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Are we to follow the law of Moses or are we under the saving grace of Christ? It seems as though many believers in Christ are confused about how all of this works, so I’m going to break it down using both the Old and New Testaments. We’re not going to cover all 613 laws and commandments, but we are going to look at several points on both sides of the doctrine behind the debate.
The Law of Moses (The Old Covenant)
The Laws of Moses are officially found starting in Exodus – Deuteronomy, which are referred to collectively as “The Law”. But if we take an even deeper look at Genesis, we see Mosaic Law present in The Garden of Eden. In order to atone for the disobedience (breaking the law), God made them coats out of skins.
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” – Genesis 3:21
The Bible doesn’t say what kind of animal the coats were made of, but it is not likely God just created skins out of nothing, which means there was likely some kind of sacrifice made.
- Adam and Eve sinned, which required sacrifice to atone.
- An animal was killed because of their choice to break God’s law (don’t eat from one tree).
The Cain and Abel story (Genesis 4) is the first time we see that the law of sacrifice had already been established. Abel knew what was acceptable to bring as a sacrifice, and so did Cain, but he chose not to follow whatever instructions they’d been given. We see the law of clean and unclean animals in the story of Noah’s Flood. But officially The Law doesn’t wasn’t written until Exodus 20, in which we find the first Ten Commandments.
- I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have any strange gods before me.
- Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.
- Thou shall keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shall not murder.
- Thou shall not commit adultery.
- Thou shall not steal.
- Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
- Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s wife.
- Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s goods.
Take a look at the list and ask yourself which of these you’ve broken. If the answer is none, congratulations because these are the easy ones.
The Hard Parts of The Law
The purpose of The Law was to show people just how much we need grace. Here are some other laws that people you know are probably breaking right now as you read this.
“And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” – Exodus 22:16-17
How many sexually active law keepers do you know that ARE NOT engaged to the woman they’re having sex with, and HAVE NOT paid the dowry of virgins? If they don’t do one or the other immediately, they’re breaking The Law of Moses, and will continue to do so until they make it right. Here is another rule that is very easy to break:
“And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.” – Leviticus 5:1
And here’s one more that goes with it for those that say they’d get on the stand and lie for a friend or family member to save them from going to jail. It also applies to those lying to get someone put into prison:
“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” – Exodus 23:1
Law keepers certainly aren’t drawing attention to these three laws when they preach law keeping. We know they aren’t active confidential informants snitching on people in their neighborhoods. We know they aren’t taking the stand to make sure the jury knows the truth. Not only does the black community not follow this commandment, it is looked down upon even to the point of some people being killed for following it.
- People against snitching are opposing The Law.
- “Stop Snitching” is a campaign against The Law.
- “Snitches get stitches” is a saying created to oppose The Law.
- Hating snitches is hating someone for following The Law.
So those that claim they want to keep The Law need to keep the WHOLE law or admit that they intentionally break The Law whenever it doesn’t benefit them to keep it. Get engaged or pay the dowry. Snitch or break The Law intentionally. It’s that simple.
“Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” – Romans 2:17-24
And this one:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” – Romans 10:1-4
The Issue of Compounding Sin
When I started focusing on my finances, one of the first concepts I learned about was compound interest. The concept is simple. If you invest $100 and it earns 7% interest per year, you would have $107 at the end of the first year. The interest earned would then earn interest the following year. At the end of year two your initial $100 investment would be worth $114.49. Sin works the same exact way.
If we look at the sin about snitching, we notice that if we do not snitch, then we are also guilty of the sin we know about, but didn’t speak about. Now that one sin of not snitching is worth two sins, and those two sins multiply into all of the sins.
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” – James 2:10-11
By not snitching we’ve broken every single point in the law. The Law requires sacrifices to be made at the temple under supervision of the High Priest. But since there is no temple and no High Priest to accept the sacrifice for atonement, we can’t obey those laws either.
“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” – Hebrews 9:22
This is where those that claim to be law keepers retreat back to the saving grace of Christ. This fact alone should make the realize that they are failing at keeping the law and will ALWAYS have to rely on the grace of Christ to make up for the fact that they can’t fulfill the sacrificial part of the law. Unfortunately, they ignore that fact and keep preaching law keeping.
Am I Using Obscure Laws To Prove My Point?
I posted the above point about snitching in one of the Hebrew Facebook groups, and several people claimed that I was just finding obscure laws to prove my point. That’s not true at all. A TRUE law keeper knows that there is no such thing as an obscure law because law keepers are required to KNOW and KEEP all 613 laws and commandments without exception.
- If you think any law is “obscure”, then you don’t know the whole law and probably aren’t keeping it… your only option is to rely on grace.
- If you know the whole law and choose not to keep certain laws, then you aren’t keeping the law… your only option is to rely on grace.
- If you aren’t keeping the law, then you can’t rightfully teach others to keep the law because that would make you a hypocrite… your only option is to rely on grace.
Those that are failing to keep the law because they’re unfamiliar with 100% of the law are deceiving themselves into believing that The Most High cares about their attempt… as if it’s “the thought that counts”.
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” – Isaiah 64:6
If trying to keep the law was good enough for The Most High, he wouldn’t have created the sacrifice, and Christ wouldn’t have needed to die for our sins.
But The Most High Looks At The Heart
Some people believe that they’ll earn some kind of reward for failing to keep the law (not Biblical). They justify this false belief by making the claim that God looks at the heart. They aren’t wrong according to scripture, but they’re neglecting to consider what God has already said about the heart of man:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jeremiah 17:9-10
Even as human beings we can take an honest look at the three example laws that people break a lot, and realize that many have deceived themselves into believing that they keep the law. I often refer to this as “self deception”. A person with an honest heart will admit that they cannot keep the law, and therefore must acknowledge that it is grace alone that leads to salvation… but as scripture says, the heart is deceitful above all things.
Even in the face of scriptural evidence, there will be those that deceive themselves into believing that they’re able to keep all 613 laws, while still leaning on grace because they can’t fulfill any of the required sacrificial laws.
The BHI Camps Are Bringing Our People Under Bondage Again
The fact is that many of these “teachers” in the camps are not called of God to preach the word. This is evident by the fact that they only know parts of the Old Testament and very little of the New Testament. They often get caught off guard when challenged with verses they’re unfamiliar with, and rarely like to answer questions that poke holes in their patchwork doctrine:
- Ask them how its genetically possible that Esau only had black wives but magically produced purely European offspring, and they’ll run away from it to the word ruddy.
- Ask them why the words “ruddy” and “red” are the same word in Hebrew, but they teach that “ruddy” skin is blushing white or sun burned, and they also teach that the “red” heifer is a brown cow.
- Ask them to start at Genesis 10 and do a step by step study into the Gentiles to prove that Israelites can become Gentiles just by saying so, even though the Bible says Gentiles descendants of Japheth.
- Ask them why they believe white people can’t be saved even though Paul traveled with Titus, who was an uncircumcised Greek apostle that preached the gospel (Galatians 2:3).
They preach false and inconsistent doctrine because they’re not called to preach. They want to preach… and there is a HUGE difference between a calling and a desire to do something. The BHI camps are stumbling stones in the path of true awakening. I’m not going to sugar coat it and I’m going to bullet point it so I’m perfectly clear:
- BHI Camp doctrine is spiritual poison.
- BHI Camp doctrine is incomplete, contradictory to scripture, and full of carnal understanding applied to spiritual matters.
- BHI Camp doctrine should be avoided and if you’re following false camp doctrine, be prepared to answer to The Most High for being fooled into thinking you get credit for attempting to keep the law.
The Law of Grace (The New Covenant)
The great thing about grace is that it covers us even when we break the law. Both the Old Testament and New Testament point to the New Covenant of grace being the only saving factor. The New Testament spends a lot of time breaking down both grace and the Law of Moses.
Salvation Through Grace Alone
I won’t go through all of the Old Testament examples of faith, but if you read Hebrews 11 (The Hall of Faith) you’ll get a full breakdown of Old Testament events. Here are the Old Testament examples of grace presented in the chapter:
- Abel (Hebrews 11:4)
- Enoch (Hebrews 11:5)
- Noah (Hebrews 11:7)
- Abraham (Hebrews 11:8)
- Sara (Hebrew11:11)
- Isaac (Hebrews 11:20)
- Jacob (Hebrews 11:21)
- Joseph (Hebrews 11:22)
- Moses (Hebrews 11:23)
- Rahab (Hebrews 11:31)
Outside of Hebrews 11 there is another comparison we can make, which came directly from the mouth of Christ. As part of his response to the disciples asking him to tell them the signs of the end of the age, he said the following:
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” – Matthew 24:37
These words have so much prophecy packed in them. They hint at nephilim, fallen angels, evil on earth, and so much more. However, for the purpose of this study, we’re going to look at why Noah was saved out of all people on earth.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” – Genesis 6:8
Noah didn’t find the law because there was no written law… he found grace in the eyes of the Lord, which was the ONLY saving factor. Noah’s family were also partakers of that grace as well. If the coming of Christ is going to be similar to the days of Noah, then salvation through grace will be the ONLY saving factor. This also lines up with the example of Noah given in Hebrews 11:7.
- Scripture remains consistent when look at the big picture.
- Scripture only becomes inconsistent and contradictory in the hands of uncalled teachers and preachers.
Christ Fulfilled The Law
When the Bible says that Christ fulfilled The Law, it doesn’t mean that Christ abolished The Law. There is a difference between fulfilling and abolishing.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” – Matthew 5:17
But how do we reconcile a verse like the above with Old Testament verses like the following?
- Passover is required forever: Exodus 12:14
- The Sabbath is required forever: Exodus 31:16
- The sacrifices are required forever: Leviticus 23:21
Only two of the above three laws are keepable in the modern age. According to the law:
- The law requires a sacrifice to atone for sins… we don’t have the means to fulfill this requirement of the law.
- Sacrifices must be made in a specific manner… we don’t have the means to fulfill this requirement of the law.
Because of the above two facts, those that preach law keeping will ALWAYS find themselves running back to grace as the ONLY means of salvation. Because we cannot fulfill the sacrifices required by law, Christ has fulfilled the law requirements for us.
- If you can’t fulfill the sacrificial requirements of the law, you are not fulfilling the law.
- If you are relying on grace, then it is Christ fulfilling the requirements of the law for you (Ephesians 2:8-9), and not you keeping the law by any effort of your own.
- Once you understand and admit the above, you’re eyes will be opened to the error of law keeping in an attempt to gain salvation. God doesn’t hand out participation trophies for failure.
It was the death of Christ that established the New Covenant of grace for for all mankind. We can be assured that it was his death because both John and Paul confirm this:
The Greatest Love of All
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
Love Everyone Like You Love Yourself
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Galatians 5:13-14
Christ Died For Everyone
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8
Christ demonstrated the ultimate love by not only dying for Israel, but for all mankind as well. His love of mankind is why he made wine to keep a party going, insulted religious leaders, and started a fight in a synagogue. He did these things because he loved humanity.
Yes… He died for everyone.
This is another area of false teaching being pushed by these camps. It’s either New Testament unfamiliarity or outright deception on the part of the camps, but I’m not sure which. They are very quick to point out the following verse:
“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matthew 15:24
But they are slow or even refuse to point out the following verse from the same book, which occurs after the above verse:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” – Matthew 28:19
There is also The Parable of The Wedding Supper in which Christ explains that because Israel did not come when called, he was going to call EVERYONE that wants to come (Matthew 22). Camps won’t teach this because their goal is to poison the body of Christ with hatred and false camp doctrine. They don’t study the New Testament, half study the Old Testament, but insist on teaching both.
- If someone is teaching Matthew 15:24 while avoiding Matthew 22 and 28:19, they’re false teaching 100% of the time.
- If someone is teaching that only Israel can be saved, they’re false teaching 100% of the time.
- If someone is teaching that all white people are going to hell, they’re false teaching 100% of the time.
Don’t let these camps steal your salvation with deceptive doctrine:
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” – 2 Peter 2:1
The Book of Matthew
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” – Matthew 28:19
The Book of Mark
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:15-16
The Book of Acts
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Acts 2:21
The Book of 1 Timothy
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:3-4
There are plenty of examples that are clear that Christ opened up salvation for all mankind after Israel rejected him. Christ himself hints at this in the book of John:
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” – John 10:16
This verse isn’t talking about scattered Hebrews or any other twisted interpretation the camps like to give it. The message of scripture is clear. Paul also confirms this in his message about the Gentiles being grafted in (Romans 11).
Grace Requires Faith
The Bible is clear that grace requires faith and not works. Grace does not depend on works to work. Those that believe the law will save them are mistaken:
“And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” – Luke 7:48-50
Christ said that the woman’s faith had saved her. Not the law, but faith.
“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
Paul also points out that faith is what saves, and that grace is a gift from God. You don’t earn a gift nor are you required to pay for a gift. Gifts are freely given without any strings attached. If you have to do something for it, it’s a purchase or an exchange, and not a gift. Those attempting to keep the law are not putting 100% of their faith in Christ to save, and are attempting to buy their salvation through works. It doesn’t work both ways.
The Book of Acts
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” – Acts 20:27-28
The Book of Corinthians
“For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” – 1 Corinthians 7:22-23
Christ has already paid the price for our sins. If we were at a restaurant and someone paid for the meal, we wouldn’t try to go wash the dishes or sweep the floors to earn our meal. The same applies to salvation.
“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” – Romans 5:18
Again, most camp teachers are NOT called to preach the word. 1 Corinthians 7:22-23 says those called of the Lord are free, and yet they seek to subject the souls of men under the law again.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” – Galatians 5:4
If you think the law is going to save you, then you’re not under grace… and if you’re not under grace, you are required to fulfill the sacrificial parts of the law. If you can’t fulfill that part of the law, then you can’t atone for your sins… and what are the wages of sin?
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
This is why camp doctrine is dangerous. They’re playing with the souls of men because many of them are not called to be preachers of the word. What most are doing is getting a little bit of doctrine instead of putting in years of intense study, and then running out to teach half baked doctrine as truth. How can they teach truth if they haven’t taken the time to fully understand the book that they teach from?
What Laws Should We Follow Under The New Covenant?
Many of the camps use the following verse in an effort to “prove” New Testament support of keeping the law of Moses.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15
If we read further into the chapter for context we see the following verses:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” – John 14:23-24
Christ is referencing the commandments he’s given the disciples, and there were only two.
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31
The Book of Romans
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” – Romans 13:8-11
The Book of Galatians
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Galatians 5:14
The Law and The Book of Acts
What I’ve found to be true over and over again is that those who preach keeping the law are often not as familiar with the New Testament as they are with the Old. We know this because in the book of Acts this very discussion happens between multiple apostles, in a public setting, across several chapters. They ALL came to the conclusion that we are no longer under the law because GOD REVEALED IT TO THEM. Please read the full chapter for context.
“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
The chapter starts off with Hebrew converts to Christ attempting to teach law keeping in order to gain salvation. Sound familiar? As we’re about to see, their error is corrected by several apostles and the Holy Spirit:
“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question… But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. ” – Acts 15:2-5
Peter – Salvation Is By Grace Not The Law
“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” – Acts 15:11
James – Law Keeping Is Not Necessary
“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” – James 15:19-20
In order to really understand James’ response, we have to come out of the traditional teaching that fornication means “premarital sex”, because it’s not. It’s a reference to archway where prostitutes would hang out in temples for ritual prostitution as a means of worshiping false gods. James’ verdict came down to not having any other gods in place of The Most High, which we’ll see is the first of the two commandments that Christ told us were the most important.
All of The Apostles and The Holy Spirit Agree
“It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” – Acts 15:25-29
If all matters are established out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, then this matter is case closed. The following people were all present at the meeting:
- Judas Barsabas
There are others that are not named, but there are six named people, and the Holy Spirit would make seven.
Does This Only Apply To Gentiles?
There are some people that think there is a loophole because this discussion revolved around the Gentiles (Europeans) keeping the law. Peter pointed out that it was grace that would provide the same salvation for Hebrews and Gentiles regardless of keeping the law (Acts 15:11). Paul also confronted Peter about living like the Gentiles:
“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 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 2:14-16
Paul didn’t pull any punches or sugar coat anything. Nobody will be justified or saved by the law… period.
Do We Have Permission To Break The Law?
Freedom from the law does not mean that we are supposed to wild out like we have spiritual immunity.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” – Romans 6:14-16
Here again, Paul is referring back to loving God with everything you have.
- If God sent you to preach somewhere overseas and your choices were to eat bacon wrapped shrimp or starve, you’d be covered by grace.
- If you were homeless and all you had were mixed fabric clothes to wear, you’d be covered by grace through faith in Christ.
These are examples of breaking the law, but sin having no power over us as human beings because we’re covered by grace through faith in Christ.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23
James vs. Paul: Works or Faith?
Finally, we come to the book of James. There are some people that believe James and Paul are in opposition in their teachings about grace vs. works.
Paul: Only Grace Through Faith Saves
“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
James: Faith Without Works Is Dead
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” – James 2:18-20
These verse cause a lot of problems when it comes to teaching the law vs. faith from a New Testament perspective. But that is only because people have a tendency to “cherry pick” verses and disregard the rest of the chapter for context. Here’s what I mean:
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” – James 2:15-16
This example and the example of Rahab (James 2:25) encompass the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. He also gave the following example:
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” – James 2:21
Abraham’s example was loving God with all of his heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27) to the point that he was willing to sacrifice his promised son based on God’s word alone. There’s no contradiction between Christ, Paul, or James. James just writes in a different manner than Paul. Even Peter made note that Paul was called of God, but his writings were sometimes difficult to understand:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” – 2 Peter
What we’re encountering are two different perspectives on the same teachings:
- James viewed the two commandments of Christ as “works” and necessary to follow because Christ told us to do so.
- Paul did not view the two commandments of Christ as “works”, but moreso a guide to behaving like a decent human being, and also necessary to follow because Christ told us to do so.
This becomes more an issue of semantics than doctrine because both James and Paul agree that we have to love God with our entire being and love our neighbor as much as you love ourselves. They both also agree that salvation comes through grace. We know this to be true because in Acts 15:13-21 it was James that first spoke up AGAINST preaching law keeping.
How Will The Law Keepers Be Judged?
Here’s the good news and the bad news about trying to keep the law in an attempt to buy salvation:
- The Good News: You will be judged by your works as you desire to be.
- The Bad News: You will be judged by your works as you desire to be.
There are two different judgements in the book of Revelation. The first is for believers that had faith in Christ (Revelation 20:4-6):
“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” – Revelation 20:5-6
But then there’s the second judgement for those that want to be judged by their works such as law keeping.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” – Revelation 20:11-13
The Bible doesn’t say if some of them make it or not, but we do know that not everyone judged based on their works makes it:
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15
Seems like a risky bet to me when grace is 100% free and guaranteed, but ultimately, we’re all adults and those that want to risk their salvation by perpetually failing to keep the law on a daily basis, based on false camp doctrine, are free to do so.
- Romans 3:1-31
- Romans 6:1-23
- Romans 7:1-25
- Romans 9:1-33
- Galatians 2:1-21
- Galatians 3:1-29
Paul summarizes this entire debate very well in a single verse, and that’s what I’ll use to close this study:
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” – Galatians 2:21
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“And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” – John 8:45-47
This site is about truth… and those that say truth doesn’t matter are not of God.