This is the second post in a series. To read the first post, click here
During the period of time when I left the church but didn’t leave Christianity, my life was a mess. I just didn’t know it. I thought had I had things under control. I had a cute baby, sometimey relationships, I was cute, had my own place, had a decent job. Things were “good”. By every standard that I had, my life was successful. Well, successful-ish.
I wasn’t successful in my relationship with God. I didn’t have one! I knew of Him but didn’t know Him. It was very reminiscent of social media today. We follow people online and know of them. We may know everything that they share about themselves but just because you can spout off facts doesn’t mean that you know them. And it doesn’t mean that they know you. There’s no intimacy, no relationship.
One thing that I struggled with was that “my life wasn’t together.” Because I grew up in church, I knew that God was the answer to my problems. I knew I needed Him. But I didn’t understand that I needed Him to clean me up. I kept telling myself that I had to get myself together. I thought I was responsible for fixing every mess that I’d made in my life. I tried hard to get it right. And every time I tried, I failed. I would live right for about 2 or 3 weeks tops then I would fall back into old patterns and old habits. I couldn’t get myself right. I couldn’t get my life together.
For me, that was discouraging. It was discouraging because I believed that I had to be right before I could come to God. I thought that I had to be at a certain place before God would accept me. So I kept my distance. I knew that I needed Him, and I knew that I wanted Him, but I didn’t know that He wanted me. I didn’t think He wanted me even though I was broken and messed up. I didn’t think that He wanted me even though I was promiscuous and heartbroken and filthy.
The beautiful thing about God is that He specializes in the repairing filthy and broken things and making them new. Not good as new, but actually new. Last week, I talked about three stages of renewal: justification, sanctification, and glorification. These are theological terms and they are important to know as believers. They show us how we relate to God and how He relates to us. I know I said I would talk about sanctification this week, but I can’t skip the first stage! This week I want to look at justification.
I was working hard, well kind of hard, to get myself cleaned up as a way to make myself righteous. I wanted to prove to God that I was good enough for Him to love and accept me. But the thing about it is that there was nothing I could do on my own to ever make myself right enough. I didn’t, and still don’t, have enough willpower to make myself right before God. That’s not my job.
When Adam sinned in the garden, it caused sin to enter the world. From that point on, all people were born with a sinful nature. I think of it like genetics. When one person in your bloodline has a particular trait, it gets passed down from person to person, generation to generation. Sin was similar to that. Because Adam, the father of all men, sinned, it passed down from generation to generation. The Bible says in Romans 5 that through one man’s disobedience, sin entered the world.
Because of sin, man became lawless. Man did what was right in their own eyes and they did whatever made them feel good about themselves. When God called the Israelites to be His own special people, He gave them a set of rules. He gave them the law. These laws were to govern how they lived and to make them set apart. The Israelites worked hard to keep the law, but because they couldn’t, they would have to atone for their sins with a sacrifice. There was nothing they could do to be made righteous. They would sacrifice continually in order to cover for what their sinful nature caused them to do.
But then God sent Jesus. When Jesus came, His sole mission was to atone for our sins. He, being fully God and fully man, paid a penalty that only He could pay. He paid the sin debt. Because He was fully God, He lived a life without sin. He was completely righteous. When He gave His life, He made an exchange. He exchanged His sinless, righteous nature for our sinful, unrighteous nature. His death allows us to be made righteous in the sight of God. We were imputed righteousness because of Christ.
Our only requirement to receive this righteousness is to believe. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith. It’s nothing that we do on our own. When we believe, our sinful nature is then replaced with Christ’s righteousness. This is justification. God sees us as righteous the moment we put our faith in Christ Jesus. We don’t have to work for it. We don’t have to clean ourselves up to get it. We don’t have to stop doing anything. Our only responsibility is to believe in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 says that if we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that we are saved. We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God died for our sins and that He paid our debt. We believe that He exchanged His righteousness for us. That is all we must do to be justified.
I don’t know about you, but that’s freeing. To know that I don’t have to work for God’s approval. That once I put my faith in Him, by the work of His Spirit, I’ve been made right before Him. From that point, He sees me as righteous. My righteousness is not of my own works or my own ability but that of Christ Jesus. That relieves the pressure that I have to be perfect to come before Him.
Let me let yall in on a secret: I’m not perfect. My life was messed up before I allowed Christ’s power to work in me. And to be honest, my life is still a work in progress. All day, every day. But through faith in Christ, I have been made righteous. Through faith in Christ, WE have been made righteous. It’s not because of anything that we do or anything that we don’t do. We are righteous because we choose to believe in the one that God sent to reconcile us back to Him.
Our sinful nature created a chasm between us and God. We weren’t able to be in relationship with Him. But through faith in Jesus Christ, that breach has been repaired and we have full access to the Father.
Justification is foundational to our faith. We must understand that it is a work of the Spirit and not of our own. When we believe, the Spirit does the work. What a beautiful thing. You don’t have to do anything but to come to Him and believe that He will make you new. When I did that my entire life was transformed.
Where are you? Are you avoiding God because your life isn’t together? Or are you working to earn your righteousness? Where do you find yourself? Comment below or send me an email! Let’s chat about it!
Next week, I’ll really get into sanctification. What it means, what it doesn’t look like and what it does. I can’t wait! If you’re not subscribed to the email list, make sure you do so you don’t miss this post!
Don’t miss a post! Sign up for the email list and get your free devotional journal as well as exclusive content, giveaways, and freebies for subscribers!
Share on Pinterest!