Implications of Justification by Faith Alone

I preached Habakkuk 2:4 this morning, and concluded with these practical implications of the doctrine of justification by faith alone:

1. It gives us security to struggle against sin. It is the foundation of the Christian life – rather than struggling to be accepted, Christians know they have been accepted by God in Christ, and are now free to struggle against sin with all their might. We know that even if we fail, our standing before God is not affected, because our standing/acceptance is not contingent upon our performance, but upon the performance of Christ. John Calvin wrote that justification is “the main hinge on which religion turns…unless you first of all grasp what your relationship to God is, and the nature of his judgment concerning you, you have neither a foundation on which to establish your salvation nor one on which to build piety toward God.”

2. It gives us boldness. Not only in our relationship with God, but in our relationships with other people. We can be so afraid of what other people think about us, but the better we understand justification, the less we’ll let other peoples’ opinions of us affect us.

3. It gives us humility. Our salvation is completely outside of us, and so we never have anything of which to boast. We are always justified sinners, simul justus et peccator [simultaneously righteous and sinful].

4. It gives us honesty. The truth that we are justified by faith and not by works tells us on the one hand that we aren’t as good as people give us credit for being, and on the other hand that we are even worse than people know. So when people think little of us, it doesn’t affect us like it once did. A lady came up to Charles Spurgeon after a sermon one day, and said, “Mr. Spurgeon, you are the most arrogant, obnoxious, annoying man I know. And I wanted to be the one who told you.” Spurgeon leaned over to one of his elders and said, “She doesn’t know the half of it.”

5. It gives us love. Justification by faith creates a community of broken sinners saved by grace, coming together to worship our Savior. You see the opposite of this in Luke 18, when the Pharisee prays, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” When we think our acceptance with God is based on our performance, we will tend to look down on others who don’t do as well as we do. But when we know that our justification is based on the performance of another, and that we are deserving of God’s condemnation, then we are able to love other broken sinners who are lost apart from His grace. We won’t add anything to Christ the way that Peter did in Galatians 2, refusing to fellowship with justified Gentiles because they didn’t also have the proper credentials in his sight.

SDG

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