It is our faith in Jesus Christ that brings us justification, because it rises above the demands of the law. It is our humble assent and a submission to God who is love.
Faith and works. Our justification comes from our faith, not from our works done according to the law. This is a very important understanding. It is our faith in Jesus Christ that brings us justification, because it rises above the demands of the law. It is our humble assent and a submission to God who is love.
It is, of course, true that we are not justified by the works of the law. This is why Paul can say, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.” (verse 19) But it would be a mistake for us to think that the mere statement, “I believe” releases us from having to do good works, or to think that faith is not connected directly to good works. The truth is that it is not because of the law, but because of our faith in Jesus Christ that we are moved to do good works freely, willingly, and joyfully in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord. The goodness of any work that we do ensues from our faith in Jesus Christ, not from the works themselves. It is this faith that justifies us, and all that we do.
If we say we believe, but that belief is not made known publicly through the things that we do, the ways we behave toward others, our “faith” is meaningless. The Apostle John tells us in his First Letter, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” (1 John 2:4) Why did the early Christian communities grow so dramatically, even under the constant threat of persecution? Because of their obvious faith in Jesus Christ. People could see their faith in action. They walked their talk. They joyfully lived their faith publicly in both word and deed. They died to the law, were no longer subject to it. They did this in faith, so that they could live now for Christ alone. As a result, Christ was actively living in and through them, “And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
A true and abiding faith in Jesus Christ gives us the wisdom and the strength to humbly acknowledge God’s infinite love for us. It is this faith that opens us up, that lays our souls bare to receive Christ. In this faith, Christ enters us and lives through us in the world today. This is how Paul can say, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” It is in this living faith, then, that we are justified.
Jesus, our righteousness comes only through our faith in you. By your loving and generous grace, we pray that you deepen our faith and our love for you each day. Fill us with your love so that it may overflow into all that we say and do. In your most holy name we pray. Amen!
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