This article continues where Part 4 ended.
I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless otherwise mentioned. I frequently make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make the brackets more obvious.
I'll continue to quote from what Joseph says on pages 117, 118 in his chapter 10: "Jesus Christ has already delivered all believers from the covenant of law which condemns. [[Yes, the old covenant has been set aside; it has been nailed to the cross, so that we could receive new-covenant salvation. However, we needed a whole lot more than just being set free from the covenant of law which condemns. As Rom. 8:1-4, for example (which we discussed earlier in this paper) show, the primary basis for our being set free from condemnation centers in the fact that we have been set free from being slaves of sin in the kingdom of spiritual death through the atoning death of the Lamb of God, with the end result being that we fulfill the righteous requirements of God's moral law in our daily lives, as we walk in line with what the new covenant requires of us, by grace through faith.
As I mentioned, God's moral law cannot be set aside. And His moral law cannot be changed. It derives from the very nature of God and gives His definition of what is right and what is wrong. The Ten Commandments are part of God's moral law. At least nine of the Ten Commandments are part of God's moral law. The commandment about the Sabbath is different to some extent.
There is no way we can limit what the apostle Paul said in Rom. 8:1-4 to a positional righteousness, where all the emphasis is placed on the fact that Jesus fulfilled the law for us, and where we are automatically righteous, even if we are living in sin. (And there are very many more such passages in the writings of Paul and throughout the New Testament; many of these passages are discussed in this paper.) The bottom line of Christianity is that the sin problem really has been solved in new-covenant salvation and Christians are called, enabled, required, and privileged to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God. It is also clear that forgiveness is provided for Christians if they should fall into sin when they repent.]] But there are believers who choose to continue living under its [the law's] condemnation instead of receiving the grace that has been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Rather than put their trust in the unmerited goodness of God through Jesus Christ, they have chosen to put their trust in their ability to abide by the Ten Commandments. Simply put they have chosen the ministry of death."
We put our trust in God, His plan of salvation, and His saving grace in Christ, which sets us free from spiritual death and bondage to sin and enables us to live as God requires us to live by His saving, sanctifying grace in Christ. We do not, and we must not, put our trust in our ability (apart from the sanctifying grace of God in Christ) to keep God's moral law. We are His new creations. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). God gets all the glory as we fulfill the requirements of His moral law in our daily lives. As God's new creations, who have been set free from spiritual death and bondage to sin, we fulfill the requirements of His moral law in our daily lives. God paid the price to set us free from bondage to sin because He loves us and He hates sin. Another reason He sent His Son to die as the Lamb of God was to overthrow Satan and all who continue to follow him (see John 12:31; 16:11, for example).
I'll quote part of what Joseph further says in chapter 10 on pages 120, 121. "Now that you know that the Ten Commandments is the ministry of death [[Since Christians are enabled to keep God's moral law by the sanctifying grace of God in Christ, the Ten Commandments do not minister death; they do not intensify the sin problem for Christians who are walking in the life and righteousness of God, as they did for man in the flesh. However, we must see the law from the right perspective. The law cannot save, and God must receive all the glory for the righteousness that is manifested in our daily lives, as we walk by the Holy Spirit.]], think with me: What do you think happens when the church remains bound by the law? What happens when we preach a series of sermons on the Ten Commandments? Can you see why the body of Christ is sick and depressed today, or why believers don't have the power to overcome sin?
[[Believers aren't lacking the power to overcome sin because they heard a series of sermons about the Ten Commandments. The primary reason why believers are lacking the power to overcome sin is because the good news that Christians have been set free from bondage to sin and been called, enabled, and required to walk in the righteousness of God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we walk by the Spirit by faith on a continuous basis, hasn't been widely understood, proclaimed, or accepted by very large numbers of Christians. The moral law is needed, and it doesn't cause any problems unless it is separated from (or substituted for) the reality of new-covenant salvation. The law cannot impart life or set us free from bondage to sin and make us righteous ((I had a footnote, See Gal. 3:21, for example, "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God [the promises of new covenant salvation in Christ Jesus]? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life then righteousness [the imparted righteousness of God] would indeed have been based on law." The Mosaic Law, or any other law, did not have the authority or power to dethrone the spiritual death and bondage to sin that has reigned over mankind since the fall [see Romans chapters 5, 7, and 8, for example]. But that is at the heart of what new-covenant salvation is all about through the atoning death of the Son of God and the outpoured Spirit of God.)), but it does give God's direction to our lives in Christ, which we need, and God uses it to help show Christians living in sin where they need to repent.
To the extent Christians are satisfied to live on the edge of God's kingdom (which is a dangerous place to live) instead of living for Him as He requires, they will not find "the power to overcome sin" that Joseph mentioned. We must make it a top priority to learn what God's Word says and then to live it by His grace through faith. And we must understand that these things don't just happen automatically while we are passive. Faith is active! And we must understand that the world, the flesh (the old man who still wants to live in sin) and the devil and his hosts are against us, but God's saving power is much greater than our enemies. We are required to believe that, aren't we?]]
For generations, the church has believed that by preaching the Ten Commandments, we will produce holiness. [[I don't believe that large numbers of Christians have been so misinformed that they think that preaching the Ten Commandments will produce holiness. Joseph is certainly right that preaching the law (by itself) will not make us holy. If we try to keep the law in our strength (or, for our glory) we are doomed to failure, and if we could keep the law in our strength, we could be proud of ourselves, and pride (with unbelief) is at the root of sin.]] When we see sin on the increase, we start to preach more of the law. But the Word of God actually says that 'the strength of sin is the law' (1 Cor. 15:56).
[[What the apostle Paul meant in 1 Cor. 15:56 was that the Law intensified the sin problem for those who were in the flesh, not for Christians who are walking by the indwelling, sanctifying Holy Spirit, which all Christians are enabled, and required, to do. The cross and resurrection of Christ Jesus, backed up by the infinite Spirit of God, changes everything. What the apostle said in other verses enables us to understand what he meant in 1 Cor. 15:56 (see Rom. 4:15; 5:13; 7:5, 8-13). (I had a footnote, These verses are all discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.") For one thing, it was a lot more serious to sin against God's commandments, after they had been given, than it was to sin before the Mosaic Law was given. For those under the Mosaic Law sin became full scale rebellion against God and His laws. Also, the law tends to arouse the desire for sinful fruit for those who are in the flesh.
As I have already demonstrated in this paper, the thought never entered Paul's mind that he should refrain from teaching God's moral law or from exhorting Christians to keep the commandments of God's moral law, and he himself exhorted Christians that they were enabled, and required, to keep the commandments of God's moral law. The apostle also had to show why all people (including the people of Israel) needed God's new-covenant salvation. The old covenant, which was built on the foundation of the Mosaic Law, could not solve the sin problem. And Paul had to deal with the Judaizers, who were requiring Gentile Christians to keep the ceremonial laws of the old covenant if they wanted to be saved. And, of course, Paul would have corrected any Christians who were putting the emphasis on the Mosaic Law (or any other law), instead of on God's grace, Jesus Christ, His atoning death, His resurrection, and His ascension and on all the work of the promised, outpoured Holy Spirit. We are saved by grace, not the law, but we need God's moral law.
As I mentioned, the law doesn't cause problems for Christians who walk by the Spirit of God and keep the requirements of God's moral law in their daily lives, as we are enabled, and required, to do. We must understand the balanced truth of what the New Testament teaches about the commandments of God's law, so we can keep His law in the right perspective. Some Christians eliminate the requirement for Christians to keep God's (moral) law. Some Christians have done this in the past, and some are still doing it. Other Christians end up striving to keep the commandments of the law in their own strength (and sometimes for their own glory), but the law isn't responsible for that, and the answer isn't to do away with the commandments of God's moral law. Sometimes "Christians" are totally walking in the flesh because they have not been born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit yet, for whatever reason. But it is also true that born-again Christians can be quite fleshy, as the Christians of ancient Corinth demonstrated, for example, but that is a dangerous, unacceptable state to be in. One more time, we desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches!]]
It also says that 'sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace' (Rom. 6:14). So the power for the church to overcome sin is actually found in being under grace and not in reinforcing the law. [[We must put a very strong emphasis on God's purifying, sanctifying grace, which often is not the case in our day. Based on things Joseph says in this book, he does believe in God's purifying, sanctifying grace, but as I have mentioned, he substantially confuses the issue with a large number of the things he says in this book.
There is absolutely no reason for us to stop teaching the commandments of God's moral law or for us to limit righteousness to positional righteousness, for example, in order to put the emphasis on grace when we understand what the New Testament teaches. Keeping God's commandments and walking in His righteousness is fully compatible with totally emphasizing God's grace in Christ. A big part of what God's grace in Christ does is to enable us to keep His commandments, which is included in what it means for us to walk in His righteousness and holiness. I don't want to "reinforce the law" at the expense of the heart of the gospel, but I don't want to eliminate it either. We don't have that option, and we need it!]]
Preaching more of the law to counteract sin is like adding wood to the fire!" It's true that preaching more of the law to people who don't understand the gospel will not solve the sin problem. The sin problem can never be solved by anything other than seeing (with the eyes of our hearts) that because of what Jesus did on the cross, we are called, enabled, and required to walk by the Holy Spirit and fulfill the requirements of God's moral law. The commandments of God's moral law are not the problem; they are not the enemy; we need them!
Before leaving this chapter, I'll quote another statement from Joseph that I trust (I hope) at least most of my readers will reject, "In other words, with the advent of the new covenant of grace, 'THE TEN COMMANDMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE OBSOLETE' [Joseph's emphasis]."
I want to recommend my paper titled, "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism." The paper is located on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). I'll list the major headings included in this 62 page paper; under most of these headings, I quote and discuss the key passages from the New Testament that are relevant to that heading: (1) Introduction; (2) Christians Are Enabled and Required, to keep the LAW of God, Including the Law Contained in the Old Testament, Excluding the Ceremonial Law; (3) Christians Are Enabled, and Required, to Keep the COMMANDMENTS of God/Christ; (4) Christians Are Enabled, and Required, to OBEY God/Christ (including His Word, Law, and Commandments); (5) Christians Are Enabled, and Required, to Live/Walk in RIGHTEOUSNESS, which Means Living/Walking in the Will of God, According to His Word/Law/Commandments; (6) Christians Are Enabled, and Required, to be Holy/to Live in HOLINESS, which Includes Living in the Will of God, According to His Word/Law/Commandments; (7) Christians Are Enabled, and Required, to Do the WORKS Required According to God's Word/Law/Commandments by His Grace/Spirit through Faith; the Works Are Not Optional; (8) Doesn't the New Testament Teach that the Mosaic Law/Old Covenant Has Been Set Aside and that Christians Are Not under this Law? And Doesn't it Teach that No One Will be Justified/Saved by Doing Works of the Law?; (9) Legalism. Discussions in the Appendix include: Law and Gospel; More on the Lutheran and Calvinistic Views of the Law; Reformed Tradition; and Dispensational Antinomianism.
Joseph spent some four pages (pages 153-156) discussing the prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. His heading here is "The Father's Heart of Grace," and he starts his discussion with the words, "Do you want to see how your heavenly Father responds when you have failed?" I appreciate his emphasis on the Father's heart of mercy, compassion, love, etc, but I believe Joseph misses a major point in what this glorious parable is about: HE DENIES THAT THE PRODIGAL SON REPENTED. I'll quote part of what Joseph said, "We all know that the son was not returning to the father's house because he had realized his mistake. He was returning home because he was hungry! ... But the father did not care what his son's intentions were. ...."
It's true, of course, that the prodigal son was hungry, for one thing; many (or most) of us who are Christians now began to consider the gospel because we got to a place where we needed big help, but ultimately we repented and returned to the One who created us and has called us to repent and submit to His plan of salvation. I think almost all Christians agree that the prodigal son repented. I would be surprised by Joseph's interpretation, but I have already shown that Joseph doesn't agree with the idea that we should preach repentance (and he believes that God always sees us as being righteous and holy, and He is always pleased with us, and we don't have to confess our sins to be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit never convicts of sin, but He convicts us of our righteousness, etc.). So I'm not all that surprised. As far as I am concerned it is totally necessary for us to see that the prodigal son repented. We'll discuss the basis for this as we continue.
Luke chapter 15 contains three parables given by the Lord Jesus. All three parables effectively make the same point: (The third parable, dealing with the father [representing God] and the prodigal son, powerfully and effectively makes the point.) God (and his angels, etc.) greatly rejoices when His children repent. He cares very much for the eternal welfare of each one of His children. I'll read the two verses at the end of the first parable about the man who lost one of his hundred sheep, but then found it. "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' (7) I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who REPENTS than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no REPENTANCE."
I'll read the second parable; it is only three verses. "Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? (9) When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' (10) In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who REPENTS."
And I'll read the last verse of this chapter, at the conclusion of the parable of the prodigal son. "But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found." The prodigal son came to himself, recognized that he had made a gigantic mistake (had sinned greatly), humbled himself, and went to his father hoping to be accepted by him, but not with the same privileges he had before. He was dead, but he came back to life; he was lost, but now he was found. He was found like the lost sheep and the lost coin were found. And remember that the point of the first two parables was that in the same way that there was rejoicing when that which had been lost was found, there is great joy in heaven (centering in God Himself) over one of His children who REPENT (see verses 7, 10).
The parable of the prodigal son puts a strong emphasis on the loving mercy and generosity of the father who was greatly rejoicing that his son had repented and come back to his father. Jesus was, of course, teaching that God the Father longs to receive His children who repent and come to Him. In other words the problem isn't on God's end. The problem is that God's people are very often slow to repent, or never do repent at all. One of the dominant messages of the New Testament (and the Old Testament too) is that if we need to repent, we must repent. There is no substitute for repentance, when repentance is required. It won't suffice to keep telling ourselves how much God loves us; or that He already considers us righteous; or that He doesn't see our sin because He is looking at us through the blood of Christ, etc. And repentance is something we must do, but not independent of the grace of God.
I'll discuss what Joseph says under the heading, "Does the Holy Spirit Convict You of Sin?" (I had a footnote, This heading is in Joseph's chapter 11, which is titled, "Unearthing the Deepest Root." He says that condemnation is the deepest root.) I'll quote the first few sentences Joseph has here (on pages 134, 135) and make some comments in brackets. " 'But, Pastor Prince, how can I differentiate between the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin and the accuser hurling condemnation at me?'
That is a very good question and the answer is really simple. Now, pay attention to this because it will liberate you. The bottom line is that the HOLY SPIRIT NEVER CONVICTS YOU OF YOUR SINS [Joseph's emphasis]. He NEVER comes to point out your faults. [[Joseph makes some valid points in this chapter, but this certainly isn't one of them. Joseph doesn't back off from making extreme statements; I suppose that goes along with his desire to teach "radical grace." I believe (I hope) most Christians disagree with what Joseph says here. Convicting Christians who are in any sin is surely one of the primary things the Holy Spirit does (whether the Christians are aware of that sin, or not). That conviction is a great blessing. God's purpose is not to bring condemnation, but to avoid condemnation (the condemnation of the lake of fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels). His purpose is to lead the Christian to repent and to begin to fully live in the righteousness and holiness of God, by His sufficient grace. As we have discussed, Christians must walk by the Holy Spirit, so that they will not fulfill the sinful desire of the flesh (the old man who still wants to live in sin; see Gal. 5:16, for example).]] I challenge you to find a scripture in the Bible that tells you that the Holy Spirit has come to convict you of your sins. You won't find any.
[[I had a lengthy footnote, Joseph deals with John 16:8-11 on the following pages (136-139). These verses, which were spoken by the Lord Jesus on the night before He was crucified, are quite important, and the meaning isn't all that obvious. I don't believe Joseph understands them. I'll quote a small part of what Joseph says there, then I'll quote John 16:8-11 and give what I am confident is the right interpretation of these important verses. "But when people take John 16:8 out of its proper context, they start to believe erroneously that the Holy Spirit is here to convict believers of their sins. ... If the Holy Spirit never convicts you, the believer, of your sins, then what does He convict you of?" Joseph goes on to say that He convicts us our righteousness, "not RIGHT DOING, but RIGHT STANDING before God because of your right believing" [Joseph's emphasis]!
I'll quote the verses from the NKJV and make some comments. (I discussed these verses in some detail in my paper titled "A verse-by-verse Study of John chapters 13-17," which is available on my internet site.) "And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment [condemnation]: (9) of sin, because they do not believe in Me; (10) of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; (11) of judgment [condemnation], because the ruler of this world is judged [condemned]."
In verse 8 Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin when He comes, which is quite relevant to the question whether the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, or not. I agree with Joseph that the context here is not dealing with the Spirit convicting Christians of sin, but this verse does show that He convicts of sin, and He certainly does convict Christians of sin as required. If there is one primary thing the RIGHTEOUS HOLY Spirit is interested in throughout this present age, it is the (actual) RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS of Christians.
Verses 8-11 deal for the most part with the Jews who lived when Jesus ministered on the earth, but they have much application for all people. If the Jews were guilty, so were the Gentiles! People must be convicted of their sin before they see their desperate need for new-covenant salvation. I'll quote part of what I said under verse 9 in my paper, The Spirit of God, when He comes (starting on the Day of Pentecost), will use the fact that the Jews did not submit to Christ (in faith) to prove that they (though they thought of themselves as being the people of God) were far from God and quite sinful. He will also convict many of the people of the world (all who have ears to hear) of the fact that they are sinful and need to repent and submit in faith to God's new-covenant salvation in Christ Jesus. People aren't interested in the gospel (the good news) of salvation until they see their need (their very desperate need) for the only Savior from sin, spiritual death, and from their being part of the world system whose god is the devil [knowing that the devil and his world system has been condemned at the cross and is doomed].
You often hear Christians say that the only really important sin, the sin that condemns people, is the sin of rejecting and not submitting to the gospel in faith. That viewpoint is faulty. For one thing, it minimizes the seriousness of the other sins that men have committed back to Adam. There can be no doubting the fact that the sin of rejecting Christ and the gospel is a unique, super-serious sin, but it isn't the only sin that condemns people. One reason that it is such a serious matter to reject Christ and the gospel is because rejecting Him means rejecting God's only plan of salvation and dying in your sins. I'll quote what Jesus said in John 8:24, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." In John 8:21 he said, "you will die in your sin." The Bible frequently speaks of people, including Christians, being judged according to their works/what they have done (see, for example, Matt. 16:24-27; Rom. 2:5-16; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; and Rev. 22:10-12, 14, 15). Our works must demonstrate that our faith was/is real.
I'll continue this lengthy, important footnote in Part 6.
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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