A return to obedience to moral law is, and must be, under every dispensation of the divine government, the unalterable condition of salvation.
- Salvation upon any other condition is naturally impossible. Without holiness, salvation is out of the question and yet holiness and obedience to moral law are the same thing. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)
- The Gospel does not repeal the moral law, but establishes it. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)
- Since the conscience demands that all creation keep the moral law, the law of love, and since it is something that is not impossible to do, then a return to entire obedience, love of God, is the unalterable condition of salvation, and so it should be stated that salvation is impossible without the condition that sinners return to entire obedience to moral law. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” (Colossians 1:21) Remember the moral law is the law of loving God for his intrinsic value. We love Him when we come to know Him. When people get saved they do just that. When they come to know God, they get the perfect love of moral law.
- The Bible represents the perfect love required by law as naturally indispensable to salvation. We could say again that the perfect love is to know God. We could also say that when there is no perfect love the person does not know God. This is where the miracle of the new birth takes place. We have been discussing the fact that the will no longer chooses selfishness or self-gratification but it chooses the best end of God and the universe. He has come to know God. The will is changed by the relationship of the moral agent to God when he comes to know God. We will see this more in our next main point. Far too many people think that we live in sin even after we get saved and that we don’t really become obedient to divine law until after we die. If that is true, then we are saying that we can’t know God until after we die. That means that we can’t get saved until after we die. That is absurd. The Bible teaches that in this life we have a chance to repent of our self-indulgent ways and come to know God but after we die, our lives are fixed to going either to heaven or hell. There is no chance to change after death. Since knowing God is being holy, when people say that they cannot be holy in this life until after they die, they are saying that they cannot know God until after they die. Wrong! Satan must love the fact that all who hold to that theory will be in hell with him. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:7-13) As you can see it happens in this life before we die. As far as that is concerned, entire sanctification is possible in this life because knowing God happens in this life and all who know Him are sanctified wholly.
Under a gracious dispensation, a return to full obedience to moral law is not dispensed with as a condition of salvation, but this obedience is secured by the indwelling Spirit of Christ received by faith to reign in the heart. Let’s look at three points:
- Salvation by grace does not dispense with a return to full obedience to law as a condition of salvation. Far too many have thought that salvation has no condition that we have personal holiness. They take the doctrine of imputed holiness to mean that they can still be lovers of sin and never conscious of personal holiness instead of submitting by faith to have the righteousness of God wrought in them. Since they are unwilling to be personally righteous, they live under a dream that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who have never come to know God. They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. Just because the Bible says that men are not saved by the works of the law, meaning the law of salvation by good works, they think that to return to the state that the moral law requires is not even a condition of salvation. They think that they can live in a state of self-indulgence and self-gratification without ever really willing the best end, which is the best end of God and the universe through knowing God as we have previously said. They think that salvation can be something that allows a person to wear the name of a Christian without having a new heart or being born again. Let’s see what the scriptures teach. “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.” (Galatians 2:16) This does not teach that a person can be saved without coming to know God but that they are not saved by their own works, which we also believe. No one can be saved aside from a return to personal holiness which can only come in full obedience to moral law, that of coming to know God and experiencing the love of God. The book of James is written to show that being a Christian in name without knowing God in such a way that the life is changed, is not a condition of salvation. Grace cannot save the soul unless a person comes to know God in such a way that they are changed and entire sanctification is the result.
- The grace of the gospel was designed to restore moral agents to full obedience to the moral law. Look at the scriptures. “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6) “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7) As you can see knowing God is synonymous with returning to God and loving God with all the heart. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) As you can see here, knowing the Lord is synonymous with having a new heart. “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20) Again, knowing God, having a new heart, and obeying His statutes are all synonymous with keeping the moral law. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27) One can see here how being clean, holy, having no idols, even self-gratification, and a new heart and spirit are again synonymous with knowing God and keeping the moral law. “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:8-12) Here is plainly says that God’s moral law will be in the heart as a result of knowing the Lord. This is the moral law. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus saves people from being in bondage to sin, this is the moral law, personal holiness. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) Here the scripture says that we are sanctified wholly, we are holy, we know God, and we keep the moral law. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) Mystery of mysteries! This teaches just the opposite of what the modern church teaches, namely, that sin will not have dominion over us. The modern church teaches that we live in sin but are saved by the grace of God. It says that the grace of God is what causes us to be free from the power of sin. There are many other passages that teach the same thing. We get a full return to the love required by the moral law through knowing God and no one can be saved any other way.
- The efficient influence that secures this return to full obedience to the law is the Holy Spirit received to reign in the heart by faith. The fact that God writes his law in the heart, the spirit of man, is clearly taught in the Bible. When God writes the law into the heart, he creates the spirit of love that is required by the moral law. The Bible says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and as he reigns in the heart he sets up and continues his dominion in the heart. He writes his law there and begets disinterested benevolence. Not only does he reign in the heart, but he leads, guides, and controls the soul through enlightening the spirit of man through intuition, conscience and communion as stated earlier in this book. He does his work on the soul and draws it into conformity with his will in all things. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) When we say that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, is received by faith to reign in the heart, we mean that he is actually trusted in or submitted to by faith which allows his influence to control us. This control is not by irresistible power or force or we would not be moral beings. What he does do is to guide us as we confide in Him and consent to be governed and directed by Him. Because His influence is moral and not physical, then it is plain that his influence works no farther than the confidence that we have in him. If we don’t trust or confide in him, his influence will not work in our heart; that is why we say that one must know God because knowing him implies having confidence and trust in Him. One would never obey the moral law unless there was a powerful reason based upon trust in the law giver. In order to have this powerful trust, one must come to know him as we have stated earlier. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14) “Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” (Isaiah 32:15) “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:” (Isaiah 44:3) You can see in these passages how strong the influence is when there is confidence. “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33) “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” (Jeremiah 32:40) “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:1-16) “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25) “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:9) All these passages support the position that the Holy Spirit living and reigning in the heart restores the person to full obedience to the moral law. They have come to know the Lord. We need to only say these things:
- That the Holy Spirit controls, directs, and sanctifies the soul not by a physical influence or by impressions made on the senses or emotions, but by enlightening the human spirit through conscience, intuition and communion. This speaks to the intellect and thus influences the will.
- We have here a fundamental doctrine, the doctrine of the indwelling Christ where the Spirit of Christ is received by faith in the heart. He is what sanctifies us. This is why the moral law is to know God. Christ actually becomes, among other things, our sanctification. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30) Christ must come into us, reign over us, and dwell within us. This is a condition of salvation. He is our king. He is received by faith and he sets up and establishes his kingdom in our hearts and that is what brings us back to obedience to the moral law. Without that, there will be no obedience.
We have been discussing the attributes of benevolence, where Christ dwells in the heart after a person comes to know God, and those of selfishness. In our modern day of DNA and other types of finger printing, we are seeing here a pattern that defines a person. It matters not whether a person claims to know God or says that they have received Jesus into their heart by asking him in or any other words that they would use to make their case. We are seeing here a Spiritual DNA that marks a person and shows that they either are selfish or benevolent. That mark places a person in a position either in or outside of Christ. It means that they are either saved or lost. The Spiritual DNA marks them and it will not lie. It shows what is truly in the heart and what the will is disposed to choose as the best end according to what it considers of intrinsic value in the life. We need to ponder this and meditate on it. We need to search our hearts to see of we truly know the Lord. If so, there will be a spiritual mark that will show just what these verses state.