By Faith Alone: Boasting Excluded, Gentiles Included, the Law Upheld (Romans Sermon 19 of 120)
May 28, 2000 | Andrew Davis
Faith, The Law of God
I. By Faith Alone
Luther’s translation & the Reformation slogan “sola fide”
A few moments ago, we sang the wonderful Protestant Reformation hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," written by Martin Luther, the German reformer. And our God is a mighty fortress, and from that mighty fortress, has come a great salvation. And the bull work of the Reformation, the doctrine that Luther and the other reformers taught, rested on three great pillars: By faith alone, by grace alone, by Scripture alone, those three. By faith alone, we are justified. We stand right before God, because of our faith alone, apart from our works. And our salvation, in its entirety, comes to us by grace alone, as a gift from God. And the authority, the right we have to say these kinds of things, comes from Scripture alone. Those three pillars.
Now, I have a goal this morning... Actually, two goals. And my goal is that you may know the greatness of your salvation. And specifically, that you may know how humbling your salvation is to you personally, in that all boasting is excluded. And secondly, that you may know what kind of security comes to you, because it is excluded, that there's not a thread of your own self-effort, that's woven into the garment which will cover you on Judgment Day. And therefore, you don't have to be on the treadmill of good works, day after day, trying to work it out, and earn your salvation, trying to just do enough good works to cover your sin. You're free. If the Son will make you free, you'll be truly free, free from that. "My yoke is easy," said Jesus, "And my burden is light." That's my desire: Humility and security for you. For both of these come out of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, apart from works.
Listen to Romans 3:27-31, "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. 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."
Now, it's amazing how much turns on proper translation of Scripture. None of us speaks Greek, and Hebrew, and Aramaic, so we rely on translators, don't we? You have various translations in front of you. I may be wrong, there may be a Greek scholar in our midst, who looked down to the Greek text when I was just reading, but most of us don't have access to that, and so we rely on translations. For most of the history of the Roman Catholic Church, the Scripture was the Latin Vulgate, and it was a translation. It was a Latin translation. And it's amazing how much can turn on a proper, or, perhaps, improper translation. Because back in the Middle Ages, when somebody like Martin Luther felt convicted of their sin, felt guilty before God, they would go to a priest and the priest would tell them what to do. And the priest, going back, himself, to the Scripture, looked to a specific Scripture, Matthew 4:17, in particular, in which Jesus began His preaching ministry, and said, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This is very important. The beginning of Jesus' preaching ministry: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
The problem was with the translation. The translation literally said, "Do penance, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Is there a difference between "repent" and "do penance"? Well, there was in the Catholic system, because what that meant is, you needed to get busy. If you felt guilty, if you felt that God disapproved of you, if you felt evil, and sinful, and unclean before God, and you were afraid, and in fear of your mortal soul, you needed to get busy. You needed to start praying. You needed to go on a pilgrimage. You needed to start giving more of your money to the church. You needed to get busy. And Martin Luther was on that treadmill, working on it, working on it, working on it, but he couldn't get rid of the guilt, until he started studying, and realized the New Testament was written, not in Latin, but in Greek. And the Greek actually said, "Change your mind. Change your thinking. Repent."
And he wrote to his father confessor, and he said, "I think it's much safer to understand the change of mind and heart in the Greek, rather than the action and the doing of the Latin." And that began the Reformation, the understanding of, "By faith alone." Now, Luther made some mistakes in this life, and he made a mistake right here in this passage. For when he came to Verse 28 and translated it into the German, he said... I'll translate it into the English... It says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith alone, apart from observing the law." What do you notice, as you look down at the Bible? The word 'alone' isn't there, but Luther put it in there. Now, he was right doctrinally, but wrong procedurally. You should never mess with the Word of God. Don't even add a single word, even if it's right. If it's not in the original, don't put it in there. But he was right, for we are justified by faith alone, apart from works.
Now, where did he get that 'alone' that he put in there? Where did it come from? Well, it comes from this text, verse 28, and also Romans 4:5, "However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God, who justifies the wicked, his faith will be credited to him as righteousness." It's a right doctrine, "By faith alone," and he wanted to teach it, and it was the foundation of his doctrine.
Now, let's get our bearings, as we try to understand where we are. This passage that we're looking at this morning, is a transitional paragraph from the great doctrinal things we've been talking about recently, on into chapter 4. Now, as you remember, Romans 1, 2, and 3, are written to convince us of our need for a Savior, to convince us that we need salvation. Do we naturally need that kind of convincing? Well, of course, we do. We think we're just fine. We think we're acceptable before God, and so we need to be convicted of our sin. And so God's Word does precisely that.
And so, in Romans chapter 1, he talks about Gentiles who exchanged the glory of God for an idol, something they make with their own hands. They do not give thanks to God. They don't glorify Him as God, though evidence of His existence is around them every day. And so they make idols. They exchange the glory of God. They take the sun out of the center of the solar system, and moved it away, and put a planet, something that was meant to go around that sun, back in the center, and everything flew apart. That was the Gentiles.
Then in chapter 2, he takes on the Jews, who did the same thing. They exchanged the glory of God for something else. And they demonstrated it, by the fact that they did not obey the law. They dishonored God by disobeying the law. And so Paul sums it all up in Romans 3, when he says, "All of us, Jews and Gentiles alike, have sinned and lack the glory of God." We don't have the glory of God; we lack it, and so we need a Savior.
The last three sermons, we talked about the cross of Jesus Christ, and how it provides an answer to the great problems that we saw. For in Romans chapter 3, it says, "There is no one righteous. No, not one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away. They have, together, become worthless. There is no one who does good. No, not one." That's all of us. We all need a Savior. And so, what I call the glowing center of the Gospel, Romans 3:21-26, we see erected the cross of Jesus Christ, and how it answers our deepest needs.
We took three weeks to look at it. We had justification. That, God, by the cross, by the blood of Jesus, declares us righteous, free forever from the guilt of our sin. He cancels that written code against us. He cancels our sin, and so we're free. We're guiltless before God, by faith in the cross of Jesus Christ.
And then the second sermon, the second week, we talked about propitiation. The way that Jesus had absorbed the wrath of God, as our substitute. He drank the cup of our wrath. Remember, that God is a passionate being and He loves passionately, but He also is passionately against evil. He's angry about it and creates wrath. And so we who are sinners, are under the wrath of God naturally. Jesus drank the cup of our wrath to the bottom. Propitiation. He's our substitute, a sacrifice that takes away the wrath of God.
And then, in the most recent sermon we talked about demonstration, how God demonstrated His justice in Christ. How can it be that any of us sinners... If you really know yourself, you know yourself to be a sinner... That we have any claim to go to that beautiful, that pristine place called Heaven? Are you hoping to go there when you die? Do you know what kind of place that is? It's a kind of place where the seraphs are crying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, Almighty." It's a holy place, a righteous place. And we are not holy, neither are we righteous. How could it be just to allow people like us into Heaven? We declared that last time: God demonstrated justice in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. By faith in Him, it is just for us to be saved.
Now, our access to this, as we've been saying, is by faith. We already saw it very clearly in verse 21, "But now, a righteousness for God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ." By faith, we are justified. And He is our propitiation by faith. And He is a demonstration for those who are justified by faith. It's faith. That's the connection here.
Now, in all of chapter 4, he's going to talk about faith. What kind of faith is it that saves? It's Abraham's faith. Abraham's faith. And so we have a transitional paragraph here from chapter 3, the cross of Jesus Christ, on into Abraham's faith. Faith will be contrasted here, in our passage with works of the law. And then, in 4:1-8 with Abraham and David, and their works. Just works in general at that point, not works of the law. And then faith is contrasted with circumcision in 4:9-12. And then faith is contrasted with law in general, verses 13-16. And then faith is contrasted with sight or an earthly existence in verses 17-22. And that's where we are heading. This is the transition between those two.
And so we can see characteristics of this great salvation. We already see that there's a display and a demonstration of the love of God, the love of God, and Jesus Christ dead on the cross for us. Now, we'll get more on that theme in Romans 5:8, where "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we're still sinners, Christ died for us." We saw, as we talked about the justice of God last week, but now, there's three other aspects, I think will give a more complete picture of this great salvation. We're going to see them this morning.
First of all, this great salvation excludes all boasting. Justification by faith alone excludes all boasting. Secondly, it includes Gentiles and Jews alike. And third, it establishes the law.
II. Faith Alone Excludes Boasting
Let's look at the first of these three: Faith alone excludes boasting. Look at verses 27-28, "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." Can I say to you, in all love, that America is a boastful nation? We are a nation of boasters and it's getting worse. Have you ever watched an athletic contest of pro sports, without some evidence of boasting or self-promotion? Every time an athlete runs across the touchdown, the goal line, there's some kind of self-gratifying display. Every time a basketball player makes a basket, we're supposed to honor and worship him for what he's done. He's just doing his job.
I remember hearing a story about a football coach. It was Paul Brown, a great coach, and Bob Trumpy was a rookie, and he crossed the line, and started to celebrate, and spike the ball, and all kinds of things. And Paul Brown came over to him, and said, "Mr Trumpy, if you ever cross the touchdown line again in this league, please act as though you've been there before."
I don't know what Paul Brown would think of the kind of displays and boasting arrogance that we see these days, but it's everywhere, self-worshipping athletes. And afterwards, they'll tell you about it, won't they? They'll tell you all the things they did. They'll boast on themselves. It's ugly. Self-promotion. Also talk show hosts, they feed on arrogance and boastfulness, don't they? The quick put-down, the one-liner, and then they flick the switch, and the caller's cut off. We see it in bumper stickers as well: "I may be slow, but I'm ahead of you." Have you seen that one?
Well, that's a reverse kind of boasting, but at least some humility in it. But I mean, you read most of these bumper stickers, our pride is at the root. Boasting is at the root. And then self-promoting politicians, you can't get elected unless you promote yourself these days. It's not enough for you to just talk about what your plans are, and have your record speak for yourself, you've got to promote yourself, and you've got to have an ad agency that'll come and do it. We are a boastful nation and boasting is woven into who we are.
Now, Paul has a tremendous concern about boasting. He's concerned about it. He actually spoke of the concept over 55 times. I counted 55. That's a big issue for Paul. The root idea of boasting is to glory in something, or to put your reliance on something, to glory in it, to talk about it, to speak words of praise. Now, there is some boasting in Scripture that is good. First Corinthians 1:31, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." You know what that points out to me? We were created to boast. I actually think we were. We've got a mechanism within us to honor, and to be amazed at something, and to marvel, and to speak words of praise. We're made that way, aren't we? But it's not meant to be self-focused. It's meant to be focused on God and on His glory, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." Or how about this one? Galatians 6:14, Paul says, "May I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." "I will boast about the cross," he says, "And what it's done in my life."
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talked there about his thorn in the flesh, some kind of physical problem he was having, and God said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And, therefore, Paul says, "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses. I will boast about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." God's grace moves out when we acknowledge weakness, but when we are boastful, full of ourselves, there is no grace. It does not come. It comes to those who are poor in spirit, spiritual beggars. There are things to boast in, but not in ourselves.
Now, Paul knew all about boasting, in reference to himself. He was the ultimate spiritual ladder climber. He was a careerist. He was putting a career together and his boasting fueled the whole thing. He was able to say, "I was trained under Gamaliel. I was getting the best Jewish training there was, and as I moved on up the ladder, I could rightly say that there was no one who did Judaism as well as I did." Well, that's boasting. Paul knew all about that. We get a little sample of it in Philippians 3:4-6, "If anyone else thinks he has reasons for boasting in the flesh, I have more. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. In regard to the law, a Pharisee. As for zeal, persecuting the church. As for legalistic righteousness, faultless." That's quite a resume, Paul. "Yes, and I'll tell you more, if you've got time." He's boasting, well, it's self-promotion. And Paul says, "I came to count that rubbish. It's nothing. Because I can't have that boasting and have Jesus too. Can't have it both. I want Jesus, and so I turn away from myself. I turn away from my boasting and I turn to Jesus."
Now, why does God hate boasting? Well, let's understand the root of our problem. Our problem is sin. Well, what's the root of sin? Where does it come from? I told you, it's exchanging the glory of God for something else. What is the most popular thing that's put in God's place? As we remove the glory of God from the center of our life, what do we tend to put in its place? Is it not self? Isn't that what we put in its place? And isn't pride a form of self-worship, a form of idolatry? And that tends to be the root of all evil, the root of all sin. I think that was Satan's sin. I think that's where it all started. If you look at Ezekiel 28:17, it speaks there, I believe of Satan, and says, "Of him, your heart became proud, on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom, because of your splendor." Now, God has taken His splendor, and His glory, and moved it out throughout creation. And He had given a good measure to Satan, and Satan was a glorious being, and Satan got his eyes off of God, whose glory far outstrips any glory you find anywhere else. He got his eyes off, and started looking at himself, and said, "Hey, what about me? I'm pretty good over here. I'm pretty glorious too," and his heart became proud. He became self-focused and he corrupted his wisdom, because of his own splendor.
We get another indication of this in 1 Timothy 3:6. Speaking of elders, requirement for elders, it says, "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited, and fall under the same judgment as the devil." So there in 1 Timothy 3:6, the judgment of the devil comes from his conceit, his pride, his self-worship. And I think that's where it came, and then came into the human race through our own sin as well. Eve saw that the fruit was good for making her wise, and for improving her own situation. It was a self-focus, ultimately, that corrupted the whole human race. Isaiah 2:10 and following talks about this, the idolatry of our pride, "The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled. The Lord alone will be exalted in that day and the idols will totally disappear."
Now, do you understand where we're at now? In order for us to be saved, we must be saved in such a way that there is no boasting left for us. Do you see that? Because if there's still something in which we can boast about ourselves, we have not been saved from sin. If there's anything in your salvation you can boast about, in reference to yourself, "Well, at least, I did this and the other person didn't do that," if there's anything like that, then you've not been saved. The salvation must be away from self to God, so that God alone gets the glory. He speaks about the constitution of the Corinthian church, who the people were, he said, "Look at yourselves. Not many were wise, or powerful, or noble, or well-educated. But God chose the lowly things of the world, and the despised things, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Jesus." That's powerful. There's nothing to boast about. It's because of Him that you are in Jesus. He's left us no room for boasting.
Now, here in this text, he tells us that boasting is excluded. Excluded how? Not by works of the law. No, not that way. But by faith alone is boasting excluded. Faith alone excludes boasting. If you are justified by works, don't you have a ground for boasting? Won't you say, "Well, I did this and I did that. I did these good deeds. I gave this money to this charity. I helped this poor person. I prayed regularly. I fasted two times a week." You can boast about yourself. Law leads to that, and therefore, law leads to condemnation and to death. It does not lead to freedom from pride and boasting.
But faith alone does, because faith is nothing to boast about. There's nothing to boast about, regarding faith. I look on faith as essentially passive, that we look to God and say, "Give, oh, Lord, what you have to give to me, by the Word of your promise. Give it to me, God. I'm a spiritual beggar. Just give to me what you have promised." It's a conduit, a pipe, in which the blessings of God come to us, and it itself, that very pipe of faith, is established as a gift of God's grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." So we're freed from boasting, by faith alone, if we understand faith properly.
Luther put it this way, "Faith is not a work. The accomplishment of the fact that you believe, it's not a work." Can anyone be found so foolish, as to regard a promise he has received or an inheritance he has been given, as a good work on his part? "What a good person I am. I just got a million dollars from my aunt, who died." No, it glorifies the aunt who gave the money, not the person who received it as a gift. And faith is that way. There's no glory and no boasting in faith. It's just a conduit established from Heaven to Earth, that we may receive His blessings. Faith alone excludes boasting.
III. Faith Alone Includes Jews and Gentiles
Secondly, faith alone includes Jews and Gentiles. Verse 29-30, "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." Justification by law excludes Gentiles. And since most of us are Gentiles, that means we would have no business being here today, to worship God. We were left out. We were excluded under the Old Covenant. Circumcision did that. The dietary laws, the fact that you could only eat certain things, and not other things, the fact of worship rules, and that you couldn't come into the Holy of Holies, the fact that you couldn't even come into the place where the Jews could come, there were walls and boundaries set up that excluded us. There was a dividing wall between us and the Jews, and therefore, there was no salvation available for us in the law.
Now, John Piper points out that the Old Testament, the old covenant was basically a come and see religion. Now, stop and think about that. There was a temple set up, wasn't there? In Jerusalem. Three times a year, all the Jews had to come and worship at that temple. Furthermore, similar to the days of King Solomon, you remember? The queen of the south came from the ends of the earth to come and see Solomon's wisdom, to come and see the effect of Solomon's reign. And when she did, she praised the God of Israel, who had given such a wise king to Israel. It's a come and see religion. There were things set up that you could come and observe. But the new covenant, the New Testament is a go and tell religion, isn't it? It's go and tell. It's got to be portable. The religion has to be portable.
The recent convert who talked to us earlier, came to faith in Christ. If he were to go back to his home, or go to anywhere with the Gospel of the Old Covenant, it's no Gospel at all, for the Gentiles are excluded. They must become Jews. They must be circumcised. Can you imagine going to, let's say, a Stone Age tribe in Irian Jaya with the Gospel? And the circumcision battle had been lost in Acts 15… and so you do need to become a Jew, in order to be saved? And so through translators, you begin to explain about Jesus Christ, and all those things, and then you get around to the regulations. And you say to this tribesman, the chieftain, "Explain all these regulations." And he says, "You want me to do what?" "Is that Gospel portable? Is that for the Gentiles too? And I have to travel three times a year to Jerusalem, and I have to not eat this, and I have to do that? No, thank you."
No. In the New Covenant there is freedom. There's freedom. Freedom from the law, freedom from its regulations. They had a purpose, but that purpose is gone. Our faith is a portable faith. It's a worldwide faith that travels around the world. God is the God of the Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who justifies the circumcised by faith, uncircumcised by the same faith. It's just a simple trust and faith in the Gospel messages you hear. Praise God to them, that that battle was won.
Now, the Jews knew that there was only one God. "Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." And they knew that the religion of the Gentiles, with paganism, polytheism, different gods... A different hill had its own God. Every river and stream had its own God. Every country had a God... They knew that that was all falsehood. But what they forgot, is that the same God who had made them, also made the Gentiles, and desired their salvation as well. God is the God of the entire world, and so He has set up a Gospel message, which is true for everybody, and we all hear it.
Now, look around today. As you look around today, in America, especially, I see a rising paganism, polytheism growing more and more. There's my God, and then there's your God. And you have your way to your God, and I have my way to my God. Isn't this polytheism? Isn't there only one God? And hasn't He spoken through one way of salvation, Jesus Christ? We have to be very careful about this, as Baptists, as Christians. You remember, recently, the International Mission Board published some prayer guides. And the guides urged us to pray for Hindus, that they come to faith in Christ, that they convert, that we pray for Jews, that they come to faith in Christ, that they convert, for Buddhists. This is so offensive these days. And why? Because we don't believe this anymore, that there is only one God and only one way to God. And the Scripture testifies that it's true.
You know Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India? You know what he said? He said, "I am a Hindu. I am a Muslim. I am a Buddhist. I am a Christian." Pure syncretism. It doesn't make any sense. He ejected, the moment he said, "I'm a Hindu. I'm a Muslim." That was it right there. Hindus worship many, many Gods. Islam, which I believe is a Christian cult that twisted the true Gospel, because it came 600 years after the Gospel was preached, believes in only one God. It's impossible to be both. But we've put our minds aside and we say, "Well, everyone's way to God is equally valid. There is one mountain, and a glorious view at the top of that mountain, and there are many paths up that one mountain. Just choose whatever path you want, and the view is as glorious at the top for everybody." That is not the Christian Gospel and it is not true. For Peter said, "Salvation is found in no one else. For there is no other name under Heaven, given to men, by which we must be saved, than Jesus Christ."
This gospel of justification by faith alone is for the whole world. It's for everybody. It's not just for one category of people. And it travels well. It travels lightly. Simply believe, turn away from your own works, and trust in what Jesus has done for you. People listening to this Gospel message say, "Well, you're destroying the law. If that's all it is, 'Just believe,' then you can live anyway you want." People have always said that about the true Gospel.
VI. Faith Alone Establishes the Law
And so our third point is, that faith alone establishes law. Paul says, "Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all, rather we uphold or establish the law."
Now, it seems to me, as you read through, it may seem that Paul is constantly attacking the law. He's constantly saying, "You don't need the law. The law is useless. The law is worthless." Nothing could be further from the truth. What he does say, is that the justification, us standing before God, free of our sins, does not come that way.
The other day, I was trying to explain this point to my children, and I said, "I want you to understand how the law works." An idea came to me, and we went out to our basketball court, and I had in my hand a basketball and a football. And I said, "I'm going to give you a law. I'm going to give you a rule. You need to start up here, and if you want to make progress toward the basket, you have to take the ball, and bounce it on the ground repeatedly, and that way, you can move your feet. It's called dribbling." That's a law, isn't it? Isn't it a rule? And then I handed the football to my son, and I said, "Go ahead." And so he began to dribble the... Have you ever tried to dribble a football? What happens when you dribble a football? Well, you may get away with one dribble, if you hit right on the center, right in the middle, the fat part, right in the center. But anywhere else, it's going to jump away from you. Is there something wrong? Is there something wrong with the rule? No, there's something wrong with the ball. There's nothing wrong with the rule, but it's not going to lead to righteousness and it's not going to lead to straight dribbling.
Jesus Christ is the only perfectly round person that's ever lived. He upheld the law perfectly. Moment by moment, the bounce was true. Moment by moment, He obeyed everything God called Him to do. And so our Gospel, the Christian Gospel, is the only message on Earth that truly upholds the law of God, because the rest of us were all sinners. We're all crooked like that football and we cannot obey that law, can we? No justification comes to us that way. Jesus upheld the law and He did it moment by moment, through perfect submission to the will of His Father. The Lord Jesus Christ was the only perfect man that ever lived, and He was born of a virgin, born under the law, in order that he might save those who are under the law. And He lived under the law, moment by moment.
And furthermore, He died under the law, didn't He? Wasn't it the law that put Him to death? Wasn't it God's holy law that put Jesus to death, because we had transgressed His law, and He absorbed the righteous requirements of that law, the penalty, by dying on a cross? Jesus upheld the law and He said, "Do not think that I've come to abolish the law. I've not come to abolish it, but to fulfill it." And He did fulfill it, perfectly, by His death on the cross. But here's the beauty of it, here's the beauty of it. Jesus then works within a believer to fulfill the law inside us. That's why Paul says, "Not at all, rather, we uphold the law." He's going to explain this more fully in Romans 6, 7, and 8, but I can't wait to get there. I want to tell you what God is going to do in you, if you're a believer in Christ. He's going to take you and transform you from a football to a basketball. He's going to change you little by little, so that your bounce will be truer and truer, as you walk with Jesus Christ.
Can God do that kind of thing in you? Can He transform you from within, so that you fulfill and obey the perfect law? Not that ceremonial law, that excluded Gentiles, about circumcision, and eating, and all that, but the true law. "Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." And then the second law, which is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Are we to fulfill that law? Yeah, it's going to come later in Romans 13. Paul says it here, "He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law." The commandments, "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet, whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law."
He will fulfill the law in us, for He says" in Romans 8:1-4, That Jesus came and died on the cross to fulfill the requirements of the law, in order that... Listen to this, "In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit." When the Spirit comes in you, little by little, He enables you and transforms you, so that you can obey the law. That's called sanctification, and little by little, He works within you.
We sang, earlier, the wonderful hymn by Charles Wesley, and in one of those lines, it says, "He breaks the power of canceled sin. He sets the prisoner free." Do you realize what kind of theology is wrapped up in that sentence? "He breaks the power of canceled sin." When did He cancel your sin? When you came to faith in Christ. When you were justified, your sin was canceled, wiped away. But there's still power of sin, isn't there, in your life? You feel it, don't you? You feel the pull of sin. "He breaks the power of canceled sin, sets the prisoner free." Little by little, you're transformed to be more and more perfect, in the image of your Creator. Our Gospel upholds the law and does it within us, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
V. Summary and Application
What are we seeing today? First of all, that this paragraph is a transition from the glorious Gospel, the cross of Jesus Christ, which declares our justification, propitiation, demonstration of God's justice, all of it by faith alone, by faith alone. Chapter 4, we're going to learn what that faith is. What kind of faith is it that justifies? And this explains three aspects of the Gospel. Faith alone excludes boasting. Boasting's gone forever. You don't boast about your works. You don't boast about your faith. You don't boast about anything, because it's all a gift. Faith alone includes Gentiles and Jews together. And thirdly, faith alone upholds the law.
Now, what kind of application can we take from this? Well, I'll go back to the beginning of my sermon. I want you to have two things from your salvation, two things from the Gospel. I want you to feed at them; they're good for you. Those two things are humility and security. Humility, in that there is nothing that you have contributed to your salvation, to your justification, but the sin which required it. That's what we contributed, our sin. Humility, our works mean nothing toward our justification, but however humbling that is... And it's good to be humbled before God... However humbling that is, we have total security in His love, for He has determined to save us in Christ and He will. And if you are a child of God today, someday, you're going to see Him in Heaven. And you have security, not because you're holding onto Him so tightly, with your little hands of faith, but because He is saving you, and working in you, giving you total security before Him.
I guess I would suggest to you that you learn how to boast. Take boasting lessons from Paul, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." "May I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Don't care anymore about those things. And I'll boast gladly in my weaknesses, for when I'm weak, then I'm strong." Learn how to boast. Boast in those things. Second of all, be exclusively inclusive. What do I mean by that? First of all, let's reject polytheism. There's only one God. There's not many ways to God. But that one God has a salvation plan for the whole world. No one is forgotten. There's no people, or tribe, or language, or nation, that will not be represented at that great throne.
When you hear your friends saying, "Well, I think there's many ways to God, and it's just as long as you follow your own way," speak up. Tell him the truth, Jesus Christ and Him alone is the way to salvation. Salvation is found in no one else, but there's no other name under Heaven, given to men, by which we must be saved. And then, finally, uphold the law spiritually. I told you how the Gospel upholds the law. Is it going on in your life? Do you see the transformation from within? Do you see yourself loving the law more and more, wanting to do what pleases God? Wanting to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Wanting to love your neighbors yourself? Grieving over it, if God convicts you, that you have not been loving? Then the Spirit is within you, doing a transforming work. So uphold the law spiritually and walk according to it. Let's close in prayer.