THE LAW OF FAITH
"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:21-28, NASB)."
Devotion 12 of 30
THE GOSPEL COMES INTO THE PICTURE
Now comes the Gospel! It announces a righteousness "apart from law;" i.e., a righteousness that is given to men by God upon a basis other than human achievement or conformity to law! This righteousness was "witnessed by the Law and the Prophets" (Rom 3:22b, NASB). By this, the Spirit means that both the Law and the Prophets prepared men for the promise of righteousness by faith. Neither the Law nor the Prophets could produce the righteousness, but they both acquainted men with its need and reception.
The Law spoke of the necessity of righteousness. "You are to be My holy people" (Ex 22:31); "You shall be holy for I am holy" (Lev 11:45); "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Lev 19:2). The notion of coming before God in a state of unrighteousness was totally decimated by the Law. With great precision and tenacity, the Law left men with an acute awareness of the necessity of righteousness.
Also, the various ceremonies of the Law depicted the manner in which God was to be approached. Sacrifice, cleansing, and dedication, or sanctification, were all necessary. They were all portrayed in the sacrificial system outlined in Exodus and Leviticus. To attempt to approach the Living God apart from these cleansing and sacrificial procedures resulted in certain death. These procedures all pointed to the coming cleansing and sanctification that would be accomplished by and through the Lamb of God.
The Prophets declared that God would provide a righteousness for fallen humanity. "In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness" (Jer 23:9; 33:16). With comforting words Isaiah prophesied, "I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; and My salvation will not delay" (Isa 46:13). To those who were faint, He promised, "My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth" (Isa 51:5). These promises appeared vague, and few details were provided. Still, those with faith could see the promises "afar off," and embraced them in hope (Heb 11:13).
Now the Spirit announces the righteousness that was demanded by the Law and promised by the prophets has come! The Gospel is the announcement of that righteousness--the righteousness of God Himself conferred upon men! Now men are "made the righteousness of God" in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). Now, by the grace of God, rather than seeking to become righteous through punctilious obedience to a set of commandments, Jesus Christ is "made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30). Thus we are brought to obey the commandments because we ARE righteous, rather than to become righteous. Our obedience confirms our righteousness, but does not produce it. This by no means minimizes obedience. Rather, it declares the means through which obedience is facilitated.
Do Not Miss It!
We dare not miss the modifying clause of our text. Here is an expression that boldly confronts and opposes the wisdom of the world. The righteousness will be experienced "apart from Law." It will not be conferred as a reward for doing, but will be appropriated by faith! It will not be achieved, but received! The human effort required to experience this righteousness must be focused upon believing. This is the real work of humanity--to believe in God's Son! "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:29, NIV). Such efforts will not be in vain!
PRAYER POINT: Father, through Jesus I pray you will, like You did with the Thessalonians, count me worthy of calling, fulfilling in me all the good pleasure of your goodness, and the work of faith with power. (2 Thess 1:11)
-- Tomorrow: IT IS FOR EVERYONE THAT BELIEVES --