Understanding the Doctrine of Justification/We are Justified

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search


[edit | edit source]
What does the word righteous mean to you? Think of ways that we use the word righteous in everyday speech today, or of people that you might call righteous.
honesty, self-righteous, righteous indignation, righteous as a slang term similar to “cool” or “awesome”, often used to indicate moral uprightness or perfection, used as a term in Jewish parlance for a non-Jew who aided Jews during the holocaust

Actually, the word righteous was first used by William Tyndale in his translation of the bible in the early 16th century.1 He employed it to translate the Hebrew word tsadiq as well as the Greek dikaios. These words are closely related to the concept of justice. Thus, to say someone is righteous is to say that they are just, or that they live rightly, according to God’s justice. The Old Testament concept of justice is closely related to the Law. Adherence to the Law of Moses was what made someone righteous. Christians today are not too concerned with the majority of Mosaic Law, but we do talk quite a bit about the Ten Commandments.

Law: The Ten Commandments

[edit | edit source]
Activity: Let’s take a look at the Ten Commandments.[2] How well do you feel you follow them? Where are your strengths? Where are your weaknesses? Rate yourself:
  1. You shall have no other gods...
  2. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
  3. Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not murder.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
  10. You shall no covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The Ten Commandments—specifically the first—are accompanied by a blessing and a curse:

I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.[3]

When we fail to live up to the commandments, we fall under a curse from God! Yet how can we possibly live up to the standards that God has set?

Activity: Perhaps others have fared better. Let us take a look at the great heroes of scripture. Look up the following passages in your bible, and see which commandment they failed to keep:

Abraham - Genesis 12:10-20

When Abram tells Pharoah that Sarai is his sister, he is bearing false witness, commandment 8.

Moses - Exodus 2:11-15

Moses breaks commandment 5 by killing an Egyptian.

Ruth - Ruth 1:8-18

Ruth disobeys Naomi’s instruction to stay behind, breaking commandment 4.

David - 2 Samuel 11:2-5, 14-17

David commits adultery with Bathsheeba, and then has Uriah the Hittite killed, breaking both commandments 5 and 6 in one story.

Peter - Mark 14:66-72

Peter’s denial of Jesus is false witness, commandment 8.

Paul (Saul) - Acts 7:55-8:1

Paul was a willing participant in the murder of Stephen, commandment 5.


[edit | edit source]
  1. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article II, Paragraph 16.
  2. This translation of the Ten Commandments taken from: A Contemporary Translation of Luther’s Small Catechism. Pocket Edition. Translated by Timothy J. Wengert. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1996), 13.
  3. Ibid.