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poses a question that's hardwired inside every one of us and accompanied by a deep, instinctive longing to be fully reconciled with our Creator:
"How can a man be in the right before God?" (ESV).
The answer: justification by faith in Jesus.
What is justification exactly? Biblically, it is a legal declaration from God that we are innocent of sin. Instead of being punished, we are declared right before Him. It is not mere pardon – justification still respects the law. Rather, it is an act by which God determines to treat the guilty as righteous, just as if they had not sinned. The basis for this? The finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. He takes our place as Accused Number 1 and is put to death in our place.
"He who knew no sin becomes sin for us, broken for our brokenness" (, author’s paraphrase).
Researching and writing this has made me realize how absolutely central the doctrine of justification is to our faith. It really is at the heart of all that we are called to believe, live by, and proclaim as Christians. Martin Luther wrote that justification is the cornerstone of Christianity. It sets our faith apart from all other world religions. And it is only possible because of God’s scandalous grace. No wonder our false sense of justice and piety makes it so difficult to accept.
The thief on the cross next to Jesus, instantly and wholly justified with just a few words of simple faith, is a powerful reminder that restoring the relationship between God and us is by grace alone through faith, not by any goodness on our part! God counts us as righteous through faith, justifying us because of Christ. The history-splitting sacrifice of Jesus, or atonement, justifies a fallen world before a Holy God. So that humans can once again walk and talk in relationship with Him, full of hope and wonderfully free.
Have you truly, fully embraced the mind-blowing doctrine of justification? Yet, His Word teaches us that it is a gift that we must keep grabbing onto to live the abundant, eternal, and freedom-proclaiming life for which we are all made! And it is also a gift we need to experience and tell unbelievers around us about – so they too can live free and fully justified before their Creator.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” ().
Prayer: Father, thank you for justifying us through Your Son’s sacrifice. Help us cling to the truth of this great gift of grace and tell others about Your Son and what He has done for them. Give us the confidence and words to speak Your Truth! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
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