Justification – Everything for Nothing!

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As we move through our sermon series in the New Testament letter to the Galatians you will notice one theme come up time and time again – justification. This is a key word in our understanding of what Jesus has done for us so I thought it helpful to spend a little time setting out what the Bible has to say about the subject.

We often speak of “justifying ourselves” by which we mean “to show that we have done nothing wrong”. Similarly, in the thought world of the Bible, to “justify” someone means to declare them as “righteous” or “innocent”. So, for example, God speaks of honest judges who  “justify the innocent” (Deut. 25:1). The word, therefore, takes its primary meaning from the language of the law courts. Today our Bible translators express this concept using words in the right/righteous and just/justified word groups. To be “just” is to be “in the right”, to be “righteous” is to be “justified” and so on.

God tells us in the Bible that we are not just/righteous. As the Apostle Paul reminds us (Rom. 3:10, citing Ps. 14:1),

There is no one righteous, not even one

Which leaves us in a terrible position because God is a zealously just judge:

… for those … who reject the truth and follow unrighteousness, there will be wrath and   anger. (Romans 2:8)

God is looking for righteousness, but where will he find it? Certainly not in us. For every good deed that we do there is another bad deed or thought swiftly following it. We can never be righteous enough to please the righteous judge of all the earth. The Jews of  Jesus’ and Paul’s day thought they could try, though, especially the Pharisees! They  worked hard at keeping God’s holy law in an attempt to be righteous by their own works and actions. Ultimately this pursuit is always in vain for our problem is not just what we do but who we are. We are unrighteous people who do unrighteous things. What hope is there for us?

The great joyful discovery of Paul, that he writes about in Galatians and elsewhere , is that there is every hope! But not in our own efforts. Rather, God the righteous God gives us His own righteousness in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ! It’s an incredible thing!

However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the unjust, his   faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

God is the God who justifies the unjust! We do not need to be good enough because Christ has already been good enough for us! We simply need to trust God that He has done it for us in Jesus! We simply need to  have faith! Nothing more! Have you grasped this incredible truth? It’s the powerhouse of the Christian life! We get everything from God, despite giving Him nothing. Justification by faith alone.

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