Judge and Jury

Daily Reform, Day 128

Galatians 2:16 & James 2:14-26

From the Reformer

We do not mean to say that the Law is bad. Only it is not able to justify us. To be at peace with God, we have need of a far better mediator than Moses or the Law. We must know that we are nothing. We must understand that we are merely beneficiaries and recipients of the treasures of Christ.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

The Apostle James speaks of two kinds of faith. One is typical to Westerners today and is a mere ascent to belief in the existence of god, perhaps even that Jesus is an historical figure. This is not saving faith or belief. The second class of faith, real saving faith, is a specific belief in Jesus the Messiah that trusts he died for their sins. This is saving faith.

The person who would plead her own case before the Judge of heaven and earth, pleads the first kind of faith. She believes in her own intellect and integrity — after all, she believes in god and she was a so-called good person. This defense will be far from sufficient on judgment day. She will need the aid of a better attorney than herself but must first trust that someone else is actually able to win her case.

A person with real faith will allow a better mediator to negotiate her case because she believes only he can do so. She recognizes that the facts are clear and that they only need to be presented by a legal expert. The fact is that while she tried to live by the law and do good works, she failed often; she broke the law. An additional fact is that the Law requires her life in payment for breaking the law. All of this, her mediator will make clear. He will also make clear one additional fact: her Mediator has already paid the penalty of the Law in her behalf. He was able to do so because he is not only her Attorney but her Supreme Judge and Jury. He is the Law in whom she has faith.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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