I recently received a sermon by a Lutheran pastor from someone that was trying to turn ’round my way of thinking about the law and it’s realtionship to me.
It was a very good sermon. It highlighted the problem (my sin) and handed over Christ to me, the complete forgiveness of my sins and total justification before God.
So far, so good.
Then the preacher made crystal clear that now that Christ has done this for you that you just can’t live anyway you want. You ought present yourself as a living sacrifice, sins and all. That’s great. That is a description of the life of the believer.
This happens as a result of the Spirit of God working in the life of that believer.
This will not happen as a result of anyone telling you that you must do it, or how you can do it, or even that you should do it. The Holy Spirit will sanctify the chosen and called one. “He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies me as He does the whole Christian Church on earth.” Was there anything there about what you have to do?
‘Well…but you just can’t live anyway you want!’ says the well meaning (we hope) law wielder. And to that I say, “Well, you seem to be doing a very fine job at living anyway that you want to. In fact from the looks of it, following you around for a couple of days, it appears that you might not even be a believer at all. How ’bout them apples?!”
For the preacher to let you know that you are free to live out your Christian lives in service for the neighbor is fine (as if the Holy Spirit needs to be reminded of it), but for the preacher to tell you that your effort is required to make sure that all this happens is semi-Pelagian baloney.
I do know this, you can mess up a great Christ filled sermon and take Christ away from the sinner, and have the sinner start to fall back on his own performance if you go to this (wrongheaded) synergistic aspect of the life of the Christian.
The law always accuses. Anything that we should, ought or must be doing is the law.The law says’do’. The law is the method by which God accuses, then kills us. The gospel on the other hand is God’s Word of forgiveness. It says ‘done’. The gospel is the force of God that brings us life and creates in us a clean heart, totally apart from what we do.
The Roman Catholic way of thinking is that if you do good things you will eventually become ‘good’. That’s wrong, and one of the reasons that I am not a Roman Catholic.
The Southern Baptists believe that there is a little spark of ‘good’ inside of you and that you can choose to do good and obey God. That’s wrong, and that’s one of the reasons that I am not a Southern Baptist.
Those that feel there is somehow a little spark within us that we might cooperate with God (even a little bit) towards our sanctification are just plain wrong and all they would have to do is look in the mirror to see it.
But it has always been that men love to tell other men what they need to do in order to be acceptable, all the while living anyway they darn well please (themselves).
The law is written upon our hearts…is it not?
There is no excuse for not living the way God wants us to. There is no excuse for ignoring the plight of our neighbors (except to pay lip service to them). There is no excuse for being a hypocritical Pharisee…other than we just want to. We enjoy being bound to sin. At heart, we are basically unbelievers who do not want God.
But Jesus Christ enjoys forgiving us and creating repentance in us.
What in the world could we possibly add to that? (before you answer, let me don my protective ‘yeah-but’ suit)
Filed under: Doing, Sanctification, The 'Third use of the Law' | 21 Comments »