Wednesday, April 04, 2018

True Christianity and Inward Obedience

Romans 2:23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?

I just now realized that Paul’s issue with the Gentiles and Jews in Rome is similar to what Abinadi was dealing with with the wicked King Noah and his corrupt priests in the Book of Mormon.  

Mosiah 12:29 If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches? Why do ye commit whoredoms.

Paul was writing to Christians in Rome discussing some of the attitudes and behavior of the Gentiles and Jews.  Many Jews in Rome as well as those in the ancient City of Nephi believed that if they observed the Law of Moses that God would justify them in breaking other commandments involving honesty, fidelity, and sobriety.

2 Nephi 28:8 he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this;

Paul is teaching that that it dishonors God to observe the outward commandments of the Law of Moses, and teach there is no longer need to keep the inner commandments of honesty, integrity, sobriety, fidelity, and love of God and our neighbor.  When Paul says: 

Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (ie circumcision).

Eph. 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The “works” Paul is referring to are the outward observances of the Law of Moses like circumcision, new moon, and sabbath day observances.  Paul taught that Christ’s sacrifice abolished the ourward ordinances of the Law of Moses, but not the inward commandments.  Remember that Paul makes many long lists in his letters as he encourages the Saints in their inward obedience and repentance.

Rom. 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;

Christ’s sacrifice didn't abolish the requirement to be “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and in doing good to all men” (Phil 4:8). 

Rom 2: 28-28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The inward circumcision of the heart is manifest by our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and desire to love one another and keep God’s 10 commandments.  Our inward and outward obedience is empowered by Christ’s love and His Spirit within us. 

Christ has given His believers a new system of outward ordinances and observances such as baptism and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  However, if we believe that going through these motions alone, absolves us from needing to keep the inward commandments, then we are just as misguided as the ancient Jews. Evangelical Christians, like the ancient Jews, may likewise dishonor God by teaching that we are saved by our confession of Christ alone without also encouraging repentance, and obedience to the inward commandments.   True Christians should always encourage each other in being sober, honest, true, and chaste. 

False doctrine carries grave consequences. Glenn Beck recently discussed the 4 Pillars of American Exceptionalism. There is much about American history that is not at all exceptional and downright deplorable.  But apart from our terrible mistakes, the 4 things that made America special came from our:  1. Families/Marriages, 2. Religiosity, 3. Industry/Innovation, 4. Honesty.  As family, faith, and virtue erode away, so will this nation.  A return to virtue is the only thing that will make America great again.   

The failure of America comes down to the failure of America’s religions.  Pure religion according to James is about welfare and virtue (James 1:27).  Today, religion has turned more into Sunday Morning entertainment. Government has ursurped the Church’s business/duty of providing individual welfare and many religion’s grace-focused doctrine doesn’t speak enough about repentance, or obedience. But Paul had no problem preaching repentance and obedience. 

1 Cor 5:11-13  if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

2 Tim 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these (iniquity), he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

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