Justified by Faith

On our way to Sunday School last week, Macon and I discussed the concept of justification by faith.  I reminded him that many kids are taught that justified means “just as if I’d never sinned.   That has been running through my mind off and on all week long.  Just as if I’d never sinned.  Just as if I’d never sinned.

Romans 3:23, one of the first verses I ever memorized tells me that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  I sin.  I was born into sin and inherited that sin nature from Adam.  I make choices every day that violate God’s laws and desires and break His heart.  I could do nothing to save myself.  No amount of good works, compassion on others, or self sacrifice could earn my salvation.  My sin separated me from a Holy God; but I was not and continue to not be left hopeless.  Romans 3:24 tells me I have been justified FREELY by His grace.  Galatians 2:16 tells me that only way I can be justified is by faith in Jesus, not in anything I can do or not do.

So I pondered these thoughts this week.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t sin.  I have a hard time some days not sinning in my heart before I get out of bed let alone make it through an entire day.  Some of those sins are only known to me and God.  Some of them are evident to others.  Some seem bigger or worse than others.  Others seem so small and insignificant.  But they are all sin.  Isn’t it funny that we are so willing to apply that grace to our sins; however, we are not so willing to apply that to others?

“Don’t trust her.  She’s lied.”   “He was in jail.” “He is just acting like he’s never done anything wrong.”  What part of our sin are we supposed to carry with us?  How long do we carry?  Who decides the consequences?  What if I see him acting as if he’d never done anything wrong and I didn’t hear that he told anyone he’s sorry?  Well, of course he’s acting as if he’s never done anything wrong.  Justification means just as if he’d never sinned.  Just because I didn’t hear the apology to God doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

As I was thinking all of these things and more this week, I realized that, anytime I feel shame or guilt over things I’ve confessed and from which I’ve repented, I am not trusting that God is doing what He said He would do. I’m calling Him a liar.  He is telling me that, because He gave Himself as a propitiation for my sin, it truly is just as if I’d never sinned.  Whenever I alter my behavior, thinking as a sinner I have no right to do whatever, I am not demonstrating a sincere belief in justification by faith and faith alone.  For if I have died with Christ, I know that I also live with Him.  If I have died, then I am free from sin and death has no dominion over me.  He died to sin once and for all.  I do not have to carry my sins around like a large scarlet letter A.  I can walk in this world just as if I’d never sinned – walking in that newness of life.  There is no condemnation for me because I am justified in him.

I think there have been times that, though I have been set free, I have kept myself, or tried to place others, behind bars.  I feel guilty or expect others to feel guilty that we cannot be perfect in this life.  They should be sorry for what they’ve done.  There have even been times in my life that I felt like such a hypocrite by opening my Bible because I know how far from godliness I am.  Yet, isn’t that a lack of faith?  Christ came that I might be made righteous.  He is the only way and nothing I have ever done was good enough for me to be called righteous.  Which is the true act of hypocrisy – making sure my outward life looks acceptable before I walk outwardly in the Christian life or taking God at His word and walking in the Christian life by faith, knowing that, though I am far from perfect and will continue to sin, He has promised to complete a work in me?

What if I acted as if I’d never sinned?  What things would I do differently?  Would I be bolder?  Would I be quicker to approach His throne?  Would I approach Him more boldly?  Would I be quicker to step up to help?  Would I be more confident in my faith?  Would I be free to do more things for God?  Would I be more willing to wear my Christianity more openly if I wasn’t concerned about others remembering I’m a sinner?  Would I be quicker to witness, being able to genuinely answer the charge – “the church is full of hypocrites,” knowing that the true hypocrites are the ones who do not understand that Christ came for the sinners and for not those who consider themselves righteous?

What would my relationships be like if I insisted on always seeing people through the filter of Jesus?  What if I treated people as if they’d never sinned?  What if, when sinned against, I could go to my sister in love and gently confront her and then truly let it go?  What if I concerned myself with loving others enough to not see their sin but rather see Jesus in them?  What if, instead of categorizing people according to some ranking of sin, I saw each person as a person for whom Christ died?  The Son of God Himself loved them so much, He died for them.  What if I weighed their worth through that value???

Justified – just as if I’d never sinned.  Walking in faith.  Believing His Word and walking as if I’d never sinned.  I am His and He is mine.  I am not ashamed and neither is He.  🙂

“And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”    Charles Wesley

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