No One Justified By Works
Galatians 2:15-16 (ESV) -- We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
One of the most universal questions that human beings ask, especially internally, is “How can I be right with God?” Everyone senses that something is off with our relationship to the Creator. We creatures have sinned against God and run our race, according to our wisdom and desires. When humans try then to rectify the relationship, the most common attempt is through works. Works are any efforts, activities, and accomplishments we can do. Works can be great things. Our works are supposed to be good and evident in our lives. The problem is when humans try to save themselves by works.
Our passage today teaches us that we cannot be saved by our works. Paul instructs the Galatians in his letter, “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
Jews and Gentiles alike need something other than works to save them. It’s not as though God only accepts the works of Jews and not Gentiles. Nobody’s works save them. Only faith in Jesus’ finished work can justify a person before God. This means we are to trust that Jesus’ death on the cross was the payment for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead is the evidence that they were paid in full. But Paul goes one step further in his explanation to ensure nobody is left confused. He said no one will be justified by works of the law. Nobody can earn a relationship with God or forgiveness of sins. It is faith in Jesus or bust.
There is a small caveat that must be made before wrapping up. When I say that nobody can be saved by works, it is not completely accurate. A more accurate description would be to say that “nobody is saved by their own works.” That is a true statement. But we are saved by someone’s work—Jesus’ work. His is the only work that can save us. So Christians are those who have put aside attempts to earn God’s love or merit His favor with our works, and instead we trust in the finished work of Jesus and do good works because of His grace and kindness to us. We do good works from our salvation, not for our salvation.
Reflection & Journal:
- What are some examples of good works?
- Why is no one justified by works of the law? Why is it impossible for your works to save you?
- How are Christians saved? How is Jesus’ work applied to us?
Sign up to receive our daily devotions in your inbox here!