But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” (
Job asked the question, “How then can man be righteous before God?” (25:4a) Since the fall of man into sin with its attendant curse of death, people have sought the answer through works: making garments of fig leaves to cover shame as did Adam and Eve; offering the best produce as Cain did, rather than a blood sacrifice like his brother Abel; building the tower of Babel to try to reach heaven—and similar acts. Every religious system proposes a “works” salvation: Buddhism and Hinduism promote reincarnation—you do life until you get it right; Islam has its five pillars; Romanism sets forth the sacraments. The cults—Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and such—have systems that require self-effort to please their deity. Christianity differs from all religions. The Word of God teaches that man is put right with God—not on the basis of what we do, but what Christ has done. It is not through meeting a standard, but solely by faith in the standard met perfectly by Christ.
Paul speaks of this EXPERIENCE OF FAITH (
Gal.3:1-5) The key word is “suffered” in verse four. It
can be translated, “experienced.” False teachers among the Galatian churches
were saying that salvation was in believing in Jesus, PLUS keeping the law of
Moses. The Apostle reminds them of the
experience they had in receiving Christ by faith. He is shocked that they have turned from the
Gospel of grace—as though someone had cast a spell on them. The message was clearly presented and eagerly
embraced at the first. Now, error had
settled like a cloud of confusion over their minds.
The Apostle then presents an EXAMPLE OF FAITH (
Gal.3:6-9). Since the legalists considered the writings
of Moses paramount, Paul reaches into those texts and presents one of their
heroes—Abraham—as an example of righteousness by faith. It is clear that Abraham was justified before
God by faith—God’s righteousness credited to his account. Even his capacity to believe was an act of
grace. Read the account and you will see
sovereign grace seeking a pagan man and calling him to salvation. He was a lost sheep until the Shepherd took
the initiative to seek Abraham. Paul
states that those who are children of Abraham are not those who are related
genetically, but spiritually as well.
Paul drives the message home with an EXPOSITION OF FAITH (
Gal.3:10-14). Anticipating an argument from the false
teachers that God’s dealings with Abraham were before the giving of the law,
the Apostle appeals to the law itself.
He points out the law can curse us, but not cure us. To break only one command is to be branded a
law-breaker. Salvation has ever been the
way of faith. Paul appeals not only to
the law, but the prophets—as he quotes Habakkuk 2:4.
Since Jesus was not in debt—being sinless—He had the resources—perfect
righteousness—to pay our debt in full.
He obeyed every law in His life and paid the penalty for every law-breaker
in His death.
How can a man be righteous before God? It is the gift of God by faith alone in Christ alone. It is folly to try to meet an impossible standard. Christ has done that for us!