“Justification through faith” is a phrase that is thrown around quite a bit. Many argue that justification by faith (rather than works) leads many to a life of looseness, laziness, and allows Christians to justify their decision to continue living in sin. While I am sure there are plenty of Christians who fit the above description, this should by no means tarnish the absolutely beautiful construction of justification in The Bible.
In Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray puts forth a compelling and powerful argument:
“It is an old and time-worn objection that this doctrine ministers to license and looseness (he is speaking of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone). Only those who know not the power of the gospel will plead such misconception. Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.”
Read it again: Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.
Our faith cannot be alone because the very essence of the faith we receive compels us to respond in holiness and works of faith. This is not to say that we are saved by works, but rather that we are justified by a faith that obliges us to work.
“Justification is not all that is embraced in the gospel of redeeming grace. Christ is a complete Savior and it is not justification alone that the believing sinner possesses in him. And faith is not the only response in the heart of him who has entrusted himself to Christ for salvation. Faith alone justifies but a justified person with faith alone would be a monstrosity which never exists in the kingdom of grace. Faith works itself out through love (Gal. 5:6). And Faith without works is dead (James 2:17-20).”
I am quite humbled when I think about the character of my faith. It is not just simply believing; it is an agreement to be transformed by a grace that has been offered to the most undeserving. How quickly we choose to forget that faith implies a change- a call to die to our old self and a call to be transformed. What is the condition of your faith? We often say we need more faith. We don’t- we just need Biblical faith.
“It is living faith that justifies and living faith unites to Christ both in the virtue of his death and in the power of his resurrection. No one has entrusted himself to Christ for deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for deliverance from the power of sin. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
This is so powerful that I struggle to wrap my mind around it. We have been saved by the blood of Christ and because of this infinite expression of grace; we have been delivered from the guilt of sin. But there is more. We have also been delivered from the power of sin. Before we were saved, we were necessarily controlled, mastered, and enslaved by our sin. Not only did God save us through his sovereign grace to reconcile us with him, he also poured into us the Holy Spirit, so that we could overcome sin.
What does this mean? It means that the same power that saved you is now available for you to put sin to death- to destroy it. This is incredible.
“No one has entrusted himself to Christ for deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for deliverance from the power of sin.”