Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hands On or Hands Off?

Are you a physical learner? One who likes to be able to touch and feel? Perhaps you join right in with your kids at the aquarium when given the opportunity to feel a shark, or you cast aside your cookbooks about bread, and simply test the dough with your hands until it feels right. Sometimes we have to dig in, and participate, and learn by doing. However, justification is not a hands on experience.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Romans 4:1-5

Abraham was made righteous simply as a result of believing God. If he had done something to earn it, he would have been able to boast of it. If we, like the worker, think that we have done something that makes us righteous, then our wage (the righteousness) is due us, not given as a gift. When we realize that there is nothing that we have done, or can do, to become just, then it is our faith that is credited as righteousness. We must trust God to do the whole work in us, instead of trying to help our salvation by our own good works--by being the perfect wife, the sacrificing mother, the faithful church attender, the first thing in the morning Bible reader. . . .

Faith, plus anything (even those good things listed above), cancels out the faith part. Can something be free and also cost a dollar? No. Free is free. If something has a cost, then it is something that we can acquire on our own.

Our gift of salvation and the righteousness that accompanies it cannot be bought. It cannot be earned. It is given to us freely, and must be accepted as free, not as something that comes with a cost.

Can you truly be hands off in regards to the good work of your righteousness? Can you be credited with righteousness because you trust and do not work for salvation?

Index of Romans' posts


Kathleen Marie said...

What an excellent little study and you are so right, Justification is not a hands on activity. Justification often leads to or is sin. This gives me so much to think about...I recall thinking about Justification a LOT when I wrote on Shame a few weeks back. Thank you!

Jennifer said...

Just a reminder of all the tough doctrine-y terms in Romans. When I mention justification here, I am talking about God justifying us, or making us righteous, or right with Him (through Jesus' death).

I think that KM was thinking that I was referring to justifying your sins (making excuses), and that is definitely something we should avoid as well.

Katrina said...


You know, I think sometimes we Christians think how "smart" we've been to accept Jesus - as in, "well, duh, anyone who thinks about it knows that Jesus is the right answer." But that outlook leads to spiritual pride and a feeling that we've done something to "earn" our justification - by being smart enough to "pick" God. But from start to finish, salvation and justification is a work of God in us. I'm so thankful that he picked me.

e-Mom said...

This is nicely crafted. Opening with the hands-on/hands-off idea is clever... and invited me right in to your post. A good word and a great message. Amen to what God has done!