It’s been said that the content of your doctrine determines the conduct of your life.
To put it another way, our theological views are not simply academic. They inform and influence the way we live our lives each day.
For example, the doctrine of justification by faith—which teaches that we are saved by faith alone and not by works—has a profound impact on how we treat others.
Throughout Scripture, the apostle Paul explained that the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Christ should cause us to be loving towards others. It accomplishes this first by making us humble.
In Romans 3:9-12 Paul makes clear that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile, for “all are under the power of sin.” This fact, coupled with the truth that righteousness in not merited through works but “is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom. 3:22), lays the foundation for unity within the church.
If all are in need of salvation, and salvation is given freely through the grace of God, what room was there for prideful contention between the Jewish and Gentile Christians that Paul wrote to? In the same way, what room is there for prideful quarrels in our churches today, or for spiritual pride within our own hearts?
Instead, we should operate out of a spirit of humility towards one another.
The apostle says as much in Romans 3:27 when speaking against boasting, and he also stated in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Because we are justified by God, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
Unity within the early church would have to begin with a proper understanding of unmerited grace through faith in Christ. The same is true for churches today. Boasting is “excluded” because all believers, no matter their background, have but one thing in which to boast: Christ Jesus (Gal. 6:14; Rom. 5:1-2, Rom. 5:11).
Seeing Christ as the sole source of our redemption prevents us from becoming spiritually prideful.
We are prevented from considering ourselves as more deserving of His grace than another, which keeps us humble and loving towards others. Pride is replaced by love which “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) and prevents a great deal of disunity.
A cohesive body of believers, freed from the hindrance of prideful boasting, can focus their spiritual efforts on observing the true intent of the law, which Paul says is to “serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:13-14).
While such Christ-like love is essential for a healthy church, it is also vital for evangelism. As Jesus’ words tell us in John 13:35, it is by our love for one another that people will know we are Christ’s disciples. Understanding that we are justified through faith leads the Christian to boast only in Christ, to love their fellow believers, and to reflect the truth of the gospel.
Similarly, a humble and thankful heart is loving towards others. As sinners saved by grace we have no claim to be disdainful towards non-Christians, for we were rescued from the same sins that beset them. Our response to this reality should be compassion, not condemnation.
The appropriate response to God’s graciousness is love, and this love should be seen in our care and concern for those around us–including unbelievers. Though we are by no means to dismiss sinful behavior, we should imitate Christ in our interactions with sinners.
Scripture teaches that we are justified by faith alone. The writings of Paul show the practical implications that this doctrine has on how we are to live the Christian life. Knowing that we did not earn our own salvation makes us humble rather than spiritually prideful, which causes us to act lovingly towards believers and unbelievers alike.
The Life of the Apostle Paul
Learn what we know about the apostle Paul as well as how we know these details
The Five Solas
A summary of Sola Fide (Salvation by Faith Alone) and other doctrines