Friday 17 April 2015

Is it possible to have the imputed righteousness of Christ as a Christian and yet displease the Lord?

Recently I attended a conference in the Southern part of the USA and there was a panel of ministers discussing some very helpful topics. The panel included Doug Kelly and others. One of the questions posed was the title of this blog post. It is clear that there are a raft of unclear parties in the church regarding the difference between justification and sanctification and this panel sought to clarify some things. There has been a real growth in Calvinistic thought in recent decades on both sides of the Atlantic and yet not everyone thinks things through as clearly and accurately as they should.

In Romans chapter 4 Paul the apostle teaches that those who are justified by faith, have the very righteousness of Christ Jesus imputed (or credited) to them. Romans 4:23-25 "But the words 'it was counted to him' were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification". What a precious gift to know that we cannot be lost and that we are saved on the merits of Christ alone!

However, this can be pushed to unbiblical extremes so that some Christians think that on the basis of imputed righteousness that they cannot displease the Lord and that they can live presumptuously with little thought given, that real obedience is expected by the Lord for those who are professing Christians. There can be a resistance to the idea that the moral law is binding, a push back on any idea that the Lord expects them to uphold the Christian Sabbath or that they will give an account of their lives to the Lord (Romans 14:12). This is to misunderstand the teaching of the gospel.

Let me clarify first that Christians can certainly displease the Lord and incur his chastisement by them doing so.

1. "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

2. "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:30).

3. "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives" (Hebrews 12:6).

The Scripture is clear. The answer to the question posed in this blog title is a categorical "yes". Therefore, may we all amend our thinking and seek how we may please our heavenly Father as revealed in the Scripture and seek to live accordingly for the glory of God. We cannot change the past, but we can be renewed in our repentance and faith and follow the apostle Paul's teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:9 "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him".

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