Modern culture is obsessed with justice.
Don’t think so? Try turning on the TV without finding an episode of Law & Order or CSI.
Producers have the golden ticket: set heinous crimes in different cities. That’s all we want, apparently. Then there’s actual legal drama that we’ve twisted into entertainment. Put the seemingly perfect neighbor on trial and good luck finding anything else to watch or read.
News, sitcoms, TV dramas, movies—it doesn’t matter—as long as it involves the legal system or an investigation. We are a people ruled by law. We want fairness. We want the truth to come out. We want the innocent to be cleared and for somebody to pay.
We want justice.
And guess what? The gospel gives it to us.
Justification is a legal term. The biblical idea of justification means the gavel bangs down, and we’re declared innocent. But how is this possible? How can a fair Judge declare us innocent? Isn’t God everywhere all the time, so that nothing escapes His all-seeing notice?
How in the world, then—based on the preponderance of evidence that could be displayed against us—could we get off with a not-guilty verdict? Have we slipped through on a technicality or something?
As a result of the sacrifice and willing substitution of the innocent, crucified Christ, God has imputed to us—credited to us, ascribed to us, placed into our account—all the innocence and righteousness and perfection of Christ.
Therefore, a miserable end to our lives has been miraculously averted, literally. It’s only by divine intervention. Not in theory or through roundabout scholarly logic. Not by spiritual delusion or false hopes. Not on the condition that we try to be extra careful from here on out. Not on any of that.
On the cross. By the empty grave. In Christ.
Christ paid our penalty—nailing the certificate of debt to the cross—and freed us from the legal consequences of our treason against the King (see Col 2:13-14). His crucifixion took the full weight of sin; put it to death, once and for all; and buried it in a tomb that’s now empty.
His resurrection provides all the objective evidence we need that His promises are true, that sin is ultimately powerless over us, that His ability to conquer death is real, and that His atonement is actively in force.
We’ve been justified before God. Declared innocent. Count on it. Live like it.
“Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11 (ESV)