Jesus Looks At The Heart

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 18:9-14

It is very important that the meaning of the word “justify” as used in the NT be precisely understood.  The story above spoken by Jesus so beautifully illustrates the process of justification. 

What did Jesus say about this tax collecting sinner?  “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”   To be humble means to have a true estimation of ourselves and where we stand with God.  To recognise there is nothing we can do to gain acceptance in God’s sight but to merely allow Him to make us acceptable.  By contrast, look at how the Pharisee approached God.  He was full of pride about all things he was doing to gain God’s acceptance.  His deeds in themselves were not wrong, only his motives.  His pride gave away the fact that he didn’t understand the real meaning of God’s propitiation through sacrifice that is found in Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.

 

Justification Defined

Friends, even in the light of the fact that Christ has taken all our sins away through His baptism by John and died on the cross,  that only  leaves  us  in a neutral status with God.   Just having no sin will never make us acceptable in God’s sight.  In order to be acceptable to God, we need more than just the subtraction  of our sins.  We need the addition of Christ’s righteousness. 

The Apostle Paul tells us how God arranged for this exchange, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor 5:21  

In other words, God took our sins and put them on Christ and then took Christ’s righteousness and gave it to us in exchange.  That’s what it means to be justified! 

Now because of this propitiation accomplished by Christ, God set Himself free to instantly and irrevocably declare righteous any man, woman or child who places faith in Christ’s baptism and death and accepts Him as their Saviour.  God declares that person to be just as righteous in His sight as His Son Jesus Christ.  This is our new standing  with the Lord.  There is a vast difference between being declared righteous by God and actually becoming righteous in our daily behaviour.  The first happens instantly the moment we believe in Christ’s baptism and death and forever settles our acceptance and standing in the eyes of God.  God can never again see us in any way except as having the righteousness  of His Son.

However, my  “becoming’”  righteous in my daily behaviour is a life long process which begins with my becoming a child of God and it is culminated with my becoming just like Jesus when I enter into His eternal Presence.  Whether, I am making good progress in my daily perfecting or not, it doesn’t alter the fact that God continues to view me absolutely righteous because of my union with Christ.   Rom 8:29-30   “29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

 

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