13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (Rom 2:)
The implication here is that a person seeking to be justified wishes, not necessarily to be right, or just, or reasonable, but to be made or seen as right, just or reasonable.
What we've looked at above is the world's view of justification, that is to say, the secular view. In the churches there's a popular expression regarding the act of justification that says much the same thing. That expression is: "To be just-as-if-I-had never sinned." And I suppose such a statement fits the bill as far as we've looked into the matter to this point.
We found that to be justified is to be made free from blame or guilt. How can we go about being free from blame or guilt? I can think of some ways we might accomplish this and yet continue in the act that causes us to need to seek justification in the first place. One thing I can do is hang around with a bunch of people who also do the things I do. They'll give me plenty of reasons why I should do what I'm doing, plenty of justifications, and because of all the social support, I will feel my actions are normal and ok, so I'll also be free from guilt.
The above method works well, until I'm caught by those in society who do not feel as I and my associates do, then there are steel bars I have to contend with. What now? How can I justify myself now? Well, of course I can plead my innocence, saying I was set up, or that it was my parent's fault that I'm this way, or that it was just a mistake and it will never happen again. You know these copouts because you've used them yourself.
If these excuses do not open the iron doors, then what? Well, that's what high priced lawyers are for, to seek "justice" for those who have been caught red-handed doing what they ought not. Do lawyers try to convince the person to stop doing what they have been doing that causes them to need justification, to be made to appear as if they have been right, reasonable or just? Of course not, their job is to get the unjust to appear as just so they don't have to suffer the consequences for their unjust behavior.
When a person has been caught and convicted of an unjustifiable act, what happens then? Well, that person could work harder at what they have been doing that got them in trouble, trying to find ways not to get caught in the future. Or he might seek to turn his life around and stop doing what he has been doing that causes him to seek justification, thereby no longer having to worry about the consequences of being unjust.
Let's say this person decides to do the latter of the two choices, what might he do? I should think the first thing he might do is separate himself from his circle of friends who do as he had been doing, and who are ready, able and willing to justify him and his actions; and instead seek a place where his new behavior will be seen as acceptable and appropriate.
When we've been a bad boy (or girl, as the case may be) we will subsequently find ourself before a judge. At this point we can do one of two things: we can seek justice, if we think we have been "just" at all: Or, if we know there's no out for us in the realm of justice, we might cry for mercy.
Let's say we go for the justice plea. Just what is justice? Let's again look into our dictionary. Justice: "Just treatment; Innocent, righteous."
"Innocent, righteous." Neither of these fit us, so we're in big trouble. The Bible speaks often about being just, such as Noah was just, and for his being just he was saved from the flood. Maybe, even though we're miserable sinners, we may also be just. What does the dictionary say about the just?
Just: "Deserved, in right amounts." Well, I guess we're still in trouble. If we get what we deserve, and in the right amount, we'll be in deep doo-doo. I suppose our best option is to plead for mercy.
Mercy: "Refraining from inflicting punishment or pain on an enemy or offender who is in one's power." That's a mouth full. Let's go with the churches definition of mercy: "Unmerited favor," It's easier to write and to remember.
The Bible speaks a lot about mercy, let's see if we can find something in the Bible to get us off the hook:
7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Mat 5:)
You mean I have to show mercy if I expect to receive mercy? That doesn't sound fair does it? That smacks to me of the little kid who likes to hit people and kick then in the shins, but he cries to momma if someone hits him back. If I have to expect the same treatment from the judge that I've shown others in the past, I don't think pleading for mercy is going to do me any good.
Maybe we have a picture, an example of mercy being shown someone who has been unmerciful. That may soften the blow just a bit. Let's give it a try, shall we?
Our first option we found was to return to our old lifestyle, but that will only lead us back to the situation we now find ourself in. The second option is to change our ways and place ourself out of harm's way. That's difficult for someone like me to do, how about you? Let's try for a third option whereby we can retain our nasty nature and still reap the rewards of peace and a free conscience. Let's try the Church.
What can I expect from Church? Well the first thing I would expect to find at Church is opposition to, and condemnation for, the person I had been, and at the same time help to become, and acceptance for the person I should become. A second thing I would expect is to hear all the ways a person must live in order to be accepted in the Church, and in the eyes of God. I would also expect to see people striving for that very perfection God demands of His people, and those who will be qualified to stand in His presence.
That is what I would expect to find in church.
What I find instead is, justification for the person I had been in that, if I have been dipped in water, I am seen as justified in the eyes Almighty God, and even if I live the life that got me in trouble, God will still accept me. Isn't that what I heard from those previously that caused me to be in trouble in the first place?
Those in church I find are told, and therefore feel, that they are already perfect in God's eyes, and therefore do not have to change or strive to better themselves. They hear that it's a nice thing to do, that is it's suggested we try and be nice people, show mercy to others, be good parents, do nice things; but if we choose to do otherwise, God accepts that too. Again, that's much the same as what I heard in my old circle of friends.
What then do I receive from this newfound group I've intrusted my future to that I didn't have before?
I find that I can take on a new life, be able to stand "justified" ("just as if I had never sinned") before God, and not have to suffer the consequences for my wrongdoings. I can now continue in debauchery with a clear conscience, and without condemnation from those around me. And, on top of all these blessings, I no longer have to fear the Judgement or the fiery pit, and I can now point a finger of accusation at those who have not been so wise as to follow my example.
This is what I've gained by joining the church, and I'm told that all this is sufficient to appease and please the Almighty Judge.
I wonder how effective I will find my decision to have been when I have to stand before that human judge?
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Rom 3:)
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom 2:)
17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24Ye see then how that BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFIED, AND NOT BY FAITH ONLY. 25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:)
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