Thursday, 15 June 2017

Day 15: It Is God Who Justifies

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It is God who justifies.
Romans 8:33 

"I cannot escape the exceeding wonder, that not only does God look upon a guilty person in the courtroom and forgive him and say, "you're guilty, I forgive you, go and sin no more," but he also, beyond all imagination, looks upon this guilty sinner and says, "you're not guilty."
John Piper

It is God who justifies.

This is Paul's five word answer to the question, "who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?"

The answer is not a promise that no one will bring any charges. Across the world countless believers face actual court cases where they stand accused of blasphemy, apostasy, of betraying their national identify, their communities, their families. 

Daily, believers face all kinds of accusations- of arrogance, of intolerance, of selfishness, many of which are right.  Facing charges and condemnation was part and parcel of life for the Christians Paul was writing to. That's why he asks the question!

The key to the answer is the emphasis: GOD is the one who justifies.

The One who not only forgives us, but who also declares us righteous cannot be trumped. There is no higher authority. In the courtroom that matters, as Keller would phrase it, the declaration for sinners trusting Christ is not only, "not guilty"- but more than that : righteous.

And so the challenge of yesterday's list goes both ways. Yes, none of those items can condemn me if Jesus says the debt is paid. But on the other hand, none of those items can justify me in the only courtroom that matters. My appearance? No! My relationship status? No! My blog statistics? Obviously not! 

So if I am striving for any of those things, thinking that maybe by having them, or not having them,  my worth might be vindicated, I am wasting my effort, trying to get a declaration in a courtroom whose authority is void, and belittling God's righteous requirements.

I cannot earn my justification.

It is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. GOD is the one who justifies.

If I am striving for acceptance, or for freedom from condemnation by sorting out my appearance, losing weight, pursuing the perfect exercise and diet scheme- the efforts will be futile. Those things can bring me health, perhaps or praise from an authority-less earthly judge- but God is the one who justifies.

I may seek justification in being organised, emotionally stable, or measured and wise, but they cannot justify me. God is the one who justifies.

If I am anticipating vindication on my wedding day, as the moment when a declaration about my worth and beauty is finally made, it is futile- it's just an earthly courtroom: God is the one who justifies.

I cannot be made right with God by my quiet time record, my evangelism record, my courage, my French speaking ability or my incredible parallel parking skills. My degree, my CV, my religious devotion- in fact, nothing that is mine can obtain for me the righteous declaration I desperately need from the highest authority in the universe.

And so, in all my dieting, in all my pursuits of good character and God-honouring discipline, I need to remember; none of those things can secure me the verdict I need. It is God who justifies.


This post is rich with John Piper because when I was in my first year of university I listened to his sermon "It is God Who Justifies". It had a profound impact and I still remember a lot of it all these years later! Have a listen.  But anyway, it seems fitting to me to start and end with some words from him....

"Faith looks away from itself to the grace and strength and worth and ability of another."
John Piper

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