v. 15-16 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles [both are in need of salvation], knowing that a man [person] is not justified by the works of the law but by [means of] faith IN Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
1. "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law" Justification is an either-or, it is NOT a both-and! It is either justification by works or justification by faith. It can't be both!
2. "but by faith IN Jesus Christ" Justification is by CHRIST ALONE! No merit or labor of your own! Even the FAITH is not ours but given to us by God!!! Otherwise we could boast of OUR FAITH!
Note: Sadly, many do boast on THEIR FAITH (thus giving themselves credit). Ephesians 2:8, 9 clearly shows that we can't boast in the grace or in the faith as they are gifts of God.
Justification is an ACT of God.
Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ. In Justification, God declares the believing sinner righteous.
I like Ray Pritchard’s definition of Justification: The word “justify” means to “declare righteous.” It refers to a verdict from the judge that allows a defendant to go free. It means that the defendant is declared not guilty, innocent of all charges, and there is no record against him in the eyes of the law. If you are justified, your record is clean and clear and you are free to go. To be justified is the opposite of being condemned. If you apply that truth in the spiritual realm, it looks like this: Justification is that act of God whereby he acquits guilty sinners (that is, he declares them innocent), on the basis of the death of Christ. This gift of justification is received solely on the basis of faith wholly apart from good works of any kind. Justified sinners are thus pardoned, acquitted, set free, accepted by God, and treated as righteous.
If this be true [and God's word says it is so], observing the Jewish laws cannot justify us, why should we still obey the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws?
We know that Paul was not saying the Law is bad, because in another letter he wrote, “the Law is holy” (Romans 7:12).
Instead, he is saying that the Law can never make us acceptable to God.
The Law still has an important role to play in the life of a Christian.
(1) guards us from sin by giving us standards for behavior;
(2) convicts us of sin, leaving us the opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness;
(3) drives us to trust in the sufficiency of Christ, because we can never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly.
v. 17-19 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we (Jews) ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! [or GOD FORBID] For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor [when we sin it’s not the fault of a faulty Gospel, but it’s ours]. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
To imply this message, allows Paul (or any believer) to go back to their old way of life, and even sinning (continuously as a way of life) is IMPOSSIBLE.
Because we have all been infected by sin, we cannot keep God’s laws perfectly. Fortunately, God has provided a way of salvation that depends on Jesus Christ, not on our own efforts. Even though we know this truth, we must guard against the temptation of using service, good deeds, charitable giving, or any other effort as a substitute for faith. All the law has done was to show his own helplessness.
So verse 19 ends with... For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. DIED to LAW, thus LIVE to GOD.
Now that I have "died to the law" the outcome of that?
v. 20 I have been (past tense-positionally) crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me [CHANGING MY DESIRES – MY WANT TO’S]; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. "I have been (past tense-positionally) crucified with Christ..."
That is why I'm dead to the law (which includes self-acheivement/merit for favor with God), because I died with Christ, I identify with His death and also with His life! He is my life!!! Legally, God looks at us as if we had died with Christ. Because our sins died with Him, we are no longer condemned (Colossians 2:13-15).
Being “Crucified with Christ” implies a RADICAL transformation within the believer.
Paul realized that on the cross, a "great exchange" occurred. He gave Jesus his old, try-to-be-right-before-God-by-the-law life, and it was crucified on the cross. also with His life! He is my life!!! “…NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, but CHRIST lives in me…” (See Colossians 1:27)
If you truly are a Christian, then you must see and believe that Jesus gave His life for your life – Christ came to live in him. So your life isn't your own anymore, it belongs to Jesus Christ! We doesn't own our life (that life died); we are simply "managing" the new life Jesus gave us.
THOUGHT: Are you a believer? If so do you recognize the “GREAT EXCHANGE” that took place for YOU on the cross? Are you aware that as we have been crucified with Christ, so we no longer live for ourselves (self-centered) but for Christ?
Our Christian life began when, in unity with Him, we died to our old life (see Romans 6:5-11). And yet the focus of Christianity is not dying, but living. Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:5). “…the life which I now live [it’s new - All different in a good way now] in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
What can we say except thank you Jesus, thank you for your love for me and thank you for given your life for me!
v. 21 I do not set aside [to make void] the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.
Salvation is only by the GRACE OF GOD and work of Christ ON THE CROSS.
Believers today many still are in danger of acting as if Christ died needlessly.
How? By their own brand of Christian legalism, they are giving people extra laws to obey. By believing they can earn God’s favor by what they do, they are not trusting completely in Christ’s work on the cross.
If we could be saved by being good, then Christ did not have to die. But the cross is the only way to salvation.
CONCLUSION: To say salvation can be obtained by any human effort is an INSULT to the GRACE OF GOD and to the CROSS OF CHRIST, for it declares both to be unnecessary.
All that is required of us to be JUSTIFIED, therefore, is to acknowledge OUR SIN and OUR HELPLESSNESS, to REPENT of our years of self-assertion and self-righteousness, and to put OUR WHOLE TRUST and CONFIDENCE in Jesus Christ to save us.
We conclude this week and this chapter.
Next week we start chapter 3 Invite others to join us here or on our Facebook group.