The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. The blog is meant to be a series however.
In the last post we began to look at obeying from the heart or, the obedience of faith. In this post we will look at Romans 6:17. But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, What does obedient from the heart mean? I am quite certain that it is the obedience of faith.
There are so many evangelicals that claim to believe in salvation by grace through faith but in the end, invariably, they tie law obedience to salvation. Furthermore, they have expanded the law to include everything written in the New Testament as well as the Mosaic code. This actually makes the burden of Christian obedience greater than the burden of Jewish obedience. Now again, do not get me wrong…I am not saying that the Christian should not obey but, what I am saying is that obedience and salvation are not tied together. Legal obedience is not salvific.
Lets take a look for example at Matt 5:17-20: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (18) For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (19) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
It will take more than one post to deal with this verse but let’s begin here. First, Jesus audience is Jews under the Mosaic Covenant….remember the Jew – Gentile distinction. The Gentile however is not under the Mosaic Covenant so; at the most, the above passage speaks of the jots and tittles of the Mosaic Law which would put the Jewish believer under all the jots and tittles of the Law. The iota and the dot (jot and tittle) are the smallest strokes of the Greek language. Jesus is therefore telling them that until heaven and earth pass and, all is fulfilled… not only will the Law not change or disappear… but, not even the smallest grammatical mark will either.
As I said, this cannot be addressed in one post but, for this post let’s look at verse 20 of the above passage. ”For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Interesting…… Paul was a Pharisee, in fact in Philippians three, he says that he a Hebrew’s Hebrew and that when it came to the righteousness that is found in the Law he was blameless. Hmnnn……….. blameless, well what kind of righteousness could exceed blameless? Could it be the righteousness of God, imputed righteousness? Of course it is…it is the righteousness that comes from the obedience of faith!
Now then, we have not even discussed what all being fulfilled means. We have not yet discussed the passing of heaven and earth. These we will take up as time goes on if the Lord is willing.