We ourselves are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners; yet we know that ‘ a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal. 2:15,16)
As a natural born Jew, Paul was aware of the teaching of the law which contained many “works.” Yet as a reborn Christian, Paul was aware that the works of the law did not make him a child of God. He was a born again person because of his faith in Jesus. Paul believed in Jesus rather than the Jewish Law because he wanted salvation and he knew salvation was not obtained from obeying the teachings of the law. This he makes plain in the closing statement of verse 16. Works will not justify but faith in Jesus will.
This is the teaching of the true gospel and the concern shown by the Jews in Galatia that so influenced Peter and Barnabas was of no value as far as salvation was concerned. Whether a Jew sinner or a Gentile sinner the only solution was faith in Jesus Christ, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
This passage does not teach that works are a bad thing. They are not. They are good things and God expects His children to be busy doing good works. Works will not produce justification for sin is the point being made. Justification comes from trusting faith in Jesus. It is Jesus on the cross that must be trusted for justification and Jesus in the tomb that must be trusted. It is Jesus raised and glorified that must be trusted. By His stripes, we are healed. Through His blood, we are purified. In His death and resurrection we are given newness of life, our old man crucified with him and buried so that the new man can rise from the grave.
Like slaves of old, when we have done all we can possibly do it will be no more than our duty and thus not enough to pay for our freedom. No matter how good we are or how much we give we cannot meet the price of justification. There is no deed that will justify us but the one done by Jesus. If you would be saved, do not rely on yourself or your own righteousness but on the gift of Jesus, who paid your justification price for you.
The greatest humans on this earth cannot be justified by their greatness. The hardest working person on the planet can never earn one particle of justification. Can’t give enough, do enough, be enough. It’s Jesus and Jesus alone who justifies and we receive it by believing and trusting in Him.
Justification can’t be earned or worked out because it is the result of grace. Grace is that which cannot be earned or deserved by any action of man. Grace, justification of sin, is the gift of God and was brought to man through the one man Jesus the Christ who bore our sins that we might not. That is justification.
Task for Today: Quit trying to work your way to heaven. Stop worrying if you’ve done enough to earn a room. Give up yourself and throw it all at the feet of Jesus. Accept grace and say, “Thank you, Lord.”