say we learn and love. How exactly do we learn and love if we ourselves are not righteous people? So, I am not trying to be a jerk here, I am simply resolute that Christians should have a clear definition of who they are. Yes, I know exactly what the Reformers believed about our identity, but I would like to see your clarification.”

This is the extreme Protestant cognitive dissonance resulting in the train wreck we call “church” that I no longer have patience for. People who are serious about following Christ need to take their true gospel and leave the institutional church for home fellowship networks. The institutional church is part and parcel with the authority that demands a denial of the obvious. Authority has replaced truth. Nevertheless, I do believe evangelicals will have to eventually address their under law gospel.

I will make this as simple as possible as I am weary of addressing it. Much, much, thanks to Andy Young who is helping to carry the water on this as well. Linda’s response is pretty much the Protestant gospel talking points that we hear often, and pregnant with cognitive dissonance. All in all, her answers to my questions are, “NO.” Please start by noting that. This is where we discuss another disservice the Reformers performed: adding chapters and verses to the Bible. This circumvents the need to read all of Scripture in context. You can form a theological argument by using John Immel’s pet peeve: Scripture stacking. Basically, Linda is using the same verses to argue for the same Protestant talking points that she has received from Protestant academics. As a result, if one examines her statements, the blatant contradictions are stunning.

Where to start? ALL of our works are filthy rags (Isiah 64:6), yet, we can do some stuff that is good? So, “all” doesn’t really mean “all”? Per the usual, Protestants profess a double false gospel because they don’t rightly understand the gospel taught by the father of the Reformation, Martin Luther. In fact, Luther taught that EVERY deed of man is evil, even those that appear good because man’s “good” deeds always have a flawed motive. Calvin taught the same. Hence, if one believes that we can do a good deed, that is “mortal sin” and cannot be forgiven by the church. But, if one believes that every work we do, even works that appear good, are actually evil, all of our sin can be forgiven by revisiting the same gospel that saved us, and that revisitation is only valid under the auspices and oversight of the clergy. This is Luther, this is Calvin, this is the Protestant gospel. I have documented this backwards and forwards as those who follow TANC Ministries know.

Now, for the Protestant part of this that Linda got right, and in fact a mainstay of Protestantism, but still a false gospel. Luther and Calvin orthodoxy already condemns her to hell, but they would agree with her making the law the standard for justification. Biblically, there is NO law in justification. The Bible testifies about justification, but law and justification are mutually exclusive. It doesn’t matter who keeps the law, there is no law in justification. What determines justification is the new birth. The law is strictly for love in the Christian life. Again, the law informs us about justification, and here is the information: law is not the standard for justification, the new birth is. The apostle Paul wrote the epistle of Galatians to make this very point. Again, I predict that folks are going to start catching on to this in the future and the who’s who of evangelicalism are going to have to make a defense; good luck to them as that attempt will be interesting. The Protestant under-law-gospel, also stated by Linda, has Christ fulfilling God’s “demands” in our stead when God’s only demand regarding justification is that we be born again.

In order to make the law the standard for justification, the Reformers resorted to Saint Augustine’s Neo-Platonism, which later became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the first century church. We see this in Linda’s talking points about “the flesh.” ALL of our works come from where? Right, the flesh which, like the Reformers, she deems as inherently evil. That’s Gnosticism. The Bible teaches that our bodies, or members, are “weak” not inherently evil. When the Bible speaks of the “desires of the flesh” and the “deeds of the flesh,” that speaks of when our members are used for sinful purposes. Obviously, if Linda would stop long enough to read her own Bible with her own understanding given to her by God, she would see that our body, or “flesh,” can also be used for holy purposes (Romans 12:1 among many other passages). And, what is more obvious than the fact that our bodies are declared to be the temple of God? Actually, a word study reveals that the Holy of Holies is being referred to.

This brings us to Linda’s Protestant confusion in regard to the difference between salvation and redemption. The former is the saving of the soul, the latter is the saving of the mortal body which can be used for evil or good depending on which desires we are obeying. Christians, through the new birth, have the ability to obey the desires of the Spirit stated in the Bible and the ability to say “no” to evil desires that remain part of the body’s weakness and mortality. Because Christ ended the law through the new birth, sin has been stripped of its ability to enslave and condemn. If Christ obeys the law for us, we are still under it and enslaved to sin. The old us that died with Christ violated the whole law with every sin; the new us that was raised with Christ fulfills the whole law with one act of love. Christ didn’t come to obey the law for us—He came to END the law. Christ didn’t come to cover our sin—He came to END our sin.

A book could be written here, but time won’t allow it; nevertheless, let’s address Linda’s confusion, typical among Protestants, in regard to gift and reward. We cannot birth ourselves, but we can obtain the baptism of the Spirit by faith alone in “the promise” (see Galatians chapter 3). Once the gift is received, it is ours to utilize by loving God and others. Exercising the gift is not taking credit for the gift. The Bible states that God would be unjust to forget our good works and service to the saints (Hebrews 6:10). “Unjust”? Yes, because as those literally born of Him (1 John chapter 3), and literally a part of His literal family, our reward is due us as siblings working for the Father. As a slave to the former master, we could only earn death wages—now we can earn true reward. Read the Parable of the Talents and see what the outcome is for those who fear and want to give God back only what was given and nothing more. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the new birth.

As a policy, I don’t judge the salvation of others. I believe that there are Protestants who are confused enough about Protestantism to be saved. So, yes Linda, I am saved, but I find your assurance that you are saved indicative of your confusion. Protestant orthodoxy CLEARLY states that the motor of sanctification moving justification forward is doubt of salvation because being under condemnation is part and parcel with being under law…the standard for justification according to Protestantism. In Calvin’s words, if “Christians” are not still under condemnation, what further need is there for Christ and His righteousness?

So Linda, I am saved, but I recommend that you start thinking for yourself. All of the Protestant academics you trust will not stand in your stead at the judgment. You will be standing there alone.

And you better have more than a covering with sin underneath it, you better be a literal child of God before Him.

paul

Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 3, 2016

Originally published on July 28, 2015

gospel-gridGot sin? You do if you are a Protestant, and you have a lot of it. The “T” in TULIP doesn’t stand for total depravity for no good reason, no pun intended. The only good thing is focusing on the bad thing: your nasty, wicked self.

Sin is a really big deal in Protestantism because we get ourselves into heaven by dwelling on the fact that we are “sinners.” If we can do any good work, if ALL of our works are NOT filthy rags—that’s not living by “faith alone” for our justification. Supposedly, if we think we can do anything good, that’s not living by faith alone in what Jesus has accomplished for us, but rather living in the “confidence of the flesh.”

The foundation of Protestant soteriology is the idea that “Christians” live under the possibility of condemnation and should fear accordingly. Christians remain under the condemnation of the law and remain covered by professing that they can do no good work. By continually returning to the same gospel that saved us for forgiveness of works, both good and bad, the righteousness of Jesus continues to be imputed to us. Hence, “We have no righteousness of our own in salvation or the Christian life.”

In contrast, the emphasis of our Christian lives should be LOVE. We still sin, but it is not sin unto condemnation, but rather sin against our Father as a family matter. We may receive chastisement, but we are in no danger of condemnation. Not so with the Protestant gospel: the “Christian” remains under eternal condemnation and is only covered through faith alone by returning to the same gospel that saved us. This is why Protestantism has always been weak in the area of discipleship. This is why there is an obsession with making saved people rather than disciples. And by the way, the only place we can find continued forgiveness for “sin that removes us from grace” (Calvin/Luther) is under the “authority” of the local church. Go figure.

Even in Baptist churches, pastors bemoan the fact that “10% of the congregants do 90% of the work.” Well, duh, I am surprised that even 10% are doing anything as the focus is keeping oneself saved by focusing on how inept we are.

More and more in counseling, I am telling people to stop focusing so much on sin. Clearly, especially in the Protestant contemporary biblical counseling movement, the specific instruction is to “find the sin beneath the sin” as a means of growing your salvation as if salvation grows to begin with. If our focus is sin- searching as a means of spiritual wellbeing, and good works tempt us to think we did something good (again, Luther/Calvin), what in the world will be the results? Well, look around for yourself—it’s called “the church.”

ssp_temp_capture1A focus on sin will not prevent sin or promote love. If there is something to be gained by finding sin, it will be far from us to fight against it. Why would we cut off our supply of blessings by making the cross smaller? It becomes a supply and demand issue.

The Bible endorses a focus on love, not sin-searching. We are to look for ways to love God and others, not ways to find the “sin beneath the sin” or some endeavor to “peel back the layers of sin.” No doubt, there is a CONTROL conspiracy involved with this supposed method of sanctification as well. Stripping people of an accurate evaluation of self is a very efficient way of controlling them. Being worthy enough to hold others accountable for their own good will not get you into heaven—only returning daily to the same gospel that saved you for a fresh set of downs to get into the salvation end zone.

And what will eventually happen to any marriage if the constant focus is your spouse’s sin? No wonder then that the present-day biblical counseling movement (mostly sponsored by Reformed churches) is overflowing with marriage counseling cases. Week in, and week out, teaching will knock down any notions that either spouse can do any work that is not “filthy rags.” And, the only real sin is not knowing that everything you do is sin; if you don’t know that, you may find yourself in so-called church discipline. We do know this: those who will not accept this premise are deemed “unteachable.”

We have not been given a spirit of fear under the law of sin and death and its condemnation. We, instead, have been given the Holy Spirit and boldness to love God and others without any fear of condemnation.

We are to be enslaved to love—not to a fear of condemnation.

paul

Calvinists: Going to Hell and Proud of It

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 23, 2016

Originally published January 5, 2015

“[T]he Bible is absolutely clear that ALL of those who will supposedly bark triumphantly at that judgment are among those already damned by virtue of the fact that they are standing at that judgment. That judgment is called the “second death” in Scripture; all who stand there are already damned. Yet, Calvinists constantly boast that they will stand in that judgment.”

I hear it often, but I think this is the first time I have really parked on it and pondered; this whole thing with Calvinists being proud of the fact that they will “stand in the final judgment with no righteousness of their own.”

PPT logged a comment yesterday from “Frank” that once again proffers this idea with all of the delight of a newborn’s arrival into the world.

The Gospel very simple: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

That’s the simplicity of the gospel.

This is why we should in no wise be surprised that an Adventist theologian rediscovered the real Protestant gospel in 1970 which is predicated on this idea.

The SDA gospel focuses on being able to “stand in the final judgment.” So, the “Christian” life focuses on that; the endeavor of sanctification is to prepare for this one final judgment. For years, the mainline SDA take followed: beginning salvation takes care of past sin, and then the new “believer” labors with the Holy Spirit to become good enough to stand in the final judgment. Some substitution by Christ to achieve perfectionism was involved, but it required the best efforts possible by “believers” in order to warrant Christ topping off the difference with His own righteousness. The doctrine, known as the “investigative judgment” is extremely complex and downright confusing, but what I have stated here is the gist:

While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.

Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.

           Ellen White ~ The Great Controversy, chapter 24.

The understandable angst among the SDA faithful peaked in the 1950’s which spawned the Progressive Adventist movement. One of the major players in that movement was an Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead. Due to his intellectual prowess, he was able to plow through the writings of the Reformers and understand what their take was on the final judgment. Not only that, Brinsmead was, and I assume still is, a master communicator of ideas.

The message he brought to the SDA faithful follows: one is able to stand in the final judgment if they live their Christian life by the same gospel that saved them; i.e., by faith alone. If you do that, Christ will continue to cover you with His righteousness. If you disavow any righteousness of your own, and believe in being covered by the alien righteousness of Christ as depicted in the wearing of a white robe, you will be able to stand in the judgment.

So, let’s be clear: formally, the SDA as a whole advocated a do your best to keep the law and if you do that well enough Christ will completely cleanse you and declare you righteous. Then you will be able to stand in the judgment. What is the problem with that other than its fundamental falsehood? The SDA faithful had no way of knowing until the final judgment whether or not they did that well enough to warrant Christ’s complete cleansing.

Brinsmead traded that for what the Reformers advocated: rather than partaking in the heavy burden of law keeping, if one only lives by faith alone apart from the law, Christ will stand in the judgment for us. The one who lives their Christian life by faith alone will stand in the judgment covered by the righteousness of Christ apart from any righteousness of their own.

This spawned the Awakening movement which turned the SDA completely on its head. But not only that, it also spawned a return to the authentic Reformation gospel by evangelicals worldwide who had drifted away from it through a more literal interpretation of the Bible because literal interpretation is intuitive. In other words, that’s our natural bent.

The Reformers saw the Bible as a tool for continually returning to the same gospel that saved us by faith alone in order to keep oneself covered by the righteousness of Christ, and therefore making one able to stand in the final judgment.

A literal interpretation of the Bible suggests that God’s people are to work in sanctification, or the Christian life. That’s a problem because the Reformers saw the Christian life as the progression of salvation to a final salvation determined at a one, final judgment. Therefore, biblical imperatives must be interpreted in their “gospel context,” viz, God commands us to do things in order to show us we are not able to obey perfectly. Hence, many of the Reformed in our day suggest that a literal interpretation of the Bible is tantamount to works righteousness.

Again, let’s pause for some clarification: The SDA and the Reformers BOTH saw the Christian life as part of salvation culminating in a final determinative judgment. Both define justification, the state required to be saved, as an ability to keep the law perfectly. Both believe that a means of obtaining a perfect law-keeping as something accredited to our account for standing in the final judgment is paramount. The SDA believed that best effort law-keeping resulted in Christ topping off our account at the judgment. The Reformers believed that effortless living by faith alone resulted in being covered by the righteousness of Christ alone at the judgment. For example, John Calvin believed that the Christian life is the Old Testament Sabbath rest.

Luther described the believer’s “triumphant” declaration to God at the final judgment as, we have NO righteousness but Christ’s. This motif was once again echoed by Frank on PPT.

But there is only one problem; the Bible is absolutely clear that ALL of those who will supposedly bark triumphantly at that judgment are among those already damned by virtue of the fact that they are standing at that judgment. That judgment is called the “second death” in Scripture; all who stand there are already damned. Yet, Calvinists constantly boast that they will stand in that judgment.

Revelation 20:4 – Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

In the Bible, there are multiple resurrections and judgments. Believers, who are already deemed righteous because they are in fact righteous, will be judged for rewards, not righteousness, because they are already righteous. They are resurrected to determine rewards, not righteousness. In the passage cited here, it is obvious that these are two different resurrections and two different judgments. One judgment has multiple thrones, while the other only has one throne and one judge. The latter judgment is the second death, and those who partake in the first resurrection are blessed. And, the latter judgment is identified as the one Calvinists say they will attend because it judges righteousness, and Calvinists, generally speaking, advocate a one judgment only position. Said another way, this is the only judgment they could possibly be talking about because there is only one according to them.

Why do they advocate a one judgment only when there is obviously more than one? Well, because that matches their gospel of beginning salvation, progressive salvation, and final salvation. It also matches the idea that perfect law-keeping is the required standard for being saved. If salvation is a settled issue that takes place for each individual in a moment of time, why would there be a need to finalize salvation at any other time? Also, there is only a future need to judge righteousness if perfect law-keeping remains the standard for Christians. If perfect law-keeping is not a determinative standard for Christians, the judge at the final judgment is without a law in which to judge righteousness. The judgment is without any law to judge.

In contrast, this is the case with the true gospel: the believer is made righteous through the new birth, and the law is ended for righteousness. The new birth is a gift, but like any gift, once you receive it, it belongs to you. This whole “righteousness of our own” business is a red herring. It’s like looking at someone living and besmirching them for believing they have a life of their own because they were born. We are righteous because we have the seed of God within our very being because of the new birth (1Jn 3:9). We still sin because the flesh is weak while our righteous soul is willing. It is sin against our Father, not our righteousness because Christ ended the law for that purpose.

This happened through the new birth. We were once under the law and its power to condemn us. Because we were unregenerate, sin within us used the law to provoke us to sin. When we died with Christ, it was like the death of a spouse—we are no longer obligated to that marriage covenant (law).

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7).

So, we now “serve” in the “new way of the Spirit.” What’s that? That’s sanctification which is the use of Scripture to love God and others (Jn 17:17, Rom 8:4, Rom 8:7, Matt 4:4, Ps 1:1-6, Ps 119). Perfect law-keeping is not the standard for being justified—there is no law in justification, we are justified apart from the law (Rom 3:21). It would be futile for real Christians to stand in a judgment where Calvinists are present, the law they will be judged by doesn’t pertain to us:

Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Calvinists say it’s alright to still be under the law because Jesus keeps the law for us if we live by faith alone, and that is the definition of being under grace: we are under grace if we live by faith alone and the perfect obedience of Christ is imputed to our account. But that’s being under law and under grace at the same time; the Bible is clear that we are either under one or the other (Rom 6:14). Calvinism advocates the idea that the unregenerate are only under law, but are under both law and grace if they are saved. Hence, this is why they cannot advocate separate judgments, but only one. If under law and under grace are separate, any judgment regarding law for the believer is an anomaly regardless of who keeps it—the question of perfect law-keeping is the reason for the judgment in the first place.

This is why in fact there is a separate resurrection for the saved: because their judgment concerns rewards, not a just standing that has already been determined. This is why Jesus called it the “resurrection of the just” because they are already just, only their rewards need to be determined:

Luke 14:12 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers[b] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Salvation is earned by no one—it is a gift, but rewards are earned by those who are born again. In fact, God would be unjust not to reward them for what they have earned:

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

If Calvinists are under grace and not under law, why do they need Jesus to keep the law for them? The only possible reason that they could need Jesus to keep the law for them is if they are still under law. This is why they find themselves at a one final judgment that is the “second death.” That is where they will be judged by a law that has “nothing to say” to the born again.

One can only surmise that when they triumphantly claim that they have no righteousness of their own, God will respond with something like…

“You were never born of me, and those born of me are righteous even as I am righteous. My Son died to end the law for condemnation so that you could obey the law in order to love me and your neighbors. You see me as a hard god that reaps where I have not sown, and now present to me the same gospel that I originally gave. You are a lazy wicked servant and confess that you have no love towards me or others. Now your fear of being righteous is your condemnation.”

paul

A Definitive Biblical Statement on Law and Gospel for Home Fellowships

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 5, 2016

Originally published April 24, 2015

TANC Ministries, 2015   

Whatever form of Protestantism you are talking about, and Calvinism in particular, its Achilles’ heel is the law. Protestantism cannot pass the true gospel test because of its position on law, and this is not hard to understand.

Andy Young, an associate of TANC ministries, said something in last year’s 2014 conference that is probably true for the most part: “The law is for sanctification.” Right, because the law is in no wise for justification. We are justified apart from the law (Romans 3:21) and “apart” means exactly that. The fact that the law will judge people in the end is a separate issue altogether.

The apostle Paul makes all of this easy to understand in Galatians chapter 3. But first, let’s use that same chapter to establish what we mean by the word “law.” The word is used interchangeably with many other words, including “gospel”, to refer to the Bible. So, Andy was merely saying that the Bible is for sanctification, or in other words, Christian living. Andy was talking in context of sanctification for the Bible has no stake in justification, and again, the fact that the Bible will judge people in the end is another issue. Yes, the Bible defines justification (Rom 3:21, Gal 4:21); yes, the Bible testifies to the truths regarding justification, but the law does not justify.

Note the following from Galatians 3:

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Notice that Paul uses the word “law” and “Scripture” interchangeably. The law, “holy writ,” “the word,” “the gospel,” “the Scriptures,” “the law and the prophets,” etc. are all terms that refer to the Bible which is a full orbed statement by God regarding Himself, mankind, and reality. Statements like this: “We are not bound by the law, or else we’d have to live under every aspect of the law including not wearing blended fabrics and not eating shrimp and bacon” reveal a fundamental ignorance in regard to what the law is.

Protestantism falls on this one basic principle: law is the standard for righteousness. This makes the salvific work of Christ two-fold: He died to pay the penalty for our sins, and came to fulfill the law for us in order to make us righteous. That’s gross heresy. That’s an egregious false gospel. Hence, you have two kinds of Protestants: one camp that understands the position and professes it, and the other camp who also confesses it, but has not thought out the ramifications. This includes Baptists, Methodists, and many others. Baptists parted ways with the Reformers on baptism, but have never repented of making the law justification’s standard.

Yes, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law and to not end it, but then we have the apostle Paul writing that Christ in fact did come to end the law, so does the Bible contradict itself? By no means.

Here is the problem: by design, Protestants don’t interpret the Bible in context of sanctification and justification, and again, that is by design. Why? Because Protestantism is founded on the idea that sanctification is merely the progression of justification. This also goes hand in glove with the idea that the law is justification’s standard. Hence, the law must continue to be fulfilled perfectly to keep the saints justified. This results in the confused theological train wreck we call Protestantism.

When the law must be continually fulfilled perfectly as a standard for justification, the law cannot be used for love because now you have fused love and justification together. This is why churches lack love; the maintaining of justification and love are confused. In the Bible, love is absolutely synonymous with obedience. Unfortunately, Protestantism makes obedience a justification issue. Obedience is not a justification issue—it’s a love issue. That’s why there is so much love-bombing in your churches; true love is stifled because it is confused with justification. The vacuum is then filled with empty words and programs. People are in bondage to the law in Jesus’ name and their pain is medicated by praise bands, personality cults, and the splendor of institutional temples.

The fulfillment of the law in Jesus’ name is a huge problem—there is no law in justification regardless of who keeps it. Who keeps it is not the issue, the law is the issue. Here is the theses of Paul’s argument in Galatians 3: Only God can give life through faith alone in the promise. What is the promise? It was a promise made to Abraham and Christ that Israel and the Gentiles would be blessed with eternal life, and that Christ would be resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to make that possible:

Galatians 3:15 – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

So in other words, if Christ came to also fulfill the law, the Promise is fulfilled by law, and not God’s promise made to Abraham. By the way, this term, “the promise” is a major biblical term referring to the gospel. In regard to justification, Christ came for one reason: to end the curse of the law:

Galatians 3:10 – For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

If we still rely on the works of the law, we are under a curse; again, it doesn’t matter who keeps it. Paul spent most of his ministry trying to hammer this point home. Here, he makes it clear that the law was not part of the original promise, and once a covenant has been ratified, nothing can change it. If Christ fulfilled the law in our stead, that is clearly an addition to the original covenant of promise—that’s Paul’s specific point.

But now Protestants once again protest that the key is a perfect fulfillment of the law which only curses those who cannot keep it perfectly. Christ’s perfect obedience to the law is then imputed to us. In light of this chapter in Galatians, this position is fraught with problems. Clearly, it’s still an addition to the original covenant. Also key is who the promise is made to; ie., the descendants of Abraham which include the Gentiles, and Christ Himself. Paul emphasizes that there is only ONE seed (verse 16). Why?

“Seed” is key. The Greek word refers to offspring. Christ was part of Abraham’s lineage, and is only ONE seed—there is not more than one seed. Christ died to end the curse of the law by dying to pay the penalty of sin, and then waited (in a manner of speaking) in the grave for the promise that was also made to Him: “the promised Spirit.” The Spirit raised Christ from the grave:

Romans 8:11 – If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Ephesians 1:19 – and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,…

The promised Spirit is major here. This is the new birth. This promise of the Spirit accomplished three universe-shaking objectives: it enabled mankind to follow Christ in literal death and resurrection, baptized Jews and Gentiles into one body, or family of God, cancelled judgement and condemnation, and set God’s children free to aggressively love.

The idea that Christ fulfilled the law in order to satisfy justification usurps the Spirit’s role in the promise. God elected the means of salvation, Christ died, and the Spirit baptizes. God initiated salvation, Christ paid the penalty for sin, and the Spirit regenerates. We are not justified by the law, we are justified by the new birth:

Romans 4:20 – No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (ESV 2001).

Galatians 3:1 – O thoughtless Galatians, who did bewitch you, not to obey the truth — before whose eyes Jesus Christ was described before among you crucified?

2 this only do I wish to learn from you — by works of law the Spirit did ye receive, or by the hearing of faith? 3 so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? (YLT).

Notice the idea of completion reflected by the Greek and properly translated by the YLT. We don’t receive the Spirit and His work on the installment plan when we believe; the new birth is a complete work. Hence, the new birth, or the Spirit’s baptism is what makes us righteous or justified, not the law.

Again, God set forth the plan of salvation: Christ died to end the law, and the Spirit regenerates us and helps us in our progression of holiness. We are born of the Spirit and resurrected as holy babies born of God, and grow up in holiness (1Peter 2:2). The baptism of the Spirit is therefore twofold:

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Why would Christ fulfil the law and then die to end it? Why would Christ’s perfect obedience to law be imputed to us when it is no longer valid? Why would Christ fulfil the law for those who die with Him and are no longer under that law? Why would Christ fulfil a law that has nothing to say to us? (Romans 3:19). When Paul states, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (verse 10), that means any works of the law period, not just what we perform, but any works of the law period. The covenant of promise WAS NOT RATIFIED BY THE LAW THAT CAME 430 YEARS LATER. What could possibly be more evident? If Jesus kept the law perfectly as part of the gospel, that still ratifies the original covenant of promise.

But all of this is not even Paul’s primary argument. His primary argument is that only the Spirit can give life. His argument is that only the resurrection of the new birth gives life. If the law has any part in justification, then the law can give life and there is more than one seed. Consequently, only God can give life and now there is a co-life-giver. That’s Paul’s argument exactly.

11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

Life, justification, faith alone in the promise, and the new birth are all mutually inclusive while the law and justification are mutually exclusive—that’s exactly what the apostle Paul is saying.

Also, if law has anything to do with justification at all, we inherit eternal life by being born again into God’s family by the fulfillment of the law and NOT promise:

18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Someone may argue, “But Jesus keeps the law perfectly!” So what of it? It’s still inheritance by the law and not promise. Again, and again, the original covenant was not ratified by Jesus’ perfect law-keeping. Here is what we must come to grips with: Protestantism is predicated on a juvenile perception of law and gospel.

16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

As an aside while on the subject of covenants: this whole idea of Jesus fulfilling the law plugs into the ever popular Covenant theology. This is the idea that Christ came to obey the law perfectly in order to restore the original and supposed covenant of works with Adam. But the Covenant of Promise was not made with Adam, it was made with Abraham. Compounding this glaring error is the citation of Genesis 3:15 to make a connection between Adam’s disobedience and Christ’s obedience to the law. But in that verse, it is the serpent that is being addressed and not Adam. Usually, when you make a covenant with someone, as with Abraham, it’s made with the person you are talking to. In essence, it claims that God made a covenant with the serpent.

Regardless of all of the splendor and glory affiliated with religious academia, it is found wanting in embarrassing proportions. The laity must stop listening to these people and start reading the Bible for themselves.

But with all of this said, “Why then the law?”(verse 19). However, which law is Paul referring to when he presents this anticipated question in verse 19? There are two laws: one known as, “the written code” (Colossians 2:14), “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), “the law of sin” (Romans 7:23), simply “the law” in many places, “the letter” (2Cor 3:6), “ministry of death” (2Cor 3:7), “ministry of condemnation” (2Cor 3:9), “the record of debt” (Col 2:14), and “the first covenant” (Hebrews 8;13).

The second is known as: “the law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2), “the law of my mind” (Romans 7:23), “the law of liberty” (James 1:25), “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), and because love fulfills the whole law (Romans 13:8-10), it can be rightly called “the law of love.”

In verse 19, Paul is referring to the first law. It only condemns and judges, but that’s not its only function by far.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

What’s this saying? First, it’s saying that the first law has no function for believers after Christ died on the cross to END the law. And Christ did come to end the law of sin and death. Christ didn’t come to merely cover sin with His own righteousness, He came to end sin by ending the law (Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:6,8, 10:4, 1Tim 1:9, Gal 2:19).

Secondly, the first law covered believers until Christ died on the cross. The first law was an atonement for sin; all of the sins of Old Testament believers were imputed to that law, and then it was ended by Christ. The person who believes on Christ dies in baptism, and is no longer under the law that he/she sinned against (Romans 7:1ff). This would also include believers who were deceased at the time.

In regard to Old Testament believers that were dead during the time of Christ’s ministry on earth, Old Testament believers were captive under the law until Christ died to end the law. Therefore, they were in Sheol/Abraham’s bosom/Paradise/Hades. When Christ died, He went there and preached to the captives and took the thief on the cross with Him. When the Spirit resurrected Him, He also resurrected those in Sheol and set the captives free. They and their sins were held captive by the law until Christ died to end it. Remember, King David said, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). As a testimony, Christ sent many of them to walk around Jerusalem. Texts that help sum up all of these points are Ephesians 4:7-10 which also references Psalm 68:18, Luke 16:22, Matthew 27:51-53, and Colossians 2:13-15.

Thirdly, the first law still has a function in the scheme of things. The old covenant of the law is passing away, but is not ended for the unbelieving. “Under grace” did not end “under law” (Romans 6:14). The first law still holds sin captive because all sin is against the law (1John 3:4). Yes, for those who don’t repent, the law will judge them in the end. To the degree that they violate the law, they will be punished eternally.

But there is a sense in which the first law also serves a purpose of covering as it formally did for those under grace. When a person is saved and born again, they die and are no longer culpable to the law—the law is also ended for them at that time. Their sins are taken away and cast as far as the east is from the west. Again, Christ did not come to cover sin, he came to take sin away. The first law is grace in waiting. All sin is imputed to it, and it stands ready to be ended for each and every person who chooses to follow Christ in death and resurrection.

Now, what about the other law—the law of the Spirit of life? Let there be no doubt, there is a law that is under grace. It is the law of love. We have been released from the condemnation of the first law, and are now free to aggressively serve the law of Christ:

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

In the same way that one sin formally violated the whole law (James 2:10), one act of love fulfills the law of Christ (Gal 5:14, Rom 13:10). Love covers a multitude of sin (1Peter 4:8). We are sanctified with the word of truth (John 17:17). The Christian life is faith WORKING through the obedience of love (Gal 5:6), and love is synonymous with obedience (John 14:15).

If a professing Christian is not truly bearing fruit for God as an expression of true love for truth, God, and others, he/she has a flawed view of the law’s relationship to the gospel.

What is sapping the power of Christianity in our day is misguided fear. When the ending of sin is confused with the idea of covering, excessive introspection ensues  for fear that we are not living by a convoluted Protestant system of faith-alone works so that the perfect obedience of Christ will continue to be imputed to our Christian life.

In contrast, there is no longer any condemnation for those in Christ and fear has to do with judgement (Rom 8:30, 1Jn 4:16-19). Those mature in love cast away fear. They are free from the condemnation of the law and free to serve Christ in aggressive love.

Who will deny that the overwhelming preoccupation of Protestants is sin and not love while any appearance of good works is held suspect? Where there is not freedom to love without fearful introspection, love will not thrive.

What is The New Birth?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 23, 2015

Law and New Birth Chart Final

PDF File Version

Ironically, any doctrine that waters down a literal new birth and its relationship to the law accordingly, and thus enabling condemnation, will propagate sin and enslave people to it. This is why just as much sin may be found in the institutional church as in the world—if not more so. Keeping God’s people under condemnation enables the institutional church to control people, which adds even more irony because that is the very essence of sin itself—sin seeks to control.”

Moreover, James calls us to act like those who will be judged by the law of love at the Bema seat, not those who will be judged by the law of works at the Great White Throne judgment. Those who will stand there think they have faith alone, and therefore can have a relaxed attitude about the law while selectively obeying it. They see a single perspective on the law as set against faith alone and thereby keeping themselves under the law of works (the point of Jms 2:10). They are not acting as those who will be judged according to how much they matured in love—that’s James’ entire point.”

2000 years later, there is still vast confusion among Christians in regard to a truly biblical definition of the new birth. Why? Because a true understanding of the new birth begs the following question: if such is true about the new birth, what do we need the institutional church for? Answer: we don’t. Institutional religion is a multibillion-dollar industry that supplies all of the trappings for the power hungry and lazy masses who want others to think for them. It is the supreme oligarchy of the ages. Confusion over the new birth is by design.

If one reads through the book of Acts with a body mindset rather than an authoritative institutional mindset, thoughtful questions will arise. How did thousands of people cooperate together on projects without a central authority? It was an agreement on what the Bible teaches, NOT what select men say the Bible teaches. It was a body acting as one according to one head, Christ. That’s what we must return to. The obstacle is a belief that the new birth does not qualify the individual to be directly accountable to Christ according to one’s own interpretation of Scripture.

That is a short word on body versus institution, but the primary focus of this post is what the Bible really teaches about the new birth and its implications for the individual. Nevertheless, one more short word on life after institution. Susan and I assembled together yesterday with another non-institutional family. We followed their format of meeting together that also included their children of various ages. During the teaching time, they continued on in reading through the book of John, one chapter at a time. Each person read a couple of verses in turn with discussion about what was being read. This gives children direct participation in the study while the teacher leads the discussion. The results were pretty impressive. This method also teaches children the correct way to read their Bibles by themselves. Much, much could be addressed here, but what is one of many reasons that the institutional church is irrelevant? Answer: instead of equipping a nation of holy priests, it’s a spectator sport. The faithful assemble to hear profound unctions from academics, pay their temple tax, and “see more Jesus.”

Horribly, the institutional church is willing to compromise the souls of millions in order to control them. They redefine the new birth as a mere legal declaration given by God for believing that the new birth is just that; a position rather than state of being. The command to be holy is merely a command to be holy positionally by faith alone and obedience to the institutional church. The church is God’s authority on earth where forgiveness of “present sin” takes place. Hence, salvation is a mere covering of sin that can only be found in the church. Obviously, according to the reasoning, we are not really holy because we sin.  Therefore, it is supposedly apparent that the new birth changes our status, not our actual state of being. This is a perilous gospel.

The fundamental misunderstanding is the law’s relationship to the new birth, and also mortality’s relationship to the new birth. But, remember that the academics understand this issue, and see no need to address it because most Christians don’t know enough to even ask the right questions. This is by design, and the church has done its job well, ie., keeping the masses dumbed-down with religious traditions. So, how does a truly born again person possess true holiness?

It begins with a basic knowledge of Christ’s saving work. He died, and was resurrected by the Spirit, so that we can follow Him in a literal death and resurrection. He did not merely supply something to believe in, he supplied a way to follow Him in literal death and resurrection as a onetime transforming act effected by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The law has an intimate attachment to each identity, that is, the old self and the new self. To those born under the law, it is the law of sin and death. The only exception is Christ who was also born under the law referring to His humanity. In what way was our sin imputed to Christ? It was first imputed to the law (Gal 3:22,23, 1Jn 3:4, 5:17), and then Christ came to end the law (Rom 10:4, Gal 3:13). Where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:6,8, 10:4, 1Tim 1:9, Gal 2:19). The law of sin and death is the law that the old us was under, but we are no longer under that law because the old us literally died with Christ:

Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

As unbelievers not born again, we were under the written code that condemned us. This necessarily demands the death of the old person, and a literal resurrection resulting in a “new man” that serves the Spirit according to the truth of God’s word.

Ephesians 4:20 – But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This is made to be a reality through the new birth:

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Primarily, before the new birth, one is enslaved to the law’s condemnation. Sin is empowered by condemnation. Hence, “the power of sin is the law” (1Cor 15:56). And, being under the law’s condemnation actually provokes one to sin. Sin that dwells in the flesh or “members” (Rom 7:23) uses the law to provoke people to sin through desires: “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me every kind of lust” (Rom 7:8 English Majority Text). Once the law defines something as sin—sin uses the command to create a desire to break it in some way. This could be the law of God written on the heart of every person (Rom 2:12-16), or the Bible, or both.

So, let’s pause and summarize the state of being regarding those who have not been born again:

The law of God is written on their hearts.

They have a conscience that either accuses them or excuses them.

They experience reward for doing good and punishment for doing wrong.

They are enslaved to condemnation.

They are indifferent to the law of God.

Sin within uses the law to produce sinful desires.

The new birth (baptism of the Spirit) not only ends the law of sin and death, and its condemnation which effectively strips sin of its power (Rom 8:2), but also instills a new heart within the believer that is no longer indifferent to the word of God. This desire is the same desire of the Spirit, and desires to fulfill “the law of the Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2). This is NOT two different natures in conflict as the old nature under the law died. There is only one nature in the born again individual: the NEW one. The conflict is against the new nature and sin that dwells in mortality. Even though sin can no longer condemn and is therefore stripped of its power, and could once work through a living being, void of God’s seed (1John chapter 3), it is still able to produce sinful desires within the believer. Hence…

Romans 7:22 – For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (KJV).

This is the major difference between someone born again and not born again: the transformed “inward man” or “mind,” which is the soul of the new man, loves the law of God and has the same desires as the Spirit because he/she is reborn into a new creature. The apostle Paul calls this reality “the law of God after the inward man,” “the law of my mind,” and in Romans 8:2, “the law of the Spirit of life.” Though the old man that was enslaved to the law’s condemnation is dead and gone, sin remains in the mortal body and is still able to use the law to create sinful desires, but with condemnation gone, sin’s ability to tempt through desires is greatly diminished. Paul calls this reality, “the law of sin,” and in Romans 8:2, “the law of sin and death.” The reality of “the law of the Spirit of life” has set us FREE from “the law of sin and death.” These “laws” speak of actual state of being and their relationships to the law (Bible/word of God). With everything Paul wrote in chapter 7, what is his main summarizing point? Answer: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:1 KJV).

The whole in the flesh phraseology needs very important qualification. When Paul says there is no good thing in our mortal bodies, he is not saying that everything that comes from the flesh is evil. He is not making a Gnostic distinction between the material and the spiritual. The whole of Scripture pinpoints the specific problem with the flesh, and Romans 7:12 ff. and therefore needs to be interpreted via other Scriptures.

12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me (KJV).

Here, it is possible that Paul was making a case against Christian sects of the Gnostic type that were rampant during that time, and taught the law is evil because it is of the material realm. Even in our day, many Reformed camps teach this very idea (Paul M. Dohse; Another Gospel; TANC Publishing 2010, pp.143-151). Paul’s point in this passage is: the law is good. What makes this passage difficult follows: it is a thumbnail snapshot of a vast body of doctrine. More than likely, Paul is illustrating what Christ explained in this way: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41, Mk 14:38). The problem with the flesh is weakness. The Bible does not teach that the flesh is inherently evil. The six components of our “members” follow:

Weakness with mortality (Matt 26:41, 1Cor 15:54).

Was originally purchased by the Sin master through fleshly birth (Rom 7:14).

The dwelling place of sin (Rom 7:23).

The dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:18-20).

Christ’s members purchased by Him as our new master (1Cor 6:14).

Able to be used for holy purposes (Romans 12:1).

Peter complained that Paul was sometimes hard to understand, and false teachers use that difficulty to twist the Scriptures (2 Pet 2:16), and Romans 7:12-21 is probably the best example. Paul is NOT saying that we are only positionally righteous and unable to do good works. He is not saying that we remain unable and inherently sinful—he is saying the exact opposite. Telling is his statement that we do not sin, that only the sin within us sins (Rom 7:20). His point follows: the fact that we desire to obey the law of God proves that we are born again, ourselves good (Rom 15:14), and that the law is good. In regard to, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” a word study will reveal that the word “wretched” refers to persevering in the midst of affliction. Being delivered from the body of death refers to redemption which is NOT the same thing as salvation; it refers to Christ coming to claim what He has purchased (1Cor 15:51-54, 1Cor 6:20).

The body is weak, and susceptible to sin and death, and sin, which dwells in the flesh, makes its appeal through sinful desires. In this way, the desires of the Spirit are in conflict with desires of the flesh:

Galatians 5:17 – For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

BUT, this is more accurately stated as follows:

The desires propagated by sin which dwells in the flesh are against the desires of your Father which you share because you are born of Him. These two desires are opposed to each other and keep you from doing what you want to do; you want to obey God perfectly. Your spirit is willing because you are born of God, but your flesh is weak.

It’s not flesh verses Spirit with us remaining unchanged except for being an experiential conduit, it is the law of our mind (our redeemed self that loves God and others) against the law of sin (sinful desires that remain in the flesh). This necessarily requires a discussion regarding life and death. The old self that was under law and its condemnation could experience more and lesser life, and more and lesser death, but the only wages that could be paid in the end were more or lesser death. The Bible in general, and Paul in particular frames this in regard to wages paid by two masters: the Sin master and Christ. Christians also live by the life and death principle. Christians, though born again, can experience degrees of life and death, but because they are under the master that purchased them from the Sin master, our wages are more or less life. Unfortunately, the experience of life among many professing Christians can be pretty meager. This is in direct relationship to their obedience regarding desires. Though free from the bondage of sin and its condemnation, we can enslave ourselves once again to sin via obeying sinful desires leading to death…

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is how Christians find themselves mired in “addictions.” As they obey sinful desires, those desires become more and more intensified and therefore more difficult to refuse. In various and sundry ways, they are supplying “provisions” to sinful desires located in the flesh (Rom 13:14) leading to more and more lawlessness (Rom 6:19). This is how professing Christians can be enslaved to sin “once again” (Gal 5:1) for no good reason (Gen 4:6). Sin still desires to control; that’s what sin does, but the Christian can master sin and progress in holiness. The progression and growth takes place through the word of God (the law of the Spirit of life Rom 8:2, John 17:17, 1Pet 2:2) and putting the word of God into practice (Matt 7:24, Jms 1:22, Eph 4:22-24).

Ironically, any doctrine that waters down a literal new birth and its relationship to the law accordingly, and thus enabling condemnation, will propagate sin and enslave people to it. This is why just as much sin may be found in the institutional church as in the world—if not more so. Keeping God’s people under condemnation enables the institutional church to control people, which adds even more irony because that is the very essence of sin itself—sin seeks to control. Also, fear and love is misplaced.

Like all nouns describing state of being in biblical context, love and fear have their perspective places in distinctions between law and grace. The latter, grace, does not exclude law. Being under grace as opposed to being under law (Rom 6:14) means that we are under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2) and controlled by “the law of my mind,” or “the perfect law of liberty” (Jms 1:25) that sets us free from the “law of sin and death.” Nevertheless, the reality of ongoing sin and death continues for the saved as well as the unsaved. For the unsaved, they experience lesser death leading to ultimate death because the only wages they can ultimately receive under their present master is death. Under their present master, they are free to do good, but enslaved to unrighteousness—condemnation is their wage (Rom 6:20). But under Christ, or in Christ, we are enslaved to righteousness, but free to sin (Rom 6:18). This is in context of the master we are under and wages received by that master. Because we are under the law of Christ (Gal 6:2), God would be unjust to forget our love and service to the saints (Heb 6:10). Why? Because it is a wage that is owed, and paid out in life, peace, and wellbeing. It is a life built upon a rock (Matt 7:24).

1Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;

Psalm 34:12  – What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth (KJV).

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth (KJV).

Consequently, the born again are to aggressively love without any fear of condemnation whatsoever because there is no fear in love which is under grace (1Jn 4:18), and mature love progressively casts out fear of condemnation because fear has to do with judgment. HOWEVER, there is fear of death’s consequences in the Christian life via God’s chastisement of his children (Heb 12:4ff), punishment for wrongdoing by government authorities (Rom 13:4ff), taking advantage of fellow Christians (Jms 5:9), and general quarreling among each other (1Thess 4:6). Hence…

Philippians 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Obviously, the Scriptures never advocate fear of condemnation, but a healthy fear of consequences for flippantly regarding the call to love is strongly endorsed, especially when one considers that we are helped with the resources of the Trinity. Christ said, If you love me keep my commandments, and then immediately after said, and I will send you a ANOTHER HELPER (John 14:15,16 ESV). God helps us (Phil 2:12), Christ helps us, and the Spirit helps us. Therefore, Christ said that we will, together, do more than He ever did because He is with the Father. A call to serious loving discipleship made possible by the price that Christ paid is a very serious matter; therefore, “it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God” (1Pet 4:17). God made this point as well with Ananias and Sapphira. There is no fear in love under grace, but there is indeed fear in relaxing (Matt 5:19 ESV) the law of the Spirit of life that has set us free from the law of sin and death.

This dichotomy between the two laws, one that condemns, and the other that loves, can be seen everywhere in the Scriptures. James warned his readers that those who fail to show love according to the law show themselves to be under the condemnation of the law:

James 2:1 – My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Yet another name for the law of Christ is noted here, “the royal law” which states that one should “love your neighbor as yourself.” This, as well as love in general, fulfills the whole law (Gal 5:14, Matt 22:36-40, Rom 13:8). This counters the idea that born again believers cannot fulfill the law because the law demands perfection, and our keeping of the law is less than perfect. Therefore, perfect law-keeping is the standard, or definition of being justified. The simplicity of the problem escapes us because it is hiding in broad daylight; that definition of righteousness is justification by the law. Romans 3:21 makes it clear that righteousness is manifested APART from the law; therefore, perfect law-keeping does not define righteousness. Also note Romans 3:28,

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Justification is defined by faith alone APART from works of the law. That includes any and all works no matter who does them. Paul couldn’t be clearer: instead of the law of sin and death being the standard for justification, the “law of faith” is the standard for righteousness. And how is that law fulfilled? Love, not the perfect keeping of the law of sin and death regardless of who keeps it; Paul states the following about that law:

Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law,so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Even if Christ obeyed the law of sin and death and thereby fulfilled it for us, Paul makes it clear that “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” Moreover, since the law of sin and death is only good for condemnation and “knowledge of sin,” it is obvious that Christ’s fulfilling of the law would have to be ongoing. And since love would have to be defined by perfect law-keeping, ALL love would have to be separated from the true being of any individual. In contrast, the law we fulfill is the law of faith, and that is fulfilled by our love towards God and others. And in fact…

1Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Because Christ ended the law of sin and death (Rom 10:4), and the old us that was under the law of sin and death died with Christ, the resurrected new creature in Christ is not judged by the law of sin and death. In this way, living by the Spirit’s law of faith, viz, using the Bible for instruction on how to love God and others and applying it to our lives, imperfect law keeping is not counted against us:

Colossians 2:14 – by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The demands of the law of sin and death were “set aside” by Christ’s death, not his continued fulfillment of it by obedience. We do not fulfill the law of sin and death, we fulfill the law of faith through love:

Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Faith works. Faith works by fulfilling the law of faith through love. It should be of no surprise then that James said the following after the aforementioned passage:

James 2:14 – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good  is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Indeed, how is James using the word “works” in this passage? Answer: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good  is that?” What James is talking about in this passage is love. Faith apart from love is dead:

1John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Indifference to God’s law of faith fulfilled by love, the relaxing of it, and especially a belief that we cannot keep it, is indicative of those who are transgressors of the law, ie., they are still under the law of sin and death. Some even boast that they have faith without works, or in reality, faith without love—James charges that such faith will not save. Note what James said about Abraham: “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” James is saying that Abraham fulfilled the law of faith through his love for God demonstrated through obedience. The same goes for his example of Rahab; the controversy of her means is not the point as she was not under law, the point is her love for the spies and the God whom they were serving. By “works,” James is really referring to love. It is also important to note that the biblical idea of maturing in love is often translated “perfect” in the English. The idea is not perfect love, but rather maturing in love. Maturing in love is the issue, NOT perfect law-keeping. Moreover, James calls us to act like those who will be judged by the law of love at the Bema seat, not those who will be judged by the law of works at the Great White Throne judgment. Those who will stand there think they have faith alone, and therefore can have a relaxed attitude about the law while selectively obeying it. They see a single perspective on the law as set against faith alone and thereby keeping themselves under the law of works (the point of Jms 2:10). They are not acting as those who will be judged according to how much they matured in love—that’s James’ entire point.

The new birth is a literal new state of being. The old state of being that was under law has passed away, “behold, all things are made new” (2Cor 5:17 DRB). This is why Christ came to end the law of sin and death; because…

Romans 8:3 – For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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