Galatians 2:16
know that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law, because by works of the Law no one will be justified.
Sermons
Christian Doctrine of JustificationAlbert Barnes, D. D.Galatians 2:16
Definition of a ChristianLuther.Galatians 2:16
Faith a VentureW. Bridge.Galatians 2:16
Faith Alone JustifiesF. W. Robertson. , M. A.Galatians 2:16
Faith an InstrumentJ. G. Pilkington.Galatians 2:16
Faith is Trusting GodGalatians 2:16
Faith Unites to ChristJ. H. Balfour.Galatians 2:16
How Faith JustifiesErskine.Galatians 2:16
JustificationC. Clayton, M. A.Galatians 2:16
Justification and its MethodR. Nicholls.Galatians 2:16
Justification by FaithW. Gurnall.Galatians 2:16
Justification by FaithW.F. Adeney Galatians 2:16
Justification Impossible by the LawJ. Lyth.Galatians 2:16
Justification of SinnersEmilius Bayley, B. D.Galatians 2:16
No Safety in Our WorksGalatians 2:16
Not Justified by the Works of the LawS. Martin., J. C. Jones.Galatians 2:16
On Justifying Righteousness in Connection with True FaithJohn Smyth, D. D.Galatians 2:16
Self-Righteousness DestroyedC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 2:16
The Causes of JustificationFairbairn.Galatians 2:16
The Christian's Righteousness Derived from ChristRichard Hooker.Galatians 2:16
The End and Design of the Jewish LawS. Clarke, D. D.Galatians 2:16
The Impossibility of Justification by the Works of the LawJ. Vaughan.Galatians 2:16
The Justifying Power of FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 2:16
The Law AbolishedF. W. Farrar.Galatians 2:16
The Nature of JustificationJames Fergusson.Galatians 2:16
The Apostolic Strife At AntiochR.M. Edgar Galatians 2:11-18
Withstanding of Peter At AntiochR. Finlayson Galatians 2:11-21
These words contain the pith and kernel of the Epistle. Occurring in historical narration, they strike the key-note of what is rather an expostulation and appeal to previous convictions than an original, calm argument, such as is the treatment of the same subject in the Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul says he convicted St. Peter of inconsistency in requiring Gentiles to Judaize, by reminding him that even they, Jews as they were, were not justified on account of works, but through faith in Christ. By an easy and natural transition this reminiscence is made the occasion for passing from the historical to the doctrinal part of the Epistle. That great truth which called forth the protest of apostle against apostle is the truth from which the Galatians, like the Christians at Antioch, are being lured away. It is of the essence of Christianity to them as it was to their sister Church, and as it will be to the Church in all ages.

I. CHRISTIANITY BRINGS JUSTIFICATION. What is justification? Some have understood it as "making righteous," others as "accounting righteous." It is plain that St. Paul does teach that real righteousness is obtained through faith (e.g. Romans 3:21). But it is equally plain that the natural rendering of such a passage as that now before us suggests the idea of treating or reckoning as righteous. The inference is that St. Paul used the expressions in both senses. And the inference from that is, not that he was confused in thought or consciously ambiguous, but that he saw a much closer connection between the two than Protestant theology, in revulsion from Romanism, has always made apparent. Justification is the immediate result of forgiveness. God cannot think a man to be other than he is; but he can act towards him better than he deserves, can treat a sinner as only a righteous man deserves to be treated. This is justification. Now, forgiveness is personal and moral. It is not mere remission of penalties. It is reconciliation and restitution. The justification which is the consequence is not a mere external thing. It sows the seed of positive righteousness by infusing the highest motive for it. If it did not do this it would be immoral. Justification is itself justified by its fruits. This great boon is the first grace of Christianity. Until we are forgiven and thus justified we cannot begin to serve God.

II. CHRISTIANITY DECLARES THE FAILURE OF ATTEMPTING TO SECURE JUSTIFICATION THROUGH WORKS OF LAW. All the world over men have been making frantic but futile efforts in this direction. A sickening sense of failure is the invariable result (Romans 7:24). It is like the vanishing of a nightmare to see that the whole attempt is a mistake, that God recognizes its impotence, and that he does not expect us to succeed in it.

1. We cannot be justified through works of Law, because if we do our best we are unprofitable servants, and have only done what we ought to have done. The slave whose whole time belongs to his master cannot earn anything by working overtime. Future obedience is simply obligatory on its own account; it cannot atone for past negligence.

2. We cannot renew our own nature by anything we do, seeing that we only Work outwards from our nature. While the heart is corrupt the conduct cannot be justifying.

3. There is no life in Law to infuse power for holier service. Law restrains and represses; it cannot renew and inspire. Only love and grace can do that.

4. Nevertheless, obedience to the principles of the Law is not superseded by any other method of justification. It is the justified through faith, and they only, who truly obey the Law, delighting to do the will of God.

III. CHRISTIANITY PROMISES JUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST.

1. Faith is the means of justification, not the grounds of it. We are not justified on account of faith, but through faith. Faith is not, taken as itself, a virtue serving just as works of Law were supposed to serve. The one ground of forgiveness and renewal is the grace of God in Christ. Faith is the means of securing this, because it unites us to Christ.

2. This faith is in Christ, not in a creed. We may cast our thoughts about Christ into a creed. Yet what is necessary is not the understanding of and assent to any doctrines, but trust in a Person.

3. The faith is active trust. It is not only believing about Christ, but relying on him in conduct. For example, it is like, not only believing that a certain pillar-box belongs to the post-office, but also dropping one's letter into it.

4. It is trust to Christ in all his relations, and therefore as much the confidence in him as our Lord and Master that directly leads to obedience, as passive reliance on him as a Saviour for the forgiveness and renewal which we can never work out for ourselves. - W.F.A.







Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law.
I. JUSTIFICATION IS PROPERLY A WORD APPLICABLE TO COURTS OF JUSTICE, BUT IS USED IN A SIMILAR SENSE IN COMMON CONVERSATION AMONG MEN. An illustration will show its nature. A man is charged, e.g., with an act of trespass on his neighbour's property. Now there are two ways which he may take to justify himself, or to meet the charge, so as to be regarded and treated as innocent. He may either(1) deny that he performed the act charged on him, or he may(2) admit that the deed was done, and set up, as a defence, that he had a right to do it. In either case, if the point be made out, he will be just, or innocent in the sight of the law. The law will have nothing against him, and he will be regarded and treated in the premises as an innocent man; or, he has justified himself in regard to the charge brought against him.

II. CHARGES OF A VERY SERIOUS NATURE ARE BROUGHT AGAINST MAN BY HIS MAKER. It is not a charge merely affecting the external conduct, nor merely affecting the heart; it is a charge of entire alienation from God — a charge, in short, of total depravity (see especially Romans 1., 2., 3.). That this charge is a very serious one, no one can doubt; that it deeply affects the human character and standing, is as clear. It is a charge brought in the Bible; and God appeals, in proof of it, to the history of the world, to every man's conscience, and to the life of every one who has lived; and on these facts, and on His own power in searching the hearts, and in knowing what is in man, He rests the proof of the charge.

III. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MAN TO VINDICATE HIMSELF FROM: THIS CHARGE. He can neither show that the things charged have not been committed, nor that, having been committed, he had a right to do them. He cannot prove that God is not right in all the charges He has made against him in His Word; and he cannot prove that it was right for him to do as he has done. The charges against him are facts which are undeniable, and the facts are such as cannot be vindicated. But if he can do neither of these things, then he cannot be justified by the law. The law will not acquit him; it holds him guilty; it condemns him. No argument which he can use will show that he is right, and that God is wrong. No works that he can perform will be any compensation for what he has already done. No denial of the existence of the facts charged will alter the case; and he must stand condemned by the law of God. In the legal sense he cannot be justified; and justification, if it can exist at all, must be in a mode that is a departure from the regular operation of law, and in a mode which the law did not contemplate, for no law makes any provision for the pardon of those who violate it. It must be by some system which is distinct from the law, and in which man may be justified on different principles than those which the law contemplates.

IV. THIS OTHER SYSTEM OF JUSTIFICATION IS THAT WHICH IS REVEALED IN THE GOSPEL BY THE FAITH OF THE LORD JESUS. It does not consist in either of the following things:

1. It is not a system or plan where the Lord Jesus takes the part of the sinner against the law, or against God. He did not come to show that the sinner was right, and that God was wrong. He admitted most fully, and endeavoured constantly to show, that God was right, and that the sinner was wrong; nor can an instance be referred to where the Saviour took the part of the sinner against God, in any such sense that He endeavoured to show that the sinner had not done the things charged on him, or that he had a right to do them.

2. It is not that we either are, or are declared to he, innocent. God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5). We are not innocent; we never have been; we never shall be; and it is not the design of the scheme to declare any such untruth as that we are not personally undeserving. It will be always true that the justified sinner has no claims to the mercy and favour of God.

3. It is not that we cease to be undeserving personally. He that is justified by faith, and that goes to heaven, will go there admitting that he deserves eternal death, and that he is saved wholly by favour, and not by desert.

4. It is not a declaration on the part of God that we have wrought out salvation, or that we have any claim for what the Lord Jesus has done. Such a declaration would not be true, and could not be made.

5. It is not that the righteousness of the Lord Jesus is transferred to His people. Moral character cannot be transferred. It adheres to the moral agent as much as colour does to the rays of light which cause it. It is not true that we died for sin, and it cannot be so reckoned or imputed. It is not true that we have any merit, or any claim, and it cannot be so reckoned or imputed. All the imputations of God are according to truth; and He will always reckon us to be personally undeserving and sinful. But if justification be none of these things, it may be asked, What is it? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Saviour.

(Albert Barnes, D. D.)

Justification has been defined to be an act of God s free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His right;" or, "to declare judicially the innocence of the person justified" (see Deuteronomy 25:1; 1 Kings 8:32; Matthew 12:37; Romans 8:33). The gist of St. Paul's argument with St. Peter is as follows: "If thou, being a Jew, livest, as thy usual habit, as a Gentile, how is it that thou art compelling the Gentiles to adopt Jewish customs as necessary to salvation? We truly are by nature Jews, and not sinners from among the Gentiles; we are not only not Gentiles but not even proselytes; we are of pure Jewish descent, and so enjoy the highest spiritual privileges; but yet, since we know that no man is justified by the works of the law, nor in any manner except through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed in Jesus Christ in order that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law; for it is a certain truth, that by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." Here we have —

I. THE ABSOLUTE EXCLUSION OF WORKS FROM THE OFFICE OF JUSTIFYING.

1. Heavy charges are brought against man by his Maker. He is charged

(1)with violating the law of God;

(2)with having no love to his Maker;

(3)with possessing a corrupt, proud, unbelieving heart;

(4)with being alienated from God by wicked works.

2. It is impossible for man to vindicate himself from these charges.

(1)He cannot show that the things charged have not been committed;

(2)nor that, having been committed, he had a right to do them. He is without excuse.

II. THE OFFICE OF JUSTIFYING IS ASCRIBED TO FAITH ONLY.

1. The principal cause of our justification is the love of God the Father.

2. The meritorious cause is the active and passive obedience, the perfect righteousness and vicarious death, of God the Son.

3. The efficient cause is the operation of God the Holy Ghost.

4. The instrumental cause is faith in Christ.

(Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

1. Justification is not the Lord's making one who was before unjust to be just by works of habitual and inherent righteousness in him. This is to confound justification with sanctification. But it is a judicial action, whereby God absolves the sinner from death and wrath, and adjudges him to life eternal: for the word expressing this grace here, is a judicial word taken from courts of justice, which being attributed to the judge, is opposed to condemn (Romans 8:33, 34), and so signifies to absolve and give sentence.

2. The ground whereupon, and the cause for which sinners are thus justified or absolved from wrath, and adjudged to life eternal, is not any works which they do in obedience to the law of God, whether ceremonial or moral; for works are excluded, and faith alone established.

3. The works which are excluded from having hand in justification, are not only those which are done before conversion, but also which follow after, and flow from the working of God's Spirit in us: even those works are imperfect (Isaiah 64:6), and so cannot make us completely righteous; and we do owe them to God in the meantime (Luke 17:10), and so they cannot satisfy Divine justice for faults in time past. They are the work of God's Spirit in us (Philippians 2:13), and so we can merit nothing at God's hand by them: for He excludes the works of the law in general.

4. That, through virtue whereof we are thus justified and absolved by God, is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, performed by Himself while He was here on earth, both in doing what we should have done (Matthew 3:15), and suffering what we ought to have suffered (Galatians 3:15); which righteousness is not inherent in us, but imputed to us (Romans 5:17); as the sum of money paid by the cautioner stands good in law for the debtor, so we are said to be justified by the faith of Christ, or faith in Jesus Christ, as laying hold upon His righteousness, which is imputed to us, and by which alone we are made righteous.

5. Though faith be not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, yet it is the only grace which has influence in our justification.

6. Faith has influence upon our justification, not as it is a work, or because of anyworth which is in itself more than in any other grace, but only as it lays hold on Jesus Christ, and gives us a right to His righteousness, through the merit whereof alone we are justified.

7. This way of justification by free grace accepting of us for the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not because of our own worth, is common to all who ever were, are, or shall be justified, whether good or bad.

8. Before man be justified through virtue of this imputed righteousness, he must first be convinced of his own utter inability to satisfy Divine justice, and so to be justified by anything he himself can do.

9. He must be convinced also of the value of Christ's merits to satisfy Divine justice.

10. Being thus convinced, he must by faith receive and rest upon Jesus Christ and that most perfect righteousness of His, by making his soul adhere and cleave to the word of promise, wherein Christ is offered (Acts 2:39, 41), whereupon follows the real justification and absolution of him who so does.

(James Fergusson.)

The squirrel in his wire cage, continually in motion but making no progress, reminds me of my own self-righteous efforts after salvation, but the little creature is never one-half so wearied by his exertions as I was by mine. The poor chiffonier in Paris trying to earn a living by picking dirty rags out of the kennel, succeeds far better than I did in my attempts to obtain comfort by my own works. Dickens's cab-horse, which was only able to stand because it was never taken out of the shafts, was strength and beauty itself compared with my starveling hopes propped up with resolutions and regulations. Wretches condemned to the galleys of the old French kings, whose only reward for incessant toils was the lash of the keeper, were in a more happy plight than I when under legal bondage. Slavery in mines where the sun never shines must be preferable to the miseries of a soul goaded by an awakened conscience to seek salvation by its own merits. Some of the martyrs were shut up in a dungeon called Little-ease; the counterpart of that prison-house I well remember. Iron chains are painful enough, but what is the pain when the iron enters into the soul? Tell us not of the writhings of the wounded and dying on the battle-field; some of us, when our heart was riddled by the artillery of the law, would have counted wounds and death a happy exchange. O blessed Saviour, how blissful was the hour when all this horrid midnight of the soul was changed into the day-dawn of pardoning love!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION.

1. Guard here against two errors:(1) That of those who conceive of justification as originating with the creature instead of the Creator;(2) That Of those who exclude man, not only from meritorious acting, but from all concern in the reception of the boon.

2. That we may attach distinct ideas to the word, "justification," it is necessary for us to consider it in reference to the attributes and revealed will of the Divine Lawgiver.

3. Justification is vouchsafed to rebellious men on precisely the same ground as if they had continued steadfast and immoveable in their allegiance.

4. Justification includes pardon of sin, whether original or actual, and acceptance as righteous. Both are due to the voluntary substitution of the Son of God in our nature, who, by active obedience, fulfilled the law to the uttermost; and by penal suffering redeemed us from its curse.

II. THE NATURE OF THE FAITH BY WHICH WE ARE JUSTIFIED.

1. Its Divine origin. Like every other good gift, it comes from above; is implanted in the soul by the Holy Spirit, without whose omnipotent agency mankind are never withdrawn from a vain confidence in human deservings.

2. Its appropriating character. In the experience of the true believer, faith must attach itself to Christ as a Redeemer sufficient not only for other sinners, but all-sufficient for him; it must lay hold on His doings and sufferings, as supplying him with a sure ground of confidence.

3. The faith which is connected with justification is inseparably conjoined with all other Christian graces. Grievous mistakes have proceeded in consequence of men putting asunder things which God has joined together in the bonds of sacred union. Thus, faith has been often viewed as a simple act of the understanding conversant with certain doctrines, whilst its relation to the affections of the heart and the virtues of character has been greatly overlooked.

III. THE EVIDENCES WHICH SCRIPTURE FURNISHES OF A JUSTIFIED CONDITION.

1. Indications of which we are personally conscious (Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:5, 19; 1 Peter 3:16, etc.).

2. External manifestations which our temper, converse, and ordinary transactions supply (Philippians 4:8).

(John Smyth, D. D.)

I. THE NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION. It includes —

1. The pardon of sin (Acts 13:38, 39; Romans 4:5, 8). Thus God remits the penalties of sin. "Upon this ground of a moral concurrence in the mind of the sinner with the reasons and intentions of the Redeemer's sufferings, God is graciously willing to remit the punishment of sin, in its greatest and most awful inflictions, those which are spiritual and eternal."

2. The enjoyment of the favour of God. God's declaration of pardon is not in word only, but also in power. "It is not a mere judgment in words, but is also a judgment in deeds, i.e., the favour of God to any one shows itself in actual blessing." The possession of this blessing secures a happiness that is pure, perfect, and abiding.But to guard this doctrine from abuse it is necessary to remember —

1. That it does not mean that Christ has taken the part of the sinner against the law or against God. None ever gave such honour to the law as Christ did.

2. Those who are justified are not thereby declared to be innocent. "God justifies the ungodly." Sin remains the same, and although its penalty has been remitted by an act of grace, the pardoned should come before Gad with the most profound humiliation (Ezekiel 16:62, 63).

3. Justification depends upon personal trust. God does not save the careless or the unbelieving, or those who cease to confide in Him.

II. THE METHOD OF JUSTIFICATION. "To have a complete view of this method we must consider the originating, the meritorious, and the instrumental cause of justification."

1. The originating cause is the love of God (John 3:16; Titus 3:4, 5).

2. The meritorious cause is the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. His life was absolutely holy. In Him there was no sin. Yet He suffered, as none had ever suffered before; but He suffered for the guilty, the just for the unjust. "It is entirely agreeable to the dictates of reason and justice that the perfect righteousness of another (if such could be found) should be available, under a constitution of Divine mercy, to procure the pardon and acceptance as righteous of sinful beings, who are otherwise under an absolute incapacity of obtaining these blessings." It is manifest that all the conditions essential to a Redeemer have been fulfilled by Christ (Romans 3:21, 26).

3. The instrumental cause of justification is faith. "We are justified by the faith of Christ."The faith which justifies has been defined as including "three distinct but concurrent exertions of the mind."

1. The assent of the understanding to the truth of the testimony of God in the gospel.

2. The consent of the wilt and affections to the plan of salvation; such an approbation and choice of it as imply a renunciation of every other refuge, and a steady and decided adherence to this.

3. Actual trust in the Saviour and personal apprehension of His merits. Faith that justifies is a "sincere, active, affectionate receiving and resting upon the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as a Divine and complete Saviour." But it must be remembered that faith is not a meritorious condition, but simply that by which the soul embraces Christ and enters into union with him.Lessons:

1. Justification cannot be attained by any human work. The most highly-privileged have to submit to be saved by grace. The works of the law cannot justify. If obedience to moral rule cannot merit pardon, how much less can ritual or ceremony?

2. Faith in Christ is the only way of salvation of which the gospel speaks; to reject Christ therefore must leave all the burden of sin upon the individual conscience.

(R. Nicholls.)

We make this definition of a Christian: that a Christian is not he which hath no sin, but he to whom God imputeth not his sin, through faith in Christ. This doctrine bringeth great consolation to poor afflicted consciences in serious and inward terrors. It is not without good cause, therefore, that we do so often repeat and beat into your minds, the forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness for Christ's sake: also that a Christian hath nothing to do with the law and sin, especially in the time of temptation. For in that he is a Christian, he is above the law and sin. For he hath Christ the Lord of the law present and enclosed in his heart, even as a ring hath a jewel or precious stone enclosed in it. Therefore, when the law accuseth and sin terrifieth him, he looketh upon Christ, and when he hath apprehended Him by faith, he hath present with him the Conqueror of the law, sin, death, and the devil; who reigneth and ruleth over them, so that they cannot hurt him. Wherefore a Christian man, if ye define him rightly, is free from all laws, and is not subject unto any creature, either within or without: in that he is a Christian, I say, and not in that he is a man or a woman; that is to say, in that he hath his conscience adorned and beautified with this faith, this great and inestimable treasure, this unspeakable gift which cannot be magnified and praised enough, for it maketh us the children and heirs of God. And by this means a Christian is greater than the whole world; for he hath such a gift, such a treasure in his heart, that although it seemeth to be but little, yet notwithstanding the smallness thereof, is greater than heaven and earth, because Christ, which is this gift, is greater.

(Luther.)

The righteousness wherein we must be found, if we will be justified, is not our own... Christ hath merited righteousness for as many as are found in Him. In Him God findeth us, if we be faithful; for by faith we are incorporated into Him. Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even the man who in himself is impious, full of iniquity, full of sin; him being found in Christ through faith, and having his sin in hatred through repentance; him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putting away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereunto by pardoning it; and accepteth him in Jesus Christ, as perfectly righteous, as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the law: shall I say more perfectly righteous than if himself had fulfilled the whole law! I must take heed what I say: but the apostle saith, "God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Such we are in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God Himself. Let it be counted folly, or frenzy, or fury, or whatsoever. It is our wisdom, and our comfort; we care for no knowledge in the world but this, that man hath sinned, and God hath suffered; that God hath made Himself the sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God.

(Richard Hooker.)

Suppose I say, "A tree cannot be struck without thunder"; that is true: for there is never destructive lightning without thunder. But again, if I say, "The tree was struck by lightning without thunder, that is true too, if mean that the lightning alone struck it without the thunder striking it. Yet read the two assertions, and they seem contradictory. So, in the same way, St. Paul says, "Faith justifies without works"; i.e., faith alone is that which justifies us, not works. But St. James says, "Not a faith which is without works." There will be works with faith, as there is thunder with lightning; but just as it is not the thunder, but the lightning (the lightning without the thunder) that strikes the tree: so it is not the works which justify. Put it in one sentence: Faith alone justifies, but not the faith which is alone. Lightning alone strikes, but not the lightning which is alone without thunder, for that is only summer lightning, and harmless.

(F. W. Robertson. , M. A.)

As the graft is kept in union with the stock by means of the clay which has been applied by the gardener, so is the believer united to Christ by faith, which is the gift of God. The clay cement keeps the parts together, but has no virtue in itself: so faith is the means of union with Christ; it shows that the husbandman has been there. When the clay is removed in an ordinary tree, the graft is found united to the stock; so, when faith is swallowed up in sight, then the perfect union of Christ and His people is seen.

(J. H. Balfour.)

Faith is technically called the instrumental cause of our justification. It is not therefore faith that justifies, but Christ: faith is the hand that grasps Him. The trust of some is in a strong faith, of others in certain frames and feelings; but both of these err in their mode of looking at salvation. In so far as they look not to Christ, in His life and death, as the one only Justifier, they will surely suffer damage to their spiritual life.

(J. G. Pilkington.)

Faith is nothing else but the soul's venture It ventures to Christ, in opposition to all legal terrors. It ventures on Christ, in opposition to our guiltiness. It ventures for Christ, in opposition to all difficulties and discouragements.

(W. Bridge.)

Why hath God appointed the eye to see, and not the ear? Why the hand to take our food, rather than the foot? It is easily answered: Because those members have a particular fitness for these functions, and not the other. Thus faith hath a fitness for the work of justification peculiar to itself. We are justified, not by giving anything to God — what we do — but by receiving from God, what Christ hath done for us. Now faith is the only receiving grace, and therefore only fit for this office.

(W. Gurnall.)

Some make works their righteousness; some make faith their righteousness; and they walk in this faith, not in Christ by faith; but it is not faith that saves merely, but Christ received by faith. As it is not the laying on the plaster that heals the sore, but the plaster itself that is laid on; so it is not our faith, or receiving of Christ, but Christ received by faith, that saves us. It is not our looking to the brazen serpent mystical, but the mystical brazen serpent looked upon by faith — Christ received by faith — that saves us.

(Erskine.)

Faith is receiving Christ into our emptiness. There is Christ like the conduit in the market-place. As the water flows from the pipes, so does grace continually flow from Him. By faith I bring my empty pitcher and hold it where the water flows, and receive of its fulness grace for grace. It is not the beauty of my pitcher, it is not even its cleanness that quenches my thirst: it is simply holding that pitcher to the place where water flows. Even so I am but the vessel, and my faith is the hand which presents the empty vessel to the flowing stream. Is it not grace, and not the qualification of the receiver which saves the soul? And though I hold that pitcher with a trembling hand, and much of that which I seek may be lost through my weakness, yet if the soul be but held to the fountain, that so much as a single drop trickle into it, my soul is saved.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In the twenty-eighth year of the Emperor Tan Kwang, the rise of the river Yangtze was higher than it had been for a hundred years or more. The loss of property was incalculable. Old Doctor Tat, who well remembers the occurrence, gave me the account. "Were there many lives lost?" I asked. "Numbers," said he. "It was something like obtaining salvation from sin," he continued. "The rich, who had well-built houses, trusted to them, and went to the upper story, thinking themselves safe. But the flood increased. The foundations gave away; and the house to which they trusted, fell and buried them in its ruins, or in a watery grave. But the poor, knowing that their mud-built huts could not stand the rising flood, fled in time to the neighbouring hills; and though they lost all, yet they themselves were saved."

Some time ago I remember reading of an incident that occurred between a prince in a foreign land and one of his subjects. This man for rebellion against the government was going to be executed. He was taken to the guillotine block. When the poor fellow reached the place of execution he was trembling with fear. The prince was present and asked him if he wished anything before judgment was carried out. The culprit replied: "A glass of water." It was brought to him, but he was so nervous he couldn't drink it. "Do not fear," said the prince to him, "judgment will not be carried out till you drink that water," and in an instant the glass was dashed to the ground and broken into a thousand pieces. He took that prince at his word.

I.THE MEANS OF JUSTIFICATION HERE REJECTED.

II.THE MEANS ACKNOWLEDGED AND EXHIBITED. Faith —

1. In what.

2. In what sense.

3. To what extent.Learn:

1. That guilt does not prevent justification.

2. No circumstances constitute an exception to the mode of justification.

3. Justification is within the reach of all who can believe.

(S. Martin.)

I. JUSTIFICATION.

1. It includes —

(1)freedom from guilt;

(2)Divine acceptance.

2. It is grounded on obedience to the law —

(1)Personally or

(2)by substitute. The former justifies unfallen angels, the latter by Christ accepted justifies the sinner.

II. The INSTRUMENT Of justification — Faith.

(J. C. Jones.)

I. The MERITORIOUS cause — Christ.

II. The INSTRUMENTAL cause — Faith. The faith of Christ.

1. The faith which Christ makes possible.

2. The faith which Christ gives.

3. The faith which Christ receives.

4. The faith through which Christ comes.

5. The faith by which Christ works.

6. The faith which Christ will crown.The works of the law here (Romans 3:20) and elsewhere are undoubtedly the works required generally by the law of the old covenant — not ceremonial as contradistinguished from moral, nor moral as contradistinguished from ceremonial — but whatever of one kind and another it imposed in the form of precept — the law, in short, as a rule of right and wrong laid in its full compass on the consciences of men; but pre-eminently, of course, the law of the Ten Commandments, which lay at the heart of the whole, and was its pervading root and spirit. By deeds of conformity to this law they knew that they could not be justified, because they had not kept it.

(Fairbairn.)

Because —

I. Man is FLESH.

1. Depraved by natural corruption.

2. Obnoxious by actual transgression.

II. HIS BEST OBEDIENCE IS NECESSARILY IMPERFECT.

III. ALL HE DOES OR CAN DO IS A DUE DEBT OWING TO THE LAW.

1. — He owes all possible obedience to the law as a creature.

2. But by performing his obligation as a creature he can never pay his debts as a transgressor.

IV. CHRIST ALONE IS ABLE TO JUSTIFY HIM.

(J. Vaughan.)

The superiority of the Judaic ritual over the heathen arose from its being the shadow of good things to come. But it had now fulfilled its task, and ought to be allowed to drop away. It is not for the sake of the calyx, but for the sake of the corolla that we cultivate the flower, and the calyx may drop away when the flower is fully blown. To cling to the shadow when it had been superseded by the substance was to reverse the order of God.

(F. W. Farrar.)In a sermon preached at York Minster shortly after the death of the late Dean (Augustus Duncombe) Canon Body said:A few days before his departure I was by his bedside, and in course of conversation alluded to his work for the Church, and the brave way he contended for the faith. He stopped me, saying, 'Say nothing of that. When you are where I am now you will see nothing will bear looking at of one's own. There is only one trust then, the infinite mercies of the Saviour: I said, True, it is peace, is it not, with you now: He replied, 'Perfect peace, thank God, perfect peace.'

I. All men have sinned-are consequently under the sentence of the law.

II. The office of the law is not to acquit the sinner — but to detect — expose — and condemn his sin.

III. The works of the law only avail for the innocent — the works of a sinner are defective in principle and extent — cannot possibly reverse or atone for the past.

IV. All a sinner can expect from the law is aggravated punishment — his sins multiply — become more sinful by the rejection of Christ.

(J. Lyth.)

We may proceed to observe more particularly that the apostle, designing on one hand to magnify the gospel by setting forth its sufficiency to salvation, and on the other hand to demonstrate the insufficiency and unnecessariness of the ceremonial observances of the Jewish law, does all along make use of such terms to express the Christian and Jewish religion by, as may best serve to set forth the excellency of the one, and diminish the opinion which men had taken up of the necessity of the other. And,

1. Because the first and most fundamental duty of the gospel is believing in God, and believing that most perfect revelation of His will which He has made to mankind by our Saviour Jesus Christ; whereas, on the contrary, the principal part of that religion which the Judaizing Christians so earnestly contended for was an anxious observance of the burdensome rites of the ceremonial law; therefore the apostle calls the Christian religion "faith," and the Jewish religion the law (Romans 3:28). Do we then, as some men object, by our preaching up the Christian religion, disannul and make void the law of God or that revelation of His will which He made to the Jews? No, we are so far from that, that by introducing Christianity we establish, confirm, and perfect the moral and immutable part of the law much more effectually than the Jewish ceremonies were able to do.

2. Because the Christian religion teaches us to expect salvation not from our own merits, but from the grace of God, that is, according to the terms of that new and gracious covenant wherein God has promised to accept of sincere repentance and amendment, instead of perfect unsinning obedience; whereas, on the contrary, the Jews depended upon their exact performance of the works of the law; therefore the apostle calls the Christian religion "grace," and the Jewish he styles "works" (Romans 11:5, 6).

3. Because the duties of the Christian religion are almost wholly moral and spiritual, respecting the inward disposition of the heart and mind; whereas on the contrary the ceremonies of the Jewish law were for the most part external; and as the Apostle to the Hebrews styles them, carnal ordinances, respecting chiefly the outward purification of the body; therefore the apostle calls the Christian religion "spirit," and the Jewish he styles "flesh." Thus in the Epistle to the Romans 8:3,

4. Thus also in the Epistle to the Galatians 3:3; "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" i.e., Are ye so weak as to think, that after ye have embraced the gospel of Christ, ye can become yet more perfect by observing the ceremonies of the Jewish law. First, The Jewish religion having proved insufficient to make men truly holy, as natural religion also had before done, there was therefore a necessity of setting up another institution of religion, which might be more available and effectual to that end. Now the setting up a new institution of religion, necessarily implying the abolishing of the old, it follows that Christianity was not to be added to Judaism, but that Judaism was to be changed into Christianity, i.e., that the Jewish religion was from thenceforward to cease, and the Christian religion to succeed in its room. This argument the apostle insists upon in chaps, 1., 2., 5., 6., and 7. to the Romans, and in chaps, 1. and 4. to the Galatians. The Jewish law was an institution of religion adapted by God in great condescension to the weak apprehensions of that people; but when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to institute a more perfect form of religion, after the settlement of which in the world the former dispensation was to cease. And that it must needs do so, is evident also from the nature of the thing itself; for as after remission of sin obtained by the sufficient sacrifice of Christ, there needed no more legal sacrifices to be offered for sin; so in all other its ritual parts, the first covenant was in course taken away by establishing the second; there being necessarily a dis-annulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof (Hebrews 7:18). That, Secondly, The sum and essence of all religion is obedience to the moral and eternal law of God. Since therefore the ceremonies of the Jewish law were never of any esteem in the sight of God, any otherwise than as they promoted this great end, and prepared men's hearts for the reception of that more perfect institution of religion, wherein God was to be worshipped and obeyed in spirit and in truth; 'tis manifest that when this more perfect institution of religion was settled, the former and more imperfect one was to cease. This argument the apostle insists on in the second chapter to the Romans, and in the third to the Galatians. Thirdly, The religion of Abraham was acceptable to God, before the giving of the law; the Scripture saying expressly that the gospel was preached before unto Abraham: and consequently it could not but be acceptable likewise, after the abolishing of the law. Lastly, That by the posterity of Abraham, were not meant strictly those who descended from Abraham according to the flesh; but the children of the promise (that is, as many as are of the faith of Abraham) shall be counted for the seed. That the true religion therefore, and the service of God, was not to be confined always to the nation of the Jews, who were the posterity of Abraham according to the flesh; but the Gentiles also, which believe, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; that is, those of all nations as well Gentiles as Jews, who embrace the gospel, which is the same with the religion of Abraham, shall be justified with faithful Abraham. And this argument the apostle insists upon in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, and in the fourth to the Galatians. And now from what has been said, I shall, in order to practice, draw two or three useful inferences; and so conclude. And,

1. From hence it appears, that though the essence of religion be eternally and immutably the same, yet the form and institution of it may be and often has been changed. The essence of all religion is obedience to that moral and eternal law, which obliges us to imitate the life of God in justice, mercy, and holiness, that is, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. But though religion itself be thus immutably the same, yet the form and institution thereof may be different. When natural religion, because of its difficulty and obscurity in the present corrupt estate of human nature, proved ineffectual to make men truly religious; God left them no longer to the guidance of their reason only, but gave them first the Patriarchal and afterwards the Mosaic dispensation; and when this also, by reason of its being burdened with so many ritual observances, proved ineffectual to the same great end, God abolished this form of religion also, and instituted the Christian. In all which proceeding there is no reflection at all upon the immutable nature of God: for as the Divine nature is in the truest and highest sense unchangeable, so religion itself in its nature and essence is likewise unchangeable; but as the capacities, the prejudices, and the circumstances of men are different; so the institution and outward form of that religion, which in its essence is always the same, may be and hath been changed by the good pleasure of God.

2. If the whole and only design of St. Paul, in these Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, be to prove that God hath indeed made this change of the institution of religion from the Jewish to the Christian, and to vindicate His justice in so doing, then we ought never so to understand any passages in these Epistles, as if the apostles designed to magnify one Christian virtue in opposition to all or any of the rest; but only that he would set forth the perfection of the virtues of the Christian religion without the ceremonies of the Jewish. Thus when he tells us that we are justified by faith without works, we must by no means interpret it, as some have absurdly done, of the faith of the Christian religion in opposition to the works of the Christian religion; but of the faith of the gospel, in opposition to the external works of the Jewish law. But as to the works of the Christian religion, the same apostle everywhere urgeth their necessity; and particularly the five last chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, are a most earnest exhortation to be fruitful therein.

3. From hence it follows that there is no contradiction between St. Paul and St. James, when the one says that a man is justified by faith without works, and the other says that faith without works cannot justify; for the one speaks professedly of the works of the Jewish religion, and the other of the works of the Christian. Lastly, If St. Paul so severely treated the Judaizing Christians, as to call them perverters of the gospel of Christ, and esteem them as preachers of another gospel; then let us also take heed lest on the authority of men we preach or obey at any time any other gospel than what Christ and His apostles preached and obeyed.

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

I. IN WHAT MANNER JUSTIFICATION CANNOT BE OBTAINED. "We are justified not by the works of the law." It will naturally be asked, what is meant by "the law," as spoken of here by the apostle? To this I reply, reference is no doubt here made to the ceremonial law, and hence to circumcision, and the other rites and ceremonies enjoined by that ritual. By these things, however, a man cannot be justified. Nor can the moral law, as embodied in the Ten Commandments, do so; for the whole tenor of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, declares, with reference to man as a sinner, "We are justified not by works of the law." As given to Adam, when a perfect creature, the moral law (comprised in one brief injunction, as the test of his obedience) was ordained unto life, and was calculated, if observed, to perpetuate life; but as given to us, who are fallen and corrupt, it is only calculated to produce death, showing us our guilt, and our consequent desert of death as the punishment of that guilt. Like the angel, then, with the flaming sword at the east of the garden of Eden, the law drives us from itself that we may seek salvation elsewhere. And whither does it drive us? This we shall see while we notice —

II. IN WHAT MANNER JUSTIFICATION CAN BE OBTAINED. "We have believed in Jesus Christ."

1. We are justified by believing in what Christ did. The Lord Jesus Christ, made of a woman, made under the law, obeyed the law perfectly in our behalf. But we are justified by believing, not only in what Christ did, but also —

2. In what Christ suffered.Having thus, in accordance with the words of our text, stated in what manner we cannot, and in what manner we can, be justified before God, I now proceed to apply the subject, in the way of warning and of consolation.

1. Warning. The reason, my brethren, why St. Paul was so earnest upon this matter was, because he felt that the eternal salvation of multitudes was herein involved. I ask, if you are conscious that you are sinners against God, how are your sins to be forgiven? You reply, that "you hope your good moral character will screen your secret deficiencies." But, brethren, trust not in such a spider's web. Such a confidence will assuredly fail you when you most want it. You cannot have a debtor-and-creditor account with God. Perhaps you are saying, "God is merciful, and will not be extreme to mark what is done amiss." God is merciful; but you must remember that He is at the same time just, and that He will by no means clear the guilty. Do you say, that "you will do your best, and leave Christ to make up the remainder?" In that case you make Christ a divided Saviour. If, again, you would plead "your sincere obedience," you must remember that God is a perfect God, and can therefore accept nothing short of a perfect obedience. No, brethren; in Christ, and Christ alone, must be our confidence. I need not, however, I trust, remind those of you who profess to esteem Christ as all your salvation and all your desire, that although you hold the truth, there is danger, if you watch not, of holding that truth in unrighteousness. The sun, by his bright beams, not only expels the cold, but causes heat and fruitfulness also. So is it in the justification of a sinner. There is not only the pardon of sin, but likewise an infusion of grace and holiness. While, therefore, we pro. less that we are justified, not by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ, let us also remember to go on "perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The subject, however, supplies us not only with a word of warning, but also with one of-2. Consolation. Blessed be God, "the doctrine that we are justified by faith is," as our article expresses it, "not only a most wholesome doctrine, but also one very full of comfort." And, brethren, it ought to be a source of the highest consolation to you to remember how complete is this gift.

(C. Clayton, M. A.)

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