The man that is saved comes into a righteousness which God will accept the same way in which Abraham obtained it, and that is by faith.  Paul describes the character of this man: he “worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly…”  This is something to which the carnal, self-righteous sinner, who likes to pride himself on the excellence of his own character and conduct, can never submit.  He cannot conceive of the fact that his almsgiving, his self-denial, his various acts of beneficence and kindness, contribute nothing to his salvation.

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Of course, it must be noted that by “worketh not,” Paul does not insinuate that the converted sinner has no interest at all in living correctly.  He will anticipate that objection at the beginning of the 6th chapter.  What he is speaking of here is the concept of working to earn salvation.  This is quite clear, because this 5th verse, where he speaks of the ungodly sinner who worketh not, stands in contrast to the 4th verse, where he described the hypothetical case of a man who worked for his salvation, and received it as a debt, and therefore excluded grace from the equation.  The enlightened sinner the apostle is now describing realizes that he has nothing in his heart or his behavior which he can offer to God as a reason why he ought to be saved.  He disowns all his works, confesses that God is right in describing them as filthy rags, and hopes for salvation simply because God has promised it to all those who trust in His Son.

 

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