In the Judeo-Christian tradition, taken from the narratives of the Holy Bible, Jehovah God gives His people the Ten Commandments, literally written on stone. These sacred precepts and tenets are God’s wise strategy for saving humankind from sin and evil.
Next, Jesus is sent to earth and simplifies the Ten Commandments into two. All God’s laws hang on two chief principles because one cannot truly love God and love the neighbor without obeying all ten laws.
Then Paul comes along and changes the whole moral trajectory of salvation, which renders God’s commandments null and void. Let me correct myself. Some of Paul’s words were interpreted by theologians in a way that has led to a change in the moral direction of salvation. The passage in Paul to the Romans (3:28), is the main culprit for this theological misstep:
“Man is justified by faith alone without the works of the law.”
Theologian Emanuel Swedenborg skillfully points out that what Paul meant by “law” was not the Commandments but the specific Mosaic law meant only for the Jews – such as the law of the meal offering or the law of the red heifer. As evidence for this Swedenborg claims this is the reason Paul rebukes Peter for Judaising and belonging to the “circumcision group.” (Galatians 2:12)
Then, Swedenborg offers three more passages that show Paul believed that salvation was not through faith alone but that the Law and its works should be followed:
“For not the bearers of the law are justified by God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 3:13)
“God will render every man according to his deeds.” (Romans 2:6)
“We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, whether they be good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
But instead of “doing good” and following the law of God’s commandments, a new theory of salvation has popped up among certain Christian traditions. Instead of getting off one’s ass (and out of the easy chair) an individual can find salvation and appropriate God’s mercy merely by “believing” that Jesus is our savior and that His death on the cross “wiped clean” our personal misdeeds. This faulty doctrine inseminates the erroneous idea that Christians are excused from bad behavior.
I have to admit that this is an attractive strategy for our postmodern culture, which seeks instant gratification. It is a lazy man’s approach to gaining access to the kingdom of heaven. But it is a counterfeit theology. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of LOVE and spiritual service. Heaven is not a vacation destination or a reward for an “elect.”
This is why the Lord said that “If you want to enter life obey the commandments,” (Matthew 19:17) and that “Loving God with all your heart” and “loving your neighbor as yourself” were the commandments on which all the Law and the Prophets hang.
For anyone who still has doubts about Paul’s recognition of the importance love and good works in fulfilling the law I leave you with just two more biblical passages:
“Love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Charity worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore charity is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8,9,10)
A person cannot truly love from the principle of innocence without asking for the Lord’s divine help in following all the commandments and removal of harmful compulsions. And lastly, proof of Paul’s own conviction that love trumps faith!
“Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The Second Coming will clear out all false doctrines, which have taken on the proportions of a Great Red Dragon!