I just love a courtroom scene. There’s something intriguing about a judge having a position of authority to declare someone’s future. That’s probably why I enjoyed watching Law and Order: exciting courtroom scenes. My husband secretly watches them too; I hear him from the kitchen as we await the verdict; he yells “GUILTY!” Interestingly, God uses that courtroom imagery to convey to His people their true identity in Him. Picture this: God the Father is the Judge, God the Son is the defendant, and Satan is the prosecutor (sorry, Jack McCoy). What was He on trial for, what were the charges against Him? Answer: The sin of the entire world for all time. As the Sovereign Judge of the Ages read the charges, humanity and creation waited in anticipation; what would the verdict be? … GUILTY! The Son of God accepted the verdict and paid the penalty: His death. But thank God for the resurrection; He didn’t stay dead and neither will we!
John 5:24 says this,
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to My (Jesus’) message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
That’s justification, a big word, I know, but a vital one. Without the understanding of justification we can fall into the false notion that by living right, obeying the commandments, being a ‘good person’ will gain us right standing in God’s eyes. That’s false. You can’t do anything good enough to stand in front of a holy God. Being justified means that the Judge has looked over your record, the charges against you, saw that Jesus paid the penalty, and declared you NOT GUILTY. Martin Luther called that the Great Exchange. Jesus exchanged your sinfulness for His righteousness. It wasn’t because you were trying to be a good person, kind and forgiving (that’s another subject) but was totally due to Jesus taking your place and suffering your penalty on the cross. Let’s see… exchanging our sin for His righteousness, a deal you don’t want to refuse.
“Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do. (Acts 13:38, 39 NLT)
Notice the two parts of that verse: forgiveness and the declaration of righteousness. We need both when we come to Christ the first time and when we repeatedly fall into sin in our daily life so that we don’t stay there. Knowing that we are forgiven is important but knowing that we have been declared ‘right with God’ (justified) keeps us going day after day. Keep that in mind this week because you may get yourself in a mess. Remember that you are justified in God’s sight. Sorry Satan, your lies won’t work. Repent, get up, and start again. That’s kingdom living.