Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them… Joshua 1:2
As great a man and leader as Moses was, he was not sufficient to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. Moses had to die before the people could enter their rest. It was only for Joshua to lead them across the Jordan to possess the promises of God.
And Moses is not sufficient to lead us into the promised land either. The law will never get us where we want to go. Just like Moses, it had to die for God’s plan of redemption to be fulfilled.
You see, the law puts the power in my hands. If I’m good enough, if I obey it perfectly enough, I will be saved. For God to redeem us to Himself, it had to be His work and not mine.
Sadly, many Christians today are still trying to live according to the law. Maybe not the one Moses brought down from the mountain, but a law nonetheless. We live trying to be good enough for God. We live trying to obey the rules of conduct we’ve laid out for ourselves. We think if we can just master the actions, God will be pleased and accept us.
Religion is deceptive. It makes me feel good about myself and about my situation. Religion puts me in control, puts me in the pilot’s seat. If I can just stick with the program, I don’t have to go through the painful process of dying to myself and giving up control to the Father.
But, just like the Israelites, Moses has to die for us to enter the Promised Land. Religion, the law, works…they all have to go if we are to enter into the rest Christ has provided. We cannot hold on to our own efforts AND receive the grace of God at the same time. Forgiveness is either a free gift or it is earned; we cannot have it both ways. And if earning our salvation were possible, Moses would not have had to die, and Jesus would not have had to come.
Remember, salvation by anything less than a totally free gift of God’s grace is no salvation at all.
#1 by Mark Murdock on March 1, 2011 - 1:20 PM
Let us not forget Matthew 5:17-20:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Nor Ephesians 2:8-10:
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Nor let us forget James 2:14-26, nor what Jesus said in John 15:10, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. ”
Balance is needed when we talk about Christians keeping the law and the commandments of the Lord. We keep them not as a means of being justified, but because we have been justified, not as a means of obtaining salvation, but out of love because of the grace of God. We are able to do good works and want to do God’s will because we have been saved by grace and do not want to grieve the Lord. Good works and concern for observing God’s commandments are not out the window for those who have been saved by His grace.
#2 by Dave Kirby on March 1, 2011 - 4:18 PM
Agreed. The specific purpose of this post is to encourage those caught in a religious system that makes them feel like they have to obey all the rules and live to a certain standard to be saved. We have all too often confused the issue.
Good works are important, and I have covered that multiple times in this blog. As you say, works are not sufficient to earn God’s grace (the point of this post), but are a result of experiencing God’s grace. Someone used a line the other day “free doesn’t mean free-for-all”.
#3 by Tami WIthani on March 2, 2011 - 11:29 AM
The verses Mark quoted only serve to make your point, Dave. That it is not about the law, but about Jesus as the FULFILLMENT of the law. The law serves to point us to the fact that not one of us is capapble of being worthy of salvation on our own. That it is by faith in Christ alone that we can be saved. When we have a genuine love for Jesus, then the works/deeds will come naturally and cheerfully, not out of compulsion. In James, when Jesus says “If you keep my commands…” we have to remember what Jesus’ said the greatest commandmebt is, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” What if we truly laid it all on these two precepts and then trusted the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us to make the right choices and do the right things?
#4 by Harriet Craig on March 2, 2011 - 11:48 AM
The Moses illustration is a poor choice for your point that Jesus is the only basis of salvation. Text with out context is no text at all. Moses struck the Rock twice; hence he did not go into the Promised Land. However, Moses, along with Elijah did meet Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us.
You seem very confused.
#5 by Dave Kirby on March 2, 2011 - 3:43 PM
I didn’t realize I was spouting heresy to say that the law is not, nor has it ever been, sufficient to bring salvation to anyone. That was never the purpose of the law. Paul said the law existed to show us our own inability to work our way to salvation.
My point about Moses was not meant to be literal, but figurative. I know why Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. But I’m using Moses as a type of the old system of the law, and Joshua as a type of the new system of grace in Christ (even has the same name.) If the law were sufficient for a man to find eternal life, then there would have been no need for Christ to die. If it were possible for me to earn my way to salvation through being good enough, then grace would no longer be a free gift, but payment for services rendered. Grace that is anything but a free gift from God is not grace at all.
As for your example of Jesus meeting with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, remember Peter’s desire to build 3 tabernacles…one for each. And don’t forget that both Moses and Elijah were covered by a cloud, indicating that the work of Jesus transcended the law and the prophets. The Father announce that Jesus was His beloved Son, and we are to hear Him and Him alone.
You say I seem confused. I think I see very clearly. I see very clearly a religious system that has dominated people for almost two thousand years. I see a system that has left people feeling like failures because they aren’t good enough, thinking that God is somehow mad at them for not “towing the line”. I see clearly a religious system of rules for conduct and living that will never be sufficient to bring salvation to anyone. That’s not to say life in Christ is a “free for all”, some sort of spiritual anarchy (and I’ve covered that in other blog posts). But I will not stand idly by any longer while precious people of God live in guilt and fear and bondage, feeling like they don’t measure up to our Christian culture. Not when Jesus gave His life for them to set them free from that bondage.