March 31 I Saturday
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” —Romans 5:1-2
Forgiveness is one of the deepest needs of the human heart. Sometimes it feels like a physical burden has been lifted from us when someone we have wronged forgives us. The cross allows us to experience the even greater blessing of God’s forgiveness, but there are so many other things the sacrifice of Jesus did for us.
After a hanging in Scotland, the prisons used to post a notice announcing, “On such and such a day at such and such a time, so and so was justified.” “Justified” is a legal term meaning “justice has been done.” The case is closed, the penalty has been paid and no further penalty is required. The same is true for us because of Jesus’s death on the cross. Hebrews 10:10 says that His sacrifice occurred “once for all.” No one need die again, nor will God’s forgiveness ever be exhausted because Christ’s death forever justifies us in God’s sight.
This, of course, does not give us a free pass to deliberately and willfully engage in sin. When Paul rhetorically asks whether we should go on sinning so grace may increase, he responds emphatically, “By no means!” (Romans 6:2). The purpose of salvation is not just to get us out of sin but to put something new in us. The moment we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and begins the work of transforming our lives.
However, this is entirely dependent upon faith. We can imagine our relationship with God as something akin to marriage. In fact, the whole story of the Bible culminates in a bride for Christ. The cross is where God looked to His Son and in effect said, “Will you take these people with all their sin, failure and unrighteousness? Will you forgive them, cleanse them and justify them? Will you give them the gifts of eternal life and Your Holy Spirit?” As Jesus breathed His last, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and it is as though He answered, “I will.”
Just as a wedding requires vows from both parties, we do not become Christians simply because Jesus died for us. God now says to us, “Will you accept the forgiveness offered by Christ’s sacrifice? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to indwell you and work through you? Will you receive the gift of eternal life by confessing your sin and your need of a saviour?” God’s forgiveness, justification and transformation of our souls are gifts that must be received, and there is nothing on earth sweeter or more satisfying than faith in Christ that lovingly and humbly reciprocates the “I will.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, so many people desire the belonging and forgiveness I have found in You. Grant me opportunities this Easter to share with them how my life has changed because of You. Thank You, Lord.