Grace & Peace


Sunday, October 7, 2018

God Resists the Proud but Gives Grace to the Humble

In the Apostle Paul's written letter to the church at Rome, we find in the eighth chapter, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" Rom. 8:3 KJV 

This scripture verse is very impactful, for the question is raised as to what it is that the law could not do. The answer is given in the following verse, "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:4 KJV  The answer is that the law could not make us, or give us, the righteousness that it demanded from sinful man because of the weakness of our flesh.

The word 'righteous' comes out of a root word 'just' or "authority to uphold what is right." 'Righteous' means "acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin." [2012 Merriam Webster, Inc.] Righteousness [noun form] refers to man and that which is required from man by God. The law demands righteousness from sinful man; whereas grace imparts righteousness to sinful man. Under law, everything depended on man and his obedience, but under grace, everything depends on Jesus and what He did on the cross.

Indeed we as born-again believers have received an imputed righteousness apart from the works of the law. (ref. Rom. 3:20-22, 4:1-15, 4:22-24)  Righteousness simply means right-standing with God, and to be righteous is to be in right relationship with God. The Old Covenant Hebrews believed that to be in right relationship or right-standing with God they had to keep all of the law. The law God gave through Moses, found in Deuteronomy, stated, "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us." Deut. 6:25 KJV

Pride says, 'I can do it on my own, by my own effort,' whereas grace and faith say, 'It's been done for me through belief in Jesus.' The law has to be kept perfectly if one is to attain to the righteousness of the law by his own effort. (ref. James 2:10 and Deut. 6:25) 

When the Israelites under Moses made the prideful statement that they could keep all of God's commandments, God shortly thereafter gave them the ten commandments, along with the rest of the law. (ref. Exod. 19:7-8, ch. 20) Once again, it states in Deut. 6:25, "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us." I'm glad they agreed to that covenant and not me; don't let it be you either.

A covenant is basically an agreement. (ref. Amos 3:3) The Old Covenant Hebrews, under Moses, were entering into a covenant where their right-standing with God, or righteousness, depended on them keeping all the law. As Moses led the people out of Egypt, and God gave Moses the law, He also instructed Moses on the building of the ark, which would be a place where God's people could receive mercy. The ark, through a progression of time, went from being housed in a portable tent to eventually taking residence in the temple that Solomon built under his father David's instruction. Now we know our bodies are the "temple of God" and God's Spirit resides in us as born-again believers.

Pride says, 'I can do it on my own.' The Israelites, under Moses, made this prideful statement and entered into the covenant of law. Why would I need a Savior if I thought I could do it myself? Once again, the standard of the law is perfection (by your own merit or human effort) if you want to try and keep it apart from faith in Christ. Just look at the ten commandments and realize the only Man or Person who ever walked the earth and kept them all is Jesus. Jesus is fully man and fully God.

So once again, the ancient Hebrews were given the law because of their prideful attitude and fallen mankind, today, is under the law for the same reason. We find in the gospels, whenever someone would come to Jesus and ask, "What must I do to be saved?" thinking they could merit their own salvation, Jesus would give them the law. But, if someone came to Jesus and knew that by their own merit they were unworthy of salvation, but looked to Jesus, they found grace. (ref. Luke 18:18-25, 19:1-10, 1 Pet. 5:5-6, James 4:6)

As stated before, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh" Rom. 8:3a, God did by sending Jesus, "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:4 KJV (also ref. Rom. 10:4, ch. 13:14, Gal. 3:3)

Scripture tells us, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Rom 8:9 KJV  Remember when you first heard the "plan of salvation", it was said, 'Come just as you are with all your faults.' You put no trust or faith in your own effort or merit, and if you became born-again, at that moment you received an imputed righteousness. Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness. That's how we began.

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians, "This only would I learn of you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Ch. 3:2-3 KJV  Paul also wrote, "And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith;" Phil. 3:9 KJV and he (Paul) also wrote, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Rom 8:5-6 KJV

Scripture states, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye are led of the Spirit ye are not under the law." Gal. 5:16-18 KJV The flesh and the Spirit lust against each other. Another Bible translation says they desire what is contrary to each other, and indeed they do.

The mind focused on the flesh thinks it can on its own merit (the law or human effort)  attain to the righteousness of the law. (ref. Rom. 10:3-4)  But the mind focused on the Spirit rests in the fact that we have attained an imputed righteousness apart from the works of the law; our sin was punished at the cross (God took our sin and gave us His righteousness) and hence God is no longer holding our sin against us. Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Mat. 5:48 KJV  This He spoke to the Jewish people who were under the law in what is referred to as "the sermon on the mount." Jesus was trying to show them the severity of the law.

Scripture tells us in the epistle to the Galatians, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." ch. 4:4-6 KJV  When the Apostle Paul wrote earlier in Galatians, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" he, (Paul) knew the only One to have kept the law perfectly is Christ, and we are to put our faith in Him and not ourselves (or our own merit). For as Paul wrote in Romans, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth, for Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them." Rom. 10:4-5 KJV

As we said above, Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect." Mat. 5:48 NIV Through our union with Christ, this is how the Father sees us. Consider John 17:23 NKJV, "I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." This is all the work of the Spirit.

I'll end with these words spoken by the prophet Zachariah, "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." Zach. 4:6-7 KJV  God bless.