Justification is an act of grace in and through Jesus Christ through which the believer is justified in the eyes of God. Thus, by believing in Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of God is given to man, and he finds peace with his Lord and Savior. Christ is the offspring and the old covenant is outdated. In the new covenant, our relationship with God is based on a different foundation, based on a different agreement. (Romans 3, 21-31, 4,1-8, 5,1.9, Galater 2,16)
Justification by faith
God called Abraham from Mesopotamia and promised his descendants to give them the land of Canaan. After Abraham was in the land of Canaan, it came to pass that the word of the Lord came to Abram in a revelation: Do not be afraid, Abram! I am your shield and your very great reward. But Abram said, Lord God, what will you give me? I am going there without children, and my servant Eliëser of Damascus will own my house ... you have given me no offspring; and behold, one of my servants will be my heir. And behold, the Lord said to him, He shall not be your heir, but he who will come from your body shall be your heir. And he told him to go out and said, Look up to the sky and count the stars; can you count them? And said to him, Your descendants shall be so numerous! » (Genesis 1: 15,1-5).
It was a phenomenal promise. But what is even more astonishing is what we read in verse 6: "Abram believed the Lord, and he counted it for him as righteousness." This is a significant statement of justification by faith. Abraham was considered righteous based on belief. The apostle Paul further developed this idea in Romans 4 and Galatians 3.
Christians inherit the promises of Abraham on the basis of faith - and laws given to Moses simply can not nullify these promises. This principle is taught in Galatian 3,17. This is a particularly important section.
Faith, not law
In Galatians Paul argued against a legal heresy. In Galatian 3,2 he asks the question:
"I want to know that from you alone: have you received the spirit through the works of the law or through the preaching of faith?"
It poses a similar question in verse 5: "Who now offers you the Spirit and does such deeds among you, does it through the works of the law or through the preaching of faith?"
Paul says in verses 6-7: "So it was with Abraham: he believed God and it was counted as righteousness. So recognize: those who are of faith are Abraham's children. » Paul quotes Genesis 1. If we have faith, we are Abraham's children. We inherit the promises God gave him.
Notice verse 9: "So now those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." Faith brings blessings. But if we rely on keeping the law, we will be convicted. Because we don't meet the requirements of the law. But Christ saved us from it. He died for us. Notice verse 14: "He redeemed us so that the blessing of Abraham may come among the Gentiles in Christ Jesus and we received the promised spirit through faith."
Then Paul uses a practical example in verses 15-16 to tell the Christians in Galatia that the Mosaic Law cannot abolish the promises given to Abraham: "Dear brothers, I want to speak humanly: Man After all, when a person's will is confirmed, he does not cancel it and does not do anything about it. Now the promise has been promised to Abraham and his descendants. »
This "descendant" is Jesus Christ, but Jesus is not the only one who inherits the promises to Abraham. Paul points out that Christians also inherit these promises. If we have faith in Christ, we are Abraham's children and inherit the promises through Jesus Christ.
A temporary law
Now we come to verse 17: "But I mean this: The will that God has previously confirmed will not be nullified by the law that was given four hundred and thirty years later, so that the promise would be nullified."
The law of Mount Sinai cannot break the covenant with Abraham, which was based on the belief in God's promise. That is the point Paul makes. Christians have a relationship with God based on faith, not law. Obedience is good, but we obey according to the new, not the old, covenant. Paul points out here that the Mosaic law - the old covenant - was temporary. It was only added until Christ came. We see this in verse 19: "Then what is the law? It has been added for sins' sake until the offspring to whom the promise is made is there. »
Christ is the offspring and the old covenant is outdated. In the new covenant, our relationship with God is based on a different foundation, based on a different agreement.
Let us read verses 24-26: “This is how the law was our discipline for Christ so that we might be justified by faith. But after the faith came, we are no longer under the discipline. Because you are all children of Christ Jesus in the faith of God. » We are not under the old covenant laws.
Let us now go on to verse 29: "But if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham's children and heirs according to the promise." The point is that Christians receive the Holy Spirit based on faith. We are justified by faith or declared righteous with God by faith. We are justified on the basis of faith, not by observing the law, and certainly not on the basis of the old covenant. If we believe God's promise through Jesus Christ, we have a right relationship with God.
In other words, our relationship with God is based on faith and promise, as in Abraham. Laws added to Sinai can not change the promise made to Abraham, and these laws can not change the promise given to all who are children by the faith of Abraham. This law package became obsolete when Christ died and we are now in the new covenant.
Even the circumcision that Abraham received as a sign of his covenant cannot change the original faith-based promise. In Romans 4, Paul points out that his faith declared Abraham just and that it was therefore acceptable to God when he was still uncircumcised. It was at least 14 years later that circumcision was ordered. Physical circumcision is not necessary for today's Christians. Circumcision is now a matter of the heart (Romans 2,29).
The law can not save
The law can not give us salvation. All it can do is condemn us because we are all lawbreakers. God knew in advance that no one could keep the law. The law points us to Christ. The law can not give us salvation, but it can help us see our need for salvation. It helps us realize that justice must be a gift, not something we can earn.
Suppose the Judgment Day comes and the judge asks you why he should let you into his domain. How would you answer? Would we say that we have kept certain laws? I hope not, because the judge could easily point out laws that we did not keep, sins that we unconsciously committed and never regretted. We can not say that we were good enough. No - all we can do is beg for mercy. We have the faith that Christ died to redeem us from all sins. He died to free us from the punishment of the law. That is our only basis for salvation.
Of course, faith leads us to obedience. The new covenant has a lot of own bids. Jesus places demands on our time, our hearts and our money. Jesus abolished many laws, but he also re-affirmed and taught some of those laws that they should be kept in the spirit and not merely superficial. We need to look to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles to see how the Christian faith in our lives should function in the new covenant.
Christ died for us so that we could live for him. We are freed from the slavery of sin so that we become slaves of righteousness. We are called to serve each other, not ourselves. Christ demands of us everything we have and everything we are. We are called to obedience - but are saved by faith.
Justified by faith
We can see this in Romans 3. In a short section, Paul explains the plan of salvation. Let us look at how this passage confirms what we saw in the Letter to the Galatians. «... because no one can be just before him through the works of the law. Because through the law comes knowledge of sin. Now, without doing the law, the righteousness that is before God is revealed, testified by the law and the prophets » (Vv. 20-21).
The scriptures of the Old Testament foretold salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and this is done not by the law of the old covenant, but by faith. This is the basis of the New Testament conditions of our relationship with God through our Savior Jesus Christ.
Paul continues in verses 22-24: "But I am talking about righteousness before God, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Because there is no difference here: they are all sinners and lack the glory that they should have with God, and without merit do justice to his grace through the salvation that has come through Christ Jesus. »
Because Jesus died for us, we can be declared righteous. God justifies those who have faith in Christ - so no one can brag about how well he keeps the law. Paul continues in verse 28: "So now we believe that man is just without works of the law, only through faith."
These are deep words from the apostle Paul. James, like Paul, warns us of any belief that ignores God's commandments. Abraham's faith led him to obey God (Genesis 1: 26,4-5). Paul talks about real faith, the kind of faith that includes loyalty to Christ, a holistic willingness to follow him. But even then, he says, it is faith that saves us, not works.
In Romans 5,1: 2 Paul writes: «Now that we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through him we also have access in faith to this grace in which we stand and we boast of the hope of the future glory that God will give. »
By faith, we have a right relationship with God. We are his friends, not his enemies. That's why on the Day of Judgment we will be able to stand before him. We have faith in the promise given to us by Jesus Christ. Paul explains in Roman 8,1-4 continue:
"So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit that gives life to Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death. For what was impossible for the law because it was weakened by the flesh, God did: he sent his son in the form of the sinful flesh and for the sake of sin and condemned the sin in the flesh, so that justice, required by the law, in would be fulfilled to us, who we now live not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. »
Thus, we see that our relationship with God is based on faith in Jesus Christ. That's the agreement or covenant that God made with us. He promises to consider us righteous if we have faith in his son. The law can not change us, but Christ can. The law condemns us to death, but Christ promises us life. The law can not free us from the slavery of sin, but Christ can. Christ gives us freedom, but it is not freedom to be complacent - it is the freedom to serve Him.
Faith makes us willing to follow our Lord and Savior in everything He tells us. We see clear commandments to love one another, to trust Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel, to work for unity in the faith, to gather as a church, to build one another in faith, to do good works of service, pure and moral To lead a life, to live peacefully and to forgive those who do us wrong.
These new commandments are challenging. They take all our time. All our days are dedicated to serving Jesus Christ. We must be diligent in doing his work, and it is not the broad and easy way. It is a difficult, challenging task, a task few are willing to do.
We should also point out that our faith cannot save us - God does not accept us based on the quality of our faith, but through the faith and faithfulness of His Son Jesus Christ. Our faith will never do what it "should" be - but we are not saved by the measure of our faith, but by trusting Christ, who has enough faith for all of us.