yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16).
This is the crux of the gospel…and one of the hardest principles to live by – both for the first-century and modern-day Christian.
When Paul uses the word, “justified” he is referring to the legal term, “justification” which means “declared righteous.” Justification is binary… you’re either justified or you’re not, you’re either innocent or guilty. There are no “in-betweens” – no gray areas.
In order to be justified by the law, one would have to keep the whole law perfectly. And the only person to ever do this was Jesus.
When we inevitably fail to keep the law, we can choose one of two responses: Self-justification or humble repentance.
Knowledge of God’s loving-kindness can help us choose the humble path…
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground (Psalm 147:1-2;6).
The Psalmist doesn’t say, “The Lord lifts up the righteous,” he says, “The Lord lifts up the humble.” It’s interesting that the psalmist chooses the word “humble” as the antithesis to “wicked” in verse 6.
But if you think about it, humility is closely tied with righteousness – the kind of righteousness that comes through faith!
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:20-21, NIV)
We don’t want to make Christ’s death meaningless by trusting in ourselves to obey the Law, do we? No! That’s preposterous! Our only hope is to turn to the Lord in humble faith – trusting that Christ’s perfect life and sacrifice are all we need for the salvation for our souls.