“For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.” – Romans 3:20-21 (NLT)
I love Paul’s letter to the Roman believers! This letter is so rich and full with instruction on faith, and it (when taken to heart and put into practice) gives clear guidance that builds the faith of the reader.
Faith in Jesus is the foundation of everything. It is how God reconciles us to Himself. It is not by following rules and regulations that religion would try to impose upon us, but simply by having faith in Christ. It is through this faith in Christ that we are cleansed of impurity, putting us in right standing with God. And when we remain in this right standing with God because of our faith in Christ, this then leads us into right living before God. Righteousness. Holiness. The attributes of one who lives for God.
This is the part about faith that we tend to get so wrong in our American, Western Christian culture. We either lean to the side that emphasizes grace through faith so heavily that they forget the necessity for this to lead to holy living, or we lean so heavily on the necessity for holy living that we become bound by legalism, falling into the trap of the Pharisees all over again. But there is a balance that must be had between the two. Sadly, this is far from the truth, and we have more churches than not filled with many who are on the fast track to eternity in hell because of the imbalance.
You cannot have holiness without true faith, and you cannot have true faith unless it leads you to holiness. As stated yesterday, Jesus told His disciples, “If you love Me, obey My commandments” (John 14:15). We obey Him because of our love for Him. And we have love for Him because we first had faith in Him.
I underlined “without keeping the requirements” to draw emphasis to those words. The requirement of the law was a blood sacrifice for sins, something that we as humans could never fulfill. But God, through Jesus Christ, fulfilled this requirement for us so that we might be made right in His sight. He did this because He knew that we could never do this ourselves, and this is why no one can boast in themselves or by their own works. This is the meaning of “saved by grace through faith.” God’s grace was that He did what no man could ever do, and it was all because He loves us so much.
But we must remember in light of this, our faith must spur us to action in the Lord, otherwise it is dead and void of power. Which is where we find the vast majority of the American Church today. We have a form of religion that is void of any actual power.
“Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” – Romans 3:31