Amazing Facts is an international Christian ministry spreading the gospel to all the world.
About Pastor Doug
Our Other Websites
Send a Prayer Request
Ask a Bible Question
Tell Your Story
Read our latest articles on Bible prophecy, learn about upcoming seminars, and get the latest news.
Where is Pastor Doug?
Bible Prophecy Seminars
From Pastor Doug
Discover the Bible and prophecy, take a Bible study, and get answers to difficult Bible verses.
Get To Know Jesus
Free Online Bible School
Bible Reading Plan
Free Book Library
Foreign Language Library
Bible Study Guides
What is AFCOE? It's the Bible training ministry of Amazing Facts!
AFCOE To Go
Amazing Facts offers an array of Christian TV programs and Christian radio broadcasts about God and the Bible.
Amazing Facts TV
Sabbath School Study Hour
Amazing Facts Presents
Bible Answers Live
Find a variety of Christian books at our Christian bookstore, plus DVDs, music, software, and more.
Kids and Youth
Learn how you can become a partner in ministry with Amazing Facts.
Donate by Program
Donate by Project
Central Study Hour
The Coming of Jesus
Amazing Facts Presents
Get Free Offer
New Pope - Old Prophecy
Get Free Offer
Bible Answers Live
Bible Answers Live 03-22-2015
Amazing Facts Presents
Sabbath School Study Hour
La Hora de Estudio de la
Youth / Teens / Collegiate
Most Important Questions (MIQ)
As Mais Surpreendentes Profecias
Joe Crews Video Sermons
Las Profecías más Asombrosas
Le Code Prophétique
Millenium Of Prophecy
Most Amazing Prophecies
New Revelation Spanish
Time Is Ticking Away
Friday Night Live
Testimonies of Changed Lives
"亲近上帝"奋兴会 (05 Revive)
Acercándonos a Dios
Doctrines That Divide
Doctrines That Divide (Arabic)
Firmes a la Verdad
Here We Stand (07 Revive)
La Verdad Revelada
Reclaim Your Faith
Streams of Light
Bible Answers Live
Bible Question Archive
Joe Crews Radio Sermons
Lessons and Parables
Inspiration of Bible
Promises of God
Scripture / Study of Bible
666 / Mark of
Behavior / Character /
Family / Marriage /
Health and Healing
Historical Accounts /
Evangelism / Outreach
Creation / Evolution
Godhead / Trinity /
Law / Judgment
Sabbath / Sunday
Salvation / Victory
Second Coming /
Crime / Lawlessness
Song of Solomon
Satan's Confusing Counterfeits
›› Browse Book Library Archives
Satan in Chains
Spirits of the Dead
By Joe Crews
Satan's Confusing Counterfeits
Suppose you had to summarize the entire Bible in just two words. What words would you choose? I have thought about this, and I believe sin and salvation might be the most accurate answer. After all, Satan entered the picture very early to cause man to sin and to steal away his salvation. Incidentally, that was also the turning point for the human family. You see, God had based everything upon obedience. He had provided all those wonderful gifts—life, righteous character, dominion over the earth, and a beautiful home in the Garden. Then He promised that those blessings would continue without interruption on one condition alone: Obey and live, disobey and die.
We know, of course, what followed that ultimatum. Adam and Eve yielded to the tempter and sin entered this beautiful planet for the first time. And from that moment the great controversy became a raging reality, between Christ and Satan, truth and error, obedience and disobedience. Every book and chapter of the Bible is interwoven with God’s great plan to bring man back to that original position of obedience from which he fell. “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Sin, of course, is disobedience to God’s law.
Sometimes people have asked, “Why be concerned over external actions and works of the law? Isn’t God more interested in the heart than in the outward conduct?” Truly, those things cannot be separated. From the very beginning, God has made obedience the grand test of love and loyalty. No one can say that God was unconcerned over the behavior of our first parents. Their outward actions mirrored a divided heart. This is also why Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
The focus of heaven’s program is to save men from breaking God’s law by instilling an agape love into the hearts of true believers. The very last book of the Bible distills the issue down to that same basic question of obedience. Every soul will receive the seal of God or the mark of the beast. Again the test will be over obedience to the law. The major characteristic of the redeemed, according to the book of Revelation, is that they keep the commandments of God. The condition that God set up for man to remain in Eden becomes the condition for man to return to Paradise. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).
The bottom line is that God must have a people who can be trusted with eternal life. Have you considered that those who are translated at the coming of Jesus will still retain the power of choice? The Bible assures us that affliction will not rise up the second time. There will be no repeat of this 6,000-year carnage of tragedy and death. Not because there will be no choice, but because God will take no one to heaven who would rather sin than not die. The angels will know heaven is secure because of the experience of the saints in this world before they are given immortality. There will be no risk of this recurrent nightmare of sin. This testing experience on planet Earth will take care of that.
Satan’s whole strategy is based on making people sin. He knows that nothing which defiles will enter God’s kingdom, and sin is the only thing that defiles in God’s sight. I am convinced that Satan understood a certain principle long before the apostle Paul wrote it down in Romans 6:16. “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?” Please notice that you become a servant of whoever you obey. If you obey God, you are a servant of God; and if you cease obeying God, you cease being a servant of God. The enemy’s plan is to cause you to obey him and become his servant.
I cannot emphasize enough that the devil doesn’t care why you disobey God as long as you do it. You can even do it in the name of religion, and some of the most religious people have done it down through history. In fact, they can think up the most religious reasons for disobedience. Jesus spoke repeatedly of those who would be guilty of this paradoxical conduct. He declared, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
Jesus carefully identified these boastful claimants as very religious individuals. Everything had been done in the name of Jesus, yet they were rejected in the end as unworthy to enter heaven. Why? What was their problem? In the previous verse the Master spelled it out clearly that even though they talked much about Him, they did not do “the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Profession was strong, but doing God’s will was absent.
Jesus was even more specific in Matthew 15:9 when He spoke these words to the Pharisees: “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” How it must have shocked that audience to understand for the first time that many who worshiped Him would be lost. How could it ever be wrong to worship God, and why would it be counted vain and worthless? Jesus explained that He could not accept it because they had set aside His commandments in favor of the commandments of men. How interesting! Apparently Christ recognized obedience as the highest form of worship, and the most acceptable.
Has anyone ever been able to find an acceptable excuse for disobeying God? Certainly men of the past have fabricated some that sounded good in their own ears. I think of Saul whom God had approved as Israel’s first king. He was a great and wonderful man in many respects. But do you remember what happened when God sent him to fight against the Amalekites? Those people had become so depraved that God ordered Saul to utterly destroy them. Nothing was to be brought back as souvenirs or booty from this campaign. The command of God was clear and specific.
Why, then, did Saul decide to spare some of the finest, sleekest cattle? He gave his explanation to Samuel after being confronted by the prophet on the way home from the battle. Samuel asked, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed” (1 Samuel 15:14, 15).
No matter how logical those words may sound, they are filled with devious design and hypocrisy. In the first place, Saul blamed “the people” for sparing the animals, trying to shift the responsibility for the act of disobedience. But Saul was in charge, and he had received the orders from God. Then, he tried to make it seem that it was a trifling matter, because “the rest” of God’s word had been fulfilled. Only one little deviation was made, so why make such a big deal out of it, and besides, these animals were not for them; they were to be used for worshiping God!
Don’t miss the significance of that explanation. Saul was disobeying God in order to worship Him! Did God accept such an argument? Samuel replied, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (verse 22). Again, we see that God looked upon obedience as the highest form of worship. Even though Saul probably had the most persuasive religious reason for disobeying, God dramatically rejected it and, at the same time, rejected Saul from being the king over Israel.
Is the same thing being done today? Look around you as the sacred hours of the Sabbath are introduced week by week to a world in need of rest. In the very heart of His handwritten moral law God inscribed the longest and most detailed of all the Ten Commandments. Yet it was so simply expressed that no possibility of confusion existed. “The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Exodus 20:10). Even a child can understand those words. Yet, when the seventh day begins each week millions are still out there in the market place carrying on business as usual and violating the clear, specific command of God.
Who are these millions who dare defy the unmistakable written orders of their Creator? Many of them are religious people who will be in church the very next day singing hymns, praying, giving offerings, and kneeling to worship the God whose law they transgress every week. Some perhaps do not realize that they are honoring a pagan tradition above the commandment of God, but large numbers are well aware that they are disobeying one of the eternal laws of God. Of such, Jesus spoke with alarming candor: “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
For years as an evangelist I have listened to the rationalization of religious people for breaking the Sabbath. Many of them actually sound pious and sincere and profess great love for God. But do they really love Him? The problem today is that there is such a superficial, sentimental definition of love. All of us have seen the popular bumper stickers which boldly demand, “Smile if you love Jesus,” or “Honk if you love Jesus,” or “Wave if you love Jesus.” But that is not what Jesus said! He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Now that is authentic! That is real. The shallow froth of many modern religions reflects anything except love.
Two Strategies of Satan
How does Satan orchestrate his program to make even the most religious people sin? Before we look at his two most effective strategies, we need to understand that we are dealing with the greatest counterfeiter who ever lived. As the arch-deceiver he often employs a mixture of good and evil to accomplish his ends. He doesn’t even mind utilizing the Scriptures if it can serve to achieve an ultimate end.
Satan did not write the Bible, but he was looking over the shoulders of the men who did, memorizing every bit of it. And he has often quoted texts, as he did to Jesus in the wilderness of temptation. In that instance he actually quoted the Psalmist correctly that angels would protect from even dashing a foot against a stone. But take note that he misapplied the text by urging Jesus to presumptuously leap from the pinnacle and trust the angels to save Him.
This clever ploy of distorting Scripture forms the basis of the two special tricks which Satan uses to make Christians disobey God’s law. The first argument goes like this: Since the Bible says “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life,” the most important thing in order to be saved is to obey the law (Revelation 22:14). If we can just do that well enough, in every detail, we will qualify for eternal life.
Does that sound familiar? And is there some truth in such an argument? Indeed, it is very important to obey the commandments. But is there also a strong element of error woven through that belief? The fact is that no one can make themselves good enough to deserve salvation. Such a doctrine is rank legalism, the very antithesis of God’s way of being saved. It is the foundation of every non-Christian religion and has deceived millions of professed followers of Christ into a fatal delusion.
But you may ask how such a doctrine could lead to more breaking of God’s law. Wouldn’t it actually motivate more people to carefully keep the commandments in order to be saved? In this case the answer is no. You see, Satan knows very well that things have changed since the Garden of Eden.
It was a thousand times easier for Adam to obey than it is for us. He had a pure, unfallen nature that had no inclination toward sin, and all of his temptations originated outside of himself. With our inherited fallen nature our greatest temptations spring from within. But Satan has convinced millions that they can avoid sin, just like Adam and Eve, by trying harder to obey God. So they manfully struggle to exercise more control over their sinful tendencies and fail in their fleshly efforts. Finally, they decide that it is impossible to get the victory over sin and that God will not require something that can’t be done. The result is more and more breaking of God’s law.
Consider this thought for a moment: Suppose you could keep every one of God’s commandments from this moment right on through the remainder of your life. In other words, you would not make a single mistake or commit another sin for the rest of your life. Would that save you? Of course not, because you have already committed sins before starting this future program of perfect obedience. Therefore, you have come under the death sentence by those past transgressions. No amount of good behavior can change the record of your past misconduct. The truth is that only one man ever came into this world and lived an absolutely perfect life without committing a single sin. Jesus had an impeccable record of right-doing. Our record is blotted and blurred by repeated failures to measure up to God’s standard of total obedience. Not one of us can stand before God on the basis of our past record. We know God will accept nothing but a perfect righteousness, or right-doing, and none of us has such a record. Unless we can somehow get the credit for that holy, unblemished life of Jesus and have it actually imputed to our account, there is not the least possibility for us to be saved. How thankful we ought to be that such an arrangement has been made available through the grace of our Lord Jesus.
One of the most amazing texts in the Bible is found in Romans 5:10, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son ...” Let’s pause and examine that first half of the verse, because it contains the most crucial message in all the Bible. It tells us that we became enemies of God when we sinned. A reconciliation was required if we were to have any hope. In order to remove the sin that separated us from God, an at-one-ment, or atonement, needed to be accomplished. Our text says that only the death of Jesus could effect such a reconciliation.
How did the cross remove the enmity and restore the relationship of God and man? What did Jesus carry to that cross? Upon His own body He assumed vicariously the guilt of every descendant of Adam and Eve. In fact, Jesus offered to make an exchange with each one of us. He would take our condemnation and death sentence, bear it to the cross, and exhaust the penalty of sin against us. At the same time that He bears our punishment, He covers over the ugly record of our past transgressions. In fact, He accomplished this by imputing credit to us for living His own perfect life of obedience. So what do we yield up, and what do we receive from Him? We give up our death in exchange for His life; and as a result, God treats us as if we have never sinned, and He treats Jesus on the cross as though He were guilty of all our sins.
Now look at the rest of Romans 5:10. After describing the reconciliation effected by the death of Jesus, Paul continues, “much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Please notice that we need both the life and the death of Jesus to achieve full salvation. Past sins are covered by the imputed benefits of His atoning death, and future victories are assured by the imparted benefits of His sinless life in the flesh.
We cannot change or improve the actions that have already been recorded against us. They can only be canceled by claiming to our account the credited record of His perfect obedience. Any of our future actions can be changed by accepting the impartation of His victorious experience as He lived it in our own fallen nature. And that brings us to the second strategy that Satan uses in making people sin.
The Cheap Grace Trap
In this clever assault, the great counterfeiter pursues a different argument. It goes something like this: “No one can be saved by keeping the law. We are not justified by works, but by grace through faith. We are not under the law, but under grace. Keeping the commandments is not necessary as long as we love Jesus.” Again, we see that there is much truth in what he says, but also a terrible strain of error. Even though we are not justified by works, we are not exempt from obedience either.
Countless multitudes have fallen prey to this devious approach. I see it all the time in evangelism. Christians of every stripe and denomination will give fervent assent to the first few nights of the crusade series, but then we introduce the subject of law and grace. Instantly the reaction begins. “Brother Joe, don’t talk to us about that old law. We’re not saved by works. We’re under grace, and keeping those commandments won’t save us.” Do you see the problem? In an extreme reaction against legalism, these sincere souls swerve far over to the side of cheap grace and almost become antinomian in their views.
How hard it is to be balanced on this question of faith and works! There are two extremes, and the devil doesn’t care which end we go off. It’s like rowing a boat with two oars named “faith” and “works.” If either oar fails to work, the boat simply goes around in a circle. A lot of people are going around in circles, because there is not equal pulling on these two essential aspects of salvation. The fact is that we are talking about two ends of the same piece. This is why there can be no conflict in the matter. True faith always produces the good works of obedience. Genuine justification invariably produces sanctification. The Bible truly declares that “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
Our great enemy, the devil, has cunningly counterfeited both ends of the beautiful doctrine of righteousness by faith. He has distorted “righteousness” into legalism and “faith” into a cheap substitute that does not even produce obedience. Somebody has referred to it as “sloppy agape,” because it also denigrates love to an ill-defined sentimentalism.
In the Scriptures I find three kinds of faith. One is a faith that even the demons possess, but James makes it very clear that this kind does not work at all. It is merely an intellectual assent or mental agreement. It cannot save a single person. The second does work, but for the wrong reason. It is well-illustrated by the driver who sees a stop sign at an intersection. He has faith in the sign and his faith works; he brings the car to a stop. But why did he stop? For fear he would be struck by another vehicle? Or fear that the police might be watching from around the corner to give him a ticket? That kind of faith is also unacceptable to God because it is based on fear.
Unfortunately, many professed Christians have this kind of fire-escape religion. They know there is a fire at the end of the road, and they don’t want to go into that fire. So they force themselves to do all the good things that they believe good people ought to do. This is just another form of legalism that we talked about earlier.
The third kind of faith, and the only kind God will accept, is described in Galatians 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” There it is. There is the real motive for every act of obedient compliance with God’s law.
Sin and the Christian
But before we show how this motivation of love is the very heart of all true acceptance before God, let us turn to some of the most dogmatic statements recorded by the inspired writers. Some would even classify John’s language as positively intemperate, but you be the judge as we read the words of that great disciple of love. Please keep in mind that John was the disciple who leaned on the bosom of Jesus. He was, without question, the warmest and most tender-hearted of the twelve disciples. He wrote more about love than any other writer of the New Testament, yet he probably had more to say about the commandments of God than any other writer as well.
First, we will read the most simple, succinct definition of sin to be found in Holy Writ. John declared, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Please fix this verse clearly in your thinking, because the rest of the chapter focuses on the nature of sin and utilizes this exclusive definition for it. The text is very clear, but we need to quantify the word “law” in this verse. What law is being referred to? Paul answers in a parallel discussion about sin in Romans 7:7. He asks: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Here the meaning is beyond question. Paul quotes directly from the Ten Commandments and declares unequivocally that sin is the breaking of that law.
So, as we read further in 1 John 3, keep clearly in mind that the word sin has been defined in verse 4 as the breaking of the moral law of the decalogue. Verse 5 continues the discussion with these words, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins.” What was Jesus to take from us? Our sins. What is sin? Breaking the Ten Commandments. Therefore, He came to save us from transgressing those laws. He came to keep us from sinning.
Then John begins a series of radical statements of truth which have confounded many modern Christians. He said, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him” (verse 6). Powerful. Some men are known for bold preaching, but never have I heard such strong words from any living prophet or preacher. Declares the beloved John, “Anyone who keeps walking in disobedience to the Ten Commandments has never met Jesus and knows nothing about His salvation.” Shocking? Indeed, it is.
But wait. There is more, and it gets even stronger. Next verse: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil” (verses 7, 8). John boldly marks out the difference between false professors of truth and the genuine.
Incidentally, there is great significance in the words “Let no man deceive you.” This alerts us that whatever immediately follows will be the subject of great delusion and deception. In Matthew 24:3 the disciples asked Jesus about the signs of His coming and in verse 4 He replied, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Then He proceeded to spell out the terrible confusion that would mark the end-time teaching on the “rapture.” So we can expect that similar misunderstanding will attend the doctrine of righteousness by faith in the last days. The sin question will be confused. The doctrine of obedience and the law will be confounded and twisted.
John urges us to heed the warning that no righteous person will be walking in willful disobedience to the Ten Commandments. He goes so far as to say that such an individual would actually be of the devil and not a Christian at all! Then he adds the words which have been debated for generations by theologians as well as laymen, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: And he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (verse 9). Who is the seed of the woman in the Bible? Jesus is that true seed, and the truly converted child of God has Christ abiding in his heart. And while Jesus is there he cannot sin. In order to sin he will have to put Jesus out of his heart. Christ is not the minister of sin and cannot share the heart of one who chooses to deliberately disobey the commandments of God. John is not saying that a Christian loses his power of choice, but he is emphatically declaring that Christ does not remain in the heart of the willful transgressor.
Let’s clarify this matter of sinning. A strange doctrine has wormed its way into the Christian church via the teaching of Augustine and John Calvin. This false system of belief holds forth the idea that we can be walking in deliberate disobedience and still have the assurance of salvation. It is simply not true. Nevertheless, millions have swallowed the distorted concept that justification changes our standing before God but does not change our state.
The Calvinistic view is that the covering of justification makes us acceptable in God’s sight even if we do continue willfully sinning. In the final analysis, we are told that the atonement saves us in this life from the results of sin but not from the sin itself. In effect, the message is declaring that the atonement does not so much change the nature of the Christian in relation to sin as it changes the nature of sin in relation to the Christian.
For some reason, after accepting Jesus, sin is not the same deadly factor it was before. By committing sin as an unconverted person we are doomed to destruction, but committing the same sins after being “saved” cannot send the Christian to hell.
Do you see how this doctrine seeks to change the nature of sin instead of changing the nature of the sinner? Is this not playing games with religion? Justification does not ever cover sins that we keep on practicing. Justification provides a totally new heart and life called conversion by which we begin to show forth a new spiritual lifestyle. Justification cannot be maintained while deliberate sins are being committed. It is not a cloak to cover continued transgression; it is a spiritual transformation which removes both the guilt and power of sin.
Mark it down well: True faith always produces the good works of obedience. Faith without works is dead. Jesus came to this world to save His people from their sins, not in their sins. The Bible says a lot about sin, but never anything good. For instance, you will never read in the Scriptures that we should diminish the amount of sin we commit. Nowhere are we admonished to cut back or reduce our disobedience.
Sin is absolutely non-negotiable in God’s sight. We are to utterly reject, abandon, and forsake all practice of known sin. Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” He did not say, “Go and cut back on this sin”! John did not write, “My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin less and less.” He said, “I write unto you that ye sin not.”
John the Beloved pulled no punches in writing his epistle about sin. No modern preacher ever said it stronger than he did. He declared, “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). This foolishness about God counting us righteous while we willfully keep on choosing to disobey Him is not supported in the Bible. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and that power is able to save us from all sin as well as from some sin. Why should we believe that an all powerful God would forgive us and then leave us under the power of continued sin? That would make God an accomplice in our sin.
Judged by Our Works
Finally, let us consider the fact that the judgment will take place on the basis of our works. I know this may sound legalistic to some, but the Bible is exceedingly clear on this point. John wrote: “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 they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:12, 13).
How do we harmonize these words with what we have discovered about God’s love and mercy? Is it not contrary to Bible justification for works to be the basis of the judgment? Not at all, if we take into consideration how the works will be judged. It is imperative that we understand exactly how God will measure and test the actions of each individual. What determines whether they are accepted or rejected? Is it the amount performed? If we have enough right-doing to our account, will we be granted entrance? And will we be left outside if the works are not sufficient?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus described a sizable group who would seek entrance into the kingdom of God. We referred to this verse earlier. Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
Carefully weigh the words of those last-minute applicants. Jesus did not dispute or deny the truthfulness of what they said. They boasted of having done many works. There was no lack in quantity. The amount was acceptable, but obviously the works were not judged on the basis of quantity—they were denied entrance. But we are more puzzled when we read about the kind of works these people had done. They were “wonderful” as well as “many.” The quality seems to be good also. Perhaps one of them had donated a million dollars to build a new synagogue; yet they were not allowed entrance. The mystery deepens. What other factor could possibly account for the severe sentence, “depart from me, ye that work iniquity”?
The answer is found in the last book of the Bible, and when we read it, the entire puzzle suddenly falls into place and pulls into focus. In Revelation 3:15 God says, “I know thy works.” Of course He does, because He has kept the record and will be the final judge. But let’s read on, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16).
There is the secret of the whole matter! Our works will be judged at last, but not by the weight or the height. They will be judged by the heat! In other words, all of our obedience must spring forth from a heart of burning love and devotion to God. The motive will be uncovered and examined by the all-seeing eye of God. No amount or kind of human works will carry any degree of weight in that day unless they have been produced by a fiery love relationship with Jesus.
Here we come to the paradox of the faith-works issue. Works are either worth everything or they are worth nothing. They are a sweet savor of incense before God or they are an abomination. All depends on the motive and who is providing the strength to perform the works. Works of the flesh are man’s efforts to save himself, but works of love rising out of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit are exactly the opposite. They stand forth as the authentic credentials of genuine faith and love.
God has not changed that test since the Garden of Eden. He still requires exactly the same kind of obedience. The only difference is that in Eden our holy unfallen parents had, by nature, the power to obey. Unfortunately, as the children of post-fall Adam and Eve, we have inherited carnal natures which are not subject to the law of God, except by the miracle of conversion and “Christ in you.” This is why Jesus declared, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). And to the rich young man who asked, “What shall I do to be saved?” Jesus replied, “Keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
There is no contradiction in these two statements of the Master. None can be saved without experiencing the new birth, and none can be saved who walk in willful disobedience of the commandments. The two things operate as two parts of the same salvation experience.
The central truth in all these utterances is that none can obey who has not been converted, and none will deliberately refuse to obey who has been converted. Let no one persuade you that works are unimportant or unnecessary, or that keeping the commandments is legalism. But do examine your heart with great care to determine the hidden root of the fruit which adorns your Christian lifestyle. If conformity to God’s law is the spontaneous outflow of your joyous, continuous connection with Christ, then whoever would charge you as a legalist would be exposed as judgmental and self-condemned. On the other hand, your works of love would stand forth as the very antithesis of legalism, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Roh Orang Mati (Indonesian)
Contrafacerile uimitoare ale lui Satana (Romanian)
Abraham: Going by Faith
In the Lion's Den
Learning from the Eagles
Lessons from Elijah, Part 4: Riding the Fence
Liberty to Serve
Ten Times Wiser
Bible Answers Live 01-05-2014 - ENCORE
Bible Answers Live 01-13-2013 - ENCORE
Bible Answers Live 01-19-2014
Bible Answers Live 05-11-2014
Bible Answers Live 07-14-2013
Bible Answers Live 08-10-2014 - ENCORE
Bible Answers Live 11-09-2014
Satan's Confusing Counterfeits
The Final Verdict
Sign up for email specials »
About Pastor Doug
Our Other Websites
News and Features
From Pastor Doug
Bible Prophecy Seminars
Bible Study Guides
Free Online Book Library
AFCOE To Go
Sign up for Email Specials
Donate by Program
Donate by Project
Copyright 2012 by Amazing Facts Inc. |
Webmaster (with anti-spam)