Section 6: Salvation – Part 1
Week 4: Justification – God’s Declaration of Our Righteousness
Day 3: Justification Is Based on What Christ Has Done for Us
We need to be righteous in order to gain eternal life. The problem is: we aren’t righteous. Fortunately for us, when we put our faith in Jesus, God looks at his life rather than our own. As we noted in the section on his life and death, Jesus perfectly obeyed God in all he did. Because he serves as our representative, God looks at Jesus’ life and credits his righteousness to us.
That is only part of the equation though. Jesus’ righteousness has infinite value, but the debt we owe is infinitely large as well. As long as the debt we owe for sin remains on our accounts, we’re out of luck. That’s why Jesus had to die to pay the penalty for our sin. Once again, because he serves as our representative, God takes his payment and credits it to our accounts. With the debt wiped away, the only thing left on our ledgers is his righteousness.
Understanding how Jesus’ life and death saves us is vitally important. Without that understanding, we don’t really know what we’re trusting him for. Take me for instance. In the Digging Deeper section on Humanity, I described how I grew up Catholic and knew that Jesus died on the cross, but I didn’t really understand why. I thought of his death primarily as an expression of God’s love for us. I never gave much thought to why it was an expression of love. For all I knew God could have sent us a dozen roses instead. Later I learned Jesus’ death was more than just an expression of love. He had to die in our place to pay the penalty for our sin. Until that point, I had been trusting in my own “goodness” to gain God’s approval. Once I understood what Jesus did, I stopped trusting in myself and put my trust in him to save me. Without that knowledge I would still be trusting in myself.
In your experience, what do most people think about Jesus? Do they understand that he came to pay the penalty we owe for sin? If not, why do you think that is?
Last week you identified one or two people you know who have not yet put their faith in Christ. Take a moment to ask God to work within their hearts and lead them to transfer their trust to Christ.