Justification vs. Forgiveness

If we say that we have no sin,
we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned,
we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10

waterfallI am here to tell you today that I am the queen of justification. I am quick to make excuses for myself, for my sin, and slow to repent.

There is a “good” kind of justification, where God removes my sin and its penalty and counts me righteous through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And while I am justified in that sense, that is not the justification I am talking about.

I’m talking about the ugly kind, where I make excuses for my sin, obviously not seeing it as He sees it because I am, as John so clearly states, deceived. So deceived, in fact, that by my actions I am calling Him a liar. Not good. Very not good!

My attempt at self-justification began several months ago, and here is what I discovered – not that I set out to discover anything, of course… Self-justification is a poor substitute for His justification. Self-justification is hard work, and the harder you work at it, the deeper under your sin you bury yourself. God’s justification cannot be earned, but is freely given, and removes the weight of your sin from you.

Through the persistent conviction of the Holy Spirit, I was able to face my sin, repent, and take the first baby steps of obedience. And here is where I lose it. Within 15 minutes of my act of obedience, He lavished me with evidence of His forgiveness in a very tangible way. He is amazing.

The lesson for me is that forgiveness, even though it marches me straight through the nastiness of dealing with my sin, is infinitely better than juggling the weight of trying to justify myself. When it comes to self-justification vs. forgiveness – I want forgiveness every time.

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