What really matters?

treasure

How do you make your decisions?  How do you spend your time?  We find ourselves often fretting and stressing over things that either we cannot change, or in a few moments, days, weeks, or years we will have completely forgotten.  This is one of the reasons that Jesus commands us,

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

– Matt 6.34

Every day has its own tensions, stresses and frustrations.  Each day also has its own joys, pleasures and comforts.  But how much of what we have done yesterday will last through eternity?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

– Matt 6.19-21

This is an interesting command.  Jesus wants us to build up treasures, just not ones that are earthly.  Everything that exists here on Earth, and those fleeting pleasures of affirmation, adoration and approval will pass away.  They will rust, they will break down, they will pass.  And Jesus, desiring us to have eternal joy and pleasure in God, teaches us that if we store up treasures in eternity, in Heaven, they will give true joy and never pass away.

What does that mean?  How do we store up treasures in Heaven?  Scripture teaches us that when Christians are judged at the end of time, our deeds will be weighed.  Sin and wickedness will be burned up like weeds, but those things we have done to the glory and honor of God will be purified through the fire and come out as gold and precious stones (1 Cor 3.10-15).

What is the most eternal treasure?  Other souls in Heaven.  The Great Commission was given to us as Jesus final parting words:  Go make disciples of all nations (Matt 28.18-20).  God desires to use us as a part of His plan to bring other souls to salvation.  When we get to Heaven, our works will be judged and there will be actual rewards, but no greater reward than a fellow soul in eternal joy with us.

We will also receive a variety of rewards, like the “crown of life”, the “crown of righteousness” and the “crown of glory” (Rev 2.10, 2 Tim 4.8, 1 Peter 5.4).  Some people interpret these verses to be literal crowns, like those awarded to athletes who won at the ancient olympics.  I believe the term crown to be figurative of the gift it represents:  eternal life, godly righteousness, and our final glorification.  We learn elsewhere in Scripture that these are the eternal goals of salvation, and it will be our “crowning glory” to ultimately receive them after the final judgment.

But to whom is rewarded this gifts?  Those who persevere until the end.  Those who feed the hungry and clothe the naked.  Those who make disciples.  Those who abide in Jesus.  Those who glorify God in everything that they do.  Those who are faithful.

These are the things that will matter forever.  Not the house you buy, the car you drive or the clothes you wear – unless of course all of these decisions are made with an eternal goal.  Perhaps you buy a house to house homeless or that is ready for missionaries as they come through.  Perhaps you drive an economic car in which you offer people rides and share the Gospel with them along the way.  Perhaps you wear respectable clothes that honor God in the way you present yourself.

Figure out what things will last forever.  And focus on doing them.  A lot.  Nothing else matters.

Can People Be Saved After Death?

heaven and hell

I had a conversation with a friend recently regarding the nature of death and whether or not people will have a chance to be saved after they die.  This is a relatively new belief that was made widely popular by Rob Bell and his book “Love Wins”, and it is defined by theologians as “postmortem evangelism” (PME).  It is certainly a warm fuzzy thought and comfort: that people can get through life and either never hear of Jesus or deny His salvation, but then be given one last chance as they stand at the brink of eternity to choose between Heaven over Hell.

The good thing, and the truth found within this belief, is that Jesus is the only way to find eternal salvation.  It is still exclusive and right in this claim.

But the problem is that Scripture clearly teaches that this is an impossibility.  The author of Hebrews makes a clear assertion that upon our moment of death we will be taken to judgment.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…”

Heb 9:27

This is a difficult concept to understand.  We know that God, being Spirit (John 4.24) and being the creator (Col 1, Gen 1-3), exists outside of time.  He is not governed by the physical laws that uphold the world (Is 57.15), and the passing of time to God is irrelevant (Ps 90.5, 2 Peter 3.8, Ps 102.12, 24-27).  So it is not only possible but likely that when we leave our physical bodies we will enter into that state of existence where time does not constrain us.  In short, we can go straight from death to judgment – with everyone (even those who are still alive when we die) – at the end of time.

When we go to the judgment, we will go through two phases.  The first is the Great White Throne Judgment where the believers will be separated from the non believers (Rev 20.11-15).  The non believers, at judgment will be sent immediately to Hell.  Then the believers will give an account for the deeds that they did while in the body, the Bema Seat judgment (1 Cor 3.12-15).  This is the time where all of our deeds that were preformed to the glory of God will be refined from our sinful and wicked ones through fire and rewarded to us as Heavenly, eternal treasures:  treasures that we can present to Jesus as gifts.

Not only does Scripture teach that judgment is what awaits us at death, Jesus also taught in a parable of the impassable chasm between Heaven and Hell in his story of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  The story teaches us that after death the two were taken immediately to their eternity (through judgment):  Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom (Heaven/the New Earth), and the rich man to Hell (Luke 16.22).  The rich man could see Lazarus and in his torment begged Abraham to let Lazarus give him a drink of water, but he was denied (Luke 16.23-26).  Abraham told him that the chasm between Heaven and Hell was impassable (Luke 16.26).  No one can go from Heaven to Hell, and no one can go from Hell to Heaven.  Abraham also condemned the rich man for his actions while he was alive and asserted that he was receiving the reward for his wickedness in life (Luke 16.25).

Scripture regularly teaches that our eternal destiny is based on our actions in life, whether to eternal blessing or damnation:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

– 2 Cor 5.10

 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

– 1 Cor 3.8

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”

– Rev 22.12

“I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.”

– Rev 2.23

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

– John 5.28-29

The deeds we preform and the salvation we receive or reject while alive will determine our eternity after death.

We also need to consider the sovereignty of God over salvation.  Paul teaches us that everyone who will come to God for salvation was predestined to be saved before the foundation of the world:

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

– Eph 1.4-6

Those who have been predestined have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21.27), and they have been there since before time began.  This is why Jesus so boldly taught the disciples that God has given some people on Earth to Him, and everyone that God has given to Jesus will come to Him:

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

– John 6.37

The sheep analogy is continued and completed in this, as well.  Jesus says that we are His sheep, and His sheep know His voice and come when He calls (John 10.27-28).  Those who are not Jesus’ sheep are goats.  We are fundamentally, by nature, different creatures.  And that is why the first judgment will be the separation of the sheep and goats (Matt 25.31-46).

The last point we need to consider is the command and urgency of the Great Commission and missions.  Jesus came to bring salvation to the world, and the last thing He said as He was leaving the world was “Go and make disciples” of the whole world (Matt 28.18-20).  Paul said that He was obligated to the lost to preach the gospel (Rom 1.14-17).  And we are commanded to be disciples, and part of being a disciple is to make disciples.  If people had a chance to be saved after they left this Earth, then there is no urgency to go and tell.  Why?  Because anyone standing in front of two destinies, a fiery prison of suffering in Hell or eternal blessing in Heaven, will choose Heaven.  If everyone will get to see those options and choose, then there is no point to struggle to take the Gospel to the world.

Ultimately, Jesus taught us that belief in Him, through the Gospel, means that one has already begun their eternal life while alive on Earth.  Whoever does not believe still has the wrath of God abiding on him.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

– John 3.36

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

– John 5.24

And ultimately Jesus taught that those eternal destinies are already determined before life, those who are damned are already judged and condemned even though they might still be physically alive:

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

– John 3.18

In summary, God has chosen us for salvation from the moment that He created the world.  His plan cannot be thwarted.  When we die, we go immediately to judgment – judgment for our deeds in the flesh and our belief in Jesus – and after judgment we will enter eternity in either Heaven or Hell, and the chasm between the two cannot be passed, in either direction.  This is why evangelism is so necessary and urgent, because we only have a limited time on Earth and then we will spend an eternity in reward for our faith or our lack of faith.  No, people cannot be saved after they die.  So let’s get our own salvation established and then let us be obedient to the ultimate call of Jesus to go out and make disciples of the world, so that we can be obedient and we can spend eternity with our brothers and sisters from all nations!

There but for the grace of God go I.

stake

John Bradford was an English, Protestant reformer who was burned at the stake by command of Mary Tudor at the age of 45.  After being raised in an established family, studying and working his way up to paymaster of the English army, he entered law school and there met a Christian.  John was converted and left law school to study theology.  At the age of forty he was ordained a priest and worked as a roving chaplain, and during his service in the Church he was known for regularly affirming his dependence on the grace of God and not his own morality for salvation.  When he would see criminals being led away to their death, he would say:

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

– John Bradford

We are quite versed in the art of self-deception, believing that we are not truly wicked at the core.  We believe that our human nature is neutral and that God only needs to help us out in those areas where we struggle.  But Scripture teaches us that we are depraved, that our very nature as human beings is wicked.  We are under the curse, we are enemies of God, and apart from Him we can go nothing good, and we would never seek God.  But we are quick to observe one another’s sins, hold grudges, and walk with condemnation.  We forget that our very faith and salvation is a gift.  Paul addresses this heart sternly:

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.  But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself,that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

– Rom 2.1-4

It is the kindness of God alone that leads us to repentance.  We cannot and we never will come to repentance on our own accord.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

– John 6.44

Therefore, we must be diligent to remember that everything we have is a gift from God.  Even our faith.  Even our repentance.  And when we see someone in sin or suffering the consequences of sin, let us practice humility.  Let us preach the Gospel to such a one, let us hold a brother accountable, but let us turn back to God in praise and with guarded hearts to petition God to keep us from sin.  Because it is the grace of God alone that draws us and keeps us from sin.  But for the grace of God, there go you and I, too.

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”

– Matt 6.9-13

Is there a false prophet in your church?

preach (1)

Yesterday my husband and I were discussing the various ways that a demon might act in order to lead people astray.  We see in Scripture that there are demons who cause people to act irrationally and cause others to be mute, suffer from seizures, or roam around without cause.  We also see that there are demons who enable people to see supernaturally and thus work as diviners and fortune tellers.  I think, however, that one of Satan’s greatest tactics in hurting the Church and leading people astray is through false prophets and religious teaching that is so close but just not the complete Gospel:  assuring someone of a false salvation so that they never encounter Jesus is the greatest deception.

The fourth Church that Jesus addressed in His revelation to John was the Church at Thyatira.  In this warning, Jesus defined Himself as the one “who has eyes like a flame of fire” and “feet like burnished bronze”.  Jesus not only sees everything, but He is jealous for His glory and will ultimately and eternally cast into judgment (the lake of fire) anyone who does not repent of their sins and come to Him for salvation.  His feet are burnished bronze:  they will trample all of His enemies.  This self-description explains the wickedness that has infiltrated the Church:

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:  ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.  Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.  And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.  But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.  Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.  He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONSAND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’.”

– Rev 2.18-29

The Church at Thyatira had excelled in acts of service.  They met Jesus, they were transformed by His gospel, and they were growing in faith, love and persevering through life’s trials.  And they were continually adding to their faith by greater deeds of service.  In their determination to serve and in their hearts of love they chose, however, to tolerate a false prophet and not remove her from their midst.  Church discipline and inter-personal accountability is extremely difficult and many who have the Spiritual gift of service and compassion struggle with the confrontation that is required to remove someone who is walking in sin or teaching a false truth.  This is exactly what we see happening at Thyatira.

Jesus had no more patience for this false prophet.  He says that He has given her time to repent – whenever we encounter someone in sin, we should be patient with them as we attempt to hold them accountable – but there will come a point when a person either chooses obedience or chooses sin.  And once that decision is made, Jesus promises to destroy such a one.  This false prophet had led many in the Church to immorality and to idol worship.  While this might mean actually participating in worship of a foreign god or creating images of Jesus and offering sinful sacrifices to it, they had been led astray.  Jesus promises to destroy her while she is alive and all of those whom she has led astray will suffer severe tribulation with her.

Jesus then says that others will see the judgment that has come upon this church and know that He sees the hearts and minds of people and judged accordingly:  rendering to each one according to his deeds.  They will be an example.

Jesus then proclaims to the rest, who have not bought into this false teaching, to keep on keeping on.  He praises their perseverance and conviction and promises that if they continue until the end, they will be placed in a position of authority and saved on the day of judgment.  Romans 9 teaches us that God has created some people as “vessels of wrath”, who were created for destruction.  He uses the imagery of a potter creating some beautiful pots for honor and some worthless pots for destruction (picture a chamber pot), and the imagery is continued in this prophecy given to Thyatira,

“To him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces.”

Those who persevere will be welcomed into eternal rest, will rule (over the angels, Paul teaches us, 1 Cor 6.3), and will watch as God destroys and sends into an eternity separated from Him in Hell.

False prophets are wicked and have already infiltrated the Church, John says (1 John 4.1).  That is why we must be a wise as serpents but as innocent as doves (Matt 10.16).  We must hear teaching and immediately evaluate it against Scripture and test it to see if it is from God (Acts 17.11, 1 John 4.1).  We must intentionally protect our churches, our families and our own hearts from false prophets who would lead us astray and into destruction by God’s righteous judgment.  We should never be a passive listener.  When you go to church, when you listen to podcasts, when you read devotional material, test it.  No one is infallible and no one is guaranteed to always teach the truth.  That is why we have the Holy Spirit residing in us to help us discern sin and righteousness (John 16.8).

We must be on guard because the devil is prowling around looking for those whom he can devour (1 Peter 5.8).  He is actively against us, and he has sent out false prophets who will entice us and lead us astray with the smallest untruth which can lead to our destruction.  Stand firm in the faith.  Know the Word and know God, and rest in His perfect Truth.

Is God Always Kind?

kindness

People nowadays think that they have the ability and freedom to make God be who we want Him to be.  We think our freedom of religion means that we can choose and say with authority how God acts, who He is, what He thinks and feels.  Fortunately for us, Scripture tells us everything that we need to know about God.  Perhaps the most glorious truth about God is that He is love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

– 1 John 4.7-8

But we have culturally defined love in a way that does not apply to God.  We value tolerance, independence and freedom more than truth, and we have bought into the deception that we can define truth by our experience and opinion.  Thus, we have taught ourselves (and deceived ourselves) that love means tolerance, affirmation, and unconditional approval.  We know that God is love, and therefore everything that He does is loving.  But is everything that He does kind?

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

– Rom 11.22

No.  Everything that God does is not kind.  He regretted that He had made mankind just a few generations into the existence of the world, and He killed everyone who was alive by a flood – except Noah and his family.  He destroyed cities and nations to establish His authority and punish sin.  And even Jesus went into the temple and out of anger threw over tables and chased people out of the temple with a whip.  If someone came into your office with a whip and overturned your desk and chased you out of the building, would you think that a kind action?  I am confident that would not strike me as kind.  We can be confident that Jesus is love and that He was driven by a zeal for God and for the temple, and thus acted towards those who were defiling the temple.

Therefore, we understand Romans more fully.  It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Rom 2.4).  And it is His mercy that continually works in us maturity and becoming more like Christ (Phil 2.13).  Therefore, if we remain in God and obey His commandments, we remain in His kindness.  But His severity is the opposite of his kindness and is the consequence of disobedience and not walking with Him.

Consider Ananias and his wife Sapphira.  They were a part of the Church, they were involved, and they sold their property and gave a portion of the revenue to the Church but lied and said that they had given the entire profit to the church.  God struck them both dead on the spot.  This is not an act of kindness, this is severity.

God is love.  And when we know God, when we make him the Lord of our lives, keeps us in His kindness and mercy.  If He is not our Lord, Scripture defines Him as jealous, a consuming fire, almighty and righteous judge who will not let one sin go unpunished.

It is sort of like expectations when you enter into a romantic relationship.  When you get married and move in together with your spouse, everyone realizes that they had expectations that were not met.  Perhaps your father always took out the trash or filled up the gas tank on the car for your mom.  Your husband might not have been taught that that was his responsibility, and this will cause tension between a couple.  Perhaps your mom cooked three hot meals a day and did your laundry, but your wife cannot cook or has no interest in doing the laundry.  This will cause tensions in your relationship.  You have to get to know who your spouse is, what they value, what they enjoy, what they expect and what they want to do.  Before we come to God for salvation, we [can] have a warm fuzzy expectation of who God is and how He acts.  We can expect Him to do certain things and to not do others.  But when we make Him the Lord of our lives, we are going to realize that our expectations might have been wrong.  The difference here is that between a husband and wife we should find a compromise.  With God, we submit.

So, instead of pouting and starting segregate groups with people who just agree with us, let us turn to Scripture and let us allow God to say who He is, to express how He thinks, and submit to that.  We do not want to be shocked on judgment day that we never truly knew Him!  And let us evaluate our lives, and recognize that God is kind to His children, and severe to those who never repent from their sins.  And let that drive us to urgently share the Gospel and hope of salvation with those who do not yet have it!

The law is good.

law

Do you go to church?  Do you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Are you living a life of salvation under grace?  Do you consequently think that the Law of the Old Testament and Old Covenant are bad?  Does your skin crawl when people try to tell you what to do or how to act?

Sometimes we paint the picture that the Old Testament was bad and the New Testament is good.  The Law was bad, but grace is good.  That is, after all, where we get legalism, right?

But Jesus is love, He taught love, it’s all warm, fuzzy, feel good, non judgmental mushy gushy stuff.

Right?

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

– Matt 5.16-22

Jesus unashamedly taught that He did not come to abolish the Law, and that the Law will stand until the end of time – until there is a new Heaven and a new Earth.  And not only that, but anyone who annuls the Law will not make it into Heaven.  In short, you cannot love Jesus and hate the Law.

There was a very real change that happened when Jesus died and rose from the dead.  When the Old Covenant was fulfilled in the New Covenant, and the Law was fulfilled in Jesus, the sacrificial system was completed.  We do not have to make sacrifices to atone for our sins any longer because Jesus was the final and the perfect sacrifice.  The Old Covenant sacrifices were shadows looking forward to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make (Heb 10.1-18).  Thus, some of the traditions and practices were done away with by the completing work of Jesus on the cross.  But the theme of the Old Covenant Law is summed up in this:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

– Deut 6.4

This is the very heart of the Law, and the single command that Jesus said is the greatest.  The rest of the Law is how people were instructed to actually live out that love.  You cannot obey the Law unless love is your driving force.  And through love, the goal of life is to follow this overarching command:

You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

– Lev 19.2

And both of these commands reign true today.  Jesus taught us to Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and might (Matt 22.37) and Peter continues the command to be holy (1 Peter 1.15, 16).

Consider this,

“THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”
He then says,
AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS
I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”

– Heb 10.16-17

God, when He made the New Covenant with believers, with us, promised to take out our hearts of stone and give us a new heart, and on that heart He would actually write His Law.  In the Old Covenant, they were instructed to write the Law “on their foreheads” and on the doorposts of the house:

“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

– Deut 6.8-9

But now, Hebrews says, we have no need of an instructor because the Holy Spirit is teaching us from within (Heb 8.11).  That does not mean that we do not need to read the Bible, but it means that the Spirit will convict us when we are tempted to sin or start to make the wrong decision.  His Spirit will guide our spirits, when we are willing and listening, in the path of obedience.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law.  The Law is now written on our hearts, and we are commanded to be holy – because of and through the love for God.

Without faith, hope and love in and for God, it is all worthless.  That is why Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs:  They were following the law in their actions but not in their hearts.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

– Matt 23.27-28

The problem was not the Law, the problem was the heart of the Pharisees.

If you try to obey Jesus without knowing and loving Him, you will be just like the Pharisees.  But if you want to know and love Jesus, you have to obey, and you will be compelled to obey because God has written the Law on your heart.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.”

 – Heb 10.26-27

So let us focus on the greatest commandment:  Love God with everything you have.  Trust the Spirit convicting your heart of righteousness, and read the Scriptures to find out what God has to say about sin and righteousness.  Obey.  But obey out of love, not out of obligation or trying to prove yourself.  Prove yourself to be a believer by your actions, not a bag of dry bones.