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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Two Kinds of Works, continued
Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16—NIV)
A misunderstanding of what the Apostle Paul meant by "works" plays a very large role in the current applesauce known today as Christian doctrine.
At the time of the Protestant Reformation the concern was over the works enjoined by the Catholic Church, such as saying the "Our Father" ten times as a penance, to atone for a sin we had committed.
So the first kind of works consists of our efforts to earn salvation by adhering to some code of conduct.
The second kind of works includes the works of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God produced by the new covenant.
We have made the new covenant a special formula that we accept, believing it to be a ticket to Heaven.
The new covenant is neither a formula nor a ticket. The new covenant is the writing of God's laws in our mind and in our heart. God's eternal moral law is inscribed in our mind so we will understand the difference between right and wrong. God's eternal moral law is inscribed in our heart so we will choose to do God's will.
We can see at once that the new covenant is not primarily one of belief but of moral transformation. Apart from the moral transformation of the individual there is no new covenant, no Christian salvation, no change from Satan to God. What could be clearer?
The question is, is it possible to have the law of God inscribed in our mind and heart, to have Christ formed in us (which is the same thing), and not have a change in our behavior?
The answer is, "Absolutely not!" The writing of God's law in our mind and heart always produces change in how we think, how we speak, how we act. How could it be otherwise?
Can we have Christ formed in us and not change?
The formation of Christ in us always results in righteous behavior.
It is not a case of adding our righteous works to Christ's perfect righteousness, it is a case of responding to the Spirit of God as He leads us to repentance and deliverance from sin. Such repentance and deliverance are of the very nature of salvation. They are what salvation is! There is no salvation apart from moral transformation!
To get down to the nuts and bolts, it is Christ in us who is the new covenant. But Christ is formed in us only as we keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We have to do what the New Testament says while our adamic nature is still our main source of wisdom, energy, and strength. Since our adamic nature often is unable to keep Christ's commandments, we have to come continually before the Throne of Grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.
To be continued.