Justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law

Justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law

We cannot be justified by deeds of the law—but have you heard of salvation by works of faith?

Justified by faith

“As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside.’” Romans 3:10–12.

“Whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Romans 3:19.

That’s how utterly depraved we people are. It is hopeless to try to patch up or improve the old man. He is and always will be found guilty before God’s judgments.

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed […] even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ […]” Romans 3:21–22.

We are justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law (Romans 3:28). By faith in Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness for our sins.

In the deepest sense, there is no faith without works, or deeds. If they are not my deeds, then they must necessarily be someone else’s. In this case it is not my deeds, but Jesus Christ’s completed work and His atoning death for me on Calvary that gives me forgiveness for my sins. Because He died for my sins and for the sins of the whole world, and I believe it, and it is accounted to me for righteousness.

In the Scriptures, this salvation is called being “justified by His blood.” It is also referred to as being reconciled to God (Romans 5:9–10).

Continuing salvation through the life of Jesus Christ

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Salvation by the works of faith

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10.

Dear soul, you who have had your sins forgiven, read this verse carefully again and again until you understand what you are reading, because it is in direct sequence with justification by faith without works. Now comes salvation by the works of faith, for it is God who works in us to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). Salvation by Jesus’ life means that Jesus lives and works in us by His good Holy Spirit, who takes from Him and shares with us. When we were dead in trespasses and sins, we could not receive the Spirit to guide us because the world neither sees Him nor knows Him (John 14:17). But now the life of Jesus will work obedience in us through the Spirit, so we keep the law that is written in our hearts and minds. These are not works of the law, but works of faith. Now that we are led by the Spirit of God, the requirements of the law will be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4). The same flesh which tried in vain to keep the law is now crucified with Christ on the tree of cursing, and now by the law of faith I overcome the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1–2). When I am tempted to sin, I say “No” by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, and then I am victorious. In this way, the law of sin and death is overcome.

There is no condemnation for me because I continue in my position of faith in Christ Jesus. This is the way the Master Himself overcame, because He also suffered being tempted (Hebrews 2:18). This is not a suffering in the conscience; the suffering is in the flesh because the flesh cannot get its own way. Such sufferings are good for us. These sufferings are called the sufferings of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:10) because Jesus also suffered when He denied Himself (John 5:30; John 6:38; John 7:17–18; Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 Peter 4:1).

Salvation and fellowship by walking in the light

The forgiveness of sins enables us to walk on the way when we have also been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus is the way. The forgiveness of sins is not a way. However, when we walk by faith after we have received forgiveness for our sins, then we are walking on a way. This becomes our salvation by His life.

That is why it is also written: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7.

Notice that those who walk in the light do not sin, for it is out in the darkness that people sin. So when we are cleansed from all sin by walking in the light, this does not mean committed sins, but rather from our indwelling sin; our body of sin is destroyed. In the light there is life, and we are saved by His life.

Neither does the forgiveness of sins alone give us fellowship with one another. That should be obvious to everyone. But by walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.

This is very simple, clear, and easy to understand, but people do not want to understand it because they love darkness more than light and their lusts more than God.

“But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:20. It is only foolish people who continue in sin after they have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son.

Jude also reminds us that “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Jude 1:5–6.

This is written as an example for us.

This article has been translated from Norwegian and was first published with the title “Rettferdiggjort uten lovgjerninger, ved tro” in the periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in January 1935.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag | ActiveChristianity

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.