Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Cross-Centered” Living Keeping “Christians” Under Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 5, 2018
noah-got-drunk

Yup, we’re all just filthy scum…Now go have a happy “cross-centered” day!

Originally published January 5, 2017

Focusing on sin is all the rage among “christians” today.  Is it any wonder?  The “cross-centered” orthodoxy teaches that the more one gains a deeper understanding of their sinfulness, the more they gain a greater understanding of God’s holiness and a realization of what a great price was paid for their salvation, making the cross bigger.

So are you bothered by the realization that you continue to screw up in life?  Well, you should be.  After all, you are just a dirty, rotten, totally depraved sinner.  But don’t worry, the Bible is full of dirty, rotten, totally depraved sinners, and it worked out for them just fine!

That should make us feel better right?  Yet the number of “christians” who lack assurance of their salvation is pandemic.  However, the problem is not that “christians” don’t focus enough on their sin.  The problem is not that they are not living “cross-centered” lives enough.  In fact, such behavior is only going to exacerbate the problem.  Constant introspection on sin only produces fear.  Most christians’ lives are characterized by a fear of whether or not they are living “cross-centered” at any given moment.  Rather than showing love to God and others by aggressivly pursuing obedience as the Bible commands, they are paralyzed in their continual self-enslavement to sin.

Protestants like to go around saying “Man has a sin problem”.  My counter to that is, no, the problem is not man’s sin, the problem is his realtionship to the law!

Careful study of scripture reveals that there are two perspectives on sin and the law instead of the single-perspective that has been propagated by protestant orthodoxy for over 500 years. For an unbeliever who is “under law” (the biblical definition of an unregenerate person), the law is used to judge a person to eternal condemnation.  Romans 8:2 calls this “the law of sin and death.”

But for the person who is born again, the law can no longer condemn (Romans 8:1) because the old man has been put death (you cannont condemn a dead man). In his place is a new creature who is the literal righteous offspring of the Father. The law has a new purpose.  Romans 8:2 calls this “the law of the spirit of life.”  The law is now used as the means by which the believer shows love to God and to others.

crosschart

Yeah, I know, it’s that pesky cross chart again.

Dwelling on sin leads to fear of condemnation because sin uses the law for that purpose.  So when we dwell on sin, we are willingly empowering a Sin master from whom we were freed when we were born again.  But this is exactly what protestant orthodoxy does; it keeps a believer under law and under constant fear of condemnation.  Is it any wonder why “christians” constantly function like the unregenerate?

A born again believer does not sin.  Not only that, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9).  Sin has to do with condemnation, and the believer is not condemned because there is no law to condemn him.  Since there is no law to condemn, there is no sin!  To the extent that he obeys the law or not is irrelevant.  He is no longer condemned.  His motivation is not one of seeking to merit righteousness.  He already IS righteous.  His motivation is a desire to express his love for God and others.   At worst, he simply fails to show love as he should.  It does not affect the reality of his righteous state as God’s child!

~ Andy

“Cross-Centered” Living Keeping “Christians” Under Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 5, 2017
noah-got-drunk

Yup, we’re all just filthy scum…Now go have a happy “cross-centered” day!

Focusing on sin is all the rage among “christians” today.  Is it any wonder?  The “cross-centered” orthodoxy teaches that the more one gains a deeper understanding of their sinfulness, the more they gain a greater understanding of God’s holiness and a realization of what a great price was paid for their salvation, making the cross bigger.

So are you bothered by the realization that you continue to screw up in life?  Well, you should be.  After all, you are just dirty rotten totally depraved sinner.  But don’t worry, the Bible is full of dirty rotten totally depreaved sinners, and it worked out for them just fine!

That should make us feel better right?  Yet the number of “christians” who lack assurance of their salvation is pandemic.  However, the problem is not that “christians” don’t focus enough on their sin.  The problem is not that they are not living “cross-centered” lives enough.  In fact, such behavior is only going to exacerbate the problem.  Constant introspection on sin only produces fear.  Most christians’ lives are characterized by a fear of whether or not they are living “cross-centered” at any given moment.  Rather than showing love to God and others by aggressivly pursuing obedience as the Bible commands, they are paralyzed in their continual self-enslavement to sin.

Protestants like to go around saying “Man has a sin problem”.  My counter to that is, no, the problem is not man’s sin, the problem is his realtionship to the law!

Careful study of scripture reveals that there are two perspectives on sin and the law instead of the single-perspective that has been propagated by protestant orthodoxy for over 500 years. For an unbeliever who is “under law” (the biblical definition of an unregenerate person), the law is used to judge a person to eternal condemnation.  Romans 8:2 calls this “the law of sin and death.”

But for the person who is born again, the law can no longer condemn (Romans 8:1) because the old man has been put death (you cannont condemn a dead man). In his place is a new creature who is the literal righteous offspring of the Father. The law has a new purpose.  Romans 8:2 calls this “the law of the spirit of life.”  The law is now used as the means by which the believer shows love to God and to others.

crosschart

Yeah, I know, it’s that pesky cross chart again.

Dwelling on sin leads to fear of condemnation because sin uses the law for that purpose.  So when we dwell on sin, we are willingly empowering a Sin master from whom we were freed when we were born again.  But this is exactly what protestant orthodoxy does; it keeps a believer under law and under constant fear of condemnation.  Is it any wonder why “christians” constantly function like the unregenerate?

A born again believer does not sin.  Not only that, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9).  Sin has to do with condemnation, and the believer is not condemned because there is no law to condemn him.  Since there is no law to condemn, there is no sin!  To the extent that he obeys the law or not is irrelevant.  He is no longer condemned.  His motivation is not one of seeking to merit righteousness.  He already IS righteous.  His motivation is a desire to express his love for God and others.   At worst, he simply fails to show love as he should.  It does not affect the reality of his righteous state as God’s child!

~ Andy

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.

Clarification From Galatians 3: The Trinity is Not a Paradox, Christians Don’t Live by Faith Alone, and the Covenant of Promise Defined

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 21, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do…There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.”

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels. If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.”

Galatians chapter 3 corrects some significant misnomers that routinely plague those who have to listen to incessant Christian blathering coming from the same who are completely comfortable with contradictions. Faith has become a license for mindlessness, and paradox is now a legitimate hermeneutic.

Since the Bible says God is one person, and also three persons, and the Bible cannot contradict itself, gee whiz, that’s a paradox, and gee whiz, there must be other paradoxes in the Bible as well, and gee whiz, only our “leaders” (dictators) know what a paradox is or isn’t. So, another paradox is the idea that Christians do things by faith alone. We do stuff, but we are not really the ones doing it. “Christians” are very comfortable with this lingo: we didn’t do it, when clearly we did do it, but supposedly, Jesus really did it, lest we get credit for the deed even though Jesus does assign merit for good deeds, but to whom is unclear since we didn’t do it.

And of course, supposedly, people don’t buy into this nonsense because it’s nonsense, but are rather “totally depraved” and will accept the offer of salvation if it is really a promise made to them even though God tells us to tell them that the promise is to them though it may not be. And so it goes; we will pay someone 85,000 dollars a year with a hefty medical package to say things like, “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”1 Our job is to say “amen” in between sips of coffee served up from the large vat in the lobby. If the coffee has a little burn in the taste, we wonder, “Is this the day, or just another dry run?”

I am not going to get into the trinity debate, but rather, the point of this post is that the Bible isn’t making a statement about the trinity when it states that God is one. The biblical idea is a statement that makes it clear that there are no other mediators between God and man other than God Himself. Galatians chapter 3 makes this clear. Hence, Protestant popes love to keep the masses distracted with debates about paradoxes lest we figure out that God was drawing a contrast between Himself and them who will travel land, sea, and air to make someone three times the child of hell that they are. And of course, paid for by the Protestant peasantry enslaved to the material world and its knowledge. And of course, from that perspective, spiritual truth can be expected to appear as paradox. In fact, those who demand a logical exegesis of Scripture are deemed as lacking faith, and making Jesus a “precept rather than a person.” By the way, the idea of faith over logic/reason was a major clarion call of the Nazi party during its formative years and expressly Lutheran in origin.2

Galatians chapter 3 is a vivid clarification of the relationship between law and gospel—or better stated biblically, the relationship between law and promise which also excludes every kind of mediator other than God Himself. This is one of the major points of Galatians 3. Paul begins by stating the following in his epistle to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

The dictators of the Protestant super-cult focus on the words, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The case is therefore made that we must be perfected the same way we began. This is the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification in a nutshell. It begins with the idea that perfection, viz, justification, is a process. And next, we keep that process going by faith alone. And next, if we live by some sort of faith-alone formula, the same formula that originally saved us, the Holy Spirit will continue to keep us justified. In other words, we have to live by the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved which is backdoor works salvation.

What is Paul really saying? His rhetorical question focuses on the erroneous idea that “perfection” (justification) is based on a process. The crux is any kind of process period, but in this case, the process involves the law of Moses. Protestantism uses this text to make the exact case that Paul is arguing against. Except, they add the law to the process in the same way that the Judaizers did albeit in a less direct way. Take note: the very false gospel that Paul is arguing against in Galatians 3 is the same gospel propagated by Protestantism in our day, and the exact same gospel that the Judaizers propagated with Jesus added. In this letter, Paul argues that law cannot be part of the gospel because that would make the law a co-mediator/life-giver with God, and only God can give life. The Judaizers taught that the law does give life, and that “believers” have to continue to draw life and justification from the law.3

But we must now stop and define what Paul meant by “law” in context of keeping it for justification. Judaizer-like false gospels never promote a truthful and perfect keeping of the law in order to remain justified because they know that’s impossible. So, the traditions of men are added as a Cliff Notes keeping of the law that fulfills the “righteous demands of the law.”4 Men are mediators between God and mankind that determine the sub-law that satisfies the holy law, and supposedly, they are appointed by God. Luther and Calvin merely added Jesus to this idea. If we obey the “Christ-centered,” “gospel-centered,” orthodoxy of Protestant elders, Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law of Moses will be imputed to our account, and we will remain “perfect” or justified. Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do.

Let’s nail this down a little more before we progress further. It entails an understanding of what Paul meant by the receiving of the Spirit. That’s the new birth. That’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That changes the believers relationship to the law. Paul’s protest regards the fusion of the law of Moses with perfection which takes place upon the receiving of the Spirit. Paul is protesting a progression or process of perfection by law-keeping. The Judaizers propagated a fulfilling of the law for righteousness via adherence to their traditions5 whereas Protestants demand an adherence to their traditions which supposedly results in Jesus’ perfect law keeping being imputed to the “believer.”

Paul said, in essence, “No, if you want to be justified (perfected) by the law of Moses (the law of sin and death), you have to keep it perfectly. No, circumcision and the observance of days is not a substitution for fulfillment of the law. The law has no part in justification, one is justified (perfected) by the new birth that is received by faith alone. The justified are not justified by the law—law-keeping is what they do, but it is not the law of sin and death for purposes of law-keeping, it is the law of the Spirit of life for purposes of love. There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.” Hence…

Galatians 4:10 – You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain…21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?…5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace…6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

In addition, the law being the standard for justification rather than the receiving of the Spirit always leads to a “relaxing of the law” (Matt 5:19). Why? Because some dumbing down of the law as a replacement for true law-keeping for love, or faith working through love, always leads to neglect of the law and true love accordingly. Hence…

Galatians 2:17 – But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God…5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you…13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

The fulfillment of Moses’ law, the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), cannot be fulfilled for justification, but said false gospel (Gal 1:6ff.) attempts to do so through mediation in addition to God. This always leads to a dumbing down of the law for purposes of justification. The traditions of men end up being a cloak for unrighteousness under the auspices of being friends of the law. Tradition fulfills the law as a standard for righteousness when the real standard for righteousness is the new birth resulting in the loving of God’s law for purposes of loving God and others, not justification. Justification is a finished work totally apart from the law of sin and death; the only work left is “faith working through love.”

Sure, we don’t do that perfectly, but in regard to justification, so what? The motives of those born of God are love because part and parcel with the new birth is a love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The law’s ability to condemn was ended by Christ (Rom 10:4) and where there is no law there is NO sin (Rom 4:15). If you now say: “So, the law is the Spirit’s law, and for those who are under law, He uses it to condemn them, but to those who have received Him, He uses it to lead them”; you rightly assess with an additional caveat…Moses’ law of sin and death, while being a ministry of death, still serves the same purpose for New Testament unbelievers as it did for Old Testament believers, that is, it holds sin captive until they believe in Christ, then their sins are ended along with the law that the old them was under, but one who is dead is no longer under the jurisdiction of law that can condemn6 (Romans 7:1-6). Those who receive the Spirit are now free to “serve another” (Rom 6:6). The “new life of the Spirit” enables us to fulfill the law in our acts of love (Rom 8:1-8). The apostle Paul develops these same ideas as we move along in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:7 –  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

This is set against what the Judaizers were telling the Galatians. They were telling the Galatians that in order to be a true son of Abraham, you have to follow the recognition of days and circumcision; traditions that supposedly satisfied the law of Moses. Paul wrote this letter to set them straight. Paul wrote the letter to explain how one becomes a true son of Abraham, the man of faith. Note that the baptism of the Spirit is somewhat different from the new birth. As we will see in chapter 3 of this letter, the law of Moses had a particular purpose: to hold all sin captive. As the law increased, so did sin, but all sin is against the law (1Jn 3:4) and imputed to the law; the law of sin and death holds sin captive.

Old Testament believers were born again and ministered to by the Spirit, but their sins were still held captive by the law because the promise of the Spirit had not yet come. The promise of the Spirit would resurrect Christ from the grave who had already ended the law and its condemnation by dying on the cross, and baptize Jew and Gentile into one body.7 The promise of the Spirit was therefore to Abraham and Christ both (Gal 3:16). As King David had prophesied, God would not leave Christ in the grave to see corruption (Acts 2:27, 31, Ps 16:10).

Until then, Old Testament believers dwelt in a place called Hades which was divided into two parts with a gulf separating them (Luke 16:19-31). One side was occupied by those under law and its condemnation, and the other side was occupied by “the captives.” Why were they called “the captives”? Because Jesus had not yet ended the law’s condemnation, and the saints were yet held captive by the law. While Christ was in the grave, he went to Hades and proclaimed victory to the captives, and when the Spirit resurrected Him, according to the promise, He led the captives out of captivity because the law was ended (Eph 4:8, Ps 68:18, 1Pet 3:19). This is the gospel that God preached to Abraham face to face.

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.

Paul is telling the Gentile Galatians, as a Jew of the Jews, that they were part of the gospel from the beginning, and are given access to the commonwealth of elect Israel (Eph 2:12) in the same way that Abraham was saved, by faith alone completely apart from the law. Paul will go on to argue that if the law is justification’s standard, the law is an additional seed, or offspring. In other words, the law is a co-life-giver with God. This is the crux of “one God.” However, don’t misunderstand and think that the law cannot give life to anyone for it can, but not those who are under its condemnation. It is impossible as Paul stated in Romans 8 for anyone under the curse of the law to find life in the law. That’s what Paul is stating here in Gal 3:10-14. Believers “live” (are justified) by faith alone in the free gift of the promise completely apart from the law. Those under grace love God’s law (Ps 119) and it can, in fact, give life to those who are born again (Jn 17:17, 1Pet 2:2).8

Those under the law can only find condemnation in the law. They can only receive the free gift by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ.9 When they believe, the Spirit falls on them,10 puts them to death with Christ, and thereby ending the law that all of their sins are against and imputed to, and resurrects them to new life in Christ where they walk according to the Spirit and find life in obedience to the Spirit’s law… “If you love me, keep my commandments.”11 The believer does not question motives in obedience—they know they cannot be justified by the law. They know they are justified by the new birth apart from the law. Paul furthers the point this way:

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.

It simply boils down to this: justification is completely void of law (Rom 3:19, 21, 28). Salvation and new birth come by believing the promise of miraculous new birth:

Romans 9:9  – 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,

And…“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” What did he believe exactly? He believed that God would bring about miraculous new birth demonstrated in Sarah, make his descendants like the sand of the sea, bless the Gentiles through him as well, and that his offspring would live forever in a city built by God (Heb 11:8-12). The miraculous conceptions of Sarah, Rebekah, Elizabeth, and Mary are not mere fodder for mystery, but speak of miraculous new birth and God’s elected means for the promised free gift. It’s by new birth, not law. There is no law in justification; the law is a protector that holds our sin captive until faith comes. Faith only believes in the promise like Abraham—the law did not come until 430 years after God made a covenant with him; the free gift—the promise. The law in NO WAY “ratified” the original covenant which had no law, but was based on the promise to Abraham and the ONE seed, Christ.

Why then the law?

Galatians 3:19  – 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.

This brings us almost full circle. The law of Moses was put into place by angels on Mount Sinai in the apocalyptic event recorded in the Old Testament. Moses was the mediator, but he was the mediator for a ministry of death:

2Corinthians 3:7 – Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Note that Moses’ ministry of death has not completely ended, but is in the process of being abolished (Heb 8:13). Why? Because it still serves a purpose. It will be used to condemn those under it if they do not rid themselves of it. Meanwhile, all sin is imputed to it:

Hebrews 9:15  – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Note that “a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” That’s because all sin is committed under the first covenant. If the first covenant is completely abolished, there is no sin for anyone. This is why unbelievers are “under law” (Rom 6:14). However, note that Christ has already ended the sin under that covenant for those who believe. The law, both that of the conscience written on every heart (Rom 2:14-16) and the Bible, is a “guardian” (protector) of which all sin is imputed and held captive, and also drives people towards a solution to its condemnation; that solution being the mediator of a better covenant. Again, this brings us full circle to the meaning of God being one, it refers to ONE MEDIATOR: “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Also, it refers to the idea that God is the only life-giver as well:

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.

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.

Even though the law has no part of new birth or justification, viz, perfection, it is not contrary to the promise. Why? Because it takes all sin captive until faith comes, and its condemnation drives one to the mediator of the better covenant, the ONE mediator, Christ. Moses is not a mediator of a covenant that can give life, but yet he is not a mediator of a covenant that is contrary to the promise.

On the flip side, once a person receives the Spirit apart from the law (Gal 3:2), the law can in fact give life:

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Of course, the new birth guarantees eternal life and cancels the law’s ability to condemn, but the believer can “love life and see good days” in the present via love, or obedience to the law (1Pet 3:10). In other words, one must use the law of God “lawfully” (1Tim 1:8). Not in any regard for justification, but for love. The law cannot under any circumstance give life for justification, but as the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2), it enables us to serve God in the new way of the Spirit found in the Bible (Rom 7:6, 25).

Due to the weakness of the flesh, NOT the inherent evil of the flesh which is a Gnostic misnomer,12 the Christian can still be tempted to sin through “sinful desires.” The power of sin is broken because sin is empowered by its ability to condemn13 through the use of the law of sin and death:

1Corinthians 15:56  – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Before one is saved and under the condemnation of the law, the law that the unsaved have no love for provokes them to sin with strong desires lending assistance as well. The law, for them, actually makes sin come alive leading to death (Rom 7:7ff.). In the believer, sin is no longer empowered by the condemnation of the law, but sinful desires still exist. However, obeying sinful desires as opposed to the desires of the Spirit defined by Scripture can enslave a Christian to a particular sin (Rom 6:16). Providing provisions to sin can produce overwhelming desires that can control us (Rom 13:14). Wrong thinking or beliefs, in short, false doctrine, also contributes to God’s children leading confused and defeated lives.

What is the New Covenant?

The New Covenant is the second part of the covenant of promise. The Old Covenant was the first part, the New Covenant is the second part of the same covenant of promise.14 The promises (plural) are the other covenants that are the building blocks of the covenant of promise (Eph 2:12). The New Covenant was made to Israel and the father of that nation from which all other nations will be blessed. The Old Covenant proclaimed the New Covenant and held sin captive until Christ came to die. In this way, the Old Covenant was the family will executed upon Christ’s death. Old Testament believers were written into the will/inheritance:

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the New, but it is only the New Covenant that gives life. The Old is in no way contrary to the promise (Gal 3:21), but is a ministry of death that serves two purposes: it holds sin captive until faith comes, and will judge those who are under it. The angels are the enforcers of both covenants. They enforced the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, and will enforce the New Covenant as detailed in the book of Revelation towards completion of the one covenant of promise. The angels are also ministers to the overall covenant of promise throughout time. Hence, their emphasis in regard to the tabernacle etc.

The New Covenant was made to Israel specifically (Jeremiah 31) because they are God’s elect people/nation from which all nations will be blessed. The New Covenant fulfilled the Old Covenant will, and baptized the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel. Part of the New Covenant plan was to use the baptism of the Gentiles into the family of God and its commonwealth to make the Jews jealous:

Deuteronomy 32:21 – They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

However, the New Covenant, which promises Israel eternal peace and safety in their own land, will finally be consummated after the fullness of the Gentiles come in:

Romans 11:25 – Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.

The covenant of promise is a gospel that stands in contrast to all other gospels which make the law of sin and death the standard for righteousness and a co-life-giver with God. There is only one mediator of life. Christ did not come to fulfill the law of sin and death, the Old Covenant, which holds sin captive. He came to end that law for those who believe. Nor did Christ come to be a substitute for that law in the lives of believers for that law is for the unbelieving—not the saved.15 Instead, Christ came to set the captives free from that law in order to serve the righteousness of the law in loving service with no fear of condemnation. There is no fear in love because fear has to do with judgment (1Jn 4:16-19). However, there is a fear of present consequences for obeying sinful desires as we work out our other “salvation” so to speak: the saving of ourselves from potential death that still dwells in the mortal body, and from which we will be saved from in the future, also known as “redemption.”16 Justification and obedience in sanctification ending in redemption should not be confused.

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels.

If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.

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1Pastor Jon Young: Dayton Avenue Baptist Church, Xenia, OH.

3https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2015/01/04/the-potters-house-biblical-covenants-an-overview-and-relevance-to-the-gospel-parts-1-2/ Note citation about perpetually offering the obedience of Christ to God for the satisfying of the law.

4In the Protestant case, rituals that satisfy the law by imputing Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. One of these is church membership which is considered to be one of the “means of grace” found in the institutional church.

5This was an often cited indictment by Jesus against the Pharisees who were rank antinomians for that very reason.

6This is also the real point behind Galatians 2:20 which is a justification verse, not a sanctification verse.

7The book of Acts is the historical account of what Paul is writing about in Galatians 3.

8For the unbeliever the law is death, for the believer it is life.

9Note that Paul emphasizes Christ’s death in the receiving of the Spirit, not Christ’s law-keeping (Gal 3:1ff.).

10As seen all through the book of Acts per the order of salvation: 1. The hearing of the word 2. Faith 3. The baptism of the Spirit.

11Love also fulfills the law. Christ’s ONE act of love makes it possible for us to fulfill the Spirit’s law apart from the law of sin and death. The law is for love—not justification.

12Romans 12:1 along with many other texts makes it clear that the body can be used for holy purposes. In fact, it’s a biblical imperative. It is a weak vessel, but not inherently evil.

13Therefore, be leery of condemnation motifs in any sanctification context.

14The Old and New covenants should not be viewed in a dispensational sense at all, but rather merely two parts of the same covenant. This is a progression of one covenant, not economies.

15Note in 1Tim 1:8-11 and Rom 2:12-16 that the law of Moses is also the gospel. This is because the OT law is a PART of the covenant of promise NOT a dispensation or different plan.

16Phil 2:13, Rom 7:24,25, Lk 21:28. Phil 2:13 is not about justification; it’s about choosing life over death in sanctification with God’s help which is available and leaves us without excuse.

The Spirit’s Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 2, 2015
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