By what law is boasting excluded?  Is it by the law of works?  “Nay!” exclaims the apostle.  It cannot be by works, for he has already proven that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in the sight of God.  Therefore, our own personal obedience to the law can never be the ground of our justification, nor do they have the slightest role to play therein.  All men are bound by the authority of God to obey His law, but Paul has proven that we are all violators of his law, and therefore cannot save ourselves by it.  Therefore, God’s law, which commands the works we should do, gives us absolutely no ground for boasting.

It is the law of faith which completely drives human pride out of the picture.  This is critically important, because too many Christians are making their faith an object of pride.  Many evangelists foolishly tell men, “God has done all he can do, now the rest is up to you.”  Others who would not be quite so brazenly irreverent nevertheless teach that very doctrine; that God has done everything in His power to save the sinner, but the sinner has to contribute the last mite, namely his decision, else he can never be saved.  It is little wonder, then, that many professing Christians will argue tooth and nail that they have some room for boasting, because it was their decision which made the final difference in the salvation of their soul.

But faith is never presented in such a light in the scripture.  Paul, in fact, uses the truth of salvation by faith to cut away all ground of boasting.  Faith is never something for a sinner to pride himself upon, but rather it is the sinner’s acknowledgement that he has nothing in his hand to bring, but can only cling to the cross of Christ as his only hope.  The heaven-taught sinner realizes that it is Jesus, not he himself, who is the Author of faith; that the very faith by which he laid hold of Christ, and apprehended His saving righteousness, is a gift of God.  We come into salvation by faith because by works we could never attain to it.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones made a critical point here which we must not miss: if any man’s doctrine of salvation leaves room for the sinner to boast, it is the wrong doctrine.  Paul’s doctrine—we may better say the Holy Spirit’s doctrine—utterly excludes boasting from the entire picture.  Whatever system of doctrine one adopts as pertaining to the salvation of the soul, if it permits the sinner to boast in the slightest, it is not the apostolic doctrine of grace.