Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Yesterday we saw that everyone stands condemned by the law under the old covenant, but today we are looking at the new covenant. Charles Wesley wrote, “No condemnation now I dread, Jesus and all in Him is mine; Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness Divine.” Wesley must have had Paul’s words in mind, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit [Romans 8:1]. The law brought condemnation. The Greek word is katakrisis, meaning under sentence of death, but under the new covenant Jesus brought righteousness.
In writing about the new covenant Paul says it is the ministry of the Spirit and “a ministry of righteousness.” He uses the Greek word dikaiosune, normally translated as “righteousness” but more correctly translated as, “are made right with God” [verse 9 NLT]. The question to ask is, “What exactly is the meaning of being made right with God?” The theological word for being made right with God is justification. The word justification can be defined as, the act of God, whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous in Christ on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross. We need to unpack this definition:
Firstly, justification is an act not a process. There are no degrees of justification; each believer who has trusted Christ as Saviour has the same right standing with God. Secondly, justification is something God does. No sinner can justify himself before God. Thirdly, God declares us righteous. He does not make us righteous but declares us righteous. It is a legal matter. God puts the righteousness of Christ on our record in place of our sinfulness. He no longer sees us as sinners, but as complete in Christ. Fourthly, the sinner is justified by FAITH. It is when he confesses his sin, and turning from sin, trusts Christ as Saviour, God declares him righteous. God looks on us, and deals with us as though we have never sinned at all! Fifthly, Jesus bore, not just our sin, but also the condemnation of our sin on the cross. He paid the price to satisfy the justice of God and set those who trust Him free. In that moment when we trust Christ as Saviour God declares us righteous!
When the prodigal son returned home the father put a robe of righteousness on him. It covered all the stains of sin and shame, and declared to the son his full and total acceptance. As Paul says, “We are accepted in the Beloved.” We will continue to look at this wonderful truth of being made right with God in our reading tomorrow.
How would you describe to someone else the meaning of “God declares us righteous?”
Why is it not possible for us to justify ourselves before God?
Read 1 John 4:19 & Romans 5:8. What do these verse say about God’s love for us? Will you now thank Him that he took the initiative in first loving us?