Sunday, November 22, 2009
Justification is one of my favorite words. If you sit in one of my studies, I like to throw it in here and there, and then remind you of the definition. This week in our study of Genesis, we are going to see Abraham's faith counted to him as righteousness. It's his salvation experience. He is justified through his faith, not his actions. It's going to be a great lesson!
Paul, in the book of Romans, tries to explain the whole concept of justification by faith, rather than by works of the Law. He is writing to people who have been saved but have lived under the law for so long, that they can't help but hold on to their tradition. In teaching them that the Law was never intended to be a tool of salvation but an object lesson to point to the Savior, Paul uses Abraham as his premier example of one who was before the Law and was justified by his faith. (See Romans 4.)
This weekend my family went up to our cottage, about an hour away from home, and brought with us a handful of the kids' friends. Sunday morning, after a big pancake breakfast, we sat with them and David talked about what we have to be thankful for this year. We can all list the blessings of health and family, possessions and peace, but he encouraged the kids to go beyond the physical and thank the Lord for the spiritual blessings He has bestowed on us.
He focused on justification and when he asked what it meant, I piped in with my typical response, "It's a clean slate - God marks our account as if we had never sinned or as if we had always obeyed and we receive Christ's sinless record as our own." Good job, Kristen. Nice answer. But David, in his patient manner, explained that it actually goes a bit deeper than that.
Because God is just, He doesn't grant amnesty. Like a president on his way out of office, God doesn't simply grab a bunch of humans and mark their accounts clean. Dave mentioned that he struggles watching the show "Cold Case" because the concept that people who committed a crime and weren't brought to justice until 10, 20 or 30 years later bothers his sense of justice. When a crime is committed, a price must be paid. Again, because God is just, there has to be justice.
So when our account is wiped clean, it's because it's been paid. We receive Christ's sinless record, because He took our filthy, disgusting, criminal, marred, sinful one. To be justified means to have the price paid, to have our account cleaned, to have Christ's righteous record put as our balance and, moving forward, we remain protected within the person of Christ. "For you have died and your life is hidden in Christ in God...."(Colossians 3:3) Justification completely envelopes me in Christ, so all God sees is His Son. I have to be careful not to simply define justification by what happens to me because of it, but by the process that was taken on my behalf out of love for me by a righteous and just God.
So this Thanksgiving, let's fall on our faces before God and thank Him for the precious gift of His Son. Yes, I have a clean slate. Yes, He sees me as always and forever obedient. Yes, it's as if I never sinned. But because God is just, sin had to be punished. Therefore, I am justified by Christ's blood, by His taking my record and punishment and giving me His, through His grace, through faith which is given to me, because He loves me.
Whew! What do I possibly have to complain about after that???
See you on Tuesday morning!