IX. THE NATURE OF THE NEW CREATION AND WHY THE RIGHTEOUS CAN ACTUALLY WORK RIGHTEOUSNESS
It is my belief that Ephesians 4:20-24 should truly seal the matter. The righteousness therein “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…,” is not talking about the new man being created in “imputed righteousness,” and “imputed sanctification,” but being (as a partaker in the new nature, being born of the Spirit, and sustained thereby) created in righteousness and true, actual holiness/sanctification.
This same new man is perfect in Christ, though the body of death clearly is not, because the new man was not only created in “righteousness and true holiness,” but it is “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him.”
Colossians 3:8-10 “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…”
Consider the following concerning the creation of the new man (remembering that the new man, which after God, IS CREATED in righteousness and true holiness):
Galatians 6:15 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature/creation [ktisis/G2937/creation, thing created, but also ties-into things founded, established, built, so as to be inhabited].”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature/creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
John 3:5-7 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
John 1:12-13 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.“
James 1:18 “Of his own will BEGAT HE US with THE WORD of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures/creation/created [ones].“
1 Peter 1:23 “Being born again, not of corruptible SEED, but OF IN CORRUPTIBLE, by THE WORD of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
1 John 3:7-10 “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 **WHOSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD DOTH NOT COMMIT SIN**; for HIS SEED remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
[NOTE: The ποιέω/poieō form here is ποιεῖ, which is the Present Active Indicative (PAI); this… is incredibly important. The PAI is the only verb form that denotes contemporaneous action, as opposed to action in the past or future. In moods other than in the indicative mood, it refers only to continuous or repeated action. So here, we see that the inner man, the new man (the one “after God which is created in righteousness and true holiness,” and is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him, cannot currently sin.
This is why the Apostle Paul can say in Romans 7:17-25 “Now then IT IS NO MORE I [i.e., after the inner/inward man] that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. … 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: … 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.”
To reiterate, the present active indicative “shows that the action happens in the present time“ — which means, right now, in the present (via eternal vital union with Christ, via the ongoing effectual working of the Holy Spirit, and only after the inner/inward man), we are righteous, cannot sin, and are able to work/manifest/doeth righteousness, to the degree that God willed and does now enable].
1 John 2:29 “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that DOETH righteousness is born of Him.”
[NOTE: The ποιέω/poieō form here is not ποιεῖ but rather: ποιῶν. It is the present active participle form, equivalent to the modern English: doing. Since it’s not in the indicative form, it denotes “continuously, constantly, habitually.” This is why many refer to it as “practicing.” This passage is teaching that every one continuously, habitually, constantly doing righteousness is born of Him — this should (1) sober up all true Christians and (2) stop the mouths of all of those who say that God’s people cannot obey God, keep His commandments so as to do them, etc. No one is talking about manifest sinless perfection; we are in this body of death. We are, however, talking about doing what God would have us do, knowing we have the ability to do it, seeing that it is God who works in us both to will, and to do, of His good pleasure.].
1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God SINNETH NOT; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not…” [Note: Sinneth not is also in the Present Active Indicative form, and the same reality concerning it applies].
This is why passages like the following are not only to be obeyed, but can be obeyed, by God’s grace and mercy:
1 Peter 2:1-3, 21-25 “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious….21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
Romans 8:1-5 “[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”
Again, this isn’t speaking of perfect obedience but of an attitude and course of life that desires to walk as Christ walked, and that sees some degree of substantive success, some degree of real victory over sin.
X-A. Consider the following from the author at issue:
The Spirit keeps you from fulfilling the desires of your flesh, while the flesh keeps you from fulfilling the desires of the Spirit. What’s the answer? More law? No, less law!
I never had a problem with envy, drunkenness, wrath and the like until the law came in and said thou shall not. Prior to the law, I was never tempted to drunkenness and wrath. After I heard the law though, I discovered that drunkenness and wrath were all I ever wanted to do. What is the solution? To pile more condemnation and law onto me? No. Rather, the solution is to remove the condemnation and law from me. Thanks be to Christ Jesus there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus for what the law could not do (justify me), Christ did by becoming for me a substitute and condemning my sinful flesh in His body at the cross.
I no longer want to drink to drunkenness and wrath. Why? Because the law tells me not to? Because you tell me I’m condemned if I do? No! Rather, because Christ has died for that drunken, wrathful man, thereby justifying that drunken, wrathful man in the eyes of the law. That drunken, wrathful man now no longer wants to be a drunken, wrathful man after understanding and agreeing with God that Christ really has done this for him.
X-B. MY RESPONSE: WHAT IS OUR MOTIVATION FOR OBEDIENCE: IS IT LOVE, OR IS IT LAW, OR IS THIS A FALSE DICHTOMY?
The above portion of his response is a common one. It is also bunk.
Firstly, as is common, it fails to distinguish between the extant/spiritual law (Romans 7) from the abrogated (nailed to the cross) Mosaic Law and its Law of Ordinances.
Secondly, It engages in the vacuum error. It is the error that the motivation for one’s obedience is faith and love, apart from law. What it fails to take into consideration, as described above, is that agape love specifically, incorporates the extant/spiritual law of God. You cannot separate the two. Again:
2 John 1:5-7 “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And THIS IS LOVE [i.e., THIS IS AN ACTUAL DEFINITION OF AGAPE LOVE:], that we walk after his commandments [PLURAL]. This is the commandment [SINGULAR], That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
1 John 5:3-5 “For THIS IS THE LOVE OF GOD [i.e., THIS IS AN ACTUAL DEFINITION OF THE AGAPE LOVE OF GOD:],, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, IT IS BRIEFLY COMPREHENDED [Summed up, stated summarily, condensed into a summary, gathered under one heading] IN THIS SAYING, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.”
[NOTE: Remember, there is no (agape) love without walking in a manner that God commands us to walk. There is no spiritual love apart from spiritual law because every commandment that makes up the extant/spiritual law, falls under the general heading, summary, category called: (AGAPE) LOVE].
Thirdly, in stating “No. Rather, the solution is to remove the condemnation and law from me.” he evidences that he thoroughly misunderstands the extant/spiritual law as it relates to (a) those who do not yet have a perfect righteousness in/by/through Christ (and His finished work… seeing that for them, judgment and condemnation are still very much in play), versus (b) those who have, or who at least claim to have, said perfect righteousness imputed to them, but are not walking as such (going about instead in continuous, habitual, unrepentant sin). For the wheat walking as tares, there is no condemnation and judgment, but there is chastening/scourging. For the tares professing to be wheat, but with a walk evidencing that they are indeed tares, condemnation and judgment abide. The problem is that we cannot always distinguish between the members of the two groups; true (spiritual) repentance, however, (in due time) is one such distinguishing factor.
Fourthly, in stating “No. Rather, the solution is to remove the condemnation and law from me.” as stated before, he evidences that he does not understand the true Christian’s relation with the law. He does not understand that, for a Christian, the spiritual law of God is something that one delights in, finding it not grievous, but is ever willing to serve it (not after the flesh, but…) after the new creation, after the inner/inward man, after the born from above new spirit God puts in His quickened people.
Romans 7:22-25 “For I DELIGHT IN THE LAW OF GOD [Note: not the obsolete the law of ordinances, but the law of God] AFTER THE INWARD MAN: … 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I MYSELF **SERVE**[Note: i.e., literally: “am a slave of, do service to, obey, submit to”] THE LAW OF GOD; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Romans 8:6-8 “For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
[Note: The implication is, however, that what the carnal mind can’t do, the spiritual mind/heart/spirit can. In keeping with Romans 7:25, the spiritual mind is indeed subject to (subordinate to; put in subjection to, obeying) the spiritual law of God].
1 John 5:3-5 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous…“
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:”
[Note: Not merely mystically, magically, or in some vacuum, but it is via His holy word, the Bible, as effectually wielded by the Holy Ghost, that God puts His law into the hearts and minds of His new creations, so that they can both observe and do].
Psalm 19:7-14 “The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward. 12 Who can understand [his] errors? cleanse thou me from secret [faults]. 13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
The true Christian has been freed from the bondage, judgment, condemnation, and fiery wrath required by the law, and freed to serve, obey, subject oneself to, and delight in the extant/spiritual law, after the inner/inward/hidden man. This is not up for debate, this is what God’s word clearly teaches. True Christian liberty is indeed to be (1) free from the Mosaic Law / Law of Ordinances, (2) free from the bondage and dominion of sin, but (3) bound to God’s extant/spiritual law, as willing slaves, knowing that He has made such friends and brothers as well. Thus, the highest form of true Christian liberty, is the liberty and ability to truly serve God, to truly obey His spiritual law, and to truly keep His extant commandments after the inward man (with the fruit of that manifesting, by God’s grace and effectual working, in real life). True Christian liberty is not a mad push to live as much like the world as possible; it is to live as much like Christ as possible.
On this matter, the author of the blog at issue states:
“Christ’s law goes far deeper than the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law could only go skin deep. You shall not commit adultery. Christ’s law goes all the way down to the motivations. I say if you even look at a woman with lust, then you have committed adultery. Do not be drunk with wine? Bah. Go further and be filled with the Spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself? Bah. Go further and love your neighbor more than yourself. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. An eye for an eye? No. If someone takes your eye, offer him the other also.”
What he calls Christ’s law, is indeed the law of God, which is indeed the extant/spiritual law. This law is eternal, and it preceded the law of Moses / the law of ordinances. I have made the distinction so many times, in so many ways, but the confusion and conflation is such that it is maddening at times. It is indeed a red herring. Nothing in my writing suggests anything close to going back to the Mosaic Law or the Law of Ordinances. The “Mosaic law combined elements of the spiritual law with the law of ordinances, and the judicial law. By that I mean, it incorporated those aspects of the spiritual law found in Genesis (well before Moses came on the scene), like commands against murder, adultery, fornication, sexual perversion, kidnapping, and much more, with ceremonial laws, dietary laws, judicial/administrative laws, etc.
The Mosaic law is gone (abrogated, made obsolete), because the law of ordinances is gone, the dietary laws are gone (i.e., those that went beyond Acts 15), the governmental/judicial statutes/ordinances are gone… but the essence of God’s spiritual law remains. It survives the Mosaic, just as it preceded it. The same law that God used to judge Cain, judge the pre-flood world, judge Sodom and Gomorrah, etc., God uses to judge the world now.
XI-A. Now regarding,
“But what if this justified man should then fall back into a state of drunkenness and wrath? Does this mean the man was never justified to begin with? No. He should leave him to the consequences while acknowledging that at the last day all shall be revealed”
XI-B. My Response: It is yet another red herring. No one stated that falling back into a state of drunkenness or wrath (angry disposition) is, in itself, a sign of reprobation/apostasy. What is being said is that the wheat acting like tares will either (1) repent, and be welcomed back into the fold (or should be welcomed back) or (2) die in such a state, giving fellow Christians (if the sins are gross/egregious enough) little cause to feel optimistic about their state… even though, on the Last Day, all will indeed be revealed, with a positive result following. However, concerning the tares, walking like a tare, but professing to be a Christian (and deceiving many souls in the process, including men like the author of the blog at issue), those who are not so deceived by such, will be vindicated on that Day.
The author at issue concludes with “So much for your weak, measly little ten commandments.” Yet another straw man (fallacious) argument. If you look at my response to him in the comment of his article, my response via this article, or the vast majority of the posts on my blog, you will find very few references to the Ten Commandments. I do not generally talk about the “Ten Commandments” because most of the Ten Commandments were in existence before Moses, and continued after the Mosaic Law was put away. There isn’t a single one of the Ten Commandments, when spiritually discerned, that one was free to break before Moses, or that one is free to break now. Christ is our Sabbath, but every other command still stands as is — not as the “Law of Moses,” but as key elements of the extant/spiritual law of God.
XII. CONCLUSION: Given the grave differences between (a) the Anomian, Antinomian, (sometimes) Neonomaian, Neo-Sandemanian, etc., point of view, and (b) the biblical point of view, it makes me wonder whether we are indeed working from the same Holy Writ. The Bible is utterly clear, that God’s people strove to be obedient, often were obedient, desired to be more obedient, and were temporally rewarded for their obedience. Moreover, when they were disobedient, they were often chastened for it (it hurt at the time, but it was unto their own spiritual good). Therefore, rather than disdaining obedience, and commandment keeping, we should desire it, and exhort one another to it, if we be in Christ.
Though this response has been lengthy, my hope is that it is thorough enough to evidence why I take the stance that I do. I also hope it provided you with enough scriptural prooftexts/links to more easily enable you to be like the Bereans, searching these things out for yourselves, to see if they are really so. I also hope that it is clear enough to enable you to judge between those who have a light view of God’s extant law, the need for obedience towards it, and the need for a (manifest) upright walk, and those of us who take these things very seriously (and desire to take it seriously all the more). Finally, I hope it aided in being able to see that we need to make righteous judgments based upon these things, labouring to submit to the word of God, and not to groupthink, traditions of men, the doctrine of devils, etc. May God grant all of us grace, faith, wisdom, (agape) love, and discernment, in abundance, to deal with such matters, and with all that we face during this sojourn.
To God be the glory, forever and ever.