Lesson Four – Justified


From Eternity to Eternity – Lesson Four

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One rule for simplistic Bible teaching is that the instructor is able to keep the students aware of their relation to the subject. The Apostle Paul was a master at simplifying complex subjects about spiritual things. The following is his summary of God’s purpose for the creation of mankind and His choice for carrying out His purpose. It is easy to see how we relate to this topic.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.  Romans 8:28-30

You will recall from our previous studies of this text that Paul used only four words to depict what God has for mankind in four different situations. He used the word predestined, which means to mark off beforehand, to declare the mind of God about His purposes for us in eternity before time. He preplanned,or foreknew, that all who love Him would be His children (Eph. 1:3-6). Paul used the word called to sum up what God offers the people “in Adam” in the world realm where Satan rules. He calls them by the gospel (II Thess. 2:14).

For Christians, Paul chose the word justified to sum up what God has for us “in Christ.” Basically, the word “justified” means to make or declare right. Christians walk by faith in the blood of Jesus and God counts us righteous. Paul simplified this doctrine for us when he said, “He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Cor. 5:21.

There are two ways for Christians to be right in relation to our Heavenly Father. One way is to do everything right and the other way is to walk by faith and accept God’s gift of righteousness (Rom. 3:27; 5:17). Since we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, we must opt for God’s gift of righteousness (Rom. 3:23). We, like Abraham, must walk by faith and let God count us as righteous (Rom. 4:1-3). Unless God finds righteousness in us His wrath is manifested; therefore, righteousness is a pre-requisite for the flow of other graces from God (Rom. 5:21). The way the doctrine of justification works is revealed in the following Scripture.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 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. This was to demonstrate His righteousness,  because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier who has faith in Jesus. Rom. 3:23-26

JustifiedChristians live on the “mercy seat” of God. “Mercy seat” in Heb. 9:5 and “propitiation” in this text is translated from the same Greek word. Jesus’ death on the cross is our propitiation, that is, an appeasement to God for Christians’ sins as we walk by faith in His blood. The Apostle John related the same doctrine when he said, “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. Paul declared that Jesus “was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Rom 4:25. The result of this great and wonderful doctrine is that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 8:1. This “no condemnation” situation is necessary for the implementation of the new covenant that we studied in the previous lesson.

The doctrine of justification by faith allows Christians to remain “in Christ” in a peaceful fellowship with God in spite of our weaknesses of character and ignorance’s of God’s laws of life (Rom. 5:1-2). We need to view God’s righteousness in order to correct our own unrighteousness, but without justification we cannot approach God. God’s righteousness is manifested in Christ that Christians might have a standard for justice. We use divine justice as our “guide-on bearer” in life (Rom. 3:4).

Christians are able to immediately stop sinning in some ways; however, sins such as anger and hardness of heart will take longer to overcome. Of course, we will never be able to be as perfect as Christ but we can practice righteousness and be counted righteous “as He is righteous” while we work on our unrighteousness (I John 3:7). The doctrine of justification by faith is extremely valuable to our mental environment “in Christ.” We are not ashamed or “guilt ridden” about ourselves, even in the presence of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and other saints. If we believe God is counting us righteous we will not feel guilty about admitting our weaknesses. We need to talk to God and others about our weaknesses. Justification allows us to view our weaknesses objectively. It is the only way to correct them permanently.

The type of faith that will justify Christians to live in God’s presence is more than the acknowledgment that God exists. Faith is defined in the Bible as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1. Our faith involves our present and future life in relation to God’s plan for us. The writer of Hebrews said, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). Our faith must acknowledge that God is, and that He is now rewarding us in Christ.

Faith, like love, becomes a part of our emotional base out of which other healthy attitudes develop, such as the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. Our faith moves us to obey Christ because we trust Him with our lives (Rom. 1:5). When God finds this kind of faith in the blood of Christ in us He counts us as righteous. God’s grace reigns “in Christ” through righteousness (Rom.5:21). It is under these conditions that our inner man will be able to reign in life over the lust of our flesh (Rom. 5:18; 13:14).

As long as we are in our physical body we will never be righteous and holy enough to merit fellowship with God. This is why God has removed us from a “works by law” system and transferred us to a gracefaith system of righteousness. It is a combination of God’s grace and our faith in the blood of Christ that justifies us to be holy and righteous children of God right now “in Christ.” God is justified to view us like this because Jesus demonstrated God’s faithfulness to His righteous decrees on the cross. Please re-read Romans 3:23-26.

Everything Christians claim to be and every right we enjoy is ours because we are “justified.” We are saints which mean we are holy in God’s sight (I Cor. 1:2). We are justified to enter the holy place of God where we pray and sing praises to God (Rom. 3:26-27; Heb. 10:19; 13:15). We commune with Jesus each first day of the week by partaking of the Lord’s Supper without fear of being consumed by the holy wrath of God (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:23-29). Our gifts are acceptable to God because we accept His gift of Jesus (Rom. 12:1-2; I Cor. 16:2). The Holy Spirit can live with us in our bodies and strengthen our inner man because we are “justified.” (I Cor. 6:19; Eph. 3:16).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Rom. 8:31-32

We do not have eternal life unless we have fellowship with God. We cannot have fellowship with God unless we are righteous. The Apostle Paul gave us the answer to our problem when he said, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Rom.1:17.

In our next and last lesson we will learn how “glorified” is the best word to sum up what God offers faithful Christians in eternity after time “runs out.”


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