04 May, 2006

Romans 8:4 - Fulfilling the Righteous Requirements of the Law

Romans 8:4 TNIV ...in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

The Question:
How is it that we fulfill the righteous requirements of the law?

The Players:
Travis, Danny Kaye, Milly (and hubby), codepoke, DugALug, Japhy

The Rules:
This study is the product of everyone's input. As such, every word may not be blessed by everyone who contributed, but we all reached the same general consensus. Codepoke did the editing.

We have been given the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation, but we are by no means saved unless we act upon that invitation. As for what we do after we accept Jesus Christ, we cannot expect "living by the Spirit" to just take hold of us; we must act.

"[Who] was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:36-37)

Jesus did not say "correct" and pat the man on the back. He told him to "do likewise". We cannot take the example of Jesus, the perfect human, and frame it and put it our wall and say we are living in the Spirit. We must live in the Spirit!

(All links are to the KJV. The KJV is more or less equally disdained by users of all other versions, and Blue Letter Bible is just easy to link. ;-) The actual quotes are from multiple versions.)

James 2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do
- I see this as saying that deeds/works are a legitimate litmus of true faith.

Gal 5:19,22-26 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness... In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.
- In contrasting the "works" of the flesh with the "fruit" of the Spirit, Paul is showing how the law exists because of the desires of the flesh, but "there is no law" against that which is driven by the Spirit because the Spirit produces only good fruit.

Col 1:21-23a
And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.
- Paul seems to be telling them that, while Jesus's sacrifice on the cross has made life in the Spirit possible for them, they must "follow the Spirit". Jesus said that himself: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34) We must follow, not just stand by and watch.

Mark 1:17 (NKJV)
Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Philippians 3:14 (NKJV)
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

- Jesus uses the term 'follow'. Paul uses the term 'Press'. These are not the words of a spectator: these are words of action. I believe the Holy Spirit quicken us to action. Japhy quotes Galatians about the works of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit. This scripture shows us that 'good works' are the biproduct of a Spirit-filled life. What we do by our own effort cannot be clean or 'good'. This is what Isiah said:

Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
- If we live by the Spirit, good works will follow us and the Law will be of no matter. If we live by the flesh, we will never be able to live up to the Standard that God has set in the law.

Acts 23:1-51
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day." 2At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!" 4Those who were standing near Paul said, "You dare to insult God's high priest?" 5Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people."

James 4:10-13 (New International Version)
11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Mat 7:17
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
- The fruit does not make the tree, the tree makes the fruit.

2Cor 6:16 - 2Cor 7:1
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

- Holiness is a real part of our calling.

Tit 2:11-14
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

- The grace of God teaches us to obey the law. First the law taught us to come to Christ, and then Christ teaches us to fulfill the law. We ought to be cleansed.

Rom 9:31 & 32
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that Stumblingstone;

- Though we are to be cleansed, it is not in order to please God. Those who attempt to please God by righteously following a righteous law use Christ wrongly. Christ is to be the Cornerstone and Foundation of all our works and all our life. But if we are are fulfilling the law on our own, we are not founded on the Cornerstone. Instead, when we follow the law to please God, the Cornerstone is made a Stumblingstone to us.

Gal 5:4 & 5
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
- Justification is by faith, not the law. We are made righteous before God by our faith in the work of Christ, and Christ makes us clean in this world by the work of the Spirit.

John 15:23 & 24
23 Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
- We obey Christ's teachings, and our obedience flows from the love we have for Him - or it doesn't.

My husband had an example of how the Catholic church says that you can only take communion in the Catholic church, and no other, if you are Catholic. That’s man made - not from God. I used to laugh at the Catholic church for that. Jesus wasn’t of a "church" He traveled to cities and spoke the Word. If he walked into the Catholic church could Jesus take communion? (Man’s lines in the sand again.)

We have to live in the Spirit, not just live our lives day after day following only man’s laws. We must live in Christ for life.

I did a study on Colossians called "Crammed with Christ" a while ago and I basically came up with three conclusions.
1) Live according to the Law and try to attain righteousness that way
2) Be crammed full of Christ and attain His righteousness,
3) Or choose none of the above and live believing that righteousness is not needed. (atheists, agnostics…).

Col 2:9-14 states that the circumcision of our sinful nature is done by Christ. The passage also states that the circumcision by Him is a direct result of us “having been buried with Him in baptism” leading to our being “raised with Him” in the same nature as Romans 6:4. By faith, I can know that Christ has circumcised my sinful nature at that point and I am henceforth “given fullness in Christ”, or in the Greek “pleroo”, (literally meaning “to cram”). That’s where I get the title of my study “Crammed with Christ”.

There are levels of faith. There are levels of passion. There are levels of many spiritual things. But If Christ is in you…He is in you all the way, filling you with His life and love, and giving life to (our) mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in (us)." (Rom. 8:11)

The liberty of being free from the consequence of the law leads us to worship. So following the law is now an act of understanding rather than an act of obedience.This was one of my points on my blog post:My La La Post

God is after our heart and we are instructed to be more Christ-like. That means seeing things as Christ sees them.Thus, living by the Spirit is allowing God to mold or shape our heart so that our entire lifestyle and outlook will be an instrument of praise towards God.

As the Good book says: Faith is counted as righteousness.

The Bible clearly says that, as redeemed saints, God's Words are enscribed on our heart. These words give us understanding that is impossible without God's input. In the end, I really believe that God changes my perspective on life. The path of following the law is available to us through asking of and submitting to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

John 1:14 (NKJV)And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth

This scripture says God is tied to the Word. So understanding the Word is to understand God. I would have to say that understanding the Word is inclusive of the law. And thus, understanding the law is good. I believe that this understanding is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Without sounding circular, I contend that following the law is at the quickening of the Holy Spirit.

Paul is saying that while our flesh exists in the framework of the law of sin, our spirits exist in the framework of the law of God. It is possible for our spirits to do works in the law of the flesh, but it is not possible for our flesh to do works in the law of the spirit. We are no longer governed by the power of the law of sin (which is death) because of our salvation in Christ Jesus, but we are still able to commit acts which violate the law.

Christ was the first person through whom the requirements of the law were truly met, and so we now have the model of Christ to follow.

The desires of the flesh are opposite the desires of the spirit; you cannot serve two masters at once.

I've heard contention between "works" and "faith" as far as salvation is concerned. There's one side that says faith in Christ is all that's needed (and they base this on a few lines from Paul's letters) and another side that says faith alone is not enough.

Ephesians 2:8-9 is the oft-quoted excerpt: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast." Harping on this, they neglect so many other things written by Paul and others (e.g. James 2:14-17), as well as the teachings of Jesus himself (e.g. Matthew 25:31-46, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me").

But moreso, they confuse the meaning of Paul's words. It is not by works that we are saved, it is through faith. That faith then works in and through us to produce good works, by which we justify the grace and salvation given us by Christ's sacrifice.

We all sin again (sometimes the same sins) after we have asked God for forgiveness. But God knows our hearts; He knows when we're sincere and when we are not, He knows when we are truly sorry for our transgressions and when we secretly delight that our behavior has made someone else just a little more unhappy than us. God knows human nature, if not only because He created us, but because He took our form in Jesus Christ.

And it's because we have Jesus as a model to follow that we're not hopeless; he was like us in every way but sin: he was tempted, but did not give in, and that meant he followed God's will, even to his death. That is the example we are given to follow: a life of obedience to God's will.

So, to sum it all up, now that we have been given this great gift, let us sow our faith like seeds, that it yield a harvest. Christ followed the will of the Father, and that is the example we have. Christ told us to spread the gospel, to make disciples of the nations. I don't think we can ever hope to accomplish that by never sharing the fruits of our faith (that is, good works inspired by the Spirit) with others.

I don't often hear sermons about obeying the righteous requirements of the law. The focus is always on justification, and how we are justified by faith. The focus is on believing unto salvation.

This verse, and this study, put justification in focus. The day we find out we are declared righteous before God is the beginning of a journey, not the end of all works. We begin to open ourselves to the working of the Spirit. We put off the dead works of the flesh. We are cleansed, not just before God, but in this life. Paul failed to attain righteousness in this life, but he did not just wait passively for it to come to him. Paul "pressed":

Phil 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So, we fulfill the righteous requirements of the law by the Spirit's work in us. We don't work toward this end because of any fear. We are justified in Christ, and appear before God as His righteous children. It is because we love Him that we work to obey His commands. When we succeed, it is because His Spirit moves in us, transforming us and making us alive to the things that our new nature loves. Jesus did not leave us alone in the world, but sent the Comforter to walk with us the whole way.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 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, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.


Milly said...

Thank you. This is a nice way to study.

DugALug said...

Looky There!

That really tied together nicely. Excellent work CP!


Danny Kaye said...

I am SOOOO not able to do that! great job tying it all together, codepoke!

Ya' know? When I was reading all the comments and commentaries from all of us, I had no idea we were being so uniformly coherent. ;-)

codepoke said...

I don't think I edited more than 10 words of anything anyone wrote. I fixed a couple misspellings, and one place that was not clear. There is one sentence in there with which I don't agree, and I made sure it stayed pristine. :-)

So, yeah, everyone was completely coherent (at some point)! Whacking big pieces always helps.

I handed this to Ray (who asked the original question) this Sunday. I will top post his reply comments for everyone when I get them back.

This was work, I won't kid you. But, I got so much more out of it than I would have if I had just written down my answer to his question. The study was a LOT richer.