Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified…For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2: 16, 19-20
Perfection. Take a look at the famous people on the cover of the magazines in the check out line and you’ll not see perfection, but the wonders of airbrushing in Photoshop. I’ve been asked to do the same for video and photo projects over the years. Computers can make quite a difference. Remove a blemish here – fade a frown line there, but still, the truth remains. Perfection is out of reach.
The same is true when we think of our spiritual lives. There is no amount of work we can do to smooth out our failures. None of us is righteous. Not one.
That’s the point Paul makes in the passage above. Works leads to death. Faith in Christ leads to justification before God. Here’s a definition of justification that may help:
“To justify” in the Bible means… to declare… of a man on trial, that he is not liable to any penalty, but is entitled to all the privileges due to those who have kept the law. Justifying is the act of a judge pronouncing the opposite sentence to condemnation – that of acquittal and legal immunity” (J.I. Packer, God’s Words).
When we realize that there is no way to justify ourselves, then we are able to begin to understand what it means to “live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”