A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Nothing of His Own

Ho 2:8 "For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal."

Satan comes as an angel of light, and his ministers as ministers of "righteousness."  2Corinthians 11:14,15. To use Christ's expression, "as wolves in sheep's clothing."

There is no question that the sincere Christian desires to set high standards for himself and longs to be without sin.  That is a given, for he came to Christ as a sinner and  believes the promise that in Christ is everlasting righteousness.   Thus the snare of idolatry, which is trusting the gifts of God and being caught in the "deceitfulness of sin." Heb. 3:13.  The deceitfulness of sin snares people on both sides of the path of righteousness.  Eph. 4:14.  On one side, Satan would snare us into contentment and ease, perverting faith and turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, committing wickedness, thinking that they are "delivered to so such abominations" Jeremiah 7:9.  On the other side, Satan would snare us into a different kind of ease and contentment, deceiving us into thinking that we have already obtained sinlessness and that the struggle against our sin is over, perverting faith in a different way, thinking that God makes us righteous in ourselves, turning our eyes away from the garments of  Christ's perfect righteousness, and we wrap the filthy garments of our own righteousness around us.

The effect of both errors is the destruction of the soul, for both seek the gifts of God rather than God Himself.  Ge 15:1 "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."  Not the land of Canaan, not a multitude of nations, not wealth and plenty, not even integrity of heart and mind--no gift of God can take the place of God, Himself, who is found in Christ alone.  The Pharisee stood and prayed within Himself and boasted of the gifts of God,  Lu 18:11,12 "I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."

He was a Pharisee precisely because He thought he was righteous because of God's righteous gifts, trusting that he was righteous in himself. The publican was justified because he looked to the mercy and grace of God alone.  As Paul put it, Romans 5;"6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

"7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him".

The righteousness that justifies is not found within the sinner, but is alien to him, the perfection of Christ alone.

Christ died for the ungodly! while we were yet sinners! "This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." Is. 54:17  This is the imputation of a righteousness other than my own, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, secured by the Mediator for all His people.  Romans 3:"20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God..."

Because the sinner has been justified by faith, counted righteous because of Christ--not because of his own works, but because of the free gift of God--he is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit, who begins to work in the sinner the fruit of the Spirit, "love, joy...etc.," which are described in Gal. 5.   But this does not destroy the flesh, which has its own fruit, "wrath, strife, etc." also described in Gal.5 as warring with the Spirit in the soul of the believer. 

We are not in heaven yet, and every Christian wars against the sin of Adam's nature, from which he is not free until the resurrection.   Hope is a necessary ingredient of faith, as Paul also says, "We are saved by hope," Romans 8:24 and context.  Justification is a one time declaration of God that sins are not imputed to the sinner, but salvation includes more than justification; it also includes adoption, sanctification, resurrection, glorification.  These are all promised and guaranteed by the blood of Christ, but we do not see them yet in their perfection [except justification], Pr 4:18 "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

But ought we not to strive for perfection?  Of course, for we must never be content with our sins.  As Paul says again, "We groan within ourselves waiting for the redemption of our body."   But our joy is in the perfection of Christ and our joy is in Him and we look to Him.  We trust in Him, not his gifts.

Phil. 3: "8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9   And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith...." [context].

This matter is a very old issue in the church and there was a very important difference between the Reformers and Rome.  "Are we justified according to the measure of our sanctification, being justified because God has made us good?" as Rome said.  Or "Are we justified by the perfection of Christ imputed to us, and then given the gift of the Holy Spirit to take us by the hand and lead us through adoption, sanctification, resurrection, glorification, to perfection in glory, fully conformed to the image of Christ, to which we are predestined."  The Reformed, following the Bible, confessed the latter, hating the former as a snare to the soul.

Do you trust the creation, more than the Creator?
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