Scripture Reading: Romans 4:1-8
“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3-5)
Let me begin by defining the word justification as used in this passage. Justification is the declarative act of God whereby He grants pardon for our sins and declares us righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. Justification is a gracious gift from God. It is not something we can earn.
This is the point Paul is making in our passage. He uses Abraham as an example — “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Justification is a gift from God that is to be received by faith. Abraham believed God and through that faith he was justified.
Paul makes the point that if Abraham had worked for his justification and been able to earn it (which, of course, is impossible), his salvation would not be a gift but it was his rightful due. But because his justification was not earned, it was a gift from God that Abraham received by faith. Faith is the instrument through which justification is appropriated to us.
But let’s go back to the essential meaning of justification. Paul appeals to David’s words in the Psalms — “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (vs. 7,8). This is the first result of our justification — God grants full forgiveness, full pardon for our sins. He declares us “not guilty” because He has removed our sins from us.
The second result of justification is that the perfect righteousness of Christ is credited to us. Christ is able to present us as “holy, blameless and above reproach” (Colossians 1:22) before the holy God of this universe because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us. Pardon for sin and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness are the great blessings given to us in our justification.
Lord Jesus, thank You for making my justification possible through Your shed blood upon the cross. Thank You that my sins are forgiven and that Your perfect righteousness has been imputed to me. Because of this, I know that You can present me before Your Father as one who is holy, blameless and above reproach.
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