I want to be good and I suspect the same is true for you. Yet, despite my best intentions, I cannot live a perfect life. The deeper I get to know my Lord the more aware I am of my shortcomings. For this reason I find the concept of justification to be somewhat overwhelming. God in His profound holiness did not have to go to any length to rescue me from sin. He does not need me and most certainly I have offended Him time and again. Yet, inexplicably through His vast love, He chose a horrific path to blaze a terrific salvation.
Romans 3:22-24--But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets—that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Justification is a fundamentally critical starting component of our salvation. Theologically, to be justified means to be freed of the guilt and penalty attached to our sin. Justification calls us good. Only God is capable of doing this because of His sovereignty and perfect nature. By His judicial act of pardoning us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, our estranged relationship with Him is bridged. By taking our sins upon Himself and defeating death, God’s perfect Son sacrificed His life to gain us the opportunity for salvation!
We cannot earn justification. We inherit a sin nature and we fulfill that nature by sinning. No matter how hard we try we break God’s laws. To simply say we love God, to be baptized, to attend a church, to keep the sacraments, or to be born into a Christian family is not enough—these do not make us righteous before our holy Magistrate. Just as a diseased person cannot be rid of cancer by doing good deeds, so our noble efforts cannot earn God’s pardon for our sin-condition. So how do we become justified?
The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul primarily in the book of Romans to teach us that justification originates with God’s grace and is appropriated by us through our faith in Jesus. Twenty-nine of the forty occurrences of the verb in the New Testament come from Paul. Justification contains within it forgiveness and precedes our moral transformation and sanctification (which is the process of our becoming holy). The result of justification is peace with God, adoption into His family, and the promise that we are given inherit eternal life with Him.
Like me, you may not feel worthy of justification. Yet, the great love that compelled God to pursue us ought to inspire us to pursue Him! True and certain faith in Jesus does not end with acceptance in what He did while we go on with our own pursuits, but rather a lifelong yearning to follow Him and in so doing to become like Him. Something to think about . . . in reveration!
God does not justify us because we are worthy, but by justifying us makes us worthy.—Thomas Watson
The doctrine of justification is the foundation that supports all of the other benefits we receive from Christ.—Erwin W. Lutzer
Scholars have debated for centuries as to whether justification (God's action in making persons righteous) refers primarily to one's new status in Christ—justification would thus mean the bestowal of a righteous status before God—or to one's new moral character in Christ—justification would then mean God’s action in one's life to enable a person to achieve high ethical standards. Protestant, and particularly Lutheran scholars, have argued that justification should be understood in the first sense and indicates God's acquitting or pronouncing the sinner righteous without any reference to moral change. Roman Catholic scholars have argued the opposite, holding that justification means God's making a person righteous or moral regeneration. In the heated debates over this issue, it has become clear that an undue stress on either alternative leads to a distorted view of Christianity. To stress justification as God's declaring the sinner righteous without regard to any subsequent change in the sinner's moral character is as wrong as to stress justification as moral achievement to the point that living by works overshadows living by faith. The best understanding of justification is one which includes both the new status of a person before God and the new life that this status demands.—Holman Bible Dictionary
"Forgive us our debts," that is justification; "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.—Charles Spurgeon
Biblical References that Reveal Justification
Genesis 15:6; Psalm 32:2, 71:16, 89:16; Isaiah 42:21, 45:24-25, 46:12-13, 50:8, 51:5-6, 53:11, 54:17, 56:1, 61:10; Jeremiah 23:6; Habakkuk 2:4; Zechariah 3:4; John 5:24; Acts 13:39; Romans 1:16-17, 2:13, 3:21-22, 24-26, 28; 30, 4:3, 5-25, 5:1;9;11-21, 6:22, 7:1-25, 8:1,30-31,33-34, 9:30-32, 10:1-21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:11; 2 Co 5:19; 21; Galatians 2:14-21, 3:6, 8-9, 11, 21-22, 24, 4:21-31, 5:4-6; Ephesians 6:14; Philippians 3:8-9; Colossians 2:13-14; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 11:4;7; James 2:20-23; 26
©2003 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)