Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Justification - Galatians 2:16

"Nevertheless knowing that a man
is not justified by the works of the Law
but through faith in Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus,
that we may be justified by faith in Christ,
and not by the works of the Law;
since by the works of the Law
shall no flesh be justified."
(Galatians 1:16)

The message of Galatians 1:16 is clear: justification is ONLY by faith in Jesus Christ and not by the works of the Law. Over the next few posts it would appear that justification is going to be the grand theme. Honestly, it's the grand theme of Paul's entire epistle. In light of that perhaps it would be wise to make sure that this important term is defined and understood.

I know of no fuller and better definition than the one found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It states:

"Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone."
Webster defines it as "the act, process, or state of being justified by God." He then goes on to define "justified" as "having been proved right " or "legally absolved".

Good words, for by the act of God's free grace, through the sacrificial work of Christ, we have been legally absolved of our sinful guilt and are now accepted as righteous and holy in His sight. Amazing.

This morning I want us to pause and notice the five defining points that the Westminster Shorter Catechism gives of this bright shining salvific star that is known as justification. It think it will serve us well before delving further into Galatians.

1. Justification is an act of God's free grace.
     It is all of grace.
     It is all of FREE grace.
     It is nothing that we earn or work for.
     It is a gift. And it is a gift that is freely given gift.

"...being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith..."
(Romans 3:24-25)

2. Justification is an act of God's free grace where he pardons all our sins.
     He forgives us.
     He wipes the slate clean.
     He declares us not guilty!

"Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
and whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account."
(Romans 4:6-8)

3. Justification is an act of God's free grace where He accepts us as righteous in His sight.
     God not only forgives us, but once He does He now looks upon us a righteous.
     He looks at us and sees not our sin but Christ's salvation applied in us and His                      righteousness imputed to us.

"God, reconciled us to Himself through Christ...
not counting our trespasses against us,
and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation....
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
(2 Corinthians 5:18-21 - selections)

4. Justification is an act of God's free grace that is imputed to us ONLY because of the righteousness of Christ.
     Christ's righteousness is credited to our account (imputation).
     His holiness is put into the bank of our life.
     Jesus has made the eternal deposit of righteousness and has also made the withdrawal  of the guilt and power of sin from our lives. The latter He has crucified in His own flesh on Calvary's cross. It is ALL of Him, ONLY of Him, FULLY of Him and absolutely not one single iota of us.

"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one,
much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness
 will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men,
even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
For as through the one man's obedience the many were made sinners,
even so through the obedience of the One
the many will be made righteous."
(Romans 5:17-19)

5. Justification is an act of God's free grace that is received by faith alone.
     It is not getting by doing, it is receiving by believing!
     It is faith that takes hold of Christ and even that faith is a gracious gift of God.

"...found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which come from God on the basis of faith."
(Philippians 3:9)

OK, so here's the summary - In justification we are, by grace alone through faith alone, freely and fully forgiven of our sins and given the righteousness of Christ.

That is the good news of the gospel and that is the good news we're about to look at in Galatians. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ's work alone we are forgiven and declared not guilty.

What's in your life's bank account?

Justified by Him, through Him, and to Him,

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