Justification by Faith Alone in the Old Testament
I. The Timing of Abraham’s Circumcision Emphasized Justification by Faith Alone (Romans 4:9-12)
In the Old Testament, circumcision was seen as a sign of righteousness and faith. However, as we see in Romans 4:9-12, Abraham’s circumcision was not the cause of his justification, but rather a seal of the righteousness he already had through faith. Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised, and his circumcision was a seal of the righteousness he already had.
The spiritual significance of circumcision: Circumcision was many years after Abraham had been justified, and it represented the end of his attempts to “help God” to do what only God could do. Ishmael had been raised as the heir, but Ishmael was produced by Abraham’s efforts to make God’s promise come true, in unbelief. Because he was old, and Sarah was barren, Abraham went into the handmaiden to produce Ishmael who he raised for 13 years. Then God appeared to him and said that it would not be through Hagar but through Sarah that the seed would be produced, and that it would be a supernatural working of God, who “calls those things that are not and gives life to the dead” (see Romans 4:17). Then God instituted the covenant of circumcision which represents Abraham’s “cutting away” of the member that he used to produce Ishmael, signifying the disabling of man’s natural strength in service to God. Paul says in Phil 3:3, we are the “true circumcision who boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh and serve by the God.” In Galatians 4:22-31, Paul teaches us that Hagar and Ishmael were alllegories for religious striving in the flesh to try make what only God can do come to pass through our own efforts. Isaac represents waiting on God’s promise, which only He can fulfill.
II. Justification by Faith: Not by Works or Law-Keeping (Romans 3:28)
This emphasizes the importance of justification by faith alone, as opposed to works or law-keeping. In fact, Romans 3:28 states that justification by faith is the only way to be saved. Let us remember that our faith in Christ is what justifies us, and our works are simply a reflection of that faith.
III. Understanding Christ as Our Righteousness, Sanctification, and Reward (1 Corinthians 1:30)
1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us that Christ is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This means that we cannot earn our salvation through our own works, but rather it is a gift of grace through faith in Christ.
IV. Old Testament Saints Were Justified by Faith Apart from Works (Hebrews 11:4-40)
As we see in Hebrews 11:4-40, Old Testament saints were also justified by faith apart from works. Their works were simply a sign of their acknowledgement that they were already justified..
The Old Testament shows us the importance of justification by faith alone, and how our faith in Christ is what justifies us. Our works are simply a reflection of that faith.
Keywords: justification, faith, circumcision, righteousness, Old Testament, Christ.
Basic Summary Outline:
I. The timing of Abraham’s circumcision emphasized justification by faith alone (Romans 4:9-12)
- A. Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised (Romans 4:9-10)
- B. Abraham’s circumcision was a seal of the righteousness he already had (Romans 4:11)
II. Justification by faith is important, not by works or law-keeping (Romans 3:28)
III. Understanding Christ as our righteousness, sanctification, and reward (1 Corinthians 1:30)
IV. Old Testament saints were justified by faith apart from works (Hebrews 11:4-40)
- A. Their works were a sign that they were already justified (James 2:14-26)
- What Does It Mean “I Through the Law Died to the Law That I Might Live Unto God”?
- What Does It Mean “Christ Righteousness Higher Law”?
- What Does It Mean “Righteousness of God Manifested Apart From Law”?
- What Is the Righteousness of the Law?
- Why Do Christians Think They Can Keep the Law?