In 2 Peter 2, the apostle writes, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (vs. 1-3). Continuing to describe these false prophets in following verses, Peter says they have “eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls:” and “when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, . . .” and “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption:” (vs. 14, 18, 19).
False teachers have been, and are currently, twisting the holy scriptures to persuade multitudes of American church goers that New Testament believers are no longer under any obligation to fulfill the law because Jesus already fulfilled it, and that a believer’s conduct has no bearing on his/her entrance into the kingdom of heaven because God accounts the righteousness of Jesus to us. Through taking scriptures out of context, and speaking things that appeal to the flesh, these deceivers are leading many to destruction while making merchandise of them by using them, and their money, for personal gain. While promising people liberty, they are themselves “servants of corruption” and of those who “cannot cease from sin”. It is essential that you have correct understanding of the scriptures concerning these things to prevent you from being led away with the error of the wicked (2 Peter 3:9-18).
Jesus will have you to know that no unrighteous, unholy person will enter into the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 5:17-20 He says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” While it is true that Jesus fulfilled the law, that one cannot earn salvation by good conduct, and that God imputes righteousness to those who believe the gospel; it’s also true that the gospel is the power of God to regenerate sinners into new creatures whose day to day deeds are righteous because Jesus is dwelling, ruling, and reigning in their hearts. In this series, you will be shown: what salvation consists of, how our righteousness can and must literally exceed that of the Pharisees (the most religious people of that time) to the fulfilling of God’s law in order for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and the relationship between the law and personal righteousness in the New Testament.
To begin, you must know the meaning of grace and what constitutes our salvation. Grace is: the Divine influence upon the heart. We often hear that grace is the unmerited favor of God, and this is true, but this does not define “grace”. Mercy is defined as “the unmerited favor of God” and grace is the substance God has provided to us by His mercy. So, because of God’s unmerited favor (mercy), He has provided that we could have His Divine influence upon our hearts (grace). Everlasting life is the end, or culmination, of being saved which is defined as: delivered, healed, made whole, and preserved. Thus, our salvation is described in Romans 6:22 saying, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life”. When a person is compelled by the love of God, and the testimony of Jesus, to repent and believe the gospel, he/she is then saved by grace through faith and not of themselves, it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). The saved person, now delivered from serving sin, made whole by the indwelling of Jesus, and preserved by yielding to His lordship, has become the product of God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10). Although nobody can earn salvation by good works, good works are the product of God’s work in us. To be saved means to be delivered from living in a state of sin to living in a state of righteousness. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). Those who reject God’s gift of love and power to be delivered from serving sin and become His servants with fruit unto holiness, will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says, “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Speaking of Jesus, John 1:4 says, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men”. The words “eternal” and “everlasting” are adjectives describing the “life” that was dwelling and ruling in the person of Jesus Christ. The life in His person was the Holy Spirit Who generated all that He said and all that He did (Matt. 1:18, John 6:63, 5:19-20, 12:49-50, 1 John 5:5-10). The outward life of Jesus, that men could see, was the product of His soul’s unity (oneness) with the inward “life” that men could not see. Salvation is a matter of receiving “the life” that was in Him to become “the light” that guides us. One walks in darkness until this work is accomplished in them. Unregenerated man has no “life” in himself. His soul is one with, and bound to, the spirit of this world (Ephesians 2:1-3). He has no option but that his daily walk is generated by selfish lusts to produce unrighteousness. His soul and body have no everlasting “life” because they are not one with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Following the often quoted John 3:16, Jesus goes on to say, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (vs. 17-21). The condemnation is that men reject “the light” because they love their evil lusts, rather than God’s “life”. Those who do truth turn from their lusts and come to “the light”, yielded and submitted to it- that their deeds may be manifested as those that are brought about by God. 1 John 1:5-7 says, “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”. A soul is saved when its union with the spirit of this world is severed through repentance, and it comes to be one with the “life” through faith. Then, the image of Jesus is reflected outwardly because the soul has come to be one with the Holy Spirit inwardly (Rom. 8:28-29). The soul and the body have “life” that is everlasting because they are one with the light and Spirit of God to agree and act in unison with Him. You can see this in Romans 8:10-14 saying, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Sprit of God, they are the sons of God”.
Salvation, spiritual or otherwise, consists of being delivered from a negative state of condition to a positive state of condition. To be saved from drowning, one must be delivered from the water and brought to dry land. To be saved from slavery, one must be delivered out of bondage and brought to freedom. Likewise, salvation in Christ Jesus consists of being freed from serving sin and being regenerated by the Holy Spirit to serve righteousness, producing fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).
In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” He means what He says! Yet, multitudes of American church goers are convinced that their salvation is secured though they are still sinners who transgress God’s law — walking after the lusts of the flesh to fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind. This generation has no understanding of the righteousness which is by faith and is on a course of destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Such are described in Proverbs 30:12 saying, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness”. This is largely because false teachers, within the church, have twisted the scriptures to distort the truth about what constitutes salvation as well as the relationship between God’s law and New Testament righteousness. This teaching is a work of the Holy Spirit to prevent as many as possible from being “led away with the error of the wicked” and “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (2 Peter 3:9-18 & Hosea 4:6).
Gospel salvation has been thoroughly defined and described because many are of the impression that it merely consists of God’s forgiveness of sins and going to heaven. Knowing that salvation is a gift, they are easily deceived into believing that their conduct has no bearing upon their entrance into the kingdom of heaven, and that righteous living is an option that he/she may choose for future rewards, or reject because the blood of Jesus has already provided forgiveness and bought their ticket. Although God’s forgiveness and entrance into His heavenly kingdom are important aspects of salvation, they do not constitute all that’s been accomplished by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is no salvation without the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. In Titus 3:3-7, the apostle Paul writes, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life”. The hope of eternal life is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). A person doesn’t earn salvation by “works of righteousness”- it is a gift from God. The gift is that He literally delivers a repentant believer from the likeness of sinful Adam and makes him/her into a new creature, after the likeness of righteous Jesus (Romans 5:19 & 8:28-29). Those who are truly saved produce righteousness, and reflect the image of Jesus, because their daily words and deeds are being generated by His “life”. Any gospel message that leaves a person undone and continuing in sin is not from God. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
In the verses quoted from Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says that He didn’t come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He is speaking of the Levitical law that God gave to the Israelites through Moses. Those who are void of the Spirit and ignorant of God’s Word say that New Testament believers are neither commanded nor expected to fulfill the law because Jesus has already done so for us. It is often said that we should try to refrain from sinning although it is impossible to do so. This is doctrine“having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). Jesus did fulfill the law, and He is still fulfilling it, through those who belong to Him.
There is much to be said on this matter, but you must first understand that there is a difference between the works of the law and the righteousness of the law. The works of the law pertain to ordinances about physical circumcision, foods, washings, sacrifices, and so on. The righteousness of the law pertains to loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-34). Now look at 1 John 3:4-6. “Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.” Sin is “the transgression of the law” and Jesus “was manifested to take away our sins”. Is it not plain to see that He was manifested to deliver us from being transgressors of the law so that we may fulfill it? The New Testament abolishes the works of the law, but establishes the fulfilling of its righteousness by those who are born of God. In Romans 3:31, Paul wrote, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law”. Again, in Romans 8, he writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vs. 1-4). The weakness of the law was that it did not have the power to change man’s heart and give him a new nature (2 Peter 1:4). But, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, man now has access to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is the spiritual law whereby God puts His laws into the mind of man and writes them in his heart (Hebrews 8:10). It is the law that makes it possible for man to literally partake of the “life” that generated the daily walk of Jesus. Through this, the righteousness of the law is now fulfilled by those who no longer walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Finally, in Galatians 5:14, Paul states that all the law is fulfilled in one word ….. love. Jesus Himself commands us to love saying, “These things I command you, that ye love one another”. Without question, Jesus came so God’s law would be fulfilled through all who have been born of Him.
In the text from the 5th chapter of Matthew, Jesus also says that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees in order for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is not only possible, but it is certain that the righteousness of a born again child of God will exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. A true believer is dead, and their life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:1-10). Not dead in the physical sense, but dead to sin and to anything of self. He/she has given up their own life, and Jesus has literally inhabited them to be one with their soul and body. This is what He refers to when saying,“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it”(Luke 9:23-24). Believers have surrendered the right to themselves and have no righteousness of their own. The righteousness in them, and manifesting through their lives, is that of Jesus Christ. His righteousness is imputed to them because their faith has given Jesus place to rule their souls and work His will through them. Jesus speaks of abiding in and working through His people in John 15:5 saying, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing”.Philippians 2:13 also shows that it is God Who works His will in and through the believer. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Keeping God’s commandments and living righteously are not grievous for regenerated people.
1 John 5:3-4 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith”. Having lost their life, believers have no good works of their own to accomplish by resolve and strenuous efforts. They “overcome the world”, as Jesus overcame the world, because His is the “life” that is abiding in, and working through, them. The apostle Paul describes it well saying, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Righteous living is the fruit of the Spirit, not one’s own works- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:22-24). The scribes and Pharisees were the most religious people of their time. They, like many of today’s church goers, tried to produce righteousness out of fear and a sense of duty to God. Their motivation was rooted in self-interest, making it grievous to fulfill God’s will. This is really the epitome of unrighteousness and what is spoken of in Isaiah 64:6 saying, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”. Though appearing righteous outwardly, the scribes, Pharisees, and many professing Christianity today, “are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”(Matthew 23: 27-28). The righteousness of a saved person exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees because it is not their own- it is that of Jesus Who is dwelling in, and manifesting His life through them. His is the only righteousness that is fit for the kingdom of heaven, and this is the righteousness we must receive to enter in.
A number of scriptures have been quoted which testify that people who continue to sin, living unrighteous, unholy lives, will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, that righteous living is the result of being saved, and that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled through every individual who is truly born of God. A distinction has also been made between the works of the law and the righteousness of the law. The works of the law consist of physical circumcision, abstaining from foods, washings, sacrifices, etc., while the righteousness of the law consists of fulfilling the will of God which is summed up in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Sin has no place to work in the life of anyone who loves God with their whole being and who loves their neighbor as they do themselves. This teaching should help you to develop a clear understanding of the relationship between the law and righteousness in the lives of New Testament believers.
The purpose of the Levitical law was, and is, to reveal God’s will, cause man to know what sin is, to make him realize his state of death, and his need for a Savoir- one that delivers him from his sinful condition. You can see all of this by reading the 7th chapter of Romans. With all of its good, the law can not give man a new heart or, in other words, the “life” that has previously been spoken of. This is why there had to be a new and better covenant. Read the 8th chapter of Hebrews. Paul writes about this in the 3rd chapter of Galatians saying, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster, for ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (vs. 21-27). Through realizing God’s will, what sin is, and that sin is keeping him in a state of death, man comes to see his need for a redeemer and thus, by the law, is brought to Christ. The promise of “life” is only available through faith in Jesus. A child of God is no longer under the rule of the schoolmaster because he/she has “put on Christ” and is now led by the Spirit. It is important to recognize that those who have put on Christ have also put off the old man. Read Ephesians 4:17-24.
Knowing that New Testament believers are “not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14), lots of people have a hard time accepting that one must fulfill the righteousness of the law in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. This may be because they don’t understand what God’s grace has done and why His children are not under the law, or it may simply be that they love sin and don’t want to hear a gospel that produces righteousness. God’s grace has provided for us to be dead to the knowledge of good and evil, which produces sin, and to be regenerated, by the Holy Spirit, which produces righteousness. Through grace, and by the Holy Spirit, we are granted to partake of God’s nature as it is written in 2 Peter 1:4 saying,“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” By grace, God’s law can now be put into our minds and written in our hearts. This is what the law could not do. Describing the New Covenant, and the work of grace, Hebrews 8:10 says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people;” This mighty work was prophesied by Ezekiel saying, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in My statutes, and keep Mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 11:19-21). Note that those who receive the “new spirit” and “heart of flesh” walk in God’s statutes and keep His ways. These are His people and He is their God. But, those who continue to walk after their own hearts are not His people; they are of the world and will be judged so. True believers are not under the law because they now have God’s righteous nature and no longer transgress the law. You must see that the New Testament has not done away with God’s law or our need to be righteous. To the contrary, the New Covenant has provided for His law and righteous standard of conduct to be fulfilled. Subsequently, there is no need, or place, for the works of the law. Read the 8th, 9th, and 10th chapters of Hebrews. In 1 Timothy 1:8-10 Paul writes, “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law of not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” The law is good if it’s used lawfully. It is not made for a righteous man because a righteous man does not transgress. The law has already done its work in the righteous man’s life. It was “used lawfully” in that it caused him to know God’s will, know what sin is, realize that he was a slave to sin and in a state of death, needing a Savior. Having repented and believed the gospel, the former sinner is now a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) whose words and deeds are righteous because they are being generated by the Holy Spirit. Paul also writes, “This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21). Here, you see that those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law. Why? Because they don’t transgress the law- “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” It is also plain to see that those who produce the works of the flesh (sin) will not inherit the kingdom of God. As Paul continues writing we read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (vs. 22-24). True believers are not under the law because there is no law against the fruit of righteousness. Consider the speed limit on the roadways as an example. The posted speed limit reflects the law concerning speed on any given road. If you don’t exceed the speed limit, you are not under the law. However, if you exceed the speed limit, you become a lawbreaker, placing yourself under the law and subject to its penalties. So it is with the law of God and man. Before the gospel, man’s knowledge of good and evil, his Adamic nature, kept him in bondage to his own lusts and thereby a slave to sin- a transgressor of the law. This slavery prevented man from fulfilling God’s righteousness. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All were transgressors. But now, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, man can be freed from slavery to sin and regenerated to be a slave of righteousness. Read Romans 6. The true children of God are free from condemnation because they fulfill the righteousness of the law. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4). Lawbreakers, religious or not, will be condemned as sinners- “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;” (Romans 2:11-12).
The strongest opposition to this message comes from religious people who insist that it is impossible to live above sin and that this is a doctrine of working your way to heaven. Don’t be lured to follow this persuasion. The scriptures in this teaching clearly show that salvation consists of being made free from sin, becoming a servant of God with fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22). Everlasting life is the end of our salvation. The children of God don’t do righteousness to get saved, they do so because of the work God has done in them. Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Some things that were written by Paul are often used to label this as a doctrine of works. For instance, in Romans 3:19-22, he writes, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe; . . .”Here, Paul is declaring that no one is justified to have “life” (the Holy Spirit) by doing the works of the law. In other words, circumcision, abstaining from foods, sacrifices, and so on, won’t justify anyone to have peace with God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This justification only comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Though a man do all the “deeds of the law” his heart is still in opposition to God until he repents and believes the gospel. Then, by the Spirit, the new man has a heart that agrees with God and his oneness with God is reflected in his daily life. This is “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” Paul is in no way saying that God is disregarding the righteous requirement of His law and giving man a license to sin. Another verse that is used to label this as a doctrine of works is Romans 10:4 saying,“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” Again, some incorrectly take this to say that Christ does away with the righteous requirement of the law. Not so! The “end” in this text does not refer to abolishing the righteous requirement of the law. It refers to the goal, purpose, and fulfillment of it. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness because by His dwelling in the heart of a believer, the goal of the law, God’s righteousness, is fulfilled.
There are indeed doctrines of men that teach works for salvation, but this is not one of them. This is the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His apostles. It is the doctrine of repentance and faith for justification to be born of the Spirit, whereby an individual is conformed to the image of Jesus, Who is the brightness of God’s glory and express image of His person (Romans 8:28-29 & Hebrews 1:3). It is the only doctrine whereby man is made free from sin and regenerated by God to walk even as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6) and through which we may have boldness without any fear in the day of judgment because “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17-18). Exercise your faith to reach beyond the doctrines of men and natural reasoning to grasp these words of Jesus- “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).