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Responsibility Free

I want to address the title before it’s mistaken. The intention of “responsibility” has to do with the fact that man has no part in effecting nor retaining salvation, only in receiving and manifesting it in the obedience of its doctrines! I suspect that the understanding of many in Christianity may not reach the full implication concerning Grace and the Law, until the Millennium. There is an obvious general lack of differentiation between the administrations of Grace and Law among a great number of those within Protestantism. This has been obvious (especially seen in the term ‘Judeo-Christian’) since the time the Decalogue, which was intended solely for the Jewish nation, was often displayed in numerous places like schools and some governmental establishments.

The Law was works related, in that the Mosaic Covenant between God and believing Israelites (Jn 14:1) provided blessings for works of obedience within the Law, and forgiveness came only from the sacrificial ordinances. This required works for exchange of blessing, but the heart and mind of the believer was still under the dominion of the old man, until the Cross. Belief in and desire for God was present in many, but God always brought them back to fellowship.

Christianity allows nobody but God to effect the Grace of salvation, in which is instilled a new nature from Christ (Col 3:10; 2Pe 1:4) which God uses to keep us desiring after Him (Phil 2:13), thus maintaining desire for fellowship with Him, as we grow in the image of His Son by Their Spirit. Under the Law, blessing came by works of obedience which manifested faith; under Grace, blessing comes by Christ’s expiation for our sin; and obedience manifests faith in Him. Faith and obedience are companion attributes, as persistent disobedience manifests unbelief (distrust).

Responsibility Free

There are vast numbers of Christians who think that Christ, besides pardon, is simply a means to strengthen them to keep the Law. But this is sad and basic ignorance of Christianity. Is a believer then at liberty to break the Law? Of course not. It is one thing to be a debtor to do the whole Law, and another that God can make light of any breach of the Law. Is there then nothing possible between these two conditions—debt to the Law and freedom to break it?

Neither consists with a Christian. He who is free to do his own will, is a lawless man (in reference to the will after the old man—NC). He who is under the Law to do it, describes the condition of a Jew and nobody else. The believer stands on an entirely different ground. He is saved by grace and is called to walk in grace; and the character of righteousness that the Spirit instills within him is of another sort altogether (after the new man or new nature—NC). As it is said to the Philippians, “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are”—not by the Law, but—“by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God”—by Christ under grace and not under Law. This is not a question solely of justification. I am speaking now about the walk, about the responsibility of the Christian to do the will of the Father (which is a permanent “work” - Phil 2:13—NC); and I say that Christ, not the Law, is the measure of the believer’s walk; which makes all the difference possible.

The Christian, the Gentile never was under the Law; and being positioned in the risen Lord Jesus, now that he believes, he stands on other ground to which the Law does not apply. For this reason, every believer is regarded by the Father as alive from the dead, to bring forth fruit unto God. The Law only deals with a man as long as he lives (Rom 7:1); never after he is dead. “But ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3); and that remarkably, is not at all what is said of us, after a second blessing, extreme unction, or any other step of imaginary perfection. We begin with it, and our water baptism declares it as a descriptive testimony.

What this sets forth is Christ’s death and resurrection. If this has any meaning at all for me, it says that I am identified with Him dead and risen. It is no longer the Law dealing with me to try if it can get any good out of me (there never was and never will be goodness in mankind’s nature - Rom 8:7, nor need there be, for now we’re after Christ’s nature—NC). I have relinquished all by receiving the Savior (concerning the old man—NC), and I take my stand in Him dead and risen again as one alive from the dead, to yield myself unto God. Hence, wherever you look, this is the foundation-truth of Christianity, that God has done with mere dealing with the flesh (sin nature; old man—NC). He has another Man, even a new Man (concerning His body—NC), the Lord Jesus, who has risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father; and the believer is identified with Him. This is practically what the Father has to make good in the heart of the Christian—“Walk ye in Him” (again - Phil 2:13 – Col 2:6—NC).

A new believer (even a seasoned believer now days—NC) may be cast down after receiving the Savior, through the sense of evil he finds in himself (Rom 7:21). He wonders how this can be. He knows how the Lord Jesus deserves to be served and is conscious of how little he serves Him as he ought; he is filled with sorrow about himself, and perhaps begins to doubt whether he be a Christian after all. He has not yet learned his lesson. He is occupied still with the old man; he looks at it and expects to get better (Rom 8:7), hoping that his heart will not have so many bad thoughts, etc., as he used to have; whereas the only strength of the believer is being filled with the Lord Jesus Christ, with all that is lovely in Him before the Father.

The saint, in proportion as he counts himself dead unto sin and alive unto God in the Lord Jesus, and as he enjoys fellowship with Him, lives above himself and his circumstances. There is the exercise of that virtue by which the Christian is said to be dead and risen—the new Life which the Holy Spirit communicates to all who believe (not the life of the Spirit but of Christ by the Spirit – Col 3:4—NC). Only the believer feels what is unlike Christ; but he rests in Who He is to God (because we are as He is - 1Jo 4:17), and this makes him happy and free.

—Wm Kelly (1821-1906)

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