Hermeneutics: Another Example of Error Considered

Romans 7:12 “wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

The following question was recently asked (emphasis added):

“So, how then do some men think and promote the idea that righteousness comes from Christ and holiness comes from the Law? That thinking is false and twisted because there is no single verse that teaches it in the New Testament…. If the Jesus that you have only gave you righteousness without sanctification by the Spirit you have a false gospel and a false Christ. This is free!

“This” may be free but it’s also painful to observe and endure. However, if not for him (though I hope so), at least for his followers, I aim to answer his questions:

Firstly, the questioner once again fails to understand the holistic nature of Sanctification: 

  1. The elect were sanctified (set apart for God’s holy purpose) by the Father in Christ, from before the world was, when God the Father chose them in Christ from before the foundation of the Earth.
  2. The elect were sanctified in Christ at Calvary’s cross, vicariously in/by/through Him, and in/by/through His finished propitiatory work.
  3. The elect were initially, experimentally sanctified by the Holy Spirit upon their quickening and conversion, when the finished work of Christ was made effectual for them, by the Spirit of God, as they were spiritually baptized into the body of Christ. However,
  4. The elect are also experimentally sanctified by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, during the entirety of their sojourn here, being manifestly set apart from the world, for God’s glory and holy use, as we work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” knowing that “it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of [His] good pleasure” — which encapsulates our manifest obedience, good works, etc.

This is why we specifically read passages pertaining to real-time, real-world, manifest sanctification (godliness, uprightness, holiness, etc.) like:

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit *UNTO* holiness/sanctification [hagiasmos, G38, sanctification, holiness, consecration, purification], and the end everlasting life.”

1 Thessalonians 4:1-5 “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, THAT YE SHOULD abstain from fornication 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.”  

2 Peter 3:11 “[Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] HOLY [hagios; G40, set apart, holy, that which becometh saints or the sanctified ones] CONVERSATION [anastrophē, G391, walk, manner/course of life, behavior, conduct] and GODLINESS [eusebeia, G2150, godliness, holiness, piety, a walk evidencing reverence towards God.],”

2 Timothy 2:20-22 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 **IF** a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Secondly, we don’t need a “single verse” to teach anything when God’s word is so abundantly rich that, throughout the whole of it, the truth is abundantly clear.

Thirdly, we do not need anything specific in the New Testament (though it is there), seeing that:

“All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, 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.” [2 Timothy 3:16-17].

That “all Scripture,” at the time 2 Timothy was written, would have been understood to point just as much to the Old Testament, as to the New, seeing that multiple books of the New Testament had yet to be written, let alone circulated widely amongst all believers. This same all Scripture, which includes the extant law of God, is designed to furnish us unto obedience, good works, manifest uprightness/sanctification, etc., as shall be made clear below.

Fourthly, to now (nonetheless), address the New Testament point yet again, the Apostle Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) specifically states “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” [Romans 7:25].

“The mind” here is a reference to the inner/inward man. It is after that part of the Christian that is born again, born from above, quickened from the dead, that the Apostle Paul and all true Christians serve (not the law of Moses, not the law of ordinances, but…) the extant/spiritual law of God. See the believer’s mind, as it relates to the inner/inward man, here:

2 Corinthians 4:16 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is RENEWED day by day.

Ephesians 4:17-32 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And BE RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND; 24 And that ye PUT ON THE NEW MAN, WHICH AFTER GOD IS CREATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUE HOLINESS. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Colossians 3:5-10Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on THE NEW [MAN], which is RENEWED in knowledge after the image of him that created him..

Romans 12:1-2 “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.”

Ephesians 3:14-16 “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…

1 Corinthians 2:13-16 “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. 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.

So now, when we read “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” -and- “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” — we should have no difficulty understanding that with all that a Christian is, after the new birth, he/she loves the law of God, and serves it.

Fifthly, what does it mean to serve the law? It means just that! We are delivered from the law (i.e., from the requirements of it for a perfect righteousness, the judgment of it seeing that we cannot keep it for such, and the condemnation associated with it, given that all without a perfect righteousness are damned), so that we can serve the law:

Romans 7:6, 25 “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve [i.e., serve the law, having the liberty to do so] in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter 25 … So then with the mind I myself truly serve the law of God…

Truly, certainly, surely, indeed serve: (1) G3303, men, “truly, certainly, surely, indeed, verily,” — this word is in the Greek text but not translated for whatever reason…. and (2) G1398,  douleuō, to be a slave, serve, do service; to obey, submit to; to obey one’s commands and render to him the services due; feel myself bound to….”

This is in perfect keeping with the Old Testament promise concerning the new birth:

Ezekiel 11:19-20 “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.”

Ezekiel 36:25-27 “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].

Jeremiah 31:33 “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.”

Jeremiah 32:40 “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.”

As reaffirmed in the New Testament:

Hebrews 8:10 “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:”

In light of all of this, we can more aptly understand:

Romans 6:6-7 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin [i.e., we should not serve that which leads to transgressions of the law, seeing that sin IS the transgression of the law per ]. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Isaiah 51:7 “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.”

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him PURIFIETH/SANCTIFIES [hagnizō, G48, sanctifies, purifies, makes clean] HIMSELF, even as he is pure. 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Through the extant/spiritual law (the same that preceded the Mosaic law and/or the Law of Ordinances, and that continues on after the Mosaic law / Law of Ordinances was nailed to the cross), as wielded by the Holy Ghost, we are guided to truth, and to an experimentally cleansed/upright/sanctified/godly walk (albeit not perfectly, or anywhere close, in this life). We have the power, via The Almighty, to not be a slave to sin, to not be overcome by it, or constantly jumping from one sin into another. Yes, we have this body of death. Yes, we will have the internal motions of sin as it pertains to the flesh. Yes, sin will be an ever constant struggle in this life. And yet, as to our day-to-day character/conduct/conversation/behaviour, we are not stuck being wicked, or ungodly, or lawless. Anyone who claims otherwise, concerning true believers, is a liar.

God, via the Apostle Paul, makes it clear that Christians have sin [1 John 1:8-10] but, as to the course of their quickened lives, will not constantly, habitually, practice sin [1 John 3:9] — “For we ourselves also WERE sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” Titus 3:3-8

To God be the glory,

Amen.

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