Soteriology 017
John 17:17 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 11, 2016 • Soteriology


Andy Woods

Soteriology 17, John 17:17

May 11, 2016

Good evening everyone.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to 1 Corinthians or 1 Californians as Ray Stedman used to call it.  1 Corinthians 1:2, continuing on tonight and next Wednesday, and then the Wednesday after that is the kid’s presentation.  Then the summer will be over but we’re going to by then be into eternal security which we’re going to continue Sunday mornings in the sanctuary during the Sunday School hour.

We have been talking about, through this outline, as we have been studying the doctrine of salvation          and we’ve been dealing with the results of salvation.  Backing up just a little bit, Roman numeral V was how salvation is gained, by faith alone.  Once you have salvation what exactly does that mean.  Well, Dr. Chafer calls this the results of salvation, these things don’t cause salvation but they occur because of salvation.  And he itemized about 33 concepts that you presently possess as a Christian as a result of being saved.  We can’t go through all 33 but we can drill down on some that need more (probably) explanation than others.

But we talked about the fact that we have adoption because we’re saved; eternal life because we’re saved, regeneration because we’re saved, justification because we’re saved, forgiveness of all pre-cross sins because we’re saved.  And last week, remember, we talked about how we have the ability or the capacity for good works.  We tried to make the case that good works are not automatic in the life of every child of God but they’re desirable and it’s what God wants to do in and through us.

And something else we have, it’s called sanctification, and let’s spend a little bit of time tonight on sanctification.  Sanctification is a huge topic in the Bible.  For example, in the Old Testament (and I have those Hebrew and Greek names at the top.   The Old Testament word, which is written in Hebrew for sanctification is kodesh,  and it means the opposite of profane; profane just means common.  So when someone uses profanity they’re using vulgarity which is earth speech, common speech.  And the Hebrew word for sanctification is the opposite of that, it means separated from sin.

And as you track this through the Old Testament what you’ll see is kodesh is used to describe things that to God are holy, like the tabernacle that He instructed Moses to build, like the temple.  And you go into the New Testament and the Greek word for sanctification is hagiazo which means…, it’s very similar to kodesh, it means to be separated for God’s use.  That’s what sanctification is, separated for God’s use.  It’s the opposite of impurity.

And as you go through the New Testament you’ll see hagiazo is applied to things that God considers special, like the city of Jerusalem, like the temple.   And one of the interesting things is this word, hagiazo, and at least the concept of kodesh, is applied to the believer.   So God’s desire for us is that we would be sanctified; the opposite of common, the opposite of impure, that we would actually be a peculiar people, set aside for His purposes.

So notice if you will 1 Corinthians 1:2, it says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been” what? “sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,” and then the rest of the verse goes on.  But you’ll notice there that sanctification has three tenses to it.  And here it’s being used in the past tense.  Now it’s obviously not being used in the present tense because when you study the book of 1 Californians you’ll discover that these people, 1 Corinthians, excuse me, these people weren’t acting very saintly.  So positionally they were sanctified or separated but practically they weren’t.  So their practice hadn’t caught up with their position, and that’s why Paul wrote the book of 1 Corinthians.  But very clearly they were in a positional sense, in a past tense, already sanctified.

So regardless of your progress in progressive sanctification there is a sense where every child of God has already been sanctified, or set aside at least by position.

Take a look, if you could, at 1 Corinthians 6:11, here’s another example of it.  “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were” what? “sanctified,” see how it’s a past tense idea, it already happened to them.  And then you read this whole chapter and these people are suing each other, they’re visiting temple prostitutes for sexual purposes, so how in the world can they be sanctified when they’re acting like that?  Because this is not dealing with this word the way I’m using it here, practical sanctification, it’s positional, it’s something that already happened.

Another example of sanctification in the past tense is the book of Hebrews, chapter  10, verse 10, take a look at that if you could.  Hebrews 10:10, you’ll see sanctification used in the past tense again, and it says there, “By this will we have been” what? “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  So sanctification has three tenses to it.  That’s what I just described as sanctification in the past tense, it already happened; the moment you trusted in Christ Got set you aside for His purposes.

But then what you’ll discover in the Bible is sanctification is also used in the present tense.  For example, notice John 17:17, here Jesus is praying for the disciples and those who would be impacted by the disciples, and He prays to the Father on their behalf, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”  So they are already believers, these disciples, and yet Jesus prays for them to be sanctified and what He’s praying for them, therefore, is that their practice would catch up with their position, which is called spiritual growth.  As our daily life catches up with our identity or emulates our identity, that’s the definition of maturity or growing in Christ.  But here Jesus is specifically praying for their, not past tense sanctification, they already had that, but their present tense sanctification.  And that’s where you have all of these commands in the New Testament.

For example, Romans 6:19,  it says, “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in” what?  “sanctification.”  So when I no longer  yield my body to my old nature but I begin to yield it more and more to the new nature what’s happening is I’m experiencing practical sanctification; there sanctification is used in the present tense.

A couple more examples of present tense sanctification. Take a look at the book of 1 Thessalonians for a minute, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God,” ever wonder what the will of God is for your life, I mean, believers scratch their heads their whole lives wondering what’s God’s will for my life… well here it is, right here in the Bible.  Ready… “For this is the will of God, your” what? “sanctification,” now here it’s obviously not talking about past tense sanctification but present tense sanctification because it describes what is to happen in our lives so that we can experience present tense sanctification, “that you abstain from sexual immorality.”  So what is God’s will for your life?  What is God’s will for my life?  Present tense sanctification, and we “abstain” from sexual sin.

And then you move down to verse 7 and it says, “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in” what? “sanctification.”  Present tense.

Take a look if you could over at 2 Timothy, chapter 2, remember the two vessels?  We’ve been covering this Sunday morning, we covered it a few months ago but God in His house has two kinds of vessels, vessels that are common, like plastic wear, and vessels that are uncommon, like silverware.  So do you want to be plastic or silver?  Silverware you bring out for special occasions, right?  Plastic wear you use for ordinary purposes.  So what is God’s will for your life?  He doesn’t want you to be plastic, He wants you to be silver.

And that’s what 2 Timothy 2:19-23 is talking about.  [2 Timothy 2:19-23, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’ Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. [21] Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. [22] Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. [23] But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”]

But notice verse 21, 2 Timothy 2:21, it says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor,” what’s the next word?  “sanctified,” and then once you  begin to experience progressive sanctification you become “useful” to God,  you’re no longer plastic but silver, He can use you for  not just common purposes but for very noble purposes.   But that’s a collection of verses that talk about sanctification in the present tense, which is what God wants.

And then one of these days we’re going to die, or the rapture will happen, I hope the rapture comes first, personally, but I can’t promise that.  But I’ll be out of this body, you’ll be out of your body, and the temptation to go back into sin won’t even exist, and at that point you will have achieved sanctification, future tense.  So sometimes the word sanctification is used in the future tense.  For example, notice 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father” now we know this is future because it says “at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.”  And then over in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 it says, “Now may the God of peace Himself” do what? “sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame,” when? “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  So there the verb sanctify is used in the future tense.

So we have been dealing with the three tenses of salvation, haven’t we: justification, the past tense of salvation; sanctification, the present tense of salvation, and glorification, the future tense of salvation.  So what I’ve just given you are synonyms for these three tenses.  Another way of saying it is salvation in the past is the past tense of sanctification; salvation in the present is the present tense of sanctification, and salvation in the future is the future tense of sanctification.  So I have been sanctified, I will be sanctified, and hopefully what’s happening in my daily life is my life doesn’t become sinless but I’m starting to sin less, if  you know what I’m talking about.  And as that begins to become a reality in our life we’re actually growing spiritually and we’re experiencing sanctification in the present tense.

Now who sanctifies us?  The answer is every member of the Trinity is somehow involved in our sanctification.  For example, the Father is involved because Jesus prayed to the Father                         regarding the disciples in John 17:17, “Sanctify them,” so Jesus wouldn’t have prayed that if the Father didn’t play some kind of role in our sanctification, past, present and future.  [John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”]

And then going back to the verse we started with, 1 Corinthians 1:2 we know that the Son, the second member of the Trinity plays a role in our sanctification because it talks about the saints and those by calling in every place on the name of who? Our Lord Jesus Christ.  So that’s the second member of the Trinity playing a role.  And I don’t want to leave out the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity.  Notice 1 Peter 1:2, he says there, [verse 1] “Peter an apostle to those who are aliens, scattered [“throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen,]” and then verse 2 says, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the” who? Holy Spirit.  So when you study these passages on sanctification, what you learn is all members of the God head are involved in that process.

So obviously this issue of sanctification must be pretty important to God; we believe in one God but we believe He’s expressed Himself in three personages because you can find verses that show you that every member of the Trinity is involved in this.  So I have been sanctified, I will be sanctified, and hopefully what’s happening in my life, which is the will of God for me, is I’m becoming more and more progressively sanctified, which means I’m becoming a vessel for not profane uses or common uses but special uses, just like the temple in the Old Testament and the tabernacle… you know, there’s a reason the New Testament tells us our body is the temple of the what?  The Holy Spirit; just as the temple was a holy place in Old Testament times that’s how our bodies are to be.  And those are the types of vessels that God uses for noble purposes.

Now how does God sanctify us, exactly.  Well if you’re talking about sanctification in the past tense, where we’ve already been set aside positionally what accomplishes that is the blood and body of Jesus.  The body and blood of Jesus applied to us at the point of faith is what gave us positional (past tense) sanctification.  So for example, notice Hebrews 9:13-14, it says: “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled” what’s the next word? “sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,” and then verse 14 says, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”  So notice very clearly it’s Christ’s body which was sacrificed for us and His blood which was spilled on our behalf which is the means that God used to positionally sanctify us, past tense.

One more, notice Hebrews 10:10, it says, “By this will we have been” what? “sanctified” now notice the Bible doesn’t just say we’re sanctified, it gives us the means, “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  So what is the means by which we are sanctified, past tense?  It is the body of Jesus Christ which was sacrificed on our behalf and His blood that was spilled on our behalf.

Okay, well then if that’s all true what does God use to sanctify us today, in the present tense?  And he uses two tools over and over again, the first one is the Word of God and the second one is the Holy Spirit.  Remember the prayer that Jesus prayed, going back to John 17:17?  He prayed for the present tense sanctification of the disciples and remember what He prayed?  “Sanctify them in the” what? “truth, Your” what? “is truth? “word,” so there He very clearly says that the means that God wants to use is to bring these disciples and us into present tense sanctification is the Word of God.

Notice Acts 20:32, these are Paul’s words to the shepherds at Ephesus, the pastors and the elders, he says, “And now I commend you to God and to the” what? “word of His grace,” that’s the Scripture,” which is able” able to do what? “which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are” what? “sanctified.”  So do we want to be counted among those who have achieved through God’s power some level of progressive sanctification in this life.  If the answer is  yes then we have to be routinely exposed to God’s Word.  God doesn’t do it without His Word.

And this sort of dovetails the teaching we’ve been doing on Sunday morning through 2 Timothy 3 and 4 where we’re in that section dealing with “preach the Word,” how young Timothy is to preach the Word and Paul gives the benefits of the Word being preached.  2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

You might recall 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for” what? “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness; [17] so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  Now notice if the Word of God is not being taught and people aren’t exposing themselves to the Word of God then the process of progressive sanctification cannot and will not happen because you subtract the Word of God from the equation and suddenly teaching disappears, reproof disappears, correction disappears, and training in righteousness disappears, and equipping disappears.

So there’s a lot of people that kind of have this mindset that it’s just kind of mean God and I can kind of do my Christian thing while I sit under a tree, I don’t need the church.  The problem with that is the church is the place where the Word of God is supposed to be openly proclaimed.  And if you’re not in an environment where the Word of God is being openly proclaimed and you’re not allowing yourself to be corrected and built up week by week through the Word of God then you simply can’t attain progressive sanctification.  You may have it positionally and ultimately but you can’t have it practically.

So your progress in progressive sanctification is related to the extent that you avail yourself to God’s Word, and it’s not just listening to sermons, it would be reading it on your own, reading it with your family, reading it with your children, reading it personally.  It’s the extent to which you avail yourself to God’s Word and not just have information going into the mind just for the sake of having it going into the mind but you actually start volitionally obeying and responding to God’s Word.  If there’s not a perpetual intake of God’s Word and there’s not a perpetual response of obedience to God’s Word, progressive sanctification in my life and  your life is very negligible, if at all.

So it’s very clear here that the middle tense of progressive sanctification is contingent upon the Word of God and its role in our lives.  So that’s why we’re somewhat aggressive, at least at this church, in teaching over and over again the Word of God, because we want to see people grow.  We don’t want to see them pass an exam in college, this college I teach at I would like to see them pass an exam, but the ultimate goal is not to pass an exam, the ultimate goal is sanctification, which is what God wants to produce in our lives.

And the second tool that God uses to bring us into progressive sanctification is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, and notice Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by the” what? “Spirit, and you will  not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Now what does it mean to “walk by the Spirit”?  It means to be continually dependent upon the Spirit.

So the Bible never calls us to overcome the lusts of the flesh, and by the way, notice you still have lusts of the flesh as a Christian; the lusts of the flesh are still there.  In fact, sometimes the lust of the flesh are more obvious to you as a Christian than they were to you before you were a Christian, because now the Spirit of God is inside of you pointing out righteousness.  So some people actually feel worse about themselves after they get saved than before and the reason is because something greater than yourself lives inside of you now, who constantly brings to our awareness sin and things that are displeasing to God.

But you’ll notice that it says if we walk according to the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  I don’t overcome the lusts of the flesh through willpower in and of itself.  I overcome it by submitting to the commands of God under His power.  And if you don’t have any teaching on the spiritual life, which most Christians don’t have because the subject, for whatever reason is very poorly understood, the only thing you’re left with is a set of rules, you know, don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls who do, don’t have a tattoo, not that I’m in favor of tattoo’s necessarily but it’s a rule people put on themselves, I can’t have a tattoo, I can go to PG movies but not R movies, maybe PG… there’s so many ratings now I get them all confused, there’s PG 13.  You guys get my drift, it’s a set of rules that I have to follow because God’s people are supposed to act this way but not that way.  So that’s the only thing I’m left with is a set of rules which we call legalism if I don’t have any teaching on the spiritual life.

What gives you, by contrast, progress in progressive sanctification is not a set of manmade rules and do’s and don’ts.  The Pharisees had all that stuff.  It’s walking moment by moment under the Spirit’s power; that’s how the lusts of the flesh start learning to say no to the lusts of the flesh with greater and greater regularity.  So the more you’re in the Word and obeying it and drawing upon the resources God has given you and saying no to the lusts of the flesh the more you’re developing as a Christian, and growing, and becoming a sanctified vessel, middle tense, that God can now use for noble purposes.  So that’s a tremendous source of wealth that we have, our progressive sanctification.

Let me add another to your list if I could, let’s take a look at Romans 8:30 for a minute.  Another source of wealth that we have is glorification.  What is glorification?  Glorification is the future tense of salvation.  Justification is the past tense of salvation, freedom from sin’s penalty at the point of faith.  Sanctification as we just finished talking, depending on what tense you are in, focusing on the middle tense is the present of salvation where we’re being gradually delivered from sin’s power as we walk  under the Spirit’s control.  And then the future tense of our salvation is glorification, because you see now, in a certain sense I’m dual natured.  I have a new nature that wants to please God but as long as I’m still in this body I have an old nature that I can return to any moment.  And in the middle tense of my salvation I have to start depending upon God’s resources and saying no to that old nature with greater frequency.

But in glorification you’re single natured again; there is no old nature to return to.  So the desire to go back to the sin nature, the desire to retreat to the sin nature isn’t even there in glorification.  And so that happens the moment we are out of these bodies, either through rapture, in which case my body will be transformed, or through death.

Now your glorification… are you in glory right now?  You guys don’t look like you are, I don’t think I look like I do either, but did  you know that the Bible teaches that your glorification is a done deal; it’s part of your wealth.  So God looks at us legally as if we’re already glorified.  How do I know that?  It’s right there in Romans 8:29-30, he articulates the various phases of our salvation.   “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined” now predestined is in the past tense, right?  It already happened. “…to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; [30] and these whom He predestined, He also called;” “called” is in the past tense, right?  “… and these whom He called, He also justified;”  “justified” is in the past tense, right?  And then look at the rest of the sentence, “and these whom He justified, He also” what? “glorified.” Past tense.

So if glorification is a future tense of my salvation then it hasn’t happened yet how in the world can Romans 8:30 put it in the past tense?  And the answer to that is it’s a done deal; it’s so sure from God’s perspective that He can articulate it in the past tense, although it factually hasn’t happened yet.  If you want a fancy name for this it’s a distinction between De Jure and De Facto.  De Jure means legal, De Facto means in fact. So legally I am already glorified as far as God is concerned.  Factually it hasn’t happened yet; that’s got to wait till death or the rapture.

And Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we legally are seated with Christ in the heavenly places.  [Ephesians 2:6, “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”]  Are you seated with Christ in the heavenly places factually right now?  No, you’re stuck in this building, although it’s a nice building, we have cushioned seats and air conditioning so praise the Lord for that.  It’s a comfortable place to be, but it’s not your ultimate destination.  You’re legally not here, you’re legally seated with Christ in the heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6.  So that’s a De Facto De Jury distinction.  Legally that’s where we are; factually we’re not there yet.  So legally I’m already glorified.

By the way, just to tip my hand a little bit that’s one of the reasons you can’t lose your salvation.  Your salvation is so sure your salvation is so sure, your glory is so sure God can speak of it as if it’s already happened.  In other words, nothing can derail future glory for the Christian.  Satan can’t derail it; we can’t even derail it.  The fallen angelic realm can’t derail it; the tribulations and trials of life and suffering can’t derail it either.  And that’s the whole point there of Romans 8, as  you move into Romans 8:30-38, nothing can separate us from the love of God because one of the pieces of wealth which we already possess is our glorification.

[Romans 8:29-38, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; [30] and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  [31] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? [32] He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? [33] Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; [34] who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. [35] Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  [36] Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”  [37] But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. [38] For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, [39] nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”]

Glorification is yours, it’s in your account currently, even though it hasn’t happened yet.   It’s kind of like what God did with Joshua, you read Joshua 6 and God brought Joshua to Jericho and before there was any battle at all God told Joshua you already won, before they had even gone out to do anything militarily God announced in Joshua 6 that you already won.  So that is the position of the believer, we’ve already won.  That’s why the devil hates our guts.  That’s why we’re called overcomers.  The battle is over, the way is over, just factually a few things have to work out first but legally that’s our position, we’re glorified already.  That’s a phenomenal thing, isn’t it?

Let me add one more to your list, we are at the end of the Law.  Take a look at Romans 10:4.  This can get a little tricky so watch carefully on this.  Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to” who? “to everyone who” what? “believes.”  So if you are “in Christ” you are at the end of the Law, the Law is a thing of the past.

So what in the world does that mean?  I mean, it’s stated there in Romans 10:4.  First of all, does the Law play any role?  Now when I’m talking about the Law I’m talking about what God gave Moses at Sinai.  Does the Law play any role in your justification?  Not really, other than to maybe alert you to the fact that you’re a sinner and need to be justified.  The only thing that justifies you is faith alone in Christ alone.  Paul is very clear about this in Acts 13, which is his first major speech in the synagogue there in a city in Pisidian Antioch.  Acts 13:39 he says, and he’s speaking in the Synagogue to Jews who were steeped in the Law.

To the Jew the Law was everything; they even looked at it as an instrument of salvation.  They perverted its meaning and that’s why Jesus, in John 5 says to the Jews, the Pharisees, your hopes are set on Moses.  So these folks thought I gain salvation through adherence to the Mosaic Law.  Paul upset their apple cart a little bit… a little bit?  A LOT, because he says in Acts 13… this is why they kicked him out of the synagogue, they hated his guts, he’s contradicting 1,500 years of false teaching.  He says, [Acts 13:39] “and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”  Obedience to the Law of Moses is not what justified you before God Paul says.

Notice Acts 15:10-11,  now here the church at what’s called the Jerusalem Council, the leadership of the church was still Jewish at this time, but the problem is you’ve got a lot of Gentiles saved on Paul’s first missionary journey.  [Acts 15:10-11, “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?  [11] But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”]  So these Jews in Acts 15 who are now Christians are trying to figure out what do we do with all these Gentiles.  And a lot of them thought well, let’s just make them all go under the Mosaic Law because that’s what Gentiles did in the Old Testament.  Those folks were called what?  Proselytes.

One of the most famous proselytes in the Bible is Ruth, the Moabitess, from Moab, and what did she say to her mother-in-law, Naomi?  “Your people will be” what  “my people, your God will be my God.”  [Ruth 1:16, “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”]  So that’s how you grew as a Gentile in the Old Testament era, is if you were a believer in Yahweh you went under the Law of Moses to grow spiritually.

So now Paul has gone out on missionary journey one and almost everybody that’s saved is a Gentile and now all of these Jews are trying to figure out, are we going to put all these Gentiles under the Law?  And I believe this is Peter who speaks up and I like what he says, it’s almost a little bit humorous.  Acts 15:11, it says, “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? [11] “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

In other words, Peter says why in the world do we put all these Gentiles under the Law; we Jews did a terrible job of obeying the Law, just read the pages of the Old Testament.  This Law was a  yoke we Jews couldn’t even bear and we’re the chosen people and we’ve had zero success at keeping the Law, why would we make a bunch of Gentiles go under the Law.   This is another verse that you can add to show that we are at the end of the Law.

And notice the book of Galatians which is really the whole book is about this, how do you achieve growth in the Christian life?  There’s a whole bunch of people there in Galatia saying if you really want to grow as a Christian you’ve got to go under the Law.  And what does Paul say?  Galatians 3:23-25, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. [24] Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by” what? “faith. [25] But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  So the Law is our schoolmaster that brings us to Christ.  How does it do that?  It points out our guilt before God.

If you can look at the Ten Commandments and be inflated with a sense of pride and say you know, gosh, I’m doing pretty well here you don’t even understand what the Ten Commandments are about.  The Ten Commandments are there to not make us feel good about ourselves but to make us feel bad about ourselves because the Ten Commandments reveal our sinful heart, particularly when you understand that the Law sits in judgment, not just on what I do but what I think.  What’s the tenth commandment?   Anybody know?  “Thou shalt not covet.”  Now coveting is something I can do in my heart; it’s desiring something that doesn’t belong to me.  So I can be committing the sin of coveting and no one could even know it because the Law sits in judgment on my heart.

So my heart has committed sin that my hands haven’t gotten around to yet.  That’s what the Law reveals.  And that’s the whole point of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, when He says things like in Matthew 5:21-22, if you’re angry with your brother you are already a what?   A murderer.    [Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ [22] But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”]

And then Matthew 5:27-28 if you’re lusting sexually after somebody that you’re not married to then you’re already an adulteress.   [Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; [28] but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [29] If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”]

Now who among us can look at that standard and see ourselves as innocent?  So that’s the function of the Law; the Law deals with my wicked heart.  And then I say oh my gosh, Lord, what am I going to do?  And the Lord answers that cry for mercy by pointing to Christ who paid the penalty for our sins and we trust in Him.  So the Law is my schoolmaster that leads me to Christ, it’s like a tutor, but once I’m in Christ there’s no need to go back and re-submit myself to the Law.  See that?

So the Law doesn’t have any role in our justification, it makes us aware of our need for justification.  Notice if you will Romans 3:20, it says the same thing, it says, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be” what? “justified in His sight…”  Okay, well if no one is justified in His sight through the Law why did God give the Law.  Look at the rest of the verse, “for through the Law comes the knowledge of” what? “sin.”  So you’ve got to get a man lost before you can get him saved.  What makes us aware that we’re lost is the Law but after the Law has done that and brought us to Christ its job is over.  See?  So the Law doesn’t play a role in my justification.

Now does the Law play a role in my progressive sanctification?  You’ve got to follow me very carefully on this because there is massive confusion on this today.  First of all, why did God give the nation of Israel the Law?  Who did God give the Law to?  Only to Israel.  Psalm 147:19-20 was only given to the nation of Israel. of the Law, says, “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.  [20] He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.  Praise the LORD!”  Who was the Law given to?  Only Israel.  It wasn’t even given to the United States of America.  It wasn’t even given to Sugar Land Bible Church.  It was given specifically to the nation of Israel.

Now for what purpose?  Watch this, it’s very important to understand this, not to justify them!  How do I know that?  Because when the nation of Israel crossed through the Red Sea, which God closed on the Egyptians, and before that put the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorpost, they were justified before God.  The Law hadn’t even been given yet.  How do I know they are justified before God?  Because they are in the hall of faith; the generation that passed through the Red Sea is in the hall of faith, Hebrews 11:29.  [Hebrews 11:29, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.”]

And then when they passed through the Red Sea it says they believed in the Lord which is the same Hebrew construction to describe Abraham’s salvation, Genesis 15:6, which everybody takes as a type of our salvation.  [Genesis 15:6, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”]  That’s how Paul uses Genesis 15 throughout his writings, Romans 4, Galatians 3:and many other places.  So these people were already saved, they were already redeemed.

And then you look at Exodus 19:1 and  you’ll discover that two months passed after they came out of Goshen, out of Egypt, passed through the Red Sea it took them two months to get from passing through the Red Sea to Sinai.  [Exodus 19:1, “In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.”]  What did they receive at Sinai?  The Law.  So why did God give these folks the Law?  Not to redeem them, they already were redeemed.  Not to justify them, they already were justified.   He gave the Law specifically to Israel to teach God’s redeemed people how to behave.

The Law was never given to redeem a people, it was given to a redeemed people, and it was only given to the nation of Israel, because as they’re going from the Red Sea to Sinai, a two month journey, Exodus 19:1, what are they doing?   Are they acting saintly?  Not at all.  Every crisis that arises they complain against God, they complain against the leadership, they don’t like the food, it comes from heaven, they don’t like anything.  In fact, a lot of them say we just want to go back to Egypt, at least we got three square meals there; we’re out here in the wilderness and God is just going to kill us.  I mean, they had no faith at all.

So these people were justified but they needed to learn how to live and so God took them to Sinai, not to redeem them but to show God’s redeemed nation how they are to live.  As a redeemed person how do you interact with your fellow believers, or your fellow man?  Commandments 5-10 tell them that.  [Exodus 20:13-17, “You shall not murder. [14] “You shall not commit adultery. [15] “You shall not steal.  [16] “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  [17] “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”]

How do you act towards God, commandments 1-4 tell them that.  [Exodus 20:3-6, “You shall have no other gods before me. [4] “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. [5] You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, [6] but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”]

How do you act towards the nations?  The Law told them that because it gave them their calling as a kingdom of what?  Priests.  And what happens when you sin and you need to have fellowship restored between you and God?  The Law told them how to do that, it’s called the Levitical system.  So the Law told them how to relate to God as a redeemed person; how to relate to each other, don’t commit adultery with your neighbor’s wife, don’t steal, don’t murder, as you relate to God make sure God is first in your life, don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, honor the Sabbath, those kinds of things.  All of that comes from instruction in the Law.    How do you relate to the unsaved world?  The Law gave them their role as a kingdom of priests and told them how to do that.  And what do they do when they fall into sin?  The Levitical system taught them how to do that.   There’s nothing in the Law that taught these people how to be justified, it’s all about sanctification.

And the Pharisees come along and they switch the order around; they start telling people you know, if you really want to be right with God in terms of justification, you need to go under the Law.  And they used the Law in a way that was perverted, and when the Law becomes a perversion it becomes a curse because you’re using it for something other than why God gave it, and it’s called a curse when it’s misused in Galatians 3:13. [Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE’”]

So many people today suffer under the curse of the Law because they look at the Ten Commandments and they think they’re got to keep these commandments to be justified before God when in reality those commandments aren’t there for that purpose at all.  They function as a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ, but they’re not there for that purpose.

So in justification the Law plays zero role; in sanctification the Law played a role for who?  Israel, and who else?  No one else.  Are you with me?  Because the Law, Psalm  147:19-20, was only given to the nation of Israel.  So if all of this is true, then how am I to achieve sanctification?  A lot of people think I’ve got to go back to the Law.  But notice Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  God never told us that we achieve practical sanctification through the Law; it’s through the Spirit’s empowerment.

Notice 2 Corinthians 3:6-11, Paul is saying the same thing here, he says “who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  [7] But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, [8] how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? [9] For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. [10] For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. [11] For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.”

Now you go through that paragraph and you’ll see Paul comparing the Law to the Spirit.  What is the Law to the New Testament believer?  It’s the old covenant.  What is the Law of the Spirit?  The new covenant.  What can the old covenant do?  It’s the letter of the Law.  What can the new covenant do?  It’s the spirit which gives life.  The Law gives death because it points out our sins; the Spirit gives life.  The Law is written on stone, the New covenant spirit.  The Old covenant some glory, what do we have in the new covenant? Greater glory.  What do we have in the Law?  Condemnation.  What do we have in the Spirit?  Righteousness.  What do we have in the Law?  Something temporary, God never intended it to be permanent.  What do we have with the life of the Spirit?  Jesus said the Spirit will be in you for how long?  Forever.  He’s contrasting our covenant with the old Mosaic Covenant and He’s saying we are not under the Law to achieve progressive sanctification, we are under the Spirit’s energy.

So therefore what you see here is the Law has no ability, number 1, to justify me before God, the only thing it can do is point out my sin which tells me I need to be justified.  And it has no ability to bring me into progressive sanctification.  That’s the Spirit’s job.  Now you say well hold the phone here, are you saying we are not under the Law at all?  If that’s true then why is it that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament?  Every commandment is repeated in the New Testament other than which one?  The Sabbath.  So people say well, if we’re not under the Law at all then why are nine of the Ten Commandments which comes from the Old Testament repeated in the New Testament.

Beyond that, what do you do with passages like Romans 13:9 which quote the Law to the believer?  Romans 13:9 says, “For this, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,’” isn’t that from the Old Testament Law?  Isn’t Romans in the New Testament?  I’m confused.  Notice 1 Peter 1:16, is 1 Peter in the New Testament?  The last time I checked it is, and yet what does 1 Peter 1:16 say, it starts quoting the Law again.  1 Peter 1:16 says, “because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”’  That’s from Leviticus 11:44.  [Leviticus 11:44, “’For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.”]

So if we’re not under the Law what’s Peter doing quoting the book of Leviticus for the New Testament believer?  So you see this tension?  A lot of verses say we’re at the end of the Law but then you get into certain New Testament passages and it indicates that we’re back under the Law again.  So am I free from the Law or am I under the Law?  What’s the deal here?

Now let me tell you the wrong way of handling this tension.  This is what you get from Reformed Theology, John Calvin and others developed this idea.  They say well, the Law of Moses has three parts to it; there’s the ceremonial which deals with the sacrifices, there’s the civil part of the Law which says stone to death Sabbath breakers and witches and homosexuals.  And then there’s the moral part of the Law, don’t steal, don’t covet and those kinds of things.  And so the Reformed theologian says you see the Law of Moses had three parts to it: civil, ceremonial and moral.  We are not under the civil, we are not under the ceremonial because Christ death rendered null and void animal sacrifices, but we are under the moral part of the Law.  And you hear this a lot from people.  We’re not under the civil part of the Mosaic Covenant, or the ceremonial part of the Mosaic Law but the moral part of the Law we’re under, and that’s how they justify the fact that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament.

Let me tell you something; that view is totally 100% wrong.   Let me tell you why it’s wrong.  Number 1, Moses, when he was given the Law by God never said all right gang, here’s the civil part over here, here’s the ceremonial part over here, here’s the moral part over here.  That is an artificial, man-made distinction that you don’t find in the Law of Moses.  The second reason why Reformed theology is wrong on this account is because the Law of Moses is an all or nothing proposition.  James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of what?  “all” of it.  So if I put this little pinky fingernail and I stick it under the law in any sense, guess what?  I’m under the whole thing.  So this idea that we’re under the moral part but not the civil part or the ceremonial part is inaccurate.

So then, how do I handle this tension which says we’re not under the Law but yet nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament.  Here is the proper solution: we are under a similar yet different system.  We are under a system that at places resembles the Old Testament Law, but it’s a different system entirely because similarity is not always the same as what?  Equality.  I have two cars in my garage, they both have four wheels and seat belts and a steering column.  Does that mean car A equals car B, even though they look similar?  Obviously not, that would be a logical fallacy.

So we are under a system that you read in the New Testament it looks a little bit like the Mosaic Law but it’s not.  Texas law and California Law look similar, but guess what, I’m a licensed attorney in California; I’m not a licensed attorney in Texas.  Well, why not?  Because I never passed the Texas law, I haven’t even tried to pass the Texas law because Texas has laws like California but they’re a little bit different.  By the way, if I steal something in California where am I going to be prosecuted?  In California, I’m not going to be prosecuted in Texas even though Texas also has laws against stealing.

So what am I trying to say?  California law and Texas law look very similar but they’re not the same.  The system that we are under looks an awful lot like the Old Testament law at points but it’s not the same, it’s an entirely different system.  Well, what are the differences?  In our system we don’t have sacrifices; do we stone to death Sabbath-breakers?  Do you know what they said in Numbers 15?  Hey Moses, we found a guy that wasn’t showing up respecting the Sabbath.  What did Moses say?  Oh, here’s what you do, I want you to pick up rocks and throw rocks at the guy till he’s dead, Numbers 15 verses 32 and following.  [Numbers 32-36, “While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. [33] Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, [34] and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. [35] Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.’ [36] So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.”]

Is that what we do to people today who miss church?  I’ve thought about it but… [laughter] we don’t do that because we’re under a different system.  The civil sacrifices and ceremonial is not here; the punitive element of stoning to death Sabbath breakers is not here.  And here’s what else is different with our system is we have a source of what?  Power, if we walk according to the Spirit we will not fulfill the what? The lusts of the flesh.  [Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”]

So I look at the moral teachings of God in the New Testament, which sometimes look like the Mosaic Law but I see a lot of differences.  I don’t see ceremonial, I don’t see civil, I don’t see punitive and I see a source of power which means that we are  under a system that looks like the Mosaic Law at points but it’s not the same as the Mosaic Law, it’s different.

But what  would you like to call our system that we’re under?  It’s not up to us to pick that.  The New Testament calls it the law of Christ, Galatians 6:2.  [Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”]  Not the Law of Moses, the law of Christ.  Romans 8:2 calls it the law of the what?  Spirit, not the Law of Moses, “the law of the Spirit.” [Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”]

So I’m not here preaching against the moral requirements of God as expressed in the epistles primarily as expressed in the New Testament.  What I’m saying is that’s not the Law of Moses.  So what role does the Law of Moses have in our justification?  Zero.  What role does the Law of Moses have in our progressive sanctification?  Zero.  Because we are under a system that’s higher and better because we have privileges that those under the Mosaic Law didn’t have.

So that’s sort of what I mean by this idea that we’re at the end of the Law.  So what is in your ledger tonight?  You sanctification, your glorification and the end of the Law.  And we’ll talk about, next week, some miscellaneous privileges that we have.