Justified by faith
For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law. (Romans 3:28)
Give it the old college try.
People are under the impression that if you try to be good, even halfheartedly, that this will be enough to gain the favor of God. However, they are putting themselves under law. It does not matter what law you set up for yourselves: you will not be good enough to gain the favor of God. This is what Paul was referring to when he wrote, “For this reason, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law.”
Anyone who places himself or herself under a law to win God’s favor will only end up being judged by that law. No one can say to God, “I will try harder next time.” Or, “Just give me another chance.” Those excuses will not work on God. No one can say, “At least I am better than ______,” or “I am not as bad as ______.” God will never judge you according to other people.
This is a harsh and terrible outlook if the law was the only way to heaven! No one would be able to go to heaven. God knew this, so he gave his people something no one can earn and no one deserved…. He gave his Son!
Jesus is the only one who can take people who are guilty of breaking every law and place them in heaven. Jesus took your guilt as his own, and he was punished for it. The agony he experienced on the cross was nothing that he personally earned; instead, it was the agony you should have received for breaking the law. God, our Father, was pleased to do this for you!
This is grace.
Jesus was also willing to take your punishment for you to guarantee a place with him forever in heaven. You are now declared “not guilty,” and you may enter heaven. Jesus did it all for you. Faith is God’s gift that connects you to Jesus and the work he did for you. By faith, you benefit from Jesus’s death. Faith is our confidence in what Jesus has done for us.
Prayer: Dear gracious and loving Father! Thank you for giving us faith in Jesus, where we can find our confidence that we are not guilty of sin. Help us to turn to Jesus anytime our hearts are suffering from guilt. Crush any reliance on the law to earn your favor. Let us turn to Jesus and receive everything he earned for us! In his name we pray. Amen.