Justification is God’s act of declaring us “not guilty”, of our sins.
HYMN: AMAZING GRACE! HOW SWEET THE SOUND
Text: Romans 4:25, 5:1-11, 18
By the act of justification, the Lord Jesus Christ ushers us into the presence of God. We now have peace with God: not merely a subjective feeling (peace of mind), but primarily an objective status, a new relationship with God: once we were His enemies, but now we are His friends (see Romans 5:10; Eph. 2:16, Col. 1:21-22). Once we were separated from Him, now we are joined (united) (Phil. 2:1, Rom. 6:5) with Him by Christ.
The Almighty God declares, “not guilty”, all that would run into Christ. In Num. 21:8-9, the Holy scriptures recorded the “strange” cure to snake bite that the children of Israel were receiving. A bronze snake was hung on the pole; anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at it lived. The Lord Jesus Christ brought a fuller meaning to this event in Johh 3:14, 15, where he explained that just as the Israelites were healed of their sickness by looking at the snake on the pole, all believers today can be saved from sickness of sin by looking to Jesus’ death on the cross (another pole). It was not the bronze snake that healed the people but their belief that God could heal them. This belief in the Sovereign One is demonstrated in simple obedience to His instructions. Because the Lord is holy, and unlimited, His actions do not have to fall into our extremely limited, temporal, and evil mind. In His infinite mercy, wisdom and justice, He sets everyone free that looks up to Jesus Christ for salvation, and when he does, He declares that the individual is Righteous! His past is not remembered before God. And if he continues in Christ, He will never be remembered as a sinner. This is only possible with One most holy, most knowing, most loving, and merciful, and most just (Ez. 18:21-23).
The whole of human existence should ponder on this point. God’s love is neither static nor self-centered. It reaches out and draws us in. His perfect love caused Him to be merciful to those who recognize their sin and turn back to Him, but He cannot wink at those willfully sinning (people who harden their hearts in disbelief and fear of believing the truth of God’s word). They would die both physically and spiritually. God takes no joy in these deaths; He would prefer that they turn to Him and have eternal life. Any day as long as the time still remains (see Is. 55:6, Jer. 29:13), anyone that looks to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation would be declared, “not guilty” by God.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To know how God justifies man
2. To know why God justifies man
3. To understand how justification is the work of Grace alone
4. To understand the roles of works in justification
Q1. HOW DOES GOD JUSTIFY MAN?
1 Cor. 6:9-11, 2 Cor. 5:15, Acts 13:38-39, Luke 18:9-14
Through the Lord Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to us. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything that we could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. This is the good news of the gospel: that forgiveness of sins and freedom from guilt are available through faith in Jesus Christ to all people.
The reason why Jesus Christ came to earth was to die and the reason why He came to die was to bring justification to men of sin who had/have no other way of gaining peace with God. This is God’s way of saving man and it is the only way that He accepts anyone who confesses his sins to Him and places his trust in the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary to have been on his behalf is brought into union with God’s son. He becomes united with Christ in His death and God gives him His Spirit, a token that his guilt has been removed.
A most vital ingredient for obtaining justification from God is faith. If we come to God demanding acceptance on the basis of our “good” conduct, God would point out that our righteousness is nothing compared to His infinite righteousness.
Q2. WHY DOES GOD JUSTIFY MAN?
Rom. 3:10-12, 20, Isa. 64:6
God’s appearance is so holy, pure and intense that it is a consuming fire that burns everything in its path. If we are so impure, how can we be saved? Only by God’s mercy. If God were to meet us today, His glory would overwhelm us, especially when we look at our “filthy rags”. Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God (see Rom. 3:23) any more than a beggar in rotten rags would dine at a kings table. Man’s best efforts are still infected with sin. Man’s only hope therefore is faith in Jesus Christ who can cleanse and bring him into God’s presence.
If a man must be God’s man as He intended in the genesis of His creation, He would justify man and do it His own way! There is no one righteous, no one is innocent. But every person is valuable in God’s eyes because God created us in His image and He loves us. Yet no one is righteous by himself because man’s nature has since changed and become extremely sinful and deceitful. NO one can earn right standing with God! Though valuable, man has fallen into sin. He is helpless, hopeless, and abandoned with the very enemy of his soul. And if God does not justify man he would be forever lost.
Q3. HOW IS JUSTIFICATION THE WORK OF GRACE ALONE?
Rom. 4:1-5, 9-25, Rom. 4:6-8, Eph. 2:8,9, Rom. 3:28
If a person could earn right standing with God by being good, the granting gift of salvation would not be a free act; it would be an obligation. Man’s self-reliance is futile; all he can do is cast himself if God’s mercy and grace. It is Jesus Christ who saves us and not our feelings or actions, and He is strong enough to save us no matter how weak our faith is. Jesus Christ offers us salvation as a gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it through our powerful faith. Faith is simply believing and trusting in Jesus Christ, and reaching out to accept His wonderful gift of salvation Rituals such as circumcision did not earn any reward for Abraham; he had been blessed long before the circumcision ceremony was introduced. Abraham found favor with God by faith alone before he was circumcised. This favor of the Almighty is what grace is. We are saved by grace through faith, plus nothing. It is not be loving God and doing good that we are saved; neither is it by faith plus love, nor by faith plus deeds. We are saved only through faith in Christ: we justified by God’s favor (grace only) through trusting Him to forgive all our sins.
How sinful is man?
“The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9, 4:14). “You belong to your father the devil” (John 8:44, 6:70). You may not be conscious of this, but your hatred of the truth, your lies, and murderous intentions indicate how much control the devil has over you. You are his tool in carrying out his plans: you speak the very same language of his. And do you know why you sin?
God makes it clear why man sins- it is a matter of the heart. The heart of man has been inclined towards sin from birth. It is easy to fall into the routine of forgetting and forsaking God. But we can still choose whether or not to continue to sin. And man chooses to continue to sin! And he is so sinful that his Maker could even equate him to the devil! His heart is so thoroughly deceitful that no one can truly understand it. Man is so sinful that he is like the devil’s offspring.
How then can such a creature (and this includes all mortal men!) talk about some “good” in him? It is an insult on God’s holiness for man (anywhere, anytime, in whatever position or situation) to think, or pronounce himself “good”, “holy”, or “right”! (See Job 40:1-4).
Q4. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF WORKS IN JUSTIFICATION?
2 Pet. 1:5-9
In Rom. 5:18, 19, the scripture shows us the great effect of one man’s obedience. In Heb. 2:1-4, we are called to pay close attention to the truth we have heard so that we would not drift away into falsehood. Paying careful attention is hard work. It involves focusing our minds, bodies, and senses. Listening to Christ means not merely hearing but obeying. In James 2:26, the scriptures, teaches us that if we have faith to receive God’s justification, we should then add goodness to our faith; we must work to resist sin and Satan; we must remain new and do new things.
Faith must be more than belief in certain facts. It must result in action (works), growth in Christian character, and the practice of moral discipline or it will die away (James 2:14-17). It is wonderful to be justified, but we are justified for good works. So, then, works come after justification (and not before it). It is a result of justification. These actions, works, do not come automatically; they require hard work. They are not optional; all of them must be a continual part of the Christians life. We do not finish one and start on the next, but work on them all together. God in His mercy gives us more grace, and empowers us, but He also gives the responsibility to learn and to grow.
Daily Living Application
It is true that deeds cannot earn justification before God, but it is absolutely false to think that they are unimportant. We are saved so that we can grow and to resemble Christ, and so that we can help to save others.
The Lord wants to produce His character in us. He therefore demands our discipline and effort. As we obey Christ who guides us by His Spirit, we would develop self-control, not only with respect to food and drinks, but also with respect to our emotions.
A person who claims to be saved while remaining unchanged does not understand faith or what God has done for him.
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Daily Devotional Guide
Monday: Justified by faith.
1 Cor. 6:9-11
Tuesday: Saved by grace.
Wednesday: There is no righteous.
Isa. 64:6, Rom. 3:10-12
Thursday: Justified for good works
James 2:14-17, 2 Pet. 1:5-9
Friday: Faith without works
Saturday: Holding on to God.
1 Pet. 2:1-3