What do you get if you combine Galatians with Hebrews? A fantastic argument for justification by faith, that’s what.
Galatians 2:17 (ESV) “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!.”
Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
Heb 4:10-11 “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
The argument goes like this:
P1: If we are striving to be justified by the law, then we are striving. (Seems obvious right?) Or put a different way, people who are still striving have not yet concluded their work. They have not arrived, they are not perfect, there remains more for them to do before they could be labeled perfect.
P2: Only those who are perfect will see the face of God.
C: Someone who is currently striving is someone who is currently giving testimony that their efforts are unacceptable and are not good enough. The fact that they are still working at it is itself sufficient evidence they are imperfect.
And therefore only someone who has finished their work and ceased to strive will see God, because it is only the person who does not strive who is not continually broadcasting their failure. (Well, technically it’s the person who has not quit early and rested before the job was done, who will see God, but someone who actually achieved righteousness, and then stopped. But that’s a given.)
We are to rest in Christ, because if we strive, we show that we have not arrived. But when we rest we communicate that He has done all that is necessary, and to Him be the glory. No amount of work therefore can get us there, because work by definition proves we have not arrived at perfection. And it’s only the perfect who get to go on.