Yesterday we examined the nature of faith and demonstrated that God gives us good reasons to trust Him throughout Holy Scripture. Today we will look at how faith is operative in our salvation as we trust Him alone to justify us.
One of the mantras we hear over and over again in our culture is “God is love.” While this statement is certainly true from a biblical standpoint (1 John 4:8), many of those who are most fond of quoting this truth oftentimes do not have a complete biblical view of God in mind. After all, our culture seems to believe that God ignores our sin. The non-Christian worldview thinks that all God has to do in order to forgive us is to overlook our sin.
That, however, is not what the Bible teaches us. Let us look at Romans 3 and see what the apostle Paul tells us about God and the nature of the human condition. Prior to verse 19, Paul has been setting forth the case for the universality of human sin. Whether Jew or Greek, all men are guilty of transgressing the law of the Creator.
This is a problem because the Bible consistently emphasizes the justness of Israel’s God. No one can declare themselves “not-guilty” in the eyes of God. Obedience to the Law cannot do this because the flesh is weak, and thus it serves to show man, who is under the Law, the gravity of his sin (vv. 19–20).
To earn favor with God and consequently, eternal life, we need to be declared righteous by God, but we are neither just nor are we the justifiers of ourselves. So, if we are unable to put ourselves right with God and His law, then we either have no hope of justification (being declared righteous) or we must be justified by someone else.
In addition to being perfectly just, our God is also mercifully faithful to His covenant. He has therefore provided a way for us to be justified apart from the Law. Verses 21–28 explain that now we can be pardoned before God through faith alone in Christ alone. God revealed His righteousness at the Cross by atoning for our sin. When we trust in Jesus, our sin is imputed to Christ so that it can be expiated. Mercifully, Christ’s righteousness, which alone puts us right with God, is imputed to us. This happens solely through faith and is not the result of any works that we may perform.
We cannot live our lives before the face of God until we are clear that it is the perfect obedience of Christ alone that saves us. If we think that we earn our own righteousness, we have not been justified, and we have not been reconciled to God. Have you trusted Christ alone for salvation or are you still trying to earn it?