Righteousness by Faith, Not Works
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:21-24
Last week I wrote about a visit I had from some Jehovah Witnesses. They wanted to talk about happiness. Something else about that conversation stuck out to me.
They started talking about whether people are happy, today. Then they pointed to some Bible passages to show that following God’s Law makes people happy. True, but I asked whether they thought focusing on following God’s Law was the key to happiness? They said it was. I said that I can sometimes find it rather frustrating, not because God’s Law isn’t good, but because I tend to fall short of following it so often. They seemed uncomfortable.
Next, they pointed me to a translation of Matthew 5:3 I hadn’t heard before. It said, “Blessed are those who know their spiritual need, for heaven is theirs.” They interpreted that to mean you are blessed when you look to the Bible for guidance. I told them I think it means blessed are those who know their spiritual need and that our spiritual need is Jesus! They seemed uncomfortable.
Yes, the Bible contains the Law of God and the Law of God is good. But if all we look to the Bible for is guidance and the Law, then we miss the most important part. No matter how much we want to or how much we try, we will never fully follow the Law of God, even as Christians. All have sinned. Our hope (and our happiness) rest not in the Law, but in the Gospel. The righteousness we need before God is not attained by following the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. It’s all grace, the undeserved, unearned favor of God. It’s a hard concept to accept. We love doing. We love having our 12 steps. But that’s not how it works…and thank God it’s not for we would all be lost!
We look to the Scriptures for our salvation and it is found in Jesus. By grace through faith His death and resurrection forgive us of all our failures to follow the Law and all our rebellions against the Law. We are also clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We are made right with God not by what we do, but what Christ has done. That makes me happy!