For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone – was proclaimed by the Reformers as the answer to the Romanist claim that penance somehow could atone for your sins. God’s elect are chosen by God’s Grace alone, through no works of our own, to enter into His Kingdom. Whether the issue is the paying of indulgences, as Martin Luther spoke out against so vehemently, or whether the issue is a priest telling someone to say 15 “Hail Marys” in order to pay for their sin, the fact remains that scripture nowhere ascribes our justification or our forgiveness of sins to our own works. By grace, Christ died for His own, paying the entire penalty of sin on our own behalf. This is a glorious truth! The scripture tells us that our own righteousness is as filthy rags.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
How miserable we would be if we were counting on our own righteousness to provide our justification. The old hymn is correct, Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.