John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

Our Free and Freeing God
By John Gavazzoni

It has been long established by the best exegetes, that in the sixth and seventh chapters of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, the apostle made it clear that our co-crucifixion with Christ would not have been complete if that death had not included, as exclaimed in the sixth chapter, death to sin, and as exclaimed in the seventh chapter, death to the law. He who is still responsive to the demands of the law, is still responsive to sin, and not truly dead. In the life of that not-truly-dead-one, as Paul taught elsewhere, sin is being empowered by the law: "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law."

The New Testament clearly connects the law with bondage, and likewise, release from the law through the death of Christ, with freedom. Of course, "the freedom wherewith Christ has set us free" is not a freedom TO sin, but freedom FROM sin, and our release from the law by the death of Christ, is not a release to lawlessness, but to living by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." That living law has no need to check in with the Law of Moses. Yet all through the law, as given through Moses, are types and shadows pointing to the living law of God to be written on fleshly tablets of the heart.

By our Lord's death, we have been freed FROM legal demands being brought to bear upon dead-to-God, helpless flesh, which effect is to incite resentful rebellion, UNTO the freedom of living by the resurrection life of Christ. The law's only effectiveness lies in, as a child-attendant, to lead us to Christ, and the reality of having been crucified and risen with Him. When the law, as it were, hands us over to Christ, it's work is done, and thus to ask of the law ANYTHING beyond that God-prescribed commission, is to make of it something that it simply is not in the counsels of God.

Those who insist on giving the demands the law some place in the life of the believer, supposing that without its demands being brought to bear upon even those of whom Paul said "you are no longer under law, but under grace," that such lack of demand would eventually lead to licentious behavior, are seriously lacking in understanding the supremacy of grace in the administration of God. Be sure, given time, laying law on folks will lead to either depressing futility, with its consequent reactionary rebellion, or to Pharisaical righteousness that swallows camels, but chokes on gnats.

Yet, there are those who, though having some substantial grasp of what I've described above, while declaring OUR freedom from the law, believe it to be very good, solid teaching to present God, the God, who by His Son has set us free from the law, as being Himself bound to the same law in His relationship with man, and particularly in establishing men in the righteousness of God. How can that be?

How can God be bound TO that which He frees us FROM? This brings us to the subject that is on my heart, all the above simply providing an irrefutable point of reference to expose a serious misrepresentation of how God reckons righteousness, and what God reckons as righteousness. Conventional orthodoxy, at least especially as found in western Christian fundamentalism, insists that the demands of the law are first and foremost something to which God is answerable. That is, the demands of the law upon mankind are intrinsic to God's attitude toward men, and must be met before God can reckon, count, consider, take inventory of, account a man as righteous.

The more formal theological term describes the above as imputed righteousness, i.e, after having settled the legality involved, God can reckon a men as righteous based upon the vicarious, substitutionary death of Christ AND upon that man's faith.. This conventional view divides righteousness into two forms: Imputed righteousness, and imparted righteousness. Imputed righteousness, according to most Bible teachers, is given to us on the ground of Christ having satisfied the demands of the law for us. Imparted righteousness, wholly dependent upon its imputed counterpart, is given only on the ground of what has been imputed to us.

Now, the portions of scripture from which this theological invention is supposedly taught, make it clear that the subject of the context is the righteousness of God, which men need in order for themselves to be truly righteous. How is it then, that God's righteousness, which certainly is eternal in nature, is bound to something that is only an eonian interjection in His dealings with men?

The law has intrinsically nothing to do with God's righteousness. God is right by nature. He doesn't refer to the Mosaic law to tell Him how He ought to behave. There can be no legal demand to which God is responsive. Grace and Truth came to us by/in Jesus Christ from out of the center of the nature of God, but the law came, interjected, in the eons by Moses as God's concession to man's already law-infected mentality. The law is a temporary point of contact between men and God on the way to Him revealing His grace in Jesus Christ.

The death of Christ did not satisfy a legal demand within the heart of God. God does not defer to that which He calls a curse. God does not reference the demands of the law from His side of relating to men. Man, in his fallen state, is the one who is always, either consciously or unconsciously factoring in the law in his relationship with God. That, God calls a curse---the curse of the law from which Christ has set us free, and Christ, rather than accepting that the law has a RIGHTFUL demand upon men, released men from the curse of that unrighteous demand.

You often hear preachers saying, as they attempt to lay a proper foundation for God's forgiveness, and for Him reckoning, accounting, imputing righteousness to a man, that God doesn't see a believer's sin, because He looks at us through the blood of Christ, the blood, according to them. that was shed to satisfy the demands of the law as defined by the place of said demands in the mind of God. Hogwash! That's right, that's what I wrote: Hogwash!

While I certainly respect that men need to understand what is the solid ground of the righteousness they have from God through Christ, but WHERE is there in scripture ANY declaration re: the effect of the blood of Christ, as being some sort of filter through which God looks at us, so that He can't see our sin, and can therefore impute the righteousness of Christ to us?

I do read that the blood of Christ cleanses US from sin, it doesn't cleanse God's reckoning. I do read about that blood which "speaketh better things than the blood of Abel." But to whom does it speak? I tell you assuredly that the blood does not speak to God, it speaks to our hearts. And whose defiled consciences does it cleanse? Certainly not God's!

This whole theological house of cards is based upon a misunderstanding, and gross distortion of the process, initially very representatively revealed to us in the record of how God righteously related to Abraham. Paul quoted the Genesis record of that faith/righteousness transaction between God and Abraham, which became central to his understanding of how men are MADE righteous, and THEREFORE are ACCOUNTED as righteous. God does not merely account us as righteous, in spite of us being unrighteous. God accounts us righteous on the basis of IMPARTING HIS Son into us to BE our righteousness. In a word: God ACCOUNTS what He has IMPARTS.

Let me explain: When Moses wrote that Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned, or counted, or accounted, or inventoried as, or imputed to him as righteousness, God was not establishing some kind of mere legal standing for Abraham before Him. God recognized and acknowledged His own righteousness in the Person of His Son, at work in Abraham, That is, the feature that is representative of the right relating of the Son to the Father, namely, the Son's faith in the Father, was at work in Abraham, and it was THAT which God reckoned as righteous. It was by the faith of Christ in him, that Abraham believed God, and God reckoned it as righteousness, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IT WAS: actually, not legally.

Please understand, in eternity, and out from eternity, it is first the Son of God to whom God has revealed His love, and it is that revelation of love, that gracious working of love in the relationship of the Father to the Son, that calls forth "the faith of Christ," in His Father. THAT'S righteousness, and that's what God calls it, because that's what it IS. That's what God saw at work in Abraham. None of this, "well, since you've made a faith decision for Christ, I, God, can now legally reckon your faith as righteousness based upon the fact that My being BOUND to exact the penalty of the law upon men has been satisfied by My Son."

That kind of nonsense doesn't describe or exalt the righteousness of God, it describes God as being not right with Himself, and unjust in His relationship with man, and is actually demeaning to the justness of God's rightness. While insisting that a man or woman, when offended by others, ought not to withhold forgiveness from the offending one until some legal standard is met by them, preachers then turn around and insist that God must do the exact opposite. Brethren, we need to rethink these things we've carried over into, and mixed with the revelation of universal salvation in Christ. May the Lord purge from our thinking, the notion of a legally imputed righteousness. There is no such thing in God's relationship with man.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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