According to popular religious opinion, “works” and “legalism” are not only one in the same, they are evil. We are told from early on in our church experience that to do any type of work relative to salvation is an abomination in the eyes of God. Any mention of the Law brings a quick rebuttal from those in the know who tell us that faith is all that matters, that we need “only believe” to inherit our mansion” that awaits us in heaven. At this point let us define our focal terms using the Bible as our standard. “Works” refers to obedience to God’s Word, which Jesus defined as Truth. The Law is the entire Bible, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments.
One of the ironies found in the church’s belief system is that the Book of Romans supposedly proves that God has done away with the Law, that the Law has no part to play in the life of a New Testament Christian and that keeping the Law means that one has “fallen from grace.” Nothing could be farther from the truth, as the following Scriptures will prove. God’s Word is His Law which, the Apostle Paul tells us, IS (present tense) “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12), defines sin (Rom. 7:7), is righteous (Rom. 2:26; 8:4,7; 9:31,32; 10:4,5) and is Truth (Rom. 2:20). Paul tells us that he did not know what sin was until he read the Law (Rom. 7:7). This is backed up by God’s definition of sin: “To transgress (break) the Law is sin, for sin is the transgression of the Law” (1 Jn. 3:4). Note that the Lord calls His Law and His Word “Truth” in John 17:17 and Romans 2:20. His Word expresses His will. HIS WORD, HIS WILL, HIS TRUTH AND HIS LAW ARE ONE IN THE SAME. Faith, which we must “live by” means that we take God at His Word, for “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Rom. 10:19). Faith in His Word/Law/Truth/Will requires that we work our faith by obeying His Word. Speaking through the Apostle James (2:17-26), the Almighty tells us that FAITH WITHOUT WORKS (OF FAITH=OBEDIENCE TO HIS WORD) IS DEAD in that it proves one’s lack of love for God (Jn. 14:15/1 Jn. 5:3). The Lord tells us repeatedly that faith, baptism, church affiliation, receiving Jesus as Savior, etc. will not save the soul. Works of faith–obedience to His Word/Law/will–must be performed in order to qualify for salvation. “AFTER (if) you have DONE THE WILL OF GOD (obeyed Him) you WILL (future) receive the PROMISE (salvation)” (Heb. 10:36,39). What is God’s will? That all be saved by obeying Him (Lk. 10:26/ Mat. 19:16-22). Faith without works (obedience to God’s Word) is dead faith. We must live by faith (trust in God’s Word). Therefore, we are as alive or as dead as our faith. Sin is lack of belief in and obedience to God’s Word. Therefore, “sinners saved by grace” are spiritually dead.
So why do church people reject God’s Law when so many passages tell us that we must obey it in order to be saved? The answer is found throughout the Holy Bible. The clearest answer is found in Paul’s letters to the church at Rome and the churches in the region of Galatia. Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches concerns a warning to those who wanted to return to the sacrificial law that had been nailed to the cross. The reason there is confusion relative to the Law is that Paul did not distinguish between the sacrificial law that was “added because of sin” (Gal. 3:19) and the Ten Commandments that were written in stone. Because people in the early church knew the difference between the two laws, Paul did not see the need to explain which law he was referring to at any particular time. This is why the Lord commands that we study His Word in order to gain His approval (2 Tim. 2:15). Without diligent study one cannot understand the difference between the two laws. This is the method the Lord uses to separate contenders from pretenders. Only those who study His Word, believe and faithfully obey it understand, believe and obey it and thereby qualify for salvation upon Christ’s return. The vast majority of church people refuse to do so, just as the Lord prophesied in Matthew 7:13,14. To their peril they trust their ministers to tell them the Truth. Instead of God’s Truth, their false prophets tell them what they want to hear, thereby keeping the pay checks coming. The quickest way to lose one’s ordination papers is to preach God’s Truth. L.J.