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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Avoiding the Relapse, continued
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
The answer to this problem is found in a correction of our doctrine. From the time of Christ and His Apostles the teachers and preachers to a large extent have not been able to relate the commandments of Christ to our redemption. Where do the New Testament exhortations fit in the scheme of salvation?
At least two factors have operated to obscure the role of obedience to the commandments.
One factor is that the Apostle Paul stressed faith and grace as the Divine replacement for the Law of Moses. We of today interpret Paul as stressing faith and grace as the Divine replacement for righteous behavior—righteous behavior judged not by the Law of Moses but by the eternal moral law of God written in our conscience and expressed in writing by Paul and the others in their Epistles.
We realize that in our Internet essays we have stressed this particular confusion several times. But it is so very critical to our thinking if we ever are going to gain lasting benefit from the outpouring of the Spirit.
A more destructive mistake could not be made than that of interpreting the Apostle Paul to mean Divine grace is an alternative to righteous behavior!
A second factor is that the Protestant Reformers emphasized justification by faith as a replacement for the various works of penance of the Catholic Church. We of today are preaching their concept of justification by faith as being a replacement for moral behavior—moral behavior as measured by our conscience and expressed by the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles in their Epistles.
Because of these two factors, our incorrect interpretation of the emphasis Paul placed on faith and grace and our incorrect interpretation of the emphasis the Protestant Reformers placed on faith and grace, we do not know how to relate to the commandments issued by Christ and by Christ through His Apostles.
I believe the Protestant Reformers as well as we were lured into the trap of interpreting Paul to mean we were not bound by any code of behavior. Not being learned in the history of the Reformation, I cannot say for sure. Actually "the just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4) has no reference whatever to salvation through belief in correct doctrine but refers to the fact that we should live our life by faith in God rather than proudly in our own strength. If this is so, if even the great Reformers were confused on this issue, then the problem is not as simple as we have outlined.
The conclusion that we are called to be part of Jesus Christ by a Divine pronouncement given at the beginning of time (which is true) and that our calling is to eternal life in Heaven rather than to godly behavior wherever we are (which is totally and destructively false) has given rise to a number of reasons for our not being required to keep God's commandments, the commandments enjoined on us by the Great Commission announced in the last chapter of Matthew. None of these reasons is valid or scriptural in any sense whatever. These range all the way from the simplistic "Jesus did it all so I don't have to worry" to a highly abstract, abstruse plan of God that is eternal and not in any way modified by human behavior.
To be continued.