Justification: Humanity’s Ticket to Heaven

5 Mins read

One of the things that sets Christianity apart from many of the other religions of the world is the fact that Christians don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation. There are some world religions that teach that you must end your life with more good works than bad on your scale in order to enter into paradise. The basis of Christianity is the finished work of Christ on the cross and how it did the work for us. Today, learn more about justification and how it serves as humanity’s ticket to heaven.

Galatians 3:23-25 (NIV)
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

The technical definition of the word “justification” as it appears in the New Testament reads as follows: the act by which God moves a willing person from a state of sin (injustice) to the state of grace (justice).

Paul spoke a lot about the process of justification, and this is largely because Paul had been on both sides of the “works vs. faith” debate over the course of his life. The epistles that Paul wrote teach us a lot about his history. He was considered a “Pharisee of Pharisees,” meaning that he had worked his way up through the ranks of the religious leaders of the day, cementing his position as one of the most important people among the group that would oppose everything that Christ said and did. We also learn that Paul studied under Gamaliel. According to historians of that time whose works we can still read, Gamaliel was considered one of the greatest minds among the Pharisees. For Paul (whose name was Saul at the time) to be allowed to study under him would have been a great honor, and would have ensured that Paul was in a position to be one of the most revered leaders of the day.

In the world of the Pharisees, the law was king. The Old Testament law, which was much more than the 10 Commandments, was at the heart of everything the Pharisees did. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for any human to truly keep the 600-plus commandments found in the Law of Moses, which meant the Pharisees regularly broke their own rules while threatening anyone else who broke them with imprisonment or death.

Paul acknowledged that before the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, the law served a purpose. It held us in custody, pushing us towards righteous living. However, when Christ came, He did what He did so that we could be justified by faith. He proudly proclaimed that “now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.”

Instead of being under a set of rigorous rules and regulations that we can never meet, we are justified, moved from a state of sin to a state of grace, by faith. Today, discover more about justification by faith and what it means for your eternity.

No Excuses
Romans 2:1-2 (NIV)
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgement against those who do such things is based on truth.

There’s some good news and some bad news that we must consider when talking about justification. The bad news is that we are all sinners. Since the fall of humanity (the first sin in the Garden of Eden), we have all been born into a sinful world with an inherently sinful nature. What’s even more alarming is that we can’t use that as an excuse when we sin.

Paul wrote this letter to the Roman Church. This collection of believers was facing a lot of persecution from the outside of the church and even from within it. In addition to government persecution, the Roman Church was also facing attacks from those who were trying to drag them back into a place where they would be under the Old Testament law again.

That is who Paul was speaking to when he said that those who tried to judge others had no excuse. The people who were trying to judge the Roman Church were trying to judge them based on the Law of Moses, not the grace of God.

The type of justification that God offers to those who want to move from sinfulness to sinlessness hinges on us acknowledging that we have no excuse. When you recognize that the only way that you’re ever going to inherit eternal life is through the grace and justification of God, you have taken the first step. You cannot justify yourself through any good works. Instead, we must be justified by God. There is no excuse to turn down this type of justification, as God has made it available to everyone.

Grace > Works
Romans 3:19-20 (NIV)
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

As we alluded to earlier, the basis of Christianity is justification through faith. As humans, we have a natural tendency to try to work things out on our own. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a “control freak,” you probably like the idea of taking charge of a situation to make sure that things are done up to your standards. However, when you’re considering your salvation, there is nothing you can do outside of putting your faith in God.

It is actually a liberating concept to know that there is no way for us to be declared righteous in God’s sight by our own works. If there was any way for that to happen, we would have the weight of our own eternities on our shoulders. Can you imagine carrying something like that? God never wanted you to, and that’s why He sent His Son.

God’s grace is the only way that any of us can ever experience eternal life. Not only can no amount of good works earn our entry into Heaven, but we can never live up to God’s standard of holiness on our own.

There’s Still a Standard
Romans 7:7 (NIV)
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known hat sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Before we close today’s study, it’s crucial to understand that just because we are justified by faith, there is still a standard. God wants His people to live holy lives, and He has given us the insight into how we can do that. Paul, while he had stopped trying to be justified by the law, still recognized the benefits of the law. After all, without the law, he would have never known what coveting was.

In the same vein, James writes that we should still show our faith by the good works that we do. While those good works can never earn out entry into Heaven, they do show others that we have truly been changed by the lifegiving grace of God.

Today, rest in the fact that you have been justified by God’s grace and your faith in the finished work of Christ. When He died on the cross and rose on the third day, your ticket to Heaven was punched. The price was paid, and your eternity was sealed.

A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for justifying me in Your sight. Thank You for taking the weight of my eternity off of my shoulders and placing it on Your Son. Help me to rest in the fact that while I should do good works, I can never earn my eternity. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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