Romans #13

“Where then is the glorying?” This question from Romans 3:27 comes after the apostle has shown that man is justified by God’s grace (3:4). Having asked, “Where is the glorying?”, his response was, “It is excluded”. Another question follows. “By what manner of law? Of works? Nay, but by a law of faith …” (Rom. 3:27).

The word “glorying” in the passage is translated “boasting” by other versions. Two other passages from Paul shed light on his thoughts here. In Romans he wrote, “If Abraham was justified by works he hath whereof to glory but not toward God” (4:2). From Ephesians, “By grace are ye saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works that no man should glory” (Eph. 2:8).

We ask, “What is it one might glory or boast about?” Paul has been discussing how sinners are justified. The matter of glorying is that one is justified and Paul immediately tells that glorying is excluded. There is no room for glorying because one has been justified. Man’s justification came not from his own accomplishments; it came by grace, a gift from God. The Ephesian letter says, “that not of yourselves …” None justified can credit himself with his justification. It comes from God as a free gift if it comes at all.

Paul further develops his statement that “glorying is excluded”. On what basis is such excluded, by a law of works? His answer is, “Nay, but by a law of faith.” Then the apostle adds, “we reckon that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Rom. 3:28). Why such a conclusion? Such is necessary because were one justified by the works of the law, he would be justified by a law of works and would have reason to glory in his justification, but glorying is excluded. Paul speaks then of two kinds of laws: a “law of works” of which such was the law of Moses, and a “law of faith”.

Several of Paul’s epistles show the law to be a law of works, unable to provide justification to lost men. These include Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Corinthians and Hebrews (if such be from his pen). Galatians especially is important to this subject. In that letter Paul wrote, “knowing that no man is justified by the works of the law … because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them …” (Gal. 2:16; 3:10).

Consider God’s message to Belshazzar. “Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting” (Dan. 5:27). As was true of him, so is it true of every sinner. All are weighed and found wanting. Jesus told accusers of him the following: “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (Jon. 7:19). This is a universal charge against responsible men. The law said, “He that doeth these things shall live in them” (Gal. 3:12; Lev. 18:5). None shall live because none keep perfectly that law, nor any other law. Yet some such ones are pronounced “just”. Why? They are pronounced just because Christ forgave them. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). When God has forgiven one, that one cannot glory in what he has done. He can only glory in what Christ has done! If man glorieth, “let him glory in the Lord” (2 Cor. 10:17). With Paul we say, “But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 5:14).

Jim McDonald

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