Justified by Faith
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).
We have seen that man cannot be justified by the works of the law. Therefore, he either cannot be justified at all or he must be justified in some other way. God provides another way, a way that allows Him to “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” The process of justification by faith alone is how God deals with sinful people to make them fit for His presence. And His gift of faith is the key.
The Evangelism Explosion outreach program uses a pair of “diagnostic” questions to determine a person’s understanding of the process of salvation. The second of these is: “Suppose you were to die tonight and stand before God, and He were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ What would you say?” Even the youngest Christian is likely to answer this question by saying, “Because Jesus died for my sins.” This is a good, valid, Biblical answer. It shows that the person understands something had to be done for him to solve his sin problem. But the answer is only half correct. Jesus’ death on the cross serves as the punishment for an individual’s sins. It is as if that person’s slate has been wiped clean. But God demands more from a person who would come into His presence. He demands righteousness. Therefore, at the moment God justifies a person, He legally transfers the person’s unrighteousness to Christ and transfers the righteousness of Christ to the person (2 Cor. 5:21). This is the righteousness Christ gained as He lived as a man under the law, yet without sin (Rom. 5:18–19). In this way, God can regard the person as just before Him.
The instrumental cause of this transaction is faith. But faith does not come from the person. As we have seen, faith is a gift from God. And it basically means trust. First of all, a person believes God’s testimony in Scripture that Jesus was the Son of God, that He lived a sinless life, and that He died as the substitute for those God chose to redeem. He takes God at His word. Second, he moves from belief to action, placing his personal trust in the Father and in Jesus Christ to provide the antidote for his sin. In short, he trusts Christ to do for him what he cannot do for himself—wipe out the guilt of his sin and give him the righteousness he needs to stand before the Father.
As the Scriptures declare: “The just shall live [be saved] by faith.”
If you are a believer, you have been justified. That means God has determined that He will not regard you as a guilty sinner but as His spotless, perfect child. In this simple process are displayed all the wonders of the love, grace, and mercy of our redeeming God. Give Him heartfelt praise today for giving you the faith by which you were saved.
Passages for Further Study
Isaiah 45:25; Acts 13:38–39; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 19 Galatians 2:16
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