Have you ever tried to explain justification by faith to someone only to have them say, “If I believed that I would live like the devil!”? The answer is that is to say as tactfully as you can, “You would but a true Christian will not.” Today’s devotional explains why. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Romans 3:21-6:23 (ESV)
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[b] of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[g] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore, as one trespass[h] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“At every college and university, students study hard to get an ‘A’ at the end of the course. When I was a student, I did the same thing. But I had one class that was different. It was a senior level course taken only by physics and chemistry majors, and there were only four or five students in the class. The first day of lectures, our teacher surprised us with the following announcement: ‘You don’t have to worry about your grade in this course ― you all have an “A”’ Now we can just settle down and enjoy the material.’
“Now, this is exactly what God does in justification. God gives us an ‘A’ at the beginning of the Christian life! We do not labor to merit eternal life at the end of our course; we have eternal life (John 5:24). We exult right now that in just a few more heartbeats, we will be in heaven (Romans 5:2).
“Lost religious men have two basic responses to this doctrine. On the one hand, the legalist hates it. This self-righteous Pharisee only does ‘good works’ because he is trying to get an ‘A’ at the end of his life. If he could, he would like to live in sin, and he resents the fact that he does not get to. His objection is: ‘If God gives men eternal life at the beginning of the Christian life, what will keep them from continuing in sin? If he gives men an “A” at the beginning of the course, no one will study the material.’
“On the other hand, the lawless religious man likes the doctrine of justification by faith. ‘Well, I’ve already got my “A”! Now I can throw my book in the trash, ignore the teacher, and go do my own thing.’ Such men ‘turn the grace of God into licentiousness’ (Jude 4). They view ‘free grace’ as a ‘license to sin.’ In this day of ‘easy-believism,’ churches across the nation are filled with just such unconverted people ― lost men who like to think of themselves as ‘carnal Christians.’
“What is wrong with the reasoning of both the legalist and the libertine? Does God give us an ‘A’ at the beginning of our course, just to make it possible for us to skip class and still get a top grade? Does He pay for the criminal’s crimes legally in justification, just so that criminal can continue to murder, rape, and pillage, only now with immunity from punishment? Absolutely not! What does God do? At the very same time that He gives us an ‘A’ at the beginning of our course, He also changes us on the inside so that we will love to study the material! In other words, when God justifies a man, He also regenerates him. Regeneration is inseparable from justification, and justification never occurs without it. And this is Paul’s answer both to the Jewish legalists who claimed that his teaching would lead men to ‘continue in sin,’ and to the libertines who wanted to use his teaching as an opportunity for licentiousness. ‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it! (Romans 6:1-2).’ According to Paul, every Christian has undergone a radical transformation that makes it impossible for him to continue in sin. This transformation takes place in regeneration. True ‘grace’ always ‘instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age’ (Titus 2:11-12). The invariable mark of any man who has found genuine peace with God is that he immediately begins a lifelong quest to know and follow the God he now loves. (The man with false peace, on the other hand, turns back to his own selfish interests as soon as he feels safe from the danger of hell.) The true Christian will never use grace as a ‘license to sin’; he already sins more than he wants to!
“Christians do good works, then, not because they are seeking to merit an ‘A’ from God, but because they have been given new hearts that love to ‘study the material.’” [Charles Leiter, Justification and Regeneration, (Hannibal, MO: Granted Ministries Press, 2009), p. 47-49]