“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” – Romans 8:33
Recently, I have been in great need of repeating Gospel promises to myself, almost continually, otherwise my heart has seemed to slip very quickly into bitterness, misery, spiritual depression, anger, and the like. I’m not sure why, but it has been so. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Not me. Knowing Romans 8 to be chock full of promises from God, fulfilled in Christ, I read it and came across this one headline truth that I need pounded into my head and my heart. Romans 8:33 above.
This one statement sums up what the Gospel is about, namely it is God who justifies. The whole Bible itself can be summed up in that one central truth. I don’t justify my existence, or my works, or my interactions with others; God does, more precisely Christ does, and even more precisely in the cross and resurrection. Of course the Bible goes much further than just this simple statement that it is God who justifies. But if you could sum it up, I don’t know how much better you can get. This is what distinguishes the Gospel from all other truth claims of various religions, for each one is all about justifying yourself through what you do. And it is the one central truth I need headlined in my heart when the weight of sin and my own unbelief clouds my vision.
My ways are impure, tainted, and when I become discouraged by my sin, I have lost sight of this one central truth: I don’t justify myself, God does. At that moment, I’m believing the lie that I must justify myself, and because I can’t I despair and don’t turn to Christ. I have nothing to offer for a reason or explanation or defense as to why my life should be accounted for anything in the light of the white hot fire of God’s perfect judgment. Even my “good deeds” are stained with sin from my evil intentions and the self-seeking motivations that rest in my heart.
And so when my heart sinks under the weight of what I know I am apart from Christ, forgetting His work, that is precisely when I must set my mind upon this and other central truths. My life is accounted righteous only in relation to Christ and His work. Apart from Him, I am nothing and can do nothing of any spiritual value that matters to God. He is what gives my life Life, value, significance, only because He gave Himself up that I may have His worth and value and reward. He has given me all things of eternal value by His work on my behalf. He has removed my punishment by taking it in Himself, He has canceled the debt by paying it in full, absorbed the guilt of my sin, granted that I may know Him, the best part of heaven, the single greatest reward.What could possibly be better than this? This is what we must meditate upon in the Gospel. What kind of people would we be if this ruled our hearts before all other things?
When your heart sinks under the weight of your sin and your heart is blackened by the poison of unrighteousness that exists in the core of your being, as has been the case with me lately, look to Him and see that it is not you but God who justifies, in His Son. There is nothing else that truly matters but this one thing. I pray that truth too would work itself into my heart, that I would not doubt in unbelief but believe deeper and deeper that Christ has set me free my His blood shed on the cross for my sin. Remember, it is God who justifies, no one else, not even yourself. You are helpless apart from the mercy of Christ. And He offers it freely, at no cost, to even the greatest of sinners, including myself.
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