In the book of Romans, Paul talks at length about the righteousness that only comes by faith in Christ. He takes us now to the next truth that we must understand.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
Paul asks us some important questions here. They need to be answered correctly if you’re going to progress in your walk with God. Fortunately, he gives us the answers so we don’t have to guess.
In this whole discussion of righteousness, he now asks where boasting fits in. It’s obvious why he does this. Paul was a Pharisee. The entire lifestyle of that sect revolved around boasting.
Many of the Pharisees made sure that they were very conspicuous during their times of prayer (Mark 12:40). On days that they fasted, they looked like they could barely survive (Matthew 6:16). They always kept the boxes of Scriptures they memorized (phylacteries) on their person to show how much they knew (Matthew 23:5).
Religion is a great supporter of boasting. We want to compare ourselves with others. We want to prove to ourselves that we’re doing better than most. As if that gives us any points with God. (It doesn’t!)
But, the most interesting thing that I found was in the word, boasting itself. It turns out that the Greek word used actually comes from a word that contains the word, prayer. This is exactly where many of us get into trouble.
A good example of this is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector found in Luke 18:9-14. This Pharisee came before God and started out by listing all the “spiritual” things he had done.
This idea brings frustration into our Christian walk. We sometimes get the wrong impression that when we’re living right (i.e. – reading our Bible, praying, attending church) there’s a better chance that God’s going to hear and answer our prayers.
That’s actually a form of boasting. Thinking that my good works will somehow impress God enough to make Him answer my prayer. That’s absolutely not the case.
In actuality it doesn’t matter how religious I am. None of my good works will improve my standing with the Father. The key is that by faith, God sees me in Christ. That’s what truly matters.
Paul goes on to confirm that whether you’re religious or not, it’s that same faith that makes us all acceptable to God.
Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
That’s something the think about. It may not sound logical, but it’s the truth of our righteousness in Christ. If I try and put myself under the law, I’ll never be justified before God. If, on the other hand, I put my faith totally in Christ, I’m upholding the law of God in His eyes.
Praise God for His wonderful work!
Question: How have you seen the law of faith at work in your life?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi