HOW READEST THOU?
Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
We have tried to follow our Lord in his earthly ministry and have presently come to the place between the Feast of Dedication and his last entry into Jerusalem. And here we have a confrontation with, not a Jerusalem lawyer, with all their malice, but a lawyer in Perea, a portion of the country to the northeast of the Dead Sea. Yet it is still said that his question was to tempt him. And it is also stated that he sought to justify himself. Here are two passages to enlighten our minds concerning those men who dealt in the law of Moses at that time.
Luke 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
Luke 11:45 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. 46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
It has been observed that the tone of this lawyer’s attitude does not seem to be one of ‘deep personal concern,’ but more like that of a theoretical question. In order to show the difference, here are two accounts of that same question being asked, with the spirit of those asking being strongly grieved.
Luke 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
And since this question seems to be put forth on but a theoretical basis, why then, does our Lord answer him in the manner that he does? For Christ’s answer is but the lawyer’s quoting of the law! And to this the Lord states, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. Seems astounding, as we know that no one can ever be, saved by works!
But we must see that Christ is using the law lawfully! The lawyer had no concept of guilt, for he had no concept of sin. And that is exactly what the law is set forth to rectify! It is to make all know of their guilt, and bring unto them the personal knowledge of sin! 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. 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. For he must be brought to Mount Sinai’s fiery law, before he can benefit from Mount Calvary’s redemption. The Lord came into the world to seek and save confessed, realized sinners! And it is the work of the law to bring sinners to this condition.
Here is a parable given by the Lord to show the unique difference between a religious, hypocritical sinner, and a confessed, realized sinner. Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Another important matter we must bring forth is that the law, of itself, in it’s dead letter, cannot accomplish this awakening within the heart of the sinner. It must have the application of the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove (“convict & convince”) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Listen to the Apostle Paul give his experience in the Spirit’s use of the law in bringing him out of religious hypocrisy into the awareness of his being a sinner. Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. (That is, “hidden desires, lusts.”) For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. You see then that without the law’s application by the Spirit, he was not conscious of his sin. It lay dead within him, without any awareness of it. But when the commandment was applied, sin came to life within his consciousness, and only then was he aware of his being dead in trespasses and sin!
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) You see, dear Reader, regeneration is a spiritual resurrection! John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; He would later, in verses 28 and 29 of this chapter speak of the resurrection of the physically dead. But here in verses 25 and 26, he speaks, not of bodies coming out of “graves” in the future, but of souls coming out of sin in that present hour! Note: “and now is”!
And that which the lawyer quoted in order to give answer to the Lord’s question was nothing more than the scriptures! He had Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:4,5 clearly memorized in his head. But the dead letter in the head does nothing effectual for the heart! Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
It is the heart that believeth unto righteousness! 2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. THIS is what the lawyer was ignorant of that he lacked. Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Salvation does not come by the dead letter in the head, but by the living word within the heart!
And this is why our Lord clearly stated to this legalist, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. – and, Go, and do thou likewise. Bible verses memorized by the head can only make one an educated sinner! It is only that word hidden in the heart which causes one not to sin against God! Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
In order to be rightly related to our Bibles, we must always keep in mind that God is spirit! And being spirit, he seeks only those to worship him in spirit and truth! (John 4:23,24). Also our Lord stated, It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63).
We must never forget that the Lord rebuked Nicodemus for not knowing these matters of the spiritual word. – Even for not knowing about the new birth! John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? And, at that time, he, like this country lawyer, only had what we call the Old Testament. So there was that within the law which condemned those who only looked at the literal and legal letter! For included within it was not merely just do’s and don’t’s! There was within it the instruction to “be.” In other words, the law was not just about performance, but also about personality! Consider this verse, listed in the same passage of the lawyer’s quotation: Leviticus 19:34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. The lawyer could quote this, but was not doing it!
This is what James is setting forth in his epistle. There must be these evidences, these out-workings of the spirit of the letter within. For no one can prove the inner application of the law to their souls who does not have the outward fruit of the Spirit! James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians that salvation is not OF works, but it most assuredly is UNTO good works! (Eph. 2:8,10). Just as when you call the dog, the tail comes with him. So, when one is effectually called into grace, works will follow to manifest that new nature. James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
The Holy Spirit in the Humanity of Jesus Christ will act no differently when in the humanity of the regenerate sinner! Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
It is Christ, the Person of the Word, within us, and not just the letter of the words that is our hope of being eternally glorified. Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
God does not want a bunch of wind-up robots, mechanically preforming limited religious acts. He intends for the Word to become flesh and dwell within us! We must not only be full of truth, but also of grace! John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
And it is only in that ‘doing’ of truth which causes one to know more of the word of doctrine, and not the other way round! John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Pastor Gene Breed, September 20, 2014