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 What is justification by works of the law?

I have heard people say that justification by works of the law is the idea that you need to "repent of your sins" in order to be forgiven. Often these people appeal to Paul for their position. But after studying the writings of Paul, I don't think that he had repentance in mind. I think that the "works" he was talking about was circumcision, and the "law" he was refering to was the Torah.

This is something posted online which gives a lot of clarity:

BUT WE DO NOT NEED TO OBEY THE TORAH OR BE UNDER THE JEWISH LAWS TO BE SAVED:

When Paul was talked about the “law" he often was talking about the Jewish system, the Judaic law of Moses. Paul was not talking about the moral law. He was talking about all of the Torah. The moral law does not demand circumcision anywhere! The moral law only demands love! It is the Jewish Torah that demands circumcision. Therefor when Paul said that we are not justified by the law, he is saying that we are not justified by being circumcised.

Paul emphasised predestination because His ministry was to the Gentiles, who were also "chosen" people. Likewise, Paul emphasised that we are not justified by the law (the Torah) because his ministry was to the Gentiles who were not under the law (under the Torah).

We are not saved by obeying the Torah. We are saved by turning from our sins and turning to Christ. Gentiles do not need to become Jews to be saved. They do not need to be circumcised (obey the Torah or obey the law) to be saved:

"And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren and said, except ye be CIRCUMCISED AFTER THE MANNER OF MOSES, YE CANNOT BE SAVED." Acts 15:1

"But neither Titus who was with me, being a GREEK, was compelled to be CIRCUMCISED. And that because of FALSE BRETHREN unawares brought in who came privily to spy out our LIBERTY which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into BONDAGE, to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you.... But contrariwise, when they saw that the GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMSISION was committed unto me..." Gal 2:3-7

"Therefore we conclude that aman is justified by faith WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW. Is he the God of the JEWS only? is he not also of the GENTILES? Yes of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God which shall justify the CIRCUMCISION by faith, and the UNCIRCUMCISION through faith." Romans 3:28-30

"Behold I Paul say unto you that if ye be CIRCUMCISED, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is CIRCUMCISED, that he is a debtor to do the WHOLE LAW. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever you are that are JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW, ye are fallen from grace." Gal. 5:2-4

When Paul said that we did not have to obey the law to be saved, He was saying that we do not have to obey the Torah or become Jewish to be saved. We do not need to be circumcised according to the Jewish law to be saved. Paul was not saying that we do not need to repent of our sins (change our mind about breaking the moral law). Both Jew and Gentile are under the moral law. But only the Jews were under the Torah.

"And unto the JEWS I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are UNDER THE LAW as under the law, That I might gain them that are under the law. To them that are WITHOUT LAW as without law (being not without LAW TO GOD, but UNDER the LAW TO CHRIST) that I might gain them that are without law" (1 Co. 9:20-21)

It is very clear that to be "under the law" is to be Jewish, it is to be under the Torah. But to be "without law" is to be without obligation to the Torah, but to still be under the law to God and under the law of Christ.

Paul was not coming against the idea that we need to repent of our sins, turn from our sins, or forsake our sins to be forgiven. Or else Paul would be contradicting the rest of the Bible. But Paul was saying that Gentiles do not need to obey the Torah or be circumcised to be justified. We need to read Paul, not through the eyes of the reformers, but through his own eyes with the cultural context he was in.

 2009/8/13 23:34
Christinyou
Member



Joined: 2005/11/2
Posts: 3707
Ca.

 Re: What is justification by works of the law?

The believer lives in the Spirit and is called upon to walk in the Spirit so that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in him through the only fulfiller of the Law, Jesus Christ in you the hope of Glory. "Let us not be desirous of vain-glory (the law fosters such a spirit, but grace humbles), provoking one another, envying one another"--which is the sad effect of vain-glory, provocation and envy.

All law, be it moral or any other Law, is vain-glorious to the law keeper, except the Law of God by Grace through Christs' new commandment and His Cross being the epitome of Love.

Vain-Glory is fostered by the law, ones own justification to please God, ones own works righteousness, that by the keeping of the Law, and his believing in Christ is what has saved him.
This vain-glory also fosters ones own sanctification in himself, that his works will show his faith and that is what saves him and keeps him saved.

Grace says, loud and clear, it is not us, for God has said; 1 Corinthians 1:25-31 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Christ is our glory, Christ has been made our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

I don't have the wisdom of Christ, the righteousness of Christ the sanctification and redemption of Christ and there is nothing I can do to get it or keep it. It must be God that makes it appropriated unto me by His Grace through the Faith given me, which is not of myself, but that which is the Faith in which I now live this new life in Christ with the faith of Christ. Now I am Free and am not to take upon me the yoke of bondage ever again. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, (law keeping) but after the Spirit.

It is no longer I who have life but Christ who lives in me, and for sure He will never leave me. WE have been elected to Lambship by the Lamb of God and we know His voice and the Holy Spirit has sealed us to this precious position of son's of God. The Seal can never be broken.

In Christ: Phillip




_________________
Phillip

 2009/8/14 2:10Profile









 Re: What is justification by works of the law?

Good job. However what do you mean by "eye's of the reformers" Which reformers are you refering to??

 2009/8/14 9:17









 Re:

Quote:
Good job. However what do you mean by "eye's of the reformers" Which reformers are you refering to??



In the days of the Reformation (Luther & Calvin) the problem was all the works Catholicism taught were necessary for salvation: rosary, penitents, offerings, etc. While it is true that we are not saved by these things, neither do we need to do them to be saved, when Paul talked about "the works of the law" he was specifically talking about the Torah and circumcision. We have a tendency of reading the writings of Scripture and interpreting them by our own circumcstances and experiences, rather then through the circumstances and experiences of the writer himself. The circumstances Paul was dealing with was the Judiazers. The law Paul talked about was the Torah, the works Paul talked about was circumcision.

An example is how some interpret the book of Galatians. Those who view "works of the law" as repentance of sin, think that the Galatians were repenting of their sins and Paul thought "I better put a stop to this!" Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul was not condemning the Galatians for repenting of their sins! Paul was confronting the Galatians because they were being influenced by the Judiazers, they were Gentiles who were being circumcised and started to obey the Torah.

Likewise many read the writings of Paul, in regards to predestination, through the eyes of the reformers. In the days of the Reformation the question was "Does God predestine individuals?" but in the days of the Apostle Paul the question was "Has God also chosen the Gentiles?" Paul argued from Romans 9 all the way to Romans 11 that the Gentiles were also chosen people. Then Paul affirmed this in his letter to a Gentile Church in Ephesus by saying that God has "chosen us". The "us" is Jews and Gentiles. Yet many confuse what Paul meant by these teachings because they do not read them with the circumstances and situations of Paul's day.

The reason that Paul talked so much about justification by the works of the law and about predestination and election, more than any other New Testament writer, is because his ministry was to the Gentiles.

 2009/8/14 13:15
imnowhere
Member



Joined: 2009/8/1
Posts: 69


 Re:

Quote:
We have a tendency of reading the writings of Scripture and interpreting them by our own circumcstances and experiences, rather then through the circumstances and experiences of the writer himself.



Quote:
The reason that Paul talked so much about justification by the works of the law and about predestination and election, more than any other New Testament writer, is because his ministry was to the Gentiles.




If we were to interpret Rom 9 not through our own filter but in Paul's context, we'd look at Romans 9:6 and probably conclude that Paul was addressing the conclusion of the Jews that because so few Jews were believing Paul's gospel that either it was a lie or God had lied in all His promises to them in the OT.
Paul then states...

Rom 9:6 ¶ Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

So it appears that Paul is talking election here not to encourage gentiles, but to defend God's election even within Israel to the Jews that contended with him. (Hence the follow up of the examples of Issac/Ishmael and Jacob/Esau).

Without a biased filter and trying to keep things in line with Paul's intent, how do we interpret who Paul's antagonists are and what they are attacking Paul with in these two statements?...

Rom 9:14 ¶ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Rom 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

In the context, who would come after Paul with these two attacks, the one who believes in sovereign election or the one who holds to free will?

 2009/8/14 17:23Profile









 Re:

Quote:
Rom 9:14 ¶ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Rom 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

In the context, who would come after Paul with these two attacks, the one who believes in sovereign election or the one who holds to free will?



I think that the context is how God has sovereignly cut off Israel, because they do not meet the conditions of their election (for their unbelief) but the Gentiles were granted in because they met the conditions of their election (belief). Israel cannot accuse God of unrighteousness because He has good reasons for what He does. He cuts of those He cuts of, with good reasons. And He graffs in those He graffs in, with good reason.

The Jews would object to being cut off because they would say, "We are the chosen people! We are the children of Abraham" and they would object to the Gentiles being grafted in because they were not children of Israel or the "chosen" people. What the Jews failed to understand was that their election was conditional, and that even though they were the elect or chosen, they could still lose their salvation and be cut off.

The context of Romans 10 and 11 give us great insight into Romans 9. Paul starts off Romans 9 talking about the Jew/Gentile issue and he finishes Romans 9 with the Jew/Gentile issue. It was never about God predestination individuals for Heaven and Hell. Esau was not chosen for reprobation, Jacob was not chosen for automatic salvation. That had to do with who the chosen people would be, who the Messiah would come at through, etc. Esau represented Edom (Gentiles) and Jacob represented Israel (Jews). Yet God sovereignly cut off Israel for their unbelief and chose to save the Gentiles that believed. Many are called, but the chosen are few, because God only chooses to save those who choose to respond to the call.

 2009/8/14 18:09









 Re:

"Even us, whom he hath called, not of the JEWS ONLY, but also of the GENTILES" Romans 9:24

Paul sums up his point by saying:

"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith? But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness?" (Romans 9:30-31)

Romans 9, 10, and 11 is Paul's argument for the election of the Gentiles and the cutting off of Israel. This he must have felt necessary to do because his ministry was to the Gentiles and many Jews thought that God was not interested in saving the Gentiles.

The context has nothing to do with the unconditional election of any individual. The context is about the conditional graffing in and cutting off of Nations.

 2009/8/14 18:31
imnowhere
Member



Joined: 2009/8/1
Posts: 69


 Re:

Quote:
I think that the context is how God has sovereignly cut off Israel



Rom 11:1 ¶ I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew...


Quote:
because they do not meet the conditions of their election (for their unbelief) but the Gentiles were granted in because they met the conditions of their election (belief).



Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
John 1:12-13, Romans 9:16

Quote:
The context of Romans 10 and 11 give us great insight into Romans 9. Paul starts off Romans 9 talking about the Jew/Gentile issue



Might want to relook at Romans 9 again and give it a few read overs. John Piper did a 7 year (I think) work on Romans 9:1-23 titled, 'The Justification of God'. He spent a fair amount of time looking at Romans 9 and has come up with a very different interpretation.


Quote:
It was never about God predestination individuals for Heaven and Hell. Esau was not chosen for reprobation, Jacob was not chosen for automatic salvation. That had to do with who the chosen people would be, who the Messiah would come at through, etc. Esau represented Edom (Gentiles) and Jacob represented Israel (Jews).



That's a difficult one. You're saying that Paul verifies the truth before the Spirit and the Son (Romans 9:1-5) in wishing that he could be cut off from Christ and accursed if what? if his jewish brethren according to the flesh could what? be in the line of the Messiah? They already were. Be saved? Yes! Why did Paul wish he could be accursed from Christ (strongest statement in the bible), testifying he is speaking the truth, and for what? governmental favour? Lineage they already had?
I don't think so. Take another look. With Paul's context.


Quote:
Many are called, but the chosen are few, because God only chooses to save those who choose to respond to the call.



Rom 10:20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.


Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.


Faith and repentance. Gifts? (2 Tim 2:24-25, Phil 1:29)


As Spurgeon said, as long as Romans 9:16 is in the bible, free-will theology doesn't have a chance. (http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0442.htm)



[b]But you didn't answer my question. Who was contending with Paul's gospel, the one who believed in God's sovereign election of grace (no procuring merit), or those that held to free-will doctrine?[/b]

 2009/8/14 18:39Profile
Logic
Member



Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


 Re: What is justification by works of the law?

A good commentary of Romans would explain the answer.

[b]Romans 3:20[/b] [color=990000]Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin[/color] (Galatians 2:16
Man can not glory because his past sins cancel out the works that are done by the law.

[b]Romans 3:27[/b] [color=990000]Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.[/color]
By what law?
A better word for "law" would be "principle" or "economy".
The principle of faith excludes boasting, but works of the law does not exclude boasting.

[b]Romans 3:28[/b] [color=990000]Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.[/color]
Because of what Paul said in Romans 3:19-20 & Galatians 2:21 & 3:21.

[b]Romans 4:30[/b] [color=990000]Seeing it is one God, who shall justify the circumcision [b]by[/b] faith, and uncircumcision [b]through[/b] faith.[/color]
In this verse, the term "by" faith is doing
"through" faith is only believing.

The circumcision are justified [b]by[/b] faith, or obeying/doing the law in the obedience of faith.

The uncircumcision are justified [b]through[/b] faith (working the spirit of the law) by acknowledging Christ's sufficiency to justify without reliance of self effort in works of the letter of the law.

[b]Note:[/b] This “law” which we are not to depend on in self effort for justification is the letter of the law, not the moral & spirit of the law. Because we must obey the moral & spirit of the law. The letter of the law was fulfilled in Christ.

In obedience to the spirit of the law, we must keep in mind the forgiveness of God through Christ for our shortcomings of adherence to it.

[b]Romans 3:31[/b] [color=990000]Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.[/color]
We establish the law through faith by the acknowledgment of our own inability to do away of our passed transgressions of the law, or the maligning of God's character, which total adherence to the law can never make up for.

[b]Romans 4:1[/b] [color=990000]What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?[/color]
This means is his obedience to God's command (law) as in "works".

[b]Romans 4:2[/b] [color=990000]For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something in which to boast; but not before God.[/color]
James 2:21 - James 2:22 shows us that Abraham was justified by works, but the works were of faith, not of the law.

[b]Romans 4:3[/b] [color=990000]Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.[/color]
Works of the law are based on one's own ability to become righteous after one has been sinning or already sinned; works of faith bases the dependence on Christ for righteousness & to justify one after the acknowledgment of sin.

[b]Romans 4:7[/b] [color=990000]Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.[/color]
The law can not cover sin, but Christ does.
If one has faith in Christ for coverage of sin to righteousness, one will not rely one one's self with the works of he law to become righteous, for there is no coverage of sin.

[b]Romans 4:11[/b] [color=990000]And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also[/color]
Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of already being righteous, therefore, the righteousness was not because of adherence to a command (or law of circumcision), but because of faith.

[b]Romans 4:15[/b] [color=990000]Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.[/color]
Because there is no coverage of sin with only the works of the law.
Working to the law proves one has no faith; where there is no faith, there is no coverage of sin, therefore, wrath
Where there is faith, there is no works of the law, therefore, no wrath.

[b]Romans 4:16[/b] [color=990000]Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the descendants; not to those only who are of the law, but to those also who are of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,[/color]
The righteousness is of faith that it be according to Gods kindness (grace)...

Let's break it down:
[b]It is of faith, that it might be by grace[/b]
Not debt

[b]To the end the promise might be sure to all the descendants[/b]
Those also of faith as of Abraham

[b]Not to those only who are of the law[/b]
Israel &/or those without faith

[b]But to those also who are of the faith of Abraham[/b]
Those with faith; grafted in from out of Israel.

 2009/8/14 19:14Profile
Logic
Member



Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


 Re:

Quote:
imnowhere wrote:

Faith and repentance. Gifts? (2 Tim 2:24-25, Phil 1:29)

No, they can not be.

Faith & repentance are commanded.
Commands are responsibilities.

If Faith & repentance are gifts, then God is directly responsible for the unrepentant & faithlessness of the world, because He refuses to give those gifts; He would be condemning sentient beings (His beloved creation) for that which He fails to do.

[b]Example:[/b]
God to sinner- I commanded you to put your faith in my Son & to repent. Why didn't you?

Sinner to God - Because I couldn't, it was impossible to obey you because you did not give be those gifts...
Therefore, it was not out of rebellion &/or disobedience that I did not, but out of reliance of what you failed to do; I was only sinning because I couldn’t do anything else.

 2009/8/14 19:24Profile





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