“God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been justified (declared righteous) by the Blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” Romans 5:8-9
What does it mean to be “justified” by the Blood of Christ? The Greek word for “justify” is dikaioō which Biblically means to declare righteous (in right standing with God). It also means to declare not guilty and completely forgiven. Justification is the opposite of condemnation. Whereas to condemn is to declare guilty, to justify is to declare not guilty. The Bible says, “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (Romans 8:33-34).” The Bible says the reason why God can justify us (acquit us of our sins) is because His Son paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross. The Bible says, “Adam’s one sin resulted in condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness resulted in justification of life for everyone (Romans 5:18).” Thus justification (forgiveness of our sins) is God’s free gift (paid for by Christ’s Blood). The Bible says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is God’s gift; not as a result of your works (Ephesians 2:8-9).” This last verse indicates there is one condition we must satisfy to receive God’s gift of justification: we must have faith in His Son’s atoning sacrifice. The Bible says “God justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).” Therefore, God declares us to be righteous and not guilty of our sins on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ. However, the fact that we must continue to have faith in Christ to be justified (acquitted of our sins) is often left out of today’s gospel. Many people mistakenly believe that once they accept Christ, they are justified for eternity, even if they fall away from the faith. Some Christians carry this further: since they wrongly think their justification (forgiveness) was unconditional and eternal, they incorrectly think they never have to repent and ask God’s forgiveness whenever they sin. And many Christians use the misguided belief that they are eternally forgiven as an excuse to keep practicing sin since they erroneously think that their chronic lawlessness will not prevent them from entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). How on earth did they twist the Scriptures to come up with this false gospel? The Bible says Jesus died “once for all time” to forgive our sins. Hebrews 9:28 states: “Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.” However, many Christians mistakenly think “once for all time” refers to their own “one-time” moment of faith when they asked Christ to be their Savior. They think this one-time act of faith now guarantees them eternal justification (forgiveness) for their sins, even if they fall away from the faith and live in sin the rest of their lives. But the Bible does not say we can be initially saved by faith and then live the rest of our lives in unbelief; it says we must continuously live by faith to be righteous (Romans 1:17). If justification (forgiveness and right standing with Him) is God’s response to our faith, then we must certainly have to live by faith after we are saved in order to continue to be justified and righteous in God’s eyes. The Bible says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrifying expectation of God’s judgment (Hebrews 10:26-27).” Paul wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?… For we know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that our body of sin (our sinful nature) might be destroyed and we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:1-7).” Many of us who try to walk in Paul’s gospel (God removed our sinful nature when we were saved so that His Son’s Spirit could live in us) may encounter a problem when the Holy Spirit begins to train us to carry our own cross and lose our unconverted soul-life for Christ’s sake. As a result of this deeper work of sanctification in our lives, our conscience can become highly sensitized, and we can become overly sin conscious and nagged by guilt. If we are not careful, we can fall into the temptation of thinking we can only have a clear conscience before God by attaining to His higher standard of holiness. This heightened awareness of sin and sense of guilt can become overwhelming and spiritually cripple us. We can even lose sight of the blessed provision of our justification and forgiveness by the Blood of Christ. Of course, the devil will try to use our guilty conscience as grounds to accuse and condemn us for “failing” God. Instead of despairing of our sins and inability to maintain this high standard of holiness, we should remind ourselves of the value that God places on the Blood of Christ to both justify us and sanctify us. We can only approach God based on the Blood of Christ, and never on the daily merits of our conduct and holiness. Otherwise, we can come under an oppressive cloud of accusation, guilt and condemnation that can rob us of our faith. We may be weak and we may have sinned, but feeling terrible about our sins and doing penance for them will never make us any holier or improve our fellowship with God. Whether we have had a good day or a bad day, the basis of our fellowship with God is always the Blood of Christ. When God reveals our sins to us during this process of sanctification, we do not need to shrink back from His presence out of guilt, shame, fear or condemnation (Hebrews 10:37-39). The Blood of Christ fully satisfies God’s sense of justice and accountability, and removes our sense of guilt and estrangement from Him (1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 2:1-2). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The Blood of Jesus enables us to approach God without shame or fear. The Bible says, “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place (God’s presence) by the Blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19).” Therefore, as we work out our salvation by faith through God’s purifying process of sanctification, we must continuously stand by faith in God’s precious gift of justification (Romans 9:30-10:8; Philippians 2:12-13).
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1