Therefore, Paul concludes that sinners are justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.  It is Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice, and His righteousness imputed to the record of the sinner, which is the ground of our justification.  It is said to be by faith, because faith is the means by which we apprehend this saving righteousness.  It is the hand which accepts of the free gift offered in the Gospel.  It is not that our faith is meritorious, but rather the object to which we look contains all the merit which is necessary to the eternal security of our souls.  This faith which clings to Christ alone can never look to the Saviour and is own works at the same time.  When he takes hold of Christ by faith, he is forever divorcing himself from any hope of ever pleasing God by his own merit.

 

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This is why Martin Luther, when he translated the scriptures into his native German, added the word only after faith.  This probably was not advisable as far as a translation, since it added a word not in the original text; nevertheless, it captures the very idea at which the apostle was driving.  When he says, “Without the deeds of the law,” he is saying that there is nothing within the sinner’s power to do which can be added onto faith for salvation.  The law of God commands us every single thing that we are to do in obedience to God, and forbids everything that is offensive to Him.  There is no higher standard, no different standard, of righteousness, to which we may be pointed.  Since we cannot be saved by the works of the law, there are no works by which we must be saved.  Therefore, we are shut up to faith, and our only hope is to look to Jesus Christ, and find peace through His blood and righteousness.  And that is exactly where the apostle would lead us, if we will only follow his argument to its logical conclusion.

 

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