2:15-21–Paul Explains Justification by Faith



         “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,”
         “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law:  for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

        Connect these verses together, and read with most of the oldest manuscripts “But” in the beginning of v. 16: “We (you and I, Peter) by nature (not by proselytism), Jews, and not sinners as (Jewish language termed the Gentiles) from among the Gentiles, YET (literally, ‘BUT’) knowing that … even we (resuming the ‘we’ of v. 15, 'we also,' as well as the Gentile sinners; casting away trust in the law), have believed,” etc.

“We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,”

       “We who are Jews by nature”
         Literally:  “We, Jews by nature,”

         We who belong to the Jewish nation-who have been born, bred, and educated Jews.  You and I.  Both Paul and Peter were Jews by birth. Paul states, or affirms, his position as a Jew.  He seems to agree with the Judaists that Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles.  But he goes on and points out that Jews were required to renounce trust in the Law to find their justification in Christ.
         It has long been a question whether this and the following verses are to be regarded as a part of the address of Paul to Peter, or the words of Paul as a part of the epistle to the Galatians. A great variety of opinion has prevailed in regard to this. Others, suppose that the address to Peter is continued to v. 21. Such seems to be the most obvious interpretation, as there is no break or change in the style, nor any vestige of a transfer of the argument to the Galatians.

         “not sinners of the Gentiles”
Literally:  “And not sinners of the nations.”

         “Sinners” here means those without the knowledge of God. The Greek word that is usually rendered as “sinners” most often signifies a heathen (pagan), merely meaning one who had no knowledge of the true God.  But among the nations or Gentiles many Jews sojourned; who in Scripture are known by the name of Hellenists, and these were distinguished from those who were termed sinners of the Gentiles-heathens, in our common sense of the word; while the others, though living among them, were worshippers of the true God, and addicted to no species of idolatry. 
        To the Jews, Gentile and sinner were often synonymous terms.  Therefore, the rebuke that Paul gave shows the folly of law keeping, how foolish it really and truly is.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law:  for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

        “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law”
         Literally:  “Knowing that a man is not justified by works of Law.”

         This is clear a cut and simple statement of Justification by Faith, Paul’s favorite theme.  The legalist has a real problem with this verse.  This verse will upset every legal system there is today.  To say that you must add anything to faith in Christ absolutely mutilates the gospel.  Or as Dr. M. R. DeHaan Sr. was wont to say, To add anything to grace is a disgrace  All I can say to that is, Amen and Amen, doctor!
          Justification is a declarative act of God’s whereby He declares the sinner to be free of sin and righteous–“Just-as-if-I-have-not-sinned.”  This declaration is based upon the sinner having by faith, received Christ as his own personal Savior and his sins being washed away by the precious blood of Christ. All who believe upon Jesus Christ as their one-and-only way to God (John 14:6) and accept Him as their own personal Savior, have their sins thus blotted out, being freely, as a divine gift, justified (that is, counted and declared just, or sinless) by the Grace of God.
          Being treated as if righteous; that is, being regarded and treated as if they had kept the law. Paul has shown that they could not be so regarded and treated by any merit of their own, or by personal obedience to the law. He affirms that if they were so treated, it must be by mere favor (unmerited favor–i.e.–GRACE) and as a matter not of right, but of GIFT. This is the  very essence of the gospel. And to show this, and the way in which it is done, is the main design of this epistle. The righteousness of God, by faith in Jesus Christ, is “upon all who believe,” who are all “justified freely by his grace.”

“Not justified by works of law.”–As the GROUND of justification.

         “The works of the law” are those which have the law for their object–which are wrought to fulfil the law.  The word, “the” is not in the original Greek text.  It should read, “not justified by works of law.”  This includes the Mosaic system, but it also includes any legal system.  This means, if you say that you must join a certain church, or that you must have a certain experience, or that you must be baptized to be saved, you are contradicting this verse. 
         Paul here embraces the whole legal system that is found in every religion.  This makes Christianity different from every religion on earth.  Every religion, or cult, instructs us to do something.  Christianity is different.  It tells us that we are justified by faith, that is, faith is an accomplished act–a fait accompli–and fact for you.  Every other religion says “do.”  Christianity says, “done!”  The great transaction has already been done, and we are asked to believe it and accept it by believing it.  Understanding this one important point:  Christianity is NOT a Religion:  au contrare–it is a way of life.
         The word “Law” here is used in its  legalistic sense. It denotes divine law looked upon as a purity legalistic system. It consists of statues.  If a person obeys the law, he secures divine approval; if he disobeys it he is subject to divine condemnation.  Thus, the divine approval is a matter of debt which God owes and pays to the person who obeys.  This is a salvation which the person merits, and which is given on the basis of works, and not of grace.

         “but by the faith of Jesus Christ”
         Literally:  “Through faith in Jesus Christ.” 

         The phrase, of Jesus Christ” would have been better rendered as in Jesus Christ”–faith in Jesus Christ, not the faith of Jesus Christ.  By believing on Jesus Christ.  Faith here refers to the acceptance of that which accredits itself as true, and a corresponding trust in the person concerning whom the facts are presented. 

         “even we have believed in Jesus Christ”
         Literally:   “We also believed into Jesus Christ.” 

         We who are therefore justified. The object of Paul here seems to be to show, that as they had believed in the Lord Jesus, and thus had been justified, there was no necessity of obeying the Mosaic Law with any view to justification. That had already been fully done without the deeds of the Law, and it was now unreasonable and unnecessary to insist on the observance of the Mosaic rites.
         Paul and Peter, though Jews, believed this. Why then should Peter act as if it were necessary for the Gentiles to observe the ceremonial law? This was inconsistent, and adapted to make an erroneous impression on others.

         “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified”
        Literally:  “Because all flesh will not be justified by works of law.”  

       Again the article “the” is not in the Greek text.  The phrase literally says, “works of law,”ANY law.  Paul is here asking that if a Jew had to leave the Law behind—that is, forsake it—in order to be Justified by Faith, then why should the Gentile be brought under the Law?
       That was the great argument at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:  “Should the Gentile be brought under the Law?”  The answer, guided by the Spirit of God, was that the Gentile was not under the Law for salvation, nor for his daily living.  Could the Gentile find justification under the Law, when the Jew had already proven that it was impossible?  The Jews had had the Law for almost 1500 years and had not been able to keep it.  Then why force the Gentile under that which had not saved even on Israelite?  Gentile believers were already Justified by GraceIt would have been ridiculous for the Gentile to turn from grace to the Law which had been  unable to justify the Jew.


       Justification is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. The main difference between pardon and justification respects the sinner contemplated in regard to his past conduct, and to God's future dealings with him.

  1. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offences. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. It is an act of remission on  the part of God. 
  2. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as a righteous man, or as if he had not sinned. The ground or reason of this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ; merit such that we can plead it as if it were our own. The rationale of it is, that the Lord Jesus has accomplished by his death the same happy effects in regard to the law and the government of God, which would be accomplished by the death of the sinner himself.

       In other words, nothing would be gained to the universe by the everlasting punishment of the offender himself, which will not be secured by his salvation on the ground of the death of the Lord Jesus. He has taken our place, and died in our stead; and He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own head if He had not interposed and now the great interests of justice will be as firmly secured if we are saved, as they would be if we were lost. The law has been fully obeyed by One who came to save us, and as much honor has been done to it by His obedience as could have been by our own; that is, it as much shows that the law is worthy of obedience, to have it perfectly obeyed by the Lord Jesus, as it would if it were obeyed by us. It as much shows that the law of a sovereign is worthy of obedience, to have it obeyed by an only son, and an heir to the crown, as it does to have it obeyed by His subjects. 
      He endured on the cross as intense agony as we can conceive it possible for a sinner ever to endure; and the dignity of the Person who suffered–THE INCARNATE GOD–is more than an equivalent for the more lengthened sorrows which the penalty of the law exacts in hell. mercy. The character of God is thus revealed. His mercy is shown. His determination to maintain his law is evinced. The truth is maintained; and yet he shows the fullness of his mercy, and the richness of his benevolence.


         “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of Sin?  God forbid.”
         “If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor”
         “For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God.”

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of Sin?  God forbid.”

         “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ,”
         Literally:  “But if seeking to be justified in Christ.” 

         The word “justified” is from a Greek word which means, “to declare a person right,” or “to make a person right.”  We are declared to be right by our faith in Jesus Christ.  It means that a sinner, who is guilty before God, who is under condemnation and judgment, is declared to be right with God on the basis of that sinner’s faith in the redemptive work of Christ.  It is not only forgiveness of sins, it is also the addition of the righteousness of Christ (imputed righteousness).  The sinner is declared by God to be righteous!  
         Peter and Paul were in complete agreement on the doctrine of justification by faith.  At the Jerusalem conference recorded in Acts 15 we find Peter saying, “Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:10-11).
         If, while we acknowledge that we must be justified by faith in Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, enjoining the necessity of observing the rites and ceremonies of the law, which never could and never can justify, and yet, by submitting to circumcision, we lay ourselves under the necessity of fulfilling the law, which is impossible, we thus constitute ourselves sinners; is, therefore, Christ the minister of sin?  Christ, who has taught us to renounce the law, and expect justification through his death?.  God forbid! that we should either act so, or think so.

         “we also are found sinners”
         Literally:  “We ourselves were found {to be} sinners.”

Verses 17-19 really show the true attitude of all justified people in relation to sin and Christ. 

  1. They are to renounce all legal, or legalistic, righteousness.
    There is no difference between Jew and Gentile when it comes to salvation and the Savior.  They are alike in being guilty before God.
  2. They look for justification only in Christ.
    They are pronounced by God to be just because they are in Christ.

Paul is saying to Peter, both of us came to Christ for justification, because the gospel revealed to us that we were sinners, though professing to keep the law of Moses. If it turns out that we are sinners, or if others discover by undoubted demonstration that we lead lives of sin; if they see us given up to a lawless life, and find us practicing all kinds of evil; if it shall be seen not only that we are not pardoned and made better by the gospel, but are actually made worse, and are freed from all moral restraint.

         “Is therefore Christ the minister of sin?”
         Literally:  {Is} Christ then a minister of sin?” 

         In renouncing the Law, the Jewish Christians reduced themselves to the level of sinners just like the Gentiles did, but this does not mean that Christ became a minister of sin, because that renunciation was carried out under His authority.
        Paul continues:  Is it to be traced to Him?  Did Christ make us Jews sinners?  Of course not! But when the knowledge of the gospel comes, they find that they are and have been sinners like the Gentiles. Christ only reveals to them their sinful state.  Is it a fair and legitimate conclusion that this is the tendency of the gospel? Is there some charge to be brought on Him, and on the plan of justification through Him, and a lax morality is prevailing because men are freed from the wholesome restraints of law? An illogical inference. We were sinners already in spite of being Jews. Christ simply revealed to us our condition of sinfulne

         “God forbid.”
          Literally: “Let this not be.”

The sense is, let not this by any means be even supposed.  It is not so. This is not the proper effect of the gospel of Christ, and of the doctrine of justification by faith. The system is not fitted to produce such a freedom from restraint; and if such a freedom exists, it is to be traced to something else than the gospel.

“If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor”

            “For if I build again the things which I destroyed”
            Literally:  “For what if I build again these things which I destroyed.” 

          Go back from Christ to Moses, and teach others to do the same. If I act like a Jew, and force the observance of the law on the Gentiles, which I have repeatedly asserted and proved to be abolished by the death of Christ, then I build up what I destroyed, and thus make myself a transgressor, by not observing the law in that way in which I appear to enjoin the observance of it upon others.
           Paul here uses the first person; but he evidently intends it as a general proposition, and means that if anyone, including Peter, does it he becomes a transgressor. The sense is, that if a man, having removed or destroyed that which was evil, again introduces it or establishes it, he does wrong, and is a transgressor of the law of God. The particular application here, as it seems to me, is to the subject of circumcision, and the other rites of the Mosaic law.
          They had been virtually abolished by the coming of the Redeemer, and by the doctrine of justification by faith. It had been seen that there was no necessity for their observance, and of that Peter and the others had been fully aware. Yet they were lending their influence again to establish them, or to “build” them up again. They complied with them, and they insisted on the necessity of their observance. Their conduct, therefore, was that of building up again that which had once been destroyed–destroyed by the ministry, and toils, and death of the Lord Jesus, and by the fair influence of his gospel. To rebuild that again, to re-establish those customs, was wrong, and now involved the guilt of a transgression of the law of God.

         “I make myself a transgressor.”
         Literally:  “I establish myself a trangressor.” 

What Paul is saying, “If I go back under Law, I make myself a transgressor.”  Here he is referring back to his rebuking of Peter.  “If I build again,” as Peter, by his actions, was proposing, the very things which I destroyed, I am proving myself a transgressor.”  Peter was showing by his actions that his former setting aside of the Law was a transgression.

Peter, by his shifts had contradicted himself helplessly as Paul shows by this conditioN.  
When he lived like a Gentile, he tore down the ceremonial law. When he lived like a Jew, he tore down salvation by grace.       

“For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God.”

         “For I through the Law am dead to the Law,”
         Literally:  “For through law I died to law.”

         THROUGH THE LAW: 
         Literally:  “Through law.”

         There has been a great variety of opinion. some commentators, suppose that he means the Christian religion; and that the meaning is, “By one law, or doctrine, I am dead to another;” i.e.,  the Christian doctrine has caused me to cast aside the Mosaic religion. Most, however, suppose that he here refers to the Law of Moses, and that the meaning is, that by contemplating the true character of the law of Moses itself; by considering its nature and design; by understanding the extent of its requisitions, he had become dead to it; that is, he had laid aside all expectations of being justified by it. This seems to be the correct interpretation.
        Paul had formerly expected to be justified by the law. He had endeavored to obey it. It had been the object of his life to comply with all its requisitions, in order to be saved by it, (Phil. 3:4-6). But all this while he had not fully understood its nature; and when he was made fully to feel and comprehend its spiritual requirements, then all his hopes of justification by it died, and he became dead to it. that the meaning is, that Paul had become dead to that as a ground or means of justification, lie acted as though it were not; or it ceased to have influence over him. A dead man is insensible to all around him. He hears nothing; sees nothing; and nothing affects him.
         When we are said to be dead to anything, the meaning is that it does not have an influence over us. Therefore, in that sense Paul was dead to the law of Moses. He ceased to observe it as a ground of justification. It had ceased to be the grand aim and purpose of his life, as it had been formerly, to obey it. He had higher purposes than that, and truly lived to Go

         “that I might live unto God.”
        Literally:  “that I might live to God”

         That I might be truly alive and might be found engaged in His service.  Paul was dead to the law, but not to everything.  He had not become literally inactive and insensible to all things, but he had become truly sensible to the commands and appeals of God, and had consecrated himself to His service.
         The Law itself has been consigned to death, and has been replaced by the Gospel of Christ. Paul is saying:  the law condemns to death, but I have embraced the Gospel that I might be saved from death, and live unto God.

Verse 20:

“I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

         “I am crucified with Christ: 
         Literally:  “I have been crucified with Christ.” 

         This verse states a present tense fact which is true of every believer.  We are NOT to seek to be crucified with Christ.  There are many people today who talk about wanting to live the “crucified” life.  That is not what Paul is talking about in this verse.  We are not to seek to be crucified with Christ.  We have already been crucified with Him.
        This was with Christ, or by Christ. It cannot mean literally that Paul was put to death with Him, for that is not true; but it means that the effect of the death of Christ on the cross was to make him dead to these things, in like manner as He, when He died, became insensible to the things of this busy world.
         In the previous verse, Paul had said that he was dead. In this verse he states what he meant by it, and shows that he did not wish to be understood as saying that he was inactive, or that he was literally insensible to the appeals made to him by other beings and objects. In respect to one thing he was dead; to all that was truly great and noble he was alive. To understand the remarkable phrase, “I am crucified with Christ,” we may remark,
1.      That this was the way in which Christ was put to death. He suffered on a cross, and thus became literally dead.
2.       In a sense similar to this, Paul became dead to the Law, to the world, and to sin. The Redeemer, by His death of the cross, became insensible to all surrounding objects, as the dead always are. He ceased to see and hear, and   was as  though they were not. He was laid in the cold grave, and they did not affect or influence him. So Paul says that he became insensible to the law as a means of justification; to the world; to ambition and the love of money; to the pride and pomp of life; and to the dominion of evil and hateful passions. They lost their power over him; they ceased to influence him.

         “nevertheless I live.”
         Literally:  “I live.”

          This expression is added, as in v. 19, to prevent the possibility of any mistake. Although Paul had said he was crucified with Christ, he did not want it to be understood that he felt himself to be dead. He was not inactive; neither was he insensitive to the appeals which are made from God, as the dead are.  He was still actively employed, and the more so from the fact that he was crucified with Christ.
         The purpose of all such expressions as this is to show that it was not the purpose of the gospel to make men inactive, or to annihilate their energies; nor was it to cause men to do nothing. The gospel is not to paralyze the powers or men, nor is it to stifle their own efforts. Paul therefore says, “I am not dead. I am truly alive; and I live a better life than I did before.” Paul was as active after conversion as he was before.

         Before, Paul had been engaged in persecution; now however, he devoted his great talents with the same untiring energy, and zeal, to the cause of the great Redeemer. Indeed, the whole narrative would lead us to suppose that he was even more active and zealous after his conversion than he was before.
        The effect of salvation is NOT to make one dead in regard to the putting forth of the energies of the soul. True salvation and/or faith never made even one lazy man; it has converted many a man of indolence, and effeminacy, and self-indulgence, to a man actively engaged in doing good. If a professor of religion is less active in the service of God than he was in the service of the world–less laborious, and zealous, and ardent than he was before his supposed conversion–he ought to set it down as full proof that he is in fact an utter stranger to the true gospel.   I have seen true TULIP Calvinism do this to men; that is, quench their evangelistic fervor and endevors.

         “yet not I”
        Literally:  “No longer I.”

        This too is designed to prevent any misunderstanding, and should it be inferred that what Paul meant to say it was against his own energy or powers, he guards against, and says it was not at all from himself.  It was by no personal tendency; no power of his own; nothing that could be traced to himself, and he claimed no credit for any zeal which he had shown in the true life. He traced it all to another. He had ample proof in his past experience that there was no tendency in himself to a life of true faith, and he therefore traced it all to another.          

         “The life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God”
         Literally:  “What and now I live in {the} flesh, I live in faith to the Son of God.” 

         The union between the Lord Jesus and Paul was so close that it might be said the one lived in the other. So the juices of the vine are in each branch, and leaf, and tendril, and live in them and animate them; the vital energy of the brain is in each delicate nerve–no matter how small–that is found in any part of the human frame. Christ was in him, as it were, the vital principle. All Paul’s life and energy were derived from Christ.
         This is one of the most tender passages in the Bible.  Christ loved me; but He could not love me into Heaven.  He had to give Himself for me.  The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. 

1.     The Nature of this Life-SPIRITUAL
Spiritual life is due to the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word, and the continuation of this life is wrought by the indwelling of that same Spirit through all the states of sanctification until it shares in the glorified life of the Redeemer in Heaven.
2.     The Condition of this LifeGOD’S WORKMANSHIP
The Christian life is exposed to many risks, simply because it is life “in the flesh.”   Yet we must not regard the body, with its passions and appetites prone to evil, and in a world with its many seduction that appeal to the senses.  It is God’s wonderful workmanship; and it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, to be kept free from defilement; and it ought to be the willing servant of the immortal spirit in all the various activities of the Christian life.
3.      The Medium of this Life—FAITH.
Faith is not merely the instrument of our justification, but it is the root-principle of our life.  It is the principle which maintains this life in its constant exercise.
        a.     We “live by faith;”
        b.     We “walk by faith;”
        c.     We “stand by faith;”
        d.     We “overcome by faith;”
        e.     We are “sanctified by faith;”
        f.     We are “kept by faith” through the power of God unto the final salvation. 

As the principle which unites the soul and the Savior, faith is the conduit which carries the mighty supplies of grace into the soul. Faith is the bond that binds us to Christ and enables us to live the new life.  The old life is laid aside, and the new life is a Christ-like life, due to the Spirit of Christ.  We are now merged with Christ and in Christ.

            “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
            Literally:  “the {One} loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.”

Paul felt under the highest obligation to Christ, from the fact that He had loved him, and given Himself to the death of the cross in his behalf. The conviction of obligation on this account Paul often expresses. There is no higher sense of obligation than that which is felt towards the Savior; and Paul felt himself bound, as we should, to live entirely to Him who had redeemed him by His blood.   Paul is saying that His eternal gratuitous love is the link that unites me to the Son of God, and His “giving Himself for me,” is the strongest proof of that love.

Verse 21:
“I do not frustrate the grace of God:  for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

 “I will not frustrate the grace of God”
  Literally:  “I do not set aside the grace of God.”

         Set it aside as of no efficacy, as do the Judaizers, by going back to the Law for justification. The main thought in this verse is that if there had been and other way to save sinners, then God would have used that method.  If a Law or religion could have saved sinners, then God would have given it.  The only way that an infinite God could save us was to send His Son to die for us. I do not condemn, despise, or render useless, the grace of God—the doctrine of Christ crucified; which I must do if I preach the necessity of observing the law.
        The Greek word rendered as “frustrate” literally means, “to displace, abrogate, abolish; to make void, or “to render null.”  The phrase, “the grace of God,” here refers to the unmerited, and unmeritable favor of God that is displayed in the plan of salvation by the gospel. The sense is that Paul would not take any measures, or follow any course, that would in any way cause it to be vain or ineffective. Paul’s purpose is to show that he regarded it as a great principle of his life, that the gospel was effective in renewing and saving man, and he would do nothing that would in any way tend to prevent that impression on mankind. A life of sin, of open depravity and licentiousness, would do that. And, in like manner, a conformity to the rites of Moses, as a ground of justification, would tend to frustrate the grace of God, or even to negate the method of salvation solely by the Redeemer.
         This is to be regarded, therefore, as at the same time a reproof of Peter for complying with customs which tended to frustrate the plan of the gospel, and a declaration that he intended that his own course of life should be such as to confirm the plan, and show its efficacy in pardoning the sinner, and rendering him alive in the service of God.

“for if righteousness come by the Law.
Literally:  “For if righteous {is} through law.”

          If justification can be secured by the observance of any law–ceremonial or moralthen there was no need of the death of Christ.  This is plain common sense. If man, by conformity to any law, could be justified before God, what need was there of any blood atonement?  The work would then have been wholly in his (man’s) own power, and the merit would have been his. It follows from this, that man cannot be justified by his own morality, or his alms deeds, or his forms of religion, or his honesty and integrity. If he can, he needs no Savior–he can save himself. It follows, also, that when men depend on their own abilities, or kindness, or morality, or good works, they would feel no need of a Savior; and this is the true reason why the mass of men reject the Lord Jesus.
         They suppose they do not deserve to be sent to hell. They have no deep sense of guilt. They confide in their own integrity, and feel that God ought to save them. Hence they feel no need of a Savior; for why should a man in health employ a physician? And confiding in their own righteousness, they reject the grace of God, and despise the plan of justification through the Redeemer. To feel the need of a Savior, it is necessary to feel that we are lost and ruined sinners; that we have no merit on which we can rely; and that we are entirely dependent on the mercy of God for salvation. Thus feeling, we shall receive the salvation of the gospel with thankfulness and joy, and show that in regard to us Christ is not “dead in vain.”

         “then Christ is dead in vain.”
         Literally: “then Christ died without cause.”

That very fact of Christ's having to die shows that the Law has no power to justify us; for if the law can justify or make us righteous, the death of Christ was superfluous.  If justification and salvation come by an observance of the Law, then Christ is dead in vain; His death is useless if any observance of any law can save us; but no observance of the law can save us, and therefore there was the absolute necessity for the death of Christ.

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