Christians who want to keep God’s Law for righteousness sake…

St. Paul goes to great lengths in his letter to the Galatian Christians to distinguish between law keeping and faith in Jesus.

He talks about the freedom from the law that Christ has given to us with respect to pleasing God.

Listen in on Pastor Mark Anderson from Lutheran Church of the Master, Corona del Mar  CA,  as he upacks the scriptures in the book of Galatians with respect to the vital question, Why did Christ die for me ?”     

click here for Bible study  -> for freedom Jesus has set us free 

 

… and some more ->part 2 of bible study

Your opinions (except Brent’s) are appreciated!  Thanks!

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21 Responses

  1. Sounds Great, Steve.

    I’ll seek to catch it soon.

    Many thanks for the link.

    Howard
    (AKA Brent) 🙂

  2. Howard,

    Oh no! Not another Brent!! 😀

  3. Brent,

    I didn’t want you to feel as though your comments weren’t welcome here, Brent…because they are …

    they are just not appreciated.

    – John Doe (Site Administrator)

  4. Does Paul release the Galatians from a law they have nothing to do with? They are Gentiles and are not bound by the law of Moses – so Paul is right in that sense – they are free from the law.

    But this begs a greater question – and Paul can chime in if he can hear us in heaven – is the law bad?

  5. Societyvs,

    I think Paul is releasing the Galatians (as well as us) from having to do anything at all to make themselves right with God. That is what the cross was all about.

    I know that Paul would say that the law is good! Just not for making us right with God.

    The law is good in that it shows us our need of a Savior. The law holds out the relentless demand that we fulfill our humanity in every way. In that we cannot do the law (in the pefect way that God demands) we are driven to Christ and are open to the gospel of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.

    The law is also good in that it keeps us within boundries of behavior that our lives and the lives of our neighbors might work better and that we can avoid the consequences of our self ascendency.

    When we get up (or wherever it is) there to Heaven…let’s you and I look up Paul and discuss this over a cold one!

    Thanks Societyvs!

    BTW- I have got to get back to your great blog site. Fantastic discussions going on there!

    – Steve

  6. “When we get up (or wherever it is) there to Heaven…let’s you and I look up Paul and discuss this over a cold one!” (Steve)

    I am down for that – that should be a lot of fun (if there is a heaven).

    I think the law – which came from God apparently (Mt. Sinai moment between Moses and Almighty God) is good. What you just stated is the law was sent by God – but when Jesus came he nullified it – it wasn’t perfect. God made something that was corrupt? I am asking more or less.

    Nonetheless, we are all bound by law. By what teachings in the Christian faith do you adhere to and why? Everything that came out of Paul’s mouth came from Torah (and the prophets are based on Torah) as he explained ethics to a Gentile community(s).

    Even we follow law – country law – which is not different than what happened in israel in Moses’ time. The law is ‘holy’ – what that meant is it was moral/just. Just like how we expect the laws of our countries to be moral and just – and people will follow them to the benefit of all others in society.

    EX: You and I are required to drive the speed limit in school zones…for good reason…to protect the children – right (nudge nudge)?

    Now the spirit of that law is for our safety and the kids – so all people can be protected and live their full lives. Yet – do we consider this a burden or condemning? Not really…we do it because we see the spirit behind the law and we care about ourselves and others. That’s all the law is…love your neighbor (even Paul uses this summation twice in his letters).

    I do not see the law as all that bad a thing…in fact…we all live by one.

  7. Societyvs,

    Jesus said there are many mansions in His Father’s House, so I am hoping to get a nice one with a view of the Crab Nebula…not too far from the local pub.(I’m buying the first 100,000 rounds)

    If I said that Jesus nullified the law, I mispoke. What I meant to say is that He fullfilled the demand of the law for righteousness sake.

    I agree with you that the law is still in effect. And it does behoove us and our neighbors to keep as best we can.

    I’m not so sure we keep it (the law) because we see the spirit behind it, but a lot of times it is the fear of punishment (at least with me). If I didn’t think I would get a speeding ticket, I would probably drive 85 on the freeway, all the time (instead of 80 😀 ). Even with all the traffic laws, I don’t know of anyone, Christians and Jews included, that keeps all the laws (never over the speed limit, complete stops at stop signs, etc.).

    The law is a good thing! Just not for our righteousness before a perfect God that demands perfect adherance to His righteous law.

    Paul says in 2nd Corinthians that the law which came on tablets of stone is the ministry of death. I don’t think that came directly out of the Torah, but rather from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

    Paul says that no one will be justified in the sight of the law.

    Even in the O.T. (Isaiah 64) the scriptures tell us that all of our righteous deeds are as filty rags.

    So while God gave us the law and it is good, theologically it is meant as a custodian, or tutor for us…until Christ came. (that’s somewhere in scripture…I forgot where)

    law for the sake of a good life = good

    law for justification before a righteous God = bad

  8. “If I didn’t think I would get a speeding ticket, I would probably drive 85 on the freeway, all the time (instead of 80 😀 ).”

    Hah! like you drive anything below 90 when the thing isn’t so jammed with other cars you can’t go 20.
    In any case I think those laws are unrighteous and therefor ought to be broken, especially in Oregon where the speed limit is 55, and 65 on the interstate. Someone should notify them that the world has moved on from the 70’s.

  9. Bror,

    Now that is my kind of rati…er…I mean thinking!

    The Germans have a road where there is no speed limit. Obviously they did that in response to Luther’s ‘the Freedom of the Christian’.

    We need to get with it in this country!

    God is not the kind of a God that wants us to drive slow.

    I’ll bet you anything there aren’t any speed limits in Heaven.

    In fact, I’ll bet that gas is below a dollar a gallon up there, and they still check your oil and wipe your windshield…FOR FREE!

  10. No the Law is not bad it is very very good.

    However, the Law does not make us good in fact it makes us look very very bad.

    I would not know that I covetted if not the Law saying to me that covetousness is not on.

    LPC

  11. LPC,

    Right ! Good points.

    Not only does the law make us look very very bad…we are very very bad.

    The law is very very good. But towards our righteousness it is, as St. Paul says in 2nd Corinthians,…”the ministry of death.”

    Thanks LPC, for stopping by and adding your astute comments.

    – Steve M.

  12. Steve,
    My guess is that gas is free, and there is no such thing as pollution. And those gold paved roads have no speed limit.
    This is one area where I think we could take a cue from Germany, just get rid of these limits, if no where else on the interstates. Then teach people to move to the right when someone is faster than them.
    But hey, Lito hit it on the head. The law is good, and holy, but it is powerless to make us good and Holy. God is good and holy, but with out Christ, he is very dangerous for us sinners. Isaiah, a righteous man by all accounts, about crapped his pants upon entering the presence of God, for fear of a good old fashioned smiting. Good and Holy things do that to us sinners, they smite us. Unless that good and Holy thing is the Blood of Christ.

  13. “Even with all the traffic laws, I don’t know of anyone, Christians and Jews included, that keeps all the laws (never over the speed limit, complete stops at stop signs, etc.).” (Steve)

    Agreed. Then again, most people do not see the law as burdensome also – unless they committ actions against it.

    “The law is a good thing! Just not for our righteousness before a perfect God that demands perfect adherance to His righteous law” (Steve)

    I am not sure where this perfection idea actually comes from – we have to be perfect…I am not sure about any of that. The law is perfect in the sense that it is the ruling standard in spite of human imperfections (and humans are subject to it). I am not sure there is a single law that actually asks for human perfection within the Torah as we know it…if there is – feel free to point that one out.

    “Paul says in 2nd Corinthians that the law which came on tablets of stone is the ministry of death” (Steve)

    Is it okay if I disagree with a letter written by Paul? Because if these are his words – then I have to disagree – I believe he was wrong.

    “Paul says that no one will be justified in the sight of the law.” (Steve)

    Perhaps…but is that what people are seeking? Or are they only seeking to live justly/righteously by it?

    “Even in the O.T. (Isaiah 64) the scriptures tell us that all of our righteous deeds are as filty rags.” (Steve)

    True – but this is a contextual thing also – Isaiah is speaking to a group of people (not all of humanity) in that passage.

    “law for the sake of a good life = good; law for justification before a righteous God = bad” (Steve)

    Explain your logic here…since it is based on the law itself. If the law is not good for justification – then what is? Also explain what justification even means as you are using it – I am not sure what it means?

  14. Societyvs,

    Hello agin, my friend!

    It is quite alright (with me, anyway) for you to agree with everything or nothing that is in the Bible, or New Teastament.

    Some people might be seeking to just live justly and some may feel that there justification depends on it.

    I think that Isaiah was speaking to all humanity.

    ” If the law is not good for justification, then what is?” – SVS

    ‘ Jesus ‘.

    Jesus was the one who said that we must be perfect as our father in Heaven is perfect. God will not allow perfection in His realm. So what to do with a sinful creation (mankind)?
    Make the blood sacrifice from one who has kept the law perfectly. Jesus.

    The law helps us to live as best we can with each other and it shows us what God expects of us.

    So it’s good for our creaturely existence and it’s good to show us opur need of a Saviour. Jesus.

    Anywho, that’s what I think.

    Thanks SVS!

    – Steve

  15. “Jesus was the one who said that we must be perfect as our father in Heaven is perfect. God will not allow perfection in His realm. So what to do with a sinful creation (mankind)?” (Steve)

    Perfection is a greek word – not a Hebrew one. The term perfect does not apprear in the Tanakh one time. The NT is written in Greek – which Jesus likely did not speak…so yeah…I am guessing he did not use the term perfection.

    But I will entertain the perfection idea. Here is the whole passage – Matt 5:43-48:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

    “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    Jesus does ask us to be ‘perfect’ – this is true – problem is he asks us…which means what he is asking is possible. Jesus says “you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”…nowhere in the asking of this does Jesus so much as hint this is impossible a task. For anyone to say it si – is adding in words to the passage.

    But what is perfection anyways? Jesus explained it prior to his summation in vs. 48. Answer “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;”.

    Perfection is all about treating all people with equality, love, respect, and decency – not just the people you know and can love. Jesus is asking people to break out of their comfort zone and start loving people like God does – no matter if they are loveable or not. God shows no partiality to people – which is perfect (well rounded) – and neither should we.

    “Make the blood sacrifice from one who has kept the law perfectly. Jesus” (Steve)

    Here’s the problem with this – ‘blood sacrifice’ is based on teachings from the Law. You mentioned to me the law justifies nothing in God’s sight – how can Jesus then justify anything with his ‘blood sacrifice’ and ‘keeping the law perfectly’ when the law contains no power to do this? You have made Jesus an exception to prove a point you will not defend (the law justifies none).

    Even if Jesus fulfills some blood sacrifice or keeps the law perfectly – those are based on the law. Since the law is good for developing a ‘good life’ but not for ‘justness before God’ – then neither can Jesus use his ‘blood sacrifice’ or ‘perfect law keeping ability’ before God to be just/righteous.

    However, I have claimed all along the law is ‘good’ and that God created it. For me, I have no logical problem – to me Jesus reittirates the law and lives by it (and he is concerned with the intents of the law). But nowhere do we find Jesus saying ‘the law is not just’…otherwise he goes against what God has ordained (the law to Moses on Sinai).

    I make this statement ‘Christians that brush aside the intents of the law – also brush aside God’s words’. And that’s fine – by me anyways – but I think it’s time for Christendom to quit lying to itself – playing two hands in the same game. They hate law – then they use it for their purpose. They only need Jesus – but then use Torah as proof texts. They are either all ‘one/united’ or Christian are being very illogical.

    I know it seems a bit harsh Steve – but I am only making a point – please do not be offended at me.

  16. Societyvs,

    You make some very interesting observations. I’m not offended in the least, Svs, on the contrary, I am grateful for the chance to air my opinions and bounce them off others who might disagree. So let me have it!

    To the matter at hand…

    I think Jesus meant ‘perfect’ in the way that we would noramlly think of ‘perfect’…without flaw or blemish, undefiled.
    I think that because of the way he was laying down the law in it’s hardest interpretation…,”If you even look at a woman in that lustful way, you hace commited adulery.” If you hate your brother, you are a murderer”, so on and so forth.

    That He was perfect and paid the price for our sin is why the law holds no power over believers (for righteousness sake).

    If we could keep the law perfectly (outwardly) no visable slip ups, we wouldn’t attain the righteousness of God because our hearts are tainted by original sin. “In sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51)

    Sin Jesus was not only fully man, but fully God conceived by the Holy Spirit, He had a pure heart (therefore his sacrifice is pure and worthy).

    I don’t hate the law! The law is good! It shows me my need of a Savior and it keeps me penned in (most of the time) so I don’t hurt myself or others.

    Christians need the law. The law will have it’s way with them. It will kill them (over and over again) and then the gospel (the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake) can raise them to new life (over and over again).

    You are certainly right about one thing Svs…Christianity is not logical. It is exactly opposite of the way that mankind would do it!

    Thanks, Svs!

    – Steve

  17. “I think Jesus meant ‘perfect’ in the way that we would noramlly think of ‘perfect’…without flaw or blemish, undefiled. I think that because of the way he was laying down the law in it’s hardest interpretation “ (Steve)

    How so?

    (a) Jesus was Jewish not Greek – so perfection – which there is no word for in Hebrew likely did not come out of his mouth.

    (b) Even if perfection was used – it means wholeness and not squeaky clean according to the context in Matthew 5.

    (c) There is not a single law concerning perfection in the Torah – so Jesus is using an idea he has basis for? Unless there is a law of perfection?

    (d) Jesus teaches us things we cannot do? Gives us teachings that are unattainable? That’s not a good teacher – that’s a horrible one. I would also state – if this is so – Jesus broke his own teachings on ‘anger’ – when he cleaned house on the temple – so he actually did not keep the law ‘perfectly’. He is setting a standard he also could not keep…I personally have to doubt that.

    Every teaching Jesus gave in Matthew 5 is very possible for us to follow and live our lives by. I do not see a perfection idea in the teachings at all – but the reality they can be followed. Heck, Jesus even gives specific examples in Matthew 5 to prove his point – examples that could be done by any ordinary joe.

    “The law will have its way with them. It will kill them” (Steve)

    I don’t understand this argument of Paul’s either – the letter kills. He says the law kills – yet he bases his whole argument on it’s authority – as God’s communication with humanity…that’s odd. Paul always argues for ‘no law’ – yet all his ideas and theology are pulled directly from Torah and Prophets…the same books he says ‘cannot justify anyone’. Is it just me – or is the way this guy is used is hypocritical?

    How the law kills is beyond me also. The law is only a danger to those breaking the law – were the Christians breaking the law that they needed to fear? Probably not – these Gentile communities did not even follow the law. I am not sure why the law kills or how this argument actually works – unless one is against the law and needs to worry.

    As for the resurrection – Jesus even states this is a common belief in Judaism already – which exists prior to Paul’s letters. This was already a belief in Judaism – and still is to this day…Jesus resurrecting is only proof the idea holds weight…not that the law kills and we resurrect when we come to faith. I think Paul is using these terms in a very allegorical/symbolic way in my opinion. Are they literal? Have you resurrected? No.

    But if the law kills – explain why?

  18. Societyvs,

    Forgive me for the late response. We are in the process of moving from a 5 bedroom house into a small 1 bedrom apartment and I have been super busy trying to make this happen.

    I don’t think Paul got all his theology fron the Torah and the Prophets. I think He got a lot of it directly from the creator Himself. Whem Jesus knocked Paul on his keester when he was on his way to arrest and possibly kil la few Christians, Jesus spoke to Paul. I think Jesus continued to speak to Paul, letting him know just what He wanted Paul to say.

    Paul doesn’t (and Christians don’t) hate the law. The is good. We just don’t rely on the law for our righteousness. That comes directly from God (Jesus).

    I have been resurrected…in my baptism…in the Lord’s supper.

    The Christian life is one of paradox. While I am still alive and continue to sin, I have already been put to death (the old sinful self) in my baptism (Romans 6) and raised to new life (also Romans 6) in Christ. This is not apparent and visable (like God Himself) but is nevertheless true. St. Paul says that, “we are to consider ourselves dead to sin.” So I do. “It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.” (also St. Paul)

    Taking these out of order (and forgive me for not getting to all your points right now),

    Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, was lining up for us all the ways in which we are to behave that are virtually impossible for us to live up to as sinful creatures. I won’t go through them again, but examole after example, Jesus lays out a standard (of perfection) that we cannot keep. “Our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees.” That aint gonna happen. Those guys whole lives revolved around the keeping of the law. It was their full time job, and they didn’t do it perfectly. We must go beyond their efforts. It can’t happen. We just won’t do it. We can’t do it, even if we wanted to. Because we are sinners.

    The whole thing is that the law is good, but Jesus is better. The law helps us, but can never save us. Jesus alone can save us.

    Thanks.

    – Steve

  19. “We are in the process of moving from a 5 bedroom house into a small 1 bedrom apartment and I have been super busy trying to make this happen.” (Steve)

    Downgrading – why?

    “I don’t think Paul got all his theology fron the Torah and the Prophets. I think He got a lot of it directly from the creator Himself” (Steve)

    Logically, there is no way Paul does not get all his theology from Torah and Prophets.

    Philippians 3:5-6 “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”

    Everything Paul seems to know about God comes from his background in Torah and Prophets – his Jewish studies. In Paul’s teachings he references (as authority) the teachings within the Torah/Prophets – as proof his message has validity – concerning Jesus.
    I am not saying God was not involved with Paul’s change and choices afterwards – I think God was involved. However, the way the church interprets Paul makes for some very questionable things Paul is saying – which I am thinking he himself struggled with – and law was right up there.

    Paul’s view of the law seems to be in the ritual keeping of it – to the tee – and this is the measure of a person’s faith (as a Pharisee). Well that view has all but vanished from Jewish circles (and was only one of many views even in its day) – and I am not sure how strongly held this belief is anymore (in Conservative Jewish circles anyways). But all of Paul’s works/letters come from this stringent view of the law – and that’s all we know about the law…but the law is a lot different in Jewish circles than in Christian circles – why? Cause Paul only gave us one limited view of it.

    “We just don’t rely on the law for our righteousness. That comes directly from God (Jesus).” (Steve)

    Oddly enough – so does the law/Torah. I will ask ‘who do you think the Law comes from?’ Man? If the law comes from God – then how can one say we can be righteous aside from it? What standard or measure are we comparing to that we can say ‘yes, this is the right/just thing to do’? Jesus? Jesus is rabbinical in nature and even teaches on Torah law.

    “I have been resurrected…in my baptism…in the Lord’s supper” (Steve)

    Literally or metaphorically?

    “The Christian life is one of paradox. While I am still alive and continue to sin, I have already been put to death (the old sinful self) in my baptism (Romans 6) and raised to new life” (Steve)

    Is this literal or metaphorical? If it is literal – on which day did you die and resurrect to life again? If there is no known date – then this cannot be taken literally.

    “Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, was lining up for us all the ways in which we are to behave that are virtually impossible for us to live up to as sinful creatures” (Steve)

    This line of reasoning is illogical. Let’s say me and you are taking a class in math. All the teacher does is lay down teachings that show the errors in math or math so advanced we cannot even fathom where to start. Then he says ‘well I know it so you can all pass the test based on my knowledge’. Is this a good teacher?

    Matt 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master”

    Jesus lays this teaching down to his disciples – who I may add actually do the same things as Jesus when asked. If we are to follow the example Jesus laid down teachings we cannot follow (only he could) then this teaching above is a ‘lie’. The disciple is a student to the teacher – this is accurate Jewish terminology – and Jesus is asking his students to be like him and this is good enough (if they exceed what he taught even better).

    Matt 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    (a) What about Paul – does his life exceed that of his former Pharisee lifestyle concerning righteousness? I would contend it does.

    (b) Jesus is seen battling with Pharisees a lot in the gospels – namely in Matthew. He has some harsh words for those guys at times – but what one term does he always fall back on when addressing them? In Matthew alone Jesus calls the Pharisee’s ‘hypocrites’ or what they do ‘hypocritical’ 14 times (that’s once every 2 chapters on average). This is his favorite term for them.

    (c) It is no accident Jesus picks Paul to knock of a horse into the dirt – and show him his blindness. Paul is well known to be a zealous Pharisee – an extremist if you will. Paul is the classic example of Jesus picking out a Pharisee that used an extreme interpretation to justify all his actions (including murder).

    In essence, Jesus does not do away with the law – which is the point of Matthew 5:17-20 – but chooses to uphold/fulfill it (its true form). The Pharisees are set-up as the antagonist in the gospels – as the people that were against Jesus all the time. What were they really against except the way Jesus taught? Jesus was not being hypocritical in his teachings – nor making it too hard for others to follow his teachings (which was the essential knock on the Pharisee’s – so they could prove how much better they were than others by following their own interpretations).

    If you think about the irony in all this – Christians are now falling into the same trap. They are holding up Jesus as this perfect example that no one can mimic – and he followed all his own teachings – but us poor slobs could never do that – we just don’t have that ability. We have created a teacher that is better than us – and better than everyone else – we are now the antagonists – the Pharisee’s of the gospels.

    “The whole thing is that the law is good, but Jesus is better. The law helps us, but can never save us. Jesus alone can save us.” (Steve)
    J
    esus is better than God given Law/words to humanity? Even if Jesus were the ‘word of God’ as some take from John 1:1 – he would have to uphold what the words of God were to Moses at Sinai – or he’d be lying (he would be going against his own words apparently – which is also hypocritical).

    The law is not meant to save – it is meant to provide one with the choices to make a good/just lifestyle (to find life) – and to protect/guide society. In one sense it does save – it can save one from making some seriously bad choices in life (ie: like murder or stealing or adultery). It serves as a guide to one’s life – which is how most people use the bible.

    The action of saving – is a God thing – like in the Exodus. But salvation and law are not really that closely connected when you think about it. God does not determine His salvation based on the teachings of the law – since there is no law about God’s salvation and when and where it can happen. But what is clear – if there is salvation – it will lead one to respect God and the law/Torah (the words of God). This seems like the inevitable path concerning ‘leaving’ and ‘coming’ to God in the prophets.

  20. […] 19, 2008 at 9:46 am (Uncategorized) Comment lifted from ‘Christians Who Want to Keep God’s Law Righteousness Sake” (Old […]

  21. Societyvs,

    The house was too big for us (not needed) and now we can have a wonderful view of the ocean (so in a way, we are upgrading)

    Lots of great questions, SocVs!

    I’m pretty tied up with the move at the moment. But I will get back to you as soon as I can.

    In the meantime, while I packing boxes and moving furniture, etc. I can ponder your comments and questions.

    Thanks very much!

    – Steve

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