Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

March 4, 2007

Ash Wednesday + 9

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 9:56 pm

The so-called good works of man are thus not deadly sins as though they were crimes. Conversely, the works that God does through man are also not merits, as though they were sinless.

The argument is not that our good works are deadly sins in the sense that they have the look of criminal acts. That’s the problem. They look good. Hence they are a trap.

All notions that our good works are in any way something in which we can rest, in which we can put our trust are to be excluded. We are easily seduced by them into putting our trust and our assurance in them. The most seductive of these traps can occur in the private worship (in our heart of hearts) where we get that really good feeling that we are doing a work that approaches sinless perfection.

Unfortunately, a bad tree can’t produce anything but bad fruit.

But you say, "Oh, I am now regenerated. I am a good tree." I think here the metaphor is being carried too far. Saying "I am now a good tree" seems to work as a refutation but scripture says that "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Ecclesiastes 7:20). This text says that even righteous men still sin in their doing good. Ergo we are simultaneously justified (righteous) and remain sinners.

The New Testament witness does not provide much relief here: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." ( 1 John 1:8-10).

These verses go further than saying we occasionally sin. They are saying exactly what the thesis says. We have a stain that touches everything we say and do. So, we are in danger as long as we rest in our law keeping, and whenever we trust in those good works that God performs through us.

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6 Comments »

  1. 1. The Book of Ecclesiastes is loaded with hyperbole, so I wouldn’t take too many universal statements from there, otherwise you may conclude that Christ’s love for His Bride is meaningless… (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

    2. Is it possible that in 1 John 1:8-10, the apostle is speaking of a past way of life? After all, he wrote the epistle “so that you will not sin”, and to encourage Christians that “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” John 2:1

    3. “So, we are in danger as long as we rest in our law keeping, and whenever we trust in those good works that God performs through us.”

    Amen. Let us rest “upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” – WCF 14.2 “Of Saving Faith”

    Comment by Ron — March 5, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

  2. WCF 16

    V. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins,[16] but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants:[17] and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit;[18] and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.[19]

    16. Rom. 3:20; 4:2, 4, 6; 8:18, 22-24; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7; Psa. 16:2; Job 22:2-3, 35:7-8
    17. Luke 17:10
    18. Rom. 8:13-14; Gal. 5:22-23
    19. Isa. 64:6; Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15, 18; Psa. 130:3; 143:2

    VI. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him;[20] not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight;[21] but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.[22]

    20. Eph. 1:6; I Peter 2:5; see Exod. 28:38; Gen. 4:4; Heb. 11:4
    21. Job 9:20; Psa. 143:2; I John 1:8

    22. Heb. 6:10; 13:20-21; II Cor. 8:12; Matt. 25:21, 23; I Cor. 3:14; 4:5

    VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others:[23] yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith;[24] nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word;[25] nor to a right end, the glory of God,[26] they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God:[1] and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.[2]

    23. II Kings 10:30-31; I Kings 21:27, 29; Luke 6:32-34; 18:2-7; see Rom. 13:4
    24. Heb. 11:4, 6; see Gen. 4:3-5
    25. I Cor. 13:3; Isa. 1:12
    26. Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; I Cor. 10:31

    27. Prov. 21:27; Hag. 2:14; Titus 1:15; Amos 5:21-22; Mark 7:6-7; Hosea 1:4; Rom. 9:16; Titus 3:5
    28. Isa. 14:4; 36:3; Matt. 23:23; 25:41-45; see Rom. 1:21-32

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — March 5, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  3. Amen, amen, and amen.

    Comment by Ron — March 5, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

  4. Amen, by which I mean 1 John 1:8-10 describes our ongoing way of life. Even as new creatures, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

    See also Rom 7. Paul does not condemn me for my sin (Rom 8:1), he sympathizes and empathizes with me, and calls me to repentance, and reminds me of my assurance.

    Comment by RubeRad — March 6, 2007 @ 7:08 am

  5. Amen, by which I mean 1 John 1:8-10 describes our ongoing way of life

    Perhaps, but John leaves little wiggle room for those who “keep on sinning” (1 John 3:6)

    Paul does not condemn me for my sin (Rom 8:1), he sympathizes and empathizes with me, and calls me to repentance, and reminds me of my assurance.

    That’s not all he does. He also warns us that we must “continue in His kindness. Otherwise, [we] also will be cut off” just like old Israel only much more easily since they were natural braches and we are wild branches. (Romans 11:22) And if one is “cut off”, Romans 8:1 no longer applies to him.

    Comment by Ron — March 6, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  6. 1Jo 3:19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
    1Jo 3:20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — March 7, 2007 @ 1:27 am


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