When you hear that you have been “justified”, how do you understand that? We read in Romans 3:23,24 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
So often we tend to think of being justified as, “just-as-if-I’d never sinned”. That is an old definition. And it does capture some of what is involved. But it is understood by many as only a divine acquittal with no connection to how we live.
What does it mean to live a justified life? When we gave our lives to Jesus Christ in baptism, Paul says in Romans 6 we were buried with Him and we died to sin. Can you name a sin you’ve been guilty of for a long time? Most Christians admit they’re sinners but some can’t name one they’re committing. I think we prefer to hide it. If we name it, it forces us to do something about it.
There is power in confessing our sins. In James 5:16 we read, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” Sometimes when sin is reigning in our lives it affects our physical, mental or emotional health as well.
James is telling us there is great power when we tell a Christian friend, “I have been gossiping”, or, “I have been lusting”, or “I have been being mean to people”, or, “I’ve been holding a grudge”, or, “I’ve not been praying or studying my Bible”, or, “I’ve not been tithing/giving to God’s kingdom” etc. etc. When we do this, at least three four things happen: 1) we’ve confessed our sins specifically rather than just saying, “I’m a sinner saved by grace” (that’s too general); 2) we will have someone praying for God’s Spirit to help us overcome that temptation; 3) it has some kind of an affect on our physical, mental or emotional illness we’ve been experiencing; and 4) we will be more conscious of it when tempted to do that sin.
Ask God to help you to quit being so vague and to be specific. What are the sins you’ve been holding on to that need to be confessed and released.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Your sin wants to be alone with you. Those who remain alone with their evil are left utterly alone.” The enemy wants to empower our sin by keeping it hidden from others.