Paul’s main point in Galatians 1-3 is that we should be focused on our Lord Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection, instead of what we can do to obtain eternal life or make ourselves more acceptable to God. He uses words we need to define as he meant them to be used: righteousness, justify, justification, declared righteous. Why not review those definations a few blogs back, or look them up in a standard dictionary? Paul, and the other New Testament writers, did write to people unfamilar with the Old Testament. The Greek Old Testament was well respected and the apostles quoted from it often to prove their points. Read the following verses and see if you don’t also agree that we should be thanking God for sending his Son to die that we might be declared right with him and be viewed as pure and holy in spite of our daily sins.
“Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith–just as Abraham ‘believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness’?” (Galatians 3:5-6).
“And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man shall not be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So sshall your offspring be.’ And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:4-6).
“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed in the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Psalm 32:1-2).
“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those who lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Romans 4:1-8).
“But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 4:23-5:1).
One Thousand Five Hundred Thirteen years after Jesus lived, a German priest in the Roman Catholic Church, was trying to do enough to be righteous enough for God. One day, as he was reading Romans, he realized salvation was all about grace–unmerited favor—being declared righteous by God through faith alone. He could not add anything! Or make himself holy. Justification by faith alone became the cry of the Reformation, and eventually led to the formation of the Protestant denominations. It was these passages of Scripture that had somehow been forgotten and misunderstood. I hope we will not forget or misunderstand them or redefine their basic terms.