Are you having a difficult time with understanding justification? Do you wonder if you have done enough to demonstrate that you are saved? Do you question whether you are good enough, if there is enough evidence of your faith to be true? Do you tend to be legalistic with yourself? One of the dangers of, “navel gazing” (self-examination) is that we become self-absorbed, we lose proper perspective. We begin to filter incoming information through a set of rules that constantly look at ourselves, and our performance, or lack thereof.
A filter is thing that removes particles from a stream, while allowing the rest of the particles to continue on to their destination. This can be a data stream, electrical stream, light stream, basically anything that flows. As we perceive information streaming in through our senses, we employ filters based on our cumulative view of the world (word view). When that view is built on a solid foundation of objective truth, it will lead us to proper understandings of what has happened, is happening, and will happen. We will filter out the untrue, and allow the truth to continue. When our filtration system is built on a false worldview, we filter out some truth, and we look at the world and ourselves through a lie.
God has given us His word, and like Him it is truth. We on the other hand, are fallible creatures, prone to accepting lies. Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His illumination of the Word of God for us, and to us, we still get things wrong. This is yet another example of God’s grace towards His elect, we don’t have to get it all right, all the time, from the word go. None of us die with all the answers in perfect comprehension. In a sense, even the most spiritually mature Christian you know, will die with notions about God and His word that aren’t perfect.
Our works are tainted, our thoughts are tainted with sin and imperfection. If you are relying on either of those to get some kind of assurance that you are in, then you are going to find your faith shaken on a regular basis. Let’s look at Galatians 3 for a moment together.
Galatians 3 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Faith Brings Righteousness
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Intent of the Law
15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3 makes it clear that it is not our obedience to the law that makes us just, but rather our faith in Christ. Do you want some assurance? Believe in Christ and His work. Trust Jesus alone, and don’t mix in your ability to know more than someone else, or do more. Because neither of those things actually satisfy the law. The law is intended to be impossible to satisfy so that you are driven humbly to your knees before Jesus with no defense left but Him crucified, resurrected, and ruling for eternity. Repent of sin, and trust the Savior.