Monday, September 17, 2012

The "just-as-if" in Justification

In last Sunday's sermon on Galatians 2:11-16, I had the opportunity to reflect on the doctrine of justification by faith, which, as Luther said, is the article on which the church either stands or falls.  In the message I cited the Heidelberg Catechism:
Question 60. How are thou righteous before God?
Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.
I was struck, in particular, by the line which states that the justified man stands, "as if I never had had, nor committed any sin."  When the Father looks at the justified sinner, he sees only the righteous life of the Son which has been imputed to the redeemed (2 Cor 5:21).  The old adage rings true.  Justification means it is "just-as-if" the saint had never sinned.

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