FAITH OR LAW? YOUR CHOICE
Romans 3:27-31 NLT “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. 29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course, He is. 30 There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do, we truly fulfill the law.”
- Can we boast about salvation, that we did anything to be accepted by God? NO!
It is by faith that we are saved not by the works we do. Can you imagine if it was by works that we were saved? First of all, that would be a lot of hard work trying attain eternal life.
I can’t imagine what church would look like…I assume it would look more like corporate offices, some acting better than others because of their achievements, others fighting and backstabbing to get to the top, there would be a lot of competition and comparisons, and others would probably be discouraged and give up because they would probably feel like they can’t keep up with all the craziness.
BUT praise God that it is only by faith that we are saved, we can’t boast that we have done anything to be accepted by God.
“Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Gal 6:14 NKJV “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
According to Galatians 3:19 The purpose of the law was to show people that their sinful actions are offenses against God. It was designed to last only until the promised child, the Messiah.
- The Jews we were all about obeying the law, they observed the sabbath, fasted, prayed at required times, followed required rituals, tithed etc.; which there is nothing wrong with the fact that they did these things, the problem was that this to them was just a routine, it wasn’t about their faith in God or a need for a relationship with Him. Jews believed it was all about works.
- They believed as long as they did what the law required of them, then they were righteous before God. They honored the Mosaic law (which was given by God, yet they rejected Jesus. (Sounds like what is happening today. Many call themselves Christians, yet their lifestyles clearly reject Jesus.) They pick and choose what scriptures they want to follow. The Jews clearly rejected scriptures like Isaiah 53 that talks about the coming Messiah who would be despised and rejected by His very own.
Their faith was not in God but in His laws.
Some current churches – homosexuality
- We can fool people, but we can’t food God.
It doesn’t matter how perfectly we try to follow the laws of God, at
some point, actually at many points we all fall short of His glory.
Romans 3:10 NKJV “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Romans 3:23 NKJV “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
It is only by faith and the power of Christ within us that we can live a life pleasing to Him.
28 “So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”
- Are you doing good deeds (obeying the law) instead of following God’s leading?
The Bible has made it clear that it’s not by obeying the law that we are made right with God but through faith.
The pharisees were perfect examples of law keepers. They worked hard to keep the laws and even condemned those that did not do the same. BUT sadly, they had no relationship with God.
God does not look at our outward actions to determine our salvation, He looks at the heart. Many people are so busy trying to live a righteous life by doing all the right things, but they have neglected the most important thing which is their faith in God. It is only through faith that we can develop an intimacy with Him.
Matt 23:23-28 NLT “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,[a] but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! 25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Like the Pharisees, we can memorize all the scriptures, be good teachers, as the scripture said, look “beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity”, God is more interested in our heart condition than our actions.
1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
When our hearts are right with God, we will do what honors Him. We will do godly things not good things. These two are so easily confused by a lot of well-meaning Christians.
Proverbs 4:23 NKJV “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
You can be so busy helping the poor because the Bible tells us to help them yet neglect what God has called you to do. Being in the will of God is the best place to be.
Provers 16:2 NKJV says “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.”
Matt 6:1 NKJV “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
- You may be asking but faith without works is dead? according to James 2:26 it says “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
And yes, you are right, because if you have a relationship with God, not just knowing the laws of God, but an actual relationship with God through faith; He will guide and direct your steps. And through that our faith will be demonstrated through the works we do.
These works are the evidence of our salvation. Some people take this scripture out of context and create a works-based system of righteousness. When we get saved, God gives us a new heart and He puts a new spirit inside of us which cause us to walk in obedience to Him.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 NKJV “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
- “Faith without works is dead because it reveals a heart that has not been transformed.” Knowing the scripture from beginning to end will not get you to heaven, appearing righteous before men will not get you to heaven, having a works-based righteousness will not get you to heaven. There is only one way, and that is through faith in Christ Jesus!
- Like ps Matt said, “Looks good, taste good, but toxic.” Everything about you may look good on the outside, but what does God see when He looks at your heart?
Saul before his name was changed to Paul was one of the perfect examples of the many Jews who were very adamant about keeping the law, yet didn’t know God. He had intensively studied the law for a long time. He even persecuted Christians in the name of obeying the very same law of God.
Acts 22:1-5 ““Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” 2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: 3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,”
Like Saul, we too can live lives that are not honoring to God all the while telling ourselves that we are serving Him and living for Him.
It wasn’t until Saul’s encounter with God through the power of the Holy Spirit on his way to Damascus that his spiritual eyes were opened and He realized that he had been persecuting Jesus in the name of serving God.
Acts 22:6-7 “6 “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’
After this happened then Jesus led Paul to a man named Ananias who told him,
Acts 22:12-15 “‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.”
Paul had been deceived all along, thinking he was living for God.
Matt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
You can know the whole law of God like Saul did and work hard to keep its commands, but without the power of Christ within you, you cannot know the will of God for your life. It’s only by faith in Christ that this is possible. Trying to do it in your own way will all be in vain.
Which leads me to my next point ….
- Are you trying to do things your own way (human attempt) or are you letting the Holy Spirit lead you to His will?
Many so-called Christians out there do things their own way and claim that God is leading them. When we try to do things our own way, we will never gain the victory God has for us.
We will see fruits of what we do, whether through human attempt or being spirit led.
Sometimes the fruit looks bad and immediately you recognize its not of God, but other times we do things assuming since it looks good and everything seems to be working out that it is of God. But the truth is if it not of God, that fruit will be temporary or it will be something you have deal with its consequences for month or years to come. (I loved Ps Matt’s story from Sunday sermon perfect example)
It’s easy to do good works and mistake it for God’s leading if we don’t have intimacy with God. Jere 17:9 warns us that the heart is the most deceitful of all things.
We can easily deceive ourselves about our motives. Hence, we have to earnestly seek God and ask Him to search our hearts to reveal anything in us that’s not pleasing to Him, AND to order our steps.
The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.!!!!! Pray daily! Study the word of God daily and let it do its perfect work in you to reveal what is truly in your heart (Heb 4:12)
1 Thess 2:4 NLT says our purpose is to “…. please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”
Heb 11:6 NKJV “Without faith it is impossible to please God”.
31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do, we truly fulfill the law.”
Just because you are saved doesn’t mean you are now free to do whatever you please. It is still very important to obey the commands of God.
It is now that we have faith and the power of the Holy Spirit within us that we desire to obey God’s commands. It becomes “I get to, instead of I have to”.
Gal 3:23-25 NKJV “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Now that we have faith through Christ Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live a life of obedience to word of God. God doesn’t want obedience that’s will powered, He wants obedience that is Spirit powered.
Gal 2:20 NKJV “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
The Holy Spirit will guide and direct us IF we surrender ourselves to Him. He gives us the will power to do what He asks of us and to live lives that are pleasing to Him.
Galatians 3:3 NKJV “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
Romans 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Gal 5:16 “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Gal 5:25 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Our lives should have fruits produced by the Spirit, not fruits of our own will power. Fruits of the Spirit will always be evident if we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us, but fruits from our own will power will be temporary and not effective.
John 15:4 NKJV “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
We have a lot of examples of people in the bible who did things in their own will power and by faith and the differences are vast.
Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, when they saw the promise of God was taking too long, they took it upon themselves and the fruit of it was Ishmael… we are still paying the consequences of their sin even now. But later on, when they waited upon God by faith God gave them the promised son Isaac after 25yrs.
Isaac – born of God’s fulfilment of His promise Ishmael – was born from human effort
Still paying for the consequences of their human effort …
(Read Kings to see many other examples of some who did things in their own human effort and wisdom and those who let the Lord lead them.)
God’s will always prevail. Things may not always go as we expect, actually many times they will not go as we want them to, but if we walk by faith and not by sight and trust God, He will always guide and take care of us.
We have to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Trust that God’s plans for us are great. It may not look like it or even feel like it, but He is still good, still faithful, still in control.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Jere 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Provers 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Even in the midst of the dark times, God’s plans will always prevail. It may look like the enemy is winning but our God is still in control. Just trust and obey.
Live by faith, let the Spirit lead you don’t act out of you own will power, don’t let your flesh lead you!
Both will produce fruit. What kind of fruit???
This scripture below shows the difference between walking in the spirit vs walking in the flesh.
Gal 5:16-25 NKJV “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [a]adultery, [b]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [c]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 [d]gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
What kind of fruits are you producing in your life, fruits of the Spirit (through walking by faith) or fruits of the flesh (through acting out of your own will power)?
Deut 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”
We all have a choice. And we will answer to God for the choices we make. I truly pray that we all choose life!
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