Law and Grace
The difference between man’s religion and God’s salvation was once summarized in this way:
Man’s religion is “doing, doing, doing…..”
God’s salvation is “done”.
In other words, man’s religion says that we must do good things in order to earn God’s love, and that if we are “good enough” he will accept us as his own. God declares that there is not a single one of us who is “good enough”, and so he has to do for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves.
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Many people attempt to reach God by “the deeds of the law”. In other words, they hope to be righteous in God’s eyes by keeping the law as best as they can. They may abstain from lying, stealing, committing adultery, idol worship, etc.. They may honor father and mother, and try to love their neighbor as themselves. Abstaining from sinful things and doing good things of is good of course. But do you know that God plainly says that you cannot be righteous in his eyes in this way? In fact, God wants to show you through the law that you are guilty before him. In the book of Galatians, God says that the law is our “schoolmaster” to bring us unto Christ, and it is through Christ that we can be just. Read on…..
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
“Manifested” means “made plain” or “made obvious”. You see, you can be righteous with God by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. This way is open to us all, and it is the only way. It makes no difference which sins that you have committed or which you have not. It makes no difference what good deeds you have done or what good deeds you have refrained from doing. For you are one of the “all” who has sinned in some way, and you have “come short” of the glory of God. To come short in this sense is to miss the mark completely. It is a fatal coming short. That is why God had to make a way for you.
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
In the previous verses we see that God has provided us a way through his Son. This is through his righteousness, not our own. We are justified freely. In other words we cannot work for it. “Redemption” means to be freed or “paid for” by a ransom. Christ has paid a great ransom for you. The word “propitiation” can also be translated “mercy seat”. In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was the lid of the “ark of the covenant” (a rectangular container) which was in the Jewish tabernacle and later in the temple. The tablets of the covenant (the law) were within this ark. Every year the high priest had to bring the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkle it on the mercy seat. This is symbolic of the blood of Christ that came between God and the law and took precedence over it, making a way for God’s mercy for us. It is through trusting in Christ’s sacrifice (the just for the unjust) that we can receive this mercy. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice as total payment for our sins, God no longer considers the law that makes us guilty. Instead, he sees the blood of his Son that cleanses us from all sin.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Do you see what God is saying? Do you see what God has concluded? If you cannot get to God by your own good works, then you cannot boast in your own goodness. You can only be just with God by faith in the One who is just and who died in your place so that you could be just. When you recognize that the law condemns you as completely guilty before God, you are willing to turn from your sin, and you accept Christ’s sacrifice as full payment for your sins, then (and only then) God declares you to be righteous in his own eyes.
Are you “doing, doing, doing”?
Or have you believed what God has done for you?
You cannot work your way into God’s love.
God has done all of the work necessary for your salvation.
Won’t you trust in him today?