Thursday, 28 March 2013
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,… Romans 4:5
This is the amazing truth of the gospel revealed in its glory. The ungodly, the sinner, is justified by faith, not by works. This takes us back to Romans 3:31. Jesus fulfilled the law for us, and therefore when we place our trust in Him and what He did, we establish the law by faith. The righteous requirements of the law are met in Him and His righteousness is imputed to us through faith in that.
This brings us to an important concept though. If we attempt to be justified through works of the law and fail at them, then of course we can never be justified. But just as important is an attempt to be justified by deeds not recorded in the law – trusting in our own law.
If we attempt to establish our own righteous standards by adding to God’s word, then we are guilty of exactly that – adding to the word of God. This is what Jesus condemned when addressing the scribes and Pharisees. He repeatedly makes a distinction between the Word of God and the traditions of men –
“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teachingas doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Mark 7:6-9
As God’s word is truth, and because God is love, then the proper proclamation of God’s word, no matter how painful or cutting, is a loving action. It establishes the law of God. Truth and love are not at war with each other, they compliment each other. This is why properly handling the message of Christ is so important. When we attempt to be justified by our own deeds, we actually set aside the grace of God. When we teach others to do so, we bring condemnation, not salvation, to those who follow suit; it is the most unloving action imaginable.
God justifies the ungodly by faith. It is counted to them for righteousness. Let us believe this truth and not attempt establish our own righteousness before Him.
Life application: It is either the Bible or the teachings of man which brings salvation; the two are incompatible with each other. In our walk we must decide who we will follow and why. Let us never fail to stand on God’s word alone lest we be found to have fallen short of His grace.
Lord God, Your wisdom is displayed in Your word. Every story and every detail is given to show us who You are, what You expect, and our complete dependence on You. Help us to abide by its precepts, live by its statutes, and fear its judgments. Your word is precious and it is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path as I walk in this sin-stained world. Amen.