Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P37 (07-13-20)
We are continuing in our study on Faith, Hope and Love. Now, in regards to belief and faith, they are different. Belief is based on what is in your head, information, but faith is what you put in your heart, a conviction you live by, and is based on truth. Belief is memorizing something, and even talking about it, but it would be like a parrot merely repeating what it heard. Now faith is a conviction of the heart, with solid convictions formed in you. Faith produces attitudes of the heart. You can place your faith on either a faulty foundation or a firm foundation. If you see a broken chair, you know it will not hold you up. If you see a solid chair, you can place your faith by sitting down on that chair. Your faith is made evident by your action. You live by your faith, the firm convictions and attitudes formed in you by what you know to be true, and are persuaded of and convinced of.
No, when it comes to law and grace, you read about the ten commandments and Moses on Mt. Sinai, and many people have put their faith upon a faulty foundation. It can be out of ignorance, not knowing the truth, or willful rejection of the truth they have heard. Many people think God grades on a curve, for they reason, that after all nobody is perfect, so you just do the best you can. Others believe that you have to keep short accounts with God to keep in fellowship or in relationship with God, and others go to a confession booth to get their sins forgiven.
The truth of the matter is, the law demands perfection, and no man has ever lived a perfect life except Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh. Now, think about it. If righteousness could be obtained by obeying the law, the ten commandments, and we all know everyone falls short, then why did Jesus come? Did he come to die on a cross for nothing if we already have a system in place that takes care of our sins we do, our confession booth or 1 John 1:9 or whatever it is? Furthermore, according to James and Paul, if we stumbled at just one point, we are guilty of breaking all of the law and everyone who does not continue to obey the law is under a curse. That curse, or consequence of sin, is death. Who can escape death? Have you ever thought that Jesus provided a means you can be out from under that law, that ministry of death? That is exactly what Jesus came to do, to bring in a new ministry of life in Him, the Holy Spirit to be placed in you, now that sins were completely taken away when Jesus shed his blood on a cross and then rose again. He met the demands of the law for us so that in Him we may have His resurrected life./p>
So as you listen or read the transcript, ponder over the scriptures, and see what kind of convictions and attitudes you want to have formed in you? Do you want to remain under the law? If you do, and that is what you are trusting in for eternal life, for entry into heaven, then you are under a curse that ultimately leads to death, a final and forever separation from God in hell. Or, do you want to be under grace, that has already been provided for you in Christ Jesus. He did all the work for you already and simply asks you to receive new life in Him. He knows that is the only solution to man’s problem of death and need of life. He is the only life available to man. That is why God sent him here to earth, to die in order to rise again.
Do you want to receive new life in Christ Jesus? That is received by faith in what He already accomplished for you. In Him there is His imputed righteousness and the forgiveness of sins. You will have become a forgiven person with the Spirit of God living in you. Salvation from sin and death is being saved from that by the gift of God, which is the resurrected life in Christ Jesus.
If you are a believer, but you have error in your thinking that you have to keep short accounts with God, or of thinking you also have to keep the ten commandments in order to please God, your mind needs to be renewed with truth. Your faith is what pleases God, and from that faith, God forms the attitudes from which actions flow into the lives of others.
Set aside the mixing of law and grace, which keeps you bound in error and unable to live the life God has called you to. The power of sin is in the law. That is why Paul says he does not understand himself, for the good he wants to do he does not do and the bad things he hates to do, he does anyway. Why? He thought he could obey the law that says “do not covet”, but instead he found himself coveting all the more. The law feeds the weakened sin-indelling flesh. So what was Paul’s conclusion? He discovered his problem. What a wretched man I am. He also discovered life in Christ Jesus by faith. For he said the solution is in Christ Jesus. Praise be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our only hope of glory.
To live is Christ. You depend upon the Spirit living in you, letting Him renew your mind. When you abide in Him, as Jesus explained in John 15, then the Spirit produces in you and through you fruit, such as love and joy and peace (Galatians 5:22-23), what you could never do in the energy of your flesh. We could never live the Christian life. We are a branch that bears fruit but the Spirit produces that fruit in and through us as we allow Him to. Our job is to trust Him, to rest in Him, and He will do the work in and through us. A life lived by faith, a true conviction based on a firm foundation of truth, the attitudes of heart, that is what God forms in you.
For the last number of weeks, we talked about hope. We talked about the faith we have in Christ Jesus. We place our faith, which is different from believing in something. We can believe in something with our heads, but we place faith into that with our hearts. It is a conclusion to something. Many times, people do not know the difference between your mind and your heart. We renew our mind.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
But the renewing of your mind must produce something. What it produces is a conviction. When Paul said he was convinced of something, he had a conviction of something. This is now something that came from my mind and was depended upon and placed into that center, or what is called the heart, the place where we harbor convictions.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul functioned with that attitude. That was not something that came upon him when he needed it. He lived with that attitude. You and I can have a change of mind and a change of heart in life. You can see somebody who grew up very open, very free, who trusted everybody. We come into this world with that child-like trust. What is your heart like? It is a trusting heart. It is light and free. Then the world begins to bombard. Twenty years later you are as hard as a brick. Your heart gets hard.
That was certainly the case in my life. I was carefree. But the training I got in business and circumstances in life changed that. When you trust people, you just get messed up, especially in southern California. A young white-eyed child must have been advertised that he is coming. My heart became hard. God had to give a new heart. That does not mean He took one out and put another one in. It means I got a new attitude toward things.
When you are talking about this whole concept of the renewing of your mind, the purpose of that is to develop, to put a therefore to what you know to be true, and develop a deep conviction about something. There are people who go through life with no convictions about anything. What do you think about this? I do not know. There is no conviction on something. Until that conviction hits, it is not in your heart. It is in your head. But it has not sunk down into your heart of conviction.
So, when people ask, “What is your heart?” That is a place where convictions live, where attitudes live. It may not mean anything to you at all that nothing can separate you from the love of God. I can look at that and say, “That is nice”, but it does not mean anything to me. I can memorize it and teach it but until that truth sinks down into the heart, it has no real value to me.
What agency transfers it from your head to your heart? Faith. It is called faith. When I put faith in that truth, now a conviction has come about. It is not just information any longer. It is a conviction of the heart. I believe that with all of my heart. I am placing my faith in that. If that is not true, I am a goner. If Jesus Christ is not the way to heaven, I will live in hell. It is that simple. I am not going to change my mind on that. Christ Jesus is the only way to God. He said that.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It is not that he is being narrow. It is the fact there is no other way to the Father except through him. It is a practical thing. There was no way to the Father apart from Jesus, then or now. So, that is not just information. You have placed your faith in that truth. That is a part of your heart. Once that is in your heart, I do not know how you are going to get that out of there.
When talking about this hope, I believe that hope is the second step to faith. When you have placed your faith in these truths, a great hope develops in you to the fact that you have got a conviction in regard to what you placed your faith in. So we have been talking about faith being lived out, and how do you live out your faith?
We have come to the point in our study guide where we are going to deal with a very, very important subject, that is where do you have your hope of glory? Where do you have your hope of glory here on earth? Where do you have your hope of glory in heaven when we die someday? Where is your hope?
As an example, if your hope is in the fact that my joy here on this earth, as well as my determining factors as to where I am going to go when I die, is in the law, then you are to be pitied of all people. James 2:10 says that.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
So if your hope is in your ability to obey the law in order to please God, or in order to get to heaven, because you have been so pleasing, James says that you are guilty of all things. Paul goes ahead to say the same thing in Galatians 3:10.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[Deuteronomy 27:26]
If I am relying on my ability to observe the law to keep in relationship with Christ, to keep in fellowship with Christ, and my everything with Christ, then he says you are under a curse. That is not so good. Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the law. That is an extension of what James says. That is, if you kept the whole law and stumbled at just one point, you are guilty of breaking all of it. So James and Paul are in agreement there.
So if your faith is in the law, your hope is in the fact that you can keep the law, and, therefore, to be so pleasing to God, that He will take me to heaven some day, then we are told in scripture that you are under a curse. If I am going to place faith, that is something I have to place faith in. It is one thing to say my faith is in Jesus. It is that your faith ought to be in what Jesus said. Jesus just said through the apostle Paul, that if you rely on observing the law, you are under a curse.
We know in our hearts if that is what we are relying upon. Many people’s belief system is, if I keep this law, God will be terrifically pleased with me. If that is in your heart, then you need your mind renewed so that your mind can change your heart and your attitude. That is a wrong attitude and it is an attitude that is error. Error keeps you in bondage and truth sets you free.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We are talking about hope that we now have in our hearts that has come from faith. In other words, faith is the gateway to the heart. I have now placed faith in something. Faith has created this hope because it is now an attitude. It is now a total policy in my life. It is a conviction that has been formed by God himself. It is a godly conviction.
We are talking about a conviction that God wants us to have in regard to our relationship to the law as it compares to the conviction that we have in regard to the relationship to the Spirit. We are told in 2 Corinthians 3:7-12, which deals with hope. It deals with two different ministries. Let us look at this passage and see if it spells out what our hope needs to be in. There is a ministry of death and there is a ministry of the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
Let us make sure our foundation is straight. Before we go onto building the house, let us be sure our foundation is solid. You are talking about the ten commandments. When talking about law, you are talking about all the law of Moses. All of the five books of Moses are called the law. The Old Testament was divided by the law, the prophets and the writings. The law was the writings of Moses that contained all of the laws of God, including the ten commandments.
Now, many people will say, “Well, yes we are saved by grace and, yes, we are no longer under the law, but that is the ceremonial law. But we are still under the moral law of the ten commandments and we have got to live by those”. What a person is saying is, “If I have to live by those ten that means that I am going to have to rely upon my ability to keep those in order to be in fellowship with God and remaining in relationship with God”. If someone says we are still under those laws, then that means you are going to have to rely on your ability to keep those laws, in order to accomplish something, namely a relationship and a fellowship with God.
Again, I need to form a policy. Is that a true conclusion or a false conclusion? We just read that all who rely on observing the law are under a curse. If I am still under something, then I am under an obligation to do something, and therefore, I am going to rely upon observing the law for my relationship and fellowship with God, doesn’t it? If I am under it then I have to rely upon me to keep it in order to bring about something. So he is saying to us that if that is your conclusion then you are under a curse because if you are going to have an attitude that I am under the law, then you have faith in the fact that I am still under those ten. Then my attitude then is it does not stop. You are under them. You better do them and keep them and I must rely on my ability to keep them because if I do not, then I am out of relationship or fellowship with God.
He says if that is your attitude then you have to take the law to its ultimate conclusion then. Under the law, the wages of sin is death.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
James just very clearly told us that if you kept the whole law and yet stumbled at just one point then you are guilty of breaking all of it. That does not mean that day or hour but from the time you are born to the time you die. When dealing with this whole issue, in my heart, if I am believing I am under the law, and I realize God has gotten rid of the ceremonial law, these ten I am under, then I have to rely on my ability to keep them in order to accomplish a relationship and a fellowship with God. The bible says if that is what you are relying on then you are under a curse.
Do I want to remain under a curse? Or is there a way to get out from under the curse of the law? Did God provide a way for that? Or, does this just mean I am a goner? Or does this mean I try my best and see if God grades on a curve? Or, do I realize I cannot keep the law, but we will develop a system where we can get our sins forgiven? We have gone to the confession booth, to 1 John 1:9, to the altar calls, to keep short accounts with God. I cannot keep this. I cannot rely on observing law all the time. I am doing my best. I am trying. I am sorry, but trying is not good enough. If you violated the least of these, you violated all of them. Trying is not good enough. It is like trying to leap over the Grand Canyon. It is not good enough. Self effort is not the issue. If a person is in that mindset, that I am going to be able to accomplish this, but I cannot accomplish this. But he says I have to accomplish it, then I have to come up with a system to take care of it when I mess up.
So we have this obsession with confession mentality. Why do we have this obsession with confession mentality? Because we cannot do what the bible says, and that is to keep the law, but we are too stupid to get out from under it. So we stay under what is killing us, voluntarily, by our own actions, by our own desires, by our own intuition, and misinterpretation of scripture. That law, I am under it, but I cannot keep it. But I have got my 1 John 1:9 and my confession booth. So we live in this delusion. This is not Christianity. This is insanity.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Why do I say it is insanity? If that is the way you live the Christian life, why in the world then did Jesus come? What did Jesus have to come for? There is already a system to keep your sins forgiven under the law. He came to do something far greater than this. He is talking about the ten commandments. Those are the letters engraved on stone, not ceremony laws, but the ten commandments. There is no question what he is talking about there. You are talking about the ten commandments from Mt. Sinai.
2 Corinthians 3:9-11
9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Remember when Moses came down from the mountain, his glory was such that the people could not look at him, even though it was fading.
There are two ministries, one of death and one of life, one of Spirit and one of law. The ministry of law brings death. The ministry of Spirit brings life. Which one do you think is the most glorious? The law is a ministry that condemns me. If it is glorious, how much more is the ministry that brings righteousness.
Can anyone be declared righteous in the sight of God under the law? No. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:21.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[a]
So if the ministry of the law is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness. The law could never bring righteousness. We just read that if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing. We all know what it says, but have you put your faith in that. That also is an object of our faith. That is truth. I am going to put my faith in something, that I will never be declared righteous in the sight of God by observing the law.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
I want that to go down into my heart because if I do not form that attitude then every time I mess up I am going to wonder if I am under a curse, out of fellowship or whatever else it might be, instead of walking by faith, that righteousness will be obtained only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God, the ministry of grace that is given to us in Christ Jesus. That is an attitude, and I am going to live with that attitude. Why? It is biblical. It is in scripture. It says it. I am going to put my faith in that. I am going to let that go into me and form a conviction in regard to that.
What was glorious has no glory now. None. He is talking about the law. What was glorious, the law, has no glory at all in comparison with the surpassing glory. In comparison to Jesus, the law has no glory at all. It had glory prior to Jesus. But now it has no glory compared to the surpassing glory. If what was fading, the law, came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts? How long? Forever.
2 Corinthians 3:12
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
Therefore, and when you see that, ask what is it there for? Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. How do you get such a hope? With the therefore. You get your hope by putting your faith in the fact that the law has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. When something is surpassing, it means you leave the old behind and something has surpassed it. That is Jesus and the ministry of the Spirit that gives life, which replaced the demands of the law that brought death.
Are you still under the law? If you are, you are under a curse. If you are under a curse, there is no way to get out from that curse on your own. Jesus has provided that way, but as long as you refuse to receive Him and His grace fully, then you will remain under the law and under the curse of it. God gave us two ministries, the ministry of death through the law, and the ministry of life, through the Spirit. The issue is, which one are you under? If under the law, you are under the ministry of death and you are under a curse. You have placed yourself there because God has provided a way for you to be out from underneath that. If you are under grace, you have been freed from the demands of the law and the punishment that comes with the law, namely death.
If a ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:21 about what the law could not do.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
So folks, we are talking about a very simple thing here. If there could have been a law that could have brought life, and imputed righteousness, then Christ died for nothing, and there would be no need for the replacement of it.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
No man will ever be justified because of the law.
16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
The law cannot make you righteous. The law cannot justify you. The law cannot bring life because the law is an instrument of death. So, we realize what Paul says in Romans 8.
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Have you put your faith in that truth? If your faith is placed in truth, then you are going to have to conclude in your heart that you are no longer under the law, but you now are in Christ, under grace. Titus 2 tells us this.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
Who is the grace that brought salvation? Jesus. The grace of God is another way of calling Jesus. Who brought salvation? Jesus. He has appeared to how many men? All men.
12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
What is our blessed hope? It is that what we are waiting for, the glorious appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. How can we be waiting in great expectation with the great hope of this glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, if we were under a law and under a curse. That would be like saying, “I cannot wait to solidify that I am a goner”. There is no hope in that. The hope we have is the grace of God, who came to me through Jesus Christ, freed me from the demands of the law so I could walk in the new way of life. That is life. No longer under the curse of the law, death, but now under the provision of life through grace. Folks, people who want to demand under the law, do you have hope? Of course you do not. What do you have faith in? Your reliance upon your ability to do good enough in life for God to be pleased with you and take you to heaven? That is a doomsday understanding of scripture.
It is the grace of God that teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness. What are people doing who are trying to live under the law? Trying to live godly. Trying to escape worldly passions. What did Paul discover in this matter? “The good things I want to do, I do not do, and the things I do not want to do, I do anyway”. That is under the law.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
How come? The power of sin is in the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
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