Justification and Sin

David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. – Romans 4:6-8

Sola fide—faith alone—is sometimes called the “material cause” of the Reformation because the substance or material of the debate between the Protestant Reformers and the Roman church concerned the instrumental means of justification. The Reformers and their opponents both understood that we must be declared righteous to endure God’s judgment and enter into eternal life….

But they disagreed on the instrumental means of justification and the basis upon which the declaration is made. The Roman Catholics held that the basis of God’s declaration is the righteousness of Christ and the righteous works that we produce in cooperation with grace. They also said that the instrumental means of justification are the sacraments of baptism, which initiates people into the state of justification, and penance, which restores people to the state of justification after mortal sin. The Protestants argued that the basis for the declaration of justification is only the righteousness of Christ and that faith alone is the instrument by which this righteousness is imputed to us, or put on our record. View article →