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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Our Christian Pilgrimage, #4
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)
The soul that sins will die. The soul that keeps the commandments of God will live. This principle not only is in both the Old Testament and New Testament, it is from eternity to eternity. It proceeds from what God Himself is.
God did not give Christ to the world so an individual can be rebellious and commit sin and yet live in God. This would be in direct violation of the eternal laws of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping. Rather, God gave to us Christ who Himself is Life so that through Him we can obey God and live.
When the Apostle Paul was laboring to throw off the yoke being imposed by the Judaizers he stressed that under the old covenant men gained life by doing the works of the Law, but under the new covenant life comes by faith in Christ.
This is true. But Paul was not contrasting godly and ungodly behavior, saying that under the first covenant men gained life by godly behavior and under the new covenant ungodly men gain life by professing faith in Jesus. This would make Paul and the Lord Jesus defenders of sinful behavior.
Rather, Paul was pointing out that under the old covenant men gained life by acting according to the righteous principles of the Law and statutes of Moses, whereas under the new covenant men gain life by becoming new creations in Christ, the evidence of the transformation being righteous, holy, and obedient behavior.
Righteousness and the resulting life are gained under the old covenant by obeying the letter of the Torah.
But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:21)
"Shall surely live" in the above verse probably is referring to blessed, prosperous physical life.
Paul never contrasted righteous behavior and Divine grace. This would be confusion! Throughout the Epistles Paul contrasted the Law of Moses and Divine grace. This is especially true in the Book of Romans and the Book of Galatians. Righteousness, and the resulting life, are gained under the new covenant by dying to the world, sin, and self and walking with Jesus in newness of life.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
Whatever the covenant may be, God's intention always and forever is that men walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. To suppose that God has given us a covenant that permits eternal life to abide in those who are continuing in unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience to God is to dishonor God's Character.
To be continued.