Old Doxoblogy

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Active Obedience...Again

I found myself a couple of years ago questioning this doctrine of Christ's active obedience. The verse that really put things into perspective for me was this;
But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." (Gal 3:12)
Here Paul quotes from the Old Testament and tells us that the one who does the law will live. Not that the pesron who does them is given life by the law, but that the law is powerless to take the obedient one's life. The problem then with the law is not that it cannot reward, but that it cannot give righteousness. Paul in Romans says again very clearly that there is nothing wrong with the law, but the problem is with our sinful nature's reponse to the law.
The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Rom 7:10-13)
The point is this:
Those who deny Christ's active obedience continually level the charge that the law cannot give righteousness. I agree. But it can reward righteousness. Therefore, Christ, who should have been rewarded (blessed) by the law, since He kept it perfectly, became accursed by the law so that we might be found blessed by the law, not in our own righteousness, but in Christ's which He imputes to us.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5)


Joe said...

"not in our own righteousness, but in Christ's which He imputes to us."

This, then, is the salient point.

Thanks, Doxo.

Daniel said...

Our own righteousness (as opposed to Christ's imputed righteousness) is proportional to our maturity as believers.

Many naively equate spiritual maturity with biblical acumen - assuming that if someone has good doctrine that they are better Christians. But I would rather spend time with a believer who didn't have their doctrine straight, yet was utterly obedient to the light they did have - than spend time with a believer who has all his ducks in a row, but doesn't walk with God.

Christ's imputed righteousness justifies us before God - yet intimate fellowship with God is yoked entirely to our willingness to obey the Holy Spirit within. We have peace with God because we are in Christ, receiving the benefit of His righteous standing before God being imputed to us through our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. That is our positional reality - but conditionally speaking, we must remain in the light to fellowship with God because even with Christ's imputed righteousness accounted to us - God will not have fellowship with darkness.

Thus, it is only those who walk in the light who have fellowship with God - or said another way, it is those who have learned to obey the Holy Spirit who have fellowship with God.

Sometimes it happens that we blur the lines between imputed righteousness and genuine sanctification - resulting in us telling ourselves that we are in fellowship with God because we have deduced that we are supposed to be - even though our present experience patently denies this same fellowship. The result is our "fellowship" is an academic, and forensic declaration - and not something we actually experience - except in the case of positive suggestion - where we tell our selves that whatever state we happen to be in - this is what fellowship looks like.

I agree therefore with your post - the law cannot give righteousness, it only reflects what righteousness looks like. We reap the reward of Christ's righteousness in life - but if fail to walk with God's Spirit, we will miss out on the reward of personal righteousness - that being fellowship with God Himself.

Great post Jeremy!