"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 19 of 30


What is the law "of works?" In the words of Scripture, it is this: "The man who does these things will live by them" (Rom 10:5, NASB). In the words of the Levitical law, "Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD" (Lev 18:5). This is the law, or principle, upon which the majority of professed Christendom appears to operate. Discipline, achievement, accountability, responsibility--these are all bywords having to do with "the law of works."

Even if the individual COULD achieve a good degree of success under this "law," he still could not stand faultless before the Lord. Paul cites Abraham as an example of this truth. "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God" (Rom 4:2). God will not be obligated to men because of their deeds! It is not that He refuses to recognize flawless obedience, it is that there is no such thing! The only exception to this is the Lord Jesus Himself. Even for Him, it was not easy. He "suffered being tempted," and even "learned obedience by the things that He suffered" (Heb 2:18; 5:8).

Even if we did everything we were told to do, it is not enough to constitute us "righteous" in the sight of God, or in the sense of our text. In the words of Jesus, "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'" (Luke 17:10, NIV). The fact that men have to be told, or commanded, what to do proves they are unrighteous!
If it is countered that Jesus was told what to do, it must be remembered that His obedience involved the humbling of Himself, as well as emptying Himself of the prerogatives of Deity.

But our text says boasting is "excluded." It is NOT excluded by the law of works. If, in fact, a person did all he was commanded to do, he would boast. "Works" open the door for boasting, they do not close it! The rich young ruler boasted that he had kept the commandments "from his youth up" (Matt 19:20). This was only an imagination, but he thought it was right, and thus "boasted."

A certain Pharisee bragged about his achievements in a supposed prayer to God. Jesus said He prayed "with himself." "God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get" (Luke 18:11-12). See, the law of works did not exclude boasting, it encouraged it! It is human nature [another word for fallen nature] to boast in supposed achievement. That is the "pride of life" that belongs to the worldly order, and is not of God (1 John 2:15-17).

It is not possible to focus upon works and exclude boasting. If we make our "works" the basis of our acceptance with God, "boasting" will enter in. The law, or principle, of works does NOT exclude boasting. That is a remarkable explanation of much of the religion of our day!

PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for providing a way to approach Your throne in the name and accomplishments of the perfect One--Your Son.

-- Tomorrow: LEST HE LIVE FOREVER --