Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. —Romans 3:28.
If a man is not found righteous before the judgment-seat of God, he is damned. But no man can be found righteous before God by the deeds of the Law (Romans 3:19‒20). For no man can perform even a single deed of the Law that is perfect in the sight of God; much less can he be fully justified before God by the deeds of the Law.
So what is to be done?
Now God comes and proclaims that man is justified before Him without the deeds of the Law, without merit, yes, in spite of and regardless of all sin and guilt. But this is quite beyond all human conception. How shall a man become righteous before God without the deeds of the Law, without merit, yes, in spite of and regardless of his sins and guilt?
God says: “By faith.” But how so by faith? By what faith? By that faith which rests on the blessed fact that God forgives sins out of His great mercy, for Christ’s sake.
As a Christian, you know that God does this. And now grow in your appreciation for the Lord’s grace by pondering and considering what is meant by the words: God forgives sin. It means: God does not impute sin. Not imputing our sin to us, God graciously declares us to be righteous—He justifies us.
And it is just this that God does to us lost and condemned sinners: He forgives us our sins, and declares us to be righteous in His sight. And now we must not reject this, but accept it in true faith as a most gracious deliverance.
God personally justifies us by bringing us to saving faith in Christ so that we receive His declaration of righteousness by faith, without the deeds of the Law. –This is the true, genuine Christian banner, our standard, following which we shall conquer everything and obtain eternal salvation: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law.”
May God preserve us all in this faith!
PRAYER – Lord, my God, because Thou sayest it to me, therefore will I believe it, and cling to it in life and death, that I am justified in Thy sight by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Trusting in this, will I depart, and lifting up my head before Thy judgment-throne, I shall say: Thou, O God, hast forgiven my sins to me and thereby declared me righteous. I pray Thee, my God, keep me in this faith which alone will save me. Amen.
My hope I rest then on the Lord,
And build not on my merit,
My heart shall trust His gracious Word,
His goodness stays my spirit.
His precious Word assureth me
He will my Joy and Comfort be;
This is my firm reliance.
Hymn 415, 3. (ELHB)