Can the Law Save Man?
The law can’t save man. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a free gift, without money or price (Isaiah 55:1; John 4:14; 2 Corinthians 9:15). It is grace on God’s part and faith on man’s part. Faith accepts the gift of God. A covenant relationship with God requires absolute faith on the part of the believer (Galatians 5:1). This instant experience of receiving by faith forgiveness of all past sins is called justification (Romans 5:1).
The person who joins works-righteousness with his faith annuls his part of the covenant with God, and Christ is thus released from any further duty towards him. People don’t do works to be saved but because they are saved (James 2:18). Works are the result of true faith and surrender to God so that His Spirit brings the fruits of repentance in the life (Romans 3:31). This is a life long process of faith, growth and victory over sin and is called sanctification (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Jesus Our Salvation
Jesus declared that no man could come to the Father except by Him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Jesus stressed the truth that He is “the way” and for this reason His followers called themselves the people of “the way” (Acts 9:2; 22:4). Because of Christ’s incarnation and death “a new and living way” has been consecrated for the believers (Hebrews 10:20). There is no other means of salvation other than accepting Christ’s sacrifice by faith for justification and sanctification (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).
Paul set forth God’s plan for man’s salvation. It is the same plan by which Abraham received justification (Galatians 3:6). It was not until after he had been declared righteous that Abraham received the ritual of circumcision. Circumcision—one of “the works of the law”—did not bring righteousness. It was simply a sign that he accepted righteousness by faith (Romans 4:9–11).
The Purpose of the Law
The law serves only as a mirror that points out sin (James 1:23-25). It doesn’t have the power to cleanse the sin. The Bible declares, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator” (Galatians 3:19, 24). The most “the law” can do to man is to show him his sin and his need of justification and then to point him to Christ for cleansing from sin (Ephesians 5:26).
Fallen From Grace
People that seek righteousness by works are fallen from grace. They have willfully chosen a path they know to be against the will of God. The apostle Paul warned the Galatians, who had received the Spirit of God (Galatians 3:2, 3), experienced justification by faith (Galatians 1:6), rejoiced in the freedom of the gospel (Galatians 5:1), and “run well” for a time (verse 7) not to follow the path of trying to earn salvation by human works.
If the Galatians sought salvation by “the works of the law” (Galatians 2:16), they would lose the grace of Christ they had enjoyed before (Galatians 5:1-4; 3:19). Thus, the two methods of obtaining justification by faith or works are mutually exclusive. To adopt the one is to reject the other.
But there is hope for those that have fallen from grace that they may correct their way and accept God’s plan of Salvation by faith. The Lord forbids no one from the blessings of salvation except those who reject them (Ezekiel 18:23, 31; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9; Ephesians 1:4–6).
Works Versus Fruits of the Spirit
The “works” Paul later recommends (Galatians 5:13 to 6:15) are the “fruit of the Spirit”: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). These works are the evidence of the power of Christ in the life (Romans 1:16), but in no way a means of earning salvation. It is that which naturally develops in the life when the Spirit has control (verse 18). The results of such control is in clear contrast with the works of the flesh (verses. 19–21).
In His service,