“therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,“ Rom. 5:1
The doctrine of justification has everything to do with gospel centered sanctification. Justification is positional.
Justification is a judicial action by which we are declared righteous before God because of our position in Christ. Some say we are declared “Not guilty” or just as though I never sinned. However you want to say it, we have nothing to do with becoming justified- it is a transaction that is done “to us” and we are mere beneficiaries to it. We receive our justification, at our moment of salvation.
“and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.“Phil. 3:9
We are sanctified because we are justified.
It is on the basis of Christ and Christ alone that we find any favor with God. It is on the basis of our union with Christ that we are acceptable to God, and it is on the basis of that relationship that we have any fellowship with God. None of this has anything to do with our performance, our activities, or our spiritual disciplines. If we got saved and sat down in one spot and never moved or spoke or prayed again for the rest of our lives, we would still be in fellowship, still be united with Christ, still be abiding, still be pleasing to God.
Because it doesn’t depend on US.
Many don’t like that. They become very uneasy when they hear that kind of talk. It messes with some other teaching they have heard along the way about being in or out of fellowship with God, or being pleasing to Him, or worse yet, NOT being pleasing to Him.
They have gotten themselves all tied up in performance Christianity and have forgotten or never learned how to live a gospel centered life.
Gospel centered justification means that I do not look to my own Christian performance to make me acceptable. God’s acceptance of me is not based on anything I do, but on what Christ did for me. Romans 8:1. My standing before God is not in jeopardy –ever- because I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
This changes everything. Knowing and believing this, I come to understand what freedom in Christ truly is! I have freedom from the laws of slavery to sin, and freedom from the laws of performance out of fear of rejection and condemnation. I don’t have to perform because I am already accepted.
I have as much love as I am ever going to get or need from God. He will never love me any more or any less than He does right now. This changes my motive from fear to one of extreme gratitude. What I do is now a result of having received His love and sacrifice.
Those who prefer to fuss about this say that we are promoting easy believism. They say we promote the thinking that I can live anyway I want now because the grace of God covers me and I am going to heaven because Jesus died for my sins and that is all I have to do. They think we are interested in quick fixes, shortcuts. They believe we promote spiritual anemia, and stifle the biblical theology of growth and maturing.
They wrongly believe that we don’t encourage dealing with sin, or dealing with the heart issues because we have already received the “pay off!” and ask, why bother changing at all if it all depends on Christ?
We will answer this next time.