Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Two Parts of Justification Under the Law

The two parts of justification under the law seem to be active and passive efforts to please God. Actively, we do things like sacrifice to atone for our sins. Passively we abstain from doing the things that make us unclean or that break God's laws. These things are motivated by bitter envy and selfish ambition. We either want something that someone else has, or we want to be better than someone else. This is the double edged sword that we stab ourselves with every day.

Under active sacrifice would fall reading more books to increase our knowledge out of sheer desire to gain more knowledge for ourselves. Being incredibly productive at work with a goal of being noticed by the boss would be another example. This is a mindset that desires personal advancement by magnifying the laziness of others and magnifying the importance of self so as to be seen for what one's personal worth is and that it is much higher than those around you. This becomes a system of works righteousness.

The other side of the coin with which we passively promote ourselves and try to be justified by the Law is by not doing some things that others do that are sinful. I don't have sex with women that I am not married to. Therefore, I am better loved by God and ought to be more highly blessed in what I do. I also deserve to be more richly rewarded both here now and in the life to come. Going back to the previous paragraph, in productivity, I refrain from laziness (passivity) and do productiveness (activity). Or I refrain from sex and do chastity. These are the two sides of justification by the Law.

What this leads to is a mentality that sees oneself as a living, breathing version of the Lord Jesus. It becomes a person who is justified by grace but thinks that with their efforts that they have obtained a degree of sinlessness. I'll give you an example from my own life: 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love "believeth all things". When I hear of a promise that someone else made, and make judgements on their ability to keep it, merely on the basis of the way I perceive their character to be. I judge them as promising something that they are unable to fulfill, simply because I view them as less spiritually mature than myself. I don't take them at their word because I see their ability to keep their promise (the Law) as less than mine because I view them as not having the Holy Spirit (even though I am not sure if they are saved or not).

Furthermore, I imagine that I know what is really in their hearts because I remember a few Scriptures about Jesus, "knowing their thoughts" or "knew what they were thinking in their hearts" or "But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man" Joh 2:24-25. I picture myself as being so discerning that I can actually judge their character as to whether they will keep their word or not.

I actually see unsaved people do this all the time. Where do you think the phrase, "good judge of character" came from? But this is far from something a sactified and justified and glorified person should be doing. The Bible is clear. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" 1Co 13:7. If I find myself not doing these things, I can be sure that I don't know the grace of being forgiven because I don't think my sins are very bad.

My only plea is to hate this in myself and desire to obey God. To realize that this attitude does not come from God but is a part of me that needs to die. "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry"
Col 3:5. Why persist in this sin? If you realize that you are doing it, don't give up calling upon God every day to free you from a love of self and ask him for a love for others. Review the gospel that tells you that you are nothing and think you are something: "For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself" Gal 6:3. This verse doesn't say that some of us are something and some aren't, only those who know they are nothing are actually something. Those who think they are something point out to the Lord that they are really nothing.

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