Sin, Righteousness, Works, Holiness

Devotional Thought of the Day:

19  For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20  My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:19-20 (NLT) Galatians 2:19-20 (CEV)

1  What shall we say, then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase? 2  Certainly not! We have died to sin—how then can we go on living in it? Romans 6:1-2 (TEV)

288      You were still rather hesitant when you were telling me: “I am deeply aware of the occasions when the Lord is asking more of me.” All I could think of was to remind you how you used to assure me that the only thing you wanted was to identify yourself with him. What’s keeping you back?  (1)

I am still trying to understand the reason there is a long battle over the nature of faith and works.

For some, the quote from Galatians stops at the second hyphen.  “so I died to the law – I stopped trying to meet all its requirements-“  In doing so, there is missing the the second half of the statement, so I might life for God!”

It is as if they were answering Paul’s query in the second quote, “Yes, let us continue to live in sin, because to expect anything else from us is not only impossible, but it it bringing the penalty of the law back upon us.”  The claim of being a pietist quickly follows, when you encourage people to go to confession and receive absolution, when you encourage them to make regular use of the sacrament of Lord’s Supper, spend time in God’s word, or pray continually.  Theologically, there is no “third use” of the law they expound, we can only expect people to have “faith”.  Thus reducing faith to some kind of knowledge, rather than the trust which enables us to live in Him.

Some will cry, but it is impossible to live a holy and perfect life!  That God’s call to us to do that only serves us to run to Him for mercy.  But that reduces mercy to forgiveness, not the love which He binds Himself to show to His people.  it negates the work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, equipping, empowering, setting us apart as the Bride of Christ, as His body, as the co-heirs of Christ.

Then why go so indepth in every epistle from Romans to Jude about what the Christian life looks like?  Why the incredible descriptions of the Body of Christ working together in Romans 12, in 1 Corinthians 12, why the discussion of the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us in II Corinthians? of the mutual care for each other in Ephesians 5-6, the striving in Philippians 3?  Why the words in the third chapter of Titus saying this is how we used to be – now be this?  Why the challenges in James 2-5?  Why the warnings to the 7 churches in Asia minor in the Revelation?

We aren’t saved by works, but as we are untied to Christ, that means His work becomes our, His ministry becomes ours, His apostleship becomes ours as well.  These things take a devotional and focus, not on our efforts, not on our capabilities, but on the Lord, even as the Holy Spirit conforms us to His image.   As Paul notes:

12  So then, my dearest friends, as you have always followed my advice – and that not only when I was present to give it – so now that I am far away be keener than ever to work out the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility. For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose. Philippians 2:12 (Phillips NT)

That’s the point, it is the work of God in us, the very blessing of His presence, in our lives. That is why it isn’t a question of faith and works.  It is walking with God, working alongside Him in His fields, sharing in His presence. That is how we work, not apart from God, but alongside Him, letting Him giving us not only the power to do what pleases Him, but the will, the desire to do it as well.

Confused about faith and works, tired of the arguments?  Look to Christ, the author and finisher of your faith, identify with Him abide in Him, remember to share with Him everything that causes you concern, anxiety, fear.  Let Him take those things away, while He shares with you the wondrous ministry of reconciliation.  Examine fully the depth of His love for you, and walk with Him.  That will produce good fruit, far more than the theological debates and discourses.   That which you consider impossible? He will accomplish it.

Love mercy, live in His righteousness, and walk humbly with God, your God.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1175-1178). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on November 6, 2014, in Devotions, Poiema, The Forge and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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