Gal 2:15-18 “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”
Many of us have been members of the church from the days of our childhood. We hardly remember a time when going to church, praying, singing hymns, and reading the Bible was not part of our regular routine. As a result, we can identify to some extent with Paul’s statement “We who are Jews by nature.”
Just as being natural born Jews was a blessing under the law service, being called into service in the church from a young age is a blessing. It often protects us from many of the sins of the world just as being a Jew protected from being a sinner of the Gentiles. However, being a Jew or being a long-time member of the church does not prevent us from being sinners.
Being raised in the church does not justify us. Giving regularly to the church does not justify us. Adhering to the articles of faith, our church covenant, or rules of decorum does not justify us. Attending church every meeting time does not justify us. I am not saying these are not good things to do, but out justification is not in our works any more than the Jews were justified by the works of the law.
The only source of justification is the faith of Jesus Christ. Notice Paul did not say our faith in Jesus Christ. Our justification is of the faith that proceeds out of Jesus Christ. He is the source of our justification, and He is the source of the faith that causes us to believe in Him. We, being Jews (or church members) by nature (or for a long time) are justified by the same source that the Gentiles (or those who have walked in the world) are justified by. It is in this that there is no difference in the Jew or Greek, bond or free, male or female. We are all justified by the faith of Jesus Christ and not of any work that we have done.
For us to attest that we are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, then to turn around and put a legalized burden on our brethren that Jesus calls out of the world, is wrong. The apostle Paul rejected this attitude of self-righteousness towards others while we ourselves acknowledge that our hope is in Christ alone. Christ is not the minister of sin. However, if we require of others that which we testify to being free of, then we make ourselves to be transgressors.
May God give us the grace to receive all those He brings to us with joy, even if their past has not been as our past, knowing that it is the faith of Jesus Christ that justifies us all!