Tuesday: The Dangerous Consequences of Legalism
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(Gal. 5:2-12)

The way in which Paul introduces Galatians 5:2-12 indicates the importance of what he is about to say. “Look” (ESV), “Listen!” (NRSV), “Mark my words!” (NIV), “I, Paul, say to you” (ESV). Paul is not fooling around. By his forceful use of the word look, he not only calls for his readers’ full attention, but he even evokes his apostolic authority. He wants them to understand that if the Gentiles are going to submit to circumcision to be saved, then the Galatians need to realize the dangerous consequences involved in their decision.

Read Galatians 5:2-12. What does Paul warn about in regard to the whole question of circumcision?

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The first consequence of trying to earn God’s favor by submitting to circumcision is that it obligates the person to keep the entire law. Paul’s language in verses 2 and 3 includes an interesting play on words. Christ, he says, will not benefit them (ophelesei); rather, they will be obligated (opheiletes) to the law. If a person wants to live according to the law, he or she cannot just pick and choose the precepts to follow. It is all or nothing.

Second, they will be “cut off” from Christ. A decision to be justified by works involves at the same time a rejection of God’s way of justification in Christ. “You cannot have it both ways. It is impossible to receive Christ, thereby acknowledging that you cannot save yourself, and then receive circumcision, thereby claiming that you can.” — John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1968), p. 133.

Paul’s third objection to circumcision is that it hinders spiritual growth. His analogy is of a runner whose progress toward the finish line has been deliberately sabotaged. In fact, the word translated “hindered” (vs. 7, ESV) was used in military circles to refer “to breaking up a road or destroying a bridge or placing obstacles in the way of an enemy, to halt his advance.” — The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 978.

Finally, circumcision removes the offense of the Cross. How? The message of circumcision implies that you can save yourself; as such, it is flattering to human pride. The message of the Cross, however, is offensive to human pride, because we have to acknowledge that we are dependent completely on Christ.

Paul is so outraged at these people for their insistence on circumcision that he says he wishes that the knife would slip and they would castrate themselves! Strong words, but Paul’s tone simply reflects how seriously he views this issue.

Amen!(44)

Comments

Tuesday: The Dangerous Consequences of Legalism — 77 Comments

  1. Legalism puts a Man on the cross.
    Legalism it is better for you that one man die - It is never you who die.
    Legalism you deserve to die - points the finger at others

    Grace Freedom from sin (bought at a price 1 Cor 6:20)
    Grace Freedom from temptation (made an escape 1 Cor 10:13 & 14)
    Grace Freedom to Choose (Walk in Him Col 2:6)

    Legalism never sufficient and never perfect.

    My grace is SUFFICIENT for you: for my strength is made PERFECT in weakness

    Amen!(9)
  2. Here are some reasons why Jesus Hates Legalism

    1.There is probably no sin more tolerated or more widespread in the Christian world than legalism. It may surprise you to hear it labeled as sin. Legalists are thought to be a bit overzealous or “uptight,” but they aren’t usually thought of as sinning in the same sense as adulterers, thieves, liars, and the like. To the contrary, legalists seem to be concerned about holiness.

    2.When you study the life of Christ, it is noteworthy how He deliberately did things to provoke the legalists.

    3.He could have healed people on any other day of the week, but He often did it on the Sabbath. He could have been more discreet in violating the Pharisees’ rules, but He did it openly. When a Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner, He could have gone along with their elaborate hand-washing custom, but He deliberately ignored it.

    4.Jesus hates legalism because it does not deal with the condition of our hearts before God.

    5. Legalism puts the emphasis on the external to the neglect of the internal (11:37-41).

    Amen!(23)
  3. How do we cling to Christ instead of our own "good works"?
    Perhaps because if we do anything out of our own reasoning we will be doing it wrongly! Actions can only be made perfect when they come out of love. Let us not fool ourselves. Is there anything we can add to extend our lives? Do we have any power within us to control what is happening in the next few minutes? At the same time, we must cultivate such a relationship with Jesus that our dependence on Him may lead us to the assurance that the focus is not the Law but the one Who made It!

    Amen!(12)
    • If my focus is on the One who made the law, would I not be wise to put some focus on the law that the One who made the law requests me to abide by?

      Amen!(5)
  4. Legalistic members create much disturbance in the church, they are set in their ways of doing things according to tradition without scriptural authority. "We always do things like this..." They are the first ones to relocate to another church when changes are implemented. They would prefer to fellowship in a dying church than to open the door to the "Gentiles" because the Gentiles are coming in with their jewelry and they don't look like Adventists.

    Amen!(16)
    • Legalists in effect are rejecting the pardon already granted at the cross (no wonder Paul was so upset).

      When applied to self, the legalist is claiming "I don't need to be pardoned if I do this or don't do that" (e.g., get circumcised, don't cook on the Sabbath).

      When applied to others, the legalist is claiming "You don't need to be pardoned if you do this or don't do that."

      In both cases, the legalist is making the false and deadly claim that Christ's pardon isn't needed since salvation can be gained by obedience.

      "You can't have it both ways":

      You cannot both accept the pardon provided at the cross AND claim you don't need to be pardoned because you saved yourself.

      Amen!(3)
      • Seig I don't understand you when you give examples like sabbath keeping and not eating pork as being legalism??I think we need to understand that we cannot deliberately break the law of God in the name of it being legalism, I do not think we can be counted amongst God's children if we do not obey God's commands and statutes :Isa 58 vs 13-14,Exod 16 vs 23,Exod 35 vs 3,Exod 20 vs 8-11 and I regard to the food we should eat God gave a clear instruction on Lev 11.i think we sold be careful as to what we mean by being legalistic??lest we find ourselves on the contrary to what God expects of us as His children .i want to understand in light of the above verses how do you justify sabbath keeping and not pork eating as legalism???please clarify to me your points !!

        Amen!(1)
        • Hi Pam. The dilemma you pose is the same one Paul confronted in the Galatians. When you keep the Sabbath (or any other of God's commands) for the wrong reason (i.e., to gain Salvation) you are falling from grace and rejecting the pardon offered at the cross. The false teachers in Galatia tried to convince gentiles of this false gospel. To wit, "if you don't get circumcised, you can't be saved."

          Paul went to great lengths to explain to them that when you try to save yourself through obedience you are rejecting the cross (falling from grace).

          Paul also rejected the idea that submitting to Jesus and accepting his pardon at the cross gave us license or “liberty” to sin (Romans 6:15). I believe this is your point. This was how Jewish leaders attacked Paul's gospel message as well. Paul addresses this accusation by clarifying that, in Christ, we are no longer under the law (i.e., we are no longer being saved by law keeping), we are in Christ (i.e., we are saved by Christ's faithfulness, not ours).

          Should we keep the Sabbath? Yes! Should we obey God's commandments? Yes! Will that save us? No! Why not? Because no matter how hard we try, we can't do these things perfectly and that is God's requirement for salvation.

          We are saved only by accepting the pardon freely offered to us by Jesus' blood. We are saved only be accepting Christ's righteousness, credited to us, in place of our own filthy righteousness (Isaiah 64:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

          The only thing we bring to our salvation is the sin we need to be forgiven for and cleansed from. Only Jesus can do this. The GOOD NEWS is that Jesus has already done this for each and every person who has ever lived on this planet (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10; Romans 4:25; 1 John 4:10).

          Praise God, Jesus already died our second death.

          Amen!(6)
          • Sieg, I wonder if you are applying more to Paul's meaning than Paul would agree with. Jesus taught by His life what we must do to become holy as God is holy. We obey the commandments because gave them to us for that purpose. It is His expressed will for all who would be holy. Without the law, there is no true knowledge of God for sinners far removed from seeing God themselves(Prov 2:1-5). The law is "perfect", converting the soul, as God intended. Read the many scriptures on this subject and see if it agrees with your ideas. Jesus was ever calling sinners to repentance and magnifying the Law of God. Do you feel your views are in harmony with His?

            Your closing paragraph is not fully true is it? Jesus provided a WAY for sinners to be forgiven/justified, but only as they repent. Nothing has been received by any sinner through Christ until they meet the requirement of faith through repentance. The Bible is very clear on this. We are to believe Jesus. Jesus taught "repent". What is left for the sinner to do to show they believe, but repent?

            You also mention God requirements, then say we can't meet them. Why would God require something we can't achieve? Does the Bible teach this? Can you cite the passage? Doesn't Jesus life as one of us prove this idea false? It would help if you could support your ideas with God's word. We are taught how to be sanctified, and must exercise faith in God's provisions promised to all who receive Jesus(and all He taught us to follow).

            Circumcision is no longer a ordinance God requires, but the Sabbath always will be. God is offering salvation, and requires obedience to His law in order to be saved. Revelation makes this clear that only commandment keepers will be saved. It is no one's work to decide who has the right motive for keeping the law. For those who believe, God will lead them according to their knowledge and experience. Love for God leads the sinner to obey His Law because He desires it. Can you understand why some would question your ideas which appear in part to oppose the Word of God?

            Yes, we must bring our sins to Christ and receive Him as our Savior from our sin. There is no forgiveness without repentance which is the first work of faith, and notice the order that follows which Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes. Peter also reveals the steps that follow justification in the sanctified life.

            Paul in Galatians is dealing with justification, while you and others are dealing with the process of sanctification. God's law IS the standard, as given witness to by the Life of Jesus, including His willing sacrifice for sinners. In all He did, Jesus magnified the law and bids all to "follow Me". The only motive for a sinner to obey is love for God once they "repent and believe the gospel". The unrepentant carnal mind has no desire for God or His law. Remember, Jesus prayed: "sanctify them by Thy truth, Thy Word is Truth", and the psalmist writes: "Thy Law is the Truth".

            Amen!(2)
          • Robert. There is so much wrong with your post, I don't know where to begin. When did the demonic repent before Jesus saved him? When did the servant of the Centurion repent before Jesus spared him? When did the priest's daughter repent before Jesus spared her (she was already dead)? As Inge noted, even repentance is a gift from God.

            Our only hope for salvation is to meet the requirement of perfection as no sin will be allowed in heaven. The problem is, we can't meet that standard. There... is... no... way. Only Jesus can meet that standard in our stead and it is His perfection (righteousness), credited to us as a gift, that gives us salvation. This is the gospel message. The one you go to great lengths to deny.

            "Why would God require something we can't achieve? Does the Bible teach this?"

            God requires Holiness and you can't achieve holiness. God requires righteousness and you can't achieve righteousness. Read your Bible and you can find the texts. Why would God require something He knows we can't achieve? So that we get it through our thick skulls that we need Jesus. Only Jesus can accomplish this for us and in us.

            Why can't we just accept the gift of eternal life without feeling compelled to earn it? Why? The doctrine that we must earn our salvation is Satan's great lie. As long as you believe that lie, you cannot be saved because you will be rejecting the pardon that Jesus gave us as a gift... a gift that you cannot possible earn no matter how hard you try.

            "Jesus taught by His life what we must do to become holy as God is holy."

            No, that is not what Jesus did at all. Jesus did not come to earth to be an example. Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins and to credit to us his faithfulness... a faithfulness that no human being has ever been able to achieve. Not one! All we have to do is believe it is true and accept it.

            What must we do? Believe it. Accept the gift that Jesus gave us. Surrender our will and our lives to Him. Then, we will be counted as righteous in God's eyes. Not because WE are righteous, but because we are given credit for Christ's righteousness when we accept Him as our Savior.

            "Jesus provided a WAY for sinners to be forgiven/justified, but only as they repent."

            This is another falsehood perpetuated by Satan. Jesus didn't make a provision for our salvation. HE SAVED US. If we fall for the lie that Jesus only made a provision for our salvation, then we are back to doing works to be saved. This is the lie that Paul worked hard to dispel.

            The sure way to be lost is to reject what Jesus already gave us as a gift (i.e., to fall from grace). The sure way to be lost is to insist that our works must be added to what Jesus already did for us. NO! Jesus did it all. All we have to do is accept the gift. When we do, He will work in us the will and the power to do His good pleasure. He will, not I will. For some reason, we just can't get that through our thick legalistic heads.

            Amen!(3)
          • Sorry to see the many assumptions made in your comment Seig. I'm not willing to address such things, but would urge all to study the Word of God which marks the path of salvation clearly from Genesis to the Revelation. "It is better to Trust in the LORD than to trust in man" Ps 118:8.

            I will add this: being healed is not being saved, or why would Jesus caution the healed one to "go and sin no more"? Also; read Steps to Christ" lately, or "Faith and Works"? Good books laced with supporting scripture. Lastly, read John 1:12,13; 3(the entire chapter); 5:24; 8:24. From Jesus Himself.

            Amen!(1)
          • Sieg; I agree with your conclusion, but have a question regarding why (Converted Gentiles)we should keep a sabbath if we are not privy to the covenant(old/covenant of law) that God made with his covenant people Israel? Before Ex. 16, there is no mention of any of the Patriots keeping a sabbath. Why? Because it didn't exist prior to the special sign that God gave to the Hebrew people when he established his covenant of law with them. Ex. 31:16,17 . God's rest of Gen. 2:2,3 can not be equated with the Hebrew slaves rest of Ex. 20:8 after 400 yrs. of enslavement.......

            Amen!(1)
          • Hi Keith. The Sabbath has existed since the day after God created man. This was the very first seventh day Sabbath. After God created the very first Sabbath and made it Holy (Genesis 2:3), He desired for it to be kept forever, even in Heaven (Exodus 31:17).

            Please note that there were no Jews when God created the Sabbath. Thus, it can't be true that He made the Sabbath only for Jews.

            Amen!(0)
  5. Justification and sanctification are two different things. They are separate, yet they need to be kept together, for I won't have one without the other. Legalism is attempting to enter the Pearly Gates by sanctification (law keeping), without first acquiring justification, which makes sanctification attainable for me. As Ellen White wrote, "The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven." {RH, June 4, 1895 par. 7}

    Amen!(13)
        • The quote is from the book, Acts of the Apostles, page 560, para 1 (as shown at the end the quote).

          No, I am a baptized member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.😊

          Amen!(0)
    • Hello Raymond,

      Sanctification is NOT “law keeping”. Sanctification is the work of God in our lives to accomplish his will in and through us that his will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Those who come to the “Pearly Gates” (the final judgement) trying to pass off “law keeping” as sanctification will find themselves in outer darkness, wailing and gnashing their teeth, because God can see through their fake sanctification. His judgement against them is “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23; see also Matthew 25:32-46.)

      Paul understood this clearly because Christ shattered his Pharisaical paradigm (self-focused law keeping) on the road to Damascus: “I now send you in order to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God, so that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:17,18) Note that we are sanctified (made holy) by our faith in Christ because he continues to demonstrate God’s incredible love through his work in us. We can trust that love to work in our lives and to save us to the uttermost—no need for self-focused “law keeping”.

      Amen!(6)
      • Richard, Jesus taught; "if you love me, keep my commandments". He also teaches that He will judge every individual according to their works. Paul writes that Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh, "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit".

        Amen!(1)
          • Rest Assured, doesn't it mean to "walk not after the flesh"? (See Romans 8:1-4) It means to be yoked with Jesus, surrendered fully to His will, denying self, etc.

            Amen!(1)
        • Hello Robert,

          Please do not mistake me for an antinomianist. It is the root (motive) of thought, speech and deed that is in question. If what we do and say is rooted in doing something to obligate God for or to “pay” him for our salvation, then our understanding of his love for us is perverted—we have the wrong picture of who God is. It is like paying a prostitute for her “love”. It is like thinking of salvation as some sort of “deal” in which we are giving something to God because he saved us. God seeks and desires those who have totally “sold out” to him because of his amazing grace and love.

          Those who love God in spirit and truth (that is, those who love God because they see him as he truly is) will be like him. They will reflect that love in every aspect of their lives. But make no mistake, anyone who sees that love expressed in their words and actions will know that it is not and cannot be theirs—it must be God’s love expressed in the life of the believer. Paul speaks of this in his second letter to the Corinthians: “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

          In passing, I note that Jesus’ words that you quote from John’s gospel can be translated, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Thus they are a promise that the keeping power of Jesus’ awesome love will be the exclusive source of righteous sanctified behaviour in the person who trusts him with all of their life. It is when in spite of ourselves and all that the Adversary can throw at us that we allow God’s spirit to work out his will in our lives that we are being conformed to the image of his Christ and that God’s will in our lives is done on earth as it is in heaven.

          I hope this helps clarify the thinking behind what I previously posted.

          Amen!(4)
  6. I do not see in what the Apostle Paul says in the last part of Galatians 5:2-12 that he wishes that those who were troubling the Galatians would (where it says, "Cut themselves off.") that they should "Castrate themselves." I think that Paul was just indicating that he wished that they would "Cut themselves off," from being PART OF THEIR CHURCH MEMBERSHIP.

    Amen!(5)
    • Pete: I fully agree with you that the Apostle was saying that he wished that they would cease from being members of the church (cut themselves off) because of their legalistic ways. (in other words, the bondage they were were placing upon the believers).

      Amen!(2)
  7. Legalism is enslaving and leads to death. Both holiness and legalism may appear to want to produce in a child of God sinlessness. But legalism achieves the opposite. Tragically this system tries to replace Christ's mercy and grace and makes gaining salvation a matter of the human effort. It also makes Christ's sacrifice at Calvary void. We need to understand that Jesus hates legalism because it fails dismally to deal with the condition of our hearts before God. Following and serving our Lord is principally a matter of the heart. Once we submit our to Jesus, our life is transformed and we are led to develop intimacy with God. There can be no denying that God has set very high standards and expects us to live by very high standards—in our thoughts, words and deeds; in our attitudes; in our sexuality; in our family dealings; in our relationships; and more. (Ephesians 5:1-6.)

    Amen!(6)
  8. The NLT translates Gal 5:4 this way: "4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace."

    This wasn't just about circumcision but about an attitude regarding the means of obtaining salvation.

    I believe that any time we do anything "in order to be saved" we have a legalistic approach to salvation, and we "have fallen away from God's grace." And without God's grace there is no salvation.

    This is a serious issue. So let us examine ourselves to see why we do what we do.

    Any time we find ourselves criticizing others because they do not live up to the standards that we feel a Seventh-day Adventist should uphold, I believe we "have fallen away from God's grace."

    I could say why I believe this to be so, but I'd like to hear from others. Do you agree or disagree. Either way, please share your reasons.

    Amen!(10)
    • The reason Jesus came to this earth and went to the cross, was to save us. He wants us to be with Him where He is, that's being saved. I believe that, for most of us, one of the things that drew us to Jesus was that He could, and would save us. Jesus was wonderful, had all the characteristics of divinity, but would all that be enough to draw me from this world if He could not save me. I wonder if we do not all want to be saved. I want to love Jesus, I do love Jesus, and the big reason I love Him is that He died for me and is going to save me. The Bible is full of conditions that must be fulfilled so that can happen, and many of them are things for us to do. Spirit of Prophesy has 69 references to the phrase "in order to be saved" Almost every one is something for us to do. Jesus wants us to be saved, I want to be saved. Yes, we must have justification, we must have Grace, or we won't be saved, but we also need sanctification, our fitness for being saved, which is something I do by the Grace of God, or I won't be saved. I don't do the things that were done away with by Jesus at the cross, like circumcision and sacrifices. I want to be saved, so I do the things Jesus says I need to do to be saved. Yes, I love Jesus, He wants me in Heaven, I want to please Him because I love Him, but, I also want to be saved, go to Heaven. That's not legalistic.

      Amen!(3)
      • Thank you for taking up the challenge of responding to my comment and especially for drawing my attention to the Ellen White references. Upon looking these up, I see that the first ones that come up refer to the false teachers who followed Paul around and taught that the Gentiles must keep the law "in order to be saved." I have not looked at all the references, but I'm guessing that most of them refer to the necessity of turning from self to Jesus "in order to be saved." (Some of them may be references to specific ways of turning from self.) Of course, this turning from self to Jesus is demonstrated in a change of life. When we turn to Jesus, we begin to think and live more and more like Him.

        Christ initially draws us to Himself both by warnings of eternal destruction and reward of eternal salvation. But the history of God's people, both in Scripture and in post-biblical times, seems to indicate that a focus on either or both does not result in a Christ-like life. We must go on to follow the teachings of Jesus, and that means trusting fully in Him for our salvation and following the Spirit's leading.

        It seems to me that a focus on efforts to save ourselves is essentially a focus on self - which is directly contrary to the self-renouncing example of Jesus and His command to love others as He loved us. (John 13:34) While we will never equal the divine Pattern, surely a focus on saving ourselves is much too low?

        I do hope you do not mean that sanctification is "our fitness for being saved, which is something I do by the Grace of God, or I won't be saved." That puts the responsibility for salvation first of all on ourselves - i.e. when we are fit enough to be saved, Jesus will save us, which is legalism in its pure form.

        I understand that Jesus has done all that is necessary to procure our title to heaven, and He offers it to us freely long before we are "fit to save" - indeed, while we were yet sinners. When we respond to His gift of salvation so freely offered to us while we are totally unworthy, He will change us into His image when we daily behold Him in His life and His sacrifice in our behalf. Yes, we need to cooperate in submitting ourselves to the Spirit's leading, but it is only His power that changes us when we yield ourselves to Him. That is the gospel taught by Paul, as we have been studying this quarter.

        Amen!(8)
      • My brother Raymond,

        Anytime we add “things for us to do” to the finished work of Christ (that is, his demonstration of God’s love in his life, death and resurrection) to be saved, we are saying that what Christ did on the cross is not enough to save us. That is legalism and bondage to the elements of this world. As human beings, we all suffer from this tendency. It is part of our DNA and the fabric of our existence, but it is sin—the symptom of our broken relationship with God. We all think we have to do something to restore relationship because that is drilled into us from the day we are born. But this kind of thinking is not from God—it is bondage and sin.

        “But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) This means that God has taken responsibility to save us and make us back into his image. “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; so that, according as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’" (1 Corinthians 1:30,31) This is why Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. He knows our weakness and that we are incapable of saving and changing ourselves—not even one little bit.

        When I am tempted to sin by trying to placate God with my works, I find good advice in the words of Helen Lemmel’s poem, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

        O soul, are you weary and troubled?
        No light in the darkness you see?
        There’s light for a look at the Savior,
        And life more abundant and free!

        Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
        Look full in His wonderful face,
        And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
        In the light of His glory and grace.

        Knowing this gives me peace that passes all my understanding. It is peace that only Christ can give.

        Amen!(5)
        • This (above) is an excellent response. "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the Cross I cling...If a working relationship with Jesus does not help us over come, then nothing else will, there is no other Name...no other way.

          Amen!(3)
    • I absolutely agree Inge. An equally false and eternally deadly corollary is stating or implying that "you will be lost if you..." (e.g., don't keep the Sabbath, eat pork...)

      "Falling from grace" is tantamount to a drowning person in the middle of the ocean rejecting the life preserver thrown in the water, stating, "I think I can make it to shore on my own."

      I would add that whenever we judge others, we are engaging in legalism.

      I must admit that I am guilty of such legalistic behavior whenever I look at my watch on Sabbath evening to see if it's "OK" to go shopping yet (although as you mention, motive is key: am I trying to please God or am I trying to "keep rules" to be saved?).

      Amen!(9)
      • I believe that if I know and understand the Sabbath, that God asks me to honor it but I don't, I will be lost; if I know and understand the things God has asked me to do and don't do, but I continue to choose not to do what He asks, I will be lost. I believe disobeying God is sin, and sin can cause me to be lost eternally.
        "We cannot meet Christ in peace with one sin unrepented of, unconfessed, and unforsaken. But John writes, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (R&H 3/17/1981)"
        I believe there is a great danger in being "soft" on ourselves as to our responsibility in being saved; we come to think that because Christ did it all, for us, we don't have anything to do. We do have a part to play, I read, "seek" "buy", "strive", "walk"; that doesn't sound like we have nothing to do but believe Christ did it all. Christ has done, and is doing, His part, now it is time for us to do our part and "meet Him is peace". And doing my part is not legalism, it's obeying God, because He asks me to.

        Amen!(6)
        • Knowing and understanding how God wants us to live and not doing it is demonstrating a lack of faith in His goodness, and without faith we cannot be saved. Thus I agree with your comment, in general.

          However, in my youth the idea of "one sin not repented of" caused me much grief, thinking if I were killed in a car accident before remembering to repent of a particular sin, I would be lost. But now that I know God better, I know that is a false picture of God. The One who knows the end from the beginning also knows the trajectory of my life, and if I were to die unexpectedly without having remembered or being aware of a particular sin to be repented of, He knows whether or not I would have repented if I had lived. And He judges on the trajectory of my life, not the individual good deeds or misdeeds.

          On the other hand, even a single willfully cherished sin will surely keep us out of heaven - including the sin of spiritual pride. Again, cherishing sin demonstrates a lack of faith in our gracious God.

          Amen!(7)
          • I agree.

            When Christ died for my sins and washed them away, which of my sins were confessed or repented of? None of them. His sacrifice for all of my sin was made before I had even committed them. He died in advance of all of it. My response is to accept by faith what He has already done on my behalf. That does not mean that I do not need to confess.

            If I confess my sins, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse. 1 John 1:9. However, the act of confession is a result of the Holy Spirit's drawing and prompting. If my life is in tune with God throughout the day, and if I know Him, He will tell me if I am going astray. “My sheep hear my voice.” John 10:27. My ears shall hear a word behind me, saying, “This is the way, walk in it - Isa 30:21.

            I do not have to fear that I may die before confessing a sin. If I sin, I will receive the prompting. If I reject or ignore the prompting, then I am rejecting God's offer. If I do not sense or become aware of a prompting, then I have nothing to fear, because of the confidence I have in Him. Eph 3:12.

            1 John 2:28 encourages us with these words “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Similarly we are reminded in 1 John 3:21 that if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

            Amen!(6)
        • Raymond,

          I recently came across a small book that I recommend you read: "Living by Faith" by Waggoner & Jones. It is available from http://livingbyfaithbook.com/ and also amazon.com. The book has a clear presentation of the gospel and of our response to the love of God. It is my hope that you will find it as challenging to your thinking as it was to mine.

          Amen!(1)
    • I need to see the wrongs in myself first and get rid of them! Only after this I might be able to help others in doing so! Nothing like experience!

      Amen!(2)
  9. Are we to be a watchman for our brethrens? (Ezek 3:18)

    Or judge not,that ye be not judged? (Matt 7:1-3)

    I think 2 Tim 4:2 sums it up very well. Correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction (NIV version).

    I like the words : encourage, great patience and careful instruction. Often, it is not what we say but how we say it that matters.

    Amen!(5)
    • The kind of judging Christ absolutely forbids is what He has reserved for Himself - the judging of heart motive and whether or not a person is in a saving relationship with Him.
      On the other hand, Spirit-given discernment allows us to recognize which actions are in harmony with the Spirit of Christ and which are not. I believe we do wrong if/when we "rebuke" persons for behavior which we believe to be wrong if we do not have a relationship with them that they recognize to be loving. If we have not shared our walk with Christ with them, we have no business rebuking them. The best way to help people to see their need of change is to point them to Christ and then begin with "When I ... " and share a relevant experience." If we have nothing to share, I suspect we are probably not the right person to administer rebuke.

      Amen!(7)
    • Kelvin, it's not a question of one or the other. A Watchman and a Judge are two different roles and one does not cancel out the other.

      A watchman has the best interest of the other in mind. We are our brother's keeper.

      The Judge of character and faith, well, that's Jesus' role isn't it? We are free from having to judge another person's salvation. However, Jesus has commanded the church to discipline itself, and has given a way by which the congregation in judgment will be fair and promote recovery/healing to any who persist on taking a wrong course and reject the truth. Heresy is to be "rejected", open, willful sin is to be disciplined to the conclusion of the individual's final choice in the matter, and the decision never rests on any individual or small group, such as the church board, but is the responsibility of the entire congregation. There is also the requirement of "judging" who are worthy of the church's assistance.

      Paul instructed the Corinthian church on their duty to be faithful in their watching and judgments when called for. Does a friend look the other way when one is in danger? And once a judgment is needed against the persistent transgressor and they are "rejected" as being a representative of Christ and member of His body, they are to be labored for as any who are lost and without hope.

      Amen!(6)
  10. In response to Inge’s challenge:

    Anytime we think of keeping the law as the reason we do or not do anything, we are being legalistic.

    Whenever keeping the law is the first thing that comes to our mind concerning anything we do, we are being legalistic.

    When Peter heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Rise Peter, kill and eat” his first thought was that the law says he should not eat unclean foods. (He knew it was the Lord speaking.) Acts 10:13,14.

    When God told Abraham to kill his son, Abraham immediately obeyed. He did not think to himself, “the law says I should not kill.” Gen 22:2,3.

    In Joshua 6, the Lord told the Israelites to march around Jericho for seven days, including the Sabbath in one of those days. The marchers included men with their weapons (which they used for killing and destroying the inhabitants) along with the priests and the ark. Technically, they were doing what was not lawful on the Sabbath. But it was the command of the Lord.

    When we learn to fully trust God and follow Him wherever He leads, we are allowing the living Holy Spirit and not written law to guide us.

    If the Lord tells you to go to your work office on Sabbath, will you say “that cannot be the Lord; it is Sabbath.” Or will you say, “I cannot understand why He is telling me this, but I must obey.” There may be a Good Samaritan experience on the way that the Lord is leading you to.

    Of course, we have to have an abiding relationship with the Lord to be able to discern His voice from the cacophony of voices we may hear internally. The point is, we must let the indwelling Holy Spirit guide our every action. A combination of knowing the written and the Living Word is the key.

    That could be the grace that Paul is referring to in Gal 5:4.

    Amen!(7)
    • Thank you so much, Fred, for responding to my comment and expanding upon it. This captures the spirit of what I meant to share:

      Whenever keeping the law is the first thing that comes to our mind concerning anything we do, we are being legalistic.

      It seems to me that this would be a pre-conversion motivation.

      What is the normal motivation for someone conscious of being a sinner saved by the grace of Christ? Would it not be a response to that unspeakable love.

      When I visit other Sabbath Schools I tend to ask provocative questions. I remember a few decades ago visiting a class in which members expounded on how to behave. So I asked, "So why would we choose to behave that way?"

      The answer didn't totally surprise me, but it saddened me nevertheless, since the teacher was a supposedly experienced Christian and answered this way: "We need to behave that way if we want to be saved." That sounded to me like a classic legalistic answer, and it still does.

      This is what motivates me the most: When I think of the fact that when we call ourselves Christians we profess to represent Christ, I do not want to misrepresent the character of my gracious Lord. I may, in fact, misrepresent Him, but my motive is to allow others to see His gracious character. And I am thankful that He often covers over my mistakes, so people do not see the mistakes but actually see the good I intended.

      What a gracious, wonderful Lord we serve!!

      And, yes, of course, a daily relationship with Jesus is foundational to living a Christian life. If we have this, we will always have something to share. 🙂

      Amen!(8)
    • On second thought, I would like to reword Fred's statement, and I'm guessing Fred agrees with me:

      Whenever keeping the law in order to be saved (or not to be lost) is the first thing that comes to our mind concerning anything we do, we are being legalistic.

      The problem is not the Law of God, because it is the standard of righteousness perfectly exemplified in the life of Christ. The problem is an attitude of viewing the keeping of the Law as a means of salvation, thereby spurning the salvation freely offered by Christ.

      From our perspective, looking to Christ's example is probably the best way to understand the Law of God. Christ helps us to see that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven.

      Amen!(3)
      • Inge

        I would respectfully retain the phraseology I presented, and not what you added in the curly brackets below.

        "Whenever keeping the law {in order to be saved or not to be lost} is the first thing that comes to our mind concerning anything we do, we are being legalistic."

        The examples I gave in my original post about Peter, Abraham and the Children of Israel, had nothing to do with being saved or lost. All of the individuals knew they were saved (probably a question mark on the Israelites.) So their response was not in connection with salvation. The Law of God is not at issue. It was a matter of obedience and what comes to mind first - obeying the voice of God when we know it is definitely the Lord's voice, or letting prescriptive written law override the voice of God in that instant.

        Amen!(1)
        • Re-reading your original comment again, I can agree with the original beginning statement. However, why would "keeping the law" be the first thing that comes to mind? Would it not be that I would not be condemned by the Law - in order to be saved?

          I believe it should be our constant goal to be in harmony with God's will in our lives. That is the result of allowing Jesus to be Lord in our lives. But is "God's will" not equivalent to "God's Law"?

          Perhaps others can chime in here.

          On the other hand, if we have the same concep of the eternal Law of God as Jesus did, we will have the same attitude towards the Law. Do you agree with the general consensus that Psalm 40 is a messianic psalm? If so, it reveals the attitude of Jesus:

          7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
          8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8

          Paul also said that the Law is holy and just and good. (Rom 7:12) But it cannot save us. So the problem is not the Law, but our attitude towards it.

          I believe that even David had a concept of the one eternal Law of God that I reference in God’s Law: The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many

          The promise of the New Covenant is that the Lord would write His law in the hearts of believers. Jeremiah 31:31-33. It seems to me that you are focusing on the last part of that promise:

          And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord

          This is also the basic principle of Protestantism - that all believers are privileged to hear the voice of God for themselves. However, I would be very hesitant to denigrate the Law that the Lord promised to write on hearts. Again, I'm not referring to the Ten Commandments, per se, but the eternal Law of God that is fulfilled by love, as Paul points out in a number of passages, such as Gal. 5:14.

          You gave the example of Peter, a mature Christian, who knew God's voice. But notice that even he did not "arise, kill and eat," as commanded, but argued that it was against the law, and God did not reprove him. The Lord used this vision to demonstrate to Peter that the Gentiles were no longer to be regarded as "unclean."

          The one example in the Bible where God's command appears to be directly contrary to the principles of the eternal Law of God is the command to Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Please consider that this was after Abraham had made many mistake, learned from them, and was able to recognize the voice of God clearly. And it turned out that God did not really want Abraham to sacrifice his son; but He wanted to test Abraham's priorities and help him to understand the sacrifice that the eternal Father would make in sacrificing His own Son.

          The command to march around Jericho was unequivocably God's command when He governed Israel directly as its only Ruler. So it is not really relevant to our experience today.

          Thus none of the examples you gave are easily applicable to our lives today. While God may occasionally direct us to do something that appears to be against His law (usually just our interpretation of His Law), to teach as a general principle that Christians are to ignore the Law and listen only the spirit they hear is dangerous. It has led many to make shipwreck of their faith as they listen to voices that are not of God. Without the clear commands contained in the Bible, there is no objective way to test our impulses - whether they be of self or demons or of God.

          So perhaps I should ask you, If someone has a strong impression or even hears a voice commanding to do or not do something, how will that person know the origin of that impression or voice? How is it possible to know whether it is of God or not?

          Amen!(1)
          • Inge, you wrote: "However, why would "keeping the law" be the first thing that comes to mind?"

            Let me share my perspective by asking: what was in Joseph's mind? And: what was in Jesus' mind in the wilderness of temptation? The law defines sin clearly, and reveals that God must be first and before all. Both Joseph's and Jesus' reply to the tempter reflects this, as it should with all who love the Lord "with all their heart....". They will magnify His law because He desires it (Isa 8:16) Those who truly love God will not be legalistic about the law, for the character of it's Divine Author is reflected in each statute.

            Those who love God will not disconnect Him from His Law, the one He wants to write on our heart, the one about which He states: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." God's Spirit dwelling in the Life will write this law in the heart of the servant of God, who will then be "filled with the fullness of God" and "fulfill the righteousness of the law". This is the function of the law, to combine the human with the Divine. The law is how God has chosen to express His will to fallen man, that He might raise him up and be glorified in him.

            This is GOD's working plan for fallen man. The "secret place of the Most High", our "rock" high tower" and "wall" of protection, assigned by God. If we never lose sight of it's Divine Author, won't our first thought be like Joseph's and Christ's? God gives HIS law and bids us to walk in HIS ways. So how can we disconnect God from HIS law? Only those who harbor sin will hide from His presence while cloaking themselves in their fig leaf garments of outward "observation" of the law, which is a self-deception. Cannot be done. It is a farce and everyone who sees will know it. Those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" will imitate His love for God and His holy Law which must be restored in the soul who would dwell "in the house of the Lord forever". It is "holy, just, and good".

            The law to be written upon the heart, isn't it the same law basking in the light of God's glory in the Most Holy Place of the Sanctuary? The same Law to be revealed to the whole world just before Jesus appears the 2nd time? Or is there another law God has magnified to this level that He would want to write upon our cleansed heart?

            And to answer your last question, Isaiah 8:20 and perhaps Job 22:21 for starters.

            Amen!(1)
          • Thank you for your response. Your response would be more meaningful if you explained just what you mean by "the law." If you mean God's eternal law of self-renouncing love, there is no conflict or argument between us, as you should know.

            However, it seems to me that most people mean the codified descriptions of this Law, rather than the Law itself. (For a description of the difference, please see Stephen Warren's comment on the "Fruit of the Spirit.") And my arguments against a focus on "the law," like the Apostle Paul's arguments, are based on this common understanding.

            As it stands, your reasoning in multiple comments on various posts seems to suggest that focusing on a blueprint is better than living in the house (fulfillment). (In Stephen's terms, that would be a preference for a codified description of God's Law to the Law itself.) I conclude that because you have on multiple occasions argued against my emphasis on the principle of self-renouncing love, rather than the codified description.

            As for me, since Jesus is the complete fulfillment of the original (design) Law of Gd, I find it more helpful to focus on Him to direct my life. Christ's example is also far more challenging than the letter of the Law. While the OT summary of the second table of the Decalogue was to "love your neighbor as yourself," (Lev 19:18) Christ replaced that commandment with a new one, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 13:34

            And it was Jesus Himself who said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all unto me" (John 12:32) to be saved (John 3:14,15). He didn't say that if the Law is lifted up, all will be drawn to him to be saved. He said if He is lifted up, He will draw all unto Him to be saved.

            That is why I want to draw attention to Jesus who is the only Savior and provides power to live a Christ-like life.

            And I have found this to be true in my own experience. It was only after I gave up on myself and all my efforts to keep His codified Law that I experienced peace and joy and victory. Spending time with Jesus in Bible study, prayer and working with Him is what is changing me, and I praise Him for it.

            Amen!(1)
          • Inge, I'm not sure why I would have argued against the basic principle of God's law(s), but I have shared what I believe is evidence against "only faith without works", while God/Christ does everything for the sinner.

            WE must repent, which means making a choice to agree with the conviction of Truth(via the Holy Spirit's influence) and then act upon this conviction as Jesus taught all must do(Mark 1:15). This is where I see the fundamental difference in our basic approaches to what constitutes the life of living faith in Christ. Jesus tells us that those who hear and DO what He taught would be "likened unto a wise man who BUILT HIS HOUSE(see Ps 127:1) on a rock"(Matt 7:24). Jesus did not pick up the lame man at Bethesda, but bid him "[YOU]rise, [YOU]take up your bed and [YOU]walk". Faith will be seen, not just heard. It's not just something we talk about that Jesus does, but it's about doing what He tells us to do. It must be a living, acting and visible faith. IF faith and repentance is of God and not of us, then all would be saved. But in a free-will government, all must make a choice over every decision to ACT in one way or the other. This is life and salvation as God has ordained it. Even sinless Adam and Eve had to make a choice and act on it. We know what Eve should have DONE. We know what Adam should have NOT DONE. When asked by a young wealthy ruler what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus didn't say "only believe", but told him of his lack, and what he must DO to correct the problem. IF trusting wholly in Jesus, that young man would have DONE what Jesus bid him to do. THIS is believing in Jesus, not just "agreeing" while doing nothing. "Faith hath works"or it "is dead, being alone".

            Blueprint rather than the house? Please explain.
            ...
            Why direct me to another man's (Stephen Warren?) opinion on the Word of God? Do you believe the Holy Spirit will do what Jesus promised He would do? If so, I don't need anyone's fallible opinion do I? I like to follow what Jesus(through Ellen) has counseled about bringing every truth from the Word of God, and not the word of other men concerning the word of God.

            Amen!(0)
          • Robert, unfortunately you have not explained just what you mean by "the law." So further discussion may not be meaningful.

            It seems to me that the lesson author and others who comment here have not argued for anything other than Paul does in Gal 2:16, while you appear to argue against that concept.

            As I understand it from the writings of Paul, we are saved wholly and completely by grace through faith. Our obedience is a result of that salvation, not its cause, else we would have something of which to boast. Ellen White puts it in somewhat different words, saying that as much as man's work could be credited towards salvation, it would make God "indebted" to man.

            I certainly agree that we have choices to make. And that is all we can really do in behalf of our salvation. We must choose Jesus and His will daily, hourly and minute-by-minute. Then He works out our salvation, including our sanctification. There is nothing that has to do with our salvation for which we can take personal credit. Not even repentance because it, too, is a gift of God which we must choose to receive.

            The new birth involves a change of heart and instills new motives and desires. The life testifies of the fact. If there is no change, no obedience, it is evidence of a lack of genuine faith.

            A blueprint is an architect's drawing that indicates how to build a particular building and what it will look like when finished. It is not the building itself. Just so, the Ten Commandments are a codified description of the eternal Law of God, but Christ is the living embodiment of that Law. And if you had read Stephen Warren's comment, as I recommended to you, I think it might also have given you food for thought.

            Amen!(1)
          • None of my comments are against what Paul writes in Gal 2:12. So how are you coming to such a conclusion? Paul is speaking of justification and some here are applying this idea to man's sanctification. Why? Perhaps explaining that would help in this discussion. I'd like to know why this interpretation is being applied.

            Are you saying I can't arrive on the proper meaning of scripture without Stephen Warren's ideas to help me?

            Amen!(0)
  11. I totally agree with Fred and Inge. The problem in my church is that we are so afraid of offending people that most people decided not to speak up at all.

    We are becoming like politicians saying political correct statements which are pleasant and not from the heart as described by 2 Tim 4:3.

    Even the Pastors, Elders and Deacons have learn to hold their lips and afraid of losing members, since they are measured by their KPIs for overall church tithing contributions and attendance.

    When members start to mind their own business and fear "rebuking" or "being rebuked", the church gradually becomes cold, hypocritical and losing its purpose and function.

    Amen!(8)
  12. Two comments. First, If I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, then, along with that, I have accepted His way of salvation, which, by the way, includes living by the moral law to the best I can, cooperating with the Grace given me by Christ. He says I can do it, "I can to all things through Christ which strengenth me". Therefore there can be no way my commandment keeping can be legalistic, My title to Heaven is already cut, the only thing left is for me to be ready to live there. If I think that I am going to use my title to Heaven at the pearly gates without being ready to live up there, I have another think coming. No way does that title, justification, give me "oli ox in free" (an old hide and seek term) to Heaven. Without my going to Heaven, my salvation is not complete. I don't understand how anyone got the idea that because Jesus died on the cross I get to go to Heaven no matter what, whether I'm ready or not; and even Jesus said we had to be ready, and I don't think He meant to be ready to enjoy the marvelous sight of His coming with all the angels. I believe He meant to be ready to live there. Anyone who has read the Bible should know that, perhaps they are trying to enter without meeting the conditions, and those conditions began when we accepted Christ as our Savior and agreed to follow Him. Wake up, my friends, you can't be legalistic for accepting Him and trying to follow His directions. Can you? Can you call me a legalist for cooperating with Christ in getting ready for Heaven, He even asks me to do that. But someone will do that. They'll do it just because I want to
    obey and present that title, the title Jesus died for, present it at the gates along with the finished product, a character ready for Heaven. Come on, wake up.
    Second comment. I think I have wandered into the wrong neighborhood, I better go.

    Amen!(2)
    • This quarter we have been studying Paul's letter to the Galatians in which he lays out clearly that no part of salvation is due to our own works. And in his letter to the Galatians, he shows why God designed it so. Sin entered the universe through self-focus which resulted in pride. The remedy for sin is the opposite of its genesis: Those who wish to be saved at last must look away from self to Christ and trust Him fully for salvation - not just for justification, but also for sanctification, because these two aspects of salvation cannot be separated.

      Sin arose through self-focus which resulted in pride, and the remedy for sin is the polar opposite of its Genesis. In the remedy there is no room for self-focus or pride because we are saved wholly by grace through faith in Christ. (See Gal 2:8-9) Even the good works we may do are the result of grace, if we believe Paul, because they were created that we might walk in them. (Gal 2:10)

      If we can take credit for any part of our salvation - whether it be justification or sanctification, there is room for taking credit or "boasting." And Paul says that God ordained that we should be saved by grace through faith so that there would be no room for boasting. (Gal. 2:8-9) If you believe Jesus taught something different, as you seem to suggest, please show us where it is written in the Word of God.
      You also wrote:

      I don't understand how anyone got the idea that because Jesus died on the cross I get to go to Heaven no matter what

      And I ask where do you get the idea that anyone has claimed that?

      Amen!(2)
      • Inge, you seem to be forgetting much of what Jesus, the apostles and prophets have written concerning our part in being saved "by grace through (our exercising) faith". God cannot exercise faith for us. He cannot bend our will against our will.

        Amen!(1)
        • Robert, I am interested in your definition of faith.

          In my comment I wrote this:

          Those who wish to be saved at last must look away from self to Christ and trust Him fully for salvation - not just for justification, but also for sanctification, because these two aspects of salvation cannot be separated.
          ... In the remedy there is no room for self-focus or pride because we are saved wholly by grace through faith in Christ. (See Gal 2:8-9)

          So how does my comment leave room for a Christian to oppose His will to God's will. What about "trusting God fully for salvation" don't you understand? That's why I'm asking you for your definition of "faith."

          Amen!(1)
          • Faith is the action on our part Inge. It's our response to the invitation of Christ, and doing our part as He has counseled. You stated that our works have no part, yet the Bible teaches that faith has works. Without those works, there would be no faith according to the inspired apostle.

            Faith is shown by repentance, devotion, choosing, denying, waiting upon the Lord, etc. Christianity, as taught by Jesus, is not a "do-nothing religion" (yes, it's a paraphrased quote). Paul admonishes all to "put on the whole armor of God". This does not happen by itself. God will not put it on us. We must "put on" this armor by our daily effort to "understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God". We must deny ourselves of something in order to do this don't we? Most will sleep as late as possible(for example) while the example of Jesus was to rise "a great while before dawn" to devote Himself to prayer and meditation on His Fathers Word and works of nature. This would require many to not stay up so late at night doing whatever. We have to give of our time for the purpose of growing in grace. Just as the sun cannot give it's power to the plant that is hidden from it's life-giving rays, we cannot receive anything from God if we don't labor to expose ourselves to His Truth. If one is thirsty, they must come to the Fountain.

            This is exercising faith as did Abraham, who had to leave his home and family to obey the command of God, and in this he exhibited faith. His gathering the wood, sharpening the knife and bringing the fire, along with each step toward the mountain of sacrifice with Isaac, was faith in action.

            I hope this answers your question. We are sanctified by faith when we "add to [our] faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge...". We are justified by faith when we repent, and believe that we are forgiven. If we question this, then faith is absent and we cannot be forgiven, because we have not received it in faith. Too many have said "I hope the Lord forgives me!"

            The man who had been lame for 38 years showed his faith by works didn't he? Had he not made the effort to obey Jesus' command to take up his bed and walk, would he have walked? Could Jesus have healed him while in unbelief? Another interesting example of faith from the Bible, is found in Mark 2:5. What did Jesus "see"?

            Amen!(0)
          • Robert, I don't think you'll find a statement in the Bible that says that "Faith is the action on our part." That seems to make faith into another kind of works that earns salvation.

            The thief on the cross was saved by faith - his complete trust in Christ when there was nothing he could do to save himself. He had no time for "action," but He could exercise faith in Christ. And Christ accepted His faith/trust and assured him that he would be in paradise with Him.

            What a Savior!

            When we examine all the examples of faith given in the Bible, we find that faith is complete and full trust in God by those who realize their helplessness. Contrary to a popular adage, Christ helps/saves those who can't help/save themselves. One marvelous example of this kind of faith is that of the Canaanite woman who trusted Christ to heal her daughter, even though he seemed to reject/ignore her. (Matthew 15:21-28) And Christ said, "Great is thy faith!"

            Faith results in action, however. In that we agree. Faith-motivated action will always fulfill the mission of Christ in this world, and it will not focus on self - even to save self. Moses, a type of Christ, demonstrated this kind of faith-motivated action/love when he begged God to blot him out of the book of life if that's what it would take to save Israel. That's self-renouncing love like the love of Christ.

            A focus on saving/perfecting self is the antithesis of the love demonstrated by Moses. Rather, it's very much like the focus the Pharisees had. And they crucified Christ.

            The Bible makes plain that even repentance is a gift of God, and our "good works" are prepared for us by God. We cannot take credit for faith, repentance, or good works. All we can do is to accept the gift of grace, and that acceptance results in changes the Holy Spirit initiates.

            Amen!(5)
          • Inge:

            "The Bible makes plain that even repentance is a gift of God, and our "good works" are prepared for us by God. We cannot take credit for faith, repentance, or good works. All we can do is to accept the gift of grace, and that acceptance results in changes the Holy Spirit initiates."

            Thank you. Wonderfully stated 🙂

            "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18 KJV)

            In simple mathematical terms since Jesus has ALL power (100%), we necessarily have none (0%). Therefore, the power to repent, to have faith, to keep His commandments, to bear fruit MUST... MUST come from Him.

            Thus, in verity, Jesus said "...without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

            Amen!(1)
        • Though "our faith must rest on evidence" {SC 105.2}, it is a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:9). Everyone has a measure of faith and through our exercise of our will, God increases our faith. Faith is one of the virtues that form the composite "fruit of the Spirit".

          Amen!(1)
        • The law of the Spirit of life in Christ is the same Law that God promised to write in the hearts of believers through the new covenant. See Jer 31:31-33. The transformed heart motivates a new way of life directed by the Holy Spirit. See 2 Cor 5:17.

          Amen!(1)
  13. Words. Words. Words.

    All meaningless words. Words enlighten as well as confuses.

    The Lord looks beneath all words, prayers and actions - your heart which produces good fruits of faith (Matt 7:19). Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

    Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.

    Then I will tell them plainly,"I never knew you. Away from me, evildoers!"

    Amen!(2)
    • Kelvin, your comment is somewhat enigmatic as well as challenging. I have participated in discussions about the issues of grace, faith, legalism, law, works for over 50 years. I too have faced the challenge of words and more words. It is almost as though we have gone from "salvation by works" to "salvation by words".

      Having said that, I have grown in my understanding of salvation as a result of the interchange of ideas; so I appreciate that we discuss and argue about the issues. However, the challenge remains that if we only talk and discuss salvation and do not take those ideas with us into practical living we have essentially missed the point. Salvation is not an abstract idea, it is a living relationship. My prayer is that people who associate with us will experience the presence of Christ. Salvation is not about getting up the nose of those who we disagree with on doctrine, but rather providing them with the experience of being with Jesus. That is an awesome responsibility. That is what salvation really means

      Amen!(4)
  14. Excellent Description! Maurice, Salvation by words. You should publish a book on that. Amen to that.

    How many people actually understand all these cliches when they proclaim:
    1. Believe in Him and you will have eternal life (just believe?).
    2. All to Jesus I surrender (all?).
    3. Doing the will of God (you know God's will?).
    4. I love God with all my heart, my mind and my soul (really?).

    As I study the scriptures more and more, I realized that my prayers, my thoughts, my songs of praise are littered with lies, foolishness and hypocrisy.

    Thank God, He is patient and merciful to my foolishness. He looks at our hearts and guide us into all truth as we seek Him (John 16:13).

    Amen!(2)
    • We may not fully understand the words others, and sometimes we ourselves, say. But the Lord understands the very intent of our thoughts (1 Chron. 28:9). "We do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings." (Rom. 8:26, NET Bible).

      Amen!(1)
  15. EGW writes, God's promises are all made upon conditions. Would that not also apply to the promise of salvation. Maybe we do need to do something to claim that promise, beginning with finding out what those conditions are. Then fulfilling them to the best of our ability, combined with the grace God gives us to fulfill them. To encourage us, she also penned, " - When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him, and yet are disloyal to His Father's commandment. (1SM 382)

    Amen!(2)
    • Thank you for that encouraging quotation from Selected Messages. It makes clear that we are not saved by our efforts but by our "disposition"/heart attitude of faith which results in good works. And He makes up for our deficiencies because we trust in Him.

      The Bible lays out the condition of salvation very clearly:
      Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
      Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
      Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
      Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

      It is clearly a heart matter. When the heart is changed, there is outward evidence:
      Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

      Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, made very clear that we are not saved by grace "plus" anything. He also wrote to the Ephesians:

      8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
      9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9

      We cannot take credit for anything regarding our salvation. When we are born anew from above, we bear the fruits of the Spirit naturally, like an apple tree bears apples. Hanging fruits on a poplar tree does not make a poplar into an apple tree. Nor do "good works" make a Christian. The change has to happen on the inside.

      Amen!(3)
    • What are the "conditions" in connection with God's promise of the Seed in Gen 3?

      There is nothing Adam and Eve needed to do for that promise to be fulfilled!

      Amen!(3)
  16. Here is a quick version of my testimony.

    I have spent all my 50-odd years in one church, a third-generation baptized member. In my years, I have been a SS superintendent, SS teacher, elder, among other things, and I know the “law and the doctrine.”

    However, I never had real peace or joy until the last three or so years, when I began studying the word in more depth, (actually it was because of some things I saw in the Quarterly that caused me to think), and found that what I was discovering by comparing scripture with other scripture, along with earnest prayer to find the truth being taught in Word, was startling. I had never seen these things, even though I had read many of these texts many times before!

    I discovered that my lack of real joy was that I did not really know Jesus, but I knew doctrine. I did not really know God as my personal Father, but like a stern judge who was waiting for 1844 to begin “cracking the whip.” I realized that I was living to meet the requirements of the law and the doctrine. I was not sure of my salvation. I felt I had to watch my P’s and Q’s with the law, or else I would be left out of the kingdom. In one sense I was always seeking to “stay within” the Law and therefore in the back of my mind and in the front of my cortex, was a law- driven existence combined with fear of hearing words of rejection on Judgment Day.

    When I came to “know” the Lord as my personal Savior and Friend, my Sustainer and Hope of glory, a peace came within me. I came to understand and appreciate the sacrifice He made for me. I understood that although I have been a sinner, Christ’s righteousness has covered me. Jesus stands for me against the accuser.

    I gained a fresh appreciation for the Law. I did not throw it out, but came to know that I had the freedom in Jesus Christ to live and walk in the Spirit, and not to be primarily concerned about the P’s and Q’s because He is able to keep me from falling, or keep me from stepping outside “the cage.” He is able to keep me from doing anything that displeases the Father – which is essentially doing all that is in harmony with His holiness and His character. I do not always follow the Spirit’s guidance, and so I fall, but I immediately come before Him and receive the assurance that He forgives, cleanses, and lifts me up. His love that surrounds and saturates me is everlasting and it does not stop when I sin (which is something I did not know for over 50 years.) My relationship as a son is never broken, even when I fall.

    That is a peace, assurance, and confidence I have in Jesus, and that is why I appreciate the numerous scripture lessons that show me the beautiful work of the living, breathing Holy Spirit over and above anything else. I will not give up that new-found relationship and joy for anything. No one can steal the joy He has given me. It is real! He is real to me!

    Praise God for His amazing grace and His wonderful salvation extended to a sinner like me!

    Amen!(7)
    • Thank you, Fred, for your testimony! One such testimony is worth more than a thousand arguments.

      If I may, I will add just a little and trust that we are not at odds. One well-known Adventist preacher urged his listeners to distinguish "where the battle is and where the battle isn't." For those of us who have met Christ, it's not a battle to do the right things, to mind our P's and Q's, as you say. The battle is to make time to spend with Christ every day so we can be filled with the Spirit. Then, indeed, we will recognize His voice, wherever He leads. Our lives will naturally fall in line with God's eternal Holy Law - which has nothing about P's and Q's in it. 😉

      However, the Bible if full of applications of this eternal Law, and we should do a lot of prayer and heart searching if in anything we have an impulse to go contrary to God's divine instructions found in the Bible.

      Our first priority is Christ and His mission in the world. There is little cause to refer to "the law" when we know that Christ's life is the perfect representation of the Law.

      At the same time, we need to teach that Christ and His Law are one - that He is the exemplification of the divine Law. There is a balance to be sought, but I believe that the overwhelming subject of our testimony should be of Christ. If we find ourselves constantly talking about the Law rather than Christ, the fulfillment of the Law, we should ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts to show us whether or not we have truly allowed Christ to be Lord in our lives.

      I look forward to other comments on this subject. Are there others who can share their experience?

      (I have shared my experience a number of times. It was when I asked God to show me how I ought to change that the Holy Spirit revealed to me that even my best efforts were tainted with self, and I could do nothing but throw myself on His mercy. And that brought true freedom and joy. That's the summary version. 😉 )

      Amen!(3)
      • Thanks Inge

        God is doing His work in all of our lives. The goal is to be with Him forever in eternity, and to have a burden to see other souls there too.

        As we all keep that hope, the Lord will take care of the little things.

        Amen!(4)
  17. Praise the Lord for His wonderful Truth. I must say Amen to this post and Sieg’s. However, if “Christ is the living embodiment of that Law”, then God, in this circumstance, more appropriately labels the Law, a *Shadow* - not a *codified description*.
    There are two instances:
    “Therefore no one is to judge you in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths - things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the body belongs to Christ.” Col 2:16,17
    “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” Heb 10:1
    Since this is God’s view, I think we get a better and more distinct picture of the purpose of the Law and its relations to the Gospel.

    Amen!(2)
    • Kenny, in both of your references, Paul is clearly referring to the law of shadows/types. They expired at Jesus death. While Jesus did fulfill these types, He is the "end" of the moral law "for righteousness". In other words: His life is an example of righteousness according to the eternal Law of God which will stand forever.

      Amen!(0)
      • Hi Kenny:

        The two instances are referred to as shadows as they clearly deal with ceremonial laws of sacrifices, food, drinks, festivals etc.

        However, it is the Ten Commandments which are considered as the codification of the law of love.

        EGW says, in Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 364, that if man had kept the law as given to Adam, there would have been no need for a covenant with Abraham of which circumcision was a sign. And if Israelites had kept the covenant, there would have been no need for God to proclaim the Ten Commandments from Sinai!

        According to the Scriptures, the law was given "for the lawless and disobedient" (1 Tim. 1:9-10) and "was added because of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19)

        Amen!(2)
        • Pramod, have you either the law as given to Adam or the covenant, which if kept by Israel, would have negated the need for the 10 commandments, which Jesus and the Apostles taught obedience to?

          Aren't we left with the 10 as voiced by God and written with His finger in stone, soon to be revealed by God to the whole world as the standard of righteousness given by Him to the world?

          What are the "commandments, statutes and laws" observed by Abraham (Gen 26:5)? What I'm driving at is that God never changes, only fallen man. So is the law given on Sinai different than what Abraham kept according to God? It's obvious that Joseph, many generations before Moses, had the 7th commandment isn't it?

          Amen!(2)
          • I can't disagree with you! I was drawing heavily from Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 364. You can read it for yourself.

            If the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai in the version available to us now (as I believe EGW suggests) it is possible that Joseph had it right, but did not know it as the 7th commandment.

            We think of the law as eternal. "But in heaven, service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of."{MB109}.

            So what law did they have in heaven? "The law of self -renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven". {DA19.2}.

            Adam and Eve, I believe, had this law of love which, of course, encompasses the Ten Commandments and these were spelt out "for the lawless and disobedient" at Sinai (1 Tim. 1:9, 10).

            Amen!(0)

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