This chapter was written for Christians who might believe that keeping God’s covenant is a salvation by works or is a doctrine of man’s works. The apostle Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law
there shall NO FLESH
be justified in His sight:
for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
“We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
He said even the Jews who were given the law knew that “no flesh” no one has ever been justified (forgiven) by the works of the law. Only a few were deceived by believing that the law alone (without Jesus) could save them because they forgot the gospel that the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk knew and whom Paul quotes in the New Testament. That is this:
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
So here is the elephant in the room…
Why did/does God require obedience to His laws within the terms and conditions of His everlasting covenant (by the blood of Jesus) for us to be given the free gift we could never earn? Cain is a great example as well as the thief on the cross who was saved.
These requirements and conditions had/has to be met under the Old Covenant as well as under the New Covenant. The Old Covenant believers were not saved by the law but by the blood of the everlasting covenant, by the blood of Jesus Christ by faith in Him. They also received grace and mercy too.
Why did Jesus warn His New Testament churches, who had been given His Holy Spirit, to repent of the sins they were not turning from? Why did He tell them if they didn’t He would destroy them? (“the wages of sin is death” for all unrepentant sin)
The servant of God in the parable Jesus tells us about also had a choice to obey or sin. It’s the same servant of God who has the Holy Spirit of God because Jesus says God is giving that servant “meat in due season”. He was told by God to give others “meat” which is the manna from heaven, the word of God and the truth of God. But Jesus warned if that same servant got tired of waiting and instead of preaching the gospel “My Lord delayeth His coming” and begins to sin unrepentantly, then Jesus uses language that is associated with the damnation of the wicked. He even clearly says that servant has become wicked and He will reward him with the portion of the unbelievers: which is damnation not salvation.
“The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is NOT AWARE of, And shall cut him asunder, and APPOINT HIM HIS PORTION WITH THE HYPOCRITES: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will APPOINT HIM HIS PORTION WITH THE UNBELIEVERS.”
1. Jesus comes when the servant isn’t aware
2. His servant is cut off from the fold (as in John 15:1-6)
3. He is given the reward of the unbelievers (damnation)
This is New Testament
“I am the true vine,
and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch IN ME
that beareth not fruit
HE taketh away”
But whether under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant it remains TRUE that God requires our “works” of obedience to His Covenant in order for us to receive His free gift of salvation that we could never earn.
Going back to the example of Cain:
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not BE ACCEPTED? …”
If Cain didn’t do the works God requires him to perform He clearly warned him that he wouldn’t be accepted or forgiven of his sins. He could not inherit eternal life without being forgiven and cleanse from all unrighteousness. God didn’t do Cain’s part. He required Cain to perform the requirements of the covenant.
In order to be forgiven Cain had to bring an animal sacrifice to be accepted and forgiven of his sins under the Old Covenant. Those laws didn’t save Cain or Abel or earn their salvation. The blood from animals couldn’t take away his sins either. Only the blood of Jesus can save.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
There is no law anyone could keep that could pay the death penalty we owe, only the blood of Jesus could do that. So that means it is an impossibility to earn our own salvation and this is how salvation is not of ourselves because there is nothing we could do to obtain or erase our own sins and death penalty.
But this doesn’t mean that God the Father doesn’t require us to obey His laws and keep His covenant of salvation.
God doesn’t do our part either. He doesn’t believe for us, he doesn’t confess and repent for us we must cooperate with His Holy Spirit in order for Him to do those works in us. Think about that for a minute. If God did everything then He would be 100% responsible for the unrepentant sins of the New Testament churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3.
When we say God does everything and we don’t have to do anything (not keep His commandments/covenant) then this is exactly what we are accusing God of. It’s just not true. We will be judged by what we have done. (John 15:1-2) and that’s why we perform God’s works (life) and not man’s works (death). There is a difference.
The apostle Paul said that’s why he worked, so he would be accepted by God. That’s the same thing the LORD taught Cain under the Old Covenant.
“WHEREFORE WE LABOUR, that, whether present or absent, WE MAY BE ACCEPTED OF HIM. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Jesus says it too:
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS.”
Some people hesitate to believe these things because they don’t understand these scriptures below (2Timothy 1:9 & Titus 3:5) which talk about how while we were defiled and dead in our sins that God the Father comes to us (not based on our good works) and He calls us to come to Him.
When you read this remember that “no flesh” could ever earn salvation and that no man can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them. Also remember “many are called, but few are chosen”. Everything has to match because there are no contradictions in the Bible.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”
Our dead fleshly “old man” would never seek God. He first loved us and extended mercy by even calling us to Him. But WE have to respond appropriately according to the requirements of His covenant of salvation.
1. We must believe God
2. We must believe He exists
3. We must believe the account of His Son
4. We must acknowledge and confess our sins
5. We must repent of those past sins
6. We must ask Him to forgive us
One of the thieves on the cross did this and was saved. He did it from a sincere heart.
If what I said wasn’t true then this scripture isn’t true either:
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”
Now looking at this based on what I have presented, did those works of obedience alone save Abraham? No because “no flesh” has ever been justified by only keeping the law. We can’t earn what only Jesus’ blood alone does in paying our death penalty. If he could just obey laws to earn salvation then he wouldn’t be required to believe God exists, believe what God says about sin, or believe in Jesus. This is why salvation is by inheritance through the everlasting covenant by faith in the blood of Jesus. Salvation is not reckoned of debt”. God doesn’t owe us anything no matter how much we “work” or how many laws we keep after sinning. But God has promised us eternal life by inheritance if we do what He requires by being His covenant keeping children.
Did the law alone save Abraham? No.
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, AS PERTAINING TO THE FLESH, hath found?
For if Abraham were justified by works,
he hath whereof to glory;
but not before God.
For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God,
and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
These are not contradictions.