Defilements and Pollutions

Some of you may have already seen this reading by Charles Spurgeon. It was posted on Of First Importance a little while ago, but it bears repeating — and discussing.


Away with your tools

If you make me an altar of stone,
you shall not build it of hewn stones,
for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

Exodus 20:25

“God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labor might be seen on it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; however, instead of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions.

“The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonor it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured.

“There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with your tools. Fall on your knees in humble supplication. Accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of your atonement, and rest in Him alone.”

– Charles Spurgeon, Morning by Morning (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2001), 204.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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75 Responses to Defilements and Pollutions

  1. setfree says:

    I think it’s hard for the LDS to buy into the Gospel of Grace because of their understanding of who God is. If He’s just a man that’s further along…
    I never did ‘worship’ God until I understood who He really is. What’s to worship, seriously?
    I think some Mormons believe they do worship. But until you see what it really is, you won’t understand that you’re not.

  2. liv4jc says:

    Amen, Sharon. Salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone is the common theme of the Bible. It is impossible to walk through the texts of scripture, especially the NT, and find a system of works that are credited to one’s account as righteousness. The Apostles recorded Jesus’ own words and everywhere he makes it plain that God’s standard is purity of heart (Matthew 5:8), spotless and undefiled before God. Perfect righteousness is God’s standard, and even our Smithian friends will say that God cannot stand to have sin in His presence, so great is his holines.

    Jesus constantly tells the Pharisees that even their righteousness with all of their external adherance to the Law is not good enough. In Matthew 15 he denies their tradition of handwashing, because God never commanded it, then explains that dirt going into a man does not defile him, it is what comes out of his unclean heart that defiles him. Every man’s heart is unclean and the only thing that cleans our hearts is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.

    Like Smithism, the Pharisees added all kinds of extra man-centered works that a person could accomplish if they were diligent, and added these to their account as righteousness, or in Smithism “worthiness”. This is why Paul spends the first 3 chapters of Romans showing that every man is guilty before God, finally proclaiming the purpose of the law in Romans 3:19-20

    Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

  3. falcon says:

    Yes that’s true setfree. It must be really inspiring to have a god that’s just a little further along the deification track than you are. That’s the big lie within Mormonism but it’s a very seductive message. It’s a take on Satan’s promise that Adam and Eve would be like God knowing good and evil.
    Not knowing God has kept Mormons in a perpetual lost state. They continue to reject God, settling for a god that isn’t much different than the graven images that God has told us to reject. To know God and to love Him is the foundation of the Christian faith. Mormons neither know God nor do they serve Him. In reality they are self-serving, trying to do enough to qualify for a mythical god status.
    I often wonder why we should even care enough to continue working in this particular vineyard. It’s the old “they’ve made their bed so let them sleep in it” approach. However God calls us to preach His word and he’ll do the rest. We’re not responsible for the outcome.

  4. setfree says:

    I have been thinking, and was just about to say the same thing.
    I’ve been reading a book about the Apostles, and how Jesus picked them, trained them, and sent them out to proclaim the truth.
    The book tells of how the apostles were supposed to work to convince people, but also how Jesus allowed for them to be able to stop working, and shake the dust off their feet, with those who continued to reject and reject the message.
    I don’t know if it’s mostly when I’m tired, or what, but it just seems to me that the ones who comment out here have seen so much evidence, and yet they refuse to see. Is it them, or are they having their eyes held shut?
    I try to give scripture references whenever possible for this reason: God’s word does not return void. It’s certainly much better than what I will ever say out here.
    I keep thinking I’ll stop coming to MC, and just carry on in prayer alone. If I disappear, you’ll know that’s what happened.
    God bless, Falcon.

  5. Michael P says:

    I love this line from the passage: ““The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God…”

    The truth is that we have no role in it, other than our simple declaration that we have no role in it and that all the glory goes to Jesus.

    “After all we can do” is simply stating that you have had a role in the process.

    If others want to claim the acceptance is taking a role, fine. In a very general and broad sense it is, but its also little more than a realization that we cannot do anything for ourselves to reach an eternity with God.

  6. liv4jc says:

    (cont) So how is flesh justified (declared righteous)?

    But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets (the whole of scripture), even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jeus Christ, to all, and on all who believe. (Romans 3:21-22)

    Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account when we repent and place our faith and trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin.

    Or do we make God a liar? Does Romans 3:22 above say

    even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, and baptism, and following the commandments that you were previously unable to obey which made you cry out for mercy, and the priesthood, and endowments, and temple marriage, and the Word of Wisdom, ad infinitum, to all and on all who believe.

    Does Paul lie in Ephesians chapters 1 and 2. Is Paul lying to Titus in when he says,

    But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs with the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

    That term “justified” is a forensic legal declaration of “righteousness”. The same Greek word “dikaiothentes” used in that passage, and translated “justified”, is from the root “dikaio”, which is a synonym for righteousness. Righteousness is the state that all works-based religions are striving for, but can never reach unless they trust in the “grace”, which is the un-earned, unmerited favor of God, by faih in Christ through His propitiatory death on the Cross.

  7. Ward says:

    Setfree – I have enjoyed your posts, and will miss you if you leave. It gets really hard to keep contending when it seems to be in vain. However, we never know what impact our comments will have. This dialogue does have an impact. We just may not always see it quickly. Take care, and be blessed.

  8. Mike R says:

    Set Free,

    I echo Ward’s message to you. You,ve shared
    some great nuggets of truth, and I am blessed
    to hear them.I don’t get to post on MC as much
    as I would like due to family and work, but I
    try and share a little bit of truth with our
    LDS listeners.Having been involved with a
    ministry to JW’s for years I came to realize
    quickly that it is our God who does the
    convicting, not us.But I know you realize
    this also.

  9. SetFree, for whatever it’s worth, I really appreciate you and your contributions to the discussions here, too. I pray God gives you rest and refreshment that you may continue to speak the truth in love to all who so desperately need to hear it.

  10. Enki says:

    “In Matthew 15 he denies their tradition of handwashing, because God never commanded it, then explains that dirt going into a man does not defile him, it is what comes out of his unclean heart that defiles him. Every man’s heart is unclean and the only thing that cleans our hearts is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.”

    That sounds discusting, are you saying that jesus had physically dirty hands and perhaps even clothes. If he did not wash his hands, perhaps he never bathed at all? Its a strange message for our times with swine flu, flesh eating bacteria, mrsa. I am aware of alternative theories to germ theory, so on another basis its just unpleasant. If you go without bathing I promise that you will be judged, even by bible-literalists.

    What is clean and unclean is the central theme of the O.T. and it appears to be the theme of the N.T., but perhaps what is spiritually clean or unclean, meaning sin. How does love and compassion fit into all this? Thats central to other philosophies, like Buddhism and jainism.

  11. shematwater says:

    This is in response to the original article.

    In Exodus 36: 1 we read that “every wise hearted man, in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the Lord had commanded” did the work of building the Tabernacle and all the things pertaining to it. Thus, the most sacred of alters, that of the Mercy Seat, was built by the hands and tools of men, as was the “Altar” of Insense, and the “altar” for the burning of sacrifices.
    So, how does all this figure into the whole message given above?
    I see it as saying that for a man to alter the meaning of the Atonement on his own, and from his own thoughts is wrong, but a man inspired of God to teach the truths of the atonement should be welcomed by all true believers, as the Israelites gave in excess to the workers who built the santuary in the days of Moses.

    Now, building on this in response to other posters here, if all we wish is to gain heaven we need do nothing (not use our own tools) but if we wish the highest reward, that symbolized by the Holy of Holies and the Mercy Seat, we must do our part.

    Just a thought.

  12. liv4jc says:

    Enki, you have to understand the nature of “uncleanliness” within its bibical definition. Jesus wasn’t saying that you should stick your hands into a pile of feces, mud, or bag of maggot infested meat, then dig into lunch. Do a word search of the word “wash”, “unclean”, or “defiled” within the book of Leviticus and you will see the instances where a person became ritually unclean</i?, or defiled. Usually a person was required to wash their clothing or whole body when they touched an unclean insect, animal, dead body, etc., and they would be ritually unclean until evening. This uncleanliness is a shadow illustration of sin. You will not find it written anywhere in Leviticus that having dirty hands makes you ritually unclean.

    But the Pharisees, in wanting to avoid any chance of breaking any commandments, had created new oral traditions, known as the Mishna, that soon superceded God’s actual commandments and Jesus took every chance to ruffle their feathers and confront them on it. For instance Sotah 4 says, “One should be willing to walk 4 miles to water in order to wash your hands rather than to eat with unwashed hands”. This is found nowhere in scripture. Jesus refused to wash His hands before eating because in doing so he would be acknowledging that the Jewish traditions were as valid as the laws revealed in scripture. This is not to say that he didn’t have good hygiene and never washed his hands. It was done to illustrate a point. When the Pharisees called Him on it he used it as an opportunity to show them where they were actually violating God’s command to “honor your mother and father” (5th Commandment) when they refused to assist their parents in their old age by dedicating their money to God instead of helping their parents.

    He was saying that a little dirt from unwashed hands didn’t make a man ritually unclean, but true defilement comes from the heart in the form of lying, blasphemy, etc. Which are also violations of God’s Law.

  13. liv4jc says:

    (cont) “Well”, Smithians would say, if Jesus confronted them on the W.o.W which are dietary laws found nowwhere in scripture, “It’s modern revelation”. What would Jesus reply, “Why do you break God’s command not to worship idols (2nd Commandment) when you falsely claim that God is an exalted man and I am the result of an incestious physical sexual union between God and my earthly mother?” This is also blasphemy (3rd Commandment). And what about coveting the nature of God (10th commandment), which they attempt to reach with their extra-biblical temple marriages and endowment ceremonies?

    You see, many of the practices of the followers of one man, Joseph Smith, are based upon biblical concepts, but they are found nowhere in scripture. To partake of them is to be a hypocrite. They claim to worship God and Jesus Christ but they place the traditions of “modern revelation” over and above the Laws actually given by God in His word. Specifically the command to repent and place your faith and trust in Christ alone, apart from works of “worthiness” for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. This are ractices that Jesus constantly brought to light while dealing with the Pharisees.

  14. Enki says:

    After reading a bit from a variety of sources, it appears that sanitation issues and being ritually clean seem to often cover common ground. However,there are clearly cases where ritual washing has little to do with being physically clean. Being raised LDS I don’t ever recall doing ritual handwashing before prayer,attending services or eating. I do handwashing for sanitary reasons. AFter reading about jewish ritual handwashing, its quite distinct from sanitary and secular washing. Its entirely possible that jesus hands were physically clean, he just refused to do a ritual washing.

    However, there are christian traditions involving ritual handwashing, such as ‘lavabo’. I have never heard of it till now.
    “The name Lavabo (“I shall wash”) is derived from the words of Psalm 26:6-12″

    There are references to having clean hands, if you read it literally, having clean hands sounds ideal. However, these probably are to be understood as ‘hands free from crime, sin etc…’
    Ps. 18: 20, 24, Ps. 18: 20, 24, 2 Sam. 22: 21, Job 9: 30, Job 17: 9,

    Ritual washing is also observed in non-christian religions such as islam, hinduism, buddhism, native american tribes, and various others. It seems to be something in common to a lot of spiritual traditions.

  15. Enki says:

    “…if you wield your tool on it you profane it.”

    There is such a curious parallel in Taoism. The uncarved block.

    “P’u means “Uncarved Block”. It is an extremely important aspect of Taoism, and involves perceiving all things with a clear and unbiased mind, like a block of wood that has not yet been carved into any shape. Think of the importance of this concept; if everyone viewed the world with P’u, there would be no preconceptions, no coloured minds and therefore no bigotry, racism, sexism; everything could be judged on its own merits and not prejudged by narrow-minded people with their own set of preconceived ideas as to how something should be.”

    “The Chinese word “Pu” is often translated as “the uncarved block,” and refers to a state of pure potential which is the primordial condition of the mind before the arising of experience. The Taoist concept of Pu points to perception without prejudice, i.e. beyond dualistic distinctions such as right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, beautiful/ugly. It is a state of mental unity which places the Taoist practitioner into alignment with the Tao.”

  16. Michael P says:

    Enki, I am curious your thoughts regarding the clearly symbolic washing of hands performed by Pilate after turning Christ over to the Jews. Do you think this adds anything to your discussion regarding cleanliness?

    I think it is inescapable that philosophically there are some similarities between different faiths. I think clearly there are some ideas that have developed through time that indicate best on how to deal with others in your community. However, the application of these ideas are important, and the focus. Is the focus on the individual or on something outside of the individual? If outside, what exactly is that? And how does the distinction of internal or external focus affect the power of the practice, if at all?

  17. Something that I tend to think about is that if (for sake of argument), one’s salvation/acceptabilty to God/cleanness depended on a list of things to do, what would that list look like?

    I’m willing to bet that if each of us drew up such a list, the vast majority of things to do will be things we’ve already achieved. In other words, I’ll include water baptism, if I’ve been baptized.

    Perhaps, because of my personal circumstances, I’ll also include not murdering someone (that will set me above those filthy murderers, won’t it). Drinking alcohol? Well, I like a glass of wine over dinner, so I won’t include that. Why not thrown in tithing (or not), subscribing to certain creeds (or not), church on sunday (or not) or whatever I like.

    And so it goes on. Ultimately, my “list” serves to justify me, at your expense, if you don’t comply with my particular preferences.

    So, I’m entirely unsurprised that the folks who present a list of “to dos”, have usually ticked most of the boxes themselves.

    This isn’t salvation. Its just a means to make me feel better than you because I’ve ticked the required boxes, and you haven’t. Hey, you might even get a burning in your bosom over it.

    Jesus said

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    (John 3:16)

    Notice what he did not say;

    * “God so loved…” does not mean that He did it because He was irritated at the mess He had made, so He decided to fix it up by getting religious

    * “whoever” does not exclude those who have sinned and failed

    * “believe in him” does not mean “believe in an institutional organization”, or even the people who run or head up the institution

    * “believe in him” does not mean “believe in my ability to live by the principles and ordinances that he left behind”

    I’ll stick with my faith in the person of Jesus, thankyou, and I won’t rely on my list of things to do.

  18. Mike R says:


    Excellent comment on the power of the simple
    Gospel, as seen in Jn.3:16

  19. Enki says:

    Some of those on the list might better fit under a list of ‘don’ts’. And yes, there are philosophies that state the highest moral goods in terms of ‘don’ts’. It doesn’t necessarily place someone on a higher ground mentally, once you realize just how austere and difficult it is to maintain the list of ‘don’ts’. The christian faith doesn’t seem to go by quite as many of these does and don’ts.

    It appears that the actual only two things which are condemned are to NOT believe in Jesus, and then to say that the christian faith is false after you have been a believer.

  20. Enki says:

    The pontius pilate handwashing story appears to be a distortion of jewish custom.

  21. setfree says:

    To my MC family in Christ,

    I think it may be, since I’m somewhat new to evangelism, that I’m having my reality reworked a little bit, to include and compensate for the challenges that come with being an apostle. 😉 ->

    Even with the physical fatigue that is (I think) responsible for some of the mental/emotional angst I’ve been feeling, I am in God’s hand, learning more from Him, and being encouraged by Him all the time. Lord willing, I’m going to continue to come out here, just a little less for a while.

    Some dang great writing out here the last few of days, by the way!!

    God Bless!

  22. subgenius says:

    I would claim that we (LDS) have a more expansive view of God the Father than any other organization.

    Revelation 21:7 seems to blatantly state that we can “progress” to higher beings as well as Revelations 3:21 being a pretty clear statement as to what we are capable of achieving.

    who can dispute that the Bible teaches the following:
    We were created in the image of God
    We are the offspring of God
    We will inherit all things
    We will be co-heirs with Christ of all things
    We will have glory
    We will have thrones
    We will be filled with the fullness of God
    We will be partakers of the divine nature of God
    We will be one with God
    We can gain perfection (thus being like Him that is perfect, not AS Him but LIKE Him)

  23. shematwater says:


    I do like your post, because if a man wrote up a list that is what would happen.

    However, if God wrote the list and measured us all by it himself than that couldn’t happen.
    I do believe there is such a list in the Bible, and if we do not fulfill all things on it we will be hald accountable.
    (the list starts with the Ten Commandments – it is both dos and don’ts

  24. Enki says:

    The christian bible condemns those who do not believe in jesus, and those who say its not true after they believe. Various crimes, sins, abominations can be overlooked and forgiven, along with failure to observe various rituals.

    There are also really only two commandments.

  25. grindael says:

    The answer is simple, because the true Gospel of Jesus is simple. John said it best:

    “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

    Love is the answer and the more we love the less we sin because it has no place in us. The natural love of God cleanses us and allows us to be more and more free from sin until we sin no more. I left the Mormon Church because it was cold and arrogant to those who were not members. Check the video out about the ex-mormon at conference. He asked about the seats up front by the GA’s. They are reserved for family, friends and those that pay. That took me by surprise because I have spent some amount of time with the Salvation Army. A man named William Booth saw this kind of behaviour in the Methodist Church, and started preaching in the streets of London. He said “Christ can have all of Me”. With Jesus as number 1 he changed the world. I have helped with disasters (the SA and the Red Cross are always there first) where are the Mormons? I’ve helped with rehab centers, ringing bells and taking donations in winter, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, driving trucks, picking up donations, handing out food – to ANYONE WHO ASKED – not just members only – where does your money go? Who are you helping? God is love, love, love.

  26. Mike R, Shem and Enki,

    Thanks for your posts.

    In considering the “list strategy” to justification, the conclusion I come to is that such lists don’t come from God – they are driven by, and foster, self interest.

    Take polygamy as an example. Brigham Young taught

    The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy

    Brigham Young, writing in the Journal of Discourses (JOD) 11:269, 1866.

    That was easy for him to say because he had already entered into polygamy (in a big way).

    Today, LDS say that polygamy is NOT essential to get on the eternal progression “conveyor”. Its not that there’s been a blinding flash of light from LDS HQ refuting BY’s “gospel”, but rather that current LDS don’t enter into polygamy (discounting the 30,000 folks in Utah who still do).

    So, polygamy becomes a spiritual football; if you do it, its essential to exaltation, but if you don’t, its not.

    How convenient. What’s next? Belief that Joseph Smith was a true prophet?

    The inconvenient truth is that none of our “lists” cut it; not one. No matter how many of our personal boxes we have ticked off, we can’t get round the fact that we are sinners and no amount of religion can paper over the fact.

    It seems to me that we can’t arbitrate amongst ourselves on the contents of the “list”, notwithstanding that our self interest will always gravitate such a list to our personal preferences.

    So who do we turn to for the final judgement? Joseph Smith? What about Mohammad or Zoroaster? The Pope? Maybe even Peter or Paul or Mary (though I can guess what reaction we’d get from them)?

    Personally, I’d recommend turning to the Son of Man, and putting your trust in His judgement. Only He has the righteousness required to justify His standing before the throne (Dan 7:3 Matt 9:6 etc, see also Rev 5:4 and Rev 5:9), and that’s where we stand when we live in Him by faith, and faith alone (see Gal 3:24).

  27. Enki,

    Quick response to your comment

    It appears that the actual only two things which are condemned are to NOT believe in Jesus, and then to say that the christian faith is false after you have been a believer.

    Christians believe that Jesus is not just a prophet or revelator (which He was), but fully God incarnate, whom they worship (as in Matt 28:9, Matt 28:17, Luke 24:52 etc). Rejection of Jesus is therefore tantamount to rejection of God Himself.

    As to the Christian Gospel claiming to be the “truth”; it would, wouldn’t it? (And I’m not embarrassed that it does.)

  28. Enki says:

    So, do you agree with that statement?

  29. liv4jc says:

    Shem, the Ten Commandments are definitely the ultimate list of shall’s and shall not’s. Let’s see how you are doing: In Matthew 5:8 Jesus said,

    Blessed are are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    In scripture, the heart reveals the inward nature, thoughts, feelings, intentions, etc. The “whole ball of wax” as we would say, when it comes to who you are. Purity refers to something that is un-mixed and undefiled with something else. In the case of the heart it is sin or love for anything else, besides God. What is the greatest commandment?

    You shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind.

    The Psalmist knew this, as he recorded in Psalm 24:3-5

    Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

    Look at Psalm 15 for the same standards. So we see that absolute purity is God’s standard. I know you agree with this because JS taught that God cannot have sin in his sight. We can use the Ten Commandments as the mirror to accurately see our sin in light of God’s perfect standard. Go through the Commandments honestly and look inside your heart.

    Keep in mind that you cannot be like the Pharisees, who only judged themselves by the most superficial external standards of “law keeping” when it came to God’s law, but were masters of obeying all of the minutiae of their oral traditions. This is why Jesus gave them the true standard in Matthew 5:21-48 where He said that anger without cause is murder, lust is adultery, divorce is adultery, swearing by anything is lying, etc. He destroyed their self-righteousness and caused them to see their sin, and showed them the law is impossible to keep

  30. liv4jc says:

    This is why they hated Him. Can you say you have loved only God all of your life, have never blasphemed, never disobeyed your parents, never violated the Sabbath, never lusted, never hated, never stolen (regardless of value), and never coveted? Are you pure in heart? If not, then you will not see God.

    Seeing yourself for who you are, Shem, should cause you to see yourself as a miniscule black spot on the face of the earth, while God’s holiness shines a billion times larger, brighter, and hotter than the Sun. Please look at Matthew 5:3-5. Seeing your sin should cause you to be the man described here. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: Those who have seen their spiritual depravity in light of God’s law, knowing that they have no chance to see Him.For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn,
    Those who see their sin mourn over the loss of eternal life with God, and they mourn over their sin that causes them to be defiled before Him. For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek,The repentant man will no longer arrogantly boast in his own righteousness, but will boast in the righteousness of God alone.For they shall inherit the earth.

    The parable of the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 illustrates this perfectly. You are the Pharisee Shem, trusting in your own good works, while the man in Matthew 5:3-5 is the tax collector crying out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” Who went away justified? The tax collector. Who went away condemned? The Pharisee.

    Now let’s look at the word “justified”. Justification is a forensic legal declaration of innocence. And not just innocence, but absolute righteousness. Justified is from the Greek root word dikaio. This word is the same as is used for “righteousness”. They are synonyms. Whenever you see the word justified you can mentally insert declared righteous before God, and vice-versa.

  31. liv4jc says:

    So what is the purpose of the Law? Is it to be followed? Yes, but it cannot be kept perfectly, which is the standard. After spending 3 chapters in Romans condemning the whole world, Paul finishes with the purpose of the Law.

    Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, forby the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20)

    So what is the remedy if we cannot be declared righteous by following the Commandments and Ordinances of God? Are we all condemned? Go back to Matthew 5:6

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

    “God, I have no righteousness in and of myself. I am so sinful and have no hope of ever seeing God. My sins have condemned me to eternal punishment before a Just and Holy God. I need Christ and His righteousness to cover me. “

    For they shall be filled

    Is this just wishful thinking on our part Shem?

    Paul finishes in Romans 3:21-26

    But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets (a Hebraism for the entirety of scripture), even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  32. liv4jc says:

    What is God’s righteousness Shem, to all and on all who believe? Is God’s righteousness not pure? And who shall see God in Matthew 5:8? Are they not those who are pure in heart? God’s righteousness is imputed to our account because of Christ’s obedience by His death on the Cross. Because of Christ’s propitiation ,which is the satisfaction of God’s justice, we are declared righteous. So you see that you can never be justified based upon your works. And according to Galatians 1:6-9 Joseph Smith and all of his followers are preaching a different gospel. It is one of works, and not of grace. And what does the apostle say?” Let them be anathema” (cursed to hell). You cannot force the Smithian doctrine into the Bible Shem. It does not fit. Either Christ and His apostles were liars, or your messiah Joseph Smith was. You choose.

    This exceptionally long post is dedicated to Subgenius. This is the “good news to be declared”, Sub. I could have shortened it by just quoting ,

    “For it is by grace you are saved through faith, it is a gift of God, and not of works, so that no man can boast.”

    But that has been tried before and mocked, so I figured some biblical exegesis of scripture was in order. Sorry buddy.

  33. gundeck says:


    You cannot read Revelation 21:7 in isolation, it is another statement about the rewards promised for “The one who conquers”(Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 27; 3:5, 12, 21).

    I don’t find your view of God very expansive, I think your view of man is expansive, but not God.

  34. setfree says:

    Excellent stuff, liv4jc!
    I doubt Shem can hear you, but I’m going to be praying that God will give him ears.

  35. subgenius says:

    so many trees one can’t see the forest.
    i assume you are being humorous, especially since you make such a blatantly false claim that Mormon’s believe JS to be “messiah”. Not the best method to validate any point, IMHO (1 Peter 3:15).
    You seem to imply that Epehesians quote means that good works is not as instrumental to salvation as good works, and surely you know that to be false.
    James 2:26
    James 2:20-22
    ——> Matthew 16:27 <——
    Revelation 2:2

    Faith and Works are simply not exclusive of each other, there is no "remedy" for a lack of either.
    Purity of heart is simply put as "to will one thing" that one thing is good, because good is unity, all other things are not and so if one will for something else other than good they are not willing "one" but rather many.
    Brevity, it does a body good.

  36. Ralph says:

    Just to add a couple more scriptures to Shem’s list showing that we need BOTH faith and works for our salvation –

    Psalm 62:12 For you render to each one according to his works.

    Jeremiah 17:10 I the Lord … give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

    Ezekiel 18:27 When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness … and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul.

    Matthew 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

    Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

    Matthew 19:17 If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Matthew 25:41-46

    John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    Romans 2:6-13 Who will render to each one according to his deeds. … For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.

    2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the jugment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    James 2:14, 17, 21-25 Faith without works, is dead…Abraham justified by works

    1 Peter 1:17 The Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work.

    Revelation 2:23 I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    If we especially look at James 2 the question is asked “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” The answer given is found in 3 verses all saying the same thing “ faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” So do you believe in a living faith that saves or a dead faith? If it is a living faith then how can one be ‘saved’ as soon as they accept Jesus WITHOUT doing anything (ie works)?

  37. Enki says:

    I know that most of the readers here are thinking of ‘works’ in the context of the bible. With the focus on doing certain rituals, obeying rules, keeping the law as stated in the O.T.

    But wasn’t the larger audience of the N.T. gentile pagans? Or perhaps some mixture of jewish converts and gentile converts. I suppose the same thought would be said about works done in pagan religions. In addition to ‘works’ there is also an issue of a different philosophical basis than christanity.

    Its still a current issue. I read some article about christians witnessing to Buddhists. There are a lot of difficulties. For one most asian cultures feel that anything worthwhile is gained by consistent work, duty, study, effort etc…In addition they tend to view the cruxifiction as shameful and a sign of weakness. Reading between the lines, one could possibly view jesus as a criminal, and wasn’t he cruxified with at least two? A certain webpage advanced a conspiracy theory that the doctrine of ‘save by grace’ is intended to keep gentiles from realizing their own personal spiritual power they would get from doing meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other practices. Something to think about.

  38. Michael P says:

    The crucifiction as a sign of weakness… Interesting thought. But given that we view Christ as a man, isn’t that actually a good thing? That our God came down and humiliated himself in that way indicates something is more important than “strength”. It shows that it is more important to be able to lower yourself for the purpose of lifting another up than to stand strong and aloof. It exemplifies that pride is not something that should get in the way of doing the right thing, even if it means loss in status.

    There is many a powerful lesson in Christ’s death. And these lessons differentiate Christianity from most other faiths. I’ve said there are many similarities, but do not overlook the simple and subtle differences.

  39. Michael P says:

    Witnessing to different groups is challenging. Paul told us to be anything to anybody (of course, within reason). But we are to recognize our audience. Christ’s message is universal, but since there are so many assumptions on the world out there, it is necessary to adjust how the messege is sent.

    I think there is a way to do this.

    I also think the Christian message is often cheapened and important details are left out. This is a product of the modern trend to “know the Bible in a week” sorts of things. Its not just Christianity but everywhere you see the 5 steps to this or that.

    Chritianity has been affected by this, and I think it harms us more than it helps us. While simple is good, the message should not be diluted. Christians are called to pray and meditate. They are called to work hard and be diligent in all things. This is an important part of our faith, indispensible even.

    But to be catchy, too many Christians and Christian organizations focus too much on the faith only aspect. Salvation by grace alone is no less true than what they say, but because they do not talk about the rest, the message can be hollow,

    You may have heard of a group of churches called “seeker churches” that really only bring people into the church. Many of these do not have any way to build and develop Christ followers by sticking to the message to bring people in.

    Just as I criticize Mormons for this (I think they are more intentional about it) I think these churches do Christianity a disfavor if they do not help build members and teach the stuff a person can build his faith on.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with a seeker church but if they mislead or withhold information they are wrong to do so. And they fail Christians by not building them up by showing them the importance of meditation and hard work and study.

  40. Enki says:

    I have brought this to a really off topic of the LDS/Evangelical theme. It is interesting. I will have to think of it more. Here is the link which I saw explaining witnessing to Buddhists. Keep in mind that it is from a christian perspective. It sounds pretty on the level, but I am sure a buddhist would have a different perspective.

    But it does state something which I find so confusing and seemingly contradictory about the evangelical christian message.

    “Explain that salvation is not a gift handed out to anyone, there is an action on the part of the seeker…”

    Being raised LDS that sounds in accord with what I was taught. But evangelicals so accentuate the ‘free’ part, and ‘liberity’ which sounds so vague, and at times gives me a different picture that I think what they mean.

    In a christian context when you say ‘meditation’ do you mean pondering? It might mean something different, certainly the context and understood purpose is different than in buddhism. I read some critique of buddhism that its fundementally self-centered, but I am not sure that is accurate.

    The crucifiction can be viewed in a number of ways. Christians think of the self sacrifice of jesus on behalf of humanity, but apparently others see something else. Some place emphasis on the joy of salvation, others on the the guilt that they caused jesus to suffer. Catholic and mormons typically have very somber services of this nature. While still others have viewed the image of the cruxifiction as a sort of ploy to disarm gentiles, via guilt.

  41. Michael P says:

    Enki, a lot of thoughts to respond to, but first, the link and quote on how to minister to Buddhists I would agree is confusing. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they may have mispoke a little as the next phrase does call it a gift. However, it is still confusing because I am not sure that what Christ offers is anything but a gift. I do not know anything about “Contender Ministries” either. They may be good (reputable), they may not be. I’ll look into it some more, but this may be an example of finding something that is questionable and testing it against other sources (the concept we speak of often about testing the spirits, etc).

    But as I said, I think it is pretty clear it is a gift. Only through a very broad definition of “act” can you say that what Christ offers is not a gift. Accepting it can be an act under a broad definition, and what follows does require work. But it is important to differentiate salvation and what happens afterward. Salvation is a gift, but we are transformed upon salvation such that we will do things we didn’t want to do before. These things do not add anything to our salvation but are important.

    I am positive the term meditation will end up with some different connotations, but probably not as far as you may think. I use the term as defined in most dictionaries, which is to suggest a deep consideration of something. To Buddhists, I think meditation is to an extreme where the goal is to free ones mind of all thought. This is different from what I mean, but I do mean that one should focus only on God’s word when they meditate. We are to meditate deeply and allow God to commune with us. We are to free our mind of all other hindrances and focus on him. The distinction ends up smaller than one might expect.

    The crucifiction can be viewed in more than one way, as can most anything. However, each “thing” has a truth in it or behind it. In other words, there is a right way to explain anything.

  42. Michael P says:

    Catholics, while they do emphasize more our sinful nature that put Christ on the cross (ie, our guilt) they also realize what happened on that cross and the importance of his death to their lives.

    It is important for anyone to realize that his death is hugely important in the construct of our faith. Death is a big deal, especially for God to die! And that’s what happened. Christ died. he was killed, finished, done, destroyed, humiliated, buried, and lifeless in every sense of the word. We killed him. We deserved to die like he died, but we weren’t. We should feel some amount of guilt over that, shouldn’t we? We should be aware of our sin and its power to kill.

    And kill it did.

    But because it killed Christ, we now have an opportunity, through him, to be free of our sin. Because he triumphed over that death through our sin, we can triumph over it, as well. To do so, we must trust that he in fact died because of our sin and that he triumphed over it. Our faith in his power over death covers our sin so that we will not die.

    But the death is the key part to it. This can be one of those things overlooked in our faith. Might it be confusing to some or against common sense to others? Yes. Might it be misunderstood by people? Yes. But we need to communicate this truth accurately and completely.

    Even when we do so, some will still choose to emphasize different aspects of the event. That is fine whether they choose to mourn their sin that led to his death or whether they choose to live in the triumph over that death. As long as they realize that the two parts of the transaction are indispensible they are OK.

    The resurection is impossible without the death, and the death is meaningless if there is no resurection.

    That still does not answer that there will always be those outside who look for reasons to discredit the story. Whether they view it as a sign of weakness in Christ himself or they view it as a ruse, there is power in it.

  43. liv4jc says:

    Subgenius and Ralph, just because a verse has the word “works” in it you cannot use it to justify your position of justification by works. No Christian is saying that good works don’t attend salvation. What we are saying is that good works don’t merit salvation. Most of the verses that you cited Ralph are not saying anything that I have not already said. Each person will be judged according to his works unless they are covered by the righteousness of Christ. I showed you that in my marathon post above . Paul says in Galatians 3:10 (quoting from Deut 27:26), “For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law.” If you insist on being judged by Christ on your goodness then you will indeed be judged by your works.

    Ralph, the verse you cited in Matthew 19:17 was jerked completely out of context, because in context Jesus was attempting to soften the rich young ruler’s heart to the presence of sin in his life by the use of the Commandments. An honest man, when told to “keep the Commandments” would have said, “Lord, I cannot.” Jesus had already said in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus then goes on to explain how God views our keeping of the Commandments. He reveals that even our intentions of the heart break them, so no one is righteous by works.

    Jesus tells the rich you ruler when he first comes to Him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is God.” Jesus is giving the man a clue. Although he believes himself to be good, he is not.

  44. liv4jc says:

    And this man already believed that he was righteous by the Law as indicated by his response, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”, after Jesus said to him, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” First of all, this is not true because we know how Jesus views Commandment keeping. It is impossible because our hearts are wicked. When told to give up all that he had, which is where his heart truly was, he violated the 1st, 2nd, and possibly the 10th commandments. Love only God, not money, prestige, etc. Do not make anything, even your lifestyle, an idol. And do not covet anything, even the opulent lifestyle and prestige of others. What did our Lord say to the man? “If you want to be perfect, give all that you have to the poor and follow me (paraphrase)?” To say otherwise Jesus would be contradicting Himself in John 6:29 when asked, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

    I have exegeted James 2 before, and to do so again would take way too much time and space, so let this suffice. When we are talking about works it is in the context of justification, which is our only means of salvation. Doing nice things does not erase former transgressions of the law. Either we are justified by actually being righteous because we have not broken any of God’s commandments and therefore have a righteousness of our own, or we have to look for imputed righteousness from another source.

  45. liv4jc says:

    Look at the works James uses as examples of faith. Do you really believe that everyone who gives to the poor is justified? It is having a soft, merciful heart because of salvation that causes the good work. It was Rahab’s fear of the God of Israel (Joshua 2) and her faith that He would deliver Jericho to Israel that caused her to hide the spies. It was a work resulting from faith not a work meriting justification. Would you say we should all become prostitutes and hide spies as an ordinance to be kept for justification? And finally, Abraam was justified by faith long before Isaac was born because he believed that God would give him a child from Sarai, even though she was old (Genesis 15). So going to Mt. Moriah to offer Isaac as a sacrifice was a work resulting from faith, not a work that justified Abraham. I doubt you would recommend we institute child sacrifice as an ordinance for salvation.

    This is why Paul tell us in Galatians 4:21-22, “….For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could again be given-because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ-to those who believe.”

    You cannot squeeze justification by works into the Bible. But the Bible does teach judgment and condemnation for violating the law apart from salvation by faith in Christ. It is your choice. Choose to be judged by your works that you believe merit justification or choose faith in Christ for the covering of sin.

  46. liv4jc says:

    If anyone is interested, I just went to Dr. James’ White’s site and he has a sermon exegeting James chapter 2 in context on one of his most recent blogs. If you struggle with what you feel is a contradiction between the clear teaching of justification by faith, and what James says is justification by works, you may want to listen. Also, Dr. White’s book, The God Who Justifies, is well worth reading. After reading it you will have a good understanding of what true justification is. It also has a lengthy discussion and exegesis of James 2.

    Ralph and Sub, you should listen. If you don’t agree that’s fine, but at least you will have a reference point to see where Christians are coming from.

  47. subgenius says:

    no mormon i know believes that salvation is by works alone. that is a supposition that evangelicals seem to perpetuate. In my post above, i believe i clearly state that faith and works are inseperable and can not be exclusive of each other. Why you are continuing such a myth as my being my “position” confuses me….yet your recent reference to Joshua 2 seems to reiterate what i posted, so now i am perplexed by trying to discern the issue which you seem to be “exegesis ad infinitum”.
    I find it incredibly ironic that you invoke the term “justification” above, considering that “justification” is a singular ‘action’ taken by God.
    James 2:24 sums it up, maybe you are debating in the historical context of the Reformation? Nevertheless, this notion of “justification” is diluted and inconsistent amongst many other faiths (catholic, Luther, Calvin, etc.)…but seems to be the most consistent with the scriptures in the LDS doctrine. But the dilution of the Gospel by culture in modern churches is perhaps a discussion better left for the “Apostasy” topic board.

    yes, catholics have an emphasis on sin. They believe that it is passed through DNA ever since Adam and Eve….born into sin we all are, that is of course according to the Catholic “exegesis”.

  48. Michael P says:

    Original sin is something I believe virtually every Christian believes. This means that we are sinful beings by nature and are thus unable to do anything on our own to warrant salvation. It is just something we cannot do.

    So, its not just the Catholics who think that…

  49. liv4jc says:

    Subgenius, Christians believe that justification is a one-time event and just like Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 “…we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” These are post salvation works as evidenced by the two verses that preceed it. These works do no assist in our justification before our salvation, nor do they maintain our justification after our salvation, which is wholly a work of God.

    The same Holy Spirit who worked in Paul worked in James when James penned the section we call Chapter 2:14-26 so they are not contradictory as some claim. James begins his letter calling the recipients, “My brethren” in verse 2 of Chapter 1 of his epistle. This tells us that James was writing to those who he already believed had been justified (declared righteous) by God. James is doing nothing more than expanding on Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:10 telling them to live out the faith that they claim to have (James 2:14) and gives charity, Abraham, and Rahab as examples.

    If you believe as we do, as you claim, then why is James 2:14-26 the retort every time that a Christian quotes Ephesians 2:8-10?

  50. subgenius says:

    i do not agree that everyone believes in original sin as the catholic church does. When they say it has been passed down since Adam, they mean it quite literally…in other words just as you inherited blue eyes from your father, you inherit tainted soul from Adam. In other words when you take your first breath of life you are already a “sinner”…you have a tainted soul..bottom line. Are you saying that every Christian believes that?
    LDS believes that a person is judged for their own sins, not for someone else’s.

    “post salvation works” is exactly the point of contention i have with current evangelicalism and it is perhaps one of the most important reasons i left the evangelical and converted to LDS.
    Paul may proclaim “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” but, plainly stated, Jesus calls for deeds. Jesus repeatedly calls for action, like forgiving the sins of others, as obvious conditions in order to receive God’s forgiveness, to receive eternal life, or to enter the kingdom.
    Quite simply “grace alone by faith alone” is a hard sell for you to make and i ain’t buying.
    Jesus is quite clear about the importance of perserverance being necessary for final salvation.
    Initial conversion is one thing but consummation is another….and “post salvation” is something altogether different, exactly when is “post”?

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