F.M. Sciutto III

By His Free Grace Alone, To Be Treasured Alone, & For His Glory Alone

Posts Tagged ‘justification

There’s a Point to the Law? – Part 1

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For the longest time, I thought the law was just a bunch rules given to the Jews that had to be followed until Jesus came, and then He replaced the law, which gave anyone the opportunity to become a part of God’s family if the trusted in Him. Obviously, I was young, wrong, and ignorant about the “whole of Scripture.” Throughout junior high and high school, I just ignored the law and anything Old Testament because I though it was, well, old, out-dated, and not “relevant” to our modern times. My ignorance was a result of my own laziness and lack of desire to dig deeper into God’s Word and study what the purpose of the law really was.

It is only by God’s grace that have I been shown the wondrous beauty of His Word and sovereign grace through discussions, sermons, and books by great men who continue to influence me.

So, now, to answer that question I swept under the rug for all those years: what is the point on the law?

In this first entry, I want to show why learning the “why” of the law is important in the first place, which is fairly easy. It is legalism. The misuse of God’s law by attempting to earn God’s favor by obeying His commandments instead of relying on Him through faith. Without understanding that we so often misuse the law to produce our own righteousness, we will continue relying on ourselves to do what only God can do.

In his sermon, “Why Then the Law?” John Piper discusses how “legalism is a greater menace to the church than alcoholism”:

“Alcoholics are in a tragic bondage. And we must do all we can to help. But legalism is more subtle and more pervasive and, in the end, more destructive. Satan clothes himself as an angel of light and makes the very commandments of God his base of operations. And the human heart is so inveterately proud and unsubmissive that it often uses religion and morality to express its rebellion. As Romans 10:3 says, “In seeking to establish their own righteousness, they would not submit to the righteousness of God.” The pursuit of righteousness can lead to perdition. So Galatians admonishes us: Know why the law was given and don’t be bewitched into pursuing it in a way that leads to death, but only in a way that leads to life.”

Legalism is rooted in the misunderstanding of the purpose of the law, which is why the Judaizers (Jewish professing “Christians”) in Paul’s letter to the Galatians are attempting to tell others they have to follow the Jewish laws after believing in Jesus in order to earn salvation. However, Paul responds by explaining to them God’s purpose of the law and how it correlates to Jesus’ coming to earth, living a sinless life, dying for our sin on the cross, and rising again, defeating death and sin in order for us to be counted as righteous before God. Now, that shows the love of God for us! A god who just gives rules for his creation to follow displays no love or real hope and, thereby, cannot be a just and holy god if he just accepts anyone who “tried hard enough” because he would be neither just nor holy.

Piper summarizes in his sermon the danger of misunderstanding the law by stating, “If we don’t understand why it was given, we can kill ourselves with it,” which echoes Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Living in legalism is living in bondage to sin because you are relying on self, instead of Christ’s righteousness, for salvation.

Hopefully, one can now see and understand the dangers of misusing the law that God has given His creation for their own righteousness by means of legalism. The following entry will then answer the question that Paul, too, asks: “why then the law?”

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Written by sciuttfm

July 25, 2010 at 6:12 PM

The Slippery Slope of Legalism

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It has been a while since I have posted something original, but I have been busy with life, though I have a couple of drafts and ideas that need finished and developed.

Recently, I have been reading and getting destroyed by Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It amazes me (and even scares me a little) how quickly I shift into legalism and try to work for our own righteousness instead of resting, in faith, on what Jesus did. By relying on the law for our righteousness, we are cursed, but when we rely on Christ’s atonement for our sin, through faith, we are blessed with Christ’s righteousness and the Holy Spirit, who is God dwelling inside us, empowering us to be more Christlike.

John Piper has (again) pointed out a “major battle” that I struggle with it everyday:

“The major battle was the fight of faith. Did I really believe that when Jesus died, all my curse was lifted so that I could say with Scripture, “What can man do to me” (Hebrews 13:6; Romans 8:31–34)? Did I really believe that the death of Jesus is the pledge of God to withhold no good thing from those who trust him (Psalm 84:11; Romans 8:32)? Did I really believe all things would work together for my good (Romans 8:28)? Did I really trust the counsel of Christ when he said, “Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11)? This is the struggle of everyday Christian life, and it is your most important work every day: how to keep your day’s activities from becoming works of law, and how to live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you to redeem you from the curse of legalism.” (Christ Redeemed Us from the Curse of the Law: Galatians 3:1-14; April 10, 1983)

If I really believed what Christ accomplished for me on the Cross, why do I worry so much about my reputation and how people treat me? If Jesus is my everything, why do I seek comfort in this world when it will only leave me broken and crushed?

Jesus, help me to treasure You above all things and to see others as in desperate need for You.

Written by sciuttfm

July 19, 2010 at 12:49 AM

“Because of me”

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Because of me – Ray Ortlund.

“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you.  It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’  Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross.  All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary.  It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”

John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (London, 1968), page 179.

I hope to post more “original” material on here, but I will more than likely post a lot of things I come across through my own listening and reading.

Written by sciuttfm

May 31, 2010 at 12:37 AM

Remember the Gospel

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I wrote this a month or so ago and posted it on my Tumblr account and in our Crazy Love discussion board on Facebook. I liked it enough to want to have it posted on here as well. It is just a reflection I wrote while I had been reading Richard Phillips’ What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace? The little book is great, and I recommend it. This reflection is just a personal reaction to what I have read in that book, conversations I have had over the past couple months, and my own Scripture reading. I hope it makes you glorify God for all He is.

Remember our lives are meant for glorifying God in all we do. He has provided us with everything: life, the church, family and friends, and, most of all, salvation.

Our hearts were deceitful and turned away from God. Our wills were totally against God, and without His grace and love through Jesus, we would not have even sought Him (Romans 3:10-18).

By God, the Creator of everything, sending His only Son, then sacrificing Him on a cross, though He was innocent and sinless, for our own sins, each and every one of them, how can we not give the God, who gave us His all, everything we have? How can we not give Him our anxieties? Our worries? Our time? Our money? Our thoughts? Our attention? Our hearts? Our desires? Our love? Our security? Our safety? Our joy?

He loves us so much! We cannot even comprehend it! Why would God, the Creator of everything, after being sinned against by mankind for thousands of years, choose to redeem His Creation? Why would He deem us worthy us saving? We hated Him (Romans 1:28-31).

But He loved us and showed us immeasurable grace! The Father sent His Son to absorb the wrath we deserved for our sins on the cross. In our place, He stood a condemned man. He would have been just in sending everyone to hell, but He chose not to. “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). His love for us, shown by His grace for us, brings us to Him.

Sending Jesus Christ to live a perfect sinless life, endure God’s wrath for mans’ own sin, and be resurrected was necessary for our salvation because without Jesus paying the penalty for our sins, we would be unable to do anything to earn justification from God, and we would be damned by the Holy and Just God (Romans 3:21-26). God had to crucify His own Son in order for us to be justified before Him. His own Son! No one can comprehend that amount of love nor can anyone replicate such love for another.

God chose us before the foundations the world to be justified in Him (Ephesians 1:4), which is why the Gospel is so amazing. It requires nothing of us. God does it all. He seeks us out, He calls upon us, He regenerates us, He gives us faith, He rescues us, and He works in us throughout our lives, sanctifying us until our glorification when we finally meet Him face-to-face. Everything is in His hands. We have no reason to continue in our sin of counting ourselves as worth more than our Savior; we have been rescued from sin’s hold and brought from death in sin to life in Christ.

Reflect on His Gospel and what it should mean to us. This is something to dwell on and live your life. We need to show this world that there is a love greater than anyone of us can comprehend and tell them of His great love through Jesus: our Savior!

Written by sciuttfm

April 7, 2010 at 9:24 PM