Faith is the depending upon the word of God only, and expecting that word only to do what the word says. Justification by faith, then, is justification by depending upon the word of God only and expecting that word only to accomplish it. Justification by faith is righteousness by faith, for justification is the being declared righteous. Faith comes by the word of God. Justification by faith, then, is justification that comes by the word of God. Righteousness by faith is righteousness that comes by the word of God.
What does it mean to be justified? Are good works bad? We think it will be clear once we break it down. Some people want to insist that works are bad because works are done by those who are trying to save themselves. But is it true that works are bad? That depends on whether someone is trying to do good works in their own strength to save themselves or not. Paul doesn't contradict himself here. There's another way that good works can be done – they can be done by the Spirit of God. All this text is saying is that people who try to keep the law and their own strength will not be justified. We believe that since all our righteousnesses are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6 KJV), then the attempt to save oneself by their works is actually sin. This is because those who do this make themselves to be their own god, little “g”. It is God’s job to save us, not ourselves – we have no ability of saving ourselves. For someone to be justified - that's an act of grace by God alone, which is Paul's point. Those who are trying to save themselves cannot have the Holy Spirit, or enjoy what it means to really live – which is to be filled with wonderful peace, great love and joy inexpressible! Nor can they ever be truly righteous – it is a hollow shell. Paul’s point is not that we won't be doing good works, his point is that those who seek to try to work out their own salvation by themselves will not be justified. We think this is clear! Jesus said, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:13-14 KJV. The danger for those who trust in themselves, the self-righteous, is that they do not see their need clearly and may fail to confess their sins and humble themselves before God before it’s too late, because they may think that they are good and do not need to repent. So those who try to keep the law in their own strength will not be justified, until they ask for mercy, this is what Jesus and Paul taught. If they feel that they are keeping the law, they may have failed to confess the sin of breaking it. Self-righteousness is a form of Spiritual blindness. Therefore Galatians 2:16 does not contradict our passage in Romans 2:13: 'For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.' They are both in perfect harmony with each other, but they're talking about two different things. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 KJV.
We will continue at this time the study of Christian experience and how it is obtained. "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21. R. V. "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that we might become the righteousness of God in him." 1 Cor. 1:30. R. V. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the righteousness of God (and that is what we are made in him that we might become the righteousness of God in him), which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference." Rom. 3:20-22. Now the righteousness of God is witnessed by the law and the prophets, and it is acceptable because Jesus Christ is made that to us, that we might become that in him, and the righteousness of God will meet the requirements of Christian experience.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." The word "predestinate" is the same as "foreordain," which is found in the Revised Version. Volumes of speculation have been written about these terms, but a few words are sufficient to set forth the facts. With respect to these, as well as the other attributes of God, it is sufficient for us to know the fact. With the explanation we have nothing to do. That God knows all things is plainly set forth in the Scripture. Not only does he know the things that are past, but he sees the future as well. Freedom to do right implies freedom to do wrong. If a man were made so that he could not do wrong, he would have no freedom at all, not even to do right. He would be less than the brutes. There is no virtue in forced obedience, nor would there be any virtue in doing that which is right if it were impossible to do wrong. Moreover, there could be no pleasure or satisfaction in the professed friendship of two persons if one associated with the other just because he could not avoid it. The joy of the Lord in the companionship of his people is that they of their own free-will choose him above all others. And that which is the joy of the Lord is the joy of His people.
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