Six Ways Justification Will Change Your Life

"Despite a remarkable amount of discipline and self-control, the Bible [will] always point out sins [we] miss."    

Martin Luther became a monk to rid himself of sin and dedicate himself to pleasing God, but he felt like a failure. Despite a remarkable amount of discipline and self-control, the Bible would always point out sins he had missed. He felt crushed under the weight of the ten commandments and Jesus' sermon on the mount.

One night he came to Romans 1:17. "For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, for the righteous shall live by faith." As he meditated on it, he realized that he would never be accepted by working his way to perfection. His acceptance, by God's own righteousness, would come through faith in Christ's sacrifice for him on the cross. Luther wrote that he felt he had "entered paradise itself through open gates." He had uncovered the doctrine of justification.

Like Luther, when we try to justify ourselves we always fail. But when we understand that we are justified by God's grace, the weight comes off our shoulders and our lives are changed. Below are six ways justification will change your life.

1. Justification makes you humble
Self-justification makes you arrogant. When your life revolves around being good enough, you look down on those who aren't doing as well as you are. You are rating others and condemning those who don't meet your standards. But when you understand justification by God, you become humble. The doctrine of justification tells you that you couldn't do it yourself—you will never be good enough. But God justifies you by grace. So you are quick to give grace to others and view yourself with humility.

2. Justification makes you secure
Self-justification makes you not only arrogant, but also insecure. For every person you think isn't as good as you are, there is another who seems to be better! You are always concerned that you aren't doing well enough. But when you understand justification by God's grace, you realize that his love for you isn't based on your performance. The doctrine of justification gives you a life that is always secure in God's approval.

3. Justification makes you thankful
Self-justification tells you that you have only one person to thank for what you have: yourself. It's your work that produces results, and so you tend to complain when you don't get what you think you deserve. Justification by God's grace also tells you that you have one person to thank: God! Since God alone makes you approved in his sight, the doctrine of justification creates a thankful heart. Your day is colored by the reality that you will always have a reason to be grateful.

4. Justification makes you joyful
Self-justification stresses you out. You constantly evaluate yourself throughout the day, asking questions like: "How am I doing? Am I doing well enough?" The need to perform for your acceptance is a burden you always carry. But the doctrine of justification takes that burden off of your back. It tells you that Jesus performed for you, so that now you are completely accepted before God. This creates a joyful lifestyle that rests in Jesus and finds joy in whatever comes your way.

5. Justification makes you hopeful
Self-justification tells you that you are responsible for your future. You are hopeful when you are doing well, but you are hopeless when you aren't. The doctrine of justification tells you that you aren't responsible for your future: God has secured it. No matter what you do, your eternity is secure because of what Jesus has done for you. This gives you an ultimate hope throughout your day that can't be sapped.

6. Justification makes you obedient
Self-justification seems like a great way to motivate an obedient life. But putting pressure on yourself to perform for God actually gets in the way of obedience. God becomes an employer, and you become an employee who only obeys as much as you have to. But the doctrine of justification teaches us that God is a loving Father who makes you his child in spite of your performance. When you understand the doctrine of justification, you want to obey your loving Father from the heart.