Justification means to make something righteous.
The Bible will use words like “declare,” “count,” “accounted,” and “reckoned” to convey the idea.
This does not mean that Christ’s righteous deeds were added to your account, nor that Christ kept the law for you. Nor does it merely mean that God thinks you are righteous even though you continue to live the same life you lived before your supposed justification.
To make something righteous is to do just that: to make something righteous. Even the word “declare” means to show forth. It doesn’t simply mean God said you were righteous. He makes you righteous and you show forth that righteousness by doing righteous things.
People don’t like this idea of justification. We’d rather believe that God sees me as righteous while I continue to live in sin. We like the idea of eating our cake and having it too. Enjoying our sin, but going to heaven when we die.
If that’s your view of justification, I’ve got some bad news for you! Justification will make you do righteous things and will kill off sin in your life.
In fact, if this killing off of sin and growth in righteousness do not take place, you are not getting into heaven.
This is not saying that you get to heaven by works. It’s saying that in the flesh dwells no good thing. You must be born again, so you can walk in the Spirit and fulfill the righteousness of the law (Romans 7 and 8). You have to be made righteous in order to do righteous things. God can do that through the justifying power of the Gospel.
Unfortunately, the Gospel commonly preached today is not The Gospel. Many Gospel presentations skip sin, or at least only mention it in passing.
But the Gospel is for people who want to be delivered from sin. If you don’t want to be delivered from doing sin, then you don’t want the Gospel.
Most proclaimers of the Gospel know you don’t want to leave sin behind. You want to continue to sin and be selfish and live narcissistic lives and continue the narcissism on thru eternity in heaven.
“You don’t want to go to hell when you die, do you?” Is the basic gist of most Gospel presentations.
The true appeal of the Gospel is “You don’t want to sin your whole life, do you? Aren’t you tired of doing unrighteous stuff? What fruit do you have in those sinful things you are ashamed of?”
But, if you want your salvation quota, you won’t get far with that message. People don’t want to stop sin.
So, in an effort to meet our salvation quotas, we change our Gospel. We tell people the Gospel is about the life to come, not this one. We then tell people that all they have to do to be saved is believe.
Thus the invention of “we are justified by faith alone.” Because if there were anything else besides faith, then people would, like, have to do stuff, and remember, not doing stuff and yet being rewarded as if you did, is the entire basis of modern thought.
Yes, we are justified by faith, the Bible clearly says so.
The Bible never says we are justified by “faith alone.” Primarily because we are not. Faith needs friends: obedience, works, love, and confession, to name a few.
The reason people believe we are justified by faith alone is because Martin Luther said so. When Luther translated Romans, he made Romans 3:28 say, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith alone without the deeds of the law.”
Look up Romans 3:28 in any other translation and you will not find the word “alone.” That’s because the word “alone” is not in the Greek. Luther added to Scripture to make his point, never a good idea.
In fact, the only time the Bible puts “faith only” together is when James says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
This is the main reason why Luther said:
“Therefore St James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it . . . The epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the Papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest…Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove . . . I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. Since he heard that Christians place great weight on faith in Christ, he thought, ‘Wait a moment! I’ll oppose them and urge works alone.’ This he did.”
Luther, acting like every other Christian, throws out the part of the Bible that disagrees with his opinion. When push comes to shove, Luther is going with Luther, not some burdensome chunk of the Bible that dares disagree with him.
So, for 500 years we’ve been telling ourselves salvation is simply by nodding our head yes that Jesus died and rose again. We carry on in our sin, telling ourselves heaven awaits. No fuss, no muss, just easy street for eternity!
It sound so easy and nice. But what will you do in the end? How’s that going to work on Judgment Day?
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.