33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us…
I think one of the greatest temptations I face is the habitual tendency to justify myself. I’m sure you never face this one.
It’s the knee-jerk reaction to get angry when cut off in traffic, but at the same time get upset when someone else has a problem with your driving.
It’s that thought pattern that goes something like “I’m always taking the high-road, others are always taking advantage, I’m a victim of other people’s inconsiderate nature.”
It’s that propensity to feel like your motives are 100% pure in everything, and that when anyone else thinks differently it’s probably due to some sort of problem they have with you because they’re jealous.
It’s especially prevalent in relationships where you’ve known and been close to someone for a long time. Say–a husband or a wife, a family member, child, or parent. You’ve seen their sin, you know their short-comings, you could rehearse it all for them point by point if they would only ask. Thankfully for them, you’ve always taken the high road, even when they take advantage. You know what, if you think about it, you really are a victim of their inconsiderate nature.
My point here is this: it is the tendency of humans to justify themselves. Even though this may not seem like a big deal, it really is. You know why? Because if you justify yourself, you’re not allowing God to do it through Jesus Christ. It is God who justifies.
To justify means “to acquit, to put in right relationship, to declare as righteous.” It’s pretty important that we let God do this, rather than attempting to do it for ourselves. We need to be justified because we’re guilty. Recognizing that guilt, the guilt incurred because of our sin, the guilt that demands a payment to a righteous, just, and loving God, is an important step that every person must take. If you don’t recognize your guilt, you’ll be left acting as your own justifier. And that’s not worth much.
Think about it, if you are the one who justifies yourself, on what authority are you doing this? You are acquitting, putting in right relationship, and declaring yourself righteous. We call that “self-righteousness,” and no one reading this would want to own up as being self-righteous. We would all agree that self-righteousness is ugly, rude, arrogant, and worthless. Why is it all of those things? Because the self-righteous person is the one who acts like they “don’t owe nobody nothing!” But we all know they do. They owe people kindness, truth, and justice among other things. But most of all–they owe these things to God–and that’s a debt none of us can pay.
The very next verses in Romans 8…
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Stop justifying yourself. God sent Jesus to do that job. So, look into His word like a mirror, see your guilt, helplessness, and debt, and allow Him to pay the price. Put your hope in Christ, and He will put you in right relationship with God and with others.