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#4.04 NO MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW

This bible study uses a Greek Unicode font and is printable.

Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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ACTS 13:38-39 (Paul)
38 Be it known to you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:
39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

ROMANS 3:20 (Paul)
20 Therefore by the works of the law1 there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

ROMANS 3:27-28 (Paul)
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law1 (Gr. ἔργων νόμου, Gtr. ergon nomou).

ROMANS 9:31-32
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were by the works of the law1. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone;

ROMANS 10:3-4 (Paul)
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one who believes.

GALATIANS 2:16 (Paul)
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law1 (Gr. ἔργων νόμου, Gtr. ergon nomou), 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 law1: for by the works of the law1 (Gr. ἔργων νόμου, Gtr. ergon nomou) shall no flesh be justified.

GALATIANS 2:21 (Paul)
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

GALATIANS 3:2-5 (Paul)
2 This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law1 (Gr. ἔργων νόμου, Gtr. ergon nomou), or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have you suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore who ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law1, or by the hearing of faith?

GALATIANS 3:10-12 (Paul)
10 For as many as are of the works of the law1 are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them.

GALATIANS 5:2-4 (Paul)
2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

Note: "No man is justified by the works of the law" is one of the statements made by people who do not wish to keep the Sabbath day. The implication is that keeping the Sabbath day is one of the works of the law, but is this right? The words translated the works of the law1 (Gr. ἔργων νόμου, Gtr. ergon nomou) (Romans 9:32; Galatians 2:16; 3:2; 3:5; 3:10), are also translated "the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:20; 3:28 KJV), and the facts are these:

(1) The definite article is never used in the expression.
(2) The expression is always genitive case in the Greek.
(3) With one exception (Romans 3:28) it is always preceded by the primary preposition "ek", which indicates origin.
(4) The basic meaning of "ek" is "out of" or "out from", and it is variously translated "of" (367x), "from" (181x), "out of" (162x), "by" (55x), "on" (34x), etc.

Compare these two scriptures:

(Romans 2:13) "the doers of the law shall be justified." and
(Romans 3:20) "by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified"

These were both written by the apostle Paul in close proximity to each other. It seems obvious that "the deeds (or works) of the law" cannot possibly be the same as "doing what the law says" or keeping the Ten Commandments. So what are "the works of the law"? Looking at all of these scriptures in their context, it is obvious that that they are the means whereby someone could be justified under the law of Moses, so let us examine this. The first thing to note is that justification under the law required total obedience:

(Deuteronomy 6:25) "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us."
(Galatians 3:10) "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
(Galatians 5:3) "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law."
(James 2 10) "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

This left all men as sinners:

(Ecclesiastes 7:20) "For there is not a righteous man upon the earth, that does good and does not sin."
(Romans 3:20) "by the law is the knowledge of sin."
(Romans 3:23) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
(Galatians 3:22) "But the scripture has concluded all under sin,"

When they sinned, animal sacrifices had to be made to cover their sin (Leviticus 5:5-6; 5:17-18; 16:15 etc). This would justify them according to the law, and cover their sin, but it did not remove the sin from their heart:

(Hebrews 10:1-4) "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make those who come to it perfect.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins."

Because sin is the cause of sin (Psalm 69:27; Proverbs 5:22; Jeremiah 9:3; John 8:34; Romans 6:16; 7:5; 7:17; 7:20), the people continued to sin, and their heart was never right before God. Trying to be justified by the law led to self-righteousness rather than God's righteousness:

(Deuteronomy 6:25) "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us."
(Romans 10:3) "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God."
(Philippians 3:9) "not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ."

The works of the law then, are certain rituals of the law which were performed in order to justify someone who had sinned, and who was under the law as a means of justification. This would include the animal sacrifices which were made to cover their sin. None of the ten commandments are considered to be "the works of the law", as keeping these afterwards would not justify a person who had sinned. The first four express our love for and duty to God, and the last six express our love for and duty to our fellow man. Therefore, the fact that we are not justified by the works of the law has not done away with the ten commandments. We keep them because we love God, and wish to please him, and be obedient to his word. Our love for God is expressed by our obedience (See #1.25). Therefore, there is no justification here for not keeping the Sabbath day. This bible study shows that the works of the law are nothing at all to do with keeping the Sabbath day commandment.

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