Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Faith Alone - Galatians 2:16

"Nevertheless knowing that a man
is not justified by the works of the Law
but through faith in Christ Jesus,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus,
that we may be justified by faith in Christ,
and not by the works of the Law;
since by the works of the Law
shall no flesh be justified."
(Galatians 2:16)

Paul wants to make it clear. There is NO working our way to heaven or to holiness. Clearly and emphatically he tells us that a man is NOT justified by the works of the law.

This is the cardinal and foundational starting point for being a Christian. It is imperative that we begin with an understanding that we can't "DO" a single thing to get in good with God. We are sinners - all of us. We have fallen short of the glory of God and there is no ladder long enough, no bridge broad enough, nor any work wide enough to get us to Him.

We are sinners and what we naturally do - all the time - left to ourselves - is sin!! We are by nature bad trees bearing bad fruit (Matthew 7:17) and no matter how hard we may try to produce good fruit it just won't happen. It cannot happen! Our most righteous deeds are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and our wicked hearts are continually producing wicked things (Mark 7:21-23). 

Bottom line - apart from Christ - we are only and always sinning.

As a matter of fact, the more we work for our salvation the more we, in reality, are simply storing up wrath and judgment for ourselves for the wages of all the labors of our hands is death (Romans 6:23). Since "whatever is not from faith is sin" it is easily deduced that "those who seek to earn the grace of God by their own efforts are trying to please God with their sins" (Luther). Friends, that is foolish.

Paul's point here in Galatians 2:16 is clearly and repetitively stated. "A man in NOT justified by the works of the Law... since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."

Hear his words and listen to how Horatius Bonar has phrased them poetically...
"Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load."
Not what our hands do.
Not what our flesh feels.
Not what our will works.
None of these things can justify.

Only Jesus justifies!!

It is only by grace through faith in Christ that we are pardoned, forgiven, cleansed, and made righteous.

"A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus..."

Oh my friends, this doctrine of justification is indeed the heart of the gospel. This is most assuredly that which holds it all together. This is the cardinal truth. This is the narrow gate by which we enter upon the road to redemption.

We are sinners.
We are sinners to such an extent that we can do NOTHING to get ourselves out of the miry mess we've made - NOTHING!!

We are incapable!
We are incompetent!!
We are dead in our trespasses and sins.
We need to repent.
We need to turn from our supposed self-sufficiency and we need to turn to our Savior's sufficient sacrifice!!

God loved us - rebellious wretches that we are - enough to send His Son, "His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age."

Believe not in yourself but in Him!! He came that you might live through His merit and not die in your own.

What are you looking at to save you? 
 What are you counting on to keep you? 
Are you seeking to save yourself? 
Are you walking in your works and resting in your record?

If so you will find yourself justly judged on the last day "for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."

Look to Jesus. Look to the One who has done for you what you cannot do for yourself. Faith and repentance are the hallmark of holiness.

"Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
can rid me of this dark unrest, and set my spirit free.
Thy grace alone, O God, to me can pardon speak;
Thy pow'r alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine, no other blood will do;
no strength, save that which is divine, can bear me safely through."
(Horatius Bonar - 1861)

Resting on His work, repenting of mine,

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