But that no man is justified by the law - By the observance of the law, suppose he had even continued in all things that are written in it to do them, is evident; for the Prophet Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:4, has declared, under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, The just shall live by faith; or, he who is just by faith shall live: therefore this justification comes not by works, or the observance of the law, but by faith.
But that no man is justified - The argument which Paul has been pursuing he proceeds to confirm by an express declaration of the Bible. The argument is this: “It is impossible that a man should be justified by the Law, because God has appointed another way of justification.” But there cannot be two ways of obtaining life, and as he has appointed faith as the condition on which people shall live, he has precluded from them the possibility of obtaining salvation in any other mode.
For, The just shall live by faith - This is quoted from Habakkuk 2:4. This passage is also quoted by Paul in Romans 1:17; see it explained in the note on that verse. The sense here is, that life is promised to man only in connection with faith. It is not by the works of the Law that it is done. The condition of life is faith: and he lives who believes. The meaning is not, I apprehend, that the man who is justified by faith shall live, but that life is promised and exists only in connection with faith, and that the just or righteous man obtains it only in this way. Of course it cannot be obtained by the observance of the Law, but must be by some other scheme.
What a scene that will be! No pen can describe it! The accumulated guilt of the world will be laid bare, and the voice of the Judge will be heard saying to the wicked, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 6BC 1070.1
Then those who pierced Christ will remember how they slighted His love and abused His compassion; how they chose in His stead Barabbas, a robber and murderer; how they crowned the Saviour with thorns, and caused Him to be scourged and crucified; how, in the agony of His death on the cross, they taunted Him, saying, “Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” They will seem to hear again His voice of entreaty. Every tone of solicitude will vibrate as distinctly in their ears as when the Saviour spoke to them. Every act of insult and mockery done to Christ will be as fresh in their memory as when the satanic deeds were done. 6BC 1070.2
They will call on the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. “The wrath of the Lamb”—One who ever showed Himself full of tenderness, patience, and long-suffering, who, having given Himself up as the sacrificial offering, was led as a lamb to the slaughter, to save sinners from the doom now falling upon them because they would not allow Him to take away their guilt (The Review and Herald, June 18, 1901). 6BC 1070.3
19-28 (Galatians 2:16, 17; 3:10-13, 24). No Saving Properties in the Law—I would call on all who would win heaven, to take warning. Do not devote your precious probationary time to sewing together fig leaves to cover the nakedness which is the result of sin. As you look into the Lord's great moral looking glass, His holy law, His standard of character, do not for a moment suppose that it can cleanse you. There are no saving properties in the law. It cannot pardon the transgressor. The penalty must be exacted. The Lord does not save sinners by abolishing His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and in earth. The punishment has been endured by the sinner's substitute. Not that God is cruel and merciless, and Christ so merciful that He died on Calvary's cross to abolish a law so arbitrary that it needed to be extinguished, crucified between two thieves. The throne of God must not bear one stain of crime, one taint of sin. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him (Manuscript 145, 1897). 6BC 1070.4
(Ch. 5:1.) “This Is Justification by Faith.”—As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ's atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God's will, and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory. 6BC 1070.5
Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: “This is My child. I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy—eternal life—because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sins. He is even My beloved son.” Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ's righteousness, stands faultless before God. 6BC 1070.6
The sinner may err, but he is not cast off without mercy. His only hope, however, is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Father's prerogative to forgive our transgressions and sins, because Christ has taken upon Himself our guilt and reprieved us, imputing to us His own righteousness. His sacrifice satisfies fully the demands of justice. 6BC 1070.7
Justification is the opposite of condemnation. God's boundless mercy is exercised toward those who are wholly undeserving. He forgives transgressions and sins for the sake of Jesus, who has become the propitiation for our sins. Through faith in Christ, the guilty transgressor is brought into favor with God and into the strong hope of life eternal (Manuscript 21, 1891). 6BC 1070.8Read in context »
16 (ch. 3:10-13, 24; Romans 3:19-28; 5:1). No Room for Self-sufficiency—We are justified by faith. The soul who understands the meaning of these words will never be self-sufficient. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves. The Holy Spirit is our efficiency in the work of character building, in forming characters after the divine similitude. When we think ourselves capable of molding our own experience, we make a great mistake. We can never of ourselves obtain the victory over temptation. But those who have genuine faith in Christ will be worked by the Holy Spirit. The soul in whose heart faith abides will grow into a beautiful temple for the Lord. He is directed by the grace of Christ. Just in proportion as he depends on the Holy Spirit's teaching he will grow (Manuscript 8, 1900). 6BC 1109.1
20 (Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:3; see EGW on Revelation 3:1). The Greatest Work in the World—Everything good in men and women is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit teaches us to reveal righteousness in our lives. The greatest work that can be done in our world is to glorify God by living the character of Christ. God will make perfect only those who will die to self. Those who are willing to do this can say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Manuscript 16, 1900). 6BC 1109.2Read in context »
We should not allow our time to be so occupied with things of a temporal nature, or even with matters pertaining to the cause of God, that we shall pass on day after day without pressing close to the bleeding side of Jesus. We want to commune with Him daily. We are exhorted to fight the good fight of faith. It will be a hard battle to maintain a life of earnest faith; but if we cast ourselves wholly upon Christ, with a settled determination to cleave only to Him, we shall be able to repulse the enemy, and gain a glorious victory. The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” Again he says, “Now the just shall live by faith”.... LHU 372.3Read in context »
We are not surprised to find that Satan will work today as he has worked in the past. We must live by faith; for without faith it is impossible to please God.... Boasting claims of righteousness and noisy demonstrations are calculated to lead to a fanatical experience that will confuse many minds. If such things are encouraged, a wave of fanaticism will come into our ranks that will be detrimental to the work of God, and that will sweep away many souls in a dangerous delusion. These things are designed by Satan to deceive, if possible, the very elect. TDG 359.2Read in context »