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The Daily Word of Righteousness
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (Titus 2:11,12)
Well, in what manner is the current teaching incorrect? Christian teaching is incorrect when it concludes from Paul's teaching that it is belief in doctrine alone that saves us, our works are not important. One can have genuine faith in God and remain worldly, lustful, and self-willed.
If it were true that righteous behavior is not a necessary aspect of the Christian salvation, then the new covenant would be a moral disaster. God would have ceased striving with men. The fight would be over. The writings of the Apostles would then be meaningless religious sayings. Let the Christians relax. They all will go to Heaven whether or not they serve the Lord.
It absolutely is true that no person can turn away from the Lord Jesus and please God by seeking to behave righteously in his or her own strength. In the first place, he would still be bearing the guilt and compulsions of the sin into which he was born. This is an undeniable fact and it is useless to even discuss the possibility of it not being true. No person can save himself by his righteous works!
The error comes when we teach that having received Christ by faith the believer now is a fully prepared candidate for Paradise. In so believing and teaching we do not understand either the goal or the process of the Divine salvation.
The goal of the Divine salvation is the individual who lives by faith in God, not so he can go to Heaven but so he can please and serve God acceptably. The goal of the new covenant is to create people who will please God. The reason we have a new covenant is that the people under the old covenant did not please God.
Perhaps no one would question our statement that the goal of the new covenant is to make us in the image of Christ and to bring us into untroubled union with the Father.
It is certain we cannot change ourselves into the image of Christ or come into untroubled union with the Father by means of our own efforts. Only the Lord Jesus can create us in His own image and bring us into untroubled union with the Father.
We do not save ourselves by works of righteousness. But works of righteousness are the direct result of our having received the Lord Jesus. If no works of righteousness follow our receiving of the Lord Jesus then we are not being saved.
It would appear on the surface Paul was saying we are saved by believing in the Lord Jesus and our behavior has little to do with our salvation. This may be a tempting interpretation of Romans and Galatians but it is denied by other passages of Paul's writings.
One wonders what Paul, the Pharisee who strove all his life to attain righteousness, must think as he sees the religious leaders on earth interpreting him to mean that receiving the Lord Jesus is an alternative to righteous living.
We have made the Christian salvation a legal state. We are claiming that God does not see our behavior because we are covered with the righteousness of Christ. This is no salvation at all. It is to make a temporary device, which God has given so we may start on the path of righteousness, the whole work of redemption. We have made the on-ramp the main highway.
Beyond all doubt God desires that people practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. The covenant that accomplishes this is the best covenant.
To be continued.