How Good Are You At Keeping The Law?

     Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the Law? – An excerpt from Gal. 4:21: What Paul wrote here to the Galatians, Carl and Sarah write to whomever will spend the time to read this “Monograph”: You, like the residents of the ancient Galatian region whom God had elected to salvation by means of Paul’s preaching, as evidenced by a growing interest in comprehending things eternal and not necessarily temporal, you “would see Jesus (Jn. 12:21b), the Alpha and Omega, the First and the LastHe that liveth, and was dead; and behold, [He] is alive forevermore, Amen, and has the keys of hell and of death (Rev. 1:11, 18). As a result of the working of the Holy Ghost within, you have been “reproved of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (Jn. 16:8) and had come to recognize that you needed a Savior for salvation – a deliverance both from the evils of this world and also of utmost importance, from the wrath of God that is to come upon all the earth. Thoughts of death produced fear in your soul because in your present state of existence you were going to have to face it alone and was unclear as to what lay ahead. Somehow, you knew that the reality of hell with its torments was awaiting you. With those thoughts in mind, this present life seemed empty and devoid of any real purpose. You saw and exclaimed as did the Preacher, King Solomon: “Vanity of vanitiesvanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing which hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:1-2, 4, 8-9). Your soul was vexed. You may have turned to drugs and/or alcohol in an attempt to escape what you believed to be the inevitable outcome. But, you thought, “I am a good person…at least that is what I was taught…Oh, perhaps I have done some bad things in my life such as stealing or cheating or that one-night stand years ago. But that was all in the past. Still, I believe someone is going to judge me for my behavior. That ‘Someone’ is holy and faultless and I am not. I am undone! I am a dead man!!!” Or, perhaps your thinking was not quite at that level. Rather, you saw your temporal life as being a complete shambles by cultural and moral standards, and devoid of meaningful purpose. Without success, you tried observing rules and regulations in an effort to clean things up. You said, in effect, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). At any rate, then someone invited you to an evangelistic crusade. However, unlike the Galatian folk, and unbeknownst to you, the preacher, though representing himself as such, was not one who had been a disciple of Paul or the Lord of Life. But he did know pet verses and formulas to stir the emotions. You, unlike many others, deep within your being and perhaps not fully aware of it, were seeking the true Savior, whose name is “Jesus” – the “Complete Jesus”. This evangelist you heard and responded to, was a “slithering snake” in disguise. He himself had no real concerns of the torments of hell, nor desired to know anything about it. He was secretly convinced in his own mind that his Jesus was merely someone to work for and not really the Sovereign “God manifest in the flesh”. He offered you an “Incomplete Jesus” of his own vain imaginations – a “Jesus” of this world only who concentrates on solving man’s psychological and social problems and not the total redemption of lost souls whom the Father has given Him. And you, truly one of the “other sheep the Lord intends to save, still raised your hand and recited a sinner’s prayer, possibly along with others. Seeking to be released from your load of selfsalvation, certainly an exercise in frustration and a real “vanity of vanities”,  you are put right back under the dictates of the Law again by these slithering snakes. These serpents think they are evangelizing the world for Christ. But it is a different Christ. They are still dead in trespasses and sins attempting to hide from the face of God under the mask of the Law. Instead of simply calling upon the Name of the Lord,though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27b-28a), and asking Him to save you from the wrath to come, you were told that in order to be fully acceptable before God, who, in their perceptions, is really quite far away, you must repent of all sin and begin to live a clean life. Once this is done, God will listen to your cries for help. Now, in that moment of time you agreed with God that you are a sinner, even though you may not have known the far-reaching significance of this admission. “But the recitation of the sinner’s prayer and asking Jesus to come into your heart has changed all that”, you were told. Then they say, “You are now a Christian, start acting like one!” On fire for the Lord and wanting to repay Him for saving you meant joining a church body and participating in its activities such as Sunday school, ushering, welcoming new visitors, operating the “power point”, cleaning the bathrooms, passing out tracts and engaging in witnessing for the Lord. Christ was in your heart and now you were going to obey all His rules and regulations – the “do’s” and “don’ts” of Christianity – in reality a heavier yoke than the yoke of the Law in that the perfection required is impossible. But anyway, being told that obedience was possible as well as sinless perfection, you tried to do this and finding you could not, instead of going to the Bible for the answer to this predicament, in desperation, you resorted to the traditions of men. Needing assurance of your salvation, the once-friendly false teachers, having moved on to other prey, now ignore you and suggest looking at the self-help section in a Christian book store. Taking them at their word, you go and tell your predicament to the sales clerk (himself as wicked and lost as the false teachers, and having a great $$incentive$$ per the store manager, who wants to keep his job, to sell books with a $$high profit margin$$ and not the Book of Books) who picks out a self-help book by the popular author at the time – a person himself motivated by fame and fortune and not the Lord Jesus Christ. Having read this with some skepticism (because beneath the surface, the Holy Ghost within is telling you that the book is blasphemous) but with an open mind (you ignore His counsel) you follow the advice of its author and start trying still another way with the hopes of achieving an assurance of salvation by the keeping of the Law. It is only by the mercy of God that the elect will come to realize they are still breaking His perfect Law. The solution: throw all the self-help books and commentaries into the fire (check out Acts 19:19), agree with God that you are in desperate need of a Savior, the genuine Shepherd and Bishop of your soul” (I Pet. 2:25).

     But not really knowing for certain who is and not elect in this group of Galatians, Paul writes, “ye that desire [“thelontes” – present active participle of “thelo”] to be under the law [under any law, for there is no definite article in the Greek text], do ye not hear the Law? In this second case where there is a definite article , “the Law is understood as any of the testimonies (“edah”), ways (“derek”), precepts (“piqqud”), statutes (“choq”), commandments (“mitsvah”), and judgments (“mishpat”) in the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible – see Ps. 19:7-9). Now, with this in mind, the Law does not merely set forth the “do’s” and “don’ts”, it also speaks of the means of deliverance from the penalty of breaking any one of its statutes even once (Jas. 2:10) – death. Prior to the Cross it was temporary by the shedding of “the blood of bulls and goats”, etc. After the Cross, the one-time shedding of the blood of the Son of God is sufficient for those He has chosen. The rest remain dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1-8). Now, that means of deliverance implied a recognition on God’s part that He was dealing with innately sinful people, as we all are outside of Christ, in need of a “covering” for their sin. This is not just the “dirty dozen” or “nasty nine”, but any thought or act that does not originate and proceed from faith (Jn. 16:9; Rom. 14:23). Most important, the Book of the Law (Torah) as well as the Prophets spoke of that One who would deliver them from the ultimate penalty of breaking the Law (Acts 3:19-24).  Remember, “Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jas. 2:10). And yet the Jews then and the legalistic apostates now, believe the lie that bypassing the Cross and attainment of righteousness by means of obedience to the Law is possible. In reality, denying the deity of our Lord Jesus and thus the Triunity of the Godhead, in “religious piety” persecute those who have been given eyes to see and ears to hear of the total deliverance our Lord Jesus secured by means of the New Covenant. He said it best when He spoke to the Jews of His day who were persecuting and seeking a way to kill Him:Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me, and ye will not come to Me that ye might have lifefor had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words” (Jn. 5:39-40; 46-47). The life of God is not found in papyrus or Bible paper, but in His Resurrected Son: “He that hath the Son hath life (I Jn. 5:12). The papyrus and Bible paper only testify of the Son! Paul wanted his readers to understand clearly that the Law demands absolute obedience from someone who is a sinner by disposition. That was the dilemma the Apostle wrote of in Romans, Chapter 7: “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. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man [Christ in him]: 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. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 7:18-25; 8:1). Romans 8:2-17 gives the solution to the problem. One does not please God by attempting to obey the dictates of the Law: That is not faith. Rather, it takes faith to thank our Lord that He has already fulfilled the commandments of the Law and rest in His yoke of salvation – His completed work of redemption for us.

     One more time: The Law is for the lawless, which we all were even from our mother’s womb. You Galatians and modern day legalists who call other professing Christians “backsliders” and sinners – an insult not only to the person, but also to our Lord Jesus Christ – and would rest in your ability to keep the Law and avoid the Cross: Take a moment to think of this – In the first cries of “Gimme”, you broke both the First and Tenth Commandments. But that did not make you a sinner. You said “Gimme” because you already were a sinner by your very existence. Are you going to change your status of sinner to saint by further obedience to the Law? You started life as a descendant of Adam, having his disposition residing within. As you grew up you merely honed your innate abilities by practice – lying or bearing false witness, stealing, cheating, murdering with your mind, adulterous thoughts, revering any manmade object such as a teddy bear as a child or car as an adult, making promises that will not or cannot be kept and invoking the name of the Lord in the process, or dishonored your parents at any time. Is this not sufficient evidence to convince you that you will not obey the Law and even if you would be in perfect obedience in thought and action, what about the prior years of disobedience? Has God forgiven you for that, if so, how did He do this? You really know how, but you want to deny the reality of the life, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Come on now. Make today the day of your salvation from death to life…

(Copyright © August, 2017 – All Rights Reserved – Including “Broken Cross” image with verse.)

 (Note: Don’t let our “Broken Cross” image fool you into thinking this particular cross is pagan in its origin. Actually, designed by the authors, it is intended to depict what legalism and lies has attempted to do to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike other “crosses” you may see which carry a negative connotation, ours is a sign of victory for those “in Christ“.)