under a special agreement with
Winners Series 2
under a special agreement with
Lesson 2: Justified Freely
The moment I received Christ as my Savior, God gave me eternal forgiveness. He has forgiven me of all my sins—past, present, and future.
God is now my heavenly Father, and I am His beloved child. This wonderful relationship can never be broken, but my fellowship with my Father can be broken. When I sin, my fellowship with my Father is broken. In my heart I know that something has come between my Father and me. But I know what to do when I sin. I go to my Father and confess that sin to Him. The moment I do this, the fellowship is restored.
God wants me to enjoy Him.
Because God loves me, He wants me to enjoy Him and enjoy being in His presence. For this, God must deal with the shame and guilt of sin.
Suppose I accidentally ran over and killed the only son of a godly Christian man. He might forgive me, but I would always feel guilty and ashamed in his presence, knowing what I had done.
God not only forgives me, but He clears me of my guilt and shame, so I can enjoy Him and He can enjoy me.
When Christ hung on the cross, He bore not only my sins but also my guilt, my shame, and everything that was against me. He died and was buried, but He rose from the grave on the third day.
Christ rose from the grave in a glorious, new resurrection body. Where are my sins, my guilt, my shame, and all that was against me? They are gone forever! The Bible says that Christ “was delivered [to the cross] for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
What does it mean to be “justified?”
Being justified means that I have been cleared of everything that was against me and declared righteous in God’s sight. I am “justified in Christ.” The Bible says,
“…through this Man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from ALL THINGS…” (Acts 13:38-39).
God is the great Judge of the universe. He is the One who justifies us. No one else could do this. It is God we have sinned against, and it is God alone who can justify us.
I come into God’s court as a guilty sinner who has trusted Jesus as His Savior. To my amazement I hear the great Judge of the universe say, “All charges against you have been dismissed. You have been cleared of everything that was against you.”
How can God do this? God can do this because His Son removed everything that was against us by His death on the cross. The Bible says,
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
This is the greatest single verse in all the Bible on being justified. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t that beautiful! Say it to yourself over and over—“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Notice the word “freely.” God justifies us “freely.” God loves to justify all who belong to His Son. All charges against us are completely wiped out. All guilt is blotted out. No question about the believer’s sins will ever be raised by God.
We are “justified freely by His grace.” What is “grace”? Grace is God’s boundless love going out to undeserving sinners, forgiving them freely “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
In one word, grace means “gift.” Grace means that we do not work for salvation; we simply receive it as a gift. The Bible says,
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Four wrong ways.
The Bible warns us against four ways by which we cannot be justified:
We are not justified because of our parents. It is a wonderful blessing to have godly parents, but this will not save you.
We are not justified by good works of any kind. The Bible says,
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5).
Trusting in our good works to save us is actually hateful to God. It means that we are trying to save ourselves instead of resting our faith on the glorious work of God’s Son on the cross.
We are not justified by keeping the laws of God. The Bible says,
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh [no one] be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20).
We are not justified by church membership or ordinances. Neither church membership, baptism, the Lord’s supper, nor any other ordinance can justify a person in God’s sight.
God’s way of justifying sinners.
God has His own righteous way of justifying sinners. It is through “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
A stupendous work has been done for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. How do we get in on it? Two short phrases in Romans 3:25 and 26 supply the answer:
“through faith in His blood”
“he who believes in Jesus.”
We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and His blood which was shed for our sins. God says,
“By Him [Jesus Christ] all who believe are justified from all things…” (Acts 13:39).
I am not looking to Christ to do anything to save me. He has already done it! But I must make it personal. It is not, “We are all sinners,” but “I am a sinner.”
It is not, “I believe that Jesus died for sinners,” but “Jesus died for ME.” It is not, “I believe Jesus is the Savior,” but “Jesus is MY Savior.”
If you have made it personal like this, you are justified in God’s sight. You have peace with God. The Bible says,
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
God counts me righteous in His sight.
Being justified means that God not only takes away all the negative things that were against me, but He counts me righteous in His sight because of my faith in Jesus Christ.
When Abraham was 99 years old, God told him that he would have a son by his wife, Sarah. Humanly speaking, this was impossible. But—
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
The same is true for us. When we believe God, our faith is counted for righteousness. God does not require that we do a single thing but believe Him concerning what His Son has done for us. The Bible says,
“To him that works not, but believes on Him [God] that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
Forgiven and loved!
Satan tries to make people think that God is a harsh Judge who hates sinners and wants to punish them. The truth is that God loves sinners! He hates sin, but He loves sinners.
God has always loved sinners, but until our sins were dealt with in a way that glorified Him, God could not receive sinners and express His love for them.
On the cross, Jesus glorified God with regard to our sins by bearing all of God’s wrath and judgment against sin. Now God can come out in all His love and take the repentant sinner in His arms and freely show His love for him. The story of the rebellious prodigal son shows us this.
The rebellious son turned his back on his father and his home and left to do his own will. He was saying, “I will do what I want to do!” His self-will took him a great distance from his father.
In the depths of his misery, the prodigal son began to think about how he had disgraced his father. He decided to go back home and ask his father to let him be one of his servants.
What happened? When his father saw him a great distance away, he ran to him. The father did not say, “Son, you will have to change your bad habits and get your life cleaned up before I can receive you.”
What did the father do? He threw his arms around the prodigal son and kissed him. It was not just a little kiss on the cheek. In the original language, the Bible says that the father “covered his son with his kisses.”
In that moment, the prodigal son knew two things: He knew that he was fully and freely forgiven, and he knew how his father felt toward him. He knew his father’s heart attitude toward him. By his actions, his father was saying, “I love you! I love you! I love you! I am so glad you have come back!”
This story shows how God feels toward me—He loves me with all His heart. God is “hugging me to His heart,” even as the father put his arms around the poor prodigal son and folded him to his heart. It is God saying to me, “I love you! I love you! I love you! I am so happy you came to Me!”
God glories in forgiveness!
God is a Savior God, and He glories in forgiveness. He glories in being able to justify us righteously because of Christ’s great work of redemption on the cross.
Let us never forget that while we were ungodly sinners, God declared us righteous in His sight the moment we put our faith in Christ. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Claim this verse for yourself! Say, “While I was ungodly, God declared me righteous, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
This is what God wants! He wants us to claim for ourselves, boldly and believingly, what He says in the Bible. The Bible says,
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Moses—the great deliverer
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians attempting to do were drowned.” Hebrews 11:29
The Lord guided His people in their journey out of Egypt by a “pillar of a cloud” in the daytime and a “pillar of fire” at night. The cloud shaded them in the daytime, and the pillar of fire gave them light at night.
God guided them to a place by the Red Sea. There were mountains on two sides and the sea in front of them. Meanwhile Pharaoh decided that he wanted his slaves back. Pharaoh gathered all of his chariots and army, and marched after the children of Israel.
The children of Israel were terrified and they cried out to Moses. Moses said, “Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” God told Moses to take his rod and stretch out his hand over the sea. When Moses did, the Lord caused the sea to divide into two walls of water with dry land between them.
God took His people through a “place of death.” They had walls of water on either side of them. God brought them through a place of death into a new land.
The Egyptians pursued them and went after them into the midst of the sea, with all of their chariots and army. The Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again.” The waters covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh. Not a single person in Pharaoh’s army was left alive.
The children of Israel learned that day that God was for them. They celebrated with a song, saying,
“I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously…the Lord is my strength and song and He has become my salvation…” (Exodus 15:1-2).
Israel’s deliverance was the beginning of a new life for them. They were no longer slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt. They were like “new people in a new land with a new leader.”
All of this is a “picture” of God’s great salvation for us. In my unsaved condition, I was a slave of Satan in his kingdom. God brought me through “death” into His new creation—the kingdom of His dear Son.
God put me in Christ on the cross, so that what happened to Him happened to me. In God’s sight I “died” with Christ, I was “buried” with Him, and I "rose again” with Him as a new person in God’s new creation. The Bible says,
“Giving thanks unto the Father…who has delivered us from the power of darkness [Satan’s power], and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).
God is for us! It is a great day when we learn this. God has not only forgiven us, but He has defeated Satan and all his evil hosts. By the death of Christ, God has delivered us from Satan’s world-system.