Have you been justified? You may ask what that means. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a free gift where Christ fully forgives us, saves us and justifies us. That word justify is a theological term borrowed from the law profession. It means that Jesus Christ declares that we are not guilty, and are now righteous in God’s sight.
In seminary, we learned that one way to remember the idea of justification or being justified is this: “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. Justified! This is great news because I know so many people are eaten up with guilt and shame. So many feel unworthy of God’s love and grace. The truth is that we are unworthy, but that is why Jesus came to justify us. He came to take away our sin and make us righteous in God’s sight – “just as if I’d never sinned.” Biblical righteousness is not about being a pretty good person, but it is about cleansed and forgiven in the eyes of God. Only Jesus can make that happen. There is no human way possible to justify ourselves before God.
So some may think that their lifestyle doesn’t matter. They rationalize that since they are a sinner and only Jesus can forgive and justify them, then it doesn’t really matter how they live. After all, if Jesus is going to forgive and justify you, can’t one just live like hell and still go to heaven?
Some may think they can still go out and get liquored up, have illicit sexual relationships, party, lie, cheat, steal, etc. and praise God the whole time because they are forgiven in the end. After all, it is a free gift, right?
The Apostle Paul dealt with this argument in his writings. In the book of Romans, Paul spoke of the greatness of God’s grace. He said that where our sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more. He then follows that up with this statement, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1,2).
Paul believed the Gospel not only changed our relationship with God, but takes away our desires to sin. When a person meets Jesus Christ, there is a heart change that causes this person to want to leave behind their old way of life. A person who has truly met Jesus can’t love their sin any longer. True Christ followers 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. I sin. No problem!” That is a problem though. Our problem is not that we are tempted to sin, or even that we actually fall to temptation at times. Our real problem is when we no longer have a problem with sin in our lives. For Christ followers, the Holy Spirit lives in them and He will not allow a true believer to enjoy a sinful lifestyle. The Spirit convicts the person in regards to how they are grieving God through their sinful actions and attitudes. If you call yourself a Christ follower and you can drink yourself silly without a problem, then you have a problem… with God. God has a problem with you. The same for pornography, sex outside of marriage, lying, cheating, anger, etc. If you say you love God, but have no problem still loving and holding on to these things then you have a problem with your spiritual life. Christ followers 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 that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@