Paul's Passing Thoughts

What is Election According to the Bible?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 24, 2016

ppt-jpeg4If the laity want sound definitions of biblical words in order to obtain truth, they will have to study the Bible themselves in order to show themselves approved of God. For example, Protestant scholarship has always defined “election” as the pre-selection of individuals for salvation and damnation. This conclusion can only be drawn by foisting presuppositions on many passages. Election often refers to things and people having no need of salvation. For example, according to Nave’s Topical Bible: Christ; Isa 42:1, 1Pet 2:6, National Israel; Dt 7:6, Isa 45:4, and angels; 1Tim 5:21.

Election is God’s choosing of things and people for specific purposes. It is interesting to note that things and people contrary to God’s purposes are never referred to as some kind of other elect class. There is only one elect category.

In conjunction with election, there is the “called” who are in essence everyone defined by three groups of people: the Jews, the Gentiles, and the “one new man” (Eph 2:15). The manifestation of the one new man is a word often translated, “church,” viz, “ekklesia” which means, “called out assembly.” This called out assembly is also elected (1Pet 5:13).

Election is the choosing of things, groups, and individuals that serve the purposes of God’s redemptive plan. Individuals are NOT chosen unto salvation or damnation, election pertains to God’s plan of salvation and what He chooses to serve that purpose. Election is about the means of salvation offered to all people as a gift. Man did not, or could not devise a plan of salvation, but he is able to participate in the plan of his own free will. The plan was not of man’s will, in fact, his tendency is to hide from God, but he does have the will to be persuaded to accept reconciliation on God’s terms. The plan of salvation and its terms are elected and offered to man as a “promise” contingent on faith alone.

Let’s begin to develop this with passages that speak of God’s election, or “purposes.”

Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

So, governments are elected (“Instituted” or “ordained”) by God for what purpose? “…for he is God’s servant for your good.” But, are all governments elected by God? No, only those who are performing the purpose of election. Election is defined and qualified by its intended purpose. Now, in many theologies and philosophies, the purpose of election is reduced to whatever supposedly glorifies God. This makes election a determinism issue. Hence, everything that happens is God’s will and for the purpose of His self-love and glory. By reducing election to this single purpose, it strictly defines election in terms of God’s sovereignty or the “gospel of sovereignty”—a term that appears nowhere in the Scriptures. What God elects is confirmed by the application of its purpose, or the practice of its purpose (2Pet 1:10 ff.). Hitler’s Nazi Germany was not elected by God; their practice did not coincide with God’s purposes. Governments are elected, but not all governments are of God’s elect.

Therefore, election also speaks to generalities as well. As far as Christ’s called out assembly, what group of people did He primarily focus on?

1Corintians 1:26 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

As far as calling, which includes the three aforementioned groups, God focuses primarily on the lower-class among those groups. And what is the purpose? His glory, because the upper crust tend to get credit for what God does. Does this mean God only saves the poor? Of course not. But culturally, God has always fought against man’s tendency to worship aristocracy, nobility, and errant authority. When Christ told the apostles that it was easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle in comparison to the salvation of the rich, He was using an extreme example to smash a cultural paradigm. Have you ever noted the response He received from the disciples? Who then can be saved? Christ then cited the impossibility of men to come up with plans and means of salvation which is, for all practical purposes, often attributed to the noble. Listening to men rather than studying to show one’s self approved of God is the worship of man’s authority. James also addressed this same problem in his epistle.

God does elect individuals to serve in His purpose of salvation. This election of individuals for ministry in God’s salvific purposes is often attributed to individual predeterminism. In contrast, people groups are chosen for a purpose, not salvation for the sake of salvation, or damnation for the sake of damnation. With that said, God does single out individuals, or elects them for specific ministries and purposes. The following concerns the apostles:

John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Many are quick to jump on this passage as a proof text for individual pre-selection, but Christ is addressing disunity among the apostles and reminding them that it was Him who chose them for the task of apostleship which was being compromised by their selfish mentalities.

Also, as we shall see, those presently not fulfilling God’s purposes of election are not necessarily destined to continue in their rebellion, but before we move on, let’s pause to consider another point:

Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Who are the “those,” and “many brothers”? We assume individuals, but could this not be referring to elected types or groups of people made up of individuals that accepted the free gift of God’s elected plan of salvation? Before you write this off as a stretch, consider the following:

Matthew 22:1 – And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Now, as in many of the English translations, “chosen” in verse 14 should really be “elect.” This conveys more of an idea of a group rather than those who were preselected. But one thing is clear: the “called” are both Jew and Gentile. Those who accept the invitation to the wedding feast become the elect. The real idea here is in essence, many Jews and Gentiles are called, but few are of the elect. Prevalent among the Jews of that day was the idea that being a Jew alone made you the elect. No, this parable refutes that idea and encompasses Paul’s purpose of calling Gentiles as well in order to make the Jews jealous (Rom ch., 11) and thereby save some of them. At any rate, the Jews and Gentiles both are called to Christ, and what is the PURPOSE of that calling?

Ephesians 2:15 – by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,

The gospel is God’s elect plan to reconcile mankind to Himself, but also to reconcile and bring peace/unity between Jew and Gentile, in fact, this is the very “mystery of the gospel.”

Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

1Corinthians 12:13 – For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Galatians 3:28 – 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.

Every diverse type and group of people imaginable are called to be baptized into this one new man of which Christ is the head. And what is the purpose of this calling?

Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Who are the predestined? Groups and types of people who are called: “And those whom he predestined he also called.” However, it is very clear from Matthew 22 that all of the called do not accept the invitation, but if they do, they are also, “justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” How can someone who is not yet redeemed be glorified? They aren’t; the glorification of the group or the elect is what is predetermined. The purpose of election is to justify and glorify the called, but all of those called to not conjoin themselves with God’s purposes.

John Calvin was not oblivious to the contradiction in regard to the called for those who want to buy into pre-determinism, and therefore sought to rectify the contradiction by created a class of elect that were temporarily elected. Hence, the called (Rom 8:30) who are justified are justified temporarily as opposed to the other classification of elect: those who persevere.

In Romans 8 those who are predestined are called, but in Matthew 22 not all who are called are of the elect. That’s a contradiction. Therefore, this is best understood through the purposes of election: it is God’s predetermined purpose to justify and glorify all who are called, and in fact, has already done so through Christ’s work on the cross. Nevertheless, those who do not accept the invitation of the call remain disinterested in God’s purposes.

We will conclude with a look at Romans chapter 9 because it seems to emphasize individual pre-selection. Again, we struggle to not see this as individual predestination because of how we have been conditioned. But the point of the passage is God’s purposes in election through miraculous rebirth according to “the promise.”

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

God elected governments, but not all governments are his elect according to his purposes. God elected Israel, but not all Israelites are of His promise because the promise is through new birth, not Jewish birthrights. Those who are Israelites according to the flesh (born into nationality) are not the elect group, but rather those born into promise by the new birth. The whole passage should be interpreted in regard to elect/non-elect  groups, not individuals. Let me drive this point home by citing what Paul says further along in the text:

Romans 9:23 – in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people, ’and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

Romans 9:30 – What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.

Who is the “us” in Rom 9:24? It is the “one new man” called from among two other groups. Individuals are not in view here, elected groups are. And, not all of the called are part of that group; only those who respond to the invitation by faith alone. Remember, the backdrop of Romans 9 is Jew/Gentile. The purpose of election is to make Jew and Gentile one unified body—the goal is to reconcile the hostility between the two groups as a result of being reconciled with God.

In regard to the whole prepared vessels for wrath or glory in verses 19-23, Paul writes,

Romans 9:19 – You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

But again, Paul clarifies what this speaks to immediately following in verse 24, “US,” as in, the one new man, not individuals. I believe this is key; God calls groups for His purposes, but it is their choice to accept or reject the invitation. Once they do one or the other, they themselves choose to remain in group A, or join group B. I believe Matthew 22 is the interpretive key for this thesis.

The vessels are people called to God’s elect purposes; those who are called into purposes and works prepared beforehand by God—not the salvation of individuals:

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

2Timothy 2:21 – Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

God elects the work and defines what is honorable or dishonorable, but note our choice to cleanse ourselves. We put God’s purposes into practice because this is why we choose the gospel in the first place; a desire to align our individual purposes with God’s elective purposes. We can only affect this through the new birth which only God can bring about, but we can accept the invitation or reject it.

This is another consideration in this passage; the new birth.

Abraham is the father of national Israel and its descendants, but the gospel (the promise) only comes through miraculous new birth. With Abraham, it was the birth of Isaac when Sarah was well beyond childbearing age. God’s offspring are brought about by God’s life creating work, not men. In the case of Rebekah, it was God prophesying that Jewish tradition would be reversed and the older would serve the younger.

Romans 9:8 – This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Please note, that once again, election is hitched to a specific purpose: to eradicate all notion of works from justification. No one can birth themselves. However, they can accept the promise of new birth through faith alone. This whole discourse regards…”that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.”

Now, also note that many make, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” something that God did before the two were born. No, read the passage that Paul cites (Malachi 1:2-3). This is something that happened well after the fact. It was the fulfillment of the prophecy that righteousness would come through the promise of miraculous birth, not works via Jewish tradition or default salvation by Jewish heritage/nationality. This why God elected the one seed, Christ, and Paul continues on in explaining two more groups: the children of Jewish flesh (nationality), and the “remnant” that are children of the promise.

And finally, even in all of this, consider those who are in a group that is not of promise: “Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious” (Rom 11:11 NIV).

Listen, proponents of the so-called “sovereign gospel” can’t have it both ways, and we also see yet another purpose of election; to make Israel jealous, which assumes cause and effect. Those in any given group can recover through the preaching of the word, or the casting of the life-giving-seed of God’s word which Paul also writes about in the same context.

Election is defined by God’s MANY purposes, not a reductionist “gospel of sovereignty.” God calls individuals to elect groups and purposes. His purposes are predetermined, not who will accept the free invitation which is to everyone because God “shows no partiality.”

Do you want to enhance your presentation of the gospel? Do a study and list all of the purposes of God’s election. Election is defined by God’s purposes. Give lost people a vison regarding what God is up to in his wonderful plan of salvation. This is a pretty deep topic, and per the usual, my goal and the goal of this ministry is to get the ball rolling in the right direction. However, it will take the collective efforts of God’s laity to unpack the wonderful doctrine of election.

paul

“Secular” Is NOT Synonymous with “Evil”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 27, 2014

Gnosticism does not interpret reality in three dimensions. That’s why it is of the Dualism family of philosophy. EVERYTHING is good or evil, material or invisible. This is the “knowledge of good and evil.” ALL of reality is interpreted and defined by one or the other. This also involves Anti-Type epistemology as well: opposites define each other; we would not know light if not for darkness, and evil gives deeper understanding of good and vice versa.

This was the basic hypothesis of the Calvin Institutes (see 1.1.1.) and Protestantism in particular. Martin Luther interpreted ALL reality via the “glory story” and the “cross story.” The story of man and the story of redemption. Luther believed that man cannot reason or know reality, and God sent Christ to marry the invisible to the visible as the only gateway of wellbeing—the only gateway of understanding between the shadow world and the true forms through suffering. This IS the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic so highly touted in Reformed circles. It is behind comments by the likes of John MacArthur Jr. that people doubt their salvation because they have not suffered enough as a Christian.

This worldview has seriously crippled Christianity’s ability to minister to the world because, among many examples, the secular is always defined as being evil. America was founded on secular principles: separation of church and state. The founding fathers saw the secular as a force for good that freed man to pursue life and happiness. This was the first time in history where faith and force were separated.

Other words that are unfortunate Christian synonyms for evil… “flesh,” and “leaven.” The latter often denotes influence whether good or evil; the former, like the secular, can be used for good or evil. The framers recognized that church and secular together,  never turns out well. This is why movements such as the Moral Majority are egregiously misguided.

Here is an example of God using the secular for good purposes, and His call to Christians to support such:

Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

paul

The Potter’s House: Romans 13:12-14; Overcoming Sin

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 31, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

Romans 13:12-14 – The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

This will complete Chapter 13 in our Romans series. Today, we take a break from my perpetual drumbeat of justification and focus on the crux of sanctification: overcoming sin. Justification is God’s declaration about who we are—we are righteous—not just positionally, but personally. Sanctification is not a living out of justification; it is a living out of our righteousness that resulted in being justified. While there is no law in justification, sanctification fulfils the law.

As we see in the verses here, sanctification is a call to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The law (all of Scripture), informs our sanctification, and also informs us that it has no part in justification. The law informs us that it is a ministry of death for the unbelieving, but the law of the Spirit—the law of liberty for those who believe. Salvation calls for the death of the former person so the law of sin and death will no longer be valid (Romans 7:1-6). Before we followed Christ, Death was our spouse, and the law was the marriage covenant (Ibid). But we died with Christ so we could be resurrected to new life with Him. Now, we live by the “law of the Spirit of Life” (Rom 8:2).

We must understand that a major affront to salvation is the idea that the “law of the Spirit of life” and the “law of sin and death” are not two different relationships to the same law, but two different realms. Hence, we are merely transformed from the realm of the law to the realm of the Spirit. This is indicative of Protestantism’s Gnostic roots, and makes antinomianism feasible to the unlearned en masse in our day. I myself have heard many in our day teach that sin is a natural law like gravity, and therefore, manifestations of righteousness are a supernatural act of God that we merely experience by faith alone. We remain in the sin realm, keep in mind: the “transformation” of salvation is only the ability to experience the other realm “by faith.” And what is faith? Faith is a gift that is like an eye that only sees outward. To the degree that we “see” the depths of the gospel (our sin as set against God’s holiness), righteousness is manifested in the spirit realm, and we can observe/experience those manifestations from the sin realm that we are enslaved to. Regardless of all of the bemoaning and whining about Rick Warren in Reformed circles, anyone like him who holds to Gnostic Christianity will always be part of the Reformed clan:

This week we’re talking about developing the eyes of faith. When you are spiritually reborn, God opens your spiritual eyes and this enables you to see His work all around you and to see the many opportunities He places before you.

God will also open your spiritual ears, so you will be able to hear what people are really saying instead of what you think they are saying. When Jesus comes into your life, God opens a whole set of spiritual senses that help you see life from His point of view.

Let me give you a simple example of how this works. Have you ever been reading the Bible and, as you read a verse, it just pops out and you think, ‘Wow, I never saw that before!’ Even though you’ve read that verse fifteen times, you’d never seen the truth that just popped out for you.

What happened? God just opened your spiritual eyes.

Now, as I mentioned yesterday, there are some basic steps you must complete in order to develop the eyes of faith, in order to live life by faith, and you need to live by faith or you will never be able to complete the destiny God has planned out for you (Rick Warren: Developing the eyes of faith – Step Two; January 04,  2011 | purposedriven .com).

Notice that the Christian life must be lived “by faith” [“alone” always omitted for purposes of nuance], and is merely a matter of “see[ing]” and not DOING. The “flesh” is also interpreted as the sin realm that we are enslaved to. So, the law as Scripture serves to do nothing but show us our sinfulness as ones trapped and enslaved to the sin realm, and as we see this more and more in Scripture, our gratitude for God’s grace is enhanced and we experience the joy of the spirit realm which we are totally separate from. We cannot walk in it—we can only experience it. The payoff is exceeding joy in the midst of whatever life brings our way, after all, we are enslaved/trapped in this realm, and everything that happens to us is a narrative set against God’s holy realm. Hence, tragedy only brings glory to God. If you google “eyes of faith,” you can find much information about this mystic approach to life. As I have stated many times before, the theological journal of the Australian Forum is invaluable in clarifying these Reformed concepts.

In their illustration the truly spiritual man only looks outward, while believing that we are in a realm that we can participate in leads to a “sea of subjectivism.” The “sea of subjectivism” motto is one of the truisms that launched the present-day New Calvinist movement and that concept was unique to the Australian Forum as noted by John H. Armstrong in his well-traveled essay, Sola Fide: Does it Really Matter?

As teachers and those who communicate God’s truth in Evangelical circles, do we know how people interpret our use of the words, law, flesh, sin, and righteousness? Do they assume we are speaking of realms and the characteristics of those realms? Do they assume the law is a narrative about God’s holiness and the evil of man only?

As people, how do we really view change? It is interesting that Christ primarily framed His gospel call in regard to change. Clearly, His gospel was a call to change—it was the “gospel of the kingdom” Matt 4:23. In Matthew 5:1-7:29 we are shown exactly what His messages were comprised of in the Sermon on the Mount. It was a call to live a certain way—it is a message of change. We do not change for salvation, but salvation is a call to change. Salvation is for people who want to change. It is in the verses at hand here today: “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” We don’t put on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, we simply believe that faith alone cancels works for justification, but frees us to change. It is a call to use the law lawfully:

1Timothy 1:5 – The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

When Paul wrote of those who teach the law, he never meant to say that this refers to an endeavor to keep the law truthfully along with the spirit of the law. What do I mean by, “the spirit of the law”? Well, it means that we not only abstain from adultery, but we also abstain from fantasizing about adulterous affairs with others, or sins of the heart. God sent the flood on the world because “every intention of the thoughts of his [mankind] heart was only evil continually.” When Paul wrote of those propagating law-based salvation, it always refers to a dumbed down version of the law or a law edited by the traditions of men.

A lawful use of the law refers to TRUTH, or an accurate rendering of the full counsel of God resulting in “sound doctrine.” In John 17:17 Christ states that we are sanctified with the truth, and 2Thessolonians 2;10 reveals the fact that being saved comes part and parcel with loving the truth. Again, this doesn’t save us, but is rather a natural result of the new birth:

understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient…in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted (Ibid)… on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (Romans 2:16).

Keeping the law can’t save us, but being saved will result in “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” It will result in keeping the law lawfully. “Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” involves doing so according to the truth.

What does Paul mean by, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand”? This probably speaks to the fact that the Lord’s return is imminent in this age. The next event on the prophetic timeline is the tribulation period, and that time period is marked by specific events separated by days. In this age, the Lord’s return is to be expected at any time, and it is a rapturing up of His people to meet Him in the air. The end of the tribulation is the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom on earth. We are to conduct our Christian lives according to the fact that Christ could return at any time.

What we are to be doing is stated: “So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” The armor of light is the whole armor of God:

Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We are in a spiritual warfare, and like all warfare, you must be well prepared to win the battle. Sanctification is a many-faceted endeavor that entails preparation and readiness. We must be about doing “everything” not just, “seeing and hearing” while waiting for whatever Christ might manifest for us in the spiritual realm. We are active and called on to participate in real change:  “So then let us cast off the works of darkness.” We will return to Ephesians for some explanation here as well:

Ephesians 4:20 – That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

We are to put off the old “self” and put on the new…what? “self.” What does “new” mean? What does “self” mean? What does, “old” mean? This is real change. This is the putting off and putting on process spoken of throughout the Bible. Obviously, this process brings about change. Of course, the Gnostic naysayers will say, “Yes, but it is not ‘real and lasting change’” while they deny that people can change at all. We can change, and this passage reveals how.

The putting off and putting on dynamic of change is absolutely massive in the Bible. I would like to add to our lesson with a word study that constitutes the first thing I have ever perceived as having value coming out of the Neo-Calvinist camp. It is a word study by Justin Taylor regarding this dynamic.* Of course, it is interpreted via the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event prism.

This is Calvin’s Sabbath rest sanctification where God preordains our good works as manifested in the spirit realm and only experienced by us. This is achieved by gospel contemplationism that merely opens our eyes to what God is manifesting in the spirit realm. The “flesh” isn’t the “old self,” it is a realm that we are enslaved to. Hence, as we have discussed before, it is the Pharisees were really, really good at keeping the law paradigm. Therefore, since we must have a righteousness that exceeds theirs, the perfect obedience of Christ must be manifested to our experience through gospel contemplationism.

This is the very relaxing of the law theology that Jesus warned against. Obviously, if Jesus kept/keeps the law for us, diligence in doing so is not a priority for us. All of the imperatives in the Bible, or in this case putting off and putting on, are meant to frustrate us in our attempts to keep the law. The theory holds that Jesus pummeled us with commands to show us that we are unable to keep them. In Reformed circles this is referred to as holding a counselee’s hand to the fire of the law until they beg for mercy. Nevertheless, Taylor’s word study can be used for our good benefit.*

Next, we have an illustration by Dr. Jay Adams that lists verses that have the put off put on dynamic within the context of a passage.** You can read those passages and ascertain  what the put off and the put on are.**

Next, we have an impressive list of put on and put off that are inferred by separate imperatives. This is the dreaded Do’s and Don’ts list so often maligned in our day.***

But the key is knowing the following: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Bingo—sin makes its appeal through the desires, or if you will, emotions. That appeal comes from the old self which resides in our mortality, or flesh. We also see this in the Ephesians passage: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.”

Remember that Paul told Timothy to “flee youthful lust.” So, I want to add here that older saints do have a change advantage because old age has weakened their bodies. Strong emotions and desires are weaker. But in either case, the strength of the desire measures the strength of the temptation:

James 1:14 – But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Therefore, sinful desires are intensified and strengthened when given “provision” :

g4307. πρόνοια pronoia; from 4306; forethought, i. e. provident care or supply:— providence, provision.

Do you want to hate sin? Do you know that Christians can learn to love and also learn to hate? We will learn to love and treasure what we invest our heart in: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” “Let love be genuine, hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Do’s and Don’ts? No, this isn’t about do’s  and don’ts, this is about giving provisions to sinful desires—this is about learning to love good and hate evil—this is about proper investment. Can you now see what the relaxing of the law in sanctification will do? It will, according to James, bring forth fruits of death which is still possible because we are in these mortal bodies.

And in the final analysis, God is robbed of glory (Matthew 5: 13-16). As Christians, we must define who we are and how spiritual warfare is waged. We are righteous, and we can change, and God is behind us with the help of Himself, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Endnotes

*I’ve been intrigued by Paul’s idea of “putting on” and “putting off,” and wanted to investigate a little further.

The Greek word ἐνδύω is usually used in the Gospels for putting on or wearing clothes (Matt. 6:25; 22:11; 27:31; Mark 1:6; 6:9; 15:20; Luke 8:27; 15:22; cf. Acts 12:21). John uses the term the same way in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:13; 15:6; 19:14), though it’s clear there that the clothing is also symbolic of purity and righteousness. The only exception to the normal use in the Synoptics is that before his ascension Jesus instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high.”

The apostle Paul seems to pick up this metaphorical use, and he runs with it in a variety of ways.

Those in Christ have already put on Christ.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).

Those in Christ are commanded to put on Christ.

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14).

Those in Christ have already put on the new self/man.

“[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10).

Those in Christ are instructed to put on the new self/man.

“[Your were taught] to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

Those in Christ are to put on the whole armor of God.

“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12).

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. . . . Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:11, 14).

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8).

Those in Christ are to put on love and other virtues.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:12).

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

Those in Christ have perishable, mortal bodies that will one day put on imperishable, immortal, heavenly bodies.

“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:33).

“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor. 5:2).

Paul—as well as other NT writers—also express the flip side of “putting off” (ἀποτίθημι), the non-metaphorical use of which can be used of removing clothing (cf. Acts 7:58).

Those in Christ have already put off the old self/man.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices” (Col. 3:9).

Those in Christ are instructed to put off the old self/man.

“[You were taught] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22).

Those in Christ are to put away all sin and vice.

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25).

“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Pet. 2:1).

~ Online source: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/06/08/putting-on-christ-putting-off-sin/

~ Comments: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/06/08/putting-on-christ-putting-off-sin/?comments#comments

**

Eph 4:25

Eph 4:28

Eph 4:29

Eph 4:31-32

Psalm 1

Gal 5:19-23

3Jn 11

Heb 10:25

1Pet 3:9

Matt 16:24

1Thess 1:9

1Pet 1:14-15

1Pet 2:11-12

1Pet 4:2

1Pet 5:2

1Pet 5:3-6

Rom 12:16

Rom 12:21

Rom13:12

Rom 14:17

Rom 15:1-2

Gal 6:3-4

Gal 6:8

Eph 5:4

Eph 5:11

Eph 5:18

Eph 6:4

Phil 2:3

Phil 2:21

Phil 3:3

Phil 4:6

Col 3:2

Col 3:5-10

1Thess 5:6

1Thess 5:15

1Tim 4:7

1Tim 6:11

1Tim 6:17

2Tim 1:17

Titus 2:11-12

James 1:22

1Pet 2:1-2

1Jn 3:18

1Jn 4:18

Acts 18:9

~ Jay E. Adams: Principles and Practices of Biblical Counseling; Institute for Biblical Studies, pp. 22-24.

***

Put-Off                                                               Put-On

Adultery                                                              Marital fidelity

Anger                                                                  Self-control

Argumentative/Quarrelsome                               Gentle Answer/Peace & Accord

Astrology                                                            Worship of God

Bad Companions                                                Godly Associations

Bitterness                                                            Tender hearted, forgiving

Blameshifting                                                      Responsibility

Bodily harm                                                        Glorify God in body

Burying talents                                                    Developing abilities

Boasting (conceit)                                               Esteeming others

Careless Talk                                                       Edifying Words

Carnal Entertainment                                          Please God

Cheating                                                              Honesty

Covetousness                                                      Contentment

Critical spirit                                                       Kindness

Complacency                                                      Zeal

Complaining                                                        Gratefulness

Depression                                                          Hope in God

Discontent                                                           Contentment

Disobedience                                                      Obedience

Disrespect for authority                                      Honor authority

Dissatisfaction                                                                Satisfaction

Divisive                                                               Peacemaker

Drunkenness                                                       Abstinence, self-control

Easily irritated                                                    Not easily provoked

Envious                                                               Rejoice with Others

Evil speaking                                                       Good report

Evil thoughts                                                       Pure thoughts

Favoritism                                                           Fairness

Faultfinding                                                        Patience

Feeling Oriented                                                 Commandment Oriented

Flirtation                                                             Gentle, quiet spirit

Fleshly music                                                      Edifying music

Following the crowd                                           God-fearing

Fornication                                                          Abstinence

Gambling                                                            Good stewardship

Gluttony                                                              Discipline

Gossip                                                                Edifying speech

Greed                                                                  Contentment

Guilt                                                                    Confession

Hatred                                                                Love

Homosexuality                                                    Moral purity

Hypocrisy                                                            Sincerity

Idle words                                                           Bridle tongue

Idolatry                                                               Worship God only

Immodest dress                                                   Modesty

Impatience                                                          Patience

Impulsive                                                            Thoughtfulness

Inferiority                                                            Position in Christ

Incest                                                                  Moral purity

Irritation to others                                               Preferring in love

Irresponsibility (family/work)                            Responsibility

Irreverence in church                                          Reverence

Inhospitable                                                        Hospitable

Insensitive                                                           Compassion

Jealousy                                                               Trust

Judging                                                               Let God search my heart

Left first Love                                                                Fervent devotion

Lack of rejoicing                                                 Rejoice

Lack of moderation                                            Temperance

Laziness                                                              Diligence

Losing temper                                                    Self-control

Love of money/greed                                          Love God

Lust                                                                     Pure desires

Lying                                                                   Speak truth

Masturbation                                                       Sanctification

Menpleasing                                                        Please God

Moral impurity                                                    Moral purity

Murder                                                                            Love

Murmuring/complaining                                      Praise

Neglect of Bible study                                        Bible study/meditation

No burden for the lost                                                    Compassion/witnessing

Opinionated                                                        Slow to Speak

Pleasure Seeker                                                   Enjoy God’s Pleasures

Pornography                                                        Pure thoughts

Prayerlessness                                                    Praying

Pride                                                                    Humility

Procrastination                                                    Diligence

Profanity                                                             Pure speech

Preferential treatment                                        Love neighbor as self

Presumption on the future                                   Trust God’s will

Rebellion                                                              Submission

Retaliation                                                            Return good for evil

Selfishness                                                           Self denial

Self Pity                                                               Faith

Slothfulness                                                         Wholeheartedness

Smoking                                                               God’s Temple

Status Seeker                                                       Servants Heart

Stealing                                                                Work/giving

Stinginess                                                             Generosity

Strife/contention                                                  Peace

Stubbornness                                                        Brokenness

Temporal values                                                   Eternal value

Unbelief                                                               Faith

Undisciplined                                                       Self-Control

Unfaithfulness                                                                 Faithfulness

Unforgiving spirit                                                Heart Forgiveness

Ungratefulness                                                     Gratefulness

Undependable                                                     Trustworthy

Unloving                                                              Serve Others

Vindictive                                                            Bless Your Enemy

Witchcraft/Horoscopes                                        Worship of God

Worldly entertainment                                         Spiritual pursuits

Worry/fear                                                            Trust

Wrath                                                                   Soft answer

Wrong friends                                                     Godly friends

Wrong motives                                                     Spiritual motives

~ Online source includes links to specific verses: http://www.gatewaybiblicalcounseling.org/resources/putoffputonlist.htm

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