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Note: It's my opinion that the intention of the title of this article does not mean the Christian's walk will be without works, but rather that the obtaining of salvation is without works, and that any works intended otherwise are work-less (vain labor).
Scripture often plainly testifies that God’s law to the Jewish nation was not to justify, for “by the deeds of the Law nobody shall be justified” (Rom 3:20). Man’s guilt being revealed to him incurred accountability for condemnation (Jhn 9:41; 15:22, 24). This is all of which gives rightful place concerning “the righteous requirement of the law” (Rom 8:4)—to condemn for disobedience (Eze 18:4, 20), “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20).
Thus, even if the Decalogue could have been perfectly followed by its recipients it would yet have been useless labor in effecting forgiveness (though establishing earthly morality), because this was obtained only via the sin sacrifice of the high priest for his and the people’s sins that were committed unintentionally (Num 15:24-31). Willful disobedience has always evinced unbelief!
Concerning retaining redemption, it’s sensible to note that if works could retain it, they could also serve to effect it; for that (Who) alone which effects salvation is that alone which retains it.
It is a fearful thing to turn back to the merciless and unfulfillable demands of the law from the grace that is ours by faith in Christ. How is it possible? First we must see how irrational it is, that we may never allow our reason to be played tricks upon buy the madness of Satan. To strive hopelessly in the face of abundant achievement, freely procured for us, is surely to stand forth in all the disreputable glory of petty and perverse pride.
The sheer presumption is laughable if we could stand out from ourselves and see it. That we do not see this when we are fixedly intent upon our narrow legalism indicates that we have lowered our sights to view only a part of God’s impossible demands by the law, and have exalted that above Christ; failing to realize that law-keeping cannot stand before Christ, inasmuch as He will not allow His perfect keeping of the law in life and in death to be set alongside our ridiculous efforts.
This is to vie with Him where we have no hope of qualification (effecting and retaining salvation—NC); and so great is the gulf fixed between His achievement and ours that in all honor it would be as though He must withdraw as soon as a competitor appears on the scene. To see the gracious Savior bending over us with the lavish dainties of His grace, and then some ragamuffin come and wave away the luscious food with a contemptuous, “No thank you, I have my crust and my watery soup!” The tragedy is not that he tried himself—in certain circumstances that would be good—but that he deprived himself of grace so rich that only an empty stomach could hope to have sufficient capacity for it.
The two are mutually exclusive, because for God to admit man’s aid in His own salvation (other than showing it—NC) is to admit that which he most needs to be saved from, his pride. Allow that, even a grain of it, to enter His heaven and the whole would be defiled (Gal 5:9). The great thing therefore in discerning Christianity is to be able to distinguish the categorical difference between that which is done in love of Christ and that which is done in exaltation of self and its particular codification of God’s law.
The two are as opposed as heaven and hell, as God and the Devil; and happy is that man and that church which can discern the difference between things that look alike; or rather between things which may both belie their true nature, the evil appearing far more religious that the good.
Christianity does not need to put on airs. So true faith rests and does not run around in circles seeking to impress others with its religiosity. When the time comes for expression, it looks up to the Father who alone works in its heart, and He sends down His gracious enablement and the humble child of God, who looks far less religious than the supposed ardent doer of works, becomes incandescent with the life of Christ. Yet no halo appears—it is just that God’s servant has become radiantly alive.
All this wonderfully natural miracle is lost on the laborious law worker: he is on his own. He must do it all himself. Nor is there any expectation of the Lord stepping in by His Spirit and doing the work. It is all grinding work, and no gracious operation of the Spirit, and it is that which makes Jack the legalist such a dull, obtuse and bitter boy.
Those who recommend new converts to get busy immediately have forgotten the long experience of that new convert Paul in the Arabian Desert (where Damascus lies - Gal 1:17—NC). Only he who has learned to rest and wait is fit for service. One may prefer the hard-working man and think he is the right type—thousands do—but he has made one mistake. He has shut God out of his universe. True, he hopes to meet Him in heaven—at least as an equal. But someone had that idea before him—the Devil.
- Wm Still
Excerpt from MJS devotional for January 9, 2019:
“The world, the flesh, and the devil say, Be powerful. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit say, Be powerless — “for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). - MJS
“There would be little harm in trying to imitate Christ if such an endeavor did not hide from us what our Lord really desires; and so keep us back from ‘life more abundant.’ Christ has come Himself into our hearts to dwell there, and what He wants is to live His life in us, as the Apostle Paul says, ‘For to me to live is Christ.’ Christ was the very source and mainspring of all he was and did. What a wonderful thing this is! We would be driven to despair if Christ had simply left us an example to follow or imitate, for we have no power within ourselves to do it. We must have a new source—a new spring of action, and Christ Himself wants to be just that for us.” -E.C.H.http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/