God’s salvation and forgiveness are incredibly expensive, yet absolutely free. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a free gift from God to sinners who trust Him. The good news of Christianity is that Jesus Christ freely and fully forgives us, saves us, and justifies us.
What does justification mean in this context? Justification is a theological term borrowed from the legal profession. This means that Jesus Christ declares that we are not guilty and that we are now righteous in the sight of God. In seminary we learned that one way to remember the idea of justification or being justified is “as if I had” ever sinned. Justified! This is great news because I know so many people are wracked with guilt and shame. So many people feel unworthy of God’s love and grace.
In truth, we are sinners and therefore unworthy. There is no way we can remove our own guilt, but Jesus came to justify us. He came to take away our sins and make us righteous in the eyes of God. Biblical righteousness is not just about being a good person, but about having no sin in the eyes of God. Only Jesus can make that happen for us. This is humanly not possible.
Some may then think that their lifestyle does not matter. They rationalize that they are indeed a sinner and there is nothing they can do to justify themselves before God, so there is no need to try to impress God. It is enough to trust Christ to forgive and justify, but then we are free to live as we want. After all, if Jesus is going to forgive you and justify you, can’t you just live like hell and go to heaven?
Some may believe that they can always party all the time, sleep with whoever they want, lie, cheat, steal, etc. and praise God all the time because they are forgiven in the end. After all, it’s a free gift, right?
The apostle Paul dealt with this argument in his writings. In Romans, Paul speaks of the greatness of God’s grace. He said where our sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more. He then continues with this statement: “What shall we say then? Must we continue to sin for grace to abound? Never ! How can we who are dead to sin still live there? (Romans 6:1,2).
Paul believed that the gospel not only changed our relationship with God, but that the gospel also changes us. The gospel not only takes away our sin, it begins to take away our desire to sin. When a person truly receives Christ, there is a change in his heart and desires. There should be a new desire to let go of old patterns of sinful behavior. A person who has truly met Jesus can no longer love his sin. True followers of Christ are no longer comfortable remaining in a state of sin.
One guy was asked if he had a problem with temptation. He replied, “Absolutely not. I am tempted. Is in. No problem!” It is a problem though. Our problem is not that we are tempted to sin or even that we sometimes succumb to temptation. Our real problem is when we no longer have a problem when we sin. It is a problem if we disobey God and feel neither conviction nor guilt. For followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in them and He will not allow a true believer to enjoy a lifestyle The Spirit within us will not allow us to be at peace with a life of disobedience to God.
If you call yourself a follower of Christ and can drink yourself a fool without a problem, then you have a problem… with God. God has a problem with you. The same goes for pornography, sex outside marriage, lying, cheating, anger, etc. If you say you love God, but you have no problem loving and clinging to these things, then you have a problem with your spiritual life. The followers of Christ have been given a new heart with new desires and a new power to love and obey. The gospel is a free gift, but it is a life-changing gift. And it is an expensive gift – having cost Jesus his very life. Let us live for him as he died for us. And that’s the Word.