Most of us understand the meaning of the word justification by that simple phrase “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned “. There is truth in those words but they only go half way.
Most Christians imagine sin in this way; they began with a clean slate – lets give it a value of zero on the ledger of our life. As sin accumulates in our lives we go further into negative territory, the ledger slowly fills up with more and more entries of costly debts, lets assign it a value of minus 100. ‘Just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned’ thinking, implies that the work of Christ brought us back to a clean slate, that we no longer have any negative entries in the ledger.
The error in this thinking, is that we conclude that from this position of “no-sin” we then proceed to add our good works to build up the positive side of the ledger. Many people think that Christ took away their sin, ‘so that’ they could then live a life of righteous works – so God can be pleased with them. Such things as; obedience, zeal, service, acts of kindness, good deeds – come to mind.
The reality is that Christ did not take us from ‘-100 sinfulness’ to ‘no-sin’, He took us from ‘-100 sinfulness’ to ‘+100 righteousness’. He took us from being 100% in satan… passed ‘no-sin’… and all the way to 100% in Christ. He didn’t just deal with our sin problem, He gave us His very perfection, virtue, divine goodness in exchange. So now when the Father looks at us He says, “my, my, my, you look so much like my Son Jesus I can barely tell you apart, hasn’t His blood done a great job in you”.
This is the scandal of the gospel, it is shocking, staggering, and it’s all about Jesus.
We must grasp this positive outcome of the work of Christ, to do otherwise would be to devalue His blood. Christ’s blood was shed that we would loose every trace of imperfection and unrighteousness, by His blood alone. That is the good news and many stumble at this point because it seems too good to be true. Christ went beyond removing my sin – He re-made me to be just like Him… John 1:13 says “we are born of God”.
This is not a proud-full boast, it is simply a recognition that the blood of Christ was effective beyond our wildest dreams.
What a scandal, to declare out loud – ‘I am like Jesus’ – yet not by my own efforts, only by His magnificent sacrifice for me.