Romans 3:20 ESV
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Not one of us can be saved from our sins by keeping a set of rules, especially if some of those are man-made rules, for not one of us can keep the whole law perfectly. And, by “law” is meant the Law of Moses which the Children of Israel of Old were commanded to keep. And, those laws included a whole lot of rules and regulations regarding purification and ceremonies.
But, this is nothing new. Even in the Old Testament they were not saved by keeping the law because no one could keep the law perfectly, which is why Jesus came to the earth to die for our sins. Even in the Old Testament they were saved by faith in God, but that faith included obedience, as it does now. Even in the Old Testament that faith included leaving our lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord in surrender to his will and to his ways.
But, they were not saved because they were perfect. They were saved because they believed in God and they followed him with their lives.
Romans 3:21-26 ESV
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Under the Old Covenant that God had with his people, they had to follow a whole bunch of ceremonial and purification laws and customs, as well as they had to follow God’s moral laws (See: Genesis to Deuteronomy). But, all those laws that they had to follow were to lead them to Christ, so Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, and his law is the law of love.
And, what is love? Literally it means to prefer what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, honest, and faithful, etc. So, if we love God and we love our neighbors as ourselves, we won’t lie to, cheat on, gossip about, commit adultery against, and steal from God or other people. These will not be what we practice.
Instead, we will be kind, pure, and honest, etc., but not because we are following a set of rules, and not because we are trying to earn our salvation by keeping a set of rules, but because we love as God loves, because we have believed in Jesus, and because his Spirit now lives within us.
And, his Spirit now lives within those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins. For, we are all sinners, and we all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own flesh. None of us can ever be good enough to be approved of God in our own merit. So, Jesus became sin for us on that cross so that when he died, our sin died with him, so that via faith in him we can be delivered from our slavery to sin and have eternal life with God.
We can only be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God, though, by receiving God’s free gift of his grace to us, which is our salvation from sin. But, that salvation is not merely forgiveness of sins, but it is freedom from our slavery to sin, and it is freedom to walk in his righteousness.
So, yes, we do not have to follow all those purification and ceremonial laws that the people of God of old had to. But, the free gift of God’s grace is freedom from our bondage (addiction) to sin, and it is the empowerment to walk by faith in Jesus Christ in holiness, godliness and purity. But, it is not us, in our flesh, trying to be made righteous before God because of our performance. But, it is us, saved by his grace, empowered of the Spirit of God, loving as God loves us, following him in surrender to his will.
Romans 3:27-31 ESV
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
And, this is why there is no boasting, because this is not us, in our flesh, doing good works, trying to earn God’s approval. This is us, by faith in Jesus Christ, in his power and in his strength within us, submitting to his Lordship over our lives, following him in surrender to his will for our lives, and doing what he says, because we love him, and because we love our fellow humans. So, because this is God at work in our hearts and lives, he is the one who gets all the glory and all the praise, not us.
For, the law of faith is still leaving our lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. But, it is not us doing it, but it is God doing it through our lives as we surrender to Him.
For, we don’t overthrow the law by this faith, but we uphold it. We uphold the overriding principle of this faith which is the law of love. For, even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is a gift of God. It is God divinely persuading us to follow him in surrender to his will, and if persuaded by God, and empowered by his Spirit, we will follow him in obedience, and we will desire to do his will. We won’t necessarily be perfect, but sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. Instead, Jesus should be the master of our lives.
So, the bottom line here is that no one is justified by keeping a set of rules or by following a set of religious rites or customs. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds. So, no matter how “religious” anyone is, that will not save them from their sins or guarantee them eternal life with God.
But, on the flip side of that, neither can we be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God by a mere outward confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, we are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith, and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. But, that gift is deliverance from slavery to sin and it is empowerment to walk in holiness and righteousness.
So, if we have the idea that some nondescript faith in Jesus Christ, apart from surrender to his will, and apart from forsaking our sins to walk in obedience to him, is going to guarantee us eternal life with God, then we are wrong! Believing in Jesus Christ means death to our old lives and it means that Jesus’ life is now being lived out through us, and all for HIS GLORY!
To Be Like Him
An Original Work / March 16, 2014
Based off Scripture
Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.
Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.
Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!
When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.
Saturday, April 13, 2019