“Not guilty!” The judge declares as the gavel slams down. Everyone watches incredulously as the villain walks free. The amount of people he had hurt – the tears and blood shed because of his actions – were far too much to count. Even for the most gracious and forgiving person, this declaration was a hard pill to swallow.
But perhaps no one should be more surprised than me. I was that criminal. But no one will ever be able to truly call me a criminal again. The judge declared me innocent. So many people would say it was simply a bad call, a mistake in the justice system. That’s what I would have thought too, but wait until you hear how and why the judge calls me innocent.
This judge is no ordinary judge. This judge is the very Son of God. And He has not simply let me off the hook. My punishment has been carried out. Just not by me. By Him. By the very one who judges! So when He declares me innocent, He isn’t just giving me a get-out-of-jail-free card. He makes me innocent. In the legal eyes of the universe, I am innocent – without fault before God. More than that, the Son of God credits me with His own righteousness. Don’t believe me? Take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (HCSB)
I have been declared righteous! Me, the criminal. Now He calls me friend. That’s what justified means: “Declared righteous by God.” There is no higher authority to take a case against me. I did nothing to earn this, I can only trust Him that He really has done what He said He did, and will do what He said He will. And until I see Him, let me praise Him. When I finally see Him face to face, what a wonderful day that will be.
“But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.” – Romans 4:5 (HCSB)
“Justified” is one of many words we use to describe important concepts in our faith. Over the course of the next month, we’re going to be looking at several different “church words” to remind ourselves what they really mean, and how we can explain it to others we talk with.