“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
> Romans 3:20
What a remarkable verse this is. It sums up so much thought on religion, moralism, and every other way, besides the gospel of Jesus Christ, of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. If the scriptures are the inerrant Word of God, given to us as God’s words Himself, then this verse is saying what God states concerning works of the law. And what He says, through the apostle Paul, is that by works of of the law, by your own moral toiling and by the sweat of your brow, you cannot present yourself clean, without impurity before the God of the universe. It is not possible. In fact, just to go a step further, Paul didn’t just leave it there, but he then adds, “Since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” But what does that have to do with anything in this context? We go from speaking of justification to talking about the knowledge of sin coming through the law.
So what’s the point? He’s saying that you cannot be justified by works of the law because through them comes the knowledge of sin, and through the knowledge of sin you then, because of your sinful nature begin to do the very things the law tells us not to do. And in reading further on in Romans 7:7-8, Paul qualifies this by saying, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” And so we see that the law cannot justify us because we are that desperately wicked.
So many Christians out there will say, “God helps those who help themselves.” But the Biblical response to people who think this, is that God helps those who can’t help themselves and give up on their own righteousness and trying to please God on their own moral strength (Isaiah 65:1-2). What’s the answer though if we’re helpless to help ourselves? Faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Belive in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Justification before the Father, being presented clean without spot or blemish, cannot be accomplished of your own moral working, but can only become yours through faith in Jesus Christ. You see, through Christ, we can be presented clean because He was clean and yet still went to the cross for us who believe, taking on our filth called sin and its deserved penalty, that we might be clean before Him forever. It’s called the Great Exchange.
By faith in Christ, He being perfect, takes on our sin and its penalty, and then in exchange gives us His very righteousness. Or to put in theological terms, by faith in Christ, our sin and the deserved wrath of God as a result is imputed to Him on the cross, and in return, He imputes His righteousness to us. This is the only way we can be presented perfect and righteous before God almighty. Nothing else will do. Christianity is the only religion with a suffering deity, where God actually humbles Himself and becomes one of His own creation, uniting His deity to humanity. His name is Christ. He was fully man and fully God at the same time. Two natures consisting in one Messiah.
Many people think of God as being angry and furious and asking, “How can He allow such awful things to happen in the world? If He only knew what it was like.” Well, actually, He does. Christ experienced more pain and torment than we can possibly imagine. And I’m not talking about the physical pain He experienced on the cross. I’m talking about the pain deep within His soul as He experienced the full fury and wrath of God for sinners. God knows what pain is and has Himself experienced it. And we cannot even begin to compare our pain and misery to His. And it is through this pain and suffering that christ has purchased pardon for any who would believe in Him. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved. There is salvation in no one else. Acts 4:12 confirms this, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”