Pharisees in the Pulpit Part 3

Freedom in the Law of Faith

By Jim Allen

What is the law of faith and how does it set me free from bondage to the law of works? In my last post, I spoke briefly about ministers who abuse believers by mixing works with faith as though the two were one and the same. They are not. This post will explore the difference between the two and explain why mixing works with faith is not only a bad idea but undoable. Equally important to recognize is that biblical salvation comes through the law of faith.

The undoable part about mixing the two stems of works and faith is that knowing people will not comprehend "spiritual truth" in opposing formats; that is, endeavoring to combine two incompatible truths will be akin to mixing water and oil. You can mix the two but as soon as the swirling ends, the two liquids separate because their chemical makeup at the molecular level is incompatible. Mixing incompatible truths in the pulpit results in confusion and uncertainty, causing people to draw back from faith and engage once again in the law of works (legalism). As a result, instead of finding peace and rest in Christ they come upon the menacing expectation of failing to measure up.

The epistles of Paul clearly instruct the evangelical church to teach the Old Testament and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in a way that will not override the gospel of Grace (Galatians 1:11-12; Galatians 2:15-16; and Galatians 3:1-9). The following examples clearly show salvation comes through the law of faith and not by the law of works. The differences between these two laws (works and faith) are apparent when comparing parallel truths in opposing formats.

First Example

Law of Works: (Matthew 5:48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. This verse is the DO and RECEIVE format under law. No man can do enough to be perfect, even within the constructs of religious humanity. Why would Jesus say, "be ye therefore perfect?" He said it to impress upon Israel their imperfection and need for the Messiah. This same verse applies equally to lost gentiles. Now, compare Matthew 5:48 to Colossians 1:21-22.

Law of Faith: (Colossians 1:21-22) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight." Colossians 1:21-22 is the DONE if you BELIEVE format under grace. The parallel truth about the need to be perfect (holy, blameless, and above reproach) as God is perfect is the same in both verses. The difference between the two verses is how one obtains perfection equal to God's. Jesus met the requirement for perfection by keeping the spirit and letter of the Law; and now, under faith imputes His holy perfection to our accounts when we believe (Romans 4:22-25).

Second Example

Law of Works: (Matthew 6: 19) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19 is the DO and RECEIVE format taught to Jews under law. Jesus is instructing Israel to lay up treasures in heaven by turning from worldly gain to heavenly pursuit. Why would Jesus say this? He said it to impress upon Israel their inability to lay up treasures in heaven. Only Jesus could lay up treasures in heaven because heaven is where His heart abided. No man loves the Father more than Jesus.

Law of Faith: (2 Corinthians 4:7) But we have this treasure [Christ] in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. Second Corinthians 4:7 is the DONE if you BELIEVE format under grace. Jesus did it (laid up treasures in heaven) for us under Law. Now, under Grace, we (the earthen vessels) receive by faith the heavenly treasure who is Christ Himself. We do not work for the Lord to gain treasure, his favor, or even to earn salvation. We receive the heavenly treasure by faith, a gift. We now obey the Lord from a willing heart to demonstrate appreciation for all He has done on our behalf. To be sure, the level of appreciation we have for what Jesus did on the cross is a measure of our faith. Christ is our heavenly treasure in earthen vessels and our hearts are to be found in Him (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Third Example

Law of Works: (John 6:53) Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:53 is the DO and RECEIVE format under law. Jesus instructed his apostles to do the unimaginable. Jesus' instruction to consume his physical body was not only unachievable in the earthly realm but also unnervingly repulsive. Although many left Jesus and followed him no more, some continued with Him not understanding the meaning of those hard words (John 6:52-66). For years, I struggled with John 6:53 until one day the answer came in 2 Corinthians.

Law of Faith: (2 Corinthians 13:5) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?..." 2 Cor 13:5 is the DONE if you BELIEVE format under grace. Paul says, "...Jesus Christ is in you?" Jesus made it possible for believers to consume (eat and drink the very essence of) His body through faith in the living Word of God (Ephesians 1:13-14). Born-again believers taste and then ingest the truth of the gospel allowing the digestive action of the word to convert them from sinner to saint.

The epistles of Paul contain many more verses that contrast the difference between the law of works and the law of faith. What the preceding comparisons demonstrate, in part, is that a believer is secure in the work completed by Christ under Law. Now under grace by the law of faith, we receive the benefit of His completed victory when we believe (Colossians 2:11-15). This is good news.

Pharisees in the Pulpit, The Series
Part 1: Adding Legalism to Faith
Part 2: Bondage to the Law of Works
Part 3: Freedom in the Law of Faith

Image Credit: Lotus Carroll; "Meanwhile, Light and Freedom Reign"; Creative Commons

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Published 6-11