Chrysostom on Justification (Discourses Against Judaizing Christians. Discourse I:6ff.)
Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and
the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose,
next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and
that he would be condemned.
Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from
the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination
all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse
to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose
to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo
punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of
the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to
the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own
accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift.
This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it
is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All
have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a
prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The
sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A
letter from the King came down from heaven.
Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without
exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of
All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and
profit from his gift. But those who wish to find
justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They
will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because
they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts;
they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law
because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.