Thursday, June 16, 2022

Where Is Our Hope? (Galatians 2)

“… knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ …” (Gal. 2:16a).

We have learned during this week that God is holy, and man is sinful. What hope, then, is there for mankind? How can a sinful creature dwell in God’s holy presence? In Psalm 5 we discovered that the wicked cannot dwell in His presence: “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:4–5). Because all people are sinners, this psalm would indicate that no one can come into God’s presence. How, then, can sinful men overcome this predicament?

This question plagued Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation. He wrestled with this problem for years. He understood that God was holy and that he was sinful—a truth that drove him into utter despair. No matter how much Luther tried he could not make himself holy. No matter how often he would confess or how much penance he would perform, he could not cleanse himself from his sin. The minute he would leave the confessional he would remember another sin, or he would soon commit one.

Then one day as Luther was studying Romans 1, he came across verse 17, which reads, ‘For in it [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith to faith.” That one verse lifted Luther from the depths of despair and filled his heart with hope. He understood at last that the righteousness that enabled him to stand before God could not come from his own works but only through faith in Jesus Christ. Luther later said, “I realized for the first time that my own justification depends, not on my righteousness which will always fall short, but it rests solely and completely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ which I must hold on to by trusting faith.”

Sinful people can dwell with a holy God for eternity by the mediation of Jesus Christ. He is pure, sinless, and His righteousness is imputed to those who put their faith in Him. By His grace, God enables people to put their trust in His only Son, who purchased redemption for them and clothes them with robes of righteousness, crowning them with holiness that they might see God—for without holiness no man can see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

If someone asked you why people needed to be saved, how would you answer? Why is it necessary to be holy in order to dwell in the presence of God? What does it mean to have faith in Christ (see Heb. 11)? What does it mean to be justified (see Gal. 2–3)? Thank God for Christ in Whom you are made righteous.