Religion does not save us Christ does. Christians are to obtain the righteousness “which is through the faith of Christ” (Phil 3:9). The religion of the scribes and Pharisees consisted in external adherence to the letter of the law; Christ called for insight into, and cooperation with, the underlying principles of the law. Like some modern religionists, the scribes made allowance for the weaknesses of human nature, so minimizing the seriousness of sin. They taught that a man is to be judged by a majority of his deeds; that is, if his “good” deeds are in excess of his evil deeds, God will judge him righteous (Mishnah Aboth 3. 16, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, pp. 38, 39).
And to compensate for evil acts, they prescribed a system of works-righteousness, by means of which a person might earn sufficient merit to outweigh the unfavorable balance in his record. The Pharisees thought their system of works-righteousness is a certain passport to heaven; in fact, that was their reason for being Pharisees.
Jesus saw their system of religion as inadequate to qualify men so much as to step within the kingdom. He taught that efforts to attain righteousness through formal acts or supposedly meritorious deeds are less than worthless (Rom. 9:31–33).
Religion can’t save us. Faith in Jesus saves us. The righteousness of Christ brings justification. But the justified soul grows in grace. Through the power of the indwelling Christ he conforms his life to the requirements of the moral law as set forth by Christ’s own precept and example. This is imparted righteousness.
Paul explains that the perfect life of Jesus has made it possible for “the just requirement of the law” to “be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4, RSV). Religion can’t save us only love can. God can and will save anyone who comes to Him by faith. Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
In His service,
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