But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” (Galatians 3:12)
You can’t show me one person in the whole world, outside the promise of the gospel, whom you could rightfully call “a doer of the law.”
Therefore, the expression “doer of the law” is an imaginary term that no one understands, unless he or she is a true believer—one who is above the law and in the blessing and faith of Abraham.
True doers of the law are people who have received the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ and begin to love God and do good to their neighbors.
The good that these people do do includes faith at the same time. In other words, faith brings about a tree, and then the fruit, which is good works, grows.
First, the tree must be there; then the fruit will follow. The fruit doesn’t produce the tree, but the tree produces the fruit.
Similarly, faith first transforms the person into someone who can then do good works. So if someone wants to fulfill the law without faith, it’s like producing fruit without a tree or making fruit out of wood and clay.
The result isn’t real fruit but simply an illusion.After the tree is planted—after faith in Christ creates a new person—then the works will follow.
The doer must come before the work, not the work before the doer.1
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- Martin Luther, Faith Alone [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], May 9 ↩