Blood of Jesus Christ 5
By Dr. Derek Thomas
Paul addresses justification along three lines of thought. First of all, the source of justification, and secondly the ground of our salvation, and thirdly the means of our justification. Allow me to pursue it along that line of thought.
First of all, the source of our justification. And you see in verse 21 he says, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law." Apart from the law, apart from obedience to the law on our part. A law keeping cannot save, not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law's demands. Could my zeal no respite know. Could my tears forever flow? Thou must save and Thou alone. The Law of Moses as demand cannot save, and there is this wonderful news. There is a "but now".
There is a moment in history when God made it absolutely clear that there is a way of justification that is apart from the law, that is apart from obedience to the law on our part because by the law is knowledge of sin. You try to keep the law. If you try simply to obey the laws, a means to justification, all that it will get you is guilt. It will drive you to despair. It will drive you to distraction.
That's why Paul has been arguing this in the first half of this chapter, that there is none righteous, not the Gentiles who have no law or revealed law. They don't have the 10 Commandments. They don't have the Decalogue. They don't have the Old Testament. But not the Jews either because there is none righteous. There is none that does good. There is none that seeks after God. I know we talk about seekers and seeker sensitivity, but there's no such thing. The unconverted are not seeking after God.
What was it that Kierkegaard said? That God made man in His image and thereafter man returned the compliment. What did Calvin say? That man's mind is a factory of idols. What an image that is, a perpetual factory of idols. Paul is arguing about justification on the basis of the universality of sin. Without exception!
The most holy man that you can think of is by nature a sinner under the wrath of God, bound for a lost eternity unless God steps in, unless there is a "but God". The source of our justification is apart from the law, apart from law keeping on our part because we're all sinners. We've all fallen short, and isn't it interesting how Paul defines sin here? That sin is a falling short of the glory of God, that the natural man cannot see the glory of God, and what is it about us as believers, as those who have trusted in Jesus Christ? We have come to appreciate what? The glory of God.
And we're being changed from one degree of glory to another until that day when we shall be in the glory and before the glory and surrounded by the glory. That the glory of God's creation will have been restored in us. That's the source of our justification. You see how he puts it in verse 24? "We are justified by His grace." and if you didn't get it, as a gift--by His grace as a gift. Sola gratia.
By grace alone, not of works, not of our doing, not of our promising, not of our attainment, not of our inspiration, not of our lofty goals, not our resolutions. With all of grace, the grace of almighty God, nothing in my hands I bring. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling. Make it look to thee for grace, helpless look to thee for grace, follow I to the fountain fly, wash me savior or I die. Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy laws demands. The source of our justification is apart from the law. It's apart from obedience on our part.