nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.Galatians 2:16(NASB)
The Law had been given to Israel through Moses, and even those religious Jews who prided themselves that they lived by the letter of the Law were incapable of keeping the spirit of the Law. It is no surprise that no-one could keep the Law completely, for God had designed His perfect Law to be a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, the one and only perfect Man Who lived His life, from start to finish, in accordance with God's perfect standard.
Most of God's instructions to Church-age believers, had been given through Paul following the stoning of Stephen, but even the hypocrisy of the apostle Peter had to be challenged by Paul (when Peter had reverted back to the old, meritorious, work-based covenant). "Even we (Jews) have believed in Christ Jesus," Peter was admonished, "so that we (like all sinners in need of salvation) may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law."
The Law may have been given to Israel, but it did not have the power to justify sinners. Rather, the Law brought a curse upon all who failed to keep its precepts perfectly, for there is no one righteous in the eyes of God. All fall short of God's perfect standard: "For man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ."
Only faith in Christ, Who fulfilled the works of the Law on our behalf, is able to justify the sinful man or woman. Only by believing on the only begotten Son of God Who died on the Cross to pay the price for our sin, can a guilty sinner be declared righteous and justified in the eyes of God.
In those early years of Christianity, many Jews including the apostle Peter, found it difficult to come to terms with the enormous freedom they had in Christ. Christ had become sin so that they could become the righteousness of God in Him. Christ had died in their place and paid the full price for breaking God's perfect standard in their stead. Christ willingly became our sin substitute as well so that the wrath of God was poured out on Him instead of being poured out on us. Christ carried our sin and was made a curse for us, but by grace through faith in HIM we have been redeemed from the curse of the Law.
In these final days of the Church age, there are many Christians who still find it difficult to come to terms with the enormous freedom that we have in Christ: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus."
Let us never forget that we are justified by faith IN CHRIST, accepted IN CHRIST, fully justified by HIS grace, clothed in HIS righteousness, redeemed from the curse of the Law through Christ Jesus our Saviour.
And we are called to be holy even as Christ is holy.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this glorious truth that I am not justified by the works of the Law and that there is nothing that I can say or do to merit my own salvation. I am justified only by faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus on Calvary's Cross. Thank You that Christ gave His life as a ransom for me and became a curse on my account so that I might become the righteousness of God in Him. Praise His holy name, AMEN.