Deuteronomy 6:25

And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’ (Deuteronomy 6:25 ESV)

Someone asked my thoughts on Deut 6:25 and I thought it would be worth sharing this brief response. Obedience to the letter is not a perspective shared by all who hold to 1689 Federalism (for example, Owen explicitly mentions disagreeing with it), but I think it is generally correct.

Keeping in mind the distinction between the law as covenant for national Israel for life in the land (which required outward conformity to the letter of the law) and the law as covenant for Adam and his offspring for eternal life (which required inward, perfect obedience to the spirit of the law), I believe Deut 6:25 in its immediate context refers to the former, though as the whole covenant order of Israel speaks typologically, it has reference ultimately to each individual’s inability to obtain true everlasting righteousness by the law.
Cf. Deut 6:25 with 1 Sam 11:13; Phil 3:6; Matt 19:16-22
John Erskine (1765, Scottish Presbyterian) notes:

He who yielded an external obedience to the law of Moses, was termed righteous, and had a claim in virtue of this his obedience to the land of Canaan, so that doing these things he lived by them (s). Hence, says Moses (t), “It shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all thefe commandments,” i. e. it shall be the cause and matter of our justification, it shall found our title to covenant blessings. But to Spiritual and heavenly blessings, we are entitled only by the obedience of the son of God, not by our own. The Israelites were put upon obedience as that which would found their claim to the blessings of the Sinai covenant. But they were never put upon seeking eternal life by a covenant of works. It is on this account, that the Mosaic precepts are termed, Heb. ix. 10, carnal ordinances, or, as it might be rendered, righteousnesses of the flesh, because by them men obtained a legal outward righteousness(s) Lev. xviii. 5. Deut. v. 33. (t) Deut. vi.25

…Deut 26:12-15

Would God have directed them, think you, to glory in their observance of that law, if, in fact, the sincerest among them had not obferved it. Yet doubtless that was the case, if its demands were the same as those of the law of nature. But indeed, the things mentioned in that form of glorying were only external performances, and one may see, with half an eye, many might truly boast they had done them all, who were strangers not with-standing to charity, flowing from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. Job, who probably reprefents the Jews after their return from the Babylonifh captivity, was perfect and upright {v). Zacharias and Elizabeth were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless(w). The young man, who came to Jesus, enquiring what he should do to inherit eternal life, professed that he had kept the commandments from his youth up, and our Lord does not charge him with falsehood in that profession (x). Paul was, touching the righteoufnefs which was of the law, blamelefs (y). Yet Job curses the day in which he was born (z) Zacharias is guilty of unbelief {a) ; the young man, in the gospel loves this world better than Christ (b) ; and Paul himself groans to be delivered from a body of sin and death (c), These seeming contradictions will vanish, if we take notice, that all of these though chargeable with manifold breaches of the law of nature, had kept the letter of the Mosaic law, and thus were entitled to the earthly happiness promised to its observers.

(v) Job i. i» xix. 20. (a) Luke i. ao. vii. 24. (w) Luke i. 6. (x) Matth. (y) Phil. iii. 6. (z) Job iii. i, 3. (Jb) Mat. xix, 22, 23. (c) Rom.

4 thoughts on “Deuteronomy 6:25

  1. markmcculley

    1. Gospel mortification is from gospel principles, viz. the Spirit of God [Rom. 8. 13], ‘If ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live’; Faith in Christ [Acts 15. 9], ‘Purifying their hearts by faith’; The love of Christ constraining [2 Cor. 5. 14], ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.’ But legal mortification is from legal principles such as, from the applause and praise of men, as in the Pharisees; from pride of self-righteousness, as in Paul before his conversion; from the fear of destruction; from a natural conscience; from the example of others; and many times from the power of sin itself, while one sin is set up to wrestle with another, as when sensuality and self-righteousness wrestle with one another. The man, perhaps, will not drink and swear. Why? Because he is setting up and establishing a righteousness of his own, whereby to obtain the favor of God here is but one sin wrestling with another.

    2. They differ in their weapons with which they fight against sin. The gospel believer fights with grace’s weapons, namely, the blood of Christ, the word of God, the promises of the gospel, and the virtue of Christ’s death and cross [Galatians 6. 14] ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom (whereby) the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.’ But now the man under the law fights against sin by the promises and threatenings of the law; by its promises, saying, I will obtain life, I hope, if I do so and so; by its threatenings, saying, I will be damned, if I do not so and so. Sometimes he fights with the weapons of his own vows and resolutions, which are his strong tower, to which he runs and thinks himself safe.

    3. The believer will not serve sin, because he is alive to God, and dead to sin [Romans 6. 6]. The legalist forsakes sin, not because he is alive, but so that he may live. The believer mortifies sin, because God loves him; but the legalist, that God may love him. The believer mortifies, because God is pacified towards him; the legalist mortifies, that he may pacify God by his mortification. He may go a great length, but it is still that he may have whereof to glory, making his own doing at least some of the foundation of his hope and comfort.


  2. Ryan Gromlovits

    Luke 10:25-28New King James Version (NKJV)
    25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
    26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
    27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’[a] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”[b]
    28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

    Deuteronomy 6:5New King James Version (NKJV)
    5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

    Could you help me by perhaps sharing what your thoughts are on these passages?

    Luke passage:
    Observations: context is on eternal life and what is written in the law.
    Preceding thoughts: No law offers reward apart from a covenant. Therefore, in order for Jesus to say “do this and live,” a covenant must be referenced. The Mosaic Covenant only pertains to things temporal.
    Questions: Is Jesus explicitly referencing the Adamic Covenant of Works revealed in the Mosaic Covenant law and responding on that basis after this lawyer quotes these two laws? What are your thoughts on this passage?

    Deut 6:5 passage:
    Observations: addressed to Israel as a nation and operating in context in the Mosaic Covenant about to enter the land. Temporal references of land and blessings surround this verse (v1-3 and v10-15; see v10). The verse specifically addresses the heart and soul and says “all”. This verse doesn’t appear the same as the sacrifice/mercy contrast type verses; its a bare positive command.
    Questions: Do we try to say this text doesn’t require heart/internal/spiritual obedience? If so, how? If not, how do we isolate its internal requirements from the temporal/outward nature of the Mosaic covenant blessings? Does it violate any scripture for one to say that the Mosaic Covenant law required outward and internal obedience as a condition for receiving its own blessings (albeit national in scope)?


    1. Hi Ryan, see if this helps Yes, I would say that Jesus is referring to the eternal life that was originally offered to Adam and his offspring upon the condition of perfect obedience.

      For Deut 6:5, see if this helps and


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