JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with Go through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you have center references in your Bible, you will learn that this is one of the disputed passages in the New Testament. The center reference says, “Another ancient reading is, Let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.“ Christendom is divided on the exact meaning of the word “justified.” What does it mean that Christians have been justified.? One part of Christendom believes that at conversion we are made right with God through the blood of Christ and that it is a one time for all time thing. We are justified with God the rest of our life whether we live a good life or a bad life. Thus we cannot lose or salvation. The other part of Christendom believes justification is a two-part thing. Our lives are made right at baptism through the blood of Christ and we are at peace with God., but after conversion if we continue to have God's peace and continue to be just and right, we must cease to sin and live an obedient life. If we do not live an obedient life we become unjustified again and cannot enjoy the peace of God. Most Bible scholars believe the verse should bve rendered, “Being justified by faith, let us have peace with God,” which infers that after conversion if we are to continue to be at peace with God, much depends upon our conduct. I invite you to think with me on this interesting passage of scripture. I really think either rendering is quite acceptable. The only question is, after we have been washed in the blood of Christ and have come to enjoy peace with God, what then must we do to enjoy the peace of God the rest of our lives?.
First, let us all agree that it is vitally and eternally important to be justified in the sight of God. Many people do not know this; in fact most people don't know this. You could walk into many a place of business today and say to the owner, “Do you ever go to a place of worship?” “No,” he might say, “but I think I am about as good as those who do.” “How so?” “Well I am successful in my business. I don't cheat people. I don't tell lies. I am not a thief and I am not a drunkard. I am as honest as the days are long in the middle of June., and that is more than can be said of some people who go to church.”
Now that man has got a pretty good hold of a part of a good man's character. However, there are two parts to good character, but he
can see only one, namely that man is to be just unto man. He sees that but he does not see that he is to be also just to God. And yet if that man would really think for a while, he would see the highest obligations of a creature must be, not to his fellow-creatures, but to his Creator. However just a man may be to his fellow-man, yet if he is altogether unjust to God, he cannot escape without the severest penalty. Though a man go before the bar and jury of his country and say before any judge or jury, “I have in nothing injured my fellow-man; I am just before men,” yet this will not make the man's character perfect. Unless he is also able to say, “”And I am also just before the presence of God who made me and whose servant I am, he has kept only one half, and that the less important, of God's laws for him. It cannot help being important to the highest degree that we should stand on good terms with the great God who made us, for one day we must render up our souls to Him who created us.
Let us now return to the text and examine closely this scripture, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” or as others would have it, “Let us have peace with God.” Whatever this word “justified” means, Christians have it and only Christians. The word itself come frm the Latin language and is a legal term. The ancient Romans were famous for their court system and laws. To be just was to be right so far as the law was concerned. If one could proved he had not violated or disobeyed
Roman law, then Roman law would justify him, but if he could not prove his innocence, he was found guilty and Roman law imposed on him the penalty due the law. In American courts when a jury renders a verdict of not guilty, the judge sets the man free and so as the law of the land is concerned he has been justified. He is innocent and free of guilt. The law finds no fault with him. He has received justification. He has peace with the law of the land.
When the word justified is applied to Christians, it has reference to the laws of God which have been violated and God is angry with His disobedient creatures. The gospel declares, The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men...”(Rom. 1:18). It further declares, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We all come to violate some of God's laws, not because we are born in sin, but because evil in the world is so powerful, domineering, and alluring that none of us escape it. There is none righteous in God's sight, no not one. God is both Judge and J ury, and He declares that the entire human race is guilty. What can we do but accept His verdict? The entire human
race is in need of justification. Every person of accountable age needs to be justified or shown to be right and not guilty so far as God's law is concerned. All need to be restored to God's favor, and it is the glory of the Christian religion that it reveals how mankind can be justified and cleared of all violations of God's laws.
There is a general agreement among all who believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God that the instrumental cause of our justification is the death of Christ. The death of Christ is one of the most remarkable events recorded in history. The gospel reveals His death was not the result of accident or disease. It was an atonement for sin, a sacrifice offered to God to satisfy His justice and avert the wrath of God from falling on the human race. Being both human and divine, God considered Him to be a fitting representative of both mankind and the Godhead. It was God's decision to punish Jesus our representative instead of punishing the entire human race. He treated our Representative as though He were a sinner in order that He could treat mankind as though they were not sinners. The Bible says that God laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Christ died for us; He took our place. By means of His substitutionary death, it allows us to be reconciled to our offended Creator by a free pardon and ultimately to bestow on us the gift of eternal life. We all might well say, “I don't understand the justice of this plan. How could God punish one man for the sins of the whole human race?” I don't know how He could have done this, but that is beside the point. He did do it. When Paul said, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” he referred to Christians who had accepted this divine plan. God had exonerated them from their guilt, forgave all their past sins, declared them blameless, received them into a state of favor and added them to redeemed family of God. This much there is almost universal agreement on.
However, a great part of Christendom has adopted a belief about justification that is very erroneous, dangerous and not supported by the word of God. It is believed that when one accepts the fact the Christ died for our sins on the cross and receives Christ in the heart by a simple act of faith alone, without baptism or anything else, at that moment they are justified by God, forgiven and have peace with God. Furthermore, at that moment they are forgiven, not only of the sins of their past life but also of all future sins of their life. Justified to them means at the moment of believing, they are justified from that moment till they die and cannot never become unjustified or lose salvation. They claim at the moment of
conversion they are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, as though God put a robe of righteousness around them. It is not their personal righteousness , but it is Christ's personal righteousness that is imputed to them. They may sin in the future but God overlooks it and sees only the righteousness of Christ that He covered them with. They can't explain this covering of righteousness that God has given them; they just accept it by faith, and believe that they have it. This so- called imputed righteousness of Christ with which they are clothed is the foundation of the doctrine, “One saved, always saved,” a doctrine believed by millions Christendom.
Let us now consider the revealed truth that two justifications are revealed in the New Testament. The first justification is in our text, “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The second justification is revealed in James 2:24, “You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith only.” The word justified in the book of James is the same word used in the book of Romans. There are two ways a person may become righteous or just. . One is by the free pardon of God for violations of the His laws. When God forgives you, you are justified and right in His sight. Another way to be justified is by personal obedience to the laws of God. I John 3:7 says, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” In the preceding verse John said, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” He simply means that sin does not characterize the life of a Christian. Sin does not rule his life; with Christ's help he overomes sin as a rule and lives a life acceptable to God. Study Romans 5:1 in the light of these truths and there will be no misunderstanding..
We know exactly when Christians first became justified, and that is the hour they become children of God and are added to God's family. There are no unjustified people in God's spiritual family. Paul tells us how and when our first justification takes place in Gal. 3:26,27, “For you are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” To be justified means the same thing as to put on C hrist. This is just another way of saying, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. At this time God acquits the penitent believer from all guilt and receives him into a state of favor. That state of favor is called “peace with God. Our first justification is a change of state or relationship with God. The chief element in the first justification is the forgiveness of past sins.
Let me sum up what it means to be justified when we become Christians. It means we have been forgiven of a multitude of sins committed in the past life. We are added to the church, God's temple and the family of God. Our enmity toward God an God's anger towards has ceased, and He looks on us with favor. He calls us saints or holy ones because of our acceptance of Christ's atonement and the cleansing of a lifetime of sin. We enter into a saved state from a lost state.
Let us close with a few words on the second justification. James says we are justified by works and not by faith only. Those words prove the fallacy of the idea that the personal righteousness of Christ clothes the believer. It is a well known fact that Christians often fall away from the church and become unfaithful and do not live a righteous life. Such Christians do not have the peace of God.. Paul wrote to some of the Christians in the church at Corinth., “For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” Paul often admonished Christians who had become careless and unconcerned about their moral and religious duties.
We learn from this something very important about our first justification. It does not deliver us from the power of sin. The same gospel which offers us forgiveness of our past life off ers us the strength and power t overcome sin in our future life on earth. Faith in the sacrifice of Christ acquits us of the sins before we became Christians. After we become Christians Christ teaches us how to keep sin out of our lives. At conversion He delivered us from the guilt of all previous sins. After we become Christians He delivers us from the power of sin. He came to put away sin, and we must put it away. We will sin sometimes and God does not demand that we live completely free of sin. He is merciful and forgiving and looks on us with favor because we have accepted His son and his atoning sacrifice..
Whenever we fall short and violate any of His laws, He only asks us to confess the sin to Him, express our sorrow for the mistake and ask His forgiveness. God does not demand sinlessness, but our sincere desire to obey and please Him is all that He requires. He is willing to accept less than the best, less than a perfect obedience. I am sure that this must amaze the angels in heaven that God will accept an imperfect people. That's the meaning of justification by faith.