Section 6: Salvation – Part 1
Week 4: Justification – God’s Declaration of Our Righteousness
Day 5: Justification Means There Is Now No Condemnation
We’ve already discussed the fact that we are saved through faith. When we put our faith in Christ, we are united with him and God looks at his righteousness and declares us righteous on that basis. But is faith by itself truly enough to save us? From a Catholic perspective it isn’t. Justification is “a lifelong process of becoming righteous”[i] At baptism, God infuses the soul with righteousness, but this righteousness can increase or decrease over the course of a lifetime depending on what a person does. In fact, a mortal sin results in the total loss of righteousness if it isn’t restored through the sacrament of penance. As a result, assurance of one’s salvation is impossible until the very end because you never know what is going to happen.[ii]
Contrast that with Paul’s view. In Rom 8:1, Paul says, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added). How can he be so sure? Because our justification doesn’t depend on us. In the end, it all comes down to what Jesus did. He paid the penalty for our sin and earned eternal life for us. If we’ve been united with him through faith, that’s all that matters. That’s why Paul can say:
I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39).
Read Rom. 8 again.
According to Paul, on what basis can we say there is now no condemnation for those who believe in Christ? Does Paul suggest there is anything that can change that verdict? Why not? How does that make you feel?
[i] Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, Wheaton: Crossway Books (1997), 350.
[ii] Ibid., 350-351.