Justifying Your Disobedience

This Justification By Faith issue has caused lots of problems over the years. Many arguments have ensued on the issue.

I have personally had this conversation with many people and I’ve heard all the arguments.

With all due respect, the basic argument behind people supporting justification by faith alone is that they don’t want to do anything.

Most of them will bring up the impossibility of doing commands and the general burdensome, guilt-ridden nature of being told you have to do stuff.

Many have the idea that grace means no strings attached, no change needed, and certainly no good works.

Salvation is a gift of God’s grace. We receive it by faith. You cannot earn salvation. You do not merit salvation.

This does not mean that there is nothing you do to get it though.

The only people truly consistent on this issue are Calvinists. They will flat out tell you that God regenerates you and then you believe.

Their confident argumentative bluster does not replace the fact that there are no verses that say this and plenty that say the exact opposite.

Grace has provided salvation through Jesus Christ. A lost soul seeking to be saved from sin would respond to that gracious salvation with love, faith, the desire to obey, and the desire to tell others about it.

If you resist the idea that your faith has to include love, telling others, and obedience, you should ask yourself why the resistance?

I have heard people confidently tell me “I don’t have to do anything. Christ did it all.” It sounds nice, but why do you have a desire to do nothing?

I have heard people boast that “it doesn’t matter what I do; it only matters who I am in Christ.” Again, sounds nice, but why don’t you want what you do to matter? What is it you’re doing that makes you not want to count that? Why do you not want to do what Christ wants?

The arguments always boil down to a it doesn’t matter what I do foundation. The arguments tend to give the idea that if I have to listen to God, I’d rather be unsaved. Listening to God comes across as a giant burden, a total fun ruiner.

Which is all curious.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
–1 John 5:1

OK, we’re probably all good with John’s words here. See, faith is what saves. Just believe in Jesus!

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
–1 John 5:2

1 John 5:2 comes right after 1 John 5:1. Notice how John is tying believing in with loving in these two verses? Again, you’re not justified by faith alone. You are at least justified by faith and love. How do you know you love God? Because you feel like you do? Because you say you do?

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
–1 John 5:3

1 John 5:3 comes right after 1 John 5:1-2. Loving God means keeping His commandments. In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” No one likes this definition of love!

We think love means squishy feelings and happy thoughts. To Jesus Christ, love means doing the right thing. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but love rejoices in the truth. Do the truth.

If your objection to my take on justification includes a reluctance to obey Him, you need to ask yourself why.

Why are God’s commands grievous to you? Grievous means burdensome, weighty, and heavy. No fun to carry around.

If you find listening to God to be a burden, it’s because you don’t love Him. If you don’t love Him, you don’t believe Him.

A person who has truly come to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation has done so out of love and faith, with a desire to do what God wants. God provides everything we need to do His commands. We are fully equipped to do what our heart has always longed to do: please its Creator.

There is nothing greater for us to do with our bodies than to use them to serve our Creator. How would that be a burden?

The only way listening to God is a burden is if you are unsaved and have no strength or desire in yourself to do God’s will.

If you’ve spent the majority of your time in Christianity explaining to yourself why your sin is ok and your obedience is unnecessary, there’s a good chance you are not saved.

Again, this is not salvation by works. This is a change of heart that is graciously provided through the power of the Gospel. The new heart desires and enjoys doing the commandments of God.

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8 thoughts on “Justifying Your Disobedience”

  1. if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

    It seems like a great number of people must think that the all things that have become new are no different to the old things that have passed away – if the new creation is still hampered by the same weaknesses and limits of that old creation.

    Surely we aren’t “saved” merely to continue in the sin that ensured our damnation.
    Salvation isn’t about God turning a blind eye to sin, it’s about God cleansing us from sin and its effects and then giving us a new start in which we have the help of the indwelling HOLY Spirit so we CAN live in obedience to Him.

    I think there are two extreme and opposite false doctrines around the issue you’re addressing.

    One says we can’t avoid sinning and can only rejoice in His forgiveness.
    The other says that if we are saved we can’t sin, so if we sin we clearly aren’t saved.

    I believe the truth is that salvation places us in a position where we are equipped not to sin, but if we sin we have an advocate. (1 John 2:1)

    We are not driven to sin, and we are not prevented from sinning, but if we do sin a way has been made to be forgiven and made clean again.

  2. Well said. Generally people will flip to one extreme or another:

    You’re saying Christians can attain sinless perfection in this life?
    or
    You’re saying if a Christian sins they lose their salvation?

    By asking such questions they are attempting to mock the actual provision of salvation. By making it sound so ridiculous, they can tell themselves it’s OK to keep living in sin and not pay attention to any commands of the NT.

  3. Reblogged this on Ian Thomson and commented:
    I agree. This is not being taught to churchgoers it seems. If it was the churchy places or clubs would be mostly empty. Where are all the disciple makers, the harvesters? the Spirit led labourers?

  4. “I have personally had this conversation with many people and I’ve heard all the arguments.. With all due respect, the basic argument behind people supporting justification by faith alone is that they don’t want to do anything.”

    Perhaps not mine. What you say here is not entirely true, nor entirely correct. Fortunately for all of us, God’s grace is bigger than your arguments and he gets to decide, which is good news for those who don’t measure up to the myriad of social-media users who think they can discern who is fit, and unfit for the Kingdom of God.

    For starters, try reading CS Lewis’ ‘Christian Personality’ a somewhat unknown book that might cause you to be silent on many of your ‘opinions.’ The one thing Lewis notes about the ending, and I agree wholeheartedly is this; ‘there will be surprises.’ Amen.

    What makes you so confident that ‘you love God because of (I assume) your obedience?’ In my experience, humanity
    (including my righteous believers) as a whole is fairly lousy with regards to that. I suspect, sadly, that in the end my efforts to love God will be seen as rather shallow. I am confident however, that his grace through the death of his beloved will be sufficient to save me.

    You dare to question that?

  5. Yes, I have heard your argument before. I am not telling you to believe me. I am questioning the long held belief that we are justified by faith alone, which the Bible never says, and yet the Bible does say we are not justified by faith alone. It’s a subject that demands our attention, study, and self-examination. Every one of us will give an account. Your idea of what God’s grace does and my idea of what God’s grace does matters very little. What matters is what God says His grace does.

    “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.”

  6. “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

    Perhaps we can change ‘given’ to earned.

    Don’t you hate it when people say, “it doesn’t matter what you think, it just matters what God [sic denominations] says.” How does anyone ever comeback against that?

  7. For starters, try reading CS Lewis’ ‘Christian Personality’ a somewhat unknown book that might cause you to be silent on many of your ‘opinions.’

    It is VITAL that our understanding of God comes from HIS revelation in scripture and not through how others interpret scripture to fit a favoured theology.

    We need to ask ourselves:

    If we want to understand God and be in right relationship with Him? Or is our interest primarily in following religious ideas taught by selected teachers/theologians?

    In other words, do we have a love of the truth and a desire for it? Or do we have a love of theological opinion?

    Do we long for the truth with a willingness to face up to the cost of it?
    Or do we prefer to choose teachers who tell us what we prefer to believe?

    For starters, maybe we ought to read scripture for ourselves according to its intended context and not rely on a version of cherry-picked, out of context scripture filtered through the opinions of others.

  8. Michael said:

    “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

    Perhaps we can change ‘given’ to earned.

    Or maybe we could just accept what that part of scripture says without ignoring the rest of scripture and without making misrepresentative suggestions?

    Does God give a righteousness through faith in Jesus without that righteousness actually having an effect on the life of the one to whom it is given?
    Is God given righteousness powerless and ineffective?

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

    and

    “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation”.

    Saved by grace, through faith and created in Christ Jesus (as a new creation) TO DO GOOD WORKS.

    Not saved by works but saved to DO good works.

    Salvation results in something NOW that reflects the nature of the creative work God has done, it’s not merely a “get out of hell free card” to be used after we die that leaves us unchanged and the same as we were before.

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