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Righteousness by Law versus by Faith

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by bcbsr, May 6, 2019.

  1. bcbsr

    bcbsr Newbie

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    Righteousness by Law versus by Faith

    The Bible contrasts the Righteousness which is by one's compliance to the Law versus the Righteousness which is by faith apart from the law. Note for example Romans 10:4-6 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness of the law, "The one who does them will live by them." (Lev 18:5) But the righteousness which is of faith says this ... if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved ...", no mention of any works.

    The righteousness of the law is earning eternal life by doing things. "The one who does them will live by them." For if we go back to the context of Lev 18:5 which Paul references we find such things as not committing sexual immorality, be holy, respect your parents, observe the Sabbath, do not make idols, do not steal, do not lie, do not swear falsely, do not pervert justice, do not slander, do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. To name a few. That is the righteousness by the law.

    The righteousness by the law is likewise spoken of in Roman 2:7 "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." But then in Romans 3:20-24 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

    Be aware that there are many Christians on these forums who point to verses which speak of the righteousness by the law as if they were speaking of the righteousness which is by faith and likewise attempt to misconstrue verses which speak of righteousness which is by faith as if speaking of performance based righteousness. "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."" Gal 3:10-12 Such is the case for those who rely upon doing things in order to be saved.
     
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  2. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I heard something interesting about observing the Sabbath. The Sabbath involved resting to reflect that God rested on the seventh day. But God's rest was not a cessation of activity. It was Him resting in the completeness of His creation, and His ongoing activity was to actively oversea the function of the universe, and to put His plan of salvation into practice. The Sabbath rest was a foreshadow of the rest we have in Christ. Christ has become our Sabbath rest, we, as new creations, are resting in Him and His finished work on Calvary.

    Those who insist on keeping the Saturday Sabbath, are actually denying Christ and the rest that He has provided for His new creation. He, as our Sabbath, has replaced the Jewish Sabbath and so we no longer are required to observe any type of Sabbath whether on Saturday or Sunday. But we set aside a day on Sunday, the first day of the week, as a day to worship God as a group of believers. But our Sabbath is resting in Christ, being free from the Law, and serving Him in the Spirit as He directs.
     
  3. icxn

    icxn Bραδύγλωσσος αἰπόλος μαθητεύων κνίζειν συκάμινα

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    The servant who obeys his master only does what is expected of him (Luke 17:10) and his performance does not earn him his freedom (salvation). But if the master is to show his usual mercy and set a servant free, whom do you think is going to choose? The obedient or the disobedient one?
     
  4. mark kennedy

    mark kennedy Natura non facit saltum Supporter

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    For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:3–4)​

    Legalism has little to do with fulfilling the Law since it's weakened by the flesh. There is no contradiction between the Law and the righteousness that is by faith. That is exactly how the righteousness required by the Law is fulfilled. Legalism is just whitewash and pretentious masks.
     
  5. 1213

    1213 Disciple of Jesus

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    So, when Bible says:

    He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever is born of God doesn't commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can't sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn't do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn't love his brother.
    1 John 3:7-10

    Is that wrong?

    I think many make mistake in that they think obeying the law makes one righteous. It is not so. But if person is righteous, he wants to obey God’s commandments and do God’s will. I think that is what the parable for good and bad tree means.


    Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.

    Matt. 7:17-20

    If person is righteous, he produces righteous fruit and the righteousness comes visible in actions. But the actions don’t make person righteous. Actions are only a result of person mind. I believe the reason why eternal life is promised for righteous is that they have the wisdom of the just, right understanding that makes them do right things.

    These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
    Mat. 25:46

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Romans 6:23
     
  6. bcbsr

    bcbsr Newbie

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    Don't confuse cause with effect. Salvation by works Christians typically add the phrase "in order to be saved" to any command they see in the Bible. Such people can't imagine doing what is right for any other reason than to save themselves from hell fire.

    I have an extensive study of 1John, not to mention extensive study guides on the entire New Testament, which shows that those who have been born of God do what is right simply because it's natural for them to do so, and not in order to be saved. Salvation is a free gift. Those who have been saved, and are eternally secure, will characteristically do what is right.
     
  7. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    In Romans 9:30-10:4, the Israelites had a zeal for God, but it was not based on knowledge because they didn't understand that the righteousness of God comes only through faith in Christ. So they failed to obtain righteousness because they pursued the Law as though righteousness were by works in an effort to establish their own instead of by pursuing the Law as though righteousness were by faith, for Christ is the goal of the Law for righteousness for everyone who has faith, In Romans 10:5-10, this faith quotes Deuteronomy 30:11-16 in regard to saying that God's Law is not too difficult for us to obey, that the one who obeys it will obtain life by it, and in regard to what it means to submit to Jesus as Lord.

    It would not make sense to interpret Romans 10:5-8 as Paul contrasting what Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 with what Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, so the first word of Romans 10:6 can and should be translated as "moreover" rather than as "but". In Leviticus 18:5 and Galatians 3:12, the one who obeys God's Law will obtain life by it, which would not be the case if God's Law were not of faith. In Matthew 19:17, Jesus said that if we want to enter into life, then obey the commandments, which again would not be the case if they were not of faith.

    Likewise, in Matthew 23:23, Jesus said that faith is one of the weightier matters of the Law, and obedience to any set of instructions is about putting faith in the one who gave them to guide us, so the Mosaic Law is of faith in God. There is not much sense in someone confessing Jesus as Lord while refusing to obediently submit to him as Lord. In Romans 3:27, Paul contrasted a law that was of works with a law that was of faith, so works of the law are of works, while he said in Romans 3:31 that our faith upholds God's Law, so again it is of faith. In Galatians 3:10-12, Paul was speaking about works of the law, which are not of faith, and was contrasting them with the Book of the Law, which is of faith.

    In Romans 3:21-22, the Law and the Prophets testify that the righteousness of God comes through faith in Christ for all who believe, so this has always been the one and only way to become righteous. When we have a character trait, then we will express it through our actions, so when God imputes His righteousness to us and declares us to be righteous, He is also declaring us to therefore be someone who expresses His righteousness through our actions in obedience to His instructions for how to do that found in His Law. In other words, the reason why we have received God's righteousness was not in order to hide it under a bushel, but in order to let it shine through our obedience (Matthew 5:13-16).

    So the reason that we are to do what is righteous in obedience to God's Law was never in order to become righteous, but because we have been made righteous. Another way to put is that there is a difference between the behavior of someone who is righteous and someone who is not righteous, and the Mosaic Law describes what that difference looks like. Jesus expressed his righteousness through His actions and what that looked like was complete obedience to the Mosaic Law, so that is what it will look like when we are in Christ and are walking in the same way he walked (1 John 2:6).
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  8. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Jesus kept the Law perfectly and so became our perfect substitute for sin. This means that we are not required to keep the Law to be righteous before God. We try to keep God's moral law (as shown in the fruit of the Spirit) on a voluntary basis and when we fail, we are not punished, because Jesus took the penalty for our failure to keep the Law in our place.

    This is not that we continue in the works of the flesh because we are free from the requirement to keep the Law. We have been given a new heart, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and made partakers of the divine nature, so keeping God's moral law is natural as a fish swimming in water. But trying to keep the Law to please God or to remain righteous before Him is like the fish trying to survive out of the water. It will be death for the fish and for us if we reject the righteousness that Christ has bestowed on us, and try to become self-righteous by trying to keep the Law.
     
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  9. Shempster

    Shempster ImJustMe Supporter

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    I don't see it as by either the Law or faith...or even grace.
    It comes by obeying the teachings of Jesus.
     
  10. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    In Matthew 11:28-30 and Jeremiah 6:16-19, God's Law is described as the good way where we will find rest for our souls. This rest comes from having faith in God to guide us in how to rightly live, not from ceasing to follow God's guidance. Jesus lived in obedience to the Mosaic Law and he was inviting people to follow Him, not inviting people to refuse to follow Him. In Hebrews 4:9-11, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, so we should still be keeping it. Furthermore, verse 11 says that we should strive to enter into that rest so that no one may fall away by the same sort of disobedience, so using entering into God's rest in order to try to justify the same sort of disobedience is exactly the opposite of what was being said.

    In Titus 2:14, it describes the work that Jesus finished on Calvary by saying that he gave himself both to redeem us from all Lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own possession who are zealous for doing good works, so if believe in his finished work, then you will become zealous for doing good works in obedience to God's Law (Acts 21:20) and will not return to the Lawlessness that he gave himself to redeem us from. To suggest that the way to follow Christ is to refuse to follow the example that he set for us to follow is completely absurd.

    Nothing in the Bible says that Jesus has replaced God's Sabbath. If we correctly understand a spiritual principle, then we will take physical actions that are examples of that that principle. For example if someone thought that they understood the spiritual principle of love, so they no longer needed to obey God's command to help the poor, then they would not be correctly understanding that principle, and it is just as absurd when people try to use entering into God's rest as a reason to no longer obey His command to keep the Sabbath holy. The Mosaic Law was given by God, the Spirit is God, and the Spirit has the role of leading us to obey the Law (Ezekiel 36:26-27), so if we serve God in the Spirit as He directs, then we will live in obedience to the Mosaic Law.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  11. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    The reason that we are not required to keep the Law in order to be righteous before God is because the Law was never given for that purpose in the first place, but that does not mean that we are not required to keep it for the purposes for which it was given. Obedience to God is never treated as being on a voluntarily basis, but rather God is sovereign, so we are all under God's Law and obligated to obey it and to refrain from sin. Even those who aren't in a covenant relationship with God are still under His Law, such as with Sodom and Gomorrah being judged for their Lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:6-8). They didn't get a voluntary choice of whether they wanted to be under God's Law, and neither do we. The choice that we do get to is whether we are going to heed the Gospel message, repent, and obey.

    While there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, those who are in Christ are obligated to walk in the same way he walked (1 John 2:6), so Christ paying the penalty for our sins does not remove our obligation. Jesus expressed the divine nature through his actions and what that looked like was complete obedience to the Mosaic Law, so that is what it should look like when we are in Christ.

    The Bible does not distinguish between moral and non-moral laws as though there were some laws that are moral to disobey. Morality is in regard to what we ought to do and we ought to obey God, so all of God's laws are inherently moral laws and it is always immoral and sinful to disobey any of them.

    In Galatians 5:19-22, everything listed as works of the flesh that are against the Spirit are also against the Mosaic Law while all of the fruits of the Spirit are in accordance with it, and this makes sense because the Mosaic Law was given by God and the Spirit is God.

    If God's Law were His instructions for how to become self-righteous and God does not want us to become self-righteous, then it would follow that God therefore does not want His commands to be obeyed, which is absurd considering that all throughout the Bible God wanted His people to repent and obey His Law, therefore God's Law was not given as instructions for how to become self-righteous. Rather, then we have a character trait, then we will express it through our actions, so when God imputes His righteousness to us and declares us to be righteous, He is also declaring us to therefore be someone who expresses His righteousness through our actions in obedience to His instructions for how to do that found in His Law. In other words, the reason why we have received God's righteousness was not in order to hide it under a bushel, but in order to let it shine through our obedience (Matthew 5:13-16).
     
  12. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The Old Testament Sabbath is history. There is no New Testament command to keep the Sabbath Day. This is because there are no set "holy days". Paul said that it is those who are trying to live by the Law and bringing a curse upon themselves, are observing "days" and "seasons". Because our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. This means that we keep every day, every hour, and every minute holy to the Lord. We don't put on our "saintly" glad rags on Saturday, or Sunday to be all holy, and then live like normal people during the week. We live holy to the Lord every day, because the Spirit of holiness is in us every day.

    Those who observe special "holy" days, Sabbath day, and feast days are still carnal and being able to cope only with the baby milk of the Word, and still have much to learn about the Christian faith. They are still novices, still well short of maturity in the faith.
     
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  13. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    All of God's laws are eternal (Psalms 119:160), which means that they will never become a thing of the past. Instructions for how to act in accordance with God's holiness can't be ended without first doing away with God's holiness. In 1 Peter 1:16, we are told to have a holy conduct for God is holy, which is a quote from Leviticus where God was giving instructions for how to have a holy conduct, which straightforwardly includes keeping God's Sabbaths holy (Leviticus 19:2-3), so following those instructions is about testifying to the world about who God is.

    Can you really not recognize how absurd it sounds to interpret Paul a warning us against obeying God, as though that were somehow a negative thing? All throughout the Bible, God wanted His people to repent form their sins and turn back to obedience to His Law, and even Christ began his ministry with that message, yet you really think that God will curse us if we do that? Does God not want to be obeyed? In Deuteronomy 30:11-20, God that His Law is not too difficult for us to obey and that obedience brings life and a blessing while disobedience brings death and a curse, not the other way around.

    In Galatians 4:8-10, Paul addressed those verses to those who formerly did not know God, also known as former pagans. As such, they were not formerly keeping God's holy days and Paul therefore could not have been criticizing them for returning to them. So whatever he was referring to in verse 10 was within the context of paganism, not God's holy days. Paul was a servant of God, not His enemy, so he never spoke against obeying God, but even if you think that he did and that God therefore spoke against obeying Paul (Deuteronomy 13:4-5), then it shouldn't be difficult for you to figure out which one has the higher authority and which one you should follow.

    Refusing to obey God's commands the opposite of what it means to worship God in Spirit and in truth. We can't worship God by disobeying Him. You do not know better than God how He wants to be worshiped. There is nothing about obeying God's command to keep the Sabbath holy that means that we should have a holy conduct on other days of the week and vice versa, and this was true even when the Law was first given to Moses. If we did on every day what God wants us to do on the Sabbath, then we would do no work, but God also wants us to work.

    The Bible never refers to obedience to God as being carnal in nature, but rather carnal works are always those done in disobedience to the Mosaic Law. For example, in Romans 8:4-7, those who walk in the Spirit are contrasted with those who have carnal minds, who are enemies of God, who refuse to submit to His Law. In Galatians 5:19-22, everything listed as carnal works that are against the Spirit are also against the Mosaic Law while all of the fruits of the Spirit are in accordance with it, which makes sense because the Mosaic Law was given by God and the Spirit is God.

    It is the ones living in rebellion against God's Law who are the babes who need to be taught to how to repent and obey. The idea is utterly absurd that it is the mature followers of Christ who are the ones who refuse to follow Christ's example and rebel against what God has commanded. Maturity leads us toward God, not away from Him.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  14. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Jesus kept the Law for us and died on the cross as our Substitute. If you are trying to live by the Law to please God by your self efforts, no matter how religious you are, you are rejecting Christ. Those whom God has chosen to be His Elect love to walk with Him and seek to do good, not to please Him but because they are transformed by the Holy Spirit.

    It is like the law abiding citizen. He gets on with life not even conscious of the law of the land. He just knows to do what is right because that is his nature. But the criminal studies the law, is always conscious of it, and seeks how he can get away with breaking it without getting caught.

    The true elected believer is no longer conscious of the Law, because it has become his new nature to get on with loving and serving Christ,and so he follows the Law without even thinking about it. He is living by grace, and the work of the Holy Spirit within him.

    Those who are conscious of the Law and try to follow it show that although they are very religious, have the "badge" of Christ, attend church, do good works, live moral lives, and talk the Christian talk, they actually show that they are not part of the Elect, and are still dead in their sins, but trying to do the "Christian" thing in their own self-righteous strength.

    These spiritually dead self-righteous folk are the ones who tell people, "You must follow the Lord to be right with God. You must be obedient to what the Law tells you to do." They show that they are dead in their sins through their legalistic talk.

    God has elected not to show them the truth of what the gospel really is, so that they can receive Christ and be saved.
     
  15. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    The Bible does not say that Jesus kept the Law for us so that we don't have to. In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus summarized the Law as being about how to love God and our neighbor, so that would be like saying that Jesus loved the Father and his neighbor for us so that we don't have to, but rather he did that so that we would have an example to follow, and as his followers we are told to follow his example (1 Peter 2:21-22), to walk in the same way he walked (1 John 2:6), and to be imitators of him (1 Corinthians 11:1). The way to refuse to follow Christ is to refuse to follow what he taught us to do by word and by example, not the other way around.

    In Matthew 23:23, Jesus said that faith is one of the weightier matters of the Law, so obedience to it has always been about expressing our faith in him to guide us and has never been about what we can accomplish through our own efforts. Every example of someone living by faith in the Bible is also an example of someone living in obedience to God's will, such as with the examples listed in Hebrews 11, whereas disobedience to God's Law is referred to as breaking faith, such as in Numbers 5:6. In James 2:17-18, he said that faith without works is dead and that he would show his faith by his works, so obedience to God's Law is what faith looks like.

    The Holy Spirit is not in disagreement with the Father about which laws we should follow and will not lead us to disobey Him, but rather the Spirit has the role of leading us to obey His Law (Ezekiel 36:26-27). See also Romans Romans 8:4-7 and Galatians 5:19-22. So the Spirit transforms us and obedience to God's Law is what that transformation looks like.

    Every Kingdom has laws that govern the conduct of its citizens and God's Law straightforwardly is the Law of His Kingdom. In Psalms 1:1-2, blessed or those who delight in God's Law and who meditate on it day and night. In Deuteronomy 6:7, God wanted His people to talk about His Law when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise. In Psalm 119:29, David wanted God to be gracious to him by teaching him to obey His Law, not the other way around. There are many commands in the NT because its authors thought we should be conscious of them, however, regardless of how conscious we should be of the Law, obedience to it is what the conduct of citizens of God's Kingdom should look like.

    Can you quote any verses that teach this?

    If God's Law were his instructions for how to become self-righteous and God doesn't want us to become self-righteous, then it would follow that God therefore doesn't want to be obeyed, which is a absurd considering that all throughout the Bible, God wanted His people to repent from their sins and turn back to obedience to His Law. Even Jesus began his ministry with the Gospel message to repent from our sins for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 4:17-23) and the Mosaic Law was how his audience knew what sin is, so teaching people to repent from our disobedience to it is an integral part of the Gospel of Christ.

    If God were legalistic for commanding the Mosaic Law and Jesus were legalistic for living in complete obedience to it and for teaching his followers to obey it by word and by example, then being a legalist would be being in good company, but that isn't what legalism refers to. No one calls someone a legalist for thinking that the laws of their country should be obeyed, but rather it refers to the manner in which someone obeys the letter of the law exactly how it is written without regard to the spirit of the law of the intent behind it. Legalism undermines both the intent of what God has commanded us to do and why He has commanded us to do it, so it leads to death just as assuredly as refusing to submit to it.
     
  16. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    What you are setting out is basic Arminian doctrine, which is a mixture of faith and works. Arminianism makes God subject to man's choices. It puts man in charge of obtaining salvation and continuing sanctification. It robs God of His sovereignty and His right to save those He choose to save, and to leave those He chooses to leave to die in their sins. It perverts the gospel by teaching that man is in charge and can be saved and sanctified through his own ability.
     
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  17. bcbsr

    bcbsr Newbie

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    Actually Galatians 3:12 says: The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."

    Doesn't says "the works of the law". It says "the law". Secondly note that Gal 3:12 supports the Romans 10 passage as Paul quotes the same verse from Leviticus. and All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Gal 3:10 So good luck with that!
     
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  18. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    That's why the only way to escape the curse is to receive Christ as Saviour.
     
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  19. 1213

    1213 Disciple of Jesus

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    And I think it is misunderstanding to think that it ever was so that person would become righteous by obeying the Law. I think it always was so that if person is righteous, he freely obeys the Law, because he understands it is good. I have understood righteousness is wisdom of the just, right understanding that leads to right actions.
     
  20. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    Galatians 3:10-12 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

    The law spoken about in verse 12 is referring to the works of the law in verse 10. Furthermore, verse 12 is contrasting the law that is not of faith with the Law that Leviticus 18:5 is referring to, which is of faith. Again, Leviticus 18:5, Galatians 3:12, and Romans 10:5 are all speaking about a law that is of faith because God's Law has no power to bring life apart from faith, and the same goes for Matthew 19:17. In verses 11-12, Paul associated Habakkuk 2:4 with Leviticus 18:5, so the righteous who are living by faith are the same as the ones who are living in obedience to God's Law, which are in contrast with no one being justified before God by works of the law because they are not of faith in God. Paul's problem with the Galatians was not that they were being taught to obey God as though that were somehow a bad thing, but that they were taught that they needed to obey works of the law in order to become justified. If God is trustworthy, then so is His Law (Psalm 19:7), but by depending upon their works of the law for their justification, they were trusting in their own efforts rather than in God and thus were under a curse for not abiding by everything in God's Law.
     
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