By Brother Michel Lankford
God’s Law DOES Have a Purpose, but the Purpose of the Law is to Train Saved People, and NOT to Save Lost People
The reason that you have such a problem is because you are approaching the whole question with a FALSE assumption. You are operating under the false assumption that the goal of the law was given to cause people to get saved before Messiah came along, but then after Messiah came along, all of that changed, and therefore we must not need God’s Law anymore because we have Christ. That is a completely FALSE idea and a FALSE conclusion. The fact is, that people were ALWAYS saved by grace through faith. Yes, even in the Old Testament. People miss this all the time, but this principle has been true since the beginning. Abraham, believed God, and God credited him as being righteous, (Genesis 15:6). God called Abraham righteous because Abraham believed, and this happened BEFORE Abraham was ever given any Commandment to obey. Yes, of course, God did honor Abraham for obeying YHWH:
As it is written: “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”” (Genesis 26:4–5, NASB95)
Don’t forget that God called Abraham righteous because Abraham believed God, and was declared righteous by God, even BEFORE he was ever given any Commandment to obey. Later, Abraham’s faith enabled him to obey God, and that pleased God, and God blessed him, but Abraham was already declared righteous by faith, BEFORE he ever had any commandment to obey.
If you look at it objectively we see the same PICTURE of salvation by grace even in Exodus:
Israel receives salvation by the blood of the Lamb (Exodus 12)
Israel & a mixed multitude of foreign peoples wishing to escape Egypt turns their back on the sinful world, (Exodus 13)
Israel and the mixed multitude traveling with them are baptized in the Red Sea, (Exodus 14)
Israel is given the Sabbath Commandment, (Exodus 16).
Did you catch it? Even the Sabbath Commandment for just one example, was not given until Israel was ALREADY covered by the blood of the Lamb, and baptized in the Red Sea. Even in the salvation picture of the Old Testament, salvation always comes BEFORE Commandments. Yes, Commandments to come into the picture eventually; but they don’t cause salvation. Salvation comes first and then the Commandments FOLLOW salvation by grace through faith.
Most of the Commandments that Israel received were given to them at Mount Sinai. Israel didn’t even reach Mount Sinai till about 50 days AFTER they were saved. That is hugely significant. First you get saved by the Grace of God, then after you get saved by grace through faith; you are in covenant relationship with God, and you are expected to progressively learn to obey God; but that obedience only comes after you’ve already been saved. The obedience does not cause the salvation. It never has.
We see the same picture of salvation again in the prophet Ezekiel of the Old Testament
As it is written: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19–20, NASB95)
Notice very carefully here. The ORDER of events MATTERS. Does obeying Commandments CAUSE us to be Born Again? No, it doesn’t. It works the other way around. FIRST, God transforms us. FIRST, God makes us Born Again. He gives us a new heart and a new spirit FIRST, and AFTER He transforms us, THEN our transformation by the Holy Spirit causes us to walk in God’s statutes, to keep God’s ordinances, and to DO His Word. The salvation happens FIRST. God to transforming us happens FIRST. Obedience is the RESULT of God’s transforming Grace. Obedience is not the cause of salvation, but obedience is the result of being saved. That has always been the picture that Scripture has painted. Believers often forget that, and need constant reminding.
As it is written: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27, NASB95)
Notice once again the order is very clear:
1st God saves us and makes us born again. FIRST He cleanses us. Then He gives us a new heart and a new mind. Then he puts his Holy Spirit in us and we are Born Again.
2nd, AFTER that, the Holy Spirit empowers us and causes us to obey the Commandments of God.
Conclusion: Salvation and transformation happens FIRST, and obeying God’s Commandments always happens AFTER salvation. It always has. Even in the Old Testament. That’s the picture that was painted. Paul is going BACK to that Old Testament picture. We don’t obey to get saved. We get saved 1st and then we obey, just as the Scriptures teach
From Abraham to Moses, to Ezekiel, to Paul the apostle, and to the apostle John the pattern of salvation has never changed. FIRST we get saved in born-again by the Grace of God, and THEN we obey God, and follow His Commandments and Instructions with his Holy Spirit working in us, and empowering us to do it. It doesn’t work the other way around. Obedience always follows salvation. It doesn’t cause it.
God’s Commandments Exist to Train Saved People
It’s unfortunate, but what many believers fail to understand is that the Commandments of Almighty God were given with the primary purpose in Mind. In other words, regardless of what vehicle God used to display His Commandments, (whether HE spoke directly as on Mount Sinai, or He spoke His Instructions through the prophets, (Moses through John the Baptizer), or He spoke His Instructions through Messiah, or He spoke His Instructions through the apostles who bear witness to the resurrected Messiah), the fact is that the Almighty Father had a primary PURPOSE and a GOAL that He is trying to achieve in giving each of His Commandments and Instructions. He is trying to give us the living mechanics for HOW to LOVE. God is trying to give us the mechanics for HOW to love God with ALL of our being, or HOW to Love our neighbor as ourselves. Learning the living mechanics of HOW to love God, and HOW to love our neighbor as ourselves, is the ENTIRE FUNCTION of the Commandments of God.
As It Is Written: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His Commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3 NKJV)
So, according to the New Testament what is the identifying marker that we love God? We just read it. Loving God means KEEPING His Commandments.
As It Is Written: “But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (1 John 2:5 NKJV)
So, according to the New Testament, how can I KNOW that I am growing and being perfected in Loving God? We just read it. It’s right here in front of us. I can KNOW for CERTAIN that I am growing and being perfected in love, when I am practicing and KEEPING the Commandments of God.
As It Is Written: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. (1 John 5:2 NKJV)
So, according to the New Testament, how do I learn and how do I know that I am loving the children of God? How do I know that I am truly loving my neighbor as myself? According to what we just read in front of our Eyes, the way that we know that we love the children of God, is by loving God, and by KEEPING His Commandments.
Folks, speaking for myself, I believe the New Testament. I want to love Almighty God with my WHOLE being. That is one of my life goals. In order to learn the mechanics of HOW to effectively love God, I need to learn and practice KEEPING and DOING His Commandments. That’s what the Commandments are intended to teach me; how to love God effectively. Since practicing the Commandments of God teaches me HOW to love God, then the Commandments of God is something that I cannot do without. The Commandments of God become indispensable to me, because they exist to teach me HOW to love God, and I cannot do without that experiential knowledge. The same principle is true when it comes to learning how to love my neighbor as myself. God’s Commandments exist in part to give me the mechanics for HOW to love my neighbor as myself. Since I cannot do without that experiential knowledge, that also means I cannot do without the Commandments of God, because I NEED the training that God’s Commandments are there to provide. God’s Commandments are INDISPENSABLE for the Christian once we realize what the Commandments are there to teach us. Yes, obeying God’s Commandments will not purchase our salvation. That is purchased through Messiah, of course. However the discipline and the training in the mechanics of how to love God and how to love our neighbor comes through practicing the Commandments of God, which makes God’s Commandments indispensable for the Christian.
Don’t Let Your Love Wax Cold
If our hearts are inclined to be obedient children of God; if we have the ears to hear it, and the eyes to see it, then we can clearly see that Jesus the Messiah and Son of God actually confirms this crucial Principle in the Gospels. Come review it with me, in Matthew 24:12-13.
As it is written: And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12–13, ESV)
Did you catch the crucial statement that the Messiah made here? According to Messiah, what is it that will cause most people’s love to grow cold?
Messiah CLEARLY SAID that BECAUSE LAWLESSNESS is increased, the love of many will grow cold. Notice, according to Messiah Himself, it is NOT Law- KEEPING that is causing people’s love to grow more and more cold in the last days. The love of people is not getting colder, because we are putting in an all-out effort to obey God and to KEEP His Laws, Commandments, and His Instructions better. On the contrary, Messiah just said the opposite is true. The reason that people are becoming less and less loving in the last days is because, LAWLESSNESS/ANOMIA has increased. People are losing their ability to love, because they are not being trained to love; because the training system that God designed to teach us how to love God and how to love each other, is being forcibly pushed aside, even in many churches. Remember, as Jesus said, BECAUSE LAWLESSNESS is increased, the love of many will grow cold. The reason that people are becoming less and less loving, is because we are training generations of people who call themselves Christians to ignore and reject the Commandments of God. It is NOT Law-KEEPING; it is NOT Commandments- KEEPING, that is making love to wax cold in these last days. Messiah plainly told us that the opposite is true. The reason that we are seeing so many people losing their ability to love in the last days is because LAWLESSNESS is increasing. It’s the increase in Commandment BREAKING that is making people’s love grow cold.
According to Messiah, people’s love is growing more cold, because REJECTING God’s Law and walking outside of God’s Law has increased.
According to Messiah, people’s love is growing more cold, because cold because IGNORING God’s Law has increased.
According to Messiah, people’s love is growing more cold, because, having CONTEMPT for, and DESPISING God’s Law and His Commandments has increased.
According to Messiah, people’s love is growing more cold, because, going WITHOUT the Commandments God gave to Moses has increased.
That’s what Lawlessness is, even by New Testament Standards. That’s what ANOMIA/Lawlessness means.
Jesus warns us. It’s not KEEPING God’s law that makes love grow cold in the last days. It’s Law BREAKING that makes love grow cold in the last days. It’s written right there in red and white, if we care to pay attention. I don’t want my love to grow cold. I want to get better and better at loving God and loving others. That’s why I want to practice keeping and doing the Commandments of God. I need to love training the commandments of God are intended to provide. The Commandments of God are truly INDISPENSABLE to any successful disciple.
Brother Michel Lankford
Whole Testament Discipleship Success