Monday, August 24, 2020

Works of the law

So the Mosaic law, even though it is God-ordained, nonetheless was subject to the limitations of all such rule-based systems. Law makes the sin problem worse by exciting the flesh. Thus it cannot result in the kind of righteousness that God desires. As Paul puts it elsewhere, “For the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive” (2 Cor. 3:6). That is, the letter of the law associated with the Mosaic covenant kills, but the Holy Spirit supplies life. Why? Because the Spirit sets us free from the performance demands of the Old Covenant (2 Cor. 3:17), allowing us to be transformed into the image of Jesus the Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). The good works that the law was really directed toward all along are indeed fulfilled for those who walk in accordance with the Spirit:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not consummate the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are contrary to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are contrary to the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do the things you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality. (Gal. 5:16-19)
In other words, allegiance to the Christ entails life in the Spirit (which is precisely what it means to be part of the church) rather than life under the law—and this allegiance is manifest as a concrete way of life that puts to death the flesh’s wicked practices. It also means that the fruit of the Spirit Will be embodied, but not necessarily in a simple cause—and-effect relationship between initial “faith” (as “belief” or “trust”) and subsequent “good deeds.” Rather the Spirit’s actions in the midst of the community that continues to profess “Jesus is Lord” is the cause, and the effect is spiritual gifts that manifest “good deeds” performed as ongoing allegiance (see 1 Cor. 12:1—3).—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 120-21

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