Summary: Justification--how Christ’s work on the cross has put us in right standing with God. It is by faith and not by works.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
July 13, 2003
Lessons from the Cross
ILLUSTRATION: The other morning I was going to make some Grandes Orange Cinnamon rolls. The cans are supposed to be easy to open. You just peal the label off and insert a spoon and the can pops open. Well, it didn’t. Just then Walter came home from Burger King, and I said, “I can’t get this can open.” He tried to follow the directions and it just didn’t work like it was supposed to. We struggled with a can opener, a knife, a spoon, and a scissors. By that time the can was getting pretty mangled up and the beautiful Grande Orange Cinnamon rolls were becoming unrolled and falling apart. We got the can opened but what a mess!
Our great plans for our life look so easy to carry out. We might ‘read the directions” but sometimes things just don’t go as planned. We try one thing after another to solve the problems that life throws at us or that we deliberately walk into and find that things get more messed up than ever. Our lives get mangled up by sin and the route that we are taking. Sometimes we feel that our lives are never going to straighten out. Most of the time we fail to allow the Lord to be in on our plans and actions. Going it on our own can never straighten out the mess of our lives but we are not doing so well with our relationship with God either. Scripture says in Romans 3:23 that we’re all in the same boat for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
In today’s scripture Paul talks about a word that we seldom hear anymore and probably don’t understand when we do hear it. That word is “justification.” You might say, “So” What does it mean? Why do I need to KNOW what it means?”
“Justification” is what is needed to bring about a right relationship with God. It is a central teaching of Paul that needs to be understood by us today.
To be “Justified” is to bring our lives into a right standing with God--to be declared righteous--to be acquitted.
How does “justification” change things for us? The example that best explains it to me is this:
Illustration: When I was typing the manuscript for my book, I had ragged edges on the right margin. Some sentences were too long and some were too short. They didn’t look good.
Before we come to the Lord, our lives are like the ragged looking edges of an uneven manuscript. They are out of whack and they need to be brought into alignment.
We try on our own and can’t seem to get them brought into alignment no matter how hard we try. On the manuscript I pushed the SELECT ALL button on the computer which highlighted the text. Then I found the RIGHT JUSTIFIED button and pushed it. In a moment the uneven lines were brought into perfect alignment on the page. The computer worked a miracle for setting the text right and it looked good when I printed it out.
How does justification change things in a spiritual sense for us? We bring our out of whack messed up lives to the Lord by FAITH in the work of Jesus on the cross. In the previous chapter 4, Paul refers to Abraham’s FAITH rather than by working to EARN right standing with God.