I know I'm late in the game here, and am probably beating a dead horse but I wanted to give a perspective. I'm not adressing anyone specifically nor am I saying I possess anything without error. But these scriptures have come to mind on this topic (my apologies for any redundancy)and I felt compelled to share a perspective on it. Blessings. Rich
Abraham Justified by Faith
"1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast aboutbut not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
............to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness...................
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7"Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him."[b]
9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 1
.......For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless,..............
because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
.......Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring...........
not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believedthe God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as deadsince he was about a hundred years oldand that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."
.........The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousnessfor us WHO BELIEVE IN HIM who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.............................
25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."
>>>>>>> Paul is clear that Abraham was NOT JUSTIFIED AS A CHILD OF GOD IN WHAT HE DID OR DID NOT DO. If, as some have pointed out, transgression was not counted before the law then the Abraham could not use the law as a basis for righteousness. He was not condemned for his relations with Hagar, nor was he justified as a child of God by his works in keeping a law that was non-existent. This point is exclamatory by Paul......."By faith in the promise of a righteous God who will justify those who believe in Him, will righteousness be credited." Before the law Abraham was justified in faith, after the law David is justified by his same faith. The X factor in both cases is faith.... for before the law righteousness was credited by faith and after the law righteousness was credited by faith.
Why did David say .....
"Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him"
......if observing the law only was the way to righteousness? Both of these men pointed to the New Testament faith in Christ to be justified.
Paul says that Abraham had the markings of circumcision by his faith even though he was not circumcised outwardly. Therefore he received a 'sign of circumcision' or a 'seal of righteousness' by faith even though circumcision was not in existence. So Abraham is the father of all who are circumcised and not circumcised as an example of New Testament faith in Christ who is our 'seal of righteousness' by faith via the Holy Spirit. I believe Paul implies here that Abraham was a prophetic example of faith to the uncircumcised Gentiles and the circumcised Jews in his faith. In symbolic fashion, Jesus is the Savior of those who are Jews and Gentiles, and the faith of Abraham exemplifies what is necessary to be credited as righteousness for the circumcised and uncircumcised. If we repent of our sins and receive our Savior in faith, it is counted to us as righteousness and we are given the Holy Spirit. From the point of a born again state moving forward, if we are a 'child of the devil' when we sin then we would not be capable of GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT. I would base this on the assumption that a child of the devil has no Holy Spirit.... for a house divided against itself cannot stand. Scripture doesn't say "do not let the Holy Spirit depart". It says do not grieve Him.
Paul reiterates his point of justification in
...."Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothingif it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
......The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith...,
and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10ALL WHO 'RELY' ON OBSERVING THE LAW IS UNDER A CURSE, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit...."
Does this mean we use our justification by faith as a free pass to sin? No, for we are now obligated to come into the likeness of The One who redeemed us and whom we have accepted by faith. But the stain of sin is removed from us so we can move forward in becoming like Christ in our love for Him, not by mere obligation to the law for righteousness.
As Paul stated above we do not 'RELY' on the law to overcome sin, because the law cannot take away sin... it can only define what is considered sinful... But, like Abraham before us to the Father, we rely on faith in Christ and His atoning work..... we rely on He... our High Priest who, being tempted in every way, to strengthen us in our time of need...(Hebrews 4: 4-16) as well as acknowledging our weakness to obey in our own strength, yet we culpable in our decision to come to Him for His overcoming strength and not to fight the battle without Him in our own strength.
My heart desires to be like Christ but, like Paul, some things that I don't want to do, I do....and those things I should do, I do not do. Although these things happen, I should not fall into condemnation, but press forward in my faith of the promise of Christ, always striving to do the will of the Father in Christ. I'm not talking about things like rampant adultery or a murder spree but those things that can cause us to stumble from time to time while keeping a heart that is void of rejecting Christ and the Father altogether. In fact it is in my stumbling that I cry out in my need for The Lord. Does this mean I do not believe I need the Lord unless I stumble? No. I fully admit that I always need Him, especially for strength against stumbling to begin with, but a heart that loves Him will recognize the brief shame and sting of sin yet continue to have a willingness and a desire to do better and move forward in faith.
The Holy Spirit regenerates our heart to not like the sin we want to do, and to want to do the works that bears the fruit of God. We are not always successful in this, but our heart is still full of the desire to please God as Christ wanted to please Him. This is a process, a marathon, it's not instantaneous and it's not about keeping a law abiding 'legalistic score'. It's a process of love.... a love that is relational with the Father in Christ in the progress of overcoming disobedience without condemnation, and the moving forward in a constant regeneration of heart in overcoming and bearing fruit in our faith and our works.
I believe that the falling away from the faith to which there is no sacrifice left, isn't the faith of someone who is progressive and regenerative in the mutual love between God and His creation........ but this falling away is, however, exemplified in the rejection of this love in the atonement of Christ through one's unbelief....or...... in their self serving nature to which they regress in this love via their constant willful sin that has no desire to serve or please God, and have only a desire to get to heaven on their terms. Their theology is the opposite of John The Baptist in that "they must increase, and He must decrease" as a willful choice to be a reprobate which kills the faith that is counted as righteousness. The promise of righteousness is for those who accept the atonement of Christ on the cross in order to become more like Christ as a follower of the Most High God, and to do His Will. It is not to boast and say 'I am righteous', it is not to condemn others, it is not to obsess over right theology, it is not to quarrel over disputable matters, it is not legalistic and paralytic scorekeeping with one's self in their own effort to overcome temptation and sin, it is not to draw attention to one's self in good works (they have their reward), it is not to seek or chase compilations of writings and theologies by great men of God to find your own perfect theology (although their is a secondary place for seeing these men of God as brotherly examples of relationship and good theology, but it is not an end to itself).
IT IS SIMPLY A PROGRESSIVE RELATIONSHIP IN LOVE, which... by faith... has already accepted the gift of Christ by the Father for the atonement of our sins. Christ's atonement relieves me of the pressure to have a relationship with God by works alone. Christ did the work that opened the way for relationship. I can now passionately pursue His Will for me out of my love for Him without having to worry about being perfect in the process. This is freedom!!!