Turning Away from Sins is Effectively Keeping the Law
by David J. Stewart | June 2016
Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
The Old Testament law was given by God for the purpose of showing all mankind their sinnership. Romans 3:19, “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.” And again we read in Galatians 3:24-26, “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.” Since NO ONE can perfectly keep God's law, there is a “CURSE” upon everyone under the law. Galatians 3:10, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” So we learn that eternal life cannot be obtained by keeping the law! And those who do try to be saved by keeping the law are under the curse of the law!
Here's the good news! Romans 3:21-24, “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 them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” I love this passage of Scripture! As you read in Romans 3:21, there is a righteousness that is “WITHOUT THE LAW”! This is the imputed righteousness of God. Literally, this means that by faith you can be saved, even though you do no works (i.e., you don't keep the law). What is the law? It is the Ten Commandments as specified in Exodus 20. The law teaches mankind not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to take the name of the Lord in vain, not to covet thy neighbour's wife and property, not to bear false witness, not to bow down nor worship images, et cetera. The Jews failed to keep God's law. In fact, they had broken every command before Moses had even returned from receiving them from God. Moses and Aaron found the people dancing naked around a golden calf, to the sound of rock and roll music in the camp, committing sexual immorality. These were God's people!
We Are Saved By God's Righteousness Through Faith in Jesus Christ
Please notice again Romans 3:22a, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” There we see the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ. There is no mention of “turning away from sins,” nor of “inviting Jesus into our life,” nor of “saying 'Jesus is Lord,'” nor of “asking Christ to take control of our life to be saved.” I am perplexed that multitudes of Baptist preachers today have embraced Satan's lie of Lordship Salvation. Many sincere preachers, like Evangelist David W. Cloud, deny teaching Lordship Salvation, but they are nonetheless teaching a variation of the heresy. The Holy Bible is very clear in Romans 3:22 that we are saved by “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all THEM THAT BELIEVE” [emphasis mine]. There is no mention of sacrament keeping. There is no mention of turning away from sins. There is no mention of confessing Christ before men. There is no mention of following Christ. We are taught simply to BELIEVE!
The Apostle Paul teaches that through faith the curse of the law is made void (i.e., lacking legal force). Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” The very moment that a person trusts Christ, he or she is no longer under the legal indictment of the law of God. They are now under grace, because Christ vicariously (our substitute) died in our place on the cross, suffering the punishment for our sins. Romans 6:15, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” What a beautiful and comforting truth! My friend, if you are a born-again believer, you are no longer under the legal curse of the law, YOU ARE UNDER GOD'S GRACE!!!
Jesus Paid a Debt He Did Not Owe, Because We Owed a Debt We Could Not Pay
There is something in the legal world called “Vicarious Liability.” The general rule in criminal law is that there is no vicarious liability. Thus, the practice of holding one person liable for the actions of another is the exception and not the rule in criminal law. Albeit, Jesus Christ volunteered to suffer, bleed and die on the cross for the sins of mankind. Romans 5:7-8, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Hardly anyone would sacrifice their life for a man of God. Perhaps even someone would die for a good man. But who would sacrifice their life for a criminal? That's right, no one! Yet, God has shown His love for all mankind by dying for you and me, who are guilty sinners, all criminals in God's holy eyes!!!
To help you understand the beauty and power of what being under grace means, let me give you a brief illustration. Let's say (if it were possible) a man has committed hundreds of felony crimes. He has a rap sheet a mile long! If convicted (and he will be) he'll be sentenced to dozens of lifetimes behind bars in prison. But during the court hearing, a mysterious stranger enters the court room to speak with the judge, who offers to take the place of the indicted man, paying for his offenses with his own life! And so the guilty man is set free, because the innocent man has offered to take his place. Of course, this scenario would never happen in man's court system, to protect the public interest.
However, God's court system is very different. Jesus Christ has already paid the full-price for the sins of mankind. That's right, everyone's sins and crimes have already been paid for, as far as eternal life is concerned. But there's a catch, you must receive that pardon for your crimes against God, by placing your faith in Christ's death on the cross for your sins, and His burial, and bodily resurrection three days later. This is “the Gospel” (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus doesn't forgive sins! That is correct! Jesus has already paid for our sins with His precious blood! Our sins are paid for, which means that forgiveness is a free “gift” to whosoever wants it. We receive this gift of eternal life and forgiveness through faith in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 6:28-29, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
I love the following verses. 1st John 2:1-2, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word “advocate” is the Greek word Parakletos, which means, “an intercessor, a consoler.” Isn't that beautiful? When we sin as a believer, Jesus Himself is our attorney, Who intercessors on our behalf in the courtroom of the Father (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:15-16). That helps me sleep at night!!! But wait, there's more! Jesus is also our consoler, who gives us moral and emotional strength. In other words, when a believer sins, we have a friend who is our lawyer, and He assures us that everything is going to be alright. That's peace of soul that all the money in the world cannot purchase! Thank you Lord Jesus! Praise the Lord!
The word “propitiation” is the Greek word hilasmos, which means, “to appease one's wrath, an expiator (to make amends).” Nearly every preacher quotes Romans 5:8, but not verse 9. Romans 5:8-9, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” God's wrath is reserved for all unrepentant humans who perish in their sins without Christ! It is Jesus' precious blood that appeases the great wrath of God the Father. Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Only Christian believers will escape the wrath of God, which is reserved for the lost in the Lake of Fire. 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”
Everyone is Either Under Law or Under Grace
My friend, you are either under the law of God or under God's grace, and there is nothing between. Romans 11 is speaking about the Jews. Most Jews were unsaved, still under the curse of the law; but a remnant of Jews were saved, under grace. The Bible makes clear that there is nothing in between. Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Here's a great MP3 sermon by Pastor Ralph Yankee Arnold titled, “Caught Between Grace And Works.” The Scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation comes without works, without keeping the law, without self improvement, without following Christ as “Lord,” without turning away from sins. Eternal life is a free gift, paid for by Jesus' precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19). There is no requirement in the Scriptures to “turn away from sins” to be saved. That is not what “repentance” means. To “repent” means “to think differently.” Repentance is unto the Gospel itself! There is not even one Bible verse that teaches “to turn away from sins” as a prerequisite to receiving the gift of eternal life.
Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Again, there is no mention of forsaking sinful bad habits, nor of inviting Christ into one's life, nor of making Jesus one's “Lord” to be saved. Romans 3:20b makes very clear that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” I hear many corrupt, but sincere, pastors preaching a distorted plan of salvation. They tell the Gospel while simultaneously telling people to “ask Jesus to take control of their life” to be saved, which is not the Gospel. Effectively, they are building a bridge between the Gospel and works salvation.
Pacific Garden Mission's “UNSHACKLED” is a major offender in this area, telling people to turn away from sinful ways and surrender control of their life to Christ to be saved. Sadly, UNSHACKLED could be renamed to SHACKLED. Granted, it does sound really good to tell sinners they must depart from sinful behavior, and believe the Gospel to be saved. It appeals to our carnal human nature that a man ought to have to forsake his sinful ways if he expects God to save Him! However, this is what religion teaches, not the Holy Bible. To include forsaking one's sins as part of salvation, is no different than trying to keep the works of the law to be saved. To say that God will not save a man who is unwilling to forsake his sinful ways, is to say that “works” are required to receive the “gift” of eternal life. How absurd! A gift is a gift is a gift!
The very doctrine of God's imputed righteousness to the believer obliviates all such teachings of declaring Jesus as one's Lord to be saved. The truth is that JESUS IS LORD, you don't make Him Lord. To be saved, you simply receive Jesus as your Savior. John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” 1st Timothy 4:10, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” Jesus is the Savior of all men, but you must receive Him personally to be saved. The way to be saved is to BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!!! The apostle Paul declared in 1st Corinthians 1:17, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Notice that the Gospel is rendered ineffective by men's “words of wisdom.” Intellectualism is an enemy of soul-winning!
I know you've heard them. I have heard them—preachers who ramble on for hours, lacking any real substance. By the end of their sermon you're utterly frustrated, because there was nothing to grab onto in their message, nothing to sink your teeth into! I love porcupine preachers—because YOU GET THE POINT!!! The apostle Paul warned of balloon-preachers, who are filled with hot air, diluting the truth in never-ending displays of worldly wisdom. One such preacher is Dr. Ravi Zacharias. Religious radio is filled with dry preachers, deadbeats, who avoid offending their listeners for the sake of donations. They are a sure cure for insomnia (unable to sleep)! The great need of the hour is PREACHING PREACHERS! Today's religious ministers are teachers who appeal to the MIND, not Bible-preachers who appeal to the HEART!
Oh how we need men of God today, who walk with God, and who preach the truths that God's Word burns into their heart. God's Word burned in Jeremiah's heart!!! Jeremiah 20:9, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Preaching is truth set on fire!!! The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (known as “The weeping preacher”) had quit preaching in frustration. Jeremiah's message was one of doom for Israel. It was too late for them (Jeremiah 25:11)—no matter what they did, the Jews were going to be humiliated by the Chaldeans (Babylon). Yet, even in his frustration, Jeremiah couldn't withstand the burning conviction of God's Words in his heart, and he returned to preaching the inspired Words of God to the people. Amen!
Conclusion of the Article
I've laid the preceding Biblical groundwork to teach the main truth of this article, which is, turning away from sins is effectively keeping the law. This is a false plan of salvation. TO BE SAVED, the satanic heresy of Lordship Salvation requires sinners not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to take the name of the Lord in vain, not to covet thy neighbour's wife and property, not to bear false witness, not to bow down nor worship images, et cetera. These are the works of the law! This is “another Gospel” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4).
From viewing the truths that I've shared with you, it should be abundantly clear that every believer is UNDER GRACE. Hallelujah! The believer is no longer UNDER LAW. We have a Savior, and an attorney, and an intercessor, and a consoler, and a friend! Please notice our text verse from Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Just because a believer is no longer under the law, that is, the law no longer has any legal power against us, doesn't give us God's permission to disregard the law. We are commanded to establish (or uphold) the law.
I'd guesstimate that at least half of all Baptist preachers today teach some variation of the Lordship Salvation heresy. Beware Of “Operation Somebody Cares” And Chick Tracts. Beware of Evangelist Billy Graham. Beware of Pastor Chip Ingram. False prophetess Ellen G. White of the Seventh-day Adventists also taught Lordship Salvation. Mormons and Dr. John MacArthur share the same errant view of repentance. I'm not trying to be unkind, just honest. The religious cults all view “repentance” as a change of life, or turning away from sins; whereas, in sharp contrast the Word of God teaches that repentance (metanoeo) means “to think differently.” Thus, we think differently toward God (“repentance toward God” - Acts 20:21b), believing the Gospel to be saved (Mark 1:15). Repentance is unto the Gospel itself! We don't repent AND believe; but rather, we repent TO believe!!!
We are saved simply by BELIEVING THE GOSPEL! 1st Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” The plan of salvation is simple, summed up in one word—Gospel! Getting saved is so easy and simple that the Bible calls the Gospel, “THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST” (2nd Corinthians 11:3). Beware of false prophets, nearly all of whom I believe are sincere, who wrestle (twist) the Scriptures “unto their own destruction” (2nd Peter 3:16), and are “being led away with the error of the wicked” (2nd Peter 3:17).
“The religions of the world say, 'do and live.' The religion of the Bible says, 'live and do'.” —Dr. Bob Jones Sr.