Sunday, April 06, 2008

God needs a filter to see me as righteous?

A lie that I believed for years is that I was still some filthy, dirty sinner who was fortunate enough to have a God who would look past my sin, because He was looking through the filter of Jesus when He looked at me. But the truth is that He has taken away my sin (something the blood of bulls and goats - i.e. sacrifices other than Jesus) could never do. Through the perfect offering of Jesus, God "has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Heb 10:14)

Do I still commit acts of sin? Well, my mind and body definitely think and do sinful things. But the person who I am inwardly - a born again spirit, a new creation of God, the core of my existence - is righteous and is indwelled by God Himself. He has joined His Spirit together with my spirit (1 Cor 6:17). The sin that I commit is "no longer I, but sin that dwells in me," that is, in my members (my body). (Rom 7:17, 20). Along with Paul, as a regenerated being (again, in my spirit), I can say that "I delight in the law of God according to the inward man." This is something an unregenerated, dirty, rotten sinner simply could never say truthfully.* And so if it is "no longer I who do it," then I can't call myself a sinner. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and God sees me that way, not because Jesus is standing in front of me making me appear righteous to God, but because Jesus is in me and God has in actuality made me righteous (2 Cor 5:21).

*Side note: Someone may want to bring up King David's claims in the Psalms about how he delighted in the law. But I would contend that he was off base in his claims, just as the Apostle Paul admits was true of himself back in his law-abiding Pharisaical days when he was known by his Hebrew name, Saul. David's claims, I would contend, were based on his lack of understanding and revelation about the true purpose and function of the law. David said things such as, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart" (Ps 40:8). "The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease, But I delight in Your law" (Ps 119:69-70). "Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life" (Ps 119:92-93).

These claims were perhaps made with a sincere heart, but were far from reality. The law was given to impute sin, and to sentence people with guilt, condemnation and death. There is no law that ever gave life (Gal 3:21). The law never did one single thing to help a person live right. The law never curbed sin. Actually, the opposite is true. The law only caused a revival of sin and it caused sin to abound (see scripture below). Paul had previously thought the same way David had thought, that the law was actually beneficial in his life, but after receiving revelation from Jesus Christ, Paul's understanding was corrected.

"But sin, taking opportunity
by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me." (Rom 7:8-11) The law is holy and just and good... but unregenerated man (man under the law, having not received the life of Christ) is not.


  1. Despite all of his praise for the law, David failed miserably in keeping it. I'm sure we all remember the Bathsheba/Uriah incident.

    David was sincere and truly wanted to obey God but the power of the flesh overtook him at times and he sinned against the very law he was praising. The law is a stern taskmaster that we can never satisfy in spite of our good intentions.

    Yet, today, we still sing songs praising the law. We sing, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet" not realizing that is an OT verse that no longer applies to us. Because of Christ, we are now led by his Spirit and not by a set of rules.

    Anyway, it sounds like we haven't changed a whole lot since David's time. Many believers still love the law and sing its praises.

    This is a great post, Joel. I hope others will read this and come to understand that we now live a new life of the spirit. Instead of praising the law, we should all be praising Jesus because he has set us free from the impossible commands of the law.


  2. Yes indeed, Aida... Jesus Christ is our life. The NT epistles, especially Paul's, make it clear that we've had to die to the law in order to be married to Christ. And when we died to the law and were married to Christ, He joined Himself with us and the life we live is now His life in us!

  3. Hey Joel,

    "David's claims, I would contend, were based on his lack of understanding and revelation about the true purpose and function of the law. David said things such as, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart" (Ps 40:8). "The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease, But I delight in Your law" (Ps 119:69-70). "Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life" (Ps 119:92-93)."

    With all due respect I would like to point out that it is a mistake for us to see David speaking these words. These are indeed spoken through him and inscribed but these are prophetic utterances to be seen in the Son of God calling out to the Father in willing obedience to divine law which of course is now in our hearts in Him. This is the Son of Man speaking, not necessarilly David. I believe that is part of what occured at the road to Emmaus as Christ opened up His disciples understanding. When we receive Christ as our Saviour then His Spirit is within us and at times groaning and making utterances even to this day that we cannot always fully comprehend but it is the Holy Spirit's desire to continue awakening the crys of the Son of God within us toward obedience and as He crys out to the Father to continue fashioning us to do his will and keep His commandents then we truly admit with the full understanding that David also had when confessing his failings in the Psalms which were his utterances and not the Holy Spirit.

    Paul said he delighted to keep the law in his mind by way of his new inward man, yet also confessed the weakness of the law of sin inflamed by way of the written code. Of course the written code is a lesser reflection of the divine law of the spirit of freedom which is the perfect Christ Himself and the living word who ever yearns to bring us closer to the Father in obedience and so truly and in present we still cry out as David and Paul did confessing the wretchedness of their flesh in this body of death that continues to hold us until we are released from its death. I truly appreciate pastor Steve McVey and your blog, but sometimes don't always agree. Love you greatly in the Lord though.

    Do you ever listen to "running to win" with Dr Erwin Lutzer?

    I like him as well, but dont always agree. He is clay as well, but I find he often strikes that good balance we find in the Scriptures...the written word, which is greatly important to God as well. Pilot told those wanting to change the written testimony on the cross that what he had written stays. The Triune God even used Pilot to forge truth above His beloved sacrifice to us.

    Grace upon grace,


  4. Hi Brian,

    I think it's ok for us to disagree. I don't agree with everything I see posted on other blogs all the time, including yours and Steve McVeys, and I even look back at things I've written in the past and I disagree with myself. :)

    As for this post, I understand that many of David's words were prophetic and Messianic, but I also think that his words were also his very own words, coming from his very own heart, from his very own understanding. And I must say that some of the verses I quoted are not Messianic. "Your law is within my heart." "I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life." There are many more examples like these from David that are simply incorrect.

    Jesus didn't receive life by God's laws and precepts. Jesus was (is) the life. Jesus didn't fulfill the law out of love for the law or out of an attempt to try to do the things in the law. He didn't find life in the law.

    Jesus, as a human being, found life in the Father. Jesus was able to fulfill the law, not because He delighted in the law itself, but because He delighted in His Father - and more importantly because "the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me" (Luke 4:18) and "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, who went about doing good, healing all were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him. (Act 10:38).

    Jesus didn't say, "whatever I see written in the law, that is what I do." He said, "the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19)

    The point is that Jesus kept and fulfilled the Law, not by focusing on the law itself, but by abiding in the Father. There was no life in the Law, even for Jesus. There was only life in Himself and the Father.

    Paul, in the same way, found out that although the Law truly is holy and just and good, he would simply never, ever find life in the law, though, like David, he once thought he would. The holy and just and good law was given to provide death, guilt and condemnation for man. There is no life in the law. It is good, and we delight in it, because it represents God's holiness... but we can never look to it for life. Paul, like David, thought there was life to be found in the law, but in the end he realized that it only brought him death.

    With the same respect you gave me, I respectfully think you misquoted and/or misinterpreted Paul. Paul didn't say, "I delight to keep the law..." Rather, Paul said, "I delight in the law of God according to the inward man." I don't think for a minute that he was saying that he delighted in keeping the law. In His inward man, he was now one with God, and he absolutely loved what is holy and good and just, and that's what the Law is. BUT... the life he lived in the body wasn't a life of joyfully keeping the law. His life was an abiding life in which he was joyfully abiding in Christ. Just as Jesus kept the law, not by striving to keep the law but by abiding in His Father, we will never go against the things of the Law when we are abiding in Jesus. In fact, in our inward man, we are joined inseparably with Christ and there is no sin, evil nor law-breaking to be found. We are holy and just and good, in the inward man, which I believe is the very essence of who we are. And in our actions that we commit in our bodies, if we walk according to the Spirit, we will never fulfill the lusts of the flesh (the flesh is not who we are, and yet it can control our actions if we let it) and we will also bear "the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - against which things there is no law." (Gal 5:22-23)

    Jesus' life as a man was not a Law-abiding life. It was a Father-abiding life.

    Our life in the flesh is also not a law-abiding life. Our life is a Christ-abiding life.

    I thank you for your comments, Brian, and I wish you the same grace upon grace.

  5. Thanks brother. I dont think in Pauls Pharisee days did he ever see what David was speaking but of course after being saved he did. I believe he discovered what David did in these utterances. I think the blessed truth is that David understood what most lovers of the law of Moses did not while spending much of his life being an outcast befpre becoming king and even afterwards being an outcast again. I truly believe that in Davids alive relationship with God he knew more because of his understanding and seeing the Lord say to his LORD/YHVH, sit at my right hand.

    I agree that the law of Moses is a passing and fading glory, but much of it is still a reflection like the moon reflects the sun and is like the hinder parts of God's glory that is like a shell of a locust. There is no doubt that it can neither save or empower anyone to obey God but instead inflame us toward more sin.

    Davids words are truly Holy Spirit utterances and of that we will have to agree to disagree I see here.

    Even though Paul counted his love of law in his own righteousness as skubalon he also said this:

    "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man" Romans 7:22

    and this

    "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin"
    Romans 7:25

    Where you see Davids words as being fallible I see them as infallible and God breathed. I hope you consider this dear and most precious brother who is light years at times beyond my undestanding of scripture. I see Paul continuing to unlock what David was speaking well before the true meaning was being unlocked on the road to Emmaus and many other places where study of the NT continues to unlock the OT's depth and purpose. This is clearly something that matters to Jesus as He said he came to do the will of God. Of course I agree that he couldnt do anything of himself but that does not diminish the fact that he loved to be a pleasing fragrance of obedience and he did grow in that obedience even to the point of death, not because he earned righteousness but because like a mustard seed his righteousness grew from suffering and of being born under the law and keeping it flawlessly and with joy and as He learned obedience through what He suffered.

    "Then he said to them, 'Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings from his treasure things new and old." Matthew 13:52

    While we may disagree here, there is much that you as well as Terry Rayburn and Steve McVey truly understand that I wish others could fully see.

    Another area of disagreement?

    Jesus Christ Superstar. In both yours and Terry Rayburns testimony, you all talk of how that movie had some affect on you guys. I know that Keith Green liked it as well, but I see God working through this in spite of the movie. The movie actually grieves me and I consider it a stumbling block that may lead many away from God and into an erotic combination of worship and pagan understandings found in similar religions that closely respect Jesus but explore other possibilities that have also served to offer up further movies that highlighted possibilities of a romance of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. It may call many away from entrusting their sin debt to Christ at the cross and into varying forms of estatic worship that intoxicate one away from the cross and resurrection and alieviation of healthy guilt of violation of God that leads one to the cross to be saved and have their burden released and to hear the words and believe them, "Your forgiven!"

    I see it as a clear tool of the Anti-Christ. It is also sympathetic to Judas.

    Hey, but I love you brother and understand that what sinful man often means for evil, God can indeed use for good, but It is still a movie I flee.

    Grace upon grace,


  6. Hi Brian,

    Thanks again for your comments. It's true that we disagree on a few things but overall I think we have the same underlying understanding of faith and law. In this case I don't think we'll convince each other of what we believe, and that's ok. I will say that I do agree with you that David's words were God-inspired, or 'Holy Spirit utterances.' All scripture is God-inspired. I think perhaps we simply disagree on the use and meaning of God-inspired utterances in certain cases.

    As for Jesus Christ Superstar, I know that you and I have briefly discussed things such as the effects of heavy metal music and such things on different people. I fully respect where you are coming from, and I don't mean to do anything to make any of my brothers or sisters stumble. I'm the type of person who listened to heavy metal music and who really loved it, and I also got a hold of the JC Superstar soundtrack at a fairly young age, and yet at an age in which I knew that I knew that I knew the lyrics were "off," and so it never influenced me in the wrong way. The same was true of heavy metal music. And I know that that's just "me." I also believe it to be true that many people who read my blog are "ok" with various off-topic things that I post. I know of at least two or three for sure who were into JC Superstar. For the most part, I'm just sharing a bit of pop culture (as I personally see it). But again, I don't want to offend anyone, and again I truly respect and understand where you're coming from. I imagine that I will post some more things in the future that may not sit well with everyone, and I will certainly try to not post stuff liberally just for the sake of ticking people off. :)

  7. Obviously, we all have different tastes and opinions about music. Normally when someone posts a video, I'll watch it and if it doesn't appeal to me I'll stop watching before it ends. I understand that the videos that I post may not appeal to everyone either.

    I appreciate that the videos that are posted express our unique personalities. We're all so scattered around and the only relationship we have is through our blogs and maybe an occasional email. Watching the videos that everyone posts helps me to get to know all of you better and that's important to me.

    I don't care for heavy metal music but I will at least watch part of the ones that you post. I'm not offended when you post them because that's an expression of who you are and what you enjoy. I'm glad you feel free to be who you are and not cover up. That's something I'm still learning.


  8. I hear ya Joel. I love you brother. You are a blessing, but it is not so much the music. My beef is not so much with Heavy Metal in fact I love heavy metal, but it just to often always affected me in a bad way and I had to lay it down. I still have a Triumph CD and Gary Moore from Thin Lizzy here at my computer desk from the CD after the war as I love his remake of Roy Buchanons The Messiah Will Come again, but all to often like Roy I get concerned as it afects me in a negetive way as it did him and at times has brought back to many memories of self pity and suicidal tendancies so I am very week here.

    Divorce that from JC Superstar. Maybe it is my favorite whipping boy, but what has always concerned me is that it is another avenue of performance based religion. In fact Jesus warned us to beware of the leaven of Herod as well as the Pharisees and I have often believed that hedonism meets back with legalism or at least they are two heads on the same dragon.

    JC Superstar was the mother of all performances back in its day. I have often wondered if the same pride that spills out of legalistic preachers can often manifest itself in rock stars as well and especially an opera that stirs up more emotions than truth which often leads us on a crash course to that comfortably numb stage that David Gilmore and Roger Waters sings about in the Wall and it can take millions of souls into a dark place after all the glitter fades and if Jesus Christ becomes part of that illusion in a Rock opera then how hard it will be for some to trust in Christ alone.

    Keith Green had a hard time as I did simply allowing himself to be loved by God instead of performing and striving and a lot of that earnest sincerity that simply falls short has found itself into much of the CCM world today. I am not saying all of it, but it is there and a stumbling block. Not to you, but there are others I am burdened about who require noise to drown out that come back down from the clouds feeling of believing lies.

    I appreciate your heart and hope you will consider where I am coming from. I understand that anything can be an idol, but I truly believe that modern music today has indeed elevated erotic and ecstactic feelings and yearnings to try to be loved over believing in agape that one fully discovers when being reconciled by the fire of God as oppossed to the warm fires of the world that led our beloved brother Peter to deny Christ. I am so much like Peter, so please forgive me if I seem to be unfairly projecting myself on to you...but I am fully persuaded there are indeed others like me.

    Grace upon grace,


  9. OK so I started out saying its not about the music and finished by saying it was....go figure, but still I am convinced there is something that I have often felt burdened about.

    one again?

    Grace upon grace! Can't say it enough.


  10. Aida and Brian... I'm the same as Aida when it comes to people posting videos, music, links, etc on their blogs or websites. I love how others express themselves through things like this, and if it's something I enjoy, I follow through on watching, listening, reading, etc. If not, I am still happy that others share in the enjoyment of stuff I don't enjoy.

    One thing that I am certain of is that since I post so much stuff (almost daily), and since there is such a variety of people who stop by here, I cannot possibly expect any given person to be completely thrilled with anything or everything I write or share. :)