"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25)
When I first started understanding Romans, this verse was an ah-ha moment. A critical brick in the foundation of a grace Jesus built in my life.
I had understood partial truths my whole life. Truths that focused on Jesus dying for my sin. My interpretation made the hero of the story my sin. “You are a sinner, God doesn’t like you, Jesus had to die for you—now try harder.”
There was a serious disconnect between Jesus dying to pay for my sin and Him liking me. This is true for many of us. Hey, why else do so many of us refer to ourselves (and each other) as sinners saved by grace?
This turn of phrase stabs Jesus the heart.
Here’s why—Yes, Jesus’ death was necessary. Yes, Jesus did it willingly, but the goal wasn’t only to pay the debt of sin for the world (past, present and future: Heb. 7:27; 8:12; 9:12, 14, 26, 28; 10:10, 12, 14, 18, 22; 1 Pet. 3:18). The goal was to secure a change in legal standing before God (justification, Rom. 4:25).
Our status changed with the resurrection—We’ve missed this!
This means that God once considered us sinners guilty of breaking the entire law (James 2:10). But, Paul says that Jesus’ resurrection was to secure our justification. Justification is a legal change from guilty to not guilty.
But our status of not guilty isn’t that we’re considered as never having broken a law, our new status credits us with always having obeyed the law. That is incredible!
Paul explains it further in Chapter 8, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit,” (Rom. 8:3-4).
Do you see the difference?
In Christ Jesus, we are not merely sinners saved by grace; we stand before God with a perfect, sinless record. He does not keep score. He doesn’t look at us as the sum of our mistakes. He looks at us and sees Jesus’ perfect record (righteousness).
Once I started to understand this, my relationship with God changed. I understood myself as a beloved daughter that didn’t need to hide from God. I could let go of past sins and mistakes. I quit berating myself, wallowing in shame. I found the elusive freedom promised in scripture.
Do you consider yourself as a lowly sinner saved by grace?
How would your life change if you thought of yourself as having Jesus’ perfect sinless record?
What past sins and mistakes do you need to forgive yourself for?
Need More on Justification?
You’re in luck, check out these articles on justification and marvel at all that Jesus did for us.
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Original article published July 18, 2009.