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“Do We Want To Justify Ourselves?”

Categories: Christian Attitudes, Christian Living, Sunday Family Report Articles

The lawyer asked Jesus a question. The question was, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus simply told the lawyer, “Do this, and you will live.” The next phrase in the conversation intrigues, astounds, and humbles me. The text says, “And he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

I’m humbled by that description of the lawyer’s motivation, because I have done and said quite a few shameful things when seeking to justify my sinful attitudes or actions. And I suspect you have too. See if any of these could apply to you.

  • “And he, desiring to justify himself,” ignored the sin in his life—swept it under the rug in an effort to alleviate his guilt.
  • “And he, desiring to justify himself,” attacked the person who brought sin to his attention in an effort to deflect blame and hide his shame.
  • “And he, desiring to justify himself,” laughed about his sin and made everyone else laugh so that it didn’t seem so bad.
  • “And he, desiring to justify himself,” looked for others—especially highly decorated or well-known people who practiced the same sin in hopes it would soften his guilt.
  • “And he, desiring to justify himself,” stopped reading his Bible because it challenged his lifestyle, stopped attending church because it challenged his attitudes, stopped sharing his life with God’s people because they challenged his choices.

My grandfather preached a sermon whose title line said, “You can smash the barometer, but you can’t stop the storm.” He was right. We can remove all the indicators that we are living in sin. But we cannot change the realities of right and wrong. And we cannot change the reality of God’s will. We can look for all sorts of ways to justify our actions and attitudes, but only one thing truly justifies us: the blood of Jesus Christ.

- Dan Lankford, evangeslist