Justified

For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9.


I know that I have saved, justified, by grace through faith, not by works. I could never do enough to be declared righteous and earn a place in God’s favor by my good deeds to others and being a moral person. No human could, that is the whole point of the concept of a savior. If we could save ourselves we wouldn’t need someone’s help, but clearly, we find throughout our lives that we need a savior.

I remember the old Saturday Night Live sketch performed by Al Franken, who declared in a mirror “I’m smart enough, I’m good enough, and doggone it, people like me!” When we contemplate even the most basic idea of success in this life, let alone eternal life, we run from the fact that we aren’t smart enough, good enough and who cares if people like us? So we affirm ourselves with positive self talk, we give back in an attempt to undo what we have done, and try to practice some form of love for others that is gratifying to them and not too costly to us. But when the lights are off, or in those random moments alone in our cars, we get a glimpse of the futility of it all. Our attempts are revealed to us for the vain thrashings of a weak and bound captive and we realize that we are not smart enough for this life, not good enough for this life and the people who seem to like us can’t really do anything substantive for us in this life. Because of this, we leave eternal life undefined so we don’t have to acknowledge the fear of not getting out of here alive.

Yep, you say, we need to get out there and evangelize the lost. No, I say, we believers need to remember what justification is and what it does for us. My pastor boils justification down to this: Just as if you never sinned. When we are born again it is as if all that we did that separated us from God never took place. Jesus took the punishment for those sins and His blood paid the price so completely that it is as if those thoughts and acts never took place. Belief that we needed someone to pay that price for our sins and that it was Jesus who did it makes justification a fact in our lives. If you are born again today you have assurance that eternal life for you will be in the presence of God in Heaven forever. No need to fear, Heaven is your destination.

As for today, do you live like you’re justified? I was struck today by the way we keep areas of our life closed off from the effects of justification. Stuck in what we were, what happen to us, we keep our past on like a dirty shirt. While we may acknowledge our hope for the next life, we live like the old life can’t be touched because it’s still in our memory. It’s as if we view the robes of righteousness as something we put on over that dirty shirt, no one can see the shirt under the robe but we know it’s there. Get ready for a Truth Bomb. When we became born again, every sin was blotted out, washed clean by the blood of Jesus. Washed clean. Clean. Say that word out loud. Clean. Clean like a white shirt hanging on a line in the summer sun. Blinding, pristine white. So white it looks like it has never been used, never soiled, never needed washing. That’s who you are. That’s who I am. Clean.

We determine how our past affects our future. The more we lay hold of who we are in Christ and what that means, the more our lives here reflect the freedom He has given us. No longer slaves to sin, Jesus says “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31).

Do you feel free today? You don’t have to. The Word of God, the absolute truth that cannot be changed declares that you are. As believers, our need for a savior has changed. We no longer need a savior to rescue us from sin and death, we have that. What we also have is the assurance that nothing will change that. What we need is to look unto that savior daily, remember what He did, what He accomplished not only for the next life but for this life and thank Him. For making us His.

For making us clean.

For making us free.

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