Chapter 6

 The Prevalence of Works Righteousness – even in the church.

 This would appear to be one issue that is readily understood by people in reformed circles.  It’s not.  I was reminded of that this week.  Works righteousness is constantly pressing in upon us and often we don’t see it in ourselves.  Most of the time, it takes someone else pointing it out to us before we will see it.  But even then, our natural man – our sinfulness- will come up with any number of reasons to discount or disparage those who would point out our works-righteousness.  And for those in reformed circles, that usually means hiding our works-righteousness in a cloak of spirituality and sincere obedience.

 To this deep-seated sinfulness, Marshall provides the 6th directive.

 Those that endeavor to perform sincere obedience to all the commands of Christ, as the condition by which they are to procure for themselves a right and title to salvation, and a good ground to trust on Him for the same, do seek their salvation by the works of the law, and not by the faith of Christ, as He is revealed in the gospel and they shall never be able to perform sincere and true holy obedience by all such endeavors.

 The heart of Marshall’s explanation can be summarized in these sentences.  The result of all is, that we must still practice moral duties, as commanded by Moses: but we must not to seek to be justified by our practice.  If we use them as a rule of life, not as conditions of justification, they can be no ministration of death, or killing letter to us.  Their perfection indeed maketh them to be harder terms to procure life by, but a better rule to discover all imperfections, and to guide us to that perfection which we should aim at.

 The question presented in this chapter is where does our works fit into our lives?  Our sinful man argues that before God will look favorably upon us, we have to be sincerely pursuing holiness.  (Marshall will go into greater detail in the chapter 7.)  However, if we pursue God’s favor by our good works, or by our sincere obedience, the end result will be either self-deception, or despair. 

 Marshall gives several reasons why this there is no room for works-righteousness in the gospel.

 1) To seek salvation by sincere performance of the law means we are still responsible for our failures to the law.

 2) Second, the difference between law and gospel consists – not in the law requiring perfect obedience and the gospel requiring sincere obedience—in one requiring doing and the other in NOT-doing, but rather believing/trusting.

 3) Sincere obedience to all the commands of Christ cannot be attained except by sincere obedience to all the moral commands of Moses as well.  Thus, to obey Christ, we are then also required to obey Moses.

 4) Those that endeavor to procure Christ’s salvation by sincere obedience to all the commands of Christ, are in fact acting contrary to the way of salvation by Christ, which is by free grace and faith.

 What Marshall says regarding the grace of God in justification, relates the same way in our sanctification, because God’s grace is for specifically for the salvation of sinners, from election to glorification and everything in between.

 We do not grow in sanctification because we have faith.  Faith cannot be a work by which we improve ourselves before God.  Therefore, we must not here consider faith as a work of righteousness, as comprehending any works of righteousness performed or done, as a condition to procure a right and title to Christ, as the hand whereby we work, to earn him as our bread, as our wages: but only as the hand whereby we receive Christ as freely to us, or as the mouth whereby we eat and drink Him.

 They part of this statement is that faith does not earn us more of Christ.  Those that argue for more of Christ in them because they are exhibiting faith are living out of the sinful nature by attempting to earn God’s favor.  We can never do enough to earn God’s favor either before or after salvation!

 It is by faith.  It is as we trust in Christ, that we realize that God has been gracious to us already.   And therefore, because of God’s great love for us, to us and in us, we seek to please the one that has already looked favorably upon us.

 Marshall concludes this long chapter, We have cause to praise God for delivering His church, by the blood of Christ, from this yoke of bondage; and we have cause to abhor the device of those that would lay upon us a more grievous and terrible yoke, by turning our very new covenant into a covenant of sincere works, and leaving us no such better covenant, as the Israelites had under their yoke, to relieve us in our extremity. 

 The only counter to works righteousness is to learn more deeply of the great love of God so our hearts desire to please God as he lays out for us in His word, the rule for life.  While this is certainly true before salvation, it must not be neglected after salvation.  The law of God is indeed a mirror so that we can see the sinfulness in our hearts, and be amazed at the great grace of God to continue to save us and hold us securely in his hands.

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