Is obedience to the law the same as works?

This is an accusation I have heard levelled at those who choose to follow God’s Law. They say that this is a works based relationship to God, and ignores New Testament theology. I would argue this very differently, and my conviction on this is that, no, following the law of God is not works. Here’s my view on why, and it’s pretty crisp and short:

No-one ever gave you a medal or praised you for not committing a crime, did they? Does the government hand out badges in honour of your failure to speed in your car, or because you didn’t steal? NO! Of course they don’t, because these are not works, they are not achievements! They are OBEDIENCE.

Obedience is NOT works, and can never be. Works are thing you choose to do FOR others, and certainly not for yourself. You can’t perform works with the idea that you’ll earn ‘points’ from God or from your church – they are good deeds which are best done in utter secrecy, so that only God sees what you do. God wants you to do good works, but that is not a route to salvation either.

Is there salvation in obeying the law? I don’t believe there can be, because it is almost impossible to do the whole of the law, and so without that – without following every statute of God’s Law, you cannot hope to have salvation through it – we need Yeshua (Jesus). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no-one comes to the Father except through Him. I believe we are to follow and obey every law of God’s that is within our power to obey, and I believe He blesses us when we do. Jesus came to show us HOW to apply God’s Law – with mercy, showing forgiveness, and that the Law was made FOR us, and not us made for the Law. I believe we benefit our health and our society when we obey the Law of God.

Yet the word aimed at those who choose to follow the Law is that they are ‘legalists’ – and I want to tackle that accusation right now. Satan is a legalist – he stands before God accusing the brethren night and day – satan knows the law, even if you don’t. The Pharisees were legalists – they bound onerous burdens on the flock and wouldn’t lift a finger themselves. They added to God’s Law, making it complicated and difficult to follow.

If we look at our lives in this fallen world, we can see that it would be preposterous to claim that someone who DOESN’T speed in their car is a legalist, wouldn’t it? It would be laughable also to say that we should say that because we fulfilled the law yesterday in obeying the speed limit that today the law is done away with! Of course it is not done away with! It is also, finally, very unwise to break the law and rely on being forgiven by the policeman who stopped you. Obeying the law doesn’t make you a legalist – we do it every day in obeying laws which are put there for our safety and the safety of others. We don’t flout these laws, we respect them – how much more then should we respect the Law of God, which is there for us, for our health and protection?

What are your thoughts on this – do share a comment!

God Bless you

Lis

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