Christianity is a *Legal Standing*

Here is my proposition: True Biblical Christianity is primarily a “Legal Standing” in God’s court of law. This is in contrast to every other religion, and many so called forms of “Christianity” which are codes of morality and goodness.

Imagine that you are summoned to court to stand trial, after you’ve been arrested for a crime. Let’s say robbing a bank. And as you’re sitting there the prosecution pulls out a video tape of your crime. There is no disputing the truth- you’re clearly guilty. So the judge sentences you to either life in prison or pay a 10 billion dollar fine. You realize that there is now way you can pay this debt- EVER. No matter how hard you work your entire life.
You hang your head in defeat and despair once you realize that there is no way out of the life sentence.
Then you look up, and see the judge himself walking around from behind the justice desk. And he says, “I will pay the debt myself, therefore, this man can go free and the justice of the law will be upheld.”
*This* is the true Gospel (meaning “good news”)- We ALL stand guilty before God’s court of law {we are all liars, adulterers (at least in heart), murderers (hating someone or being angry is murder of the heart), blasphemers (if you’ve used God’s name as a curse word either verbally, or taking his reputation through the mud)} And God’s Law demands death for sin. But God, in human form- Jesus- came around from the judgement seat and said, “I will take their place. God’s righteous law will be upheld, and justice met, because I will take their place and pay their debt, so they can go FREE.”
Thus, when a person has “faith” in Jesus, they are accepting His gift of paying their debt.

This is the *primary* point of following Jesus- In a legal sense our standing before God is changed from “Guilty” to “Forgiven/ Acquitted”. But that’s only half of the legal change…. It’s actually MORE than that… It’s a legal *exchange*. Jesus took our place legally (our sin was laid to his account, although he did not personally become sinful.) And we also took his place legally (HIS perfect adherence to the law was credited to our account- so in God’s court of law we are legally seen as perfect law-abiders, although in reality we have transgressed.)

God’s perfect Law demands perfect obedience/righteousness… and when broken/ transgressed, demands death. Jesus fulfilled BOTH demands of the Law *on our behalf*. 1) Because Jesus was God in the flesh, he lived a perfect, holy, and righteous life… This perfection is credited to us. 2) The law demands our death- Jesus’ death is credited to us. And our debt paid.

This is the *freedom* that is offered: **EVERYTHING God demands from us, He *gives* to us, through Jesus**

So all is Gift. All is Grace. And all is Free and freedom. We are *accepted* before God.

There is no earning, no working, no striving… just receiving the GIFT and resting in that for salvation.

Here are some passages for reference: (Best thing to do is to read all of Romans and Galatians with an eye toward the legal language)
First our legal standing as guilty:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ~ Matthew 5:21-22

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~ Matthew 12:36-37

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. ~ Romans 3:19

Legal Exchange & Legal Standing as Justified/ Acquitted:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction 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,
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. ~ Romans 3:21-28 {propitiation is a legal word, meaning to take another’s debt on yourself}

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace… But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
~ Romans 4:2-5,16, 24-25

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. ~ Galations 2:16

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. ~ Galations 3:10-14
Legal Standing as Righteous (not our own personal righteousness, but that of Jesus credited TO us)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–
~ Philippians 4:9

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~ Galations 4:4 (NOTE: “adoption” is a legal transaction, as well as family)

a child shall lead them

this morning as I was getting ready for the day, Jeremiah thoughtfully said, “Jesus took away our sins… and sins are disobeying… How does that make God feel when we disobey?”  I replied, “It makes God feel sad, but He forgives us.”   To which Jeremiah’s face brightened and exclaimed, “AND He loves us!”

Yes. “Spirituality” is that simple:  1) We are sinners; 2) Jesus took away our sins (when He died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself, stood in our place and bore the full penalty FOR us, *instead* of us; 3) Now God forgives us AND loves us.

The Bible says to not err from the simplicity of Christ.

This is why it says that to receive the Kingdom of God, we must receive it like a child.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. ~ Mark 10:15

Children are naturally needy, and they happily accept help and provision. They accept the care of their earthly father, (and mother), and simply enjoy being taken care of.  *We* must allow ourselves to be needy before God- as sinners who *cannot save ourselves*, and simply, happily except the help He offers in Jesus… who offers to stand in our place and take the penalty of death.

If salvation and going to Heaven is that simple, that easy, that FREE (We’re sinners, and God did ALL the work Himself to free us), then why does the Bible say that “few” find the way, and that “in that day there will be *many* who say to me, Lord, Lord” and I will say I never knew you”? (Matthew 7)

It’s because people err at the first point. The Gift of God is free. But people don’t think they need the gift. So, in their pride they turn their backs on God’s free gift of grace. People don’t accept the truth that they are sinners, deserving hell, and needing a Savior.

Instead, people believe they can save themselves. People believe that they are “good” enough for God to accept… and as for their faults, they think that God is loving and forgiving and so He will overlook their minor flaws in light of how *good* they truly are.

That’s simply an evil lie. God IS loving and forgiving, but He is also equally *Just* and *Holy*. God will not overlook sin, because He is a *just and perfect Judge*. In God’s court of law, a guilty verdict must have it’s due penalty.  It is *through* Jesus that God is loving and forgiving. Our sin was so evil in His Holy sight that He put to death His very Son in our place.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ~ John 3:36

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:12

Your sin *will* be paid for: either by *you* in eternal death in hell, or by Jesus on the cross, if you accept His free gift.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… ~ Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.~ Romans 6:23

The Gift is given to the one *who does not work* to earn God’s favor… If you approach God based on *your own perceived goodness* He will give you your due. That is a fearful thought.

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” ~ Romans 4:2-8