“But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith’”
Paul argues from another Scripture in this verse (Habakkuk 2:4). Hypothetically, if a man in his own estimation should “continue in all things to do them” (3:10), he would not escape God’s curse on that account.
But that no one is justified by the law
God puts “no one” right in His eyes by the law. The law cannot make the guilty guiltless because the individual has sinned already. The law cannot undo what is done.
God does not show any leniency toward those who try to justify themselves by keeping the law – “no one.” There are no exceptions. The exclusive way people come to God is by faith. The law can reveal sin, but it cannot relieve it. The law exposes sin, but it does not save us from its penalty.
in the sight of God is evident,
The word “evident” conveys the idea of clear or manifest. It is plain to everyone who reads the Bible that no one can go to heaven by works. We must look at salvation how God looks at it. We must view it from His viewpoint.
Paul does not care about the critical opinion of man but the estimation of God on this matter. Only God’s judgment counts here. Paul states God’s judgment in a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 – the just live eternally by faith. What people think of themselves or others in such matters is of no moment; it is the judgment of God that counts.
The place of justification is in the sight of God. The judgment of our neighbors is incidental when it comes to salvation. God is the only one who can let us into His presence.
for “the just shall live by faith”
This phrase is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4. The previous quote from Deuteronomy proved God does not justify people by the law (3:10); the quote of this verse shows how God does justify – by faith. Faith is the single condition for justification. The New Testament also quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38.
The “just” here are those who stand legally right in God’s eyes. “Shall live” is eternal life. “By” means out of — we receive eternal life out of the source of faith.
Law and faith as means of salvation are mutually exclusive.
Keeping the law is an attempt at gaining God’s approval by good works. Exercising faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross is a response to God’s provision in grace. There is no middle ground. We must choose one method of salvation or the other.