SALVATION NOT BEING FAITH
WITH THE WORKS OF LAW
The first question is whether man is saved through faith with the keeping of the law. Man’s way for salvation is faith plus the keeping of the law. We have spoken concerning the question of the law already, but we will repeat it again. The Bible devotes much time to deal with this question. Preachers, therefore, must also devote much time to deal with this question. Because man pays so much attention to the law, the Bible devotes two books to deal with this problem. We have to know for what purpose God has given the law. God gave the Israelites the law, not for them to keep, but for exposing their sins. Originally, the Israelites had sins, but they had not become transgressions. From Adam to Moses, man had sins (Rom. 5:14), but he did not have any transgressions. God gave the law in order to turn man’s sins into transgressions (Rom 5:13, 20a).
How were man’s sins turned into transgressions? Suppose there is a person who has the disposition and temperament of walking back and forth outside the meeting hall every day. It is something that he likes to do. He has to do this every day, every week, every month, and every year. No one can explain why he does this. But in his temperament, disposition, and life, there is something that compels him to walk back and forth outside the meeting hall. Although he has such a habit, we cannot say that he has any transgression. You may not like what he does, and you may think that it is wrong, but he has no realization that this is wrong. When will he realize that it is wrong? Suppose you take two bright red ribbons and tie one to each end of the lane. When he comes the next day, he will see the two ribbons and will realize that he should not walk through them. His habit has always been to walk there because something in him compels him to walk there. Suppose he takes a look at the two ribbons and considers the bright color, the silk texture, the nice knots, and then tears them apart and walks right through. In that case, his walking is different from his previous walking. His previous walking was sin without transgression. Now it is the same walking, but he walks in transgression.
God says that the law is perfect. It is good, righteous, holy, and excellent (Rom. 7:12). But man is full of sin. He is full of sin within and without. However, from Adam to Moses, man had no transgressions although he had sin. God established the law, not in order that man would not sin, but in order to expose man’s sins and make them transgressions. Today the law is here. Once a person breaks the law, he realizes that he has sinned. Hence, we can say that God gave man the law not for him to keep, but for him to see that he has sinned. When there was no law, he did not realize that he has sin. Now he knows.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)