One of the battles that the Apostle Paul had to face was with false teachers who taught that a person was saved or justified (declared righteous by God) by their works. Galatians 2 and Acts 15:1 clearly teach that there were false brethren who taught that one must be circumcised in order to be made right with God. There is nothing new under the sun. Today, there are many people blinded to the true gospel as they believe that they can be justified by their works. One of the great truths of Scripture is that a man is justified by faith alone in Christ alone apart from our works. Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly proclaims, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” And Galatians 2:16 states, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
Consider several biblical and logical reasons why we can’t be saved by our works. First, works reveal our need of Christ. Galatians 3:24 states, “therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The reason why the law was our teacher or tutor was because it revealed God’s holy standard. As we compare ourselves to God’s holy standard, we learn that we all fall short because the law reveals our sin. When we recognize our sin, we know that we are guilty before a holy God. Romans 3:19-20 reads, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
A second biblical reason why our works can not save us is Christ would have died in vain. If man can do enough good works to be saved, then there would have been no reason for Christ to die. The heart of the gospel message is “Christ died for our sins” (Galatians 1:4). Galatians 2:21 reads, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” In other words, the Apostle Paul is saying if you can keep enough of the commandments by doing enough good works, then Christ would not have had to die. Paul knew Christ didn’t die in vain, because he knew that Christ came to save sinners and he knew there was no other way for a man to be justified other then by faith alone in Christ alone (1 Timothy 1:15). If man could be saved through his own works, then man would be his own savior and there would not be a need for the saving work of Jesus Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.
Although there are other reasons to consider, I will just share one more for this article. If man is saved by works, then he would be able to boast or take glory in him-self. Paul’s conclusion to the book of Galatians is a powerful conclusion in Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And again he told the church in Ephesus that our salvation is “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). To learn more about the glorious gospel Christ join us on Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. as we study the book of Galatians.