“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4, ESV)
1. What could the Law of Moses not do? It could not save; it was not designed by God to save (Acts 13:39). The Law of Moses was not designed by God to bridge the gap between man and God. The Law of Moses was designed by God to show the nature of sin (Rom. 3:20) and those guilty of sin will be punished (4:15).
2. However, it is not God’s desire that any perish (2 Peter 3:9)
3. God bridged the gap with His gift to man, His Son (John 3:16); His Son (Jesus) condemned sin in the flesh (Hebrews 2:17-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. It is my view the righteous requirement of the law is best understood in relation to John 6:44-45 and Galatians 3:24-25, tied in with Paul’s earlier words in Romans 1:17, justification by faith.
5. Justification by faith means one walks in accordance with faith (Romans 10:17; 2 Cor. 5:7) because there is a clear realization of man’s nature, a nature that cannot bridge the gap between himself and God (cf. Romans 7:24-8:1).
What does it mean to be justified by faith? We know the Bible teaches it, and it might be that we are quick to give a correct answer, but what does it mean? In Romans 4, the apostle Paul gives an illustration to help us understand what it means to be justified by faith. In the previous chapter, Paul made clear that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23), and but a little further ahead he states that sin leads to one’s spiritual death (6:23). Sandwiched between these two thoughts is an illustration from the life of Abraham to help us understand what the Holy Spirit wants us to know.
A great many people will tell you that to be justified by faith means to pray what is known as the “sinner’s prayer,” but that is not what Paul said. In fact, what is commonly known as the “sinner’s prayer” is not even found in the Bible, much less did Abraham know anything about it. In Romans 4 we learn that to be justified by faith means do what Abraham did. Let me explain.
Abraham trusted in God. This trust in God was Abraham’s total reliance on God to accept what he offered. What did Abraham offer? His heart. But this was not all that he offered. In Genesis 15, the Lord attributes to Abraham justification because Abraham not only believed (trusted) God, but obeyed Him as well. Twice we learn that Abraham obeyed when he was told by the Lord to do particular things. First, he was told to pick up his family and depart for a land he knew nothing about (Genesis 12). Second, he was told to keep covenant with God by having all the males in his family circumcised (Genesis 17). In both cases, there was nothing easy about that which was required of him. To complicate matters more for Abraham, the Lord promised Abraham that from his wife would come a son. Some had doubts. For Abraham, however, though he may not have understood how such a thing could occur with a woman past the normal time of child-bearing—Abraham was fully convinced and did not waver in unbelief (Romans 4:19-21).
What does it mean to be justified by faith? It means that one fully trusts God and obeys Him in everything He said. Why would anyone want to call Jesus Lord, but then not obey Him (Luke 6:46).
I have been getting a lot of friend requests lately on Facebook from people whose names do not ring a bell. When this happens, one of the first things I do is click on the “About Me” portion of their profile. It is interesting to see what people will say about themselves when given the chance.
Most teenagers, when asked, “Who are you?” will answer with some sport they play or hobby they do. Common answers are, “I am a football player,” “I am a cheerleader” or “I like to draw.” The truth is, we are more than the sum of what we do or are involved in.
Adults do not do any better answering that question. Most identify themselves with their job. They would answer the question with something like “I am lawyer,” “I am a teacher” or “I work at a bank.”
Trying to answer the question is very difficult. Think about it. How would you answer the question, “Who are you?”
Most of us try to identify ourselves with a job or something we’re involved in, but that really does not say all that much about who we are. If that is the only place you look for identity, you will end up disappointed; because, in the long run, our jobs and our hobbies do not matter or last.
In the Bible, God has a lot to say about who we are. In Romans 8 we are told we are God’s children, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, given the Spirit, and loved so much that nothing can separate us from His love. When we find our identity in those truths, our true identity matters and will last forever.
—Luke Bower, Baker Heights church bulletin, Abilene TX
Many teach that sola fide is the ‘end all, be all’ with God and faith, but Hebrews 5:12-6:3 teaches that the important faith to God is the faith that’s only the beginning of people coming to Him. Read 2 Peter 1:3-10 and you’ll find that faith is not the whole flight of stairs to Heaven – it’s only one of the steps that make up the stairs! A vital step for sure, but only one of the vital steps.
Faith toward God is not faith alone. Faith is meant to be a lifestyle – not a one moment decision! Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”” God’s word plainly says the just shall live by faith, but it never says they will live by just faith!
Because of erroneous teaching many people do not understand what it means to believe/have faith toward God. They read verses like Romans 13:11 and say, ‘See, salvation was brought to Paul and the Romans when they believed and so it can to me too.” But to pretend that ‘believed’ only means a mental/heart acknowledgement (faith alone) is to ignore what Paul and the Roman Christians did to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). They all heard the word of God (Romans 10:17), they all repented of their sins (Romans 2:4), they all confessed the faith in their hearts (Romans 10:6-11) and they all were baptized for the remission of their sins (Romans 6:1-4). Did you notice all the scripture references came from the same source – the Romans (along with Paul) who ‘believed‘ back in Romans 13:11 did more than “just believe.”
Faith toward God is powerful and wonderful, but faith alone falls short of both!
I appreciate all the good thoughts on grace! Thanks for taking up my question and making application.
I have always liked the following: We cannot live in such a way to put God in our debt. Therefore, we will always be lost without His generous gift of grace. We are completely at His mercy until given an opportunity to serve. Even then, we will still require grace to enter heaven. Once again, God will never be in our debt.
There are so many nuances that exist in the doctrine and emotion NEVER understands nuance. That is why we must remain sober-minded and focused so we can grasp the real meaning of Scripture.
We have to tune out Satan’s doctrines found in those who teach error and not spend all of our time chasing them. That is part of Satan’s plan. We cannot always be teaching against something. We need to be proactive in showing the world and the brethren what Scripture DOES teach on grace and salvation.
Wonderful day with the saints in SJCampos and Taubaté! I missed hearing the Word taught in Portuguese and singing praises and encouragements in this expressive language. In the morning, I read the selected Bible passage, closed with a short reading and prayer, and proffered the announcements. In the afternoon, I led singing. Our groups are small, but strong.
• We think of Abraham’s great faith in offering Isaac (Gen. 22). Hebrews 11 says God tested the patriarch, and Paul in Romans 4 says, “He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (v. 20). When tested, do we waver or are we strengthened by trusting in the Lord and thereby giving him glory? What a powerful verse and marvelous reminder!
• I’m no prophet and even less of an economist, but this seems certain, just from seeing some scary numbers and irreversible trends: The U.S. is headed for hard times. The bottom is going to fall out. Brethren, pay your debts, save up, buckle down, for high inflation and unemployment as well as low dollar and housing values are going to test the country in the worst way since the Great Depression.
• In the coming crisis, the church will be greatly tested, if it will prioritize the mission of God in the world, or draw in upon itself and serve its own needs. Those congregations who are now busy in the Lord’s work will be well placed and practiced to continue putting the mission first. Those groups who have been serving self will likely close out any remaining impulse to do the will of God.
• A sister in Christ remarked in this morning’s Bible class, on Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac in Gen. 22, that a great faith is a series of small decisions, such as those the patriarch made to get from his camp to the land of Moriah. Obedience is not as often a great single leap as continuous small steps in the will of God.
What is my favorite book in the Bible to teach?
The book of Romans, because it emphasizes obedience, from the beginning of the book to the end of the book (Romans 1:1-5; Romans 6:16-17; Romans 16:25-26).