But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… (Romans 3:21-24)
Justification is a legal term that comes from the law courts. In order to understand this word, we need to see that God is the Judge and that we’re on the stand.
What are our crimes? Do we ever take the credit when it belongs to God? Ever try to usurp God’s position as Judge by judging others? Worship idols instead of God? Use the Lord’s name in vain? Use any child of God? Steal? Covet? Lie? Envy? Slander? Gossip? Misuse God’s gifts?
If you’ve ever been to court, you know that the air is very tense. You’re aware that someone’s future, maybe yours, could be hanging in the balance.
That background and atmosphere are exactly where we are with the word justification. We stand before the Judge. We have no defense. We’re guilty.
Just as we’re being sentenced, someone walks into the court and says, “Your Honor, if there’s a penalty to be paid, I will pay it. If they’re condemned to death, I will die for them. I’ll be the guilty one and let them go free.”
What’s remarkable is that the Judge agrees. What’s even more remarkable is that the Judge sent the guiltless Rescuer to pay for the crimes of the guilty.
Because of what the Rescuer, Jesus, has done, the Judge says that we’re “justified” and not condemned. Instead of standing guilty before God, we’re now, as Paul says, “righteous” before God. We’re in the right relationship before God not by anything we’ve done but because of what God has done through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.
I encourage us to “get right” with God. The only way we can do so is to trust and be grateful that the Judge sent the guiltless Jesus to “justify” guilty us by paying the penalty that we deserved.
- As you picture standing before the Judge, what are the sins, messes, wrongs, and infractions that condemn you?
- As you picture standing guilty and condemned before the Judge and then see Jesus paying the price and bearing the penalty for all you have done and not done, how do you respond?
- If you always remembered that Jesus “justifies” you, would you try to justify yourself less often? Have you ever considered that when you try to justify yourself, you’re saying that what Jesus has done for you isn’t quite adequate?