We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; by the works of the law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:15,16)
Probably Satan’s most believed lie is that sinners can redeem themselves. Each week churches, synagogues, and other religious buildings fill-up with people who rightly understand that they are justly condemned sinners. But they also believe that God will forgive their sins and justify them because of their good works. Good works include things like religious affiliation, baptism, confirmation, communion, charitable giving, being a good person or just doing your best to obey God’s Commandments (the Law).
These people believe, as I once did, that God will grade leniently on a sliding scale, like the “bell-curve” grading system in school. The hope is that as long as my good works exceed my sins, God will accept me. This lie encourages my self-esteem and is consistent with Satan’s Big Lie #3 that people are basically good. After all, God knows that I’m not perfect and that I’m doing the best I that I can. Besides, there are many others who are far greater sinners that me! This is exactly what the Jews believed about the Gentiles. Surely God's chosen Jews who diligently try to keep the law are more acceptable to God than pagan Gentiles!
The Bible, however, clearly tells us that by the works of the law no flesh (human) will be justified. That “justification is by works” is the false teaching of the Jewish Pharisees that denied the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; Which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)
There is, of course, nothing wrong with “good works”. Christians, in obedience to God’s word and with love for Him and others, should attend church, be baptized, observe the Lord’s Table, give generously, be good people and obey God’s Commandments. But forgiveness of sins, justification and salvation is provided only through faith in the gospel of Christ Jesus alone. By the way, a common variation of Satan’s Big Lie #4 is that faith in the gospel of Christ Jesus plus doing your best to keep the law (good works) is what is required to be justified. This is a clever distortion of the true gospel of Christ and billions of people who die in their sins, not justified by God, have wrongly believed this horrible lie.
True Christians who have been justified by grace through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ will indeed be convicted by the Holy Spirit and motivated by a sincere love of God resulting in “good works”. They understand that Jesus is both their Savior and their Lord. Satan’s Big Lie #5, which we will deal with next time, is “Jesus can be your Savior without being your Lord”.
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.(Galatians 1:11)Maranatha!