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Verrrrrryyyyyy, confused on the subject of "the law, faith, and salvation". This is what i heard. "A man is not justified by the law, but he must uphold it none the less, but we are set free from the law by jesus christ, and his death would be in vain if it weren't so." So I'm thinking... "Ok, so what does this mean? If no contradictions were made, then this is just extremely hard to follow. Does it mean anyone who is true child of God will follow the law naturally, as they'll be guided by the spirt to do so? Can someone clarify?
It cannot be understood by critical logical approach. Interestingly, it is intentionally so. The scripture can be only understood by interpretation. And interpretation can take place only if a person has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is an actual experience that happens to a person. From that moment on they are able to see spiritual things, instead of natural ones. Of course if one is to read the bible with natural, logical approach, it will not make sense. It will appear that it is contradicting. But this phenomenon is not foreign to the author of the scriptures. They are not unaware of this.
My suggestion is to meditate on it. The mind tries to tell you: This doesn't make sense. But go past that. The scripture wasn't written with the mind but with the heart. And if you trust God, and this is his word. Then it is truth, and his truth does not contradict. Because he is not the author of confusion. I think that's why the earthly authors of the scripture through whom God has spoken via the Holy Spirit had written that.
I will try to answer your questions now.
The law is good. But it was not given to live a life by. It was given to convict man of sin. Nobody can perfectly walk in the law. Because if you break one least commandment, it is counted as if you've broken them all. You are guilty of breaking the law. Everyone is. That's the point. The law is good because it was given by God, who is holy, to convict man of his sin. It tells us what not to do, rather than what to do. Yet, everyone has broken it. Everyone has sinned against God.
But God sent his son Jesus Christ. He has not committed a single sin. And though the son and the father are the same (Jesus Christ is God, they are one and the same) God the Father sent his son to die for our sin. Because he was sinless, (God is holy, so both the Father and the Son are the same, completely clean of any sin), it was sufficient to cleanse us from all sin if we believe that Jesus died and was resurrected. This means he was sinless, but came to earth (God decided to become a man just like us, even though he didn't have to) he came to die instead of us, in our place to take our sin, and went back to heaven, resurrected.
This is the background. You have to pray and believe for God to help you understand it. After that, you will be led to realize that you are a sinner. And you learn to love God for what he has done for you. As it is understood, until this repentance happens, a person cannot obtain Holy Spirit. Because God cannot agree with our sin, and withholds his spirit from us. So we are spiritually blind until we acknowledge our sinful nature.
Once this process takes place in a person's heart, he enables that person to understand the scripture. It feels like you are no longer trying to understand it with your mind. It just makes sense. Even though you fully realize to a natural, carnal "logical" mind it doesn't make sense -- at this moment -- because your heart is regenerated by the holy spirit you no longer have the desire to understand it in that way. So you accept it as the word of God. (This is how it feels like to those who had this experience.) After this, you are able to interpret the bible.
Has this happened to you? If you can't say for sure, then you have not been born again of spirit, not of flesh. The flesh is this carnal nature that wants to understand logically. The purpose of this is to want control. If you knew everything and gained that knowledge, you would be like God. You'd just know everything for what it is. But that is part of the point. In the garden Satan said to Eve, eat of this tree and you will become like gods. She fell for the lie, and her spiritual eyes were closed. Adam did the same. The world has fallen. But not forgotten. And now we are given a chance by Jesus Christ to reconcile with God by accepting his sacrifice.
Whenever you cannot understand something in the bible, humble yourself and sincerely ask God to show you. He is faithful to do it. Try it. He will respond.
If...you did have this experience and are still confused about this, you need to do the same thing. Now you have the Holy Spirit and can understand it, but you are still growing spiritually. My suggestion is to humble yourself (yes, in this case too) and ask God to help. Then open the scripture and ask God to talk to you through the Holy Spirit. Ask him for peace and understanding. Little by little your mind adjusts to the scripture, the word of God. And you will start seeing the intended meaning with your spiritual heart.
--- Second question
Does it mean we must uphold the law in its entirety, but more importantly have strong faith, and rely on that faith as our way to salvation, and not our works? Sorta like he was saying "works without faith is dead?"
--- Second answer
I can't explain it as eloquently as Paul but yes. We must uphold it in its entirety. So it seems. But it's impossible and no man has ever done it, except Jesus Christ. He is sinless. That is why he was able to do it. But we have sinful nature, we are unable to do anything apart from him. So how can we do that which we are unable to do? Just like Paul says in this video. By hearing of faith in Jesus Christ. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by taking our sin upon himself by dying on the cross. So now our faith is in him. You are justified and made righteous by faith in Christ and his sacrifice.
We live by faith. But be careful. You can start thinking: So it's strength of my faith that matters now. Not true. Only if this faith is in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, death and resurrection. He fulfilled the law by not breaking a single commandment. Does it mean he has done it for us and there is nothing for us to do? No. It doesn't. The righteous will walk by faith. There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ and walk in fellowship with him. Of course this kind of faith will produce something. But not works. It will produce fruit, that glorifies and pleases God, which can be considered “good works” a believer was preordained for doing.
This is not in the bible but as a side note, my understanding is that there are two types of works. One that you are trying to do yourself. Because you have hope in yourself. This is often what a proud person wants to do. He wants to achieve more, do it by his strength or strength of his faith. But the humble "works" is when you accept Jesus Christ by faith. You come to an agreement with him and the meaning of the cross. And your faith becomes in the cross. That becomes your salvation. Which makes sense. Jesus Christ is the one who saves us from our sin. When he said from the cross "it is finished". That was the work of God that was finished.
So it is our faith in the event of the cross and its meaning. But not in ourselves. Nor in strength of our faith. See how faith can become a "work" again if you start thinking that way? It's like you are trying to do it well again by personal effort. Yes, our faith is in Jesus Christ, not in ourselves. Faith is a gift, not an achievement. Through repentance of our sins and making a choice not to do it (not saying it in any theological ways, just saying ask God to help you move away from your sins). This way we have fellowship with Christ in whom there is no darkness. He is only light. So if we have fellowship with him, we walk in the light as well. This is only possible if we abide in Christ through his gift of Holy Spirit.
Ask God to help you in prayer, he is faithful. I believe he is. My faith is in his faithfulness. I can make a mistake at any time. He cannot. I need repentance, he doesn't. Can he then not save a sinner? Of course he can. So my faith is in Jesus Christ. And by believing which results in confession of sins and laying them down (choosing to turn away from them) I am saved and have eternal life.
He loved us and he sent his son. So because he loved us first, we must love others. This is the evidence that we are saved. It is not a contest of what you can do to get saved. Ask God for everything. Don't listen to any person.