Tuesday, November 28, 2006

External Conformity to the Law of God is NOT enough. A wealthy man once approached the Son of God and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Jesus answered and said, in essence, "if you would enter life, then keep the commandments" (Matt 19:17).

The problem with the rigorous law-keepers of that day, and cultural fundamentalists in our own day and age is that they (and we) focus on the externals ALONE.

The problem with the wealthy man was that there was a serious malady in his heart. He lacked one thing. What was it? In essence, the attachment of that one man to his possessions needed to be replaced by an attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Could this be said of you and me?

We must understand that if we want to keep externals, then the standard of the law is perfection - and nothing less (cf. Matt 5:48). Jesus does not and will not ever lower that standard.

So how does Jesus solve that dilemma if we as humans cannot keep that perfect standard? Jesus removed the wrath of God on behalf of us. That is the theological doctrine of propitiation. Propitiation is defined as "removing the wrath of God." This is what Jesus did by enduring the punishment that we deserved and paying the debt we could never pay.

As a result of this propitiation, a person is then justified. Justification, therefore, is more than being declared not guilty. It is not only being acquitted faults but it goes deeper. It has the idea of declaring one absolutely righteous. Jesus Christ does not make a defendant righteous. He recognizes and declares him to be righteous. Thus, to be justified is in our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ we are counted as perfect, even though we are still sinners in this life.

So, let us come to realize that externals and mere conformity to the Law's standards are not enough - nor will they ever be. We are sinners. That's it...plain and simple. Yet because of the Lord Jesus Christ we can be saved from the wrath of God (propitiation) and be declared absolutely righteous before God (Justification) because of what Jesus has done in our place.

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