Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 months ago

Jesus on Justification

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Christian McArthur

Being sacrifice where a lamb would beslain on the altar to propitiate or or a tone for the sins of thepeople. And this man is looking from a distance at this sacrifice and he'scalling for God to provide the only means for him to be considered righteous,a sacrifice that's totally outside of himself, something from God that would atone forhis sins. And with this, this contrast between the PHARISEE and the Publicangets a lot more interesting. You see a Pharisee who turns to his ownlaw, keeping, his own good works, his own spotless reputation, to findright standing before God, whereas this publican points to a sacrifice on hisbehalf that might give him right standing before...

God. He looks to a righteousnessthat is completely outside of himself, as Luther called an alien righteousness. Andit is this propitiation, I would argue, that is the main character of theparable and, as we know, as we continue reading the Gospels,the propitiation is the narrator himself, Jesus, as we know that these temple sacrificesare ultimately pointing forward to the once for all propitiation for our sins thesacrifice of Jesus Christ for US forgiveness to all who would trust in him andfaith, all who would turn from their obvious and blatant sins, but alsofrom the insidious sin of resting in our...

...own good deeds, to repent ofSin and self righteousness and turn in faith to Jesus, the sacrificial lamb cometo take away the sins of the world. It would seem here that the ideaof justification by faith is not an invention of Paul and Romans, isit? That's taught right here in the gospels, Jesus teaching it to usthat saving righteousness, justification must come from outside of us. It must begiven to us, something that the sinner in this story understands but the righteousman doesn't. Well, we are good Protestants here right. We understand thisidea of justification by faith. We agree...

...with Luther, who said that itwas the article on which the Church stands. or false. We say Amen toCalvin, who says that it's the principal article of the Christian religion.This is important, really important. The doctrine that says we are made righteousnot by our own works but by Christ's work on our behalf, granted tous by faith alone. We say yes and amen to this. But letme ask you this this morning, some little fought experiment. Let's say thisPublican came back to the temple the next week, seven days later, andhad not changed anything about his behavior. He continues to defraud the same people, he continues in the same wretched profession...

...and he comes back with the samerepentance, beating the same sinful chest, asking for God to make up forthe sins that he seems unwilling or unable to mortify. All the while weare doing our darndest to live a holy life, and let's say Jesus continuesto send this man away justified. Well, that's troubling, isn't it? Thatdoesn't feel right. Now, before you start sending emails to pastor aboutthis, I'm not suggesting that that's how we act. I'm not suggesting thatwe should neglect the pursuit of a holy life. I'm not suggesting that goodworks aren't really evidence of saving faith. These things are true, but thetruth of the matter is we, like...

...the Pharisee, even maybe not asblatantly, like to come to God each week with an improved report card,and we so often do this by comparing our card to those around us,those who can't seem to get it together. You know the ones, the oneswho aren't as good at parenting, the ones who are impatient and theirrelationships, the ones who make impulsive decisions. We like to justify ourselves by pointingat them and saying what, I'm glad I am not like that.And we do it constantly, and I would argue that in doing that weshow our own need to justify ourselves by our own actions. Perhaps we don'tpray it out loud, but we think...

...to ourselves, thank you God,that I am not like them, and in doing so we prove to ourselvesand others that we trust, at least to some degree, are and ourown semblance of righteousness. But if we're honest with ourselves, we too returnweek after week with the same old sin, the same old selfishness that plagues ourdecisions, the same old impatience that casts a shadow over our relationships,the same lustful thoughts and actions that we try so hard to cover up.But we try hard, don't we? And by trusting in any level ofour own righteousness, by comparing ourselves to...

...others. We run into the warningat the end of the passage that he who exalts himself, who sees himselfas righteous, will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. As we conclude our want, I want to consider something for a moment. Like like I said, this passage isn't firstly about pride and humility,but as we see, it's certainly connected, isn't it? It's firstly about righteousnessand how one is justified before a holy God. But in teaching usabout righteousness, Jesus gives us everything we need to be humble, and hedoes it by telling us what it looks like to be a Christian, onewho is saved and justified by faith. Jesus shows us here that a modelChristian is not necessarily one who appears righteous,...

...but one who is so needy thathe or she continually falls on the righteousness of Christ on their behalf.We often have in our heads the idea of what a perfect church goer lookslike. It probably looks a lot like the PHARISEE, but Jesus turns iton its head and says, you know what a model citizen of my kingdomlooks like. It looks like one who is well aware that they have nothingto contribute to their salvation except for the sin that makes it necessary, onewho shows up with need over contribution. And that is who we are,isn't it? Those who come with need, need for a righteousness outside of ourselves. And this morning Christ comes to...

...us who are humbled this day,to people who have nothing to hand over him except for our unrighteousness, andhe offers righteousness his own. He offers a propitiation, a covering of oursins. He offers to turn away the wrath of the father and grant ushis own righteousness, as first John tells us, if we say we haveno sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Butif we confess our sins, he is what faithful and just to forgive usour sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And and how does thiswork? Because Jesus, Christ the righteous, is the propitiation for our sins,as John will say, not only for ours but the sins of thewhole world. Jesus is the ATT owning,...

...sacrifice and the Alien Righteousness that weneed that righteousness that comes to us from the outside, that sacrifice thatis sufficient to cover those besetting sins that we try to hide, and alsosufficient to atone for every attempt at selfrighteousness that stands between us and the graceof God freely given to us and his son, Jesus Christ, he whoknew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness ofGod, that we might be declared righteous, declared justified. Oh what glorious newsthat is for sinners like you and me, desperate for something completely outsideof ourselves. So this morning, in...

...light of this, let us setaside any attempt of selfrighteousness that would cause us to show contempt to others whosend differently than we do. Let us draw near together, sinners in needof grace, and let us, with common need, hold to this CommonConfession Christ and him crucified for you and for me. Let's pray together.

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