The Law Of Faith - Part I
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” —Romans 3:27-28
Three Laws of the New Covenant
There are three great laws that attach themselves to the new covenant. Every believer should be aware of their existence, their meaning, and how they apply to God’s redemption plan under Christ. They are:
1. The law of faith
2. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
3. The law of Christ
If the believer fails to understand or apply any of these laws to his life as a believer, then the Christian experience will be far less than it should be for that individual. In the next few months, we will attempt to briefly describe each of these great laws. These laws are general in nature, much like the law of gravity. They describe truths that are “constants.” In other words, they never change what they are for anyone, and they always work the way that God has designed them to work. Let us first take a look at the law of faith.
The Law of Faith
To best understand the law of faith, we must first look closely at the literary content of Romans 3:19-31. In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul has established that both Jew and Gentile consistently fail to rise to the purity and moral excellence of God. In fact, Paul has proven that all men are dominated by sin and that they are constantly falling short of God’s glory. Therefore, all men are in need of a Savior.
Paul’s theology demanded that both Jew and Gentile enter into a state of justification through faith in Jesus Christ. He taught that it was faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice that both established and maintained relationship with God. Justification is only available through the means of faith as opposed to “law-keeping.” We are never acceptable to God through the agency of religious works! One is properly aligned with God through faith alone.
In Romans 3:25, Paul also unveils the proper object of our faith. Here he states that Christ was set forth as a propitiation for us through “faith in His blood.” It is the event of Christ giving His life on the cross that our faith must reside in. The moment the believing sinner places his faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, God declares him legally justified. Being justified is a God-granted position that properly aligns man with the righteousness of God.
When man is properly aligned in relationship with God, all that God has offered through covenant relationship becomes available. All of the blessings that are accessible to mankind are the result of Christ “cutting this new covenant” at Calvary. As long as we stay aligned with God by faith, all the benefits of this new covenant can continually flow and are freely distributed to the believer by the Holy Spirit. We do not labor for these benefits. We are only able to experience them, by carefully and continuously observing the law of faith.
A Justified Life
The law of faith must be a constant in our lives. When we place our faith in Christ initially, we experience salvation. It is also necessary that the believer stay aligned properly with God by always maintaining simple faith in Christ. In Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and again in Hebrews 10:38, the New Testament declares that “the just shall live by faith.” So then, the justified man or woman is to live by means of faith and not works. Paul taught us that the law of Moses was a law of works. He also stated that “the law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).
We are called upon to live a “justified” life. Whenever our faith is directed toward something other than Christ and Him crucified, the believer comes “out of alignment” with his new covenant relationship with God. Like a car whose wheels are out of alignment, things will fail to work properly. When the believer is out of alignment with God, the Holy Spirit cannot do all that He desires to do. God’s grace is then limited because the believer is not properly aligned with God. A person does not straightway relinquish his justified state by getting out of alignment. Yet He does hinder the benefits that could be flowing to him because he is not properly lined up to receive them.
We enter into eternal life by faith. Then, we are to experience abundant life by living a justified life by faith. There forever remains only one proper object of faith, that being Christ and the cross. We must not depend upon disciplines, proper Christian action, biblical standards, or associations with godly people to align us with God each day. We can only be aligned properly with God when our faith is securely placed and maintained in Christ and the cross. When we keep our faith in who Christ is and what Christ has done then we can expect the power of God to continually transform us into the image of Christ. If we fail to consistently depend upon Christ and the cross, we are not living a justified life. We have come out of alignment with God. The Holy Spirit, though still present within us, is limited to the degree that we are out of alignment. We must live by the law of faith and place no trust in what we do. Thereby, we live a justified life.
The Place of Works
Where do works fit into the life of the believer? Is a justified life freed from the responsibility of a holy life? God forbid! I agree wholeheartedly that we must pursue a life of holiness, without which no man will see God. The question is not whether we should pursue holiness. It is really about how we attempt to live holy. If we are in alignment with God because of the law of faith, then the disciplines, actions, and attitudes prevalent to the Christian life will surface. Paul said in Ephesians 2:10, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” We must understand that only the law of faith places us into Christ and positions us to become the creative work of God. If this first law is embraced, it will prepare us for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which we will cover in next month’s article.