Justification. There’s a big church word for ya. At some point in my Christian education, and probably several times over, justification was explained to me as “God sees me ‘just-as-if-I’d’ never sinned.” I fully anticipated Dale using that exact phrase this past Sunday.
Instead, first service he said, “Justification is not a synonym for amnesty… God is not just saying, ‘It’s alright, we’ll just forget all that this time. We’re good. We’ll just forget about it. No. He can’t do that.”
God is keenly aware of my sin, even more so than myself. He knows the evil desires that wage war within me (James 4:1). Because of His great love for me, He was willing to go to great lengths to make me, the unrighteous, righteous. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I am declared righteous; I am justified.
I didn’t have to walk across hot coals or participate in a yearly pilgrimage. I didn’t have to beat my body into submission or complete some spiritual check-list. Even so, none of these things would have been enough. There was nothing I could do for myself; I was dead in my sin. God demands justice, so Christ took the punishment that I deserved. Jesus took the initiative.
And because of Him, I now have life! I am no longer a slave; I am free from sin! I am justified. Romans 3:23-25a, 26b says,
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood… God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
When we truly understand justification, I think we approach God differently. James 4:8-10 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.“
The song “Resurrecting” by Elevation Church puts it this way:
The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow
Take a moment today to look your sin in the face and then imagine looking into the face of your Savior. Humbly come before Him and cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (Revelation 4:8).