Summary: Justification, a big word describing something very simple.
What It Means to Be Justified
Englewood Baptist Church
Sunday morning, April 13, 2008
We have been studying the book of Romans, often referred to as the Constitution of Christianity. Now why is it called that? Because, like no other book in the Bible, basic principles and truths of the Christian faith are listed and explained. From start to finish, this letter says it all.
As we look today at Romans 5, I want you to notice a listening sheet that is in your bulletin. I don’t normally hand these out, but I want every person to take careful notes today. We are going to wade into the deep end of the pool and I need you to swim with me.
When I was a child, I learned how to swim, but I was afraid to test my skill. I wouldn’t go anywhere the deep end. Just the sight of a diving board made my heart beat fast. Then one day, my dad did a very loving thing. He picked me up and threw me into 10 feet of water. I’m not recommending that to you as parents, but it worked for me. When I plunged into that water, I sank down, by toes felt the bottom of the pool, my ears popped, and I pushed up with force. And when my head met oxygen, I began to swim and I was never afraid again.
Today, I am going to throw some of you into the deep end of the pool and I believe that you can handle it. One commentator, James Montgomery Boice suggests that this section of Scripture is the most difficult part of the entire Bible. I believe that God has given you a brain and Holy Spirit so that you can grasp even the mind-stretching material of this chapter. You can do this. Write it down and I will make it as simple as I can possibly make it.
Let me read to you Romans 5:12-21. Follow along very closely.
Now that is a thick piece of meat. Let’s take it one bite at a time and we will be able to swallow it. Let’s ask for help.
What is Paul talking about in this complex portion of Scripture? Paul is talking about justification. Now, that is a spelling bee word. That’s a big one. What is justification? It’s a big word to describe something very simple. It means that we have been declared “not guilty.”
To condemn someone is to declare him “guilty”; to justify someone is to declare him “not guilty.” Looking back at Romans 5:1, look at what is says, “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, how is it that we are suddenly declared “not guilty?” Did God just wave a wand over our heads and say, “Bippidee Boppidee Boo like the fairy godmother in Cinderella?” No. Two things happened to bring us peace with God.
What does it mean to be justified?
1.God has declared that we have no penalty to pay for our sins, including past, present, and future sins.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
God has pounded the gavel and declared you “not guilty” for every wrong thing that you did yesterday, today, and even those evil things that you will do tomorrow. He has cleared the plate for you.
Over the course of your life, you have developed quite a record. Let’s pretend that this bank represents your account in heaven. (Show debt slide 1: bank with IOU). Your bank account is overdrawn and you owe a great debt to God. Every time you have broken his laws, you have added to your debt. And you have quite a debt. You have stretched the truth on more than one occasion, you have envied your neighbor’s property and success, you have snapped at your wife and you have lost your temper with your children, you have kept the extra dollar that the bank teller gave you. You have committed these sins, but not only that, you have neglected to do some things that you should have done. You fallen short and in spending time in prayer. You have neglected the study of God’s word. You have not fasted much, if at all. All these things are like little IOU’s in your bank account in heaven. And the longer you live, the greater the hole is that you dig for yourself. But what God has done is simple. Instead of calling you to the carpet and issuing a long, horrible payment plan, he has decided to forgive the debt and remove the penalty. [Show debt slide 2: empty bank]. The psalmist puts it this way: