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 28 of 30
THIS IS SOMETHING EVIDENT
We are dealing with something that is "evident," or obvious to the pure in heart. Therefore it is written, "But that NO man is justified by the law in the sight of God, IT IS EVIDENT: for, The just shall live by faith" (Gal 3:11). Once you have "tasted of the Lord," it is clear that Law--any law--cannot clear your record before God. It is not possible for sinners to remove their own sin, or for works to undo what they have done! The most arduous and consistent works of the Law--or works that fulfill a Divinely imposed moral code--cannot make scarlet sins become "white as snow," or cause deeds stained dark as crimson to be "as wool" (Isa 1:18). Nevertheless, if a person is going to be received by God, that must occur! The sins of the guilty must be dealt with, or judged, before they can be removed from the individual. That, of course, is what happened in the vicarious death of Christ. Faith is what appropriates that atonement, thereby bringing justification to the sinner.
Faith makes that evident to us! It is true that many professed teachers do not see this. It is not "evident" to them. Their failure to perceive this central matter disqualifies them from being a teacher of God's people. Until this truth is seen, they occupy the "room of the unlearned" (1 Cor 14:16, KJV), and may not be entrusted with feeding the saints of God.
By saying "it is evident," the Spirit is emphasizing that only unbelief can obscure this truth to men; i.e., that no man is justified by the works of the Law before God. If that fact is not apparent to men, it is not owing to any deficiency in the statement. Once given to see the depths to which sin took our race, the profound necessity of the Lamb of God, and the abundance of grace that brings salvation, it is quite clear we cannot be justified by simply doing what we are told. Being doing obtains any significance, it must first be preceded by believing.
A Remarkable Commentary
Paul provides a remarkable commentary on the effectiveness of faith in justification. He shows us the Gentiles, who had no Law, and thus no works of the law. Gentiles that have been received by God experienced righteousness independently of the Law. Here is Paul's reasoning. "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone" (Rom 9:30-32).
Israel, in covenant with God, zealously sought to appropriate righteousness, or a state of justification, by means of Law. They did NOT attain to, or receive, righteousness! They did NOT arrive at a righteousness that resulted from law-keeping, or measuring up! Their efforts caused them to "stumble" over Jesus, Who brought salvation. Attempts to appropriate justification by means of Law inevitably leads to a rejection of Christ!
Notice the power of Paul's argument. The Gentiles found righteousness even though they were NOT pursuing it! The Jews did not find righteousness, even though they WERE pursuing it! The Gentiles were constrained by the message of a conferred righteousness--the Gospel (Rom 1:16-17). The Jews were constrained by a Law that demanded righteousness! You see, the Gospel has saving power, the Law does not! The Gospel offers something you can obtain, the Law does not! The Gospel offers salvation to those that will believe, the Law does not!
Our peace with God has come because we have believed the "record God gave of His Son" (1 John 5:10-11). The Law of faith, having excluded all boasting, appropriates justification. "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1). It is therefore "evident" that a men "cannot be justified by the works of the law before God."
PRAYER POINT: Father, give me grace to appropriate what is evident, believe what is declared, and believe more strongly in Jesus, whom I do not see.
-- Tomorrow: AVOIDING ERRONEOUS CONCLUSIONS --