“Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:1-6 ESV
If you are a regenerated sinner, you died to the law through the body of Christ. That is to say, that when Christ bore the sins of His people on the cross at Calvary and died, they died as well. Christ, acting their personal substitute, bore their sins and satisfied the demands of God’s law (death for its trespass) on their behalf. Therefore, God treats the regenerated sinner has having died to the law-the law no longer holds sway over them because they are dead to it.
The purpose of the regenerated sinner having died to the law is SO THAT they may be married to Another-to Christ who has been raised from the dead in order to bear fruit for God. Notice what Paul is saying-your marriage to Moses (the law) has ended because you died. You died so that you could be married to Another, which is Christ. As a regenerated sinner, you are now in a different marriage relationship-you were married to Moses, now you are married to Christ.
In other places, specifically Ephesians 5, Paul refers to the church as the “Bride” of Christ. The Apostle John also uses this term “Bride” in Revelation to refer to the church. This concept of marriage is used to demonstrate the nature of the covenant into which one has entered as a regenerated sinner-one consecrated by blood. One of absolute commitment and loyalty. One of promise and joy.
Now, obviously the analogy has its limits, and it is not intended or even used by Paul as an all-encompassing analogy. For example, the marriage of the church to Christ is unlike a marriage in Western culture. The Bride of Christ was purchased by Christ’s own blood and He chose her. She did not choose Him. She did not cooperate with Him. She did not date Him and decide that she liked Him back and therefore agreed to enter into a covenant with Him. He loved her, He bought her and He washed her in order to present her to Himself without spot or wrinkle. He did those things, all by Himself. We must be careful to remember that salvation is completely monergistic, and when Paul is using the marriage analogy, he is not communicating a concept in which cooperation between to equally abled parties is in view. The Bride of Christ can’t wash herself. She can’t keep herself clean, or without spot or wrinkle. She was dead until God gave her new life. Which is why we must understand that all of the salvation process (justification, sanctification, and glorification) is 100% of God with no cooperation or partnership or assistance from men.
There are those out there who claim that once one has been justified, one must return to the law in order to be sanctified. This is spiritual adultery if we take Paul’s analogy of having died to the law in order to be married to Christ. They will tell you that the regenerated sinner should be sinning less as measured by the law. They will tell you that the regenerated sinner should have a changed life as measured by the law. They will tell you that the proof is in the pudding-if you were saved, there will be some sort of empirically measurable change if one has been truly saved. Many times it is worded as “progressing in holiness” or “progressive sanctification.” But it all means the same thing-once you have been “saved” in their estimation, you need to be producing more law keeping and less law breaking. They want one to return to the law for instruction on how to please God, in spite of having a new Husband who has ALREADY pleased God on one’s behalf.
This is adultery! We have died to the law-we are no longer married to Moses. We have a new Husband, which means that the law and the fear of the condemnation of the law can NEVER again be our motivation to do anything before God. We have a perfect Substitute, Mediator, High Priest and Husband who has acted on our behalf and God is pleased with HIM.
The converse to the progressive sanctification position is obvious. If you have no works evidencing your sanctification, then you’re not being sanctified. If you’re not being sanctified, then you weren’t justified. If you weren’t justified, then you were never saved. It is a very subtle deception because they will claim that “salvation is not of works” and they will say “it is the grace of God that saves.” And then you’ll hear the “but.” They’ll say “justification is not of works, BUT sanctification is of works.” Or “you can believe the gospel, BUT if you don’t have a changed life, then you haven’t been saved.” Or “Jesus died to save you, BUT it will cost you everything.” Or “believing without works is just ‘easy-believism.'” Or “you’re confusing justification and sanctification-justification is monergistic, BUT sanctification is synergistic.” No matter what the phrase is, or how much they insist that they are not teaching works salvation, it comes down to this-no works, no salvation.
This is, at bottom, false works religion. Progressive sanctification is not minor error, it is an attack on the gospel and an attack on the finished work of Christ. To claim that without works, or without a changed life, or without more law keeping one has not been saved is to deny the grace of God, it is to deny election, it is to deny effectual atonement, it is to deny security of salvation, and it is to compete with or seek to add to the finished work of Christ. Friends, do not be fooled by people who promote this sort of synergistic garbage.
This sort of doctrine is fleshly. It calls on the flesh to cooperate with God in salvation by “making Christ Lord” and committing to legal obedience as evidence of regeneration. It treats Christ as a platform for which one can now start to tap dance in front of God with their “good” works. The problem is that since these people are still unconverted as evidenced by their belief in a synergistic gospel, all of their works are nothing but sin. The unbeliever cannot produce any good works, because they are still dead in sin and under the law which has already demanded their death. It is too late for legal obedience. The law already demands the death of every single sinner. The only sinners from whom the law no longer demands death are the regenerated elect of God. It is only once you have been regenerated that you can do anything acceptable in God’s sight.
Salvation is finished. Christ did everything necessary to bring the elect of God to glory. All those for whom Christ died will be saved because of what He did on their behalf. Not because of anything they have ever done, including works after justification. This is amazing news! It means that my salvation is in no way dependent on anything I have done, do today, or will do in the future. It means that God has only considered the work of Christ as the basis for saving His people, and His work was absolutely perfect. God was pleased with the work of His Son and the PROOF of that is seen in His resurrection! Christ rose again, which is the guarantee that all of His people will be resurrected and granted entrance into His kingdom, which was prepared for them before the foundation of the world. If you are a regenerated sinner, REJOICE! God, in His unfathomable mercy and grace, purposed to save you and has done so justly by putting His Son to death on your behalf! You will not suffer the second death, but indeed are already in possession of the promise of eternal life and you will live forever with God because HE saved you. You have done NOTHING. He has done EVERYTHING! He is worthy of all glory and praise!
What is the evidence of having been regenerated? Believing the gospel! If you believe the true gospel, then you have been regenerated! It really is that simple. Those out there who claim that anyone can believe the gospel, but that without works one has not been regenerated are talking about a false gospel. It is IMPOSSIBLE for the natural man to believe the true gospel apart from regeneration. It is IMPOSSIBLE for the natural man to agree with God concerning what He has done in Christ. It is foolishness to him. Anyone who tells you that anyone can believe the gospel but that without works that person is not saved is a LIAR. They do not believe the true gospel, but rather believe a false gospel to which they have added works. Works won’t make a false gospel effective to save. Works cannot transform a false gospel into the power of God for salvation. There is only one true gospel that is the power of God for salvation, and only the regenerated elect believe that gospel.
Now, what are our motivations upon having been saved? Paul tells us-For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14 ESV
It is the GRACE of God which trains the believer to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. It is the GRACE of God that trains the believer to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. It is GRACE, not LAW! If you have been given grace, you have been saved! You are dead to the law! There is no fear of condemnation because the demands of the law against you have already been met by Christ. Christ will never send a believer back to Moses to receive instruction on how to live. It is the grace of God that trains the believer on how to live. Christ does not share His bride. He does not rent her out to Moses to train her so that Moses can clean her up for His return. No, Christ does everything within His marriage covenant. He never cheats, He never shares, and He never hires out. It is all Christ. Everything is done by Christ.
If you are in Christ, there is no threat of condemnation, at all, EVER. There is nothing you could ever do, good or bad, that could separate you from Him. The reason for this is because He purchased you with His blood. You belong to Him. Now, if you get out of line, the Father will discipline you, as He does to every son He receives. Do not mistake grace as a license to sin, because you will be disciplined. But the Father disciplines because He loves. If He loves you, He will discipline you, but He will never cast you out. Praise God for Jesus Christ! I can’t say it enough, Praise God for Jesus Christ!
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you BLAMELESS before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 ESV