The Grounds and Means of Justification-Romans 5:18

In our previous post, we have seen that to be justified means to conform to a standard, to be accepted by God because we measure up. The questions then arise as to why we measure up (the ground of justification) and how we measure up (the means of justification). Both of these are addressed in Romans 5:17-19. We first find the ground of justification presented in verse 17. Here we find that the “gift of righteousness” comes “through the one man, Jesus Christ”. The Greek word translated righteousness here is dikaiosune, the same word translated as justification in verse 16. Justification is clearly described here as a “gift”, something that can’t be earned or merited, but is given solely due to the grace of the giver and can only be accepted. The means of acceptance is then given in the second part of the verse, through faith in “the one man, Jesus Christ”. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior have been justified, they have been declared by God to measure up and are therefore accepted by Him, this is a declaration made by God and therefore the way things are (more on that in our next post). If God declares us righteous (justified, same Greek word), that is what we are, and we are righteous, we are justified, by faith, it is the means of justification. We then find the grounds of justification in verse 18, in which Paul tells us that, “just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men”. Paul again returns to a similarity between Adam and Christ, comparing here two different “acts”, one of disobedience and one of righteousness. The Greek word translated “act of righteousness” here is dikaiomatos, with the addition of the “matos” ending serving to signify an “act, a right act in fulfillment of a legal requirement”. So we find here that the ground of our justification is “works”. Our justification is grounded not in our works but in Jesus’ works, in the works of the one who performed a right act in fulfillment of a legal requirement. We are not saved by what we do, but by our faith in what Jesus did in our place and on our behalf. Our faith is how we are saved, and Jesus works is why we are saved. Another way of saying this is that Jesus works make justification possible for every human being, but our faith makes justification actual in our own lives. Jesus works made justification a possibility for each of us, and it is our faith in Him that makes justification an actuality, a living reality on the lives of those who trust in Him. We then discover, in the final phrase of verse 18, the result of justification , that justification “brings life”. The Greek word life here is Zoe, a Greek word for life given a “new” meaning in the New Testament. This word is used to refer to a special kind of life, a life that comes only from God and is recieved only through faith in Jesus Christ. In the Bible, death is seen as separation and life is seen as union, so one who has eternal life is eternally united with God. On the other hand, one who has eternal death is eternally separated from God. The choice then to accept or reject Jesus works for us is the most important choice any of us ever make. It determines whether or not we will be justified unto eternal life or condemned to eternal death. So in conclusion, we are justified by both faith and works, by our faith in Jesus’ works. Jesus has done all the work for us, and the only appropriate response is to rest by faith in what He has done for us, to be justified by our faith in His works, and never try to be justified by our own works, which can never “measure up”.

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