Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
I don’t know if you picked up on it or not, but when you read over the passage, “faith” is mentioned five times in these five verses. It’s really hard to miss the emphasis on faith. For Paul, faith in God was of central importance. Martin Luther picked up on Paul’s emphasis on faith as well. When he translated verse 28, he added the word “alone.” Though not in the Greek, it accurately reflects the meaning of the passage; it’s where we get the term faith alone.
So what is meant by this theme of faith? Faith can be summarized as active trust and belief displayed through obedience. Faith is typically understood as involving the whole self—mind, heart, and body—in a relationship with God that expresses trust and a grateful response to His loving initiative.
The term “faith” is not to be used as mere intellectual acceptance of certain truths without trust in Christ as Savior. This intellectual acceptance is not faith at all, no a genuine faith permeates every aspect of a person’s being. It is more than just head knowledge, it transforms us into people who do good works. To use Martin Luther’s words, people are justified (declared righteous before God) by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Genuine faith will produce good deeds, but only faith in Christ saves.
It is God Himself that has acted in Christ to bring about the salvation of sinners. As we’ve already made clear, salvation cannot be merited or earned; it must be received as a gift of grace. We, fallen humanity, cannot merit salvation; we’re incapable of living up to the law. There are no amount of works we can do to merit God’s favor. All we are left to do is trust God or, as Paul puts it, have faith in God (or in Christ).
Faith is the only way to experience God’s justification. Remember that justification is God declaring you and I (who were in the wrong) to be right or righteous in His sight. As if that’s not amazing enough, He is just in doing this because Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins and to give us His own righteousness. But wait, it gets even better! We receive this justification by faith and by grace when we trust Christ.
This is the truth of the gospel. This is why it is important to remember that faith is not the cause of our justification, but the means of our justification. The cause is God’s grace and mercy. This is the gospel that Paul preached. Indeed, what Good News for a lost world!
Think about what it means to be freely justified by Christ’s finished work on the cross. Think about the freedom from sin and death that has been given to you.
How different would your life be without Christ? I shudder to think of where I’d be today without Him.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible.