In the 1500's there lived an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther. Luther devoted
himself to doing good works in the hopes that God would be pleased with him and save
him from his sin. He faithfully followed the rules of his order but he would find
no peace or assurance. He would live in fear and discontentment from looking at
his own sorry state and those around him that claimed to be followers of God. It
wasn't until God opened his eyes to Romans 1:16-17 that he came to a realization
that people are justified before God through faith alone. That passage reads, “For
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone
who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness
of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live
What Luther failed to see before his conversion is we are justified through faith
in Jesus' works alone. Christians often say that salvation is through faith not
by works but maybe we should look at this from a different angle. We are not calling
for a blind faith or a faith in nothing. No, we do have faith in works, but not
our own works, we have faith in the works of Christ. You see, if we rely upon our
own works alone then we are really trying to do something that has already been done.
Jesus has already done the works necessary to please God. We, as sinners, can't
live a life pleasing to God because we have broken his Law and all our supposed good
works are like filthy rags. So if we trust in our own works we are denying the works
of Christ. The same is true if we try to add our works to our faith in Christ. Instead
of denying the work of Christ outright now we are just denying their effectiveness.
As if what Jesus did wasn't good enough so we need to add just a little more to
make sure we are OK. But the Bible assures us that Jesus' sacrifice was for all
our sin. None of them were left for us to pay.
After Luther came to belief in faith alone he wrote this, “Whence, then, is our defense?
Nowhere save from Christ and in Christ. For if there shall come some reproof, against
the heart which believes in Christ, testifying against him for some evil deed, then
it turns away from itself, and turns to Christ (ad Christum) and says: But He made
satisfaction. He is the Righteous One. This is my defense. He died for me. He made
His righteousness to be mine, and made my sins to be His own. Because if He made
my sin His own, then I can have it now no longer, and I am free. If, moreover, He
had made the righteousness mine, I am righteous with the same righteousness as He
is. But my sin cannot swallow Him up, but is swallowed up in the infinite abyss of
His righteousness since He is God, blessed forever. And so, God is greater than the
accuser. God is the defender, the heart is the accuser. What, is that the proportion?
So, even so it is. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Nobody, Why?
Because it is Jesus Christ, who also is God, who died, nay rather who is risen again.
If God be for us, then who can be against us.”
Praise God that we are justified through faith alone.