BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE (part 2)
The whole basis for the false and deadly teaching that man can lose his salvation, or that man can contribute to gaining or at the least maintaining his salvation, comes from a heart which does not believe, and is therefore not trusting, in the Works of Christ as being wholly sufficient to save eternally all those for whom He died. It rests on the lie that man is not a creature who is utterly hopeless and incapable of pleasing a Holy God by his own sincerest efforts at obedience and worship; that man is not dead in sin and therefore dead to God, but merely sin-sick, able by his own free will to raise himself up and come to God. Let us now spend some quality time with the Scriptures so that we may see clearly what the Lord Himself says about man and what it means for a man to be dead in sin, dead to God, lost, without hope and without God in this world. This will lend strong support to the fact that True Obedience can only come from Another and that only His Righteousness can save.
God warned Adam that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit he would surely die (Gen. 2:17). Satan countered by telling Eve that she would not surely die (Gen. 3:4). Which do you believe: God’s Truth or Satan’s lie? Is man dead or not? Those who believe Satan say that man is not totally depraved or totally incapable of coming to God, God’s way, but that man is merely partially depraved. He is not spiritually dead but merely sin-sick, wounded by the Fall but not mortally. They say that man is not drowned in sin but is simply drown-ing and awaits a lifesaver to be thrown to him, which he would immediately take hold of. Satan’s lie, that man would not die simply by disobeying a single command of God, is the lie that gave birth to the false teaching which says that man can, by his own free-will, choose God at any time. It is promoted and believed in by most who profess to be christians. The word die, as used by God in His warning to Adam, means ‘dead’, ‘worthy of death,’ ‘destroy,’ ‘die,’ ‘kill,’ ‘slay very suddenly’. In fact, in EVERY instance where the word die is used in both Old and New Testaments, ALL speak of death, none refer to a mere state of sickness! Ephesians 2:1 speaks of man being DEAD in trespasses and sins, and in verse 5 of the same chapter, it speaks of Jesus making ALIVE (not well) those who were DEAD (not sick). Along with a host of other Scriptures, Colossians 2:13 also speaks of sinners being dead in their sins. When the Lord Jesus said that a man must be born again if he is to see (understand, perceive) the Kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3), He did not mean that a man must be physically re-born, for man has been given but one life to live (Heb. 9:27). Jesus was speaking of a man being spiritually born again, being spiritually regenerated. To be born again is to be brought back to spiritual life from a state of spiritual death. To be born again is to be ALIVE again! All who believe man is merely sin-sick, believe and promote Satan’s lie to Eve that she would not surely die, for they say 'we are not surely dead'.
Romans 3 clearly shows the fallen and destitute condition of man: "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10), the word righteous meaning innocent, holy, just. There are none who are innocent of sin and therefore there are none who are holy and just, before God. In light of this, man can never be justified by anything he does. The Bible does not say that there are none moral or religious, but that there are none holy and innocent and therefore in right standing with God: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23 cf. Rom. 3:9,19,20). All man’s efforts at obedience fall way short of the mark which God has set. All are sinners and unclean, without a righteousness, or any way of producing that righteousness, which meets the demands of God’s Holy Law and Justice. All fall short of perfection, which God’s Holy Law and Justice demand in order to be satisfied. Scripture declares that "...verily EVERY man at his BEST state is altogether vanity" (Psa. 39:5), in fact, "...all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing..." (Dan. 4:35); "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl. 7:20); "Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psa. 53:3 cf. Psa. 14:2,3). The last two verses in particular show clearly that man, while rushing about doing that which appears good in his own eyes (Judg. 17:6) and all the while thinking that it must, therefore, also be good in God’s eyes, can in reality do nothing good in and of himself in God’s sight (1 Sam. 16:7). Man can do nothing which God can accept, for all that man does is stained and corrupted by his sinful state. "How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in His sight. HOW MUCH LESS MAN, THAT IS A WORM?..." (Job 25:4-6). The Law of God, which must be perfectly and fully obeyed, can only condemn those who do not obey its every jot and tittle (Gal. 3:10,11 cf. James 2:10). No matter how fragrant the rotten apple may still be, it is powerless to ever change the fact that it is now rotten.
Isaiah 64:6 makes the following clear and incisive statement: "But we are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." Notice that it is not our evil works being spoken of here but our very righteousnesses, our good works which are described as filthy rags! The righteousnesses, or ‘good works’, of man are compared in this verse with "...menstrual cloths associated with one of the most extreme forms of ceremonial uncleanness under the law of Moses (Lev. 15:19-33; 20:18). They are of such a nature as to be treated with the greatest discretion by the genteel, disposed of immediately, never reused. These ‘filthy rags’ are in our text joined with ‘an unclean thing,’ the leper afflicted with another of the most extreme forms of ceremonial uncleanness (Lev. 13:45ff)." In other words, man approaching God with his own ‘good works’, his own efforts at obedience to God’s Holy Law and attempts at reconciling with the Most Holy One, rather than with the Righteousness of the Mediator alone, is tantamount to approaching God as a man infected with leprosy and clothed in used menstrual cloths! That is the picture, the disgusting and putrid picture that God sees, of man in his most moral and religious state coming to Him clothed with his own righteousness, rather than the Pure White Robe of the Righteousness of Christ. Man at his very best, when he has reached the highest level of ‘goodness’ and uprightness he can in and of himself before God, appears as nothing more than the sorry creature pictured for us so graphically in Isaiah 64:6.
The first thing that Adam and Eve did after having sinned, was not to run to God but to run away and hide from God, clothing themselves the best they knew how in an effort to hide their nakedness from God. This was not acceptable to God, hence His clothing them with coats of animal skins (Gen. 3:21). Adam clothing himself is typical, or symbolic, of mankind’s attempt to adorn itself with its own good deeds to meet with God’s approval, and God clothing Adam was typical of God clothing His elect with the Robe of the Righteousness of Christ. This is all part of the Covenant relationship (cf. Lk. 15:22). "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for HE HATH CLOTHED ME with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the Robe of Righteousness..." (Isa. 61:10 cf. Zech. 3:4; Rev. 7:14). We must be clothed with His Righteousness and not our own if we expect to enter into His Joy. We must be clothed in robes that are washed and made white in the Blood of Christ, not in rags which are polluted with our ‘good’ works. Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast also teaches this. One man had entered the wedding feast not clothed with the proper wedding garment. Jewish tradition had it that the father of the groom would invite guests to the wedding of his son providing them all with the garment they were to wear. Any who had not on the appropriate garment evidenced the fact that they were not invited (see Matt. 22:11-14). So it will be on that Great Judgement Day. Any who are not clothed with the Robe of Righteousness provided by the Father of the Groom, shall not be admitted into the heavenly Glory. What kind of imbecile would take the chance of not being permitted entry to a wedding by wearing a bunch of filthy rags rather than an exquisite set of clothes he has been provided with freely? Such imbecility is also owned by those who insist on approaching God with at least some of their ‘good’ deeds. As Christ has said, man can and does outwardly appear righteous before men, but not so to God. Outwardly they are like beautiful whited walls but inwardly they are full of all uncleanness (see Matt. 23:27,28). Any who dare present themselves to God clothed with the garments of their own works will only discover His displeasure and vengeful wrath, for by this they show they did not know God or obey the Gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:8).
The Bible states that "There is none that understandeth..." (Rom. 3:11). "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psa. 14:2,3). This shows that no man in his natural fallen state has any true perception of God and so cannot comprehend His way of Salvation, but is completely devoid of understanding. Instead, he only has a natural, rebellious rejection of the true God which stems from his perverted view of God as a result of spiritual blindness. Natural man cannot understand the things of God, for these things can only be spiritually discerned by those whom He has made alive unto Him: "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" (see 1 Cor. 2:9-14). To discern spiritually you must first be born again. The things of God can only be determined, or rightly judged and distinguished, to be the things of God by one who is born again, or spiritually alive, which none by nature are, hence "...there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11) The word seeketh in this verse means ‘to search out’, ‘to investigate’, ‘crave’, ‘demand’, ‘worship’, ‘seek after (carefully, diligently)’. No one by nature is in pursuit of the True God. All are headed in the opposite direction, chasing after false gods that cannot save! There are none who seek after God, that is, that seeks after the True God His Way. This is quite a remarkable Scripture when one considers how much religion there is in the world and how many people there are under the sincere impression that they are ‘searching for God’. Think of how many religions there are and how many billions of people give their heart and soul to their religions and to their gods. Think of how many tears have been shed in sadness and grief over sin and how many tears of joy and delight have been poured out during, and after, the myriads of experiences people believe they have had with God. Think of how many people are presently studying Bibles and religious books, supposing they are understanding God better and how many institutions of learning have been established in the pursuit of the study of God. Nevertheless, Scripture maintains that NONE, NOT A SINGLE PERSON ON THIS EARTH, BY NATURE, IS ACTUALLY SEEKING AFTER GOD!! This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that man’s quest for God and salvation, in and of himself, is a futile quest doomed to failure before it even begins for man is dead to God, and despite all his religious endeavors it is never the TRUE God that he seeks. To fallen mankind, He truly is the ‘unknown God’. There is not a more putrid stench upon this earth than that which comes from lost man’s religious efforts.
Man cannot understand the true God unless he is given an understanding from God: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath GIVEN us an understanding, THAT WE MAY KNOW Him that is True..." (1 Jn. 5:20 cf. Matt. 11:27;13:11,15,23). "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me..." (Jer. 9:24 cf. Jn. 17:3). Without this God-given understanding, man cannot recognize and know the true God, hence his embracement of the myriad of false ‘gods’ that have been created in the mind of man, which is the birth place of so many false deities to which man has attached himself (Acts 17:23 cf. Isa. 45:20). Man’s search for God may be likened to a blind man stumbling around in the darkness, not knowing what he looks for and being utterly unable to recognize it even if he could find it. "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Rom. 3:12). Nothing man does will profit him in God’s sight. All his religious efforts produce nothing which can ever prosper a man in the sight of God. Nothing man can produce is of any value before God. No man, by nature, follows the only way of salvation that honors the Redemptive Character of God, which excludes all occasions of boasting in the sinner, for every religion which natural lost man follows conditions salvation on the sinner, thus giving the sinner room to boast. To summarize, "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:18).
Contrary to what most people believe, every man by nature is not a child of God but a child of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3), and a child of the Devil (Matt. 13:38; Jn. 8:44). Man drinks iniquity like water the Bible says, and is depraved in mind (Eph. 4:17-19). "Behold, He putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?" (Job 15:15,16). Man is a creature whose mind has been blinded by Satan and to whom the Gospel is hid (2 Cor. 4:3,4), who does not understand the Words of Christ (Jn. 8:33,34) and therefore cannot know the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). Pay no attention to the man who tells you that you can have salvation without knowledge. Those who teach such lies merely display their own ignorance, an ignorance which will ultimately damn them. There are many who falsely accuse true believers of conditioning salvation upon knowledge of certain doctrines. But how can this be when the knowledge we speak of, which comes by hearing the Gospel, is the glorious knowledge that no part of salvation is conditioned on the sinner but solely on Christ! We teach Faith in Christ and not faith in our faith or knowledge. Knowledge is vitally important and absolutely necessary to the true worship of the True God. In order to worship the true God, in sincerity and truth, one must have a zeal of God which is according to knowledge (see Rom. 10:2). Zeal according to ignorance of the knowledge of Christ, and which does not rejoice in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, can only lead to a false god and a false christ. Knowledge is not a condition for salvation which man must meet, but is an evidence of salvation. Ignorance alienates man from God. It is not some magical attribute which attracts God’s pity towards a person, but is the distinguishing and single most incriminating evidence that reveals a person’s state of spiritual blindness. Those who do not know and believe the Gospel are alienated from the life of God. No one is ever saved despite their ignorance of the Gospel, but rather is lost because of it. Ignorance is not consistent with salvation for Scripture equates it with lostness, darkness, alienation and spiritual blindness. The Bible says that the lost walk in the vanity of their minds "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" (Eph. 4:18). This is the result of Original Sin. Man in his natural state can never please God (Rom. 8:8), for without the Faith of God no man can please Him (Heb. 11:6). Observing man’s sinful, depraved state, one man has wisely commented, "Man does not have any earning power with God." Man’s natural way of thinking is at war with God’s Thoughts and God’s Ways (Isa. 55:8,9 & Rom. 8:7) and because of this, all his religious deeds do not amount to a hill of beans. Man cannot produce any good work that is pleasing to a Perfect and Just God, for God demands perfect Righteousness which no man can produce. God is a Just God and what He does must be in perfect conformity with His Holy Character, or He would cease to be God. God is Love, but "God does not sacrifice His Holiness to His love". God does not do what is right; whatever God does IS right. God has not established a Standard, His Law, only to disregard it by judging us according to our ‘good intentions’. God’s Holy Law must be fulfilled perfectly if any man is to have the righteousness which God’s Law demands a man must be clothed with, in order to enter heaven. All that comes to God must be of God. Man has no redeeming quality. Even the apostle Paul said: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing..." (Rom. 7:18 cf. Gen. 6:5). No man is ever going to become right with God by any work that he does or anything he abstains from doing, for man is a sinner and everything he does is tarnished with sin (Rom. 3:20). Anything and everything he offers to God is polluted with sin and completely unacceptable. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse..." (Gal. 3:10). "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified BY THE FAITH of Christ, and NOT BY THE WORKS of the law: for BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW SHALL NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED" (Gal. 2:16). Notice that this Scripture is not saying that man will not be justified by his evil deeds, but by his works of the law, his good deeds, in other words his efforts at obedience to the Word of God. Everyone knows that no man can be justified by his evil deeds, but none by nature are aware that not even by his good deeds can a man ever be justified before God. To think opposite to this is to fall for the lie that deceives every man by nature. No matter how much one might think or believe what they themselves have done in seeking to obey God will meet with God’s approval, nothing of what they have done will gain them anything for "...they are together become unprofitable..." (Rom. 3:12; cf. Heb. 7:18,19). It is a fairytale, it is pure fiction to believe that our obedience will gain us anything but God’s wrath. NONE shall be justified by their obedience to God but ONLY BY CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE, for His is the only Perfect, and therefore acceptable, obedience to the Holy God. "Surely, shall one say, IN THE LORD have I Righteousness and Strength..." (Isa. 45:24). "...their Righteousness IS OF ME, saith the Lord" (Isa. 54:17 cf. Jer. 23:6). The Righteousness which saves a man is not of man but wholly of God. It is Christ’s Righteousness which justifies a man, and because it is His Righteousness, God is said to be our Justifier, the One Who justifies us. "Justification being the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, (based on the Righteousness of Christ alone), and the pronouncement of the sinner as Righteous, who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ." If it was our own righteousness which justified us then we ourselves, and not God, would be the justifiers. It would have been our own works which gained our acquittal and not an exclusive act of God. It cannot rightly be said that another has justified us, if in fact we have earned that justification by our own righteousness, if we are in any way deserving of it. It would be our works and not His Righteousness which would justify us. It is clear then from Scripture that salvation, or justification, is all of Him. "To declare, I say, at this time HIS Righteousness: that HE might be Just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26ff.).
Man has been corrupted. It is a corruption that is of his own making (see Eccl. 7:29). The Bible states that man sits in spiritual darkness and is enslaved to Satan and in bondage to sin (see Lk. 1:79; 2 Tim. 2:26; Jn.8:34). He is without God and therefore without hope in this world (see Eph. 2:12), and can never do anything to change his condition—who he is and what he is. BLACK CAN NEVER BECOME WHITE. This is evidenced in the following Scripture: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" (Jer. 13:23; cf. Lk. 18:26,27). Man’s condition, or nature, is that of a hater of God’s Truth and a lover of Satan’s lie (2 Thess. 2:10-12). He calls good evil and evil good. He calls God’s Gospel, which promotes Christ’s Righteousness, evil and Satan’s false gospels, which promote man’s righteousness, good. The very heart of man "...is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9); "...also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead" (Eccl. 9:3). Jesus Christ the Lord states: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light..." (Jn. 3:19, 20; 5:40). The evil deeds of natural sinful man consist not merely of his immoral actions and thoughts, but include his best religious efforts in order to make himself acceptable to God. There are many religious, many who even call Jesus Christ "Lord", who will never see Heaven. They teach a false gospel which does not lead to the True Christ. Jesus says of them that He does not know them, calling them workers of iniquity (wickedness, or unrighteousness) (Matt. 7:21). They believe their works are many and wonderful, but Christ, the Judge of all, calls these works iniquitous!
Has God shown us all this in order to drive us quite mad with utter despair, that we can never come to Him? Is the high, and obviously humanly unattainable, Standard which God has set meant to frustrate mankind to the point of rejecting such a standard as unfair? Was the gentleman correct who told this author that "God would never command a man to do something which He knows he cannot do"? No. God has declared the sinful, fallen and utterly depraved state of lost man so as to drive us from ourselves and abandon any ideas we have that we can possibly come to God by our own efforts. If He had not done so none would ever realise their perilous state. The law of God was given, not because God expected any man to obey it, but to point us to Christ, the only one Who could obey it: "...the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:24-26). God has set the Standard, the command for perfect holiness, to lead us and point us to the only one who can meet all the demands of God’s Law and Justice, and the only one who can save: His Son, Jesus the Messiah. Christ says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (Jn. 14:6). Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life and no one, not even the most sincere and religiously zealous, most morally upright person in the universe, can come to the Father but by Jesus Christ (see Heb. 7:25; Jn. 6:65).
But what exactly does that mean? How does a man come to Christ? And for that matter, how does a man get saved? The answers are quite simple. Firstly, man does not come to God, for the Bible says there are none that seek after Him. How can anyone arrive at a place they are not travelling to? Man does not know God. He cannot identify, and therefore is unable to distinguish, the true God from false gods, so how can he ever come to God? Secondly, man cannot get saved but is rather saved by another. Man’s getting saved suggests a salvation based on conditions which man can meet, whereas man being saved by another teaches that salvation is something which man cannot attain to, but is something which must be freely given or bestowed upon him by another and because of another. It is God that comes to man, and not man to God. God is not the one who is lost. In regards to ‘seeking’, the Bible teaches that it is not man that seeks after God (Rom. 3:11) but it is God Who seeks after man (Ezek. 34:11,12). He is the Shepherd Who seeks after His lost sheep and finds them. They are not looking for Him, so how could they ever find Him? Salvation is not about what man can do to get to God and be saved, but rather what Christ has done that saves, or rescues, His people from their sins.
Contrary to most people’s thinking, man cannot simply raise his head to heaven and plead for mercy, for to whom is he pleading mercy? And upon what does he base that mercy? The man who has been taught nothing but Roman Catholicism is not pleading with, or seeking, the true God! And what of the man who has been taught all he knows about God by a so-called Jehovah’s Witness, or a Mormon, Muslim, Jew or Arminian? What of the man who knows nothing about God other than He created everything? Without blood, Atoning blood, no man can approach God and live. The Scriptures themselves ask how anyone can call on the true God if they have never been taught the true God—Who He is and what He has done—if they have never heard of Him? In opposition to this, many refer to the verse which says "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13). But the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans does not stop there. He goes on in the very next verse to add the following significant and searching questions: "How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:13-15). "The Lord is far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the Righteous...The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him IN TRUTH" (Prov. 15:29 & Psa. 145:18 cf. Jn. 4:23,24; 9:31). It stands to biblical reason that man’s sinful, fallen and reprehensible state precludes him from any possibility of calling upon the true God, for he does not know Him; he cannot recognize or identify Him; he does not understand His way, and, the most damning of all, HE KNOWS NOT THAT THE ONLY WAY A MAN CAN BE SAVED IS BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ANOTHER!! Every lost religionist who has died, has approached God with his own putrid righteousness and not that ONE acceptable Righteousness which saves. Man cannot accidentally stumble across the True God in his religious exercises, but God must reveal Himself to man if any are to savingly know Him "...no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Matt. 11:27 cf. Jn. 17;2,3; 1 Jn. 5:20).
Look at every false religion in the world, including false christianity, and all you will see is man’s endless and vain attempts to find favor with his god by his own efforts at obedience. Every false religion, to some degree, promotes a salvation conditioned on man’s obedience, for this is all that lost man knows. ANY RELIGION WHICH CONDITIONS ANY PART OF SALVATION ON MAN IS A FALSE RELIGION! Whenever lost man thinks of Heaven and Hell, he automatically thinks he must do (thereby revealing that he believes, as all lost men do, that he can do) something that will recommend him to God and secure for himself a place in heaven. When you see a man trying to get saved or stay ‘saved’ by his own efforts at obeying God, you are witnessing a man who does not know God. For if he did know the True God, he would not be seeking to establish a righteousness of his own but he would be clinging to the only Righteousness that can save: the Righteousness of Another, the Righteousness of Jesus Christ the Savior. A lost man is one who cannot see that Law and Justice can do without his efforts at obedience in order to attain or maintain salvation, for all its conditions and demands have already been met and fully satisfied by the only obedience that can attain and maintain the saved state: a perfect Obedience. There is no point in anyone sitting down to invent the wheel, for not only has the wheel already been invented but it has been serving man for thousands of years!! There is no need for man to strive to come up with his own righteousness which cannot save anyway, when the only Righteousness that saves has already been established!
Paul the apostle testified of the Jews, that they were indeed a very zealously religious people, yet he prayed for their salvation because for all their zeal, they evidenced without a shadow of a doubt that they did not know God, in that they were seeking to establish a righteousness of their own based on their obedience to the law. ZEAL FOR RELIGION IS NO SURE SIGN OF SALVATION. "But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? BECAUSE THEY SOUGHT IT NOT BY FAITH, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone" (Christ and His Righteousness) (Rom. 9:31,32). It is abundantly clear in this passage from God’s Word, and in the one which immediately follows it, that none by their own obedience can ever attain to the Righteousness required for salvation and that there is only one way to salvation and that is by faith in the Obedience of Another. "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, BUT NOT ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE. For they being IGNORANT of GOD’S Righteousness, and going about to establish THEIR OWN righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 10:1-4). Paul bases his need to pray for the salvation of the Jews on the fact that they are ignorant of God’s Righteousness and are seeking to establish a righteousness of their own. The only refuge for the ignorant is the ramshackle house built by their own righteousness, a house that simply will not, and cannot, stand. There are only two kinds of righteousness: God’s and yours. If you are ignorant of God’s Righteousness, then you are seeking to establish a righteousness of your own. And if you are seeking to establish a righteousness of your own, you cannot believe in and therefore be submitted to, the only saving Righteousness. And, you are as lost as the Jews whom Paul prayed for. The Scriptures always equate ignorance with darkness and lostness. Ignorance of the Gospel is a sign that the Gospel Light has not yet come, and is an evidence of lostness and spiritual blindness: an attribute of the misguided and hopeless. Everyone outside of Christ falls into this one category: they go about trying to establish a righteousness of their own. They have placed their confidence in something other than the Righteousness of Christ alone to save them. Whether they are aware of it or not, those who reject Christ’s Righteousness as being all that is needed for salvation, are seeking to establish, and are placing their trust in, their own righteousness—in something they do. The lost continually look to something other than, or in addition to, the Person and Work of Christ to find assurance for their ‘salvation’, for they have yet to believe in Christ and His Righteousness alone as being sufficient to meet ALL the conditions of salvation from beginning to final glory. This is called salvation by works and if one seeks after salvation by works, one cannot be seeking after it by faith, and one cannot, and will not be, saved on that ground, just as the Jews did not find that which they sought after because they, too, sought it not by faith in the Righteousness of Christ, but by seeking to produce this saving righteousness by their own obedience to the law. THIS DOES NOT IMPRESS GOD, BUT RATHER DRAWS HIS WRATH! God does not think as we do and is not dictated to by emotion, as we often are. HE JUDGES BY A SET STANDARD. Those who seek salvation by any other way than the Way God has provided, stand condemned already (Jn. 3:18). "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom. 3:28). Man is such a depraved creature who has not only sinned against the Great and Holy God but further compounds, or exacerbates, that sin by rejecting God’s way of salvation and seeking it by his own efforts at obedience. Rather than improve his condition, man’s reliance upon his own obedience only contributes to his lost and sinful condition, thus further condemning him. One cannot be in a saved state whilst being ignorant of the Way of salvation, for how can one possibly believe that which one is ignorant of? The Truth of God, that Righteousness can only be achieved by the Obedience of One, Jesus Christ, and that this Righteousness is a FREE GIFT from heaven which is dependant on no man but is totally reliant upon the God-Man, is something which can only be discerned spiritually, that is by one who has been made spiritually alive, or born again, by the grace of God. The ignorant are lost, and the lost remain ignorant until God shines the Light of His glorious Gospel, wherein is revealed the only righteousness which saves, upon them.
Men will crawl along on their knees for miles in the hope of finding favor with God. Some will literally whip themselves bloody, or discipline themselves to such an extent that they will shut themselves away in a monastery and take a vow of silence. In his attempts to find favor with God, man will clothe himself differently to the world and some will not wear any clothes at all! He will not shave his beard, he will eat only certain foods and worship on certain days etc. There is virtually nothing which man has not entered into in his vain attempts to reach God. He has set up and worshipped statues, erected monuments and blasphemously painted images of what he has imagined God looks like. He has bowed down to these idols, as well as virtually every creature, including himself. Religious man will refrain himself from partaking in the sinful lusts of the world such as drunkenness and fornication, in the belief that this will in some way impress God and help gain his salvation, or at the very least contribute to maintaining his purported saved state. Every false religion in some way, and to varying degrees, promotes the deeds of man as a vital element in a man’s salvation. THAT IS THE SIGN OF A DEADLY RELIGION. Christ and His Righteousness, is not, and has never been, enough for the religious world, even for those who go so far as to name the name of Christ and believe themselves to be followers of Him and believers in grace. Lost man, whatever his religion, is convinced that HE must do, or he will die. ‘Man must do or he will be utterly undone', is their warning. Such people are so blind as to not even realise their state of darkness. The lost do not know they are lost. One man has wisely stated, "Everyone thinks they are saved, before they are saved until they are saved." They claim to love Christ and to trust in Him alone yet they think they can lose their salvation and must remain obedient in order to stay saved! This is not what the Bible says loving Christ is, nor trusting in Him alone for salvation (Psa. 13:5,6). This is no different to what any false religionist believes. All of false religion’s teachings boil down to man and his own works being that which ultimately gets him into heaven. This is far removed from what the Word of God teaches. In fact, it is the very opposite. The Bible maintains that man is singularly incapable of the obedience required in order to be found righteous in God’s eyes, and that the only way a man can be saved or made Righteous is by the Obedience of Another.
The word ‘obey’ is not unlike the word ‘holy’. There are no degrees of holiness. One cannot be said to be mostly holy or partially holy. This would make as much sense as saying that one is partially married or a little bit pregnant. One is either pregnant or not pregnant; one is either married or not married; one is either holy or unholy. One is either obedient or disobedient. One has either hit the mark, or has missed the mark which is precisely the state of all men: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). "Every act of obedience that we might think would recommend us to God is rejected by God’s law because it comes short of the perfection that God’s law demands as to the ground of salvation." The Law can only condemn that which does not perfectly meet its demands. Man at best can only offer to God an imperfect obedience, which really is no obedience at all. To be only partly correct cannot be construed as being correct in the true meaning of the word. The Scripture says that if one has failed in obedience to one of God’s laws, one has become guilty of all: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10 cf. Gal. 3:10). One cannot properly be called obedient unless one has obeyed perfectly. To obey is to do. That’s what the word obedience means: to do exactly that which you have been told to do: no more and no less (see Matt. 21:28-31; 1 Sam. 15). To obey is to carry out instructions or to comply with demands. If I have only done part of what I was told to do I have not been obedient, but disobedient. One cannot be called holy unless one is perfect and pure, for there are no degrees of holiness. If one has failed to keep one of God’s laws one has failed to keep the Whole Law, revealing oneself to be anything but holy, and therefore utterly incapable of ever producing the only Righteousness that saves. "...Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10). This is why God alone is referred to as Holy. "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou ONLY art Holy..." (Rev. 15:4). And this is why ONLY BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE can the many be saved. At no stage in a lost man’s life is he viewed by God as anything but ungodly and unrighteous. Man is unholy and disobedient at his very best.
So, according to the Voice of the Word of the Lord man can do nothing to get saved or stay saved: "But that NO MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW in the sight of God, it is evident: for, THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH" (Gal. 3:11). This is one of the principal reasons why God has given unto man a Savior. God wants those who are not a people to become His people (1 Pet. 2:9,10), and out of His great Love He has provided a Savior for these people who could never do anything to save themselves, and whose Righteousness is of God (Isa. 54:17 cf. Isa. 45:24). Christ has said "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him..." (Jn. 6:44 cf. Jer. 31:3). If this were not so, man would not need a Savior. If there was anything that man could do to get himself into a saved state and remain so, no Savior would have been necessary. In fact, the Bible says that if righteousness can be attained by man’s obedience to the Law then Christ has died needlessly: "I do not frustrate (neutralize or violate) the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21).What Paul is saying is that if Christ is not, by His Person and Work, the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher of all of salvation, then He is no Savior at all. But Scripture says "And being made Perfect, He became THE AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:9). If any part of salvation, no matter how minute, is obtainable or maintainable by an imperfect work that sinful man can do, then the grace of God is neutralized (nullified) and Christ has died in vain. He is either All in All or nothing at all. He is everything we could not ever be, and He did everything we could not ever do. That is why God does not need our contributing acts of ‘obedience’ to get us saved or keep us saved, FOR WE ARE COMPLETE IN HIM!! There is no need to add anything to a glass which is already full. God is completely satisfied with what our Substitute has done! "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are COMPLETE IN HIM, which is the Head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:9,10 cf. 1 Cor. 1:30,31). If salvation were conditioned on the works God enabled man to do, man would have room to boast (Lk. 18:11-14) and salvation would no longer be purely by grace, thus making man a co-savior with Christ. Christ would have done His part and man would have performed his part, with the aid of God, and together, by a united effort, a state of salvation reached. Salvation is either by 100% grace or it is by works alone; it cannot be a combination of both. Like oil and water, they can never be mixed. "And IF BY GRACE, THEN IS IT NO MORE OF WORKS; otherwise grace is no more grace. But IF IT BE OF WORKS, THEN IS IT NO MORE GRACE: otherwise work is no more work" (Rom. 11:5,6). The combination of God’s grace with man’s works is a satanic notion and would only produce a volatile mixture which would explode in our faces. It would be like mixing fuel with fire! Paul the apostle taught that even if a man were to add a seemingly insignificant thing, such as the cutting of some flesh (circumcision), to what Christ has done, this would completely nullify the Works of Christ on the behalf of the sinner: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you NOTHING. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that HE IS A DEBTOR TO DO THE WHOLE LAW" (Gal. 5:2,3). Man cannot pick and choose what he will obey and base his ‘salvation’ on. If you seek to obey a law, a rule of conduct, in order to gain or maintain salvation, then you are a debtor to obey the WHOLE LAW PERFECTLY, not just those laws which you are attracted to because you feel you can obey them. If you embrace the Law as that which saves you, then you must also accept the fact that you must suffer the eternal penalty for failure to keep even one law perfectly. If you think that your obedience to even one religious rule is the capstone of your salvation, and the thing to which you often seek refuge in your mind that assures and convinces you that you are saved, YOU ARE A DEBTOR TO DO THE WHOLE LAW and CHRIST SHALL PROFIT YOU NOTHING!! It is man who places himself under this sentence because of his blind insistence that he must do something to get or remain saved.
Christ cannot be called upon by those who believe they can be justified, or become further qualified for heaven, by their adherence to the law of God (Gal. 5:4). Let no man think he will be saved who appears before God with his own righteousness, whilst claiming to have trusted and believed in the Righteousness of Christ. This would be like a man accused of robbery, proclaiming his innocence before the judge whilst holding the stolen property under his arm! If any man thinks that his salvation is conditioned on Christ’s work AND even one act of obedience on his part, even if he attributes that obedience to God, then the Word of God says that man must obey the whole law perfectly or perish. This whole matter of salvation is not being played under man’s rules but under God’s Rule. God is saying to us that if you do not place your entire trust in what He has done to save, then you are going to have to do the whole thing yourself! The one who believes that his faith is what makes him to differ from another, in other words believes that faith is a condition he must meet in order to get saved, is also a debtor to do the whole law for faith is not a condition that man must meet, or a work that man must do, but is a gift from God (see Rom. 4:5), Who is the only one Who makes the saved man to differ (separate thoroughly) from the lost man (1 Cor. 4:7).
Man is not only a debtor to obey the whole law of God perfectly but, having sinned, he is also a debtor to pay the penalty in full that his sin has incurred. Every man must appear before the Holy God either with Christ’s Righteousness or his own. It is either one or the other. Either you appear before the Holy God with the Perfect Righteousness of Christ imputed to you, or your own imperfect righteousness which you have produced. YOU CANNOT COME TO HIM WITH BOTH, for one is the result of GRACE and the other is produced by WORKS. If you come to Him with Christ’s Righteousness, you will not want anything to do with your own righteousness (Phil. 3:9). But know this, if you plan to appear before God on Judgement Day with any of your own imperfect righteousnesses, you must also stand before Him with all your sins, which remain charged to your account, unlike the saved man whose sins have been charged to Christ’s account, based on the rule of imputation. Imputation is a two-way street. You cannot have one without the other—you cannot believe one without the other "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; THAT we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). You cannot claim that your sins have been charged to Christ’s account, if you do not believe that one is saved based purely on the Righteousness of Christ imputed! Why? Simply because all those who have truly had their sins charged to Christ’s account believe that His Righteousness, which has been imputed to them, is the ONLY ground of their salvation. They do not look to what Christ has done AND what they do as the basis for their salvation. They do not believe that any part of acceptable and saving righteousness is produced by themselves, but only by Christ Jesus. You must stand alone, and your eternal future will depend entirely on your imperfect obedience to God’s perfect Law if your confidence lies in anything but the Righteousness of Christ alone. You cannot appeal to Christ, DON’T EVEN DARE THINK OF IT, if you look to anything outside of Christ and His Perfect Obedience for ALL of salvation. If you trust in your efforts at obedience as forming any part of the ground of salvation, to any degree, you will be accursed forever. If you depend on anything which you have done, are doing, will do, can do, aspire to do, don’t do, never wanted to do or never have done, as forming any part of the ground of your salvation, you are a LOST person and your righteousness before the Holy God is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). If righteousness before God is obtainable by an act of obedience on man’s part, or anything else which is outside of what His Gospel Message declares, in addition to what Christ has done, then the redemption of man did not require the death of the Son of God as Mediator and Representative, as Substitute and Surety of all whom God had given Him. Christ’s very Death was for the Redemption of the elect of God, the Precious Blood which He shed was for the remission of all their sins (see Heb. 9:15;10:18 cf. Isa. 53:11). Anything added to what Christ has done, anything trusted in apart from, or together with, what Christ has done, changes everything. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). If any man goes about seeking to obey any law of God motivated by the lie that his obedience will gain him favor with God, then that man is a debtor to do the whole law, and that perfectly. His debt to God is not cancelled, or blotted out, by what Christ has done, for if it was, if this was what the man truly believed, he would not be seeking to add to what the Savior has accomplished. He remains in debt to God and must, by his own efforts, try and pay the price. NO MAN HAS EVER DONE THAT, AND NO MAN CAN EVER DO IT. ONLY THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHIRST CAN SET A MAN FREE! "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). The Savior, or Redeemer, of mankind is Jesus Christ the Righteous One and it is because of Who HE is and what HE has done that a man can count himself saved and in right standing with God. It is BY CHRIST ALONE that a saved man is presented perfect and blameless before a Holy and Just God. It is Christ and His imputed Righteousness, not the sinner and his efforts to become righteousness, which presents a man faultless before God (Jude 24).