The great reformer, Martin Luther, called justification by faith in Christ alone the “principal article of all Christian doctrine.” He also said that if we were to waver from this doctrine “then is all true Christian doctrine lost.” What he means by these statements is every aspect and implication of being a Christian is built on the foundation of justification by faith in Christ alone. It is not melodramatic to suggest that what we will study in Galatians 2:15-21 this Sunday is the most important news you will ever hear. It is the most precious gift that could ever be offered to anyone.
Whether you have been a Christian for a long time or you have recently been saved, when we behold this truth we should never cease to be in awe. Justification is a term borrowed from the legal system. It is the opposite of what it means to be condemned. When we say we are justified, we mean that we are declared innocent before God. Notice the words in that last sentence. It does not say that we deserve this standing or that we are capable of earning it on our own. It says that we are “declared” innocent or, another way of putting it is, to be declared righteous. Our justification is an act of unmerited favor from God.
Every human being, including you and I, are prone to two primary errors when it comes to our justification. Error number one happens when we believe that our actions in some way produce favor with God. On our best days, we can be pretty respectable people and, foolishly, we are lured into thinking our meager attempts at righteousness are, on their own, impressive to God. The second error is believing the grace of God gives us license to sin.
Through Galatians 2:15-21, Paul calls out these two errors and brings the light of the Gospel to bear on them. These are some of the most important words ever written. I praise God He has made them clear to us. Read these verses in preparation for corporate worship this Sunday. It will be a great Sunday to celebrate the foundation of our faith.