Thursday, 08 November 2012
Originally posted July 31, 2012.
INTRODUCING THE INTRODUCTION
Welcome to item number three, my fourth post (confused yet?), in my series simply titled, “Biblical Contradictions”. This series is a work seeking to take up the challenge inadvertently posed by the talented maker of this YouTube video. It’s a very humorous production that asserts there are contradictions in the messages and themes in the Bible by way of a stick-man game show. At a glance, he might be right, for it is no mystery that there are certain types of errors amongst the thousands of copies of the Scriptures that we have (please keep in mind that these errors are typically no more than typos). However, I aim to show that one only needs to dig deeper and be willing to consider that first impressions are not always correct, and that our own bias can sometimes distort the actual message of Scriptures.
Today’s topic is the oft-cited dilemma of whether God offers Salvation by means of faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, or by (good) works. The Bible absolutely references works as an important part of the Christian life. So there’s no denying that to be a Christian means doing good works. The question, then, is whether or not it saves us; does the well-intentioned do-gooder go to Heaven, too, even if he doesn’t believe in Christ?
A thought, though…is it fair to pit the two against each other?
I’ll be honest: This one will be a bit more difficult to address. In the video, there are five verses referenced on this particular debate (not the usual two). Taken alone, out of the context of the surrounding verses, it’s almost certain that anyone would conclude that there is a contradiction. I want to give you an example of why this is very dangerous, and even dishonest, for the Bible critic to do.
Let’s say that my favorite color is green (which, it is). Suppose everything I buy is green. Green clothes. Green pens. Green cars. Green beans. Green pajamas. Green eggs and ham. Even green peace. (Ha!) In fact, I’m so into green, that if anyone who knew (of) me was to hear mention of my name, they’d instantly know I’m the proverbial green giant. Michael is to green as green is to Michael.
One day I go to the store and I say, “I’d like a purple ball, please” (purple is my second favorite color). Everyone within audible range likely would die from shock – and any who survived this near-cataclysmic event would spread the gossip faster than the quickest tongue in the West. “Michael asked for purple! This can’t be right! There must be some kind of contradiction because we all know Michael is all about green.” But this is the only thing anyone knows – just that I requested to buy a purple ball. The question few, if any, would ask is, “Why? Why did he ask for something purple?”
Well, the answer could be quite simple. It might be that there is a special little friend whose birthday is approaching and her favorite color is purple, and she likes bouncy balls. In that context, I am not contradicting myself as to my preference or standard of color choices. Since the ball is not for me, I am not going against my well-known selection from God’s light wave spectrum.
As I will strive to illustrate in this entry, the context regarding this topic of Salvation and the verses in question is of the utmost importance. Perhaps more so than any other entry I’ve written or will write.
LET’S MEET OUR CONTESTANTS
The five main passages of Scripture I’ll be referencing are Matthew 19:17, Luke 10:26-28, Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16, and James 2:24, and a bit more to solidify the context that each of these verses appear in.
The tricky part is that each of these portions of Scripture deals with particular facets of eternal life and the specific issue of works and faith. (I must say it again, context is critical.)
CONTESTANT NUMBER ONE, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
First, I’ll summarize each listed bit of Scripture in its respective context.
Matthew 19: 17 reads:
And [Jesus] said to [the man], "Why do you ask Me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
The man had asked what good deed(s) he could do to inherit eternal life, and further tried to justify himself by asking which of the commandments he had to keep. Jesus replied with the man’s Achilles Heel: give up your greedy life by giving your possessions to the poor and needy. More importantly, the man had to give up his selfish will and follow Jesus wholeheartedly. The man walked away sadly, for he was too attached to his wealth.
Then we have Luke 10:26-28 (I’ll start with verse 25, though):
…A lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
[Jesus] said to him, "What is written in the Law [of God]? How do you read it?"
And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."
And [Jesus] said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."
However, like the rich man back in Matthew, this lawyer tried to justify himself by asking who his neighbor was, and then Jesus gave the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. The man was more concerned about the cost of applying God’s law than he was about actually loving God and his fellow man. God’s laws are built around such things, but this man wanted to know what exceptions there were.
Next up, Romans 3:28:
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Paul is here writing to the Roman Christians explaining how we are not justified by works alone, as if we could boast about earning our own way to Heaven, and, in doing so, denying God the glory He deserves and making our faith in Jesus pointless. We’ll see later that this does not diminish the importance of works, but that works alone isn’t the truth about the way to life.
Galatians 2:16 says:
[Y]et we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Paul was giving some serious criticism to Peter (yup, the same Peter of the Twelve Disciples) because Peter was, for a time, acting very un-Christ-like; acting like a Gentile while expecting Gentiles to behave like Jews. (For clarification, “Gentile” is also typically synonymous with “ungodly” in Biblical times and texts. This wasn’t always an absolute case, for many Jews, too, often acted ungodly while many Gentiles came to live for the Lord.) Paul was saying that Peter’s actions were directly contrary to Jesus’ teachings and failed to embody the heart of the law of God.
Here, Paul was basically saying that because no one has kept the law perfectly, the only hope we have is through faith in the One who has. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, he states, “Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with Himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in Him are made right with God” (Romans 10:1-4, NLT).
And finally, James 2:24:
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Things just got real here, yo! This is perhaps the trickiest one of all if not read very carefully. James was comparing, quite to the point of this article, Salvation by faith or by works. His point was that faith alone in Christ does us no good and is dead if we don’t back that faith up with works. It’s not enough to say we simply believe…but keep reading as I’ll get more into that later.
SUMMARIZING THE SUMMARY
As you can see, without even these brief summaries, these verses can present a great deal of confusion if analyzed side-by-side. Yes, they do share in a common theme of Salvation, but not exactly in the same way. For instance, with the situations in Matthew and Luke, Jesus was addressing the flawed attempt of those who try to justify themselves through twisting and manipulation of God’s laws (Salvation by works). And notice that neither the rich man nor the lawyer actually kept the law in full, so they would stand condemned by the very law they were trying to justify themselves with.
Romans is stating that we are justified through faith in Christ alone (because no one can keep the law perfectly); that faith is trusting in Jesus who did keep the law perfectly. Galatians, also, addresses our inability to justify ourselves through the law and that faith in Christ is the only way. And then the seeming “trump card” of them all – James – argues that works as a result of faith – that is, evidence of the faith we say we have – is confirmation that our faith is real. That’s it in a nutshell.
Confused? Yeah, it’s a messy matter to sort through. (Even I, a 25+ year Christian, still tend to get these points a tad muddled in my head and it takes some careful reading and thinking to keep it straight.)
To be clear, the three elements we all need to be aware of: “faith”, “works”, and the “law”. Each of these is essential to understanding Salvation. In fact, while this might seem contrary to your current understanding (especially if you’re not well-studied in Biblical theology), all three of these key points are inter-related. It’s important to have each one in play lest the other two fall to the wayside.
Now to get into the nitty-gritty.
LIVING BY THE NUMBERS
Some number of years ago, I wrote an article explaining why trying to be perfect by our good deeds cannot earn us Salvation. Why we can never be “good enough” simply by our works.
I used the illustration of a fraction, where the top number is the number of good deeds we have done in our life, and the bottom number is the total number deeds, good and bad. If a whole number – a 1-to-1 relationship of good deeds to total deeds – is a perfect life and earns us Heaven, then no one is getting in. That is because even a near-perfect life of 99.9% still does not meet the expectations: to be holy like God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
This is basically what the Scripture means when it says that no one who lives by the law alone will live, because no one has kept the law perfectly.
Back in Matthew 19, this is precisely what is illustrated when the rich man asked Jesus how he can have eternal life. Jesus said to keep the commandments. The man kept the law in a legal sense, but not at heart, which is keenly illustrated when the man felt the need to ask, “Which ones?”
In verses 18 through 19, Jesus listed off five of the Ten Commandments (plus one more that compliments the Ten). Curious as to why He only gave six? Jesus knew that this man was wealthy. The man kept all the laws in a sense, but his heart was not at all interested in God, but in himself.
You see, all of God’s laws are designed to lead us into a right relationship with Him. You cannot keep some of His commandments and expect to be in a perfect relationship with Him, because breaking even one commandment means you are, in one way or another, actually choosing to disregard God.
What Jesus was doing was illustrating how the man was not actually keeping the laws in accordance to their original purpose.
The man did not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, dishonor his parents, or disrespect his neighbors (Matthew 19:18-19). But the commandments Jesus did not list off initially were the ones that directly pertain to our relationship with God: keeping the Sabbath, don’t misuse God’s name, do not worship idols, and do not have serve any other gods. While it’s not suggested one way or the other about the man’s regular church attendance and Saturday work habits, notice that the theme of these commandments all relate to God. The man kept all the commandments as they related to other people, which was good. He did not break any legal laws, but at the same time, he was not actually obeying God, for as it was pointed out, the man worshiped his money (an idol) more than he cared about God. If this were not so, he would not have been so saddened over having to give up his temporary wealth for everlasting life. Nor would he have asked which of the laws he had to obey.
THE LAW IS FOR THE LAWLESS
So if the point of the law is to guide us into a right standing with God, what then? If keeping the law still doesn’t save us, why do we have to obey it? It’s not simply about following rules and regulations, dogma and doctrines. That’s all for the purpose of opening our eyes to the Truth, particularly about how we have not been obeying God.
Paul keenly pointed out:
For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in His sight. … Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
(Romans 2:13, 3:19-20, NLT)
(Remember, Paul was talking to Christians – people who had already accepted Christ through faith.)
People were given the law because they were not obeying God with all their hearts. Thus, obeying the law is not merely about following the rules, but about guiding us to the point where we willfully follow God with all our hearts; that is, for the sake of being close to God in mutual love and service.
We see this point further emphasized in Luke 10. As I highlighted earlier, the lawyer wanted to try to justify himself by asking who his neighbor was (I find it ironic that it’s a lawyer asking Jesus about this, for the stereotypical idea of lawyers is that they try to win their cases by finding loopholes…and that’s exactly what he’s doing here). He rightly quoted Scripture (the law), saying to inherit eternal life, one must love the Lord God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.
The lawyer, a Jew, and like many other Jews, had a deep-rooted problem of prejudice against the Samaritans, who were half-Gentile, half-Jewish people. Jesus’ parable was pointing out that you cannot love the Lord and one’s neighbor with such prejudices. By making the Samaritan the hero of the story, the lawyer was forced to acknowledge his failure to actually obey the law of loving others.
With Matthew and Luke, the point is that keeping the law can’t be accomplished when exceptions are sought after. Rather than obeying the law for the sake of the purpose that the laws were given, these men were trying to use the laws to justify themselves. Isn’t it interesting, too, that in both cases, these men were asking which part of the law they didn’t have to obey, as if God gave laws that could simply be disregarded anyway? Why would this be a concern if they were already obeying the law in full? They knew they weren’t obeying the law, so if they could find out the exceptions, then “maybe” they could have eternal life, right? Wrong.
Again, the law was given because people were not following God to begin with. The law was to help instruct people on how to actually love God.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
So where does that leave us? Is obeying the law the way to Salvation or not? Yes…and no.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say one has a plot to murder someone. In his heart, he intends to take someone’s life but chooses not to simply because of the law and the repercussions if he gets caught. Did the person keep the law (of the land)? Yes. So far, the action of breaking the law was not made. But in his heart, he has schemed to take someone’s life without just reason. In his heart, he cares nothing for the value of another’s life and cares nothing for the law which seeks to protect that value. He only obeyed the law for his own sake. From a social and/or governmental standpoint, the man cannot be convicted, because human law cannot conclusively prove the condition of a man’s heart apart from actions. Motive alone isn’t enough to pass judgment in this case.
However, in spiritual terms, the Bible makes it clear, as we see here between Jesus and the religious leaders: “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all [that Jesus had said a moment ago] and were sneering at Jesus. [Jesus] said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight’” (Luke 16:14-15, NIV). (Please note the highlighted text. Jesus also isn’t saying that money is detestable, but rather the greed for it.)
Just because we didn’t “do badly” doesn’t mean we did good. This is why simply obeying the law cannot save us, but it is necessary to do so anyway in order to give significance to our faith, which is what puts us in a right standing with God. For, it was breaking God’s law that got us in this mess in the first place, and it’s in obeying the law that we begin to come back to Him.
“USE YOUR FAITH, LUKE!”
That leaves us with the matter of faith. If the law cannot save us – if it’s just a notification of how sinful we are – how does faith play into this?
Faith, in layman’s terms, is a matter of belief in and acting on God’s promises and trusting His character. Even when things seem to be impossible by human terms, we trust and obey God anyway, believing that God will take care of the things we cannot. That’s the gist of it.
What this amounts to is that faith in Jesus recognizes and accepts that His death on the cross was enough to save each and every one of us from everlasting separation from God.
Since we cannot save ourselves by simply obeying the law of God (remember my fraction illustration earlier), then perfection is impossible to attain. There is no removing the fact that we have broken the law. And God has said that when the time comes, all people will have to stand trial for their lives.
Let me illustrate it this way (keep in mind Jesus’ parable of the three servants and the talents as I am basically “retelling” that story). You were given life by God. In reality, the life you and I call “ours”, is not really ours. It belongs to God as He is the one who created us. (If you built your house, humanly speaking, that house is yours.)
Since you were created in His image, so the life you have (not necessarily the life you live) is also a reflection of who He is, too. God is life, and He gave life to you. We are called to give that life back through our heart and actions – “love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”. When we failed to do that, we were left with a debt. We can’t exactly just go buy some new life at the local store and give it to God. We can’t earn it by way of work and wages. Every new minute we are given life and each moment of life we are called to live for God. That new moment of life cannot be used to cover a past moment; just like you cannot spend money on a new CD and expect to be able to use that same $20 to pay your electric bill.
Let’s put it in a contemporary sense. If you gave a bank your money for savings, typically, you’d expect, at the very least, a full return of your deposited cash when you go to withdraw it. And normally, you’d expect a bit of interest given how our bank systems work. If the bank fails to return your money, clearly, they’d owe you a debt. The banks aren’t just letting your money sit there collecting dust. In order to stay in business and profit, themselves, they are investing your money so that they are still making an income even as many people deposit and withdraw their wealth.
What if the bank spent all your money? Suppose you came to collect your money and the bank said, “Sorry! All gone.” You’d be furious and the bank would be in a very difficult spot. They can’t just pull money from other accounts, because that would leave other customers short in their own funds (that’s also called theft). If they did that with everyone’s accounts, they’d go broke! And they likely couldn’t pay for every penny of everyone’s money they misused. How would they pay it back?
So it is with our lives. God gave us our lives and so He naturally expects a return on it – and He has made it clear the kind of return He expects. He wants a full life that reflects His image. But does the life you and I have presently and completely reflect His character? No. We are in a debt we can’t repay. The result is the penalty of death – our lives taken from us – which is, in reality, complete separation from God. That is, the life we have left will be used to cover the debt of misused life we have lived…leaving us with no life to live on.
That is why Christ is so important. He did live a perfect life. He is innocent from any guilt, having kept the laws of God completely. However, He graciously and mercifully gave up His life, paying a debt He didn’t owe. In this trade, though, if we accept God’s gift of Salvation through Jesus, we are granted Jesus’ righteousness. Meaning, even though we are guilty, we are seen as innocent. This means, however, that we must also live righteously, as Christ lived.
Christ’s death for our sins did not mean that He also lived sinfully, that we might also continue living sinfully. Or look at it this way: if you were poor and lived a life of rags, imagine if someone came and paid off all your debts and gave you new clothes, a home, and a brand new life, complete with a great paying job. Would you truly continue to live the life of a bum on the streets, sick and dirty?
Salvation, then, is about Redemption. More on that in a bit.
It is in this that we see that works without faith and faith without works cannot justify us. Works without faith is like trying to fully keep the law…but it’s too late. We’ve already broken it. And faith without works is like expecting a paycheck without actually doing the work to earn it. Faith in Christ means that we are trading our old, sinful lives for the one Christ lived (that is, we’re receiving credit for a life we didn’t live). We are resting on His righteousness to cover the fact that we have not lived righteously. We are resting on His riches for the wealth we squandered. Otherwise, what does it mean to say we trust in Christ’s work on the cross yet continue to live just as we had before? If we recognize our sinfulness and our need for Salvation, then accepting Christ ought to be met with a response of works – works that seek to obey God with all our hearts! That means keeping the law! Again, not that we can be saved by it, but as an expression of the faith in and acceptance of Christ and His work for us. That’s what the law is for, as it shows us how we are to properly love God.
One of Jesus’ other parables probably better illustrates this.
"What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?"
[The Pharisees] said, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes will go into the kingdom of God before you. For John [the Baptist] came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe Him.”
(Matthew 21:28-32, ESV)
Neither son fully kept the law. The first son disobeyed his father, at first, in his heart for he responded with stubbornness and a refusal to respect his father’s authority. But, by grace, he was deemed the obedient one when he began to do the work he was called to do. It is in this that we find the qualifier when Paul says in Romans 3, “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (vv. 27-28, ESV).
We can’t boast we’re good and righteous on our own merits after we’ve already demonstrated evil and unrighteous hearts! So all that’s left is the grace of God!
Faith in Christ’s work, in what He did, is what justifies us, for Christ is the only one who fully kept the law. By grace – God’s grace – we are deemed righteous.
Finally, when it is said that “[y]ou see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, ESV), we have to remember that faith without works is dead. Earlier, James states that the demons believe in God…and tremble (James 2:19)! The context of James’ message was that simply believing does no one any good. There must be some kind of evidence – works – to prove the faith is genuine.
What does this mean?
If we only take the words used in James 2:24 at face value, we won’t notice what is actually a glaring point. James just said that demons believe, yet are terrified of God. However, their belief is a mere mental acceptance of the Truth. (It’s hard to spread lies if one doesn’t readily know the truth.) It’s like the age-old example of believing there’s a $20 bill around the corner but doing absolutely nothing to go get it. What in the world is that belief for?! Believe all you want, but you won’t be $20 richer simply by having faith…by simply accepting is true. (Perhaps an example of being sick and doing nothing when a cure is readily at hand would be a better illustration.)
And if one says they have faith but do not actually obey God, then what good is their faith? (Do they even really have faith?) Thus, works is the qualifier of faith. That’s what James means.
Let’s look a few verses earlier in the second chapter of James:
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. But if you show partiality [ie: favoritism towards Jews but not Gentiles], you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For He [that is, God] who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(vv. 8-13, ESV)
It’s not just this law or that law broken and everything else is a-okay. Remember, God’s law (have you noticed I keep referring to it in the singular despite there being many various laws given) is designed to point us back to Him; God’s law is a reflection of His character and who He is and that we are created in His image. So if we break one law, even if we keep all others, then we have broken all of them. That’s why being a “mostly good person” doesn’t cut it.
Think of it like a stained glass window. A single shard of glass could be missing from the entire window, while all others are intact, but that window is still not wholly complete. God is not looking for a mostly complete stained glass window; He’s looking for the whole thing. Because what is depicted in that window is God, Himself. You cannot say that you are a complete reflection of God’s image yet be missing a piece. Missing a piece means that the image isn’t complete. So it is when dealing with God’s law.
What we have then is not faith versus works, but a mutual dependence of both.
GRACE VERSUS WORKS: THE FINAL BATTLE
Even when Jesus, Himself, says, “Do this, and live,” or when reading the Old Testament where several commands from God iterate obedience to the law so that one may live, one thing becomes apparent: the law is an unrelenting source of conviction. Like in a court of law, a conviction refers to one’s failure to keep the law.
Notice, however, how Jesus addresses the varied people in the Scriptures. Every time the Pharisees try to catch Jesus in a trap or question Him, Jesus turns the tables on them, showing how these religious “elites” are breaking the law they supposedly revere so much. But to those who know they are sinners, to those who are inwardly broken over the sin they have committed, they are set free from the law and given grace, pardoned from the law’s demands.
As my pastor put it, “Grace to the humble, [the] law to the proud.” And we already know that no one keeps the law fully.
Look at Luke 15. In all three parables – “The Lost Sheep”, “The Lost Coin”, and “The Prodigal Son” – Jesus illustrates how God seeks out the lost and the broken. The lost sheep, the woman’s lost coin, and the father’s wayward son are all representations of us.
Luke 15:1-2 says, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them’" (ESV).
But in each parable, Jesus ends His story with the same message, “For each sinner who repents, there is cause for celebration!” In your face, Pharisees! Repentance, therefore, is demonstrated by good works!
Celebration! Not condemnation. Therein is the lynch pin! I touched on this earlier, but now I state it outright. If we do not repent from our sins, then no amount of faith – no supposed belief – will do us any good! We must repent! For before there was grief. After all, neither the shepherd, the old woman, nor the father of the son were happy over that which or whom was lost. But once the sheep and coin were found and the son had returned, then, then there was cause for celebration!
Notice, too, that Jesus went from a rather impersonal example such as a mere sheep, to a more personal thing as a poor woman’s sole coin, to a father’s very treasured son. The first two illustrated God’s pursuance of us, but in the last example, Jesus speaks of the importance of our response to why we are lost and broken. The law points out our failure to obey and demands a response; that response is repentance, coupled with faith, which is then qualified by obeying the law.
JUST WHAT IS IN A WORD?
With repentance (the word that perhaps best sums up the entire faith-and-works matter) we are blessed with redemption. Redemption in the dictionary is stated this way:
1. To recover ownership of by paying a specified sum.
2. To pay off (a promissory note, for example).
3. To turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange.
4. To fulfill (a pledge, for example).
5. To convert into cash.
6. To set free; rescue or ransom.
7. To save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences.
8. To make up for.
9. To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of.
Jesus paid the price (death) that we owed and He paid it in full. When we turn in our old lives, we are granted new ones (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ fulfilled the law (Matthew 5-17-18 & John 19:30), and, even though He died in our place (John 3:16), His innocence was converted into life (Luke 24), and thus He was raised from the dead. Our sins condemned us to death, and so we face the decay of our bodies and our spirits. But when we accept Christ, “dying to our old selves”, we are set free from that dire future (Romans 6:5-11); we are rescued, Christ having paid the ransom on our lives (1 Timothy 2:5-6). While we will face daily consequences for our sins in this life, the ultimate consequence for our sin will be something we are spared from (2 Samuel 12:13-14). Christ’s perfect life makes up for our failed one.
And with that, I have just crossed into the eleventh page as I type this up in Word (the Microsoft version; not the Biblical one LOL). I hope this lengthy message clears up one more matter about the Bible and what it’s actually saying. And I hope it gives you a sense of freedom, in that you need not worry about being justified in God’s eyes by your own merits, but only have to live intentionally for Jesus, knowing that His works saved you. That’s the kind of faith to have.