Knowing that a man is not justified; we knowing that a man is not absolved from the guilt of sin, and declared righteous in the sight of God;
by the works of the law; by any kind of works done in obedience to the law of Moses, whether ceremonial or moral. For it is manifest that although this question about justification by works began about circumcision and works done in obedience to the ceremonial law, yet the determination of it extended further. For the apostle, by
the law, understands that law by which
is the knowledge of sin, Rom_3:20. Now the knowledge of sin, is neither only nor chiefly by the ceremonial law; nor did ever any of those, against whom the apostle argueth, think, that men could be justified by obedience only to the law contained in ordinances; nor could boasting be excluded, (which the apostle showeth, Rom_3:27, was God’s design in fixing the way of a sinher’s justification), if men might be justified by works done in obedience to the moral law; nor was it the ceremonial law only, the violation of which worketh wrath, Rom_4:15, or disobedience to which brought men under the curse, Gal_3:10.
But by the faith of Jesus Christ; but we are justified by believing in Christ: not by faith as it is a work of ours, for that was denied before; nor by faith as a principal efficient cause, for in that sense it is God that justifieth; nor as a meritorious cause, for so we are justified by the blood of Christ; but by faith as an instrument apprehending and applying Christ and his righteousness.
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; we (saith the apostle) that are Jews, knowing this, have not only assented to the truth of the gospel proposition, but accepted of this way of salvation, and received the Lord Jesus; that we so doing, not trusting to the law, or any obedience of ours to it, might be absolved from the guilt of sin, and declared righteous before God.
For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified; for no mortal man shall ever be absolved or declared righteous upon his own personal obedience to the law of God; being in the best imperfect, and much short of what the law requireth.