Pollute: “To make foul or unclean; soil, taint; to corrupt or defile; make morally unclean; to profane, desecrate.” Such is the definition in the dictionary. Pollution then is the end result. We are very conscious in our day of environmental pollution. But there is another pollution, an even more deadly one, about which Scripture speaks.
POLLUTION OF THE SOUL
When sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve mankind was then and there fouled, corrupted, made unclean. Man no longer measured up to the standard of divine. Sin had rendered him unacceptable to God, for holiness and sin cannot exist together. The result of man’s sin was that he was condemned to everlasting condemnation.
Something had to change if man would be returned to the good graces of the offended Father in heaven. Something had to change if man would live eternally in heaven and not die eternally in hell. The Lord God to this matter into his own hands, because He is gracious. God who could not and would not justify sin determined then already in the Garden of Eden to justify the sinner! God did for man what man could not do for himself.
The common and wrong idea is that man can make amends to God by an act of justifying himself. This happens in various ways. One may think that by comparison he is not as bad a sinner as others. It is a strange notion that somehow the Heavenly Father will receive into heaven those who are not as bad as others. It is also eternally fatal! God does not ask us to compare ourselves to others. He asks us to compare ourselves to Him. By the divine standard we are all miserable failures. Others hope to justify themselves by their own works, their good intentions, or their good effort.
Scripture tells us however, “Whoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). God demands total perfection. “By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20). Man is justified without the deeds of the law. That is clear as one reads Romans 3:28.
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
Yet there is hope for the sinner. Though “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), they are “justified freely by his [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Grace, undeserved love, moved God to justify the sinner. God has declared the sinner righteous and holy, but note, not apart from Christ Jesus, but in Christ Jesus. Jesus Who kept the Law perfectly and thus fulfilled it for us nevertheless to the sins of the world upon Himself. Bearing the sin of the world He suffered and died in the place of the sinner. He paid the debt the sinner owed. The Heavenly Father accepted the merit and work of Jesus as the payment for the sins of the world. What is paid is no longer demanded. God declared the world just in His sight, again, not apart from Christ, but in Christ!
But then why are not all saved eternally. Because the declaratory act of the Heavenly Father is assimilated through faith. Scripture says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). The work of redemption itself has been accomplished. The declaration of God upon the world has been made. But it cannot help and benefit one unless it is believed. They who reject Christ or what He has done are still in debt. This is the tragedy of all tragedies. On the other hand, they who believe in Jesus can be at ease for they shall stand before the Heavenly Father on judgment day clothed in robes of Christ’s righteousness.
Such faith in Christ is saving faith. Faith which assimilates the blessings of Christ’s redemption is a fruit of the Gospel, the Means of Grace. Through the Gospel, the Spirit of God works faith, which says, “I believe.” Scripture tells us that “whoever believes in Him (Jesus) should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15).
“Justification by grace, through faith,” is the chief teaching in the Christian church. Martin Luther called the doctrine of justification the “head and cornerstone” that builds, preserves and defends the church. That church is a blessing, which proclaims Christ. Blessed are they who believe in Christ for they shall see life.