What is more important? True beliefs about God or doing good actions?

What does the Bible teach about the relative importance of actions and beliefs? Which should we settle first?

J.Warner Wallace explains:

I just came home from a week in the great state of Utah. Our missions team of high school students had the opportunity to talk with many LDS and Christian believers about the nature of salvation. Many of our conversations centered on the relationship between faith and works. Christianity is unique in its characterization of salvation as the free gift of God:

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

This concept of grace is missing in Mormonism (as it has been classically described by LDS prophets and Mormon scripture). In fact, many of the Mormon believers we talked with described Christians as people who consistently take advantage of “cheap grace”. One member of the LDS church told us, “Christians say a prayer, get ‘saved’ and then run out and live like hell. They don’t think it’s important to obey the commandments.” At times, in an effort to emphasis the free nature of salvation, many Christians minimize the importance of good works in the Christian life. We sometimes neglect to tell our LDS friends that a grateful life, surrendered in response to what Christ has done for us, does actually result in a life of good works. The passage in Ephesians provides us with an important equation that can help us make this distinction. If you divide this verse in the middle, you’ll find faith and salvation on one side of the verse and works on the other:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith | not by works, so that no one can boast.

This verse in Ephesians provides us with a simple equation that can help us remember a life transformed by the saving grace of God produces good works, even though good works are not what save us:

The Christian equation:
Salvation + Faith = Works

The Non-Christian equation:
Faith + Works = Salvation

The question is not whether someone performs good works, but why someone performs good works. Both Christian and non-Christian believers have a place for good works in their respective equations. Works are not missing from the Christian calculation. But for us, good works are the result of our gratitude for (and recognition of) what God has done. When we realize that our own efforts are utterly impotent, we begin to understand the gift that God has given us. When we understand what God has done for us, we can’t help but be humbled and grateful. A grateful life, ever reflective of the depth of God’s kindness, results in a surrendered response. We can’t help but want to live differently.

I think it’s pretty important to get it clear that in Biblical Christianity, the focus is on getting the beliefs correct first. I actually think that the heavy burden of a works-based faith is a big reason why people are turned off about religion in general. It would really be much better for us all if we figured out who God is first and then made adjustments to live in light of that, instead of leaving the theology aside and just trying to join an organization and do what people tell us to do. Let’s meet God in truth first, then act accordingly once that relationship is settled.

24 thoughts on “What is more important? True beliefs about God or doing good actions?”

  1. I think I can add something on this.
    True beliefs about G_D will lead to good actions (ie righteousness).

    I speculate the meaning of “good works” has gotten perverted over the centuries. In Yahshua/Pauls time it was the Talmud and in the time of Luther it was penitence, favors, and indulgences.

    Many “Christians” are quite confused with the definition “works of the Law”.
    At the time of the scriptures there was the Torah and the Talmud.
    This consisted of moral, social, and cerimonial laws.
    When Paul wrote about “work” he was mostly referring to the cerimonial (kosher, circumcision etc).
    This is seen in Acts 10:15 (kosher), Phil 3:2 (circumcision), Mark 7:5-15(Talmud).

    Many are still in effect and many have “transcended” (taken a different form (ie circumcision) or become more strict (ie moral and sabbath to name few).

    The Holy Spirit was given on the Day on Pentecost. Many of the Jewish Disciples of Yahshua followed the cerimonial laws as seen in Acts 18:18 (Nazarite vow) and feast days and the sabbath.
    For some odd reason Christianity has confused “good works” with “moral behavior”.
    The moral requirements of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Yahshua ARE FAR more demanding and strict compared to Torah.

    The early church (saints / holy ones) were mostly law abiding orthodox Jews and proselytes. The introduction of Gentiles isn’t until Cornelius (btw who was a righteous man and did “good works” and had a good reputation from Jew, Gentile, and G_D and was rewarded for it).
    Here “good works” + “favor”= Salvation ( btw, I prefer the word favor instead of grace (Is 61:2 & Luke 4:19)

    G_D rerquirements for man has never changed – do justly (de facto righteousness), love mercy, and walk humbly with G_D.
    ~Shalom

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    1. Mike, are you claiming that we are justified by ‘works of the law’, where ‘law’ here should be understood as ‘works of G_D’s moral law’?
      -Neil

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      1. Neil, very broad question hence it need to be redefined in context and to whom.
        – How are you defining “justified” ?
        – To whom are you addressing ?
        – The reason/goal for “justification” ?
        (At quick glance it would appear you are referring to Galatians).

        To compare the the target audience of Galatians of which Paul was writing to Jews who were looking to go back under the cerimonial aspect of the Torah /Talmud vs Ephesians in which Paul was writing to Gentiles who are were brought into the “mystery of Yahshua” (ie the Law of G_D in the flesh “dwelling IN” as per Col 1:27, Gal 2:20, John 14:15 & 14:23 any many others).

        The early apostles gave some very basic rules for Gentile converts in Acts 15:29 :
        “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.”

        This was the initial handholding rules for the Gentiles and are symbolic as consist of Torah (sexual immorality, strangled blood, & food sacrificed) – it is quite obvious carries quite a bit of actual & symbolic interpretation as well since the assembly of Cornith had some interesting issues as seen in 1 Cor 5.

        Two different groups of people and same writer/mindset. This is a difficult subject to law abiding Jews and Gentiles.

        Peter who had been personally discipled by Yahshua had a difficult time with the transition from Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Yahshua (ie Romans) despite having a heavenly vision, interaction with Corneilus, and later rebuked by Paul for hypocrisy for following kosher. He makes note of the difficulty in Pauls writings (2 Peter 3:15-17)

        The Law of the Spirit of Life in Yahshua (Rom 8) does meet the righteous requirements of the law “perfectly” providing one is living/obeying according to the Law of the Spirit and putting to death the deeds of the body.

        This is a daily interaction of denying oneself, picking up ones cross, and following Yashua and the commandments. As a result, one is given spiritually His body and blood (forgiveness and ability to overcome sin through the Spirit). The gift of the Holy Spirit depends on one obeying the stern commandments of Yahshua and the Apostles.
        The New Covenant which consist of a single heart of flesh and the writing of the Torah is written on a heart and mind.
        The result is internal transformation (2 Cor 3) and eventually external (1 Cor 15).
        This”process” is a de jure righteousness to a de facto righteousness in which one is becoming a “decent person” who acts like a “decent person” in all situations/circumstance (ie like Yahshua & Paul) because Yahshua is “living in you” and you have a relationship with Him & the Father. This relationship is “eternal life”

        ~Shalom

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        1. Hi Mike,
          You raise a number of important points, but I want to focus on just one, the issue of ‘justification.’ I’d like to focus on Galatians and Romans, where Paul uses that word extensively.

          First, the word ‘justification’ (dikaoo in Greek) can mean either ‘to make righteous’ or ‘to declare righteous.’ We can see that Paul is using the word ‘justification’ to mean ‘to declare righteous’ by the fact that he condemns the Judaizers in Galatians for trying to be ‘justified’ on the basis of law. Clearly, they weren’t trying to use the law to be _made_ internally righteous. Rather, they were trying to obtain God’s _declaration_ of ‘not guilty’ or ‘righteous’ on the basis of their obedience to the law. Also, Paul contrasts ‘justification’ with ‘condemnation’ in Rom. 8:33. So it is clear that he is using the legal metaphor: to justify is to declare ‘righteous’ or ‘not guilty’.

          Second, what is ‘the law’ that Paul refers to in Galatians and Romans? You appear to be equating ‘the law’ primarily with the ceremonial Mosaic law. But that is clearly not the case. For instance, in Gal. 3:10 Paul quotes Deut. 27:26 saying “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Note that “everything written” most certainly does not refer only to the ceremonial Mosaic Law, but to the Mosaic Law in its entirety. Similarly, in Rom. 2:15 Paul says that ‘the requirements of the Law are written on [the Gentile’s hearts].’ Clearly, Paul does not believe that circumcision and the Levitical dietary laws were written on the Gentile’s hearts. Instead, it is God’s moral Law to which Paul is referring here. We see the same use of ‘the law’ to include the moral law in Rom 7:7 where Paul says “I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” It is God’s moral law, not the ceremonial law, that says ‘do not covet.’ See also 1 Tim. 1:9.

          So based on this analysis, we see that:
          1. In Gal. and Rom., justification is God’s declaration that a person is ‘not guilty’
          2. In Gal. and Rom., ‘the law’ refers not just to the ceremonial law, but to all of God’s commands, including the moral law

          Given this background, let’s now try to understand Paul’s repeated statements in these two books about justification:

          “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Gal. 2:16

          or

          “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” – Rom. 3:23-25

          or, very importantly,

          ” You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified[a] by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” – Gal. 5:4

          This is where J. Warner Wallace’s statement comes from and this is why it’s such a serious issue. According to Paul, we cannot merit or obtain a right-standing before God on the basis of our good works or our obedience to God’s law or our love or our piety, but only through faith in Christ. Having been justified by grace through faith in Christ, we certainly do good works, seek to obey God’s laws, and grow in love and piety . But these works are evidence of our salvation, not the basis for our salvation.

          Does that make sense? If you disagree, could you study the passages I cited and tell me what you think Paul is saying? Perhaps it would help to read through Rom. 1-6 are create a rough outline.
          -Neil

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          1. Hi Neil,

            I have to confess – it doesn’t make sense. The writer J Wallace is not in context and left out vs. 10 (typical for Hellenistic)
            10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus “to do good works”, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

            When the Apostle Paul wrote – he knew his audience and thus directed the complexity of his letters as such.
            – Romans is directed to “I am speaking to those who know the law” making the transition from the Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of life in Yahshua
            – Galatians – Those who made the transition and were listening to Jewish teachers regarding ascetic practices, self flagellation via circumcision, and feast days.
            1 & 2 Cor simplified rules / conduct to a Jewish/ Gentile church in which the Gentile converts permitted incest of it members.
            – Hebrews written to very advanced Jews who were in danger of “taking it easy / distractions”.
            And so on with the other writings of Paul.

            I bring this up for a reason. To many non Jewish Christians (ie typical American “Christian” ) they have NO CONCEPT of the Torah/Levitical Law or the Talmud.
            To them it means the 10 commandments, dont eat pork, and attend church on Sunday for 1 hour before one goes to the beach wearing a bikini on Sunday.

            Permit me to make a comparison since there is a quite a bit of confusion between Messianic Jews/Jews vs Western Christianity.

            Here are a couple of questions before I proceed:
            1. What is the New Covenant and how does it operate ?

            2. What is the goal since the goal defines the process.

            Admit one is a sinner. Accept forgiveness / Accept Jesus in your heart. Be baptized.
            Reward
            Escape hell and go to heaven when one dies.

            or

            2. Repent of known sin, be baptized in the name of Yahshua, daily discipleship of denying oneself, picking up ones, cross, and following Yahshua. This includes:
            Set Aside a Place and Time for Prayer Each Day
            Meditate in the Scriptures Continually
            Place Everything on the Altar of God
            Live In and By Christ
            Put on the Whole Armor of God
            Learn to Live in the Heavenlies
            Confess and Renounce Your Sins Promptly
            Do Not Fret Yourself
            Look Only to Jesus
            Set Yourself Aside for God’s Purposes
            The salt of the earth
            The light of the world

            The Reward:

            Attain to the First resurrection (Luke 14:14, Luke 20:35, Phil 3:10, Rev 20:4-6
            A part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22)
            A member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12)
            A part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2)
            A restorer of Paradise to the earth (Romans 8:21)
            A source of eternal life and healing for the nations (I Corinthians 15:45)
            A member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9)
            A witness of God (Isaiah 43:10)
            A son of God (Revelation 21:7)
            A brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)
            An overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11)
            A governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27)
            A soldier in the army of the Lord (Joel 2:11)
            A judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
            A wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14)
            A member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9)
            A part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12)

            I welcome to stay writings of Paul – specifically Rom 1-8 and 12-16 and prefer to use the OT, Gospels, and all the epistles since it contains the pattern. It is dangerous to set up a axiom without other supporting NT/OT scripture.
            As mentioned Peter warned against the twisting of Pauls writings to ones destruction and this is the safest way to avoid that.

            ~Shalom

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          2. Hi Mike,
            I agree that context is key to avoid misinterpretation of Scripture. However, that’s why I’m pointing to the entire letter of Galatians and the first 6 chapters of Romans to understand ‘justification’ in the context in which Paul wrote it. You originally stated that Paul is only talking about the ceremonial Mosaic law in Galatians, but I showed you why this is impossible; Paul’s use of ‘the law’ includes God’s moral law as well. Paul also states that we are justified by faith in Christ not by works of the law and warns us seriously that those who preach a ‘different gospel’ than what he preaches are under God’s curse (Gal. 1:8-9). He reminds the Galatians that they did not receive the spirit by obeying God’s law but by “by hearing with faith” (Gal. 3:2). And he states that any man who would seek to be justified by the law has fallen away from grace (Gal. 5:4).

            In light of this stern warning and the seriousness of Paul’s charge that those who seek to be justified by the law are under God’s curse, not his blessing (Gal. 3:10), can you elaborate on the following:
            1) What is justification? Is it God’s declaration that we are righteous, as I have claimed based on Gal. and Rom.?
            2) How do we receive God’s justification? Is it by works (whether circumcision or indulgences or keeping the Ten Commandments) or by grace through faith (trust in God’s free promises to accept us unworthy sinners for Jesus’ sake)?

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  2. One more WK if you permit.
    Eph 2:8-10 in context since it is a seeming contradiction – it is not.

    Note the difference of “works” between vs 9 & vs 10 as seen “created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do”

    8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God “not by works”, so that no one can boast.
    10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus “to do good works”, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    ~Shalom

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  3. I love the math! When I was an anti-Christian, I did good works to make myself look good. And, I knew full well that’s why I was doing them. I couldn’t wait to tell others about all the “good” I had done. “Look at me – I’m just as good as those awful Christians!”

    As a Christian, I do good works as a thank-you to God and to make Him look good, not that He needs my help. And I try to tell no one the specifics, but I sometimes fail.

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  4. It’s been pointed out that ancient Greek philosophy emphasized having the proper state of mind whereas ancient Hebrew emphasized doing the right thing. As God tried to point out through Isaiah, the “do and do, rule on rule” was the wrong emphasis. Rather, “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” This is why repentance was such a hard concept for the Jews, because they would rather “do penance”, i.e., make some kind of sacrifice to cover their sins, rather than to “repent”, to have a change of attitude that would lead them to stop repeating their sins. Again, without the believing–a gift of the Holy Spirit–there wasn’t going to be any salvation. But, the very Spirit that works faith also works the “metaneuo”, the mind change which is true repentance, and that leads to good works. So, faith and good works are the result of the same Spirit working in us, and, consequently, must happen simultaneously. That is why James says that faith, without works, is dead. Even the tiniest faith shows some signs of wanting to do God’s will.

    It’s unfortunate that Jerome’s Vulgate Bible, long the staple of the Roman church, translated metaneuo as “do penance” instead of “have a changed mind” or “repent.” This was the point where the spirit of antichrist reared up and stripped Jesus of his true divinity, making his payment for sin only a partial one. The Roman church made the same error that the Jews made–putting the burden of salvation on the individual instead of on Jesus, because they denied who Jesus was.

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  5. Hi Neil,

    I am going to pull you back to the two questions before I proceed.

    1. What is the New Covenant and how does it operate ?
    2. What is the goal since the goal defines the process (see above).

    Many thanks to WK.
    ~Shalom

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    1. Hi Mike,
      Let me answer your questions briefly, but then I would like you to answer mine and to think about them seriously.

      1. The book of Scripture which deals most extensively with the New Covenant is Hebrews (the word covenant is used 17 times in that book – more times than all other books of the NT combined), so I’d like to go there. The New Covenant is the binding commitment of God to his people founded on the atoning sacrifice (8:12, 12:24, 13:20) and priesthood of Jesus (7:22, 8:6) as promised to Abraham (Heb. 6:13, 8:6). The New Covenant made the Old Covenant obsolete (8:7, 8:13) because it could not take away the sins of the people or purify their consciences (8:7, 9:9-10). In contrast, the New Covenant secures for us the forgiveness of sin (8:12, 9:28), purification from sin (8:8-11), and the sure promise of eternal life (9:15). Looking elsewhere, we see that Jesus’ blood was the blood of the new covenant (Lk. 22:20), that Christians (both Gentile and Jewish) are members of the new covenant (Gal. 4:24), and that Paul -the apostle to the Gentiles- was a minister of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6). All of this is reinforces what I have summarized from Hebrews. But I’d suggest that anyone interested simply read Heb. 6-10, which treats these subjects much more extensively and beautifully than I can do here.

      2. The goal of salvation is, briefly, to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). But I would question whether ‘the goal defines the process.’ Instead, I would emphasize that Scripture defines both the goal and the process and which is why we need to search the Scripture (and read it carefully, in context) to see what it teaches.

      Having answered those questions, could we return to mine?

      1) What is justification? Is it God’s declaration that we are righteous, as I have claimed based on Gal. and Rom.? If not, could you answer the issues I raised from those two books?
      2) How do we receive God’s justification? Is it by works (whether circumcision or indulgences or keeping the Ten Commandments) or by grace through faith (trust in God’s free promises to accept us unworthy sinners for Jesus’ sake)?

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  6. Hi Neil,

    The “justification” or “free from guilt” What I have read from Wallace and your posting is to emphasize the grace/favor of perpetual forgiveness to such an extent that the requirement for repentance is largely negated. This in my view is a bloated justification obscures the new-covenant necessity for ongoing repentance & sanctification.
    Faith is believing what G_D says and obedience to what He says.

    Just to be clear – there is not a single verse that shows in the OT/NT that says “grace” nullifies, modifies, subtracts, does away with, changes, alters the stern commandments of Yahshua & the apostles of which is a major component of the New Covenant.

    I would like to mention salvation / deliverance from sin is a “opportunity” – one has to respond/behave/ obey.
    To make a analogy – if someone gave out the gift of baby grand pianos for free. The question is what is done with it. Some would display it proudly in their living room, some would play simple songs like “chopsticks” or “Mary had a little lamb”. I think a very limited few would have the discipline to learn and diligently practice to eventually play Chopin or Mozart after a number of years (ie lifetime). To play chopsticks with that grand of a musical instrument after a lifetime is a waste of a baby grand – wouldn’t you say? Salvation / deliverance from sin /wrath is no different. Salvation is very much a gift and past, present, and future. What is done right now determines the outcome.

    Yes, Paul makes mention of Abraham believing G_D and it was counted as righteousness, however, this was a work in progress and each time accompanied with obedience as he left his fathers house, as he believed G_D, as he walked before G_D and was perfect, as he obeyed and demonstrated his obedience to sacrifice his only son (he was tested to a gnats whisker imo).Each time. G_D upped the ante..

    If WK and you permit – allow me shed some further insight before proceeding.
    A portion of the New Covenant is the the replacing of the stone hearts and replacement with a single heart of flesh
    – G_D writes His laws on the hearts & mind during the transformation (Heb 8:10) and this is how a person comes to know G_D (8:11). This law is the stern commandments of Yahshua & the apostles, and contain many portions of the Torah (actual and transcended.

    This is a transformation proces as well as formation of Yahshua in the disciple and it should be obvious (2 Cor 3-4). In addition -all the epistles show the Apostles – they themselves they were the “New Covenant” taking place (Gal 1:24) and others (2 Cor 3&4 ). This transformation is noted in Gal 2:20 & 4:19- note the vast difference between the two as Yahshua is abiding in the crucified Paul vs. still being formed in the saints in Galatia as Paul was “in labor pain” again.

    For the process of the NC (New Covenant) to occur (the writing of the Torah) on the heart & mind as mentioned in ( Heb 8:10, Jer 31:33, Ez 36:26) which is passing from death (sin = separation from G_D) to life (repentance to forgiveness to righteousness to relationship w/ Father which is eternal life as stated in John 17:3).
    Eternal life is relationship with the Father through the Son. And the “cleaning up” process is done with and through the Holy Spirit.

    For the writing of the “Law of the Spirit of Life in Yahshua” to occur on the heart & mind – one has to be “in Yahshua” (Rom 8:1) and walking according to the Spirit. To get the Spirit – one has to obey the commandments of Yahshua (Acts 5:32)

    One is under the law of Moses (sin / death) or walking according to the Spirit of Life in Yahshua (life / freedom)

    To walk according to the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
    If one lives according to flesh – they will reap death /corruption (Rom 8:13 & Gal 6:13 – 22).

    Paul clearly spoke against the asceticism of the flesh (circumcision), social (holidays), Kosher, and withstood Peter for no longer interacting with Gentiles (forbidden under law of Moses).These which have no significance in mortifying the flesh (Col 2:23). Paul specifically told those Galatia to walk by the Spirit , put to death the deeds of the flesh, and be a decent person (Gal 5:13-26)

    2. To receive “justification” from G_D is a wide ranging and person dependent. It is starts off as a “come as you are party” in repentance and goes as far as your willingness to repent of worldliness, lust, and self will.

    One is judged and receives on what they know and their behavior. Any person/nation fears G_D and works righteousness is accepted by Him (Acts 10:35 & Matt 25:37). Depends on what calling they have and how they behave – there are the least in the Kingdom to the greatest- it is not a democracy.
    All reap exactly what they sow (Gal 6:7) – this can never be changed.

    Those that have done “good” will reap eternal life and those that havent will reap judgement and contempt ( John 5:27-28 & Dan 12:2-3)

    How much “justification” one wants and endurance and hatred of sin (Heb 12:3-17) since “very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it”. See Mal 3:3, 1 Peter 4:1, 12-19, 2 Cor 4 and is a process. This is a road of discipleship_ all disciples are Christians but not all Christians are disciples).

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    1. Mike,
      1. You say that justification is being ‘free[d] from guilt.’ But that is not quite what the actual Greek word means. It means ‘declared righteous or just.’ But, for the sake of argument, let’s work with your definition.

      2. Your response to the question ‘How is man justified before God?’ was somewhat limited. The closest you came was the statement: “To receive ‘justification’ from G_D is a wide ranging and person dependent. It is starts off as a “come as you are party” in repentance and goes as far as your willingness to repent of worldliness, lust, and self will.” Can you some Scriptural support for your claim that justification is based on ‘going as far as your willingness to repent of wordliness, lust, and self will’?

      Because this seems to be a dreadfully vital matter. Mormons believe almost exactly what you believe. Yet Paul says the following:
      “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Gal. 2:16
      ” You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” – Gal. 5:4
      If ‘the law’ includes the moral law (and I’ve argued that it does, based on Paul’s use of ‘the law’ in Galatians and Romans), then you are explicitly seeking to be justified by works of the law, which would mean that you are preaching a false gospel and are under God’s curse, not his blessing.

      You do not keep the “stern commandments of Yahshua & the apostles,” not even for a day. Indeed, Christ condemns those who believe that they do keep God’s law with precisely the same language Paul uses (Lk. 18:9-14). Jesus says that those who are confident of their own righteousness are ‘not justified’ before a holy and righteous God, but that only those who know they are sinners and cast themselves on the mercy of God are ‘justified’. Praise God that he has offered forgiveness to sinners like us!

      If you disagree, I would urge you to read the entire book of Galatians or Romans and to take Paul’s warnings very seriously.

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  7. Neil,
    Thank you for the reply. I dont think many Gentiles born Christians really understand the Torah. It is much different than western law. If one breaks one of commandments – then one is guilty of breaking all 613 commandments. This is not true in western law.
    In western law – there is no excuse for ignorance of the law. In Torah – ignorance of the law is a valid excuse.

    I think there is a misunderstanding of “good works” and ‘works of the law”.
    – To many Jew -this includes living ones neighbor as them self, circumcision, keeping the feast days, koser, sanitary, social aspects of the Torah- & Talmud
    Here is a idea:
    http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14216-talmudic-law
    – To Gentile Christians (this is a imo)- this means kindness, integrity, faithfulness, truthful, honesty, moral behavior (ie decent person)

    To those that are in Christ – The New Covenant is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit which is being written on the hearts & mind. There are over 1050 commandments in the NT
    http://www.cai.org/bible-studies/1050-new-testament-commands

    G_D has ALWAYS required righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to HIS moral commandments.

    As mentioned earlier – Paul wrote to Jewish Christians as Christ was in the process of being formed in them. They were going back under the Talmud / cerimonial / social / sanitary

    This is what I get from Gal in context.
    What works of the Law was Paul referring to and said – these do NOT cause justification / righteousness
    – Circumcision (Gal 5:11-12)
    – Feast days (new moon / Sabbaths (Gal 4:10)
    – Separation from Gentile believers (Gal 2:11-12)
    – The Talmud (Gal 1:14)

    Paul commanded them in Gal 5:16 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. and in vs 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (this mirrors Rom 8 ).
    Basic logic stands that “Those who ARE NOT Christs’s HAVE NOT crucified the flesh with its passions”
    And in vs. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
    As you know “if” is a very big word.

    Regarding good works (Read the book of Acts – it is full of them and Dorcus is my personal favorite Acts 9:36-42 !!!!!)
    Yahshua said in Matt 6:1Take care not to do your good works before men, to be seen by them; or you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    Paul said in Eph 2:10 For by his act we were given existence in Christ Jesus to do those good works which God before made ready for us so that we might do them.

    How about this for Justification as per Gal 2:21:
    g1343. δικαιοσυνη dikaiosyne; from 1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification: — righteousness.
    AV (92)- righteousness 92; in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

    Just as it is concern for Jews who make the transition from the law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Yahshua. Many Gentile Christians dont understand the law of the Spirit of Life in Yahshua and not continuing in immoral sin / bad behavior.
    Paul warned about bad behavior and putting to death the deeds of the flesh in Gal 5:18-26, Eph 5:3-5, Col 3:5-10.

    As a Jew for Yahshua – we are commanded to do good works just as He did.
    Here are some scripture to support “good works”
    http://www.openbible.info/topics/good_works

    Now there are approx 98 scriptures that support “good works” – actually there are quite a bit more).
    When someone takes “ONE” scripture and makes it a doctrine that directly contradict the others. Then chances are the ONE scripture is misinterpreted especially when the same author who wrote the bulk of the New Testament writes a seemingly contradiction in the same letter and in other letters.
    ~Shalom

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    1. Hi Mike,
      Remember that I had two claims:
      1. ‘Justification’ is God’s declaration that we are ‘not-guilty’ or ‘righteous’ pr ‘just’ in His sight
      2. The ‘law’ to which Paul refers in Galatians and Romans, encompasses the entire OT law, both ceremonial and moral

      Note that I am not claiming that good works are not obligatory or that God has not given Christians numerous commands in the NT. I am not, nor did any of the Reformers. God does indeed command us to walk by the Spirit, to mortify the flesh, to set our minds on things above, etc… But my contention and the Bible’s claim is that our obedience to God’s commands is not the basis of our justification or right-standing before God. Our right-standing before God is only on the basis of our faith in Christ’s perfect and complete atonement because: “by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Gal. 2:16

      In your last post, you seemed to again claim that ‘the law’ in Galatians refers only to the ceremonial law. But you didn’t answer my evidence to the contrary. In particular, I noted that Paul quotes Deut. 27:26 which says “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do _everything_ written in the Book of the Law.” This quote obviously refers not only to the ceremonial law, but Mosaic Law in its entirety. I also noted that in Rom. 2:15, Paul states that the Law is written on the hearts of the Gentiles, showing that cannot be referring to the ceremonial law.

      Moreover, your entire argument is based on the claim that “Paul wrote to Jewish Christians [who[ going back under the Talmud / cerimonial / social / sanitary.” That is not true. Galatians was written to Gentile Christians who were being told they had to be circumcised in order to be justified (see Gal. 5:3). If they were uncircumcised, they certainly were not Jewish!

      So could you read through Galatians and Romans again and determine what Paul means when he says:
      “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Gal. 2:16
      or
      ” You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” – Gal. 5:4

      I’d also like to point out how serious this issue is by pointing at one other major conflict between your theology and the Scripture. You said: “The gift of the Holy Spirit depends on one obeying the stern commandments of Yahshua and the Apostles.”

      Can you find a single example in Scripture of God’s gift of the Spirit being dependent on obedience to ‘the stern commandments of Yahshua and the Apostles’ rather than being the free, gracious gift of God received through faith in Christ? For instance, compare your claim to the following statements:

      “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:13

      “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” – John 4:10

      “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” – Eph. 1:13

      and most importantly, to the Galatians who were being told that justification was based on their obedience:

      “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by chearing with faith?” – Gal. 3:2
      -Neil

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  8. @ Neil

    1. “You do not keep the “stern commandments of Yahshua & the apostles,” not even for a day”

    Obeying Yahshua is a lot easier than is depicted and is the only way to go imo. The way of the transgressor is hard. Didn’t He say My yoke is easy and the burden is light ? Walking in the Spirit of Life is much easy and better than a slave to sin. Its a daily communion / prayer/ interacting with Yahshua.
    A great read is Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/lawrence/practice
    This is simply denying oneself, picking up one cross, and following Yahshua – it was rough at first but one I realized that the discipline was to my benefit. Holiness is addictive as is the presence of G_D and righteousness is another name for cause / effect and understanding consequences.

    As soon as one become aware of a sin – confession and repentance. I suggest reading 1 John 1:6-10 & 3:3-9, and 2 Peter 1:19

    2. Allow me to suggest you used Luke 18:9-14 out of context. I obey the laws of Yahshua and the apostles to the best of the conscience and ability – nothing more or less. I am not condemning anyone. In return I suggest you read Luke 5:31-32.

    3. ?as far as your willingness to repent of wordliness, lust, and self will’?”
    Yahshua was tempted in these three areas. Everyone is tempted in these three areas. They are also referred symbolically as cities ( Egypt/world goods, Sodom/lust, and Jerusalem/ self will (Rev 11:8)

    The Kingdom of G_D is entered in through trial & tribulation ( Acts 14;22). It is a absolute monarchy and not a democracy, It has ranks from the least to the greatest. Those that are with Yahshua are called, chosen, and faithful (keep in mind – many are called and few are chosen). One has to prove themself faithful. Regarding the greatest in the Kingdom – this is rather involved so I will keep it light Heb 11:35, Matt 20:24).
    G_D has favorites – get used to the idea- only three saw the Mount of Transfiguration and only a handful of Him as a child (prophets, shepherds, and the Magi

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  9. Mike, I said: “You do not keep the “stern commandments of Yahshua & the apostles,” not even for a day”

    In response, you wrote: “I obey the laws of Yahshua and the apostles to the best of the conscience and ability”

    Let’s just look at the most important commandment before we ask whether you are keeping the others.

    Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to ‘love God with all your whole heart, mind, soul and strength’? Note the ‘all’. Are you really willing to claim that there is not one single area in your whole life or one moment of the day that could be more devoted to God? If so, then you are not giving ‘all’ and are breaking this commandment. And I actually agree with you (and James 2:10) that to break a single commandment is to break them all. So if you do not keep the law by loving God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength every moment of every day you are condemned as a law-breaker. If you are a law-breaker, on what basis do you think that God will accept you? Is God just or unjust? Will he accept law-keepers into his kingdom or law-breakers?

    And where in the Bible does it say that God requires us to obey his stern commandments ‘to the best of our conscience and ability’? Imagine that I said “I keep God’s command to not commit adultery to the best of my ability. And when I break this command, I repent as soon as possible. And I do lots of other good works, so I’m sure God will forgive me.” Instead, I read in the Bible ‘cursed is everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law’ (Gal. 3:10) and ‘there is no one righteous, not even one’ (Rom. 3:10). Doesn’t it seem like you are lowering God’s standards so that you can justify your failure to keep all the righteous requirements of the law? Perhaps you need a perfect righteousness and a Savior who will rescue you not on the basis of your own performance but on the basis of his perfect atonement for sinners.

    I know you are concerned that Christians live holy lives of practical obedience. And you’ll never hear me speak against that desire; that is precisely what God commands of us. But tragically, in your concern for holiness, you have abandoned the gospel. You have actually lowered God’s righteous standards so that you can meet his requirements. But you can’t. Before God, you are no more righteous than the most immoral prostitute or bikini-wearing Christian or robber or evil-doer or adulterer or tax collector. The good news is that God can clothe us with Christ’s righteousness and count us as righteous in Christ even though we are naturally dead in sin. Christ’s righteousness, not our own, is the basis for our justification. Even our best, most sincere attempts at holiness fall short of God’s standards, which is why we need a Savior:
    “for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified hby his grace as a gift, ithrough the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” – Rom. 3:23-25
    -Neil

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  10. @ Neil – here is a repost

    “In your last post, you seemed to again claim that ‘the law’ in Galatians refers only to the ceremonial law. ”
    No I did not state that – here is a repost from above with references.

    “What works of the Law was Paul referring to and said these do NOT cause justification / righteousness
    – Circumcision (Gal 5:11-12)
    – Feast days (new moon / Sabbaths (Gal 4:10)
    – Separation from Gentile believers (Gal 2:11-12)
    – The Talmud (Gal 1:14)

    The purpose of Divine grace is to bring people to the moral image of Jesus Christ. Instead we are viewing Divine grace as an alternative to moral transformation.
    Paul clearly points this out in Gal 5;18-25

    Paul clearly points this out in Romans.

    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, (Romans 3:20-22)

    Can you see in the above passage that Paul is contrasting faith in Jesus Christ with observing the Law of Moses? Not a righteousness from God apart from our righteous behavior but a righteousness from God apart from the Law of Moses.

    This righteousness from God apart from the Law of Moses is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus – Rom 8 and is the writing of the Law on the heart & mind which is the New Covenant.

    “Can you find a single example in Scripture of God’s gift of the Spirit being dependent on obedience to ‘the stern commandments of ”
    – There is Acts 5:32 & John 14:15-16. In review of Acts 2:36 -38. Peter said repent, be baptized, and you will receive forgiveness & the gift of the Holy Spirit. In addition, it is possible to run out of oil and not be invited to the Marriage Feast (Matt 25:1-12). The idea that we can just “believe” without turning away from wickedness is unscriptural.

    Paul writings have been misunderstood in 3 major movements;
    – The Jews didnt understand the transition from the law of Moses to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ
    – The Catholic / Protestent has been indulgences / pentinance / faith alone which has been a bloody war over the centuries.
    – The Evangelicals have made it a all encompassing “fetish” in that a profession of faith in Jesus Christ become acceptable to God regardless of any change in their personality or behavior.

    The new unscriptural grace has changed the new covenant into a salvation which is no deliverance of sin at all. Under the new, totally unscriptural grace, God has come to man and—if he will “accept Christ” (he does not even have to repent!)—declares him eternally free from condemnation regardless of any moral transformation.

    There is no way grace or belief is an alternative to righteous behavior.

    The members of the first church, who were all Jews, were keeping the Law of Moses. Paul wrote much in Romans and Galatians concerning the problem of attempting to mix the Law of Moses with the grace of Jesus Christ. Paul showed us that the new covenant is a better covenant and that the first covenant no longer is needed. God wants us to look up from the Law and place our faith in Christ in order to obtain God’s righteousness.

    The Apostle Paul taught grace as the Divine alternative to the Law of Moses, not as the Divine alternative to moral transformation, to the new creation of righteous behavior.

    As grace is being taught as is suggested – that if one doesn’t quite make it – there is good ole saved by grace. This is unscriptural.
    As mentioned earlier- there is no passage of scripture that shows “grace/justification” modifies, subtracts, minimizes, does away with the stern teaching of Christ & the Apostles. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me.

    ~ Shalom

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    1. Mike, you wrote:
      “What works of the Law was Paul referring to and said these do NOT cause justification / righteousness
      – Circumcision (Gal 5:11-12)
      – Feast days (new moon / Sabbaths (Gal 4:10)
      – Separation from Gentile believers (Gal 2:11-12)
      – The Talmud (Gal 1:14)”

      No. Again, I gave several reasons why ‘works of the law’ cannot be limited to these types of ceremonial works. First, when Paul states that we cannot be justified by ‘works of the law’ he quotes Deut. 27:26 which says that ‘cursed is everyone who does not do _everything_ commanded in the book of the law.’ This ‘book of the law’ included commands like circumcision but also moral commands like ‘thou shalt not covet’ and ‘love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength’. Second, Paul says that Gentiles have ‘the law’ written on their hearts (Rom. 2:15). But Gentiles obviously do not have observance of the feast days ‘written on their hearts’; Paul is referring to moral commands here (as is also clear from Rom. 1:32).

      Can you answer either of these objections to the view that ‘works of the law’ in Galatians only includes works like circumcision and feast days, but not the moral commands of God? If not, do you see how important this issue is? If I am correct, then you are explicitly falling into the error that Paul warned strenuously against, the belief that you are justified by your obedience to God’s commands rather than by faith in Christ. I don’t know who is teaching you these doctrines, but I urge you to hold them up to the light of the Scripture.

      “Instead we are viewing Divine grace as an alternative to moral transformation.”

      I am not viewing grace as an ‘alternative’ to moral transformation by any means. Nor am I claiming that God does not issue moral commands to Christians. God commands us to yield our hearts entirely to him, to follow him, to set our mind on the Spirit, etc… Moral transformation (or sanctification) is the absolutely necessary fruit of justification. The Bible repeatedly states that anyone who does not show the fruit of moral transformation in their lives gives evidence that they are not regenerate. However, it is important to recognize that our justification, our ‘right-standing’ before God, is not based on the moral transformation in our lives, but on the perfect atonement of Jesus Christ, in whom we have placed our faith.

      A good analogy (which Jesus uses) is a tree and its fruit. A live tree bears fruit. A dead tree does not. There is no such thing as a living tree which never bears fruit. But does fruit _make_ the tree alive? No. I can staple fruit to a telephone poll; that does not make the telephone poll alive. In exactly the same way, our good works are the necessary fruit of our salvation. But they are not the root of salvation. They show that the tree has life, but they do not produce that life. Spiritual life is the result of being united to Christ by faith and being justified by his atonement.

      I am also not minimizing repentance. I never said that the gospel can be received without repentance. Repentance is a genuine ‘turning from sin’ and the gospel call is always to ‘repent and believe’ as the passages you cited confirmed. But you made a very different claim. You said: “The gift of the Holy Spirit depends on one obeying the stern commandments of Yahshua and the Apostles.” But where do we see even a single statement that we will receive the Holy Spirit if we ‘obey the stern commandments of Yashua’? We don’t. Instead, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit (and salvation as a whole) is a gift, unmerited, undeserved and free, based not on man’s obedience to God’s commands, but on God’s mercy to sinners like you and me. And numerous passages I cited, especially Gal. 3:10, showed that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we repent of our sin and trust in Christ, not after some process of obedience to ‘the stern commands of Yahshua’.

      The reason I’m pressing this point is because it is a deadly error. The Pharisee in Luke 18 was, in his mind, a very moral person who kept God’s laws. He had real obedience to God’s commandments, unlike the ungodly tax collector praying behind him. But Jesus said that the ungodly tax collector, who recognized his utter moral bankruptcy and merely cried out to God for mercy, went home ‘justified’ before God while the Pharisee did not. That is the deadly fruit of legalism, the idea that our obedience to God’s law is the _basis_ for our salvation rather than the _outcome_ of it.
      -Neil

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  11. @ Neil In regards to Luke 11:13, Gal. 3:2, Eph. 1:13 regarding the Holy gifts& gifts. I am not denying them at all.
    However, if one neglects to work with the Holy Spirit & bring forth forth the fruit of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control ~Gal 5:22-23 in their personality then there are consequences:
    – “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away”
    – “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
    (I suggest reading John 15 in context – it is rather sobering).

    A couple of parables that Christ taught further supported this.
    – The parable of the talents. The man who had one talent and did nothing to profit the kingdom. What he had was taken away and given to the most diligent. His outcome is frightening.
    – The parable of wise / unwise virgins. Those who ran out of oil didnt get to go the marriage supper (symbolic for the 1st resurrection imo).

    Btw, remember the Jews that come out of Egypt (slavery to sin), had the passover lamb / blood to avoid wrath, went through the Red Sea (Baptism), given the Torah on the Day of Pentecost, and then didnt believe G_D and fell into disobedience (Heb 3&4). Only 2 people from the previous genration got to enter the promised land.
    The same is true for Christians and even more so due the superior covenant and their example of what not to do.
    ~Shalom

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  12. @ Neil
    “The members of the first church, who were all Jews, were keeping the Law of Moses. Paul wrote much in Romans and Galatians concerning the problem of attempting to mix the Law of Moses with the grace of Jesus Christ. Paul showed us that the new covenant is a better covenant and that the first covenant no longer is needed. God wants us to look up from the Law and place our faith in Christ in order to obtain God’s righteousness.”

    Moral transformation is part of the new covenant as well as the old.
    Check out Gal 5 (please read the whole thing)

    This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)
    If one doesn’t walk in the Spirit ~ then one will fulfil the lust of the flesh.

    16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh….But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
    Now the works of the flesh are evident,….. of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Note “Walk in the Spirit”…..This is the law of the Sprit of Life IN Christ Jesus” as Paul mentioned in Rom 8:1-4

    Many aspects the Torah are contained in the Law of the Spirit of Life and have become increasingly more difficult.
    ” You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    Male Jews were to present themselves 3 times a year (Deut 16:16). Now the disciple is to:
    – daily deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Jesus
    – present his entire body as sacrifice (Rom 6:13 ) to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship (Rom 12:1)
    (I could go on and on regarding kosher (dont eat food sacrificed to idols), circumcision of the heart, the feast days, the eternal sabbath and laboring to enter into His rest) . Many of the TORAH laws have transcended and have become much more difficult but the NC is vastly superior ( ie I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me)

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    1. Mike,
      I agree that moral transformation is part of the New Covenant. I agree that God commands us to live a holy life. I agree that God’s moral commands are binding on us. I agree that Christians must mortify the flesh and set our minds on the Spirit. And I agree that the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is necessary evidence that we are regenerate.

      But I am still asking you what justification means and how we obtain it. Paul says emphatically that we are justified not by works but by faith in Christ. You didn’t object to my understanding of ‘justification’ but you suggested that ‘works of the law’ refers only to ceremonial works. In response, I gave you two reasons why this is not possible. You didn’t respond to either of my arguments.

      But if I’m right, then Paul is saying that we are declared to be in right-standing with God not on the basis of our obedience to God’s commands, but on the basis of the perfect atonement of Christ, in whom we place our faith. And Paul says that anyone who rejects this message is preaching a false gospel and is under God’s curse. I urge you to read Gal and Rom to see whether you are clinging to the righteousness of Christ or whether you are trusting in your own righteousness as the basis of your right-standing before God.

      In closing, I want to return to these question, which I sincerely hope you will reflect on:

      Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to ‘love God with all your whole heart, mind, soul and strength’? Note the ‘all’. Are you really willing to claim that there is not one single area in your whole life or one moment of the day that could be more devoted to God? If so, then you are not giving ‘all’ and are breaking this commandment. And I actually agree with you (and James 2:10) that to break a single commandment is to break them all. So if you do not keep the law by loving God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength every moment of every day you are condemned as a law-breaker. If you are a law-breaker, on what basis do you think that God will accept you? Is God just or unjust? Will he accept law-keepers into his kingdom or law-breakers?

      And where in the Bible does it say that God requires us to obey his stern commandments ‘to the best of our conscience and ability’? Imagine that I said “I keep God’s command to not commit adultery to the best of my ability. And when I break this command, I repent as soon as possible. And I do lots of other good works, so I’m sure God will forgive me.” Instead, I read in the Bible ‘cursed is everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law’ (Gal. 3:10) and ‘there is no one righteous, not even one’ (Rom. 3:10). Doesn’t it seem like you are lowering God’s standards so that you can justify your failure to keep all the righteous requirements of the law? Perhaps you need a perfect righteousness and a Savior who will rescue you not on the basis of your own performance but on the basis of his perfect atonement for sinners.

      I know you are concerned that Christians live holy lives of practical obedience. And you’ll never hear me speak against that desire; that is precisely what God commands of us. But tragically, in your concern for holiness, you have abandoned the gospel. You have actually lowered God’s righteous standards so that you can meet his requirements. But you can’t. Before God, you are no more righteous than the most immoral prostitute or bikini-wearing Christian or robber or evil-doer or adulterer or tax collector. The good news is that God can clothe us with Christ’s righteousness and count us as righteous in Christ even though we are naturally dead in sin. Christ’s righteousness, not our own, is the basis for our justification. Even our best, most sincere attempts at holiness fall short of God’s standards, which is why we need a Savior:
      “for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” – Rom. 3:23-25

      In Christ,
      Neil

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      1. Paul is Jewish Pharisee (paralegal/ lawyer) and he is writing to Jews who know the law. The giving of the Spirit is downpayment and not the whole ranch (Eph 1:14).

        The Jews in Galatia were “in the stage of conception” spiritually with Christ. Christ had not been formed in them as the seasoned apostle. This process requires crucification. This is the way of the disciple (“daily pick up your cross”) and is a process “I die daily” ~1 Cor 15:31

        It is one matter to make a profession of Christ and receive the down payment of the Spirit of God.
        It is quite another matter to persevere in faith until we attain the inward resurrection necessary for the outward resurrection of the body. Our objective, as was true of the Apostle Paul, is to attain to the resurrection from the dead – the resurrection to the fullness of eternal life.

        Nowhere does in the OT/NT “while we are in the world we have to sin”. In fact, the opposite in Rom 6:3 “no longer debtors to the flesh”. Titus

        Regarding “how does justification work” – One is only “justified/ /declared righteous by doing what G_D says.
        Many were declared righteous w/o the law (Noah, Enoch, Abraham to name few).
        It was their conduct – They were decent people who believed and obeyed G_D when He told them exactly what to do (like build a +600 foot boat in your backyard when it hasn’t rained yet).
        The NT examples range from
        This ranges from giving a cup of cold water to a prophet, from how people treat the brothers of Christ, helping the poor, to resisting sin to the point of bloodshed to sufferings for your sake and I fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of the Christ in my flesh for the sake of his body,

        It is the “way of righteousness” as Peter and Christ referred to it as.
        One is part of the solution or part of the problem – G_D prefers hot or cold. The “Luke Warm” is the problem.

        “The righteous LIVE by faith”
        -righteous – acceptable conduct
        -live is ones actions /words /behavior
        -faith is believing and doing what G_D say
        It is not the “(un)righteous live by belief”

        One reaps EXACTLY what they sow – there is no scripture that states “profession of Christ” minimizes, subtracts, or nullifies the commandments of Christ and the apostle. In fact, quite the opposite
        – Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say ?
        – You believe in G_D… evil spirits also believe this, and shudder
        – What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. Mt 8:29
        – The witch in Acts 16:17 .. are servants of God who are telling you the way to be saved.
        Belief in G_D counts for nothing unless He one does what He says.

        Here is a analogy.
        My background is in medical. There are a countless number of people that go to doctor for a illness and then ignore the doctors advice. While they believe the doctor – they dont take their medications or change their habits.
        Do they believe the doctor ? OF COURSE ! But not enough to change their behavior due to ambivalence. Christ said the same exact thing – John 3:19-21.

        “Even our best, most sincere attempts at holiness fall short of God’s standards”
        Chapter & verse please ???????

        It would appear you are confusing righteousness & holiness.
        – righteousness is ones good conduct
        – holiness is freedom from unclean spirits

        G_D required Israel to be holy and has upped the ante in the NC – the disciple takes a very active role since “without holiness, no one will see the L_RD” and James wrote that “our spiritual service is to keep one unspotted from the world”. In addition Paul wrote this to the church in Cornith as was quoting OT
        “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;..go out from their midst, and be separate from them..and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons.. .Since we have these promises…let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

        Basic reasoning stands if LET US “DOESN’T” come out and be separate from every defilement of body and spirit bringing holiness to completion then G_D will NOT welcome and be a father and we will NOT be sons.

        As you mentioned the greatest commandment is to “love God with all your whole heart, mind, soul and strength’
        Jesus said ” if you love me, obey my commandments”
        If we dont obey Jesus – then we dont love him and His Father will not come and make us His dwelling place (John 14:23)
        Love is demonstrated is obedience not a emotional response. Jesus never said – if you love me give me a kiss/hug. I suggest reading 1 Cor 13 for the definition of love – they are all behaviors and not emotions.
        G_DS love toward man is seen in the Garden of Eden and calvary to name a few.
        Mans love toward G_D is seen in obedience to what HE says.

        Jesus was very very black & white when it came to known sin- dont make a excuse – knock it off (ie cut off your hand / pluck out your eye). When he caught the woman in adultery – He was very clear about going and sinning no more. Because she was brought to Him first instead of the Sanhedrin – she wasn’t stoned. In John 5:14 He was very clear – Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.
        In addition the both the OC and NC points this out and is mentioned in Hebrews 10:25 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left”
        I suggest you read Heb 10:26 for the consequence of “deliberately keep on sinning” beside the natural consequences that accompany bad/evil/immoral behavior ( financial, medical, social, emotional, mental etc)…

        The oldest lie(s) ever told were:
        – “did G_D really say that ?”
        – “In death, you will not die”

        G_D means exactly what HE says.
        “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his G_d and he will be my son. (Rev 21:7)
        What is true of us if we choose to yield to our sinful nature?
        We do not inherit all the glory described in the last two chapters of the Book of Rev.
        “If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it.” (death is separation from G_d)
        G_d is not our G_d and we are not His son and we are not righteous nor justified.
        ~Shalom

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