Many Christians do not want to have to learn church doctrine; they say it tends to complicate life. I think it tends to convict them of their own lives. One of the most important Christian doctrines is justification; in fact, it is so foundational that in my humble opinion it must be learned.
What is justification? The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines justification thusly:
“The Biblical meaning of ‘justify’ is to pronounce, accept, and treat as just, i.e., as, on the one hand, not penally liable, and, on the other, entitled to all the privileges due to those who have kept the law. It is thus a forensic term, denoting a judicial act of administering the law—in this case, by declaring a verdict of acquittal and so excluding all possibility of condemnation.”
You may be scratching your head right now, but what the definition above means is that when I trusted Christ for salvation, God declared, judged me not guilty, and not only that, said I now stand before Him just as if I’d never sinned. I am justified! How?
By faith alone. Our fifth sola is sola fide, meaning justification comes by faith alone. An Old Testament picture of justification is found in Rahab the Harlot:
“And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25)
Rahab put her faith in the God of the Israelites and she was spared death on earth and in eternity. Our righteousness, our right standing with God is imputed to us, put into our account, by our faith in God. When we trust Christ by believing in Him, we are made justified:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
Some believe that the balance of their righteous acts will overcome their sinful acts and a loving God will accept them as they are without receiving Christ. That preaches real well in many churches across America today, but it comes from the pit of hell.
“Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” (Galatians 3:5-11)
Let’s put it this way; if you believe that your good will outweigh the bad, what standard, what measures of weight, do you believe God uses? He is going to use the Ten Commandments, known also as the Law. Is it possible to keep all Ten Commandments? A better question is, have you kept all ten of God’s commandments? If you said yes then you just broke one of them, the ninth one to be exact—bearing false witness. In other words you lied.
The Ten Commandments were given to us as a mirror to see our unrighteousness and our need for a Savior, Jesus Christ:
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)
As they say in the South, “That’ll preach!” And it did and it does because it is the truth.
Do you have peace with God? Do you know that all your sins are not only forgiven, but also forgotten to the point you are considered a lawkeeper and not a lawbreaker? Only Christ’s sacrificial work on the Cross can make that possible in your life.
I pray that is true for you, but if it is not, I pray that you will make it so today, right now, right where you are. Won’t you please receive Christ through faith and be made new, just as if you’d never sinned?
Beloved, have a blessed weekend, remember the true meaning of the upcoming 4th of July, and please remember to go to church on Sunday.
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers