09 December 2008

The soporific scourge of Nomicophobia

by Dan Phillips


In the NT, the term νομικός (nomikos) is commonly translated "lawyer." Actually in form it is an adjective meaning "law-related, legal." It is most commonly used as a noun in the Gospels to describe men who are expert in the Law of Moses (semantically overlaps grammateus. "scribe"). In forming the English word, I convert the kappa (κ) to "c," as is common in Greek-derived English words (logikos becomes "logical"; kritērion becomes "criterion," etc.).

Meaning: I plan to use this of people who have an irrational (or, at any rate, unbiblical) fear of any sort of external authority or law. We saw it some in the recent posts on God's command that we involve ourselves in local assembly, and the Biblical way a Christian sees his relationship to God.

The manifestation of nomicophobia goes something like this:
  1. Cite any part of Scripture a professed Christian doesn't want to hear.
  2. Tell him/her that you agree with God: Christians really should believingly obey God's Word.
  3. The nomicophobe calls you a legalist.
  4. That's meant to end the discussion.
It can be an effective argument, because of the elasticicity of the term "legalist."

(Some background understanding on what motivates my observation here might be found in items 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, and 14 of the 25 things I've learned.)

I'm often minded of an improbably good scene from an improbable source: the TV series MASH. Yes, I know, I know; and I agree.

But there was a sequence that stuck with me from decades ago. Hawkeye had been ordered by Col. Potter to help a rich-looking Korean woman. Resenting the order, Hawkeye mocked her and Potter and the whole situation — until he found that (IIRC) she ran an orphanage. This revelation changed everything for him.

Afterwards, Hawkeye asked Col. Potter why he hadn't told him more about the situation, so he could understand better.

"Son," Potter replied, "when they pinned these 'colonel' stripes on me, I lost that bone in my head that forces me to explain every order."

God, of course and by definition, has no such "bone," and never did. Read the many laws of Leviticus, and all the "explanation" you generally get (nearly fifty times) is "I am Yahweh."

The should-be backbone of evangelical Christianity is jellified by people who — unlike Christ and His apostles — imagine that every order requires hundreds of words of explanation, qualification, reorientation, and decaffeinization. God forbid we think orders (even divine ones) are meant to be obeyed.

By contrast, Christ clearly felt that His question "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things I say?" (Luke 6:46) was self-explanatory. Paul, apostle of grace, clearly had no hesitation about saying things like "Wives, subordinate yourselves to your husbands" (Colossians 3:18), and "Husbands, love your wives"" (v. 19), and "Flee immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18). Nor did Peter hesitate to say "Love one another strenuously from the heart" (1 Peter 1:22), nor the writer of Hebrews to say "Obey those who lead you, and yield to them" (Hebrews 13:17). Then there's James... well, James. The whole book. Period.

But so many who are so sound in so many ways cannot abide anyone simply agreeing with the apostles, simply affirming God's Word as binding on the conscience and will. Their theory of inspiration measures up the finest ever crafted. Yet their practice? Not so much.

So here's my test of apostolic soundness: if I can't preach and write what the apostles preached and wrote, I'm almost surely doing it wrong.

To be specific: if I can't simply assure someone, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31), I'm doing it wrong. If I can't affirm that salvation is all by grace through faith in Christ, alone/alone/alone (Romans 3-5; Ephesians 2:8-9), I'm doing it wrong. If I can't follow up by telling converts that they should "[perform] deeds in keeping with their repentance" (Acts 26:20), I'm doing it wrong. If I can't affirm that conformity to the word of God is a test of Christian reality (1 John 2:1-6; 3:4-10; 5:1-3), I'm doing it wrong.

In fact, if I can't equally affirm and echo apostolic and dominical commands, promises, assurances, and warnings, I'm doing it wrong.

So in sum and carefully-worded: is calling a Christian to obey God's commands to Christians "legalism"?

Only to nomicophobes.

Sum: the pathological need to explain, or demand explanations of, God's right to issue commands (and expect believing, grace-enabled obedience to them), is not a sign of good spiritual health on any level.

Dan Phillips's signature


Tom Chantry said...


Tom Chantry said...

In all seriousness, though, I have attempted in my own teaching to limit the "elasticity" of the term by expanding the consistent use of some other terms, thus limiting the term "legalist" in my own usage to one meaning. I realize this doesn't have the authority of the OED, or even of Webster's, but I find it helpful:

Legalist: one who takes it upon himself to multiply laws, laying burdens on his brothers beyond the commands of God.

Moralist: one who teaches that salvation is dependent on a sinner's obedience to commands, either those of God or those of his own invention.

Authoritarian: one whose emphasis on obedience is so great that, while he may believe that salvation is by grace alone, he consistently fails to counterbalance moral teaching with the gracious provision of Christ.

In reality, I realize that all of these are uses that others make of the word "legalist," and I can't say that they're wrong, but I find that sticking to these definitions helps me to avoid talking in such a way as to cloud the question and to imply that a biblical moral standard constitutes legalism.

Anonymous said...

"...that every order requires hundreds of words of explanation, qualification, reorientation, and decaffeinization."

Uh, no.

Or, as I tell my son, "Because I said so."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

One thumb WAY UP!!!

Recommended reading for all, but more so for LibProts and Emergers. This post cuts through their sophistry like a Jedi laser beam and dissolves their muddle-headed mush as if sulfuric acid was poured over it.

And Tom Chantry's comments were excellent too.

DJP said...

Tom — I'd be very happy if your definitions were standard. The first two in particular would be great, if universally accepted. I hesitate at the third.

NoLongerBlind said...

Great post!

Cuts right to the heart of the Kurios -- duoloi relationship that all true believers enter into, and EXULT in!

"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."

Tom Chantry said...

The third definition is certainly less related. I include it because I hear the term "legalist" applied so often to preachers who do not fit in either of the first two definitions, but with whom I find some fault, albeit of a lesser degree. The key to the definition is the word "consistently." I don't mean to say that every time we confront someone with sin we need to say instantly, "But of course Jesus died for sin and will forgive you!" we fall under the definition of authoritarian. However, if moral teaching, even that which is faithfully based on God's commands, is consistently presented without the counterbalance of grace - if there is never a sense of the hope offered to sinners, there is a problem. That is not all that authoritarianism is, but I believe it is a significant part of it.

Matt said...

DJP - Thanks for an excellent (as always) post. The title was also excellent, I might add!

Tom - I like your definitions, although I, like Dan, am not totally sure what to make of the last one. I find this interesting because we were just talking about legalism in my Sunday School class two weeks ago. May I put your definitions up on the chalk board next week?

DJP said...

Oh yes, Tom, let me clarify: I'm in no way disagreeing or hesitating about what you're faulting in your third definition. It's just that I think authoritarian already has a pretty well-established and useful association with a style of leadership that violates 1 Peter 5:2's warning against lording it over the flock. (As I'm sure you know, I'm aware of the abuse of that text, as well, to oppose any pastor who's actually leading rather than unconditionally and passively observing, rubber-stamping, and applauding.)

Tom Chantry said...

DJP - Agreed. I suppose I'm not trying for a definition of "authoritarianism" here so much as an identification of another mistake with regard to law, separate from legalism (strictly defined) or moralism (strictly defined), which is a common feature of the teaching of those who adopt the authoritarian leadership style. Perhaps I shouldn't list it as a definition at all, but merely say, "OK, now what do authoritarian leaders do with the law?"

Matt - You can use my definitions if they are helpful, but they have no authority. "Legalism" is properly used by many to speak of what I call "moralism." I define them this way because "moralism" is not, in my experience, used to speak of the multiplication of laws. The main point is this: the belief that God has commanded men to do certain things, and that these commands are to be obeyed, is not legalism.

greglong said...

Tom Chantry wrote:

Legalist: one who takes it upon himself to multiply laws, laying burdens on his brothers beyond the commands of God.

I think Jesus would support this definition:

Mark 7:1-13

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" 6 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

"'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

9 And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' 11 But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do." (ESV)

Tom Chantry said...

Someone commented on this in another post, but Pyromaniacs has the most entertaining word verification system I've ever seen. So far today I've been asked to type in "colors" and "deities." Now it's asking for "rearizer." So long as we're making up definitions...

...no, better not.

olan strickland said...

Nomicophobe - the Bible has a term for that - the rebellion of Korah.

Jerry said...

There you go, making up words when there is already a perfectly good English word:


Tom Chantry said...

I wasn't even going to comment, but when I clicked in to read the updated comments, I couldn't help but notice that the word verification was "warduck."

I'm going to spend the next thirty minutes laughing hysterically, the hour after that trying to get the image of a war duck out of my head, and the rest of the day trying very hard not to notice/comment on the absurd word verification requests on this site.


DJP said...

War duck.

Tom Chantry said...

Not helping me, Dan! Not helping!

Tom Chantry said...

And now look what you made me do!

Phil said...

Dan,I'll not get into this again too much,but I'll try and clarify what I generally meant concerning sanctification with an attempt at brevity. I agree that obedience is the fruit of faith,always. The Christian is being transformed from one level of glory to the next,always. This obedience looks like the fulfilling of the applicable commands,always. Yet,as Christians we can walk in the flesh or the Spirit. The root of the first is seeking God's favour or blessing for our performance of the commands as coming to the conscience as demand. The bible calls this an evil conscience. And we multiply our sin this way and produce a self-wrought,Pharisaical behaviour-modification in exactly the same fashion as any unbeliever is capable of. We quench the Spirit and can't bear his fruit because we are living as if under law. So we can't truly obey,any more than the Pharisees were truly obeying with their natural approval of the command and the demand. All unbeliever have that. But law is a principle that believers were freed from so that we could real bear fruit to God. Keeping in step with the Spirit,under the principle of grace for life,we find the power for genuine obedience. As new creations with new hearts in union with Christ who is our life. Life under grace for sanctification is the new covenant way to fruit-bearing/obedience that - in contrast with the way of service under the old written code - actually works. And this proceeds from a sense of unconditional 'no condemation',and a cleansed conscience - not one wracked with performance-demands. Galatians 3,4 contrasts the status of the Old Covenant believer under the strict pedagogue of the Law,with the New Covenant believer who has come into his inheritance as a son. It's a redemptive-historical argument. The two modes of service are contrasted-one under law as servants/slaves,the other under grace with the Spirit as sons with the privileges of sons who have 'come of age'. The son is a 'free slave',because it's under grace that Christ mediates his Lordship. As Joseph Prince has said with an illustration - law demands the bald man grow some hair. But he lives under frustration because he can't do it and the demand can't help him. (It never was intended to,but rather to show the need for righteousness for sanctification as well as justification in a new and living way.) But grace frees him from the demand, so that he is free to Christ who says 'freely receive the hair!' and grants him the same. What I was saying is that the dynamic of the Spirit belongs to grace,not law. We are free from the latter so that we are slaves to the former. We are not under law as a rule of life in our relationship to God,with the Spirit helping us to perform the demand. That's putting new wine in old wineskins,making grace no more grace. And cutting us off from the very life of Christ so that we can fulfil the righteousness described in the commands. We died in Christ to the principle of law and sin by the law. We were made alive in Christ under grace,raised with him,in the unilateral new Covenant which brings sanctification in that same character. That's why I was perhaps clumsily trying to say,all issues of life and godliness are gospel issues. Because the quality of the fruit depends on the root. (And if a church adamantly pushes a letter ministry that misunderstands the walk by faith, it can't bring life and righteousness but death and condemnation. So it should be avoided, as Paul says in Gal4,5.) Thus we keep his Commandments,and they are not burdensome. His yoke is easy and his burden light. At least,I believe this is what the Scriptures say.

DJP said...

Phil, I have asked you before (nicely) to wait until you are at a PC with a space bar and an Enter key. I understand you're using something that has neither.

Is it that you don't have a pc, or don't feel your comments can wait?

Chad V. said...


DJP said...

Phil, I must ask yet again, when you get to a pc: did you even read the post?

The post is about "the pathological need to explain, or demand explanations of, God's right to issue commands (and expect believing, grace-enabled obedience to them)."

You spurt out a nearly 700-word rambling, unresponsive response (to an under 800-word post).

You don't see the irony?

When you get to a pc, feel free to respond.

Tom Chantry said...

Phil - So, are we to do anything? Or is sanctification a matter of "let go, let God"?

I'm not so crazy about the bald man illustration. I prefer Ralph Erskine:

"A rigid master was the law,
Demanding bricks, denying straw,
But when with gospel-tongue it sings
It bids me fly - and gives me wings."

Sort of the same idea - only I am still bid to fly, and given the ability to do so.

DJP said...

Chantry: I'm trying to email you, and it's getting blocked. Email me, please:


Scott Bailey said...

A) Salvation is by grace alone

B) I think some of the problem comes from persons who can't recognize that sometimes in the NT when they see the word "Law" it means "Torah" and not "legalism." This marred thinking usually leads to a grace/legalism duality that cannot be sustained except by ignoring other passages of scripture.

C) Eph 2:10 "For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." The "good works" here is agathois ergois in the Greek, ergois is the plural of ergon the antinomians favorite scare word "work, deed, action." We were created in Christ Jesus for good works.

D) Sometimes it seems to me that for many the christian life is one of mere passivity. As long as I don't do a bunch of things then I'm a good Christian. So I don't smoke, don't chew, don't go with girls who do and I'm all set. But it seems to me that "do unto others," "Love one another," require not just the absence of bad action or legalism, but also the presence of good works.

E) Salvation is by grace alone

F) The ability to do good works is through living in the spirit and grace, it is the consequence of the indwelling of the new life and has nothing to do with legalism.

G) Back to work

DJP said...

Scott, I think it's manifestation of the baleful error of lifting out a single theme or metaphor, and using it to bludgeon all other Biblical data into senseless submission.

Scott Bailey said...

Yup, good point.

On an unrelated side point: you just don't see the word "baleful" very much these days... ;)

Chad V. said...

I had to look it up.

Tom Chantry said...

Baleful: n an agricultural amount
The cow ate a baleful of hay.

Stefan Ewing said...

There was a man who chafed at commands.
"By grace we have been saved; why so many demands?"
The Old Testamant is about bulls and rams;
The New Testament's about a nice little lamb.
The Old says you must walk in God's ways;
The New's all about forgiveness and grace."
He had so little regard for what God requires,
The he even expressed it in his choice of attire.
"Rules and commands—oh, what a mess!
Those legalists show up on Sunday in their fanciest dress,
Thinking that by it them will God bless!"
So desired he to provoke and to probe,
That one day the snarky nomicophobe
Even went to church in a ratty old bathrobe.
By grace we are saved, and not by works—it is true;
But let the Spirit work out obedience in you.

(It's the best I could do on short notice with a neologism.)

Terry Rayburn said...


So much of our proclamations are backlash driven.

Your comments are a backlash to a denial of the beauty and rightness of God's commands (I don't mean that as a criticism at all).

That denial, or seeming denial, of the beauty and rightness of God's commands is often a backlash to a law-oriented Christian life paradigm (largely a result of Covenant Theology which doesn't understand Hebrews 8, which details the obsolescence of the Old Covenant and the arrival of the New).

1. God's laws are right and beautiful. Paul couldn't be clearer than in Romans 7. Every believer should thirst to embrace them.

2. God's laws, however, are not the basis for our NOT being in bondage to sin, as believers.

Indeed, God's laws *show* or even *increase* one's bondage to sin.

3. The basis on which we are not in bondage to sin is NOT law, but grace.

Rom. 6:14, "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace."

What the heck does that have to do with it?

Simply that we *died* to the law, when we were crucified with Christ.

The law remains beautiful and right. As born-again believers, in our new nature (our very spirit) we treasure it, and value it as a revelation of the heart of our Savior and King.

But it no longer holds any condemnation for us.

When we walk by the Spirit - captital S - (and coincidentally by our own [new] spirit - small s), we naturally follow His law. Motivated by love, and even more important, by Life (as in Gal. 2:20).

On the other hand, when we walk by the flesh, we violate His law, even when we LOOK like we're following it! Yet it still holds no condemnation for us, as believers!

4. Our *primary* goal in this dynamic: to walk by His Spirit.

Our *secondary* goal in this dynamic: to obey Him.

This as a result of walking by His Spirit.

If we *reverse* the primary and secondary goals, we will be stuff-shirt law-based fleshly folks, who may look good and smell good from a short distance, but...won't have much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We will either be full of pride because we think we're doing pretty well today (at least as compared to THAT guy), or we will despair, because we think we are doing so miserably today, and that God is angry at us, and we turn our face from Him (thereby compounding the syndrome).

5. Full disclosure: This comment is a backlash both to those who minimize or denigrate the beautiful law of God, and to those who think that the law is to be our "rule of life", when actually Life(!) is to be our "rule of life".

DJP said...

Scott...you just don't see the word "baleful" very much these days

A lacunum that I, for one, mean to remedy,

Tom Chantry said...

Terry - Dan's question was: "Is calling a Christian to obey God's commands to Christians "legalism"?"

You said that our goal (secondary - and I believe we all agree) is to "obey him."

May I ask, obey what? Does that obedience relate to commands? Or if we say that Spirit-driven obedience requires close attention to the commands given to Christians, does that sink us into stuff-shirt, law-based fleshlyism?

Phil said...

Dan,sorry. I tried to put in paragraphs but evidently failed. I don't have internet access for my laptop,just for my phone when I pay...Terry perhaps puts it better than I can. I think we need to be free from demand to fulfil the command. Then,we love the righteousness itself and not just approve of the command and love our attempts to establish our own righteousness. The difference is between letter and Spirit as per 2Cor3,Old Covenant and New...law of sin and death, law of the Spirit of life in Christ.

DJP said...

So, God gives a Christian an order.

Is he obliged to obey?

Phil said...

We have an obligation,but its not to law,but to grace. Thereby we fulfil the righteousness in the command,and there only...God gives his us his life in Christ,and our life is hid in him...thereby we obey...in the new and living way of grace,in union with Christ...have a look Joseph Prince's video 'supernatural transformation and holiness'on You-Tube...what I'm saying is its utterly impossible to perform the righteousness of the command when you relate to it as favour-seeking demand...so I would turn the question around and pose it to you. If I'm correct that the fruit of the Spirit comes only as we appropriate grace,then if we don't do that,we don't obey the gospel and can't produce the fruit...so our 'obedience'is not what it's cracked up to be in God's eyes.

DJP said...

Let's try again:

So, God gives a Christian an order.

Is he obliged to obey?

Yes? Or no?

Terry Rayburn said...


1. Re the question "Is calling a Christian to obey God's commands to Christians 'legalism'?"...

I answered it "no" indirectly (by pointing out the beauty and rightness of God's law)...

...as you answered it "no" indirectly (by giving your own definition of legalism).

2. Of course obedience is to be obedience to commands, but...

a. *spiritual* obedience (that is, obedience motivated by our new spirit which is "one spirit" with the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 6:17) goes beyond or higher than the commands themselves to a common (koine, as in "fellowship") goal with the Lord Himself, and

b. we should continually exercise good interpretation to derive not only which commands to obey, but how to obey them.

3. Much as I love and appreciate expository preaching, it has at least one defect as it's usually practiced: it often lends itself to excessive emphasis on commands and other "application" principles, and often neglects the foundational "Topical Truths" which are often *assumed* by the NT writers.

For example, the simple truths of our identity in Christ (we have died to sin; have died to the law; are dead to sin and alive to God; have been made a new creation; are made perfect in our new nature; are righteous; are saints, not sinners; etc.) are not repeated over and over, but assumed by Paul in various writings.

Likewise, the radical nature of Grace in the New Covenant, not just for initial salvation, but for Christian living, is a Twin Pillar to our new identity in Christ, but is so little understood by the average Bible teacher that they can't even exegete Rom. 6:14 (not under law, but under grace). So they drone on with biblical command after biblical command, teaching their sheep to think a good sermon is one which "convicts" them.

"Wow, that was a good sermon! I was so convicted!"

Gag me with a spoon. That poor sheep will be just as "convicted" next time he hears the same sermon, because he hasn't been taught how to walk in radical Grace, how to commune with Christ (his Friend!), how to walk by the Spirit, how to be filled with the Spirit.

Because in most cases, his teacher doesn't get it either, because he was schooled in the school of thought that a good sermon is one that "convicts" him, too. Instead of being taught how to fellowship intimitely with Jesus.

Feed the sheep the Shepherd, fill them with Him, and they will follow Him (and by default, His commands).

They will gladly bear His yoke, which won't be burdensome, but easy. It won't even "convict" them. But they will obey like never before.

abbabbabbabab said...

I appreciate your take on legalism. It would be great to read an explanation of how a Christian is to know which commands of the OT are to be followed today that doesn't appeal to the Westminster Catechism. I've got some friends, that call themselves Messianic Christians, that claim that just as we're not supposed to commit murder we're not supposed to eat pork and ought to be celebrating the biblical feasts, etc.

These friends claim that since the Torah was God's perfect will for people that now as believers, saved by grace, we ought to uphold it all as good and applicable, with the exception of the sacrifices. I recognize that some of the laws are not for believers today and can argue this competently from the NT. I'm simply not terribly sure how to pull apart the law and categorize things into the categories of required today versus expired with the death of Christ.

Maybe I can inspire a post from you. I'm sure you can find some good pig pictures. :)

Terry Rayburn said...


"So, God gives a Christian an order.
Is he obliged to obey?
Yes? Or no?"

"Obliged" is subject to Clintonization (as in, "depends on what the meaning of 'obliged' is).

More to the point,

Q. MUST he obey?
A. Of course not.

Q. SHOULD he obey?
A. Of course.

Q. What if he DOESN'T obey?
A. He will, of course, to an extent -- this is the sign of a true believer.

Q. But what if he DOESN'T obey in a specific case, as a true believer?
A. If one is law-oriented or legalistic, you won't like this answer...Under the New Covenant, he is already forgiven, cleansed, headed for heaven, and a rightful owner of Romans 8:28. That is biblical [radical] grace.

Q. Even if he _________ (fill in your most heinous sin)?
A. Yes.

Now what?

Q. How should we then live?
A. Filled with the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, communing intimately with Christ. Result: obedience.

DJP said...

Rose — excellent question, very funny, paratopical (i.e. not right on-topic, but just next to it).

And there are some great pig graphics.

But I don't know if we're concensual enough on how to approach that here. I might just over at my place. It's a good question.

And some "Messianics"... oy! More "me-anic" than anything else. Or just messy.

Phil said...

Dan,I defer. Your question needs to take into account the paradigm of the new covenant,as Terry describes it,so that it's asked and answered from the right starting point...that of 'Christ in you,the hope of glory',rather than 'God above,we below,and law in between'...that ministry of condemnation had some glory,but by reason of the ministry that actually brings the life and righteousness, pales in comparison.

DJP said...

That you can't simply answer the question is alarming, Phil. You should be alarmed. You are not in line with apostolic teaching.

You have spewed hundreds and hundreds of words on a series of posts that I still think you haven't even read, much less thought about.

So, let me be pointed.

From what you show me, this post is about you. It wasn't written about you, but you have volunteered yourself as a prime example.

I will pray that you read it sometime, and the previous posts, and that the Lord will stoop to use it for your good. I will also pray you don't swerve others away from God's sharp, clear word to gauzy, paralyzing, gelatinous concepts.

Phil said...

I've already told you I've read it. I agree with what Terry says in his most recent to you. Does that answer?Perhaps you will answer that...We cannot have our feet on Sinai and Zion,Dan...incidentally,Rose raised a subject which illuminates this. To God,Law is law. It cannot be divided. You're either under it or not. Either without Christ's life or with it. And if we have it,were either walking by the flesh as if we don't,or walking by the Spirit as we do.

Phil said...

Of course,some commands still apply,others not. But their character shifts in Christ from condemning letter to descriptors of life and righteousness ours in Christ which we love. As per Terry's 1.57 post...quit defending your island,Dan,and viewing things through your lens of 'it's only obedience if it feels like the demand I think it ought to be', and think about the possibility that you don't do justice to 2Cor3,Hebrews,Galatians,and Rom6-8,particularly 6v14,7v1-6. And by all means pray for me.

DJP said...

Phil — I believe Terry would take no offense in my saying that I don't care what he says about this. Or what any of your video heroes say about this.

I've brought you up face to face with simple Scripture, and you spin off into inanity. I am telling you, that is unhealthy. You fail the test: you cannot simply affirm what the apostles teach and say.

That in itself condemns your dense, dismal doctrinal detour as unsound doctrine.

Chad V. said...


So what your saying is that grace abounds by our continuing in sin? You better go back and re-read Romans. What you are asserting is exactly what Paul was refuting in Rom 6.

Chad V. said...


Is disobedience to God's law sin? If so must Christians be careful to avoid sin?

NoLongerBlind said...

Maybe I'm missing something here, Phil.

Dan's question seems straightforward enough.

Scripture certainly speaks quite clearly about the need for, and importance of, obedience:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." John 15:10

"And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected."
1 John 2:3-5(a)

Then of course, there's this commission, given at His Ascension, and, as I understand it, we are to continue obeying until Christ's return:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."
Matthew 28:19-20(a)

Of course, there's the awesome entirety of Psalm 119.

What's so difficult to understand?

Stefan Ewing said...

No one here would maintain that we are saved—or even persevere in our faith—by our works.

But the works are the fruit of our rebirth in Christ.

Do we still stumble? Yes. (And I more than most!) On the other hand, can we miss the point and succumb to works righteousness? Yes.

The solution in both cases is to repent, return to the Cross, and continue onwards.

DJP said...

Chad, NLB — Phil won't give a straightforward answer to my simple question "God gives a Christian an order. Is he obliged to obey?"

Your questions will get hundreds of words going 'round and 'round and 'round....

Each of these posts, Phil has ignored the post and turned on the fog-machine. Folks have tried to help him, only to be buried under more.

He's got a problem with the straightforward teaching of Christ and the apostles: slaves who are sons honor their Father by the obedience of faith.

Tom said...

Would you draw a parallel between the modern use of the term legalist and the modern use of the term pharisee?

Chad V. said...


sigh, you're right....

Andy said...

Seems like we've covered most of the bases, but just for kicks...

"Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Let's go saints. Obey that one. Hmmm...

Seems like it may be worthwhile to at least keep in mind how Christian obedience is different than when a legalist attempts to acknowledge the authority of God.

Of course God should be obeyed. He's God. He's the Lord. His commands are good and not burdensome.

But we obey by faith, like Peter obeying Christ's command to walk on water. The authority of God's word supplies the believer the grace to obey through the empowering grace of our Lord. Apart from Christ, though I would try with all my might, I would fail. To leave that message out is not Apostilic obedience.

CR said...

These people that misapply "legalism" fail to understand that the character of God's law has never changed.

Under legalism, acts of good works is done with a view to gain God's favor or merit or avoid his displeasure, whereas under grace obedience (yes, there is still obedience in under grace) is done as a loving and thankful response to what Christ has already done for us.

Phil said...

Dan,as Terry implied,the answer to your question is an indirect yes,assuming one has the gospel right. Grace for life. That conditions the obligation with an 'I will write my laws on your hearts...' which contrasts with 'I will demand of you what is right but what you cannot self-produce and what I won't help you self-produce.'We have an obligation,but it is not after the flesh by self-effort...Chad, come on, Sherlock. How many times have I said that grace is the strength of holiness? License, No. Empowerment while in freedom?Yes. See to me,that kind of response that thinks one means license reveals two things. One,the person thinks law is the strength of holiness,not sin. Or if it once was the strength of sin,because we're believers it isn't anymore.(I defer to Lloyd-Jones in the hopes that you'll be less inclined to turn him into a 'whipping-boy'and might just interact with what he says on Rom6-8 thoughtfully). Two, we don't know that deliverance from the law is the deliverance to the dynamic of the Spirit that only operates apart from law...so how can we bear the fruit of the Spirit?We can't. And if we can't, are we obeying? No. Which is what we need to understand to answer Dan's question more carefully than any number of unbelievers would with a simple 'yes'. Anytime we talk fruit,we must be right about the root. You can't gather figs from thistles...and the life for living is in the vine...the branch does not accord with the vine by attempting to produce its own fruit in thankfulness for having been grafted on. Anymore than when the bank writes to say your mortgage has been abundantly paid off by another,you keep sending in payments as a thank you. No,you live out of that abundance in the present...as new creations with the resurrected Christ as life...That's gracious, thankful living...Dan,you've brought me 'face to face' with scriptures which mean what they say,but can't be understood right until we understand more of God's provision in the new covenant that is 'not like' the old. That's what I was discussing and which you evidently 'feel' is superfluous and 'fog' which veils the truth!!!

DJP said...

And yet, once again, every time you have to waltz 'round and 'round, with irrelevant qualifications and distractions, you damn your position as anti-apostolic.

Had you read the post - which I still have better and better reason to doubt - you'd have seen that I spoke carefully and plainly, as I have always sought to speak carefully and plainly. Apostolic words, dominical commands, addressed to Christians under the New Covenant.

Thank God for the simple, forthright clarity of Scripture, over against the wearisome and labyrinthine bypaths of man.

Chad V. said...


I really don't think you have any idea what Lloyd-Jones was saying at all. BTW, As much as I love to read Lloyd-Jones, Llyod-Jones isn't my authority for faith and practice.

No one here has ever argued that obedience to the law is a means of strength to holiness. I have never asserted that. Dan has never asserted that. You on the other hand seem to have an irrational aversion to recognizing that the law is still the law. It still applies to Christians. If God commands he must be obeyed, whether you're a born again believer or not, whether you have the Spirit empowering you to holiness or not.

I know I'm a glutton for punishment because I'm going to try just one more time to ask you a very simple question. It will require a simple one word answer. Just say yes or no.

When a Christian disobeys God's law has he sinned?

Yes or no.

DJP said...

< chuckles, tips hat >

Good luck with that!

Phil said...

Come on, Scripture is largely pepsicuous but not received by the natural man, but he who is spiritual...what's simpler than 'sin shall not have dominion over you,because you are not under law but under grace'? People discuss 'is that just the condemation of the law, or a rule of demand, too? Is it just the Mosaic code, or the whole principle of law? If the latter, then where's the dynamic for righteousness? What's Paul mean? He assumes this is grasped first,and this is where disagreement evidently is.

DJP said...

Again, miles and miles away from the simple, Biblical message of the post.

Phil said...

Yes, Chad. When he trangresses the righteousness of God,he has sinned...and the root of doing so is living under law as to relationship.

Chad V. said...

Oh my.......

DJP said...

There y'go, Chad. Just like the apostle John... well... never would have said (1 John 3:4).

Tom Chantry said...

Well, at least now we know what the pepsicuity of Scripture looks like. If you want to see perspicuity, see the original post.

Phil said...

The problem is that you see that law and grace can't be married for justification - you'd denounce that as Semi-Pelagianism - but then you marry the two in Semi-Pelagian fashion for sanctification, not knowing the believer's identity in Christ...1Jn3v4 denounces lawlessness stemming from a lawless heart,in contrast to righteousness stemming from a heart made righteous in Christ. 'Nomos' vs 'Entole'. Letter, Spirit. Demand. Living Righteousness. CT's merit theology vs non-merit. Anyway,I'm done.

DJP said...

All, yet again, far afield from the simple, Biblical message of the post, and (infinitely more significantly) from simple, straightforward apostolic teaching.

Phil said...

By 'lawless heart' I obviously didn't mean a heart not bent on law-relating to God. That's the evil conscience all are heirs to in Adam. I meant that at the same time as that being true as to the person's identity and nature, they hate the righteousness described in the law, though they approve and love to be doing and seen to be doing. That's lawlessness.

Tom Chantry said...

a. *spiritual* obedience (that is, obedience motivated by our new spirit which is "one spirit" with the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 6:17) goes beyond or higher than the commands themselves to a common (koine, as in "fellowship") goal with the Lord Himself, and

b. we should continually exercise good interpretation to derive not only which commands to obey, but how to obey them.

Of course, Covenant Theology denies neither of these essential biblical truths. I’m glad we’re in agreement on these matters. “Covenant Theology” may disagree with “New Covenant Theology” as to which commands are to be obeyed, but both agree that there are commands which are obsolete and others which are to be obeyed.

Much as I love and appreciate expository preaching, it has at least one defect as it's usually practiced…

Yeah, I’ve heard some pretty bad expository preaching, too. I’m glad we are also in agreement on the expositor method.

For example, the simple truths of our identity in Christ (we have died to sin; have died to the law; are dead to sin and alive to God; have been made a new creation; are made perfect in our new nature; are righteous; are saints, not sinners; etc.) are not repeated over and over, but assumed by Paul in various writings.

Likewise, the radical nature of Grace in the New Covenant, not just for initial salvation, but for Christian living, is a Twin Pillar to our new identity in Christ, but is so little understood by the average Bible teacher that they can't even exegete Rom. 6:14 (not under law, but under grace). So they drone on with biblical command after biblical command, teaching their sheep to think a good sermon is one which "convicts" them.

"Wow, that was a good sermon! I was so convicted!"

I imagine that you and I don’t agree on everything that is implied by those truths, in which we essentially agree. I’ll speak to conviction in a moment, but I will say this: conviction alone should never be the mark of effective preaching. I’ve seen those churches too, and I’m sickened by them. It is that that I was driving at earlier in the thread with my comments about authoritarianism involving so great a love of legal application that it is unduly elevated at the expense of the proclamation of grace.

Gag me with a spoon.

Whoa! You’re a Valley Girl? Grody to the Max!

Feed the sheep the Shepherd, fill them with Him, and they will follow Him (and by default, His commands).

Feed the sheep with the Shepherd - absolutely. A steady diet of gospel is essential to the flock. However, and this brings us back to the point which Dan was making in the OP - the flock must also hear the commands of Christ. I would not say that they will follow those commands “by default” or automatically. They need to know them. There is, as you acknowledged above, some complexity in the application of Christ’s commands. (What are they; how are they to be followed.) So the preacher who lays those commands before his people in a context of the gospel of grace - who would say, “Christ would have us do these things; if we love Him, we must do them.” - is such man a legalist? I say no. There is a place for moral teaching even in gospel preaching, and Dan was, I believe, writing against those who would deny that fact.

They will gladly bear His yoke, which won't be burdensome, but easy. It won't even "convict" them. But they will obey like never before.

I agree with every word here except “it won’t even convict them.” Where is it said that under gospel preaching the Christian will not be convicted? I would argue instead that the gospel can be far more convicting than the law. To recognize what the demands of Christ are on my life, knowing as I do that He gave His life for me, and to see how far I have fallen short of His demands - that is very convicting, not because I do not understand the gospel, but precisely because I do! It is not a conviction which plunges me into despair, but one which nevertheless is a real motivating factor in the Christian walk.

Phil said...

If your post isn't related to the gospel, then what's the point of posting as if it is? Terry,if not I, has showed you that its fundamentally related. It's of the entire essence.

Terry Rayburn said...


Just a loving suggestion, brother...

Better not to use my name, or Lloyd-Jones', or any other fallible folks to support your arguments.

Argue from Scripture alone, or let it go.

And like my dear departed mom always said, talk nice -- speaking to myself, too, of course.


Phil said...

Point taken. But I was rather trying to use a name for the sake of its association with a particular exposition. You said it well. Lloyd-Jones is lauded by many as an able expositor,but I'm not. I find if you make a similar argument the response can be altogether different, when you're a 'nobody'! I thought I'd attempt to get people thinking with someone they're more comfortable listening to, if I'm a stumbling block...not because one man knows everything he should :) I've found myself unkindly rubbished.

Phil said...

But I'm sorry,Dan,Chad,where I've been brusque etc out of my immaturity.

DJP said...

I appreciate that as meant graciously, but brusqueness is no part of my complaint.

Terry Rayburn said...


I appreciate your gracious comments, and your Valspeak is, like, awesome! In Milwaukee!

Anyway, most New Covenant Theology guys have merely replaced the commands of Jesus for the commands of Moses, but still haven't grappled with Rom. 6:14.

They often bend over backwards to say something like, "Hey, we're just as much UNDER LAW as you guys! It's just that OUR laws come from Jesus!" This lest they be seen as [the dreaded] "Antinomian".

Read or listen to most expository series on Romans, and watch how Romans 6:14 (or even 6:6 and 6:11) are quickly glossed over, because the meaning is lost, even though *foundational* to the New Covenant.

"the flock must also hear the commands of Christ."

Absolutely. That is the beauty of expository preaching, as opposed to its potential problems.

On that subject, I believe that MOSTLY Expository Preaching, with OCCASIONAL Topical Preaching is the best and most biblical mix (with the Topics addressing *foundations* of the New Covenant which one might otherwise have to wait months or years for).

Maybe we understand "conviction" a little differently. I agree there should be awareness and repentance upon hearing commands that one is not following.

But I speak of that "feeling" which comes over Christians when they hear "convicting" preaching -- a feeling expressed within as,

"Oh, yes, what a low-down scummy worm I am! Every command Pastor preaches just proves it. I GOTTA pull up my bootstraps and perform better! Surely God must be angry at me. I've confessed that sin a thousand times! I know...I'll try HARDER! Go ahead, Pastor, whip me, beat me. Oh how I deserve it. But I'll do better...['No you won't', the enemy interjects, 'you know better than that']...yes I WILL! Blah, blah, blah."

And so the "convicted" one puts himself on the ground of Law, instead of grace, which Law is the very *strength* of sin (1 Cor. 15:56). He thereby quenches the Holy Spirit and compounds his problem.

The preacher of grace should constantly short-circuit that destructive thinking with the twin pillars of the Radical Grace and the New Creation Identity of the New Covenant.

So that the sheep realize that although they once were "Sinners in the hands of an angry God", they are no longer. Now they are Saints in the hands of a loving Friend.

A Friend Who is transcendent, yet indwelling us;
awesomely holy, yet satisfied through Christ;
having a zeal for His Law, yet seeing it fulfilled in the Son;
angry with the wicked, yet fully accepting His children in the Beloved;
expressing His righteous heart in commandments, yet having unilaterally forgiven the breaking of them through the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, so that there is NO condemnation to him who is in Christ Jesus.

They will follow a Friend like that.

Phil said...

Well,maybe I should just say 'amen' to the wiser and more godly Terry in the hope that it may redeem the subject of my words somewhat in your eyes, Dan, sir. I'm still trying to come to terms with this myself, and it's born out of hunger...'where is the joy and peace at first I knew'as a 21yo several years ago, who was given an intuitive sense of what it means to be not under law,but under grace,as to the very principle...and knew that it was the root of God's love shed abroad in the heart in power.

Chad V. said...


I echo, Dan, brusqueness is not my complaint.

BTW, Lloyd-Jones held to Covenant Theology, think about that for a while and then go back and try to get a real and meaningful understanding of what CT teaches before you go about caricaturing it the way that you do.

Phil said...

Hey,I know that about Lloyd-Jones. He had some good things to say,though,as you might expect from one with the Spirit...I also know about CT's presuppositions. I'd rather see chaps sticking with exegesis and dealing with biblical covenants so that they more readily get the newness of the new. Anyway, that's enough from me.

Mike Riccardi said...

Amidst all Phil has said and not said, I thought one thing he did say was insightful. I hope it's OK to re-post it and follow with a question.

The branch does not accord with the vine by attempting to produce its own fruit in thankfulness for having been grafted on. Anymore than when the bank writes to say your mortgage has been abundantly paid off by another, you keep sending in payments as a thank you.

I realize that might be too far afield from what you were trying to get him to address, Dan. I also realize that it seems like a dodge to other straightforward questions (Tom, Chad, etc.).

But I'm wondering if you men agree or disagree with that.

This conversation is frustrating to read because I feel that there's very little disagreement going on, but people are talking about different things. I can wholeheartedly affirm that Christians should obey Christ. "Do what Christ tells you." Amen.

I just think that guys like Phil are reading that, and are thinking, "Sure, but is that how God presents Himself to us as reconciled friends?" There's an underlying, implicit reality in that's bound up in the word "Christ" in "Do what Christ tells you." It assumes that there is a relationship there... that you know your God, that He has given His grace to you to be able to taste His sweetness. And it's out of that grace that we delight in obeying Him.

Does that need to be said every single time we call someone to obedience? Not if we can affirm that the prinicple exists by implication. But if you tell someone who has no category for grace -- for God-honoring, restful, delightful obedience -- that they just need to obey, they're going to try, fail, and say, "God, how am I to do this?" They've got to be introduced to the resources, or the root (i.e., the face of Christ, 2Cor 3), before they can be expected to bear any fruit.

Throughout this discussion I'm reminded of 1 Timothy 1...

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

My point was simply this, and Dan I'm sorry, I know I'm a little off topic here, Lloyd-Jones teaching in this regard is what Covenant Theology teaches. That's the point. You have mis-understood Lloyd Jones, and Covenant Theology and you've essentially labeled CT as teaching that a Christian's acceptance before God is based on his obedience to the law. That's not what it teaches. Not at all.

Now, I'll talk no more about that.

Mike Riccardi

Phil's comment about the branch attempting to produce it's own fruit is misapplied because none of us here have ever asserted that this is not the case. For him to accuse us of doing so is really distressing.

Of course we agree that the branch only produces fruit because it's been grafted into the vine and that on it's own no branch can produce fruit. Our fruit bearing is the result of our justification. Here's the thing, Phil said this earlier, he says that sanctification is monergistic and our error is that we think it's synergistic. Phil's position really is, whether he realizes it or not, "let go and let God".
Ours is not. He also seems to think that we are asserting that the law is an empowerment to sanctification. None of us have ever said that either. So we aren't talking past each other. He's saying something totally different.

Mike Riccardi said...


Thanks for the gracious response, brother. Much appreciated.

Phil's comment about the branch attempting to produce it's own fruit is misapplied because none of us here have ever asserted that this is not the case. For him to accuse us of doing so is really distressing.

I'm not sure he actually did. I didn't think you guys had taken that as your position. But to be honest with you, I wasn't sure if you fellas would have agreed or disagreed with it. I imagine -- and could be totally wrong -- that Phil was wondering the same thing, or at the very least thought the logical conclusion of something that was presented could have been that point.

Here's the thing, Phil said this earlier, he says that sanctification is monergistic and our error is that we think it's synergistic.

I guess that raises another question from me, simply because of my failure to pinpoint where everyone's coming from. (Sorry about that, btw.) But do you think that sanctification is monergistic? Or is it synergistic?

Phil's position really is, whether he realizes it or not, "let go and let God".

I'm not really sure what you mean by this. Is it a kind of fatalism that says, "I just need to sit here and wait for God to sanctify me"? "I'm going to do nothing to endeavor to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ"?

Follow-up question: Given your understanding of "let go and let God," could that ever be used to accurately describe God's sovereignty and man's position in justification?

Thanks for permitting these questions. I really appreciate everyone's input, even if I'm having a hard time digesting it all.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

Mike Riccardi

I'm reposting because I felt my initial response was too elaborate and may have actually served to confuse you.

First I'll say this;

Essentially, Phil seems to be saying that for a Christian to try to obey the law of God is for him to put himself under the law again. Such an assertion is just false. We are only under law if we use it as a means to try to be justified. We must always obey the law, even after we're saved. The law shows us not only our sinfulness but how we must do in order to obey God.

Your understanding regarding let go and let God is correct.

Sanctification is co-operative. Having been born again and raised in newness of life and being indwelled and and empowered by the Holy Spirit the Christian fights against sin, strives to obey his Lord and cooperates in his growth in sanctification. He puts off the old man with the deeds of his flesh, he wrestles against his flesh etc. He by the empowering of the Holy Spirit strives to obey God more and more, repenting of sins and continuing to grow in holiness. No one can grow in sanctification who is not first justified. The law is not the power to be sanctified, the law shows us what obedience to God is. To the Christian it is good and glorious. The Holy Spirit and the fact that the Christian is a new creature in Christ is the power of sanctification.

Let go and let God as applied to justification is a confusing question for me to answer so I'll say this. It can only be rightly applied to justification only in so far as the person is resting entirely on the finished work of Christ alone. If that phrase causes a person to abandon is efforts to be justified by his own works then that's fine but I think it's a poor choice of words because it carries with it the connotation that a person should just sit on his rear end wait for God to save him out of the blue.

It is a perversion to tell people to just sit around and wait for God to save them. Men must be commanded to repent and believe the gospel. People troubled about the state of their soul must be exhorted to close with Christ and believe the gospel promises and rest in the finished work of Christ.

Hope that helps you.

DJP said...

I'll jab in that the fact of some of these questions being asked is really frustrating to me. It makes me think, "Perhaps I should write a couple of thousand words pointing out that the NT is chock-full of commands addressed, not to the Holy Spirit, but to grace-saved, blood-bought, born-again Christians."

And then I think, "Oh, wait - I just did!"

Mike Riccardi said...


I agree with every word you said, except one or two sentences early on that I'm still thinking about. So just know that. I'm agreeing with you.

And now I have another question, because I really wanna pin down what's being said here. You said:

[Let go and let God] can only be rightly applied to justification only in so far as the person is resting entirely on the finished work of Christ alone.

Now, maybe you answered this already by saying that sanctification is co-operative. Forgive me if that's so, but it'd be easier for me to understand in these terms. So: can what you said above rightly be applied to sanctification as well? That is, "Let go and let God can only be rightly applied to sanctification only in so far as the person is resting entirely on the finished work of Christ alone."

This would be keeping in mind that a person should not "just sit on his rear end wait for God to sanctify him out of the blue."

Dan, I'm sorry if these questions are frustrating. I assure you that I've read all the posts on the subject, and through all the threads. What's confusing to me is that I agree with your premise: that no man has any right to use the grace of God as license. We may not neglect any command of Scripture just because we are under grace. Go to church. Be in a church. If you're not, you're sinning.

But when you've defended the position -- I'm speaking exclusively of in the metas -- some of the things you said in going about doing so have made me scratch my head. So I'm trying to understand what you are and are not saying, as well as the implications of those things, and if those implications are intended.

I don't believe anyone's ever disputed that the NT commands believers -- not the Holy Spirit -- to do things. I don't personally believe that any believer has any right not to do any of those things. But nevertheless the questions are here and the discussion is alive. The focal point is once we have agreed that these things are so, how are we to go about doing those things. The reality is that we are all commanded to do those things by the Holy Spirit.

Now of course you agree. I'm not trying to suggest you don't. But at some parts of the discussion, it seems like your response has been, "Ya just do it!" But I don't think that's how those commands are presented to us. Now, of course, as you've said, we don't 500 words explaining every command every time one shows up. But we do get thousands of words explaining who God is, our union with Christ, our identity as those reconciled to Him by His blood, beholding Him with unveiled face, and so on. And I believe the writers of Scripture expect us to have all of that stuff in mind as we read what they wrote.

I probably have more to say, but I guess I'll leave it there now. I'm really sorry if I've frustrated you or have been off-topic at all with what I'm saying.

Chad V. said...

Mike Riccardi

Here's the thing. The best thing do do first is to drop the phrase "let go and let God". It's a bad and confusing phrase. In fact I should have addressed your initial question to me by dropping the phrase all together. You really must try to learn to understand this with out that phrase. That term only can really accurately describe the false notion that we've been refuting with Phil. The phrase itself comes out of a false premise.

My advice is to learn about justification and sanctification with good and responsible terminology. Avoid catch phrases at all costs. It will be a lot easier to understand.

This may take you some time to get a good grip on. Let me refer to A Puritan's Mind. Search the website for articles on these subjects and you'll get much better explanations than I could give in a brief blog post.

Mike Riccardi said...

Thanks, Chad, for the link.

Let me assure you that I have no affinity whatsoever to the phrase, and have only used it because it came up in previous conversation on this thread and I wondered what folks really meant by it. I'm happy to drop it, as I too think it's a bit too overly rhetorical.

Thanks again for the continued gracious responses.

Phil said...

Chad, you've been 'refuting' a straw-man by parroting your epistemology (that I've held,too). There is solid ground between the bogs of 'let go and let God'on the left,and synergism on the right. As Calvin said, the character of faith is logically first passive then active. That goes right through. But as Calvin didn't say, (I believe) the biblical human anthropology is such that we are expressers of the spiritual presence of Christ in us,who is our life(Gal2v20)as new creations who walk by faith,and not...

Tom Chantry said...

Thanks for the picture, Chad. Now War Duck can really clean house in this thread. Watch out, Antinomians!

Phil said...

...the works of the law we've been delivered from...good thoughts,Mike.Keep thinking. Have a look at Terry's audio at 'graceforlife.com'. Best wishes. I think 2Cor3,Rom6-8,Gal,Eph2v15,Col2v14,Heb4v10,7v12,18,Heb8 etc are fundamental to discerning the nature of the command. If we're not right there, with a gospel that's for the saint as well as the sinner, the cart's gonna be before the horse and it won't budge.

Phil said...

Chad, I know CT doesn't hold to justification by works. By 'merit theology',I was referring to its pre-supposition that the correct Creator-creature relationship subsists on demand,as set forth by the eisegetical 'covenant of works',which then colours everything that follows, including its sanctification, flattening out all of redemptive history, and losing the newness of the new...Anyways,enough... Apologies for any discourtesy concerning commenting here out of fashion. Wasn't intended, Dan.

James Scott Bell said...

Dan, though you might like this quote from Tertullian's "On Repentance":

"To reckon up the good, of repentance, the subject-matter is copious, and therefore should be committed to great eloquence. Let us, however, in proportion to our narrow abilities, inculcate one point,-that what God enjoins is good and best. I hold it audacity to dispute about the "good" of a divine precept; for, indeed, it is not the fact that it is good which binds us to obey, but the fact that God has enjoined it."

DJP said...

And there's Phil yet again, as if not one word of these posts had ever been written (much less read nor thought about), as if not one of the people who have patiently given up portions of their lives to help you understand had put together two words, two sentences, two paragraphs. Another response that is irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant.

Those silly, dim-witted apostles. Actually imagining that they could simply say things like "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," or "Love your wives," or "Obey those who lead you," or "Flee immorality," or anything else they wrote, stupidly failing to understand that what they were writing was really wrong and horribly, hopelessly complicated, and needing to be explained and apologized for and qualified with a thousands words every single time they employ the imperative mood. Foolish, deluded apostles, thinking any aspect of relating to God as a slave/son to his Lord/Father could possibly be simple and straightforward. Silly, silly apostles.

That, or....

Silly, foolish, deluded, dim-witted modern Rube Goldberg reconstructors.

Phil said...

Hmm. Catch the nature and significance of that first command you just quoted,and the rest follow in their place. Simple as the the simplicity we have in Christ. First love and the fruits thereof. :)

Tom Chantry said...

Phil - There is much you have to say about Covenant Theology. Now you are talking about the Covenant of Works. Let me pose a question to you. According to Covenant Theology when was the Covenant of Works instituted, and when did it cease to be effective to salvation?

Chad V. said...

Tom Chantry
Your welcome. War Duck is a formidable warrior!



Chad V. said...


I have an idea, maybe you could do a post exegeting Rom 3:31.

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Phil said...

Tom,my point is that if CT has the Second Adam fulfilling the foundational, but broken (and mythological)'covenant of works' in our place,then our sanctification always will tend to the character of performance religion. The problem is spiritual,though,and is as Steve McVey says in his latest blog entry.

Tom Chantry said...

Wow. I thought maybe if you wouldn't read Dan's 1000 word post before answering his question, you might read my fifty word comment. My bad.

DJP said...

Tom — so, what's that bring the grand total to, as to Phil's direct, simple answers to direct, simple questions?

Phil — I've made a mistake, and I'm correcting it now. I've tolerated your maddening refusal to engage the substance of any of my posts, or any of the responses you're given, coupled with your constant drip of references to other blogs, posts, video's, whatevers.

It stops, now. Answer what's addressed to you, yourself, or stop answering.

I will delete ANY comment from you with ANY reference/deflection to another post, blog, video, sermon, book, tape. Answer what's addressed to you, yourself, please, or don't answer.

Plain enough?

Tom Chantry said...

So, Phil, if you care to do what Dan just said, here are your options:

Dan asked: Is calling a Christian to obey God's commands to Christians "legalism"?

Chad asked: When a Christian disobeys God's law has he sinned?

...or, on another note...

I asked: According to Covenant Theology when was the Covenant of Works instituted, and when did it cease to be effective to salvation?

Phil said...

I've already answered Dan and Chad, were you willing to interact in a thoughtful manner of discussion. That was my approach from the outset. You've been smarmy,abrasive and childish most of the way through, straining out gnats of spelling mistakes, etc! Tom,I brought the subject of CT up,and latterly the CoW, to explain my use of the term 'merit theology' in view of Chad's response. So my latter explanation of my purpose to you is my prerogative. So the answer it ceased at the fall for man,is redundant.

Tom Chantry said...

Listen, I didn't mean to be straining gnats at spelling mistakes. It was just incredibly ironic, is all. Dan's post was about perspicuity. He argued the perspicuity of Scripture, and you argued against it. Incidentally, his post was perspicuous, while your comments were not. And then you misspelled "perspicuity." The confluence of related events was overwhelming.

I'll let Dan and Chad determine whether you ever answered their questions. The implication that they (as well as I) were unwilling to interact thoughtfully is unwarranted. Your convoluted arguments lack simple clarity, which is what Dan has said from the outset.

So now, finally, you have answered half of my question, though in a round about way. Covenant Theology does indeed teach that the Covenant of Works ceased to be effective unto salvation at the moment of Adam's fall.

Actually, I think I'm beginning to figure out where you are coming from. If you understand that Covenant Theology does not teach that personal works earn salvation since the fall, but that salvation is only merited upon the works of Christ, one must ask: do you believe that the obedience of Christ exercised in His life and death merits salvation for those who believe on Him? Or is that what you mean by "merit theology"? If so, your issue is not with Covenant Theology at all, but with Protestantism per se. (Just ask Dan, who, incidentally, does not adhere to Covenant Theology.)

Your objection to "merit theology" does not appear to be the typical one. Most who have objected in similar terms have argued speciously that Covenantalists (and others who believe in the moral obligation of redeemed sinners) are teaching a justification by works.

You, on the other hand, appear to object to the idea that God ever at any time expected obedience from anyone. I may be overstating your case, but it has been painfully difficult to figure out what you are saying. When you object to "merit theology," do you mean to object to the idea that Christ was obedient to the Father, or even that God demanded obedience from Adam?

Phil said...

I'm sorry, Tom, if I thought I was clearer than I was. As I've seen the term, 'merit theology' says that fundamentally, salvation must also by earned in answer to demand. We could not,Christ did so in our stead. Non-merit says its fundamentally a gift of inheritance bestowed. With many Protestants,I don't believe Adam's relationship with God pre-fall was based on law. Adam knew no sin,naturally doing right from the expression of God in him. Christ,from the life of the Father in him. I believe in...

Phil said...

...imputation of righteousness as central,but not the 'active obedience'. Christ was naturally obedient to the Father in doing is will -not in answering law as demand-but expressing the life of God indwelling him by faith. We are delivered from law to grace to walk as he walked. (I think trichotomy is biblical and is needed to contrast this scenario with the demand scenario of the dichotomist)...God always 'requires'obedience, but he fulfils the righteousness involved in us now apart from demand,by grace.

Phil said...

I think we are 'partakers of the divine nature' in a crucial and more intimate way than the dichotomist scenario allows...as to whats come before, I agree with most of Terry's comments, if that helps with 'perspicuity'...I think sanctification is God-driven and not optional in any sense, but voluntary in that the new creature loves and appropriates 'the rest of grace' which is at the root of it...apologies for typing errors,etc. I've tediously typed on my phone with predictive text, and I have M.E.

Chad V. said...


You haven't answered my question. I asked you a yes or no question, you gave me a contorted essay answer.

Finally you have said what i suspected you of this whole time. You deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience and that's where I suspected you were heading. The doctrine of the imputation of Christ's active obedience is explicit in scripture. It's a major theme of Romans 5.

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Rom 5:19.

Adam's disobedience caused the fall and plunged all his posterity into sin. Christ's obedience makes all in Christ righteous. That's exactly what Rom 5 says. Paul draws an exact parallel. God demanded obedience from Adam, he failed. Christ fulfilled that obedience. That's the whole reason he's called the second Adam.

I'm afraid there's nothing more that I can say to you about this.

Tom Chantry said...

So Christ was "naturally obedient," and we, partaking in the same nature, will also "naturally obey"? Am I reading you correctly?

And if that is so, what are the imperatives of the New Testament? If an NT imperative to believers expresses something which a believer would naturally (intrinsically? without thought? or without needing to be told?) do, then what is it doing in the New Testament anyway?

I'm not sure I follow the significance of the trichotomist/dichotomist issue here.

Phil said...

Chad, I believe (with others) that you’re eisgeting that text with this same CT supposition that “Christ came to fulfil the CoW in the place of us who broke it is Adam”.

While I understand Christ’s entire life of obedience was necessary for his death to avail for us in resurrection, it’s a leap (from that text) to say the active obedience needs to be imputed for us to be justified.

The parallelism in the verse suggests that the “one trespass” on the part of Adam was his eating from the tree. And the “one act” of righteousness on the part of Christ was that act that availed through resurrection: his death on the cross. Bringing forgiveness of all sins; past, present and future; and an acceptance before the throne, as accepted as Christ the Righteous One in his exaltation.

Further, the parallelism suggests that those become “in Christ” are “made righteous” as the opposite to those “in Adam” being “made sinners” by his disobedient act. Men were made sinners by nature and spiritual identity by Adam’s act. Men are made righteous in the “new-birth” by nature and spiritual identity by Christ’s act. Rom 6 bears this out.

Christ is the “Second Adam” not because he was the one to fulfil a CoW that reverses what Adam forfeited and brings in what was potential to him had he fulfilled it.

He was the Second Adam because he was, made “in the likeness of sinful flesh”, to live without sin, even until a death on the cross which necessitated a resurrection that forgives sinners who repent and believe, and reverses the death-consequences of Adam’s sin, particularly for the “sons of God”, while bringing everything “under his feet”.

Chad, I happen to know that there was a minority at the Westminster Assembly who didn’t agree with the imputation of the “active obedience”, so I hope you won’t write me off too quickly.

Tom, I don’t think that’s quite what I meant. I’ll try and clarify what I mean.

Christ was fully God and fully man, but he’d laid aside his Divine prerogatives to function as fully man. He was walking by faith, energized by the Spirit proceeding from the Father to walk in his will. He could do nothing of himself, but what he saw the Father do. He was living as the expresser of the life of the Father in him.

When I said he “naturally obeyed”, I meant it was from this dynamic, which was apart from the law, that he obeyed from the heart. It was a living, voluntary expression of his love to the Father, empowered by the Father.

In Christ, we are delivered from weak and beggarly elemental service to function in kind. Not perfectly, but after the same pattern. We expressing the life of the resurrected Jesus who spiritually indwells us as we walk by faith, not under law. To be “under grace” is to be in a situation where (by the blood of Christ) we have been qualified such that the Father is well-pleased with us, too. But a situation where grace is not just a thing, but the whole dynamic of “us expressers of the life of another in which we share”.

The commands in the NT we need. (And I reckon Jesus needed the Mosaic Law because he was maturing, “learning obedience”, his mind being “forged” as through the dynamic at work within him, he related to that without him).

But I think because we are to function in a similar way, but Christ is now exalted and the blessings of God’s grace are manifest in our inheritance in him resurrected, the command looks different to us. In just the same way that before we were saved and a veil was on our eyes, we would have looked at the commands, if we religious, apart from any gospel, and started to slave away in bondage. Salvation changed that.

I reckon the commands are first descriptive of “the Way” and indicatives of what we have been made as new creations in Christ. They show us the heart of our Lord, and our Father. And when we walk by the Spirit, we realize we love their essence, and we long to do them out of love, and we are empowered to do so by the life of Christ in us, which is now our life; because we have been given new hearts that at their core have been “joined in one spirit with the Lord”. We are in union with him.

But if we don’t “walk in the Spirit”, if we’ve “fallen away from grace” as a rule of life, because we’re relating to our Abba, Father on terms of demand, as slaves and not sons (Gal4v7); after the fashion of Old Covenant service but not New Covenant liberty from the Law; not properly reckoning ourselves “new creations dead to sin and alive to God”, “dead to the law” because its had its due from us when we died in Christ and we are now alive apart from it; freely blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ; not able to gain an ounce of favour and blessing by our performance, but qualified to it all freely in Christ, by Christ; we quench the Spirit who indwells us and empowers us with the life of Christ. And we can’t fulfil the righteousness in the commands that way. Because it proceeds from the fruit of the Spirit which he produces, and we gather, as we walk by “faith alone”.

It’s a question of “paradigm”, dare I say it. If the full gospel includes - not just the message of imputed righteousness and a motivation to act in accordance with a mere epistemology and derivative ethic - but a death and resurrection of ourselves in Christ that actually brings the spiritual presence of his life in us, to live out in union with him in the spirit of adoption, then the commands start to look different. Just as they did when at first we understood a full and free pardon in justification.

The trichotomy/dichotomy thing, as I see it, is this, then. Our anthropology is obviously very important to how we function as intended. If we are redeemed (among other things) to function as we were created, then “how were we created to function?” is an important question.

The dichotomist says that we are merely mind and body. That we were created as independent beings, able to self-generate character etc in response to externally, mediated truth and demand. Epistemology and ethic. Dependent as to functional relationship, independent as to “we can produce our own character, given the ability for a right response to God”. Thus at the Fall, the Augustinian view says we became inherently evil, independent creatures.

The trichotomist says we are spirit, soul, body. We are created not as autonomous, independent, self-generative of our character etc. Only God is those things. We are derivative beings. We were created to be the expressers of the life of God in us. Earthen vessels that contained divine treasure. Not God, but the expressers of his righteous life which indwells us. “Partakers of the divine nature”. At the Fall, we became derivatively evil, as we lived energized by the “prince of the power of the air at work in the children of disobedience”.

But in Christ, we are redeemed from bondage to sin, death and Satan, and we become partakers of the divine nature “Christ in us, the [only] hope of [manifesting and expressing the] glory [of God]”.

At the Fall, man chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which stood for this; “we will be as gods, knowing good and evil; give us the commands and the plans and we will produce our own qualitative righteousness, and you, God, can be subject to us and bless as we earn it and anything you would give us”. We sinfully bought the lie of independence, and came in slavery to Satan and separation from God. God who will not have such thing, because he is God, and he alone. We became heirs to an “evil conscience” which condemns us “in Adam” with God’s precepts etc on the basis of our sinful choice to discontinue to live as expressers of what was God’s free provision for us.

Then, later, the Mosaic Law particularized this conscience according to God’s purpose in the day. The commands are “holy, just and good”, and “made unto life”, but because of it, just function all the better at condemning us as we seek (in our self-righteousness) to “this do and live”. They provoke sin, because the “knowledge of good and evil” cannot impart qualitative life - it cannot sanctify or justify.

And the reason is just this: in Adam, we are sinners by nature and identity (spiritually energized by Satan as we walk in the lie of self-sufficiency for “life and godliness”). We have offences separating between us and God that need to be put away, and which can’t turn a blind eye to. We need forgiving, cleansing, sanctifying - a righteous, holy spiritual identity imparted - and thereby new, qualitatively divine life to live as intended. As the creaturely expression of “God in us”.

The New Covenant does all this. God forgives our sins - “their sins and iniquities I will remember no more” - and he gives us a new, righteous heart and spiritual identity “in Christ”. “I will write my laws in their hearts…” and “they shall not teach every one his neighbour saying “know the Lord”, for they shall all know me”. A unilateral covenant that was predicted in Gen3, promised to Abraham in that unilateral covenant of faith, and is fulfilled in Christ, the Seed to whom the Promise referred. In God’s purposes, the Law Covenant - the Mosaic - “came in by the side”. The promise of the Spirit for righteousness, life and godliness was “all of grace”. Law could add nothing, neither subtract anything. Sanctification would come apart from it. The Spirit would bring the “abundant life” Jesus promised pre-Pentecost. Fruit, where law could only increase sin. (I just think we need to make sure our consideration of the command takes these things, if correct, into account before we can understand it right).

The second part of the New Covenant (“I will write my laws in their hearts”) I see as functionally complete at the new birth. We are “complete in him”, new creations “where all things are new”, dead to sin and alive to God (no qualifications), having “everything pertaining to life and godliness”.

Where we are at now is not trying to fulfil that part ourselves, but coming to terms with living it out by faith. Thus progressive sanctification is - while very much real - the bringing into line with our perfected spirits, our minds, emotions, wills, in all things, but fundamentally by grasping what Christ has done, who we are in him, and learning to walk by faith in these truths.

So I see it that we are to grow in this grace this way. Growing in our fellowship with Christ with the Spirit as Comforter and guide, reminding and establishing us in the living realities of these things, as we discern Christ in all the Scriptures, and our inheritance in him in the New Covenant that is “not like the Old”. Reading all things, commands clearly included, through the new covenant lens that discerns a Christological, eschatological significance to them, concerning a spiritual ministry that brings qualitative life and righteousness, over a letter ministry that brings death and condemnation. The “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” that delivers from “the law of sin and death”, where sin in Adam “took captive” the powerless precept that was mere “letter” . But now we have “Christ in us, the hope of glory”, which Paul says is the mystery of the gospel that was hidden in previous ages, but has now been made known in the age of the promised Spirit, in which the precept has a place, but not as demand.

I’m just thinking, Tom, and relaying my thoughts. Sorry the length, but I hope that gives some idea of where I was coming from, for your benefit. If it seems “off subject” it wasn’t intended to be, just I think “the doctrine of Christ” is one seamless whole, rather than lots of bits. And “how it is that we can’t bring forth fruit apart from him”, or similarly, “how we do indeed bring forth fruit in him” seems to be a most important question that strikes at the heart of the gospel and man’s relationship with God - our relationship with our Abba, Father.

I think this time I’ll have to give yourselves and myself a break. I’m shattered.

Yes we are to obey God’s commands. But how we do that without “reneging” on the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, which freedom is the means of our power or “adequacy” in him. That’s what I’m thinking about.

Best wishes,


DL said...

Dan, you said, "I've brought you up face to face with simple Scripture, and you spin off into inanity. I am telling you, that is unhealthy. You fail the test: you cannot simply affirm what the apostles teach and say."

I'm not in tune with the obvious ongoing discussion between you two, so maybe you could clear something up for me.

Have you and everyone else on this thread who agrees with you sold your possessions and given them to the needy? Clearly that's what Jesus commanded his "little flock" to do in Luke 12. And do you greet one another with a "holy kiss"? Clearly that's what Paul commanded believers to do.

I'm only saying this because it seems to me that no one is questioning that obedience to God is right and necessary. It seems they're questioning how to do that correctly. And in the process of wondering, it seems that some have all but accused them of being against obedience.

Again, if I'm missing something in this discussion, please forgive me. I've read your post three times and think the comments you;re getting are logical conclusions from what you've asserted.

DJP said...

Phil~2200 words, in the meta of a ~760-word post — and (as usual) not really responsive to it, nor interactive with it.

My response?

Already there: the last five paragraphs of the post.

DJP said...

Darby, thank you for taking the time to read the post three times, sincerely. And yes, you're missing a lot from the discussion over this series of posts.

When a Christian affirming that Christians should obey God provokes in some a hurricane of but-but-but and demands for reams of explanation and qualification and reframing and backtracking simply because of the proposition that slave/sons must obey their Lord/Father, that's a problem.

And that's what it's all been about. Not which commands, not how to obey, but the core proposition.

Tom Chantry said...

And that's what it's all been about. Not which commands, not how to obey, but the core proposition.

Darby - Just to confirm the above, Dan on the one hand and Chad and I on the other probably don't agree 100% on which commands should be obeyed. That is a lesser issue, given that we no doubt agree on the vast majority of the moral principles governing the Christian life. We still agree that the issue is plain: believers are meant to obey God, and to encourage them to do so is certainly not legalistic.

DL said...

Thank you so much, Dan, for the patient clarification. I can see more clearly now. I agreed with your post, but I was just trying to see it from Phil's perspective, because it seems amidst all the verbose bathwater, there is a baby in his thinking somewhere. However, it's absurd to question that it is required of slaves to simply and completely obey their masters.

Tom Chantry said...

Phil - you said a lot, and this is clearly not the place to debate the whole scope of theology. I'll stop it at this: I am convinced that your handling of Romans 5 is inadequate, and I am extraordinarily concerned about your use of II Peter 1:4 - I think you are on extremely dangerous ground.

But this thread is about the appropriateness of directing Christians to obey Christ. It seems that in the middle of your essay you acknowledged that at least the New Testament commands are intended to show us the way in which Christians should live. That being the case, surely if someone said, "Hey, we should actually do these things!" - that couldn't be legalism, could it? And after all, that's all Dan really said in the first place!

And listen, I'm trying not to be childish - I really, really am, but the word verification system just asked me to type in "burpalot"!

DL said...

Another thought occurred to me. Sorry for the double comment. In the same way that God providentially orchestrated marriage as a picture of Christ and the church, could it not also be possible that he has allowed the tragic institution and abuse of worldly slavery to be a context for the Christian's simple obedience. After all, Christ said about as much concerning forgiveness and we are "slaves of Christ."

Tom Chantry said...

OK - my final comment, and it came to me last night.

No one here has had the temerity to assert that there are no imperatives in the Bible. I've heard preaching that seems to imply the same, but no one here has said it. There are imperatives. The question, then, is what we are to do with those imperatives, and particularly how we are to teach them.

The debate centers around whether or not it is appropriate for teachers of the Scripture to instruct other Christians to follow the imperatives of the Bible. But we don't have to wonder about that - the Bible specifically tells us.

Titus 2 came to my mind. The whole point of the chapter is that Titus is supposed to instruct other people - telling them to follow the imperatives found elsewhere in the Scripture. He is meant to teach the old and young, the men and women, to do certain things!

And Paul goes right on to say, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

So what does that mean for Titus? Does Paul say, "You know what, wait a minute, God's grace will train the people, and Christ purified them, so they're already zealous for good works, so let's forget what I said in the first half of the chapter, OK?"

Actually, he concludes in this manner: Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

DJP said...

...and (to repeat myself) when we find ourselves panicking and feeling we need to explain and qualify in 3000 words what the apostles say in 10, we should consider that we're out of step with apostolic doctrine.

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Chad V. said...


My last comment. Sorry for all the deletions all. I've had a crazy morning and I'm a little discombobulated.

A minority in the Westminster Assembly, whether what you claim is actually true or not, doesn't justify your position. Why you brought it up is beyond me. Know one else has raised that issue. Saying you agree with a minority doesn't really hold up as valid argumentation.

It is Christ's obedience to what Adam failed to keep. Eisogetical? No, The contrast is direct and plain. Adam's disobedience = fall. Christ's obedience to what Adam disobeyed = righteousness. Paul clearly states in Romans that we in Adam are imputed with Adam's guilt. In Christ we are imputed Christ's righteousness which is His obedience.

You may reject the doctrine, at your own grievous peril, but your constant talk about mythology and eisogesis smacks of arrogance and pride.

You previous comment about Christ living the life of God indwelling Him by faith has serious ramification on the person of Christ. Here's the thing Phil, to say that Christ was living as the expresser of the life of the Father is far far short of the truth. In fact I'd go so far to say that it's completely wrong. Christ is the express image of the Father Himself. Heb 1:3 Not the expresser of life of the Father indwelling him by faith.

Kevin said...


Thanks for your comments on this thread.

It seems the more I understand grace and God's love for me, the less burdensome his commands become. And the more I find myself supernaturally walking in step with him.

He has put his laws in my heart and on my mind. Love fulfills the law, so I walk in love.

And when I fail to do so, I recognize no amount of self-effort is going to enable me to obey. I can only appeal to his grace to show himself strong in my weakness.

- Kevin

DJP said...

In sum, Christians are not freed from obedience to the commands of God, but to obedience. It in no way contributes to our salvation, but is a necessary fruit of it.

Shrinking from the simple call to a son/slave to obey his heavenly Father/Lord in no way breathes the spirit of Christ, who came to do His Father's will, and bids us do the same. Exploding into a flurry of words and objections and qualifications and fretting, when confronted with a simple command of God, is not a sign of good spiritual health.