Derek Prince - You Can't Achieve Righteousness By Keeping Laws
This is an excerpt from: The Cross In My Life - Part 1
One second deliverance. We move on now in Galatians to chapter 2 and verse 19. This is probably the hardest one for Christians to understand, according to my observation. I have spent many, many hours trying to persuade Christians of the reality of this. I just don't know how far I've been successful. Paul says in Galatians 2:19, this is the second deliverance. I call it deliverance from the law. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. Why does he say I through the law died to the law? Because the law inflicted on me the death penalty. It was the law that caused me to be put to death. And when I was put to death, that was the end of the law.
See, the last thing the law can do to anybody is put them to death. Once that's happened, they're clear of the law. It doesn't matter if you've committed one murder or sixty murders. If you're executed, that's all the law can do to you. See, there is no other way out from under the law. Death is the only escape. The marvelous mercy and grace of God is: the execution took place nineteen centuries ago. When Jesus died, I died in Him. He paid on my behalf the final penalty of the law that I might be clear from the demands of the law.
In a session yesterday I pointed out that it says in Colossians 2 the law is nailed to the cross. It doesn't go beyond the cross. It can follow you up to the cross, it can pursue you, it can hound you, it can accuse you, it can condemn you, but once you get beyond the cross you're free from the law. There's no more condemnation, it's all over. Paul says I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. If you analyze that the meaning is clear. If you're living to the law you're not living to God. If you're living to God you're not living to the law. You cannot have it both ways. You can't combine the two. This is one of the clearest, and most repeated statements of the New Testament and yet I find that basically Christians are completely unfamiliar with it. And it shocks them.
As I said to a group of people some time recently and I was quite casual, I mean, I wasn't trying to shock them but I said Christianity is not a set of rules. And their faces registered dismay. I think if I'd say there is no God they would have been less shocked. See, I have dealt with this, I think, because of my background as a philosopher. Immediately I was saved, I began to see in the New Testament this is probably the most decisive single issue, is the relationship between the law and grace. And it's not altogether simple. I think the difficulty is because we're not used to thinking God's way. I don't think it's very complicated, it just means a total adjustment of our thinking. I can see some of your faces now. If you could see your own faces you'd be shocked!
Look in Galatians 3:11-12. And you understand, this is the end of this passage about being under a curse because they'd been bewitched. And it says: But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith. Now, I happen to be able to read the New Testament in Greek. I started learning Greek when I was ten years old and I learned it for sixteen years. What I want to say you can check if you have access to the original text. In most of the places in the New Testament where it says 'the law' the original says 'law.' And, it makes a difference. This is one of them. Let me read it the other way. But that no one is justified by law in the sight of God is evident.
Now Paul means primarily you'll not be justified by keeping the law of Moses. But he doesn't stop there. He says you cannot achieve righteousness with God by keeping any law. It's ruled out. It's impossible. Don't waste time trying. Then Paul goes on in verse 12: yet the law is not of faith, but the one who does them shall live by them. If you can keep the whole law all the time, that's fine, you're righteous. But nobody ever has, you see. And if you can only keep a little of the law some of the time it does you no good whatever from the point of view of achieving righteousness.
So, there are two alternatives. You're justified by the law or you're justified by faith, but you cannot mix them. Is that clear? A little later on Paul uses a little parable from the family of Abraham. He gives the example of Ishmael who was the child of the slave woman who is a type of the product of the law because Hagar, he says, corresponds to Mount Sinai where the law was given. And then Sarah is a type of the Spirit, a supernatural birth which brought forth Isaac who is the child of grace.
But Paul points out when Isaac came Ishmael had to go. They could not co-exist in the same family. And he quotes the statement, and the statement is by God Himself: Cast out the bondwoman and her son. Not only do you get rid of Ishmael, you get rid of Hagar. See? So, you have to choose whom are you going to have in your house. Are you going to keep Ishmael or are you going to make room for Isaac, the child of grace, the supernatural? See, Ishmael was the best that Abraham could do by his own efforts but it wasn't good enough. And the best you can do by your efforts is not good enough. You can keep on trying, and sweating, and working, and even praying, but it's not good enough.
So, if you want grace, you've got to say no to law, you understand? This is so vivid that most of us would like to hold on to both. See? A little bit of grace and a little bit of law. God says it won't work, I don't accept that. If you can't trust grace wholly then you aren't trusting grace at all. If you have to help grace with law you're not really experiencing grace. I wish I had a photograph to take of your faces! But I'm going to persevere; I'm not going to stop. I believe sooner or later, as they used to say in Britain years ago, the penny will drop in farthings if you understand that. Some of you don't understand that, you didn't live in those days. I assure you, that was after the time of the brontosaurus!