Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 3:20
“Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20
This is an important verse because too often, people look at their actions to denote whether they are saved or not saved. This was what the Jews believed throughout the old and new testament and in our present times. And unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians also fall into this trap. In the time of Christ, the Jews believed that following the Mosaic Law was the way to salvation. If they just did the things the law said to do and did not do what the law said not to do, then they were, in essence, saved.
However, Micah laid out what the Lord required of man. “With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah 6:5. Micah starts by asking the question, how shall I approach the Lord? How shall I come to Him to address my sin? Is it through sacrifice? Does the killing of many animals address my wrong doing? No, and he explains what the Lord does require. “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. He does not delight in sacrifices. What He desires of us is to act with justice in all we do. To be merciful to all and walk with humility with Him. When we look at these three things, we do not necessarily see actions but character. They are things we do because it is who we are. Looking at these three again, what God desires is for us to be just, merciful and humility. It is not the works of the law.
Now, we read in James the following. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24. It seems from this verse that works is part of what justifies us. However, this is made clearer in a previous verse. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. What this clarifies is that it is not works that matter but faith. However, true faith is proven by works. Therefore, faith is what Christ is looking for in us, however, if not in conjunction with works, do we have true faith? We are saved by faith, but our works shows our faith. Paul comes right out and states it like it is. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Nobody can be justified in the sight of God due to the works of the law. The reason for this is that no one has ever kept the law completely with no deviation. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. Therefore, we cannot be justified by the law; meaning our works. However, this does not mean we are without hope. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7. We could not pay the penalty, but Jesus could, through His perfect life. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. He gave His life for us because He loved us.
In closing, does this mean we do not need to keep His commandments because He paid the price for us? Absolutely not. For by keeping them we prove our love for Him. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. The idea is that salvation is based on the work of Christ, and we accept this work because we love Him and desire to give our everything to Him. “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21. Our salvation is based on Christ’s work on the cross, and not by our works. But our works show the love we have for Christ and our acceptance of that work. He loves us and pays the penalty, thus we should love Him because He did what we could not do. What a loving God we serve.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.