Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If You Want to go to Heaven, Stop Trying to Earn It

When I write these blog posts, I often refer to other studies to make sure I am not going off the wall.  In that process, I have read some other studies that were absolutely off the wall.  One such example that pops up from time to time is the idea that when we come to Jesus, it is only the sins we commit before that decision that are forgiven.  They refer to the words of Jesus to the adulterer when He told her to go and sin no more.  Sadly, these churches keep their members in bondage to some moral code that they must keep or risk losing their salvation.  While I do believe that the moral teachings of Jesus are very relevant for our lives today, I do not believe that we should adhere to them out of some legalistic fear.  We live to please our Lord out of an abundance of love and gratitude for what He has done to us.  Forcing ourselves to live under a moral code is not the loving and willing submission that Jesus seeks.  More than that, it is utterly impossible.  And being impossible to keep any moral code perfectly and God's standard is absolute perfection, the belief that we must adhere to a moral code is the belief that no one can be saved.  Here is today's Scripture for consideration.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed [is] everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." Galatians 3:10 NKJV
This verse reveals the problem with moral codes.  Moral codes are based on Biblical law.  The problem is that you can not just pick and choose what laws to follow.  If you subject yourself (or your church) to any part of the law, you are subjecting them to all of the law.   We do not get to write our own law or pick and choose what laws we think are important.  We are either justified by grace alone or by the law alone. 

If choose justification by law, we are doomed to failure.  There is no way that any man or woman other than Jesus Christ can live perfectly.  First of all, the law is an impossible standard to reach. That is why Jesus is the only one who could do it.  Secondly, God sees everything.  If we break the law, there is no hiding it from God.  We can not hope He did not see it or think that we may get away with it.  Finally, we have Satan who is continually bringing accusations against us before God.  We have a judge who knows we are guilty and a prosecutor who continually reminds Him of that fact. There is no getting around our guilt.  We are all guilty of something and if we are guilty of even the smallest thing, we are guilty of all things.
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one [point], he is guilty of all.  James 2:10 NKJV
And we are guilty of all.  We are all guilty of something, even in terms of man's law, we are all guilty of something.  If you look deep enough, all of us have broken a myriad of earthly laws.  Not that we are all criminals as many of us never intended to break any laws.  That really does not matter, though.  A case in point is my wife.  She received a traffic ticket last weekend.  She did not intend to break any laws.  In fact, she was trying to be safe in an unfamiliar area. We were pulling off a highway during a time of high traffic and cars were pulling right to exit behind us and considering we were taking the same exit, she also went right to avoid cutting someone off at the turn.  What she did was perfectly reasonable, but it was against the law.  She technically rode the shoulder (only for two car lengths) to make a turn. The officer feeling a bit of grace wrote us a ticket instead for the GPS unit being installed under the rear-view mirror saying it was a driver obstruction.  Once again, it was not obstructing anyone nor was any broken law intended, but there it was.  Once again, the intent in keeping it there was to allow me to program it or adjust it while she drove.  The point I am trying to make here is that intent or knowledge does not matter, the only thing that matters is, just like man's law, that we broke God's law.  It does not matter how many laws or how serious the violation was.  And once you are guilty, you are guilty of all.  It is impossible to live up to God's standard.  Trying to justify yourself will only lead to failure, and what a failure it will be.
Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who [attempt to] be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  Galatians 5:2-4 NKJV
If you try to justify yourself by the law, you are not under grace.  In fact, if you attempt to justify yourself, Paul says that you have fallen from grace.  Does that mean you forfeit your salvation?  I will leave the debate for another day.  Just make note the seriousness of Paul choosing to mention even the possibility of falling from grace should you try to justify yourself by the law.  This also reminds us that if you bind yourself to any part of the law (this example is circumcision), you are binding yourself to the whole law.  If you try to keep (or teach to keep) to any kind of moral code or law in order to maintain your salvation, you brings into question the salvation you think you have.  The reason is that you can not say you have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus if you are trying to justify yourself.  The Bible says that we are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ.  Trying to earn your salvation in spite of that knowledge shows a lack of faith.  Faith means you do not need a safety net. Faith means you trust that the blood of Jesus will save you, period. 

One day those who believe or teach this fallen theology will stand before God.  They will stand before Him in the pride of thinking they have justified themselves only to learn what I am sure will be a lengthy list of charges against them.  They think they are pure, but they will see just what abysmal failures they are.  They will see that their righteousness was an illusion.  They will learn one of the ironies of the Gospel, that being that our attempts at righteousness will never lead to salvation but that salvation will always lead to righteousness.  In other words, sadly for them, their very attempt to maintain their salvation is the very thing that prevented them from having it.  Whatever righteousness we have in Christ is only because we are in Christ.  The Bible teaches that all of us that we are saved by grace and grace alone.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
Anything else or anything added is a different and false Gospel.  This should serve as a warning to anyone who would teach or believe such a lie.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.  Galatians 1:8-9 NKJV

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