How Can a Person Be Justified Before God?

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The Scales of Justice

In today’s Bible reading* Job asks the question (Job 9:2) that was asked by the Reformers, “How can a person be justified before God?” In fact, the question lit the match that started the Reformation in the early Sixteenth Century. Martin Luther read Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, and Galatians 3:11, “The righteous shall live by faith.” and it puzzled him. That message didn’t seem to line up with what he was told by the church leaders at that time.

Job’s friends believed — and many people today believe — that a person is justified before God by doing good things and by not doing bad things. Many believe that God will judge us based on our good deeds outweighing our bad deeds. But according to God’s Word, nothing could be farther from the truth! Paul spells it out perhaps better than anyone else in Ephesians 2:8-10.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.


According to Scripture alone (you won’t get this message anywhere else!) people are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone to the glory of God alone. These five “Solas” (“alone”s) are the distilled essence of the Reformation’s core teachings. Note the order of Paul’s statement. Works come after faith. Works never lead to faith. But works do follow faith.

In other words, you can never be good enough to have a right standing before God. It isn’t in you to be able to be good enough. And that’s why we need Jesus! If we could do it on our own, then Jesus didn’t have to come to earth, live a perfect life, and become the perfect sacrifice.

Job’s question is as relevant today as it was in the Reformers’ days. How is someone justified before God? How does a person have a right standing before God? But not only is Job’s question relevant for today, but the answer is also.

This is the gospel message:
A person is justified before God by grace alone
through faith alone
in Jesus alone
for the Glory of God alone.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
– Job 6
– Job 7
– Job 8
– Job 9

This devotional was originally published on January 23, 2021.

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