As we reach the end of several weeks on justification we ask the question, “Is this really possible? Can Jesus really save so many people—even me?” Paul’s answer is “Yes. And much more…” Detailing how Adam’s sin brought condemnation to everyone, Paul lays out how Jesus not only offers the gift of justification, but redeems all of creation greater than it was before Adam’s sin and restores us to reign in life through Him.
In this ending to chapter 5, Paul addresses the hypothetical question of how the gift of one man, Jesus, apply to so many of us by comparing and contrasting Jesus and Adam. While answering this question, Paul again shows humanity at its worst—its head bringing sin itself into Creation. But for all of the sin and rebellion of Adam, bringing condemnation to all of humanity, Christ’s gift much more is good and powerful. And for our own sins on top of Adam’s, again, much more is Christ’s gift good and powerful for our salvation.
We’ve spent the past several weeks studying what justification is, where our justification comes from, and how we try to replicate that on our own. But now we have to ask ourselve, “So what?” What does it matter? What should our response be? In Romans 5, Paul shows that our response to our justification should be to rejoice! Because we have been justified, we rejoice in our hope. Because we have hope, we rejoice in our sufferings. Because Christ has died for us, we rejoice in God.
Justification brings us peace with God, access to God’s grace, and hope in God’s glory and in these things we can rejoice. But how do we actually experience this justification and how do we rejoice? We rejoice in our sufferings, not because suffering itself is a good thing, but because, as Paul lays out, suffering strengthens our hope as we see God’s glory poured out on us and the Holy Spirit at work within us. Inthat we rejoice.
We all recognize to some degree that we don’t measure up, but we all still desire to be accepted. We see that in the way people seek after prosperity and the approval of others as well as through attempts to justify ourselves before God and find His approval. But the truth that we see in this text is that the fact of our justification frees us from the tyranny of those circumstances by assuring that we are secure and accepted and that that will not change because God is faithful.
We’ve spent the past few weeks talking about justification through faith, but how does that faith actually apply? We see this radical faith lived out in the beliefs that guide our actions. Because we have faith in God, we can be assured that we have been justified by Christ’s righteousness. Because we have faith in and cling to the God who is perfectly faithful, we can live in the freedom that He will do what He promised to do, to make us righteous and bring what is dead to life.
Let’s face it, this passage is weird. Paul is arguing for our justification being rooted in no action of our own, but solely in God’s grace and His finished work by referencing the timing of an old man’s circumcision. What does it matter that God called Abraham righteous and gave Him a covenant and then gave him circumcision? Was circumcision given as a means of justification or as a sign and seal of it?
Why is our justification so important? Paul spends two chapters of Romans on the topic and we’re preaching on it for six weeks. What’s the big deal? Justification, when understood as Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes to us, turns our whole mentality of life on its head and impacts literally every aspect of our lives. Everything about the Christian life flows from the truth of our justification by faith.
We all want to be accepted and we have two ways to get that acceptance. We can either earn our acceptance through our works or it can be given to us. Here Paul shows us that our way has always been to choose to justify ourselves while God’s way has always been credit faith as righteousness. David tried to cover his sin on his own, but he says that he wasted away under the burden of keeping his unrighteousness secret. Abraham was given a covenant from God that God Himself would bear the curse of His unrighteousness and he chose to live in that.
At Romans 4, we start 6 weeks of grappling with the idea of justification. Christian justification sits at the foundation of salvation and sits in opposition to all other religions and worldviews. Only the justification found in the cross breaks the bondage of justification by our own works that we have always saddled ourselves with. David found that he couldn’t cover his sin on his own and Abraham was unable to covenant with God, but through God’s own work, their faith was counted to them as righteousness.