And if while we seek to be made righteous by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
For the better understanding of the latter part of this chapter, it must be observed that Paul directs his speech not only to Peter, but also to the Jews that stood by, being maintainers of justification by the law.
Some think that in this verse Paul makes an objection in the person of the false apostles, on this manner. If we be justified by Christ alone without the observation of the law, then there is no difference between us Jews and the Gentiles, but we are as deep sinners as they. And if this be so, then Christ is the minister of sin. And then they say, to this Paul answers, “God forbid.” But I somewhat doubt whether this be the sense of the words, because Paul does not make a direct confutation of this objection in the words following.
Therefore I rather suppose that Paul continues his former speech even to the end of the chapter. And that in these words he uses a third reason to dissuade Peter from halting between the Jews and Gentiles. And the reason will the better appear if we search the meaning of the words. “If while we be justified by Christ,” that is, by faith in Christ, without the works of the law. “We are found sinners,” that is, found in our sins, not fully justified; but are further to be justified by the works of the law. “Is Christ the minister of sin?,” that is, does it not hence follow that Christ ministered unto us occasion of sin, in that He has caused us to renounce the justice of the law? “God forbid,” that is, you do all hold it with me as a blasphemy that Christ should be the minister of sin.
The argument then is framed thus. If being justified by Christ, we remain sinners and are further to be justified by the law, then Christ is the minister of sin. But Christ is no minister of sin. Therefore they which are justified need not further to be justified by the law.
The Use. First, we learn hence that it is a blasphemy to make Christ the minister of sin, who is the minister of righteousness, yea justice itself (Isa. 53:11). “He brings everlasting righteousness” (Dan. 9:24). He is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” (John 1). Of all this the prophets give testimony (Acts 10:43). Therefore atheists are no better than devils that reckon Him among the false prophets of the world. And many of them that profess Christ are greatly to be blamed that make Christ the greatest sinner in the world. Because Christ died for them, therefore they presume of mercy and take liberty to live as they list.
Again Paul here teaches that they which are justified by Christ are perfectly to be justified and need not further to be justified by anything out of Christ, as by the works of the law. It may be objected that they which are justified feel themselves to be sinners (Rom. 7:14). Answer. The corruption of original sin is in them that are justified. Yet it is not imputed to them by God, and withal, it has received his [its] deadly wound by the death of Christ. Therefore they which are justified are not reputed sinners before God. Again, it may be objected that they which are justified must confess themselves to be sinners to the very death. Answer. Confession of sin is not a cause, but a way for the obtaining of pardon (Prov. 28:13; 1 John 1:9). The uncovering of one of our sins is the way to cover them before God. The sins therefore of men justified upon their humble and serious confession are not sins imputed, but covered.
Upon this doctrine it follows that there is not a second justification by works, as the papists teach. For he that is justified by Christ is fully justified and needs not further be justified by anything out of Christ, as by the law. Again the same persons teach that our sins are done away by the death of Christ, and we justified in our baptism; and that if we fall and sin after baptism, we must do works of penance that we may satisfy God’s justice and be further justified by our works and sufferings. But then, by their leaves,94 after we are justified by Christ, we are found sinners, and we are further to be justified by our own works. Now this is the point which Paul here confutes.
Again, by this doctrine we learn that Christ alone is by Himself sufficient for our justification. “In Him” (says Paul) “are we complete” (Col. 2:10). He is a well of grace and life never dried up (John 4:14). Thirdly, we must content ourselves with Him alone, and with His obedience for our justification, despising (in respect of Him) all merits and satisfactions done by man.
Lastly, here we see what must be the care of men in this world, namely, to seek to be justified by the faith of Christ. It was Paul’s principal desire “to be found in Christ, having not his own righteousness, but the righteousness which is by the faith of Christ” (Phil. 3:9). The like desire should be in us all.
William Perkins (2015-10-12T03:00:00+00:00). The Works of William Perkins, Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 3496-3498). Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.