What Does It Mean To Be The Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth (Part Two)
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: Walk as children of Light
(For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light
For whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries,
and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and
ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will
take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,
and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them].
I. Introduction to Part Two
Part One, covered the following:
- The entirety of the Triune Godhead is Light.
- The Lord Jesus Christ, The Head of the Body, is Light.
- The Body of Christ is Light through (1) eternal vital union with the Lord, (2) the quickening power of the Holy Ghost (for our quickened spirits are a light that will never be put out), and (3) through our declaration of the Gospel and the Law of God.
- The Law of God, and the Gospel of God, together being the whole counsel of God (the entirety of the Holy Bible) is, in itself, Light.
- The flaming and fiery judgment of God, and the condemnation and wrath associated with it, are Light.
- The flaming and fiery judgment of God, ties-in with divine sacrifice, and thus divine salvation, which (being part of the Gospel message) is Light.
- Light, from a biblical point of view, must incorporate words like lamp, candle, fire, flame, sun, moon, star(s), morning, day star, morning star, light-bearer, lightning, burn(ing), shine(ing), bright(ness), brilliance, white, etc. By viewing the various forms of these words in the Greek and Hebrew, we see a great deal of inter-connectivity, amplification, and reinforcement (even more so than what is readily discernible via the English alone). This is especially true regarding how variations of the same words (based on grammatical forms, root words, and derivatives) link key terms together, displaying more clearly how they relate, and enabling us to see more readily how multiple facets of doctrine tie-in that, on the surface, do not necessarily appear to be directly related.
Point seven takes on greater relevance in this current part, as it concerns how intimately the shining of our Light, as the Light of the World (which is the Light of Christ in and through us), ties-in with what we say, that is, what we declare via our mouths concerning biblical truth. Our Light is primarily made manifest through witnessing, preaching, teaching, and the like. This is especially true when we are in new environments, speaking briefly to strangers, addressing a large audience, interacting in forums where one is not physically present, etc. There are many times when our Light is made manifest by sharing the word of Truth only to find that we rarely, if ever, see that person again. During such times, our conduct and character, our God-wrought good works and upright walk, are of little consequence so long as we are not actively engaged in manifest sin or associated with a poor reputation (regarding sin) that precedes us. Again, I point to Philip with the Ethiopian Eunuch as a prime example; his Light was made manifest, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, and according to the will of the Father, as he expounded upon the scroll of Isaiah. There was little time for the Ethiopian to make an in-depth assessment as to the nature of Philip’s character or good works; the good work that counted in this scenario, and in many others, was his being sent of God and given the grace to open up Scripture in such a manner as to make manifest the glorious Light of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
It is important to understand that these truths are not mere academics nor should they be viewed as dry doctrine to be disdained in favour of something more experimental in style or subject. A right understanding of light, law, our walk, and how light is manifested before men, directly relates to (1) the character of Christ, (2) the work of Christ, (3) the work of the Godhead in light of the finished work of Christ, and (4) our role in this world in light of our union with Christ. These matters go to the very heart of what it means to be a Christian, manifestly speaking, in this wicked world. Therefore, the question at hand in this second part is: How Is Light Made Manifest By The Body Of Christ and How Does It Relate To The Law of God? The answer is a needful one; divine Light is made manifest through the Body of Christ, by both our biblical declarations and through our God-wrought works. So it is through both (1) the proclamation of Divine Law and Gospel (i.e. grace seasoned with judgment in light of the entirety of Scripture, though the preaching of the cross is paramount) and (2) The Adorning of the Gospel (our Christian character and conduct; our walk and warfare), that the Light of Christ in us, and through us, shines before men.
Note that to some, the above may seem legalistic, anti-gospel because the word law is included. By law, I do not mean the Mosaic law, that abrogated aspect of Old Testament law as found in civil, judicial, and ceremonial statutes, ordinances, or commandments. These types and figures were all put away by the blessed work of the Divine Antitype, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not called upon to observe holy days, sacrifices, the various baptisms/washings, strict dietary regulations (except for a few prohibitions), pilgrimages, religious-based circumcisions, etc. However, by law, I mean all of the commandments of God that have not been specifically abrogated/annulled/done away with by Christ during this New Testament era. Christians are not lawless, they are not against the law; they establish the law manifestly, through Him who fulfilled it on their behalf. Moreover, the entire unsaved world, not having a divine Substitute, will be judged by the law of God and this law is not to be hid by the true Church of God. This truth leads us to the next section…
II. Light, Law, and the Work of God in our Regenerate Lives.
The Lord Jesus specifically stated the following (note the fuller meanings of the key words at issue):
Matthew 5:13-22 “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light [phōs/G5457] of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle [lychnos/G3088], and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light [lampō/G2989] unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light [phōs/G5457] so shine [lampō/G2989] before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
17 Think not that I am come to destroy [katalyō; G2647; to overthrow; dissolve; bring to nought; render vain] the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill [plēroō; G4137; to complete or accomplish; to make full or to fill to the full; to cause to abound; to furnish or supply liberally; to bring into effect or realisation]. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass [parerchomai; G3928; pass away; perish; be averted; be passed over (in the sense of being neglected, omitted)] from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break [lyō; G3089; unloose; loosen; undo, dissolve; unbind; annul; subvert; do away with; deprive of authority; destroy; or overthrow] one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
We see in the above that in connection with being the salt of the earth and the light of the world we, as Christians, are to “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works.” Right afterwards, right after mentioning good works, the Lord goes on to declare that the law has not been destroyed/dissolved/overthrown but fulfilled in such a sense that it has both been completed/accomplished and also brought into abounding effect/realization by Him. The Lord, in fulfilling the law, established it thoroughly and perfectly for His people. He became, and remains, our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Christ put away the typical aspects of the law, i.e., those abrogated commandments that were nailed to the cross with Him and which only served to point us to Him, by typifying Him and His great salvific work (such as the commandments concerning sacrifices, ceremonies, washings, observance of days, etc.). The rest of the law was affirmed in that the Lord was judged according to it, as the reprobate will be, seeing that they have no Saviour that will stand in their stead. Though the Lord Jesus Christ was sinless in Himself, He took upon Himself the sin of His elect bride, His eternal congregation, His eternally chosen sheep, and (in light of their sin) was judged according to the fullness of the law. He then endured the wrath and condemnation of God due that sin, in light of His holy law, enduring it to the utmost, even to the point wherein the law was fully satisfied, justice completely affirmed, and the sin utterly borne away, even being put away forever (never to be seen, and never to accuse us, again).
Now the manifest evidence of our sin being put away, amongst other things, is that we do the good works that God has ordained for us to do; not to merit salvation, nor to maintain it, nor even to improve upon it, but we work out God’s good works for us as the result of our salvation; it is the very fruit of it, by the divine operation of the Holy Spirit in our life, in light of our vital union with Christ Jesus the Lord. You cannot separate salvation from a godly walk (to one degree or another, all Christians will live godly as it pertains to the course of their life, despite their stumbles and falls). You cannot say that one is saved, i.e. quickened and converted, and then deny that they are saved in such a manner as to be yoked, in a very real way, to the spiritual law of God. By yoked, I mean one with, and not under the dominion of. A quickened saint is one who has the law of God, even His commandments, placed into their hearts! This cannot be refuted, and should never be doubted, especially in light of the following:
Ezekiel 36:24-28 “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, AND CAUSE YOU TO WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND YE SHALL KEEP MY JUDGMENTS, AND DO [THEM]. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God“[See 2 Corinthians 6:16].
Ezekiel 11:17-20 “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. 18 And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. 19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 THAT THEY MAY WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND KEEP MINE ORDINANCES, AND DO THEM: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.“
Hebrews 8:10-13 “For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that He saith, A new [covenant], He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an Husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah 32:37-41 “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in Mine anger, and in My fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be My people, and I will be their God: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My Fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with My whole heart and with My whole soul.”
Hebrews 10:16 “This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Through the imparting of the Holy Spirit by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, through His indwelling presence in us, God has established the law in our hearts forever. We read in John 6:63 that “It is The Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.” It is by the operation of the Holy Spirit that indwells us (that indwells all of God’s regenerate elect) that the words of God, His law for us, becomes spirit (spiritual) and life. Romans 7:10,14 clearly states that the law is spiritual and that it is unto life (or, ordained unto life); so here we see a clear yoking, or equating, of the words of Christ, with the law of God. Just as God’s words are spiritual and life, His law is spiritual and unto life. Yet, this is never true according to the printed letter alone, which is the deadness of the letter; the words become spirit and life only through the effectual working of the Holy Ghost within a quickened/born again/regenerated saint. We see this clearly stated in:
2 Corinthians 3:5-6 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of The Spirit: for the letter killeth, but The Spirit giveth life.”
This is why for the unregenerate, for the unsaved, the letter cannot save them; it cannot give them spiritual life, because they have not the Spirit of God in them to transform those words into that which is effectually spirit and effectually life. It is because of the absence of the Holy Spirit in their lives that the unregenerate can only sin in their attempts to keep the law. For the carnal mind, the law does nothing but fuel sin, strengthen sin, which further condemns the unsaved soul in light of the rigourous demands of the law; the letter, therefore, truly does kill them. This is why the reprobate are so without hope; if they have not Christ, they have not the Spirit, and if they have not the Spirit of God, nothing they do can please God because they are without that Spirit-wrought faith and that Spirit-wrought (spiritual) life required for there to be any Spirit-wrought good works. They have a spirit of their own, a wicked one, but that spirit is dead in trespasses and sins; there is no life therein of a nature that will allow them to communicate with God, let alone, please Him; so we can no more say that the fallen spirit within man has life than we can say that those in Hell have life. They both have eternal existence but that existence is equated with death; the Bible is very clear that those in Hell, though they exist, are experiencing eternal, perpetual, death — even the second death).
However, wherever there is Spirit-wrought life, there is Spirit-wrought faith, and where there is Spirit-wrought faith, there is Spirit-wrought fruit, good works, commandment keeping, all of which are one and the same thing. Both in the Spirit, and by the Spirit, the Christian (when walking after the Spirit by God’s grace) can do the works of God that the Lord has ordained for them to do. When the Spirit of God takes the words of God as found in scripture, whether written or spoken, He translates them from being mere words, and makes them spirit and life in His people to such a degree that the very law of God, even the word of God, is said to quicken (to give life, since it is life given by the Holy Ghost, through Christ who is our Life). That the word of God, even the law of God, when Spiritually-applied, gives both Life and Light is clear via such verses as:
Psalm 19:7 “The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple.”
Psalm 143:10-11 “Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou [art] my God: Thy Spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness. 11 Quicken me, O LORD, for Thy name’s sake: for Thy Righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
Psalm 119:24-29 “Thy testimonies also [are] my delight [and] my counsellors. 25 DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken Thou me according to thy word. 26 I have declared my ways, and Thou heardest me: teach me Thy statutes. 27 Make me to understand the way of Thy precepts: so shall I talk of Thy wondrous works. 28 My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto Thy word. 29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me Thy law graciously.“
Psalm 119:33-40 “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep it [unto] the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy law; yea, I shall observe it with [my] whole heart. 35 Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight. 36 Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; [and] quicken Thou me in Thy way. 38 Stablish Thy word unto thy servant, who [is devoted] to Thy fear. 39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for Thy judgments [are] good. 40 Behold, I have longed after Thy precepts: quicken me in Thy righteousness.“
Psalm 119:50-52 “This [is] my comfort in my affliction: for Thy word hath quickened me. The proud have had me greatly in derision: [yet] have I not declined from Thy law. I remembered Thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself…”
Psalm 119:92-95 “Unless Thy law [had been] my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget Thy precepts: for with them Thou hast quickened me. I [am] Thine, save me; for I have sought Thy precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: [but] I will consider Thy testimonies…”
Psalm 119:129-130 “Thy testimonies [are] wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for Thy commandments…“
Proverbs 4:18-27 “But the path of the just is as the shining [nogahh/H5051] light [‘owr/H216], that shineth [‘owr/H215] more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked [is] as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. 20 My son, attend to My words; incline thine ear unto My sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they [are] life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee [see Luke 11:33-36]. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
The above passages clearly equate God’s sayings with His words, His commandments, His testimonies, His precepts, His statutes, His judgments, etc., all of which are synonymous with His law; they are all the same thing and when you begin to understand this, you begin to see how relevant they are for our lives as Christians. These words, when spiritually discerned and received, are life because the Holy Spirit of God effectually makes it so in our hearts, in our minds, even according to our inward man. It would be a fearful thing for anyone to argue that we are free to ignore the commandments above simply because we are dead to the law for righteousness and no longer subject to it as being under its dominion. We are set free to serve, we are bond-servants of Christ, and the Master always has words of instruction for His slaves, as does the King for His people, the Husband for His wife, the Father for His children, the Firstborn for His brethren, and the Shepherd for His sheep. In light of this and because (1) the law has not been destroyed/annulled/overturned; (2) God has ordained (from before the world was) that we should walk in the good works that He has predetermined for us (Ephesians 2:10) and that He works out in us, and through us, (Philippians 2:13 and Isaiah 26:12); and (3) we are not to break, i.e., loosen ourselves or others from, dissolve, unbind, subvert, overthrow, annul, or do away with the non-abrogated commandments of God, we should be able to affirm the biblical truth that “[Christ] gave Himself for us [for His elect bride], that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14) and that we should “…consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
I suspect that the question that many will ask is: What constitutes good works? Is it just looking to Christ? Is it our (God-wrought) faith, alone? Is it limited to prayer, witnessing, testifying, and leaving all else to God? Or do our good works include works of the law (i.e. the non-abrogated commandments), whether they concern almsdeeds (Acts 9:36); labouring in the ministry of the word and of the family (1 Timothy 3:1 and 1 Timothy 5:10); giving to those in need (especially those in Christ, 1 Timothy 6:18); being discreet, chaste, honourable, faithful, honest, righteous, godly (putting God’s will first), grave/sober-minded, sincere, diligent, temperate; sound in speech, faith, patience, charity, and doctrine; obedient to those in authority, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and teaching and exhorting others to do the same (Titus 2:1-15); etc. Clearly, good works equate to works of the law, works that establish/fulfill the law (manifestly), particularly, as they are done in the right motive (the love of God); they are synonymous with keeping the commandments; they are the result of the Spirit of God bearing fruit in our lives in light of our eternal vital union with Christ and the righteousness He established for all who were chosen in Him from eternity. Through the Holy Spirit, James had this to say:
James 3:13-18 “Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
Consider also the following, as an example of what good works entail:
1 Peter 2:11-19 “Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18 Servants, [be] subject to [your] masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this [is] thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”
Titus 2:1-10 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine [didaskalia; G1319; instruction, teaching, precepts]: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine [shewing] uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9 [Exhort] servants to be obedient unto their own masters, [and] to please [them] well in all [things]; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
Many will argue that we cannot live up to the above; in a real sense, they are right. Many will say that the commandments are too arduous and the law is too demanding, that it requires perfect obedience, and that if we fail in one aspect we fail in all. However, this is utterly incorrect! Such a statement would only be true if we “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish [our] own righteousness, have not submitted [ourselves] unto the righteousness of God [which equates to denying that]…Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:3-4). The law is indeed too demanding, too exacting, if we hope to ever be able to generate a righteousness, or a degree of holiness for ourselves, worthy of being brought before God for His acceptance in the stead of the Righteousness of His Beloved Son. God in Heaven would never view such a man-made, or man-aided, righteousness or sanctification as being acceptable/satisfactory in His sight. His holiness, justice, and perfection requires nothing short of absolute obedience to His law and all who seek to establish a righteousness of their own, in lieu of Christ being their perfect righteousness, will be damned if they die in such a state.
However, this is not what is in view in this article. The good works (commandment-keeping) is not about establishing a righteousness for ourselves; our good works are not designed to get us right with God. Instead, our good-works evidence (1) what Christ has already done (perfected, completed) for us concerning our righteousness and sanctification and (2) what the Triune Godhead does on our behalf (concerning our manifest righteousness and sanctification) as a result of what Christ already accomplished (i.e., His blessed, finished, and completely satisfactory redemptive work). God has purposed to work out our good works in us seeing that we are already right with Him through the blood of Christ. The life that we have in the Lord Jesus, the vital union we have with Him forever, and our righteousness which is Him, is accompanied by a God-wrought desire to be more like Him, to be more and more conformed to His image and likeness. Romans 8:28-29 declares that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [His] purpose. 29 For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” This conforming is directly related to being transformed by the renewing of our minds and also to our God-ordained, God-wrought good works, which is our reasonable service, which is our commandment keeping.
Romans 12:1-2 declares “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” And how does this renewing take place? by the Spirit of God? Yes! but in a vacuum? No! We are renewed via the word as it is applied to our hearts by the Holy Ghost; we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God [lit. is God-breathed], and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” and in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 “But God hath revealed [them] unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [remember that God’s word, even the law of God, is spiritual]. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Moreover, we are saved for a purpose; we are saved to serve the Lord God. If, by the Spirit of strength and grace, we serve the Lord God, then by default we serve the spiritual law. Again, we are not under that law; it has no dominion over us; yet, by the Spirit of God, through His operation in us (in light of our union with Christ), we indeed serve the law of God. This is why we read:
Romans 7:4-18, 22-25 “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin [was] dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me]. 12 Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not… 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
After the inner man, that inward man yoked to Christ, that quickened spirit that has been created in righteousness after the image of Him (Christ) which created it, delights in the law. This inward man says amen! to 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” The law of God, His non-abrogated commandments, are such a delight to us that they can never be deemed grievous. Yet, we are in this body of death, and to this wicked body the commandments are grievous. This is due to the enmity of the flesh against the Spirit and the desire of the flesh to have the dominion though it cannot truly (though it does experimentally during those times wherein we are taken captive by sin in thought, word, omission, or deed). However, I believe that every true Christian will affirm that it is not the commandments that are grievous but our grief lies in our inability to perfectly keep them; this wretched body grieves us because, due to the flesh and the indwelling sin therein, we cannot do the good that we would. Nonetheless, the Christian sees the law as spiritual, as delightful, as not grievous but joyous, and as something that is to be honoured, meditated upon, and kept in the heart (seeing that it reveals to us the very mind, nature, character, and goodness of God). It also helps us to understand the unspeakable importance of what Christ did for us during His incarnation, especially at the cross, and just how much we need both Him and His Righteousness to keep us and sustain us during our own sojourn here (especially as we see ourselves falling so utterly short, constantly, of the perfection of the law). The word of God, the law of God, is the Lord’s teaching/doctrine/instruction for us and it is both a blessing to have it and even more so a blessing to have the strength to obey it — and obey it we will (though never perfectly) seeing that that being dead to the law (in the sense of being free from being under it, under it’s dominion) wherein we were held; we can now serve [God and His law, in our regenerate minds] in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter.
Yet some will continue to object; they will say that faith is their only law and that the Holy Spirit is their only light, rule, or guide. My response is that faith, if it is God-wrought, will also be accompanied (to one degree or another) by God-wrought works for “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). It is language like this that makes Antinomian wolves in sheep’s clothing want to throw the book of James out of holy canon; they would rather see a portion of God’s word destroyed altogether than to bow before it; however, these false professors will never have their way. Yet many who do not go so far as to remove portions of God’s word from the Bible still maintain that faith is their only law. My response then is: do away with the Bible altogether! If faith is your only law, and the Holy Spirit your only guide/rule, then what need do you have for Scripture? You may as well not stop with James but throw out the entire Bible; and yet, Christians (when rightly contemplating these matters) will no doubt affirm that though faith is paramount, and the operation of the Holy Spirit is paramount (second only to the Person and work of Christ and seeing that there is no true faith that isn’t a direct product of the operation of the Holy Spirit), we must realise that God works through means, and His means declares that faith cometh by hearing, and that hearing is by the word of God — the same source from whence our divine teaching and instruction comes.
One doesn’t need to first read the entire Bible before they can have biblical faith; however, one who maintains that they can have biblical faith whilst simultaneously denying the validity of entire portions of the Bible (rather as edifying types or as applicable instruction for our day) has a very real spiritual problem. If one says, “I do not need to read God’s word concerning this matter or that, I only need to read the part about the cross,” they fail to understand how the Bible was formed and designed. If they say “I don’t want to consider the instruction of God, His law and commandments, I only want to “look to Jesus,” they are deceiving themselves for there is no looking to Jesus, aright, without looking unto His doctrine/teaching/instruction. We know this because the Lord Himself stated:
John 14:15, 21 “If ye love me, keep My commandments. … 21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.”
John 15:10 “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
Matthew 12:48-50 “…Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? 49 And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in Heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.”
I must repeat myself… even again; these are not conditions for salvation, we do not keep the commandments to “get saved” or to “stay saved.” We keep them, to the degree that God both ordained and enables, because we are already saved, already righteous and already holy in Christ; therefore, God operates in us to manifest this righteousness and holiness, as Light, before the world. It is not of us, and it is not to establish anything we can offer to God; it is simply a matter of God working in, and through, us to establish His purpose seeing that we are often the means that He uses to either draw people unto Himself (via gospel preaching, etc.) or to harden the hearts of the wicked (as with Pharaoh before Moses). Moreover, we do not keep the commandments being ignorant of them. Those who simply “look to Christ” or “trust in the Spirit” or “walk in the Spirit,” thinking they can do so without taking heed to the portions of the Bible addressing the areas wherein they need improvement, deceive themselves. The Holy Spirit operates through the word of God; He leads through the word of scripture as He applies the spiritual truth found therein to our hearts; He generates faith in us to walk by faith, and to walk in Him, but only to the degree that said faith comes by hearing. One cannot purposely ignore entire portions of scripture, saying “do not speak to me of those verses that convict me, of those verses that point out my sin, that bring me down, and make me feel bad, or that tell me what I should be doing when I know I am not doing it; all I want to do is hear about Christ because anything else doesn’t make me feel good!,” and yet expect to grow in grace, love, and the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. It is by a God-wrought willingness to consider, and heed, all of scripture that we mature aright and have an understanding of those areas that we need the most growth in, so that we can petition God, in prayer, to have grace and mercy in these areas so that, by the Holy Spirit, we can grow thereby. It is sheer deception to despise the law, want nothing to do with it, want nothing to do with the instructive commandments of God, and yet expect to nonetheless “walk by faith” or “walk by the Spirit” or to “look to Christ only” anyway. If you despise the means, you despise the grace, and that is the problem with much of professing (even non-freewill-promoting) Christianity.
Revisiting Matthew 5:19 for a moment, which reads “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven;” some will go on to insist that the only person who both did and taught the commandments was Christ. In a real sense, this is absolutely true. Christ is the only Person who perfectly did all that the Father commanded Him to do and perfectly taught His people to do the same. However, to limit the passage to the Lord Jesus only undermines the clear intent of the teaching at hand. This passage reveals that in Christ, through union with Him, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, we should strive to shine forth as light (manifestly), doing His revealed will for our lives, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (knowing that we can do so only because “…it is God who worketh in [us] both to will and to do of His good pleasure“). The reality of this is evident given that the next set of verses (in Matthew 5) go on to demonstrate what is in view by shining as light, keeping the commandments, and so on. So we must affirm that Christ is our objective righteousness; He provided the only righteousness that one can bring before God. In this sense we can rightly declare that our Righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, exceeds that of the Pharisees (who have no righteousness whatsoever of their own). However, our manifest or subjective righteousness, being God-wrought, also exceeds theirs. This is the piece that many forget when they read the next part of the passage “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Christian manifestly (i.e. before men and God) exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees because, by the Spirit of God in us, we doeth righteousness. The Pharisees, not having the Holy Spirit, and thus not having God-wrought faith, did not have God-wrought good works; they could do nothing that pleased God. So though they spoke about good works, and taught others to engage in them, they did not because they could not. Whereas the Christian, when walking according to the Spirit of God, which is walking by faith in love, both does and teaches others to do the same.
Some will continue to maintain that the above-referenced passages, when considered in light of the utter holiness of the law of God, does nothing but condemns us; that we really cannot do good and teach others to so do. They argue that anything we do is but filthy rags. They maintain this because they (1) cannot get beyond the fear of works-righteousness and (2) fail to understand that what God, Himself, works in us cannot be deemed filthy rags. They cannot understand that the Christian is called to serve the law, establish (manifestly) the law, without being under the law, or subject to the law, and without going about to establish their own righteousness by way of the law. They are stuck in this erroneous mindset that any interaction with the law, any desire after it, any love for it, is tantamount to either works righteousness or being under the dominion and curse of the law. Yet, we cannot be subject to their limitations; just because they misunderstand does not mean that we should walk in accordance with their error. We should all the more desire to read the law, hear it, and obey it, because (1) it is good; (2) it is spiritual, (3) it is Christ-like, and (4) it is given for our own spiritual good when rightly apprehended and wielded.We are actually denying an important work of God in us if we deny that we can actually do all the good that He has ordained for us to do, seeing that he works in out in us. May it never be that we call His work filthy, or sinful, or imperfect, even if it is wrought out in those who are due to this body of death.
Consider also that as a Christian, washed in the blood of Christ, having His righteousness as my own, nowhere am I called, or required, to obey the law perfectly; God only commands that I keep His commandments (guarding them in my heart, so as to do them, as God enables)… striving to do so, and praying that God will give me grace to do it all the more. If I fall here, or there, which I will, then it is simply an opportunity to acknowledge my sin, confess it, run to the blood, and beseech Him for further strength to do that which I know is right. This isn’t legalism, this is common sense Christianity for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Those who argue otherwise fail to realise that our inability to keep the law perfectly, though we desire to do so, can never affect our standing in Christ, before God, because our motive has nothing to do with the establishment of our own holiness or righteousness. Again, though we ever fall short of the law’s perfection, this falling short cannot hurt us (from an eternal viewpoint); in fact, in a real sense, this falling short helps us for it reveals to us our great need — both of the salvific work of Christ at the cross and also of the maintaining work of Christ via the Holy Spirit in light of our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption in Him.
So to recap, the law itself reveals to us (1) the pristine, holy nature of Christ, even His perfect character and His great blessedness, in obeying the law of God perfectly in the stead of His elect; (2) the very instruction (doctrine, teaching) that God has ordained for our lives, making clear His will for us, as a light unto our way (as it is made effectual by the operation of the Holy Spirit); (3) the light we need to properly see those areas of our lives wherein we need to grow, wherein we need to run to Him for greater strength, wisdom, and grace (seeing how we do, indeed, fall so very short of the perfection of the law); and it reveals to us (4) the non-abrogated commandments that all mankind, outside of Christ, are under (which allows us to reveal to the unsaved world the sinful nature of our collective being and ways, and the eternal and fiery wrath due our sin by nature, which circles back to the first entry on this list, which is the Person of Christ and His great salvific work on behalf of His people). So long as it is rightly apprehended, we should love the law, delight in it, and never seek to subvert, annul, or overthrow it.
III. Light Is Made Manifest By Our God-Ordained Walk [Our Gospel Adorning]
That light is made manifest through our Christian walk should be obvious in light of the above, and the whole of Scripture; however, as with all things, we should attempt to prove rather than merely assert.
As discussed further below, phaneroō (made manifest) stems from phaneros, and phaneros from phainō, and phainō from phao, and phao is the root from whence phōs derives. To understand the significance of this, consider it in reverse: (1) phōs is light (as in “ye are the phōs of the world”); (2) phōs is derived from the root phao which means both to shine and to make manifest (especially by rays of light); (3) phao is the root from whence phainō derives (phainō is actually a prolonged form of phao); (4) phainō literally means to lighten or shine; however it also means (via usage) to appear or be seen (in the sense of shining forth or being brought forth into light; to have light shed upon it to make it visible, manifest, or apparent); (5) phainō is the root for phaneros, an adjective meaning apparent, manifest, evident, and/or known; (6) phaneros is the root of phaneroō, which is a verb meaning to make manifest, visible, known, etc. So in the above, we see how light directly ties-in with being made manifest, being made apparent, and being revealed, declared, set forth, etc. Remember that it is said of the true Christian “Ye are the light [phōs/G5457] of the world” (Matthew 5:14); notice also that we see in John 3:21 above that “he that doeth truth cometh to The Light.” Seeing that the ones doing truth are the ones who are the light of the world, we can understand more clearly that it is (a) The Light of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ who (through the Holy Spirit) (b) causes the light of the world (His body) to come to Him so that (c) their deeds/works/ergon may be made manifest by Him (i.e. by The Light) (d) as being wrought not only in God but also by God for “the LORD will ordain peace for us, seeing that He has wrought all of our works in us” (Isaiah 26:12).
It is God who forms the light, and creates darkness: He makes peace, and creates evil: the LORD God does all these things (Isaiah 45:7), and in so doing, when He creates that light in/through us, we shine as lights in/by/through Him unto the world at large. So we have Light (Christ), through Light (The Spirit), causing light (Christians) to come to Him, so as to shine light upon their God-wrought deeds, manifesting that they are indeed wrought in the Light (Christ), by the Light (the Holy Spirit), according to the sovereign will and purpose of the Light (God the Father). Thus, it is through the works that God, Himself, works in us that we manifest light, even shine as light, for “in this the children of God are manifest [phaneros/G5318/revealed in, and by, light], and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
Consider the following affirming passages:
1 John 2:3-11 And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. 5 But whoso keepeth His word, in Him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. 6 He that saith he abideth in Him ought Himself also so to walk, even as He walked. 7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and The True Light [phōs/G5457] now shineth [phainō/G5316]. 9 He that saith he is in The Light [phōs/G5457], and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in The Light [phōs/G5457], and there is none occasion of stumbling in Him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
[Note: It is a new commandment which thing is true because, through the finished work of Christ, and through the guidance and operation of the Holy Spirit, we are able to do it to the degree that He has foreordained for us; that is, we can do all that He works in us, having ordained that he should work it in us, and that we should (as light) manifest it before the world]
Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the Armour of Light [phōs/G5457] 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on The Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].
Ephesians 5:14-16 Wherefore he saith, Awake Thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Luke 12:33-37 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 Let your loins be girded about, and [your] lights [lychnos/G3088] burning; 36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding; that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately. 37 Blessed [are] those servants, whom The Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly [phaneros/G5318]. 5 And when Thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen [phainō/G5316] of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly [phaneros/G5318]…16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear [phainō/G5316] unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear [phainō/G5316] not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly [phaneros/G5318].
Isaiah 58:1-8 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the House of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. 3 Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and Thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 8 THEN SHALL THY LIGHT BREAK FORTH AS THE MORNING, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and Thy Righteousness shall go before thee; the Glory of the LORD shall be thy Rereward.
Galatians 5:16-24 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest [phaneros/G5318], which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
These are not optional “suggestions” that can be ignored, downplayed, or broken [lyō; G3089; unloosed; loosened; undone, dissolved; unbound; annulled; subverted; done away with; deprived of their authority; destroyed; or overthrown]. God is clear that those who break the least of the commandments, that is who say (and teach others to say) that this, or any other non-abrogated commandment, is not for the Christian today, and is thus dissolved as it concerns us, even annulled, done away with, something that we do not have to keep (or observe to do), something that we can put far away from us or ignore altogether, will be deemed least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who invalidates a still valid commandment, and teaches others to do the same, is in a very problematic state; not so much when done by mere ignorance or error, concerning one here, or one there, but when they seek to annul the whole of the law, they do greatly err. They deny the clear truth before them. Even the Apostle Paul , as borne along by the Holy Spirit, validates the law, in its spiritual aspect and apprehension, in the believer’s life. Consider the following as evidence:
1 Corinthians 14:34-38 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, AS ALSO SAITH THE LAW. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that THE THINGS THAT I WRITE UNTO YOU ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD. 38 But if any man be ignorant, LET HIM BE IGNORANT.”
[NOTE: If anyone wants to argue that the law is not for us today as quickened saints, and that there are no commandments that we need to obey today, despite the fact that Paul clearly declares (through the Holy Spirit) that he is relaying God’s current, non-abrogated commandments, they are being ignorant — and if they want to be ignorant, let them be ignorant; we are not called to debate the obvious; those who do not want to submit to God’s will, will not submit, until and unless God intervenes in their lives (they are under a true, Antinomian spirit and only God can give them light)].
1 Corinthians 9:7-9 “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 Say I these things as a man? or SAITH NOT THE LAW THE SAME ALSO? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?”
[NOTE: The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Spirit of God, is taking the letter of the law and giving us the spiritual meaning of it, much like the Lord Jesus did in Matthew 5:21-48. If the law was utterly irrelevant to the life of the Christian, even in a spiritual sense, there would be no logical reason for him to reference it as something that affirms and validates his argument].
1 Corinthians 7:36-40 “But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of [her] age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth [her] in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth [her] not in marriage doeth better. 39 The wife is bound BY THE LAW as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”
[NOTE: If the above does not apply to Christians today, then divorce for any reason is justified, as is remarriage thereafter. In fact, if there is no law for the believer, if there is no non-abrogated commandment for the saints of God, then we cannot sin seeing that “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4) and “whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). If there is no longer any law to transgress, then there can no longer be anything called sin in our lives. Thus, adultery, murder, fornication, idolatry, thievery, etc. would be fine since there is no law against it in the life of the believer. Now the argument would be that the believer would never have a desire to do such things; however, the documented history of King David, King Solomon, Sampson, and others suggest otherwise. The fact is, anyone with the slightest semblance of sense understands that the believer is not lawless, not without law, not without the law in their hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit, though they be free from the curse, demands, and dominion of it.
So again, the New Testament commandments of God make up the current law, our current Nomos [G3551], our current parceled out nourishment for the flock (for the noun nomos comes from the verb nemo which means to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals), that God provides for His sheep, and makes digestible via His Holy Spirit (along with His blessed Gospel which must always have the preeminence over the law). If we are God’s, if we are born of Him, then to one degree or another, we will bear fruit; we will work out the good works that He created us unto seeing that we are His workmanship, and we will do so through His indwelling Spirit which is the very means by which he has put His law, statutes, and commandments in our heart, and causes us to both keep and do them (though never unto perfection, or anywhere near it, in this life).
Remember, we cannot do one good work that God does not, Himself, work out in us. We cannot commit a single sin that He, Himself, has not ordained for us. Christians do all that God has purposed for us to do (manifestly) and we are thankful to Him for it. When the Light of the Godhead, working through the Light of Christ, applies the Light of His word to our hearts (to our quickened spirits, which as a candle, is light), then we will, at that point in time, “…adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10), shining as light before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16) as we (by His grace and effectual working) “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Indeed we will be as those endeavoring to “let our conversation [conduct, behaviour, mode of life] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ, standing fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel (Philippian 1:27) seeing that the non-abrogated law, or commandments, of God declares that we are to do all things without murmurings and disputings that we may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:12-16). May God give us more and more strength, and grace, to translate these precepts out of the realm of mere letter-apprehension, and head-knowledge, and into the blessed realm of life application (though that term be despised in so many professing circles). Though I cannot stress enough that divine grace is essential for all of this, even the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, seeing that we have no strength to do this at all in, and of, ourselves; nonetheless, the word of God still stands:
Philippians 4:4-9 “Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
If we experimentally live by the above, as God enables, and pray to live by it all the more, then we will indeed shine, even brighter and brighter, as lights in this world — yet not without stumblings and falls, which are the manifest dimming of our light for a season, or seasons, at a time. Yet this too is light; for it is not in perfection, but in our own real and felt need, that we can more honestly and effectively declare the Light of God in Christ Jesus. Our Light makes manifest the reality that we, as true Christians, are all nothing more than sinners saved by grace, maintained by grace, and glorified (in Christ) by grace — never ceasing to rely on Christ, and His Spirit, to sustain us, and nourish us, through this earthly sojourn. No aspect of our Christian walk, nothing that can be deemed good, can be attributed to anyone, or anything, but God Himself. True light always points back to Christ and the Godhead in Him and with Him.
IV. Light Is Made Manifest By Our Witnessing [As We Declare the Gospel Truth in the Light of All of Scripture]
A. Phōs (Light); G5457; pronounced fō’s, is (as discussed above) closely associated with multiple words that are very important to this study. These words either stem from it or share a common root with it. The importance of these etymological connections is greater when it comes to our words (what we say/declare) than when it comes to our works.Through these words, I aim to show that light is yoked to voice, i..e. to that which is spoken, proclaimed, preached, namely, the Gospel of Christ (grace) and His law (the seasoning of salt) per the whole counsel of God.
As we continue, one thing to take particular note of is the use of the poetic device known as Synonymous Parallelism which occurs “when two or more cola have the same basic meaning. In other words, the second colon more or less repeats the first colon.” God uses numerous such devices to emphasize, affirm, and reinforce the facets of His one divine truth; however, this device is particularly helpful in making manifest the key connections between light… shining… through our voice… as we say/speak/tell… others about Christ and His Kingdom, making all things manifest. Consider:
Proverbs 1:25 “But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof;”
By setting at nought God’s counsel one would not (or consents not) to His reproof; by consenting not to His reproof (being unwilling to hear/obey it) they set at nought His counsel. Such parallelism is common in Scripture and we would do well to pay attention to it because it helps us to yoke together that which God yokes together, even when that yoking isn’t readily apparent. So when we read in…
Revelations 18:23 “And THE LIGHT [phōs/G5457] of a candle [lychnos/G3088] shall shine [phainō/G5316] no more at all in thee; and THE VOICE [phōnē/G5456] of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”
…We need to recognize that the light of a candle (when light and candle are rightly apprehended) equates to the voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride. The Voice is the Light and Christ (both Head and Body, Bridegroom and Bride) is the Candle.” The proof of this is clear as we consider that the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Light that lightens/shines upon the Holy City, which is the Body of Christ. We know that we, the Body of Christ, are the Temple of God. Yet we also know that Christ is the Temple of God. Moreover, we know that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of God; thus we know that the Temple of God is that place (Christ) wherein the Godhead dwells eternally with mankind (the elect). Consider these truths in light of the following passages:
- Revelations 21:22 “And I saw no temple therein: for The Lord God Almighty and The Lamb are The Temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for The Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the Light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the Light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.”
- John 2:18-21 “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But He spake of The Temple of His body.“
- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What? know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:16 “And what agreement hath the Temple of God with idols? for ye are the Temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
- Ephesians 2:19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the Household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner [Stone]; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an Holy Temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
- 1 Peter 2:4-9 “To whom coming, [as unto] a Living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe [He is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the Corner, 8 And a Stone of Stumbling, and a Rock of Offence, [even to them] which stumble at The Word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.”
- Revelations 22:5 “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for The Lord God giveth them Light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
- Psalm 36:7-9 “How excellent [is] Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. 8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house [see Psalm 65:4]; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. 9 For with thee [is] The Fountain of Life: in Thy Light shall we see Light.”
- Isaiah 60:19-21 “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but The LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting Light, and thy God thy Glory. 20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for The LORD shall be thine Everlasting Light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. 21 Thy people also [shall be] all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.”
- Psalm 84:11 “For The LORD God [is] a Sun and Shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good [thing] will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
The very use of light/voice and candle/[Bridegoom+Bride=Christ], given that is this a very clear example of synonymous parallelism, evidences that light…shines forth… through that which is voiced. The importance of such God-ordained literary/poetical/rhetorical devices in Scripture cannot be down-played. God not only chose His words but how He puts those words together to make manifest His intent. This is even more amazingly seen when you consider that the word voice [phōnē/G5456], pronounced fō-nā’, is closely related to [phainō/G5316], if not directly derived from it. Again, phainō means to lighten, to shine, to be bright or resplendent, to become evident, to be brought forth into the light, come to view, appear, etc. Remember also, that (1) phainō is simply a variation (a prolonged form) of the word phao which means to shine or make manifest, especially by rays and (2) phao is the direct root from whence phōs/light/G5457 derives. Thus, there is a direct rhetorical link between light and voice; there is a direct etymological link between light and shine and voice (which is phōs and phainō and phōnē, and which appears in the passage as, “…the phōs of a candle shall phainō no more at all in thee; and the phōnē…” This alone should prove how closely what we voice/say equates to what we (as light) shine forth, reveal, make manifest, etc. Consider another synonymous parallelism:
Matthew 10:26-28 “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I TELL you in darkness, [that] SPEAK ye in LIGHT [phōs/G5457]: and what ye HEAR in the ear, [that] PREACH ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” [See also Luke 12:1-5].
Here, we see the parallel between tell and hear and between speak and preach. Likewise we see the parallel between darkness and secret (i.e. in the ear) and between light and upon the housetops. It should be clear that light here, has the sense of shining forth openly, clearly, for all to see/hear. So light is manifested before all, openly, through what we say, speak, preach, proclaim, etc. The word speak, as in speak ye in the light, is the word eipon/G2036 (pronounced ā’-pon), which means to say or speak and which is translated in the AV/KJV as (amongst other things) say eight hundred fifty-nine times, speak fifty-seven times and tell forty-one times. It is a commonly recognized synonym of phēmi/G5346 which means to say, to make known one’s thoughts, to declare. In the AV/KJV, it is translated as say fifty-seven times and affirm once, and phēmi derives directly from phao as does phōs and phainō. So though speak/eipon is not derived from a word for light it is directly synonymous with such a word. Also, concerning how light equates to preach (as with Matthew 10:26-28) above, consider:
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the Light [phōtismos/G5462] of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we PREACH not ourselves, but Christ Jesus The Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the LIGHT [phōs/G5457] to shine [lampō/G2989] out of darkness, hath shined [lampō/G2989] in our hearts, to [give] the Light [phōtismos/G5462] of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Notice how Gospel proclamation directly correlates to light shining. Notice also how God (1) commands the light of the Gospel to shine in the hearts of His people with (2) the express purpose of them giving Gospel light to others through preaching. Said another way, (a) God who is Light, through (b) Christ the Light of the world, commands that the (c) light of the Gospel shine in the hearts of those who, through Him, are likewise the (d) light of the world, so that they may shine forth the light of the Gospel before men so that other elect sinners (amongst the hearers) may hear the Truth and, through (d) the Spirit of God (who also is Light), themselves be enlightened as they are quickened by Him, and led to believe the Gospel Truth.
B. Phainō (Appears/Seems/Shines/); G5316; pronounced fī’-nō; is a verb that is formed via a prolongation of the base of phōs (G5457); as with many Greek nouns and verbs, they are simply variants of one another (and thus, closely related in meaning). In the AV/KJV, it is translated seventeen times as appear; ten times as shine; twice as be seen; and once each as either seem or think. It means to bring forth, to shine or cause to shine, to shed light, to be bright or resplendent, to become evident, to be brought forth into the light, to come to view, to appear, and to appear to the mind, seem to one’s judgment or opinion. Light appears [phainō/G5316] through words (as well as actions); notice how this word Phainō, so closely yoked with Phōs/G5457, pertains directly to declaring with the mouth, stating, or professing something.
Matthew 1:20 “But while he thought on these things, behold, The Angel of The Lord appeared [phainō/G5316] unto Him in a dream, saying, Joseph, Thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
Matthew 2:13 “And when they were departed, behold, The Angel of the Lord appeareth [phainō/G5316] to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.”
Luke 24:10-11 “It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary [the mother] of James, and other [women that were] with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed [appeared/phainō/G5316] to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.”
John 5:31-35 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true. 33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining [phainō/G5316] light [lychnos/G3088] : and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light [phōs/G5457].”
2 Peter 1:19 “We have also a more sure Word of Prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light [lychnos/G3088] that shineth [phainō/G5316] in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of old spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.”
It is clear then, that the word phainō, meaning to shine, and used in the sense of that which appears or shines forth, is often immediately associated with words, with saying/speaking something so as to reveal a thing, making it known. Thus, our Light is made manifest as it shines, as it appears through our voice, even through the words that (by God’s grace) we speak and write.
C. Phēmi (Say, Speak, Tell); G5346; pronounced fā-mē; as mentioned above, is a verb from phao, the same base verb from which phōs/G5457 and phainō/G5316 are derived. Through this word, we see that Light is spoken [phēmi/G5346] through words. Since all fifty-eight instances prove the matter, I will include just a few below.
D. Phaneros (manifested, [spread] abroad, [made] known, [declared] openly); G5318 pronounced fä-ne-ro’s; is an adjective derived from the aforementioned verb Phainō/G5316. In the AV/KJV, it is translated nine times as manifest; three times (with associated words) as openly; three times as known; twice as abroad (with G1519); and once as each of the following (sometimes with associated words); spread abroad, outwardly, outward, and appear. It means to bring forth, to shine or cause to shine, to shed light, to be bright or resplendent, to become evident, to be brought forth into the light, to come to view, to appear, and to appear to the mind, seem to one’s judgment or opinion. Light is manifested [phaneros/G5318] by words as well as actions.
Mark 4:21-23 “And He said unto them, is a candle [lychnos/G3088] brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested [phaneroō/G5319]; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad [phaneros/G5318]. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” [See also Luke 8:16-18].
Again, we see a word directly related to light that pertains to making things manifest through both word and deed.
E. Phaneroō (to make manifest, visible, or known, by words, deeds, etc.); G5319; from phaneros/G5318 above; pronounced fä-ne-ro’-ō; is a verb derived from the aforementioned adjective. In the AV/KJV, it is translated nineteen times as make manifest; twelve times as appear; nine times as manifest; thrice as show; twice each of the following be manifest and show (one’s) self; and once each of the following: manifestly declare and manifest forth. It means to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way; to make actual and visible, realised; to make known by teaching; to become manifest, be made known; (of a person) expose to view, make manifest, to show one’s self, appear; to become known, to be plainly recognised, thoroughly understood who and what one is. Once again we see that light is made manifest [phaneroō/G5319] through words as well as actions.
Ephesians 5:8-13 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light [phōs/G5457] in the Lord: walk as children of Light [phōs/G5457]: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest [phaneroō/G5319] by the light [phōs/G5457] for whatsoever doth make manifest [phaneroō/G5319] is light [phōs/G5457].”
Mark 4:20-23 “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive [it], and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. 21 And He said unto them, is a candle [lychnos/G3088] brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested [phaneroō/G5319]; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad [phaneros/G5318]. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” [See also Luke 8:16-18].
Romans 3:21-22 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested [phaneroō/G5319], being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”
Colossians 4:2-6 “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest [phaneroō/G5319], as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Titus 1:1-3 “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; 3 But hath in due times manifested [phaneroō/G5319] His word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”
V. Conclusion to Part Two
In reading the above, it may seem that the greater emphasis was on the law rather than on the Gospel when it comes to Christians shining forth as light. This was done simply to counteract a very real shortcoming in our day. The Gospel must always have the greater weight and emphasis when witnessing to others (our speech must be filled with grace, it must be primarily of grace, though seasoned with salt, which represents law and judgment). However, in this article, I wanted to write in such a way as to set forth the need for a right view of the law in light of our shining forth as light. Day after day, I see such a grave misunderstanding regarding the law and how it applies to New Testament believers. The law has not been destroyed; it has been fulfilled for believers, but it has not been destroyed. Unsaved man will continue to be judged by the law of God and Christians will continue to walk according to it to the degree that God both ordained and enables. The law, the commandments of God, still apply today — again, not the Mosaic law, not the law of ordinances, rituals, sacrifices, and the like — after the letter. Christ put away all aspects of the Mosaic economy; it is over with, we are not to observe sabbaths, holy days, sacrifices, ritual washings/baptisms, dietary restrictions (except as found in Acts 15:20, 29; Act 21:25), and other such ceremonial and civil ordinances. When such things are mentioned in the New Testament, it is always in light of the spiritual aspect, in light of what Christ did and what we are to do in light thereof.
When maintaining that all of the commandments of God that have not been put away (that have not been specifically annulled/abrogated) still apply, some may ask: what would be an example of such a commandment? There are many such examples, and many were mentioned in the main body of this part, above. Nonetheless, such examples include the fact that the Body of Christ is commanded to love one another; pray for one another; exhort one another daily; abstain from youthful lusts; abstain from murder, adultery, fornication, idolatry, and covetousness; make their calling and election sure; study (hasten to endeavor) to be quiet and to show one’s self approved; mark and avoid them that cause divisions and offences contrary to biblical doctrine; obey authority and the ordinances of men; etc. A multitude of other such commandments (verbal imperatives) exist; I saw one list that apparently topped one thousand New Testament imperatives/commandments.
Yet, as stated many times above, but must be repeated again and again due to the false accusations of the naysayers, the Antinomians, we do not keep these commandments (that is, guard them in our hearts so as to do them) to receive salvation, to maintain salvation, or to seal our salvation. Nor do we keep them to establish a righteousness or sanctification of our own before God (in lieu of the true Righteousness and Sanctification found only in Christ). Instead, we keep them because, to one degree or another, God works in us a desire to walk as Christ walked; to be patterned after, and conformed to, His image; and to enjoy that experimental life that comes by doing the will of God, so as to avoid that temporal, experimental death which follows running after our own will, and serving our own natural lusts. Yet, realistically speaking, we also do them (we also keep the commandments) because God (Himself) sovereignly works in us causing us to do His will, to do the good works that He ordained for us, and works out in, and through, us. In fact, we can do no good, bear no fruit, obey no commandment that God, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, does not directly manifest in us by His own sovereign power. Though we are commanded to heed God’s word, walk in the light of it, to encourage others to do the same, and to warn/admonish/reprove/rebuke those who walk contrary to the revealed will/word of God, we do so only when He ordained for us to do so. We are utterly dependent on God in Christ for our Lord clearly stated:
John 15:1-17 “I Am The True Vine, and My Father is The Husbandman. 2 Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. 5 I Am The Vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: FOR WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NOTHING. 6 If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in Me, and MY WORDS [which are spirit and life] ABIDE IN YOU, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. 10 If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. 12 This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends. 14 Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.”
Clearly, we see from the above that the Lord gives us commandments and, in His strength, and by His Spirit, He wants us to keep them; He commands us to keep them, though He knows that we will not do so perfectly given that we do so only when God works in us both to will to do so and to actually do so. However, the Lord works through means; He acts sovereignly but causes us to act in conjunction with His foreordained purpose. Thus, one of the purposes of shining as light is to encourage one another in the word, to exhort one another in the word, to provoke one another via the word, and even to admonish, rebuke, and reprove one another unto good works via the spiritually-applied word. As with prayer, God often uses such means in conjunction with working out that which He already intended to do. Just as He moves us to pray concerning that which He already ordained to do, He likewise moves us to shine as lights concerning a matter, through our words, as He brings about that which He already purposed from before the world was. God is sovereign in all things and yet this is never an excuse not to do what he commands us to do. Our natural inability is not an excuse, though it is a reality. We are to strive, even agonize (agōnizomai) and study (philotimeomai), to do that which is pleasing in His sight; likewise, we are to encourage one another in love, and meekness, to do the same — despite the reality that we will fall so utterly short of the perfection of the law and the example that our Lord set in keeping it.
Yet, some will continue to argue “love is our only commandment, faith is our only commandment!” My response is “love in the abstract?” “Faith in a vacuum?” The way we know how to love and how to manifest our faith is through the word of God, the whole counsel of God. Love isn’t a mere, arbitrary feeling; true agape love is action; it is the act of treating people the way that God commands that we treat them. Agape love is action defined, and prescribed, by what the word of God instructs/commands (as the word is spiritually applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit). If we truly love, then we truly walk after the King’s commandments, by the Spirit of God, and we truly do what God has declared that we should do concerning any given person or situation. Likewise, if we say we have faith, it isn’t faith in some blind, empty, abstract manner. Faith without works is dead and it is the entire counsel of God that defines what our works should be. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by all that God has to say in His word, never purposely avoiding, denying, or setting at naught those aspects of the word that we dislike, find unimportant, or that we would seek to break (overthrow, loosen, annul, destroy) in our ignorance. True love, and true faith, works in conjunction with the law of God; it is manifested by the keeping of His commandments; if we walk by faith, in love, we will keep God’s commandments. It is when we fail to walk in love (agape) and faith that we find ourselves unable to do the good that we would. It is at such times that the flesh has temporal dominion and we cease to walk in the faith, and in the love, (which is in, and after the Spirit), that would allow us to do that which please God. Yet even our ability to walk in love, to walk in faith, and to walk after the Spirit, is all of the Spirit, in Christ, by the will of the Father. Nonetheless, we as lights, are to shine forth so that the light of God’s holy word will shine forth, accomplishing that which God has purposed that it should accomplish.