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 18 of 30
BY WHAT KIND OF LAW?
What law, or principle, dictates the exclusion of boasting? The words of our text are easy enough to grasp. "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith" (Rom 3:27).
Every realm has inviolable laws; principles that cannot be contradicted. There are laws that have nothing whatsoever to do with the human will. They stand firm, and cannot be shaken. These are not moral laws, to be kept or broken, but laws that cannot be broken. They, like the Word of God, stand in tact, and cannot be altered or changed (John 10:35). Neither can they be ignored with impunity.
Different Realms, Different Laws
In the natural realm, we have the law of gravity. When you deal with matter, or substance, this law dominates. It will not serve you unless you honor it. It will harm you if you ignore it. When anything of weight is thrown into the air, it will eventually come down! When you spin something at a high rate of speed, unattached things will be forced to the outside. That is the law of centrifugal force. Water, wind, fire--they all function according to inviolable laws, or principles. If you expect these forces to serve you, those laws must be respected. Certain laws must be honored in all valid sciences, i.e., chemistry, physics, biology, etc. No person of intelligence should balk at the idea of a law that operates independently of the human will.
A Superior Law
There is a spiritual domain that also has inviolable laws. These laws, or principles, can no more be ignored in the spiritual domain than natural laws in the material universe. Boasting has been excluded on the basis of a law--a superior law! Hear the text again. "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith."
Notice that two contrary laws are mentioned, "works" and "faith." It is significant that these are contrasted. There are whole bodies of theology that have attempted to put them together in a way not intended by God. We cannot shun the reality of the contrast determined by the Holy Spirit. Remember that we are dealing with the conferment of righteousness upon the individual. This is done without regard to works, and purely upon the basis of faith.
It is quite true that faith will evidence itself in, or produce, works. However, it is not possible for works to produce faith. Further, righteousness is imputed to us upon the basis of our faith. If works and faith can be brought together at this level, works would have to produce the faith before the righteousness could be conferred.
The Cause of Justification
This text addresses the cause of our justification--why God gives us His righteousness. He does not give it to us upon the basis of our works, but because of our faith. NOT works, but faith. There is a classic illustration of this reasoning in the fourth chapter of Hebrews. The matter of our justification is seen in Abraham. "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, BUT NOT BEFORE GOD. For what does the Scripture say? ĎAbraham BELIEVED God, and it (his faith) was accounted to him for righteousness.' Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt" (Rom 4:1-4).
Who is the person willing to affirm righteousness is given to men out of debt? Let such an one step forth and declare his case! But if men are justified by works, their justification is a debt, not a grace-gift. Some will immediately run to James, reminding us of his words: "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?" (James 2:21). But James is not speaking of the basis of justification, but of the evidence of it. We know this is the case, because James himself sites the Scripture, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness" (James 2:23). That describes an event that occurred at least 30 years BEFORE Abraham offered Isaac. In fact, it was BEFORE Isaac was born, and BEFORE Abraham was circumcised (Gen 15:6). Paul makes the point that Abraham was justified while yet in a state of uncircumcision (Rom 4:10).
Thus, in the conferment of righteousness, there is a certain manner of law in the Kingdom that forbids boasting. It is NOT the law of works. Even if men did EVERYTHING God told them to do, they would still have to acknowledge their unworthiness. Jesus put it this way, "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty'" (Lk 17:10).
It is "the law of faith" that excludes boasting. The only glorying it will allow is glorying in the Lord, of Whom, through Whom, and to Whom are all things (Rom 11:36).
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, help me to see more clearly that Your righteous is conferred on men because of faith.
-- Tomorrow: THE LAW OF WORKS --