The Righteousness of God

Daily Reform, Day 139

Galatians 2:17 & Matthew 25:41-46

From the Reformer

The Law requires perfect obedience. It condemns all who do not accomplish the will of God. But show me a person who is able to render perfect obedience. The Law cannot justify. It can only condemn according to the passage: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Paul has good reason for calling the minister of the Law the minister of sin, for the Law reveals our sinfulness. The realization of sin in turn frightens the heart and drives it to despair. Therefore all exponents of the Law and of works deserve to be called tyrants and oppressors.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

If Christ could be called a minister of the Law (and he cannot), his command would be, “Believe!” The accomplishment of his perfect will then is to believe in him, for this is what justifies a person with God.

I do not mean that the Law of Moses is of no use. The Holy Spirit uses it to convict the heart of sin and death. The resultant hopelessness makes one eager for the mercy of God. This is when the directive to believe brings righteousness and life. Eternal life is not the only result of belief in Christ. The other result is the prerequisite of righteousness, for eternal life is the result of a righteous life. (Matt 25:46) However, be especially clear on his point: the righteousness that is delivered through faith in Christ is not some goodness of your own. Your righteous standing before God depends upon faith — not your own good deeds. Rather, God imparts to you the very righteousness of Jesus Christ himself. This is the “righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Phil 3:9)

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

Leave a Reply