Overcoming the World with a Hammer
Justification by faith is a hill to die on. Christ did. It was on Golgotha’s hill, the place of the skull, where Christ began to purchase our justification. It was purchased not with coin, but with blood. It was on that hill that our sins were put on Christ as the righteous judgment and wrath of God hammered down from Heaven, mercilessly crushing our Lord Jesus. Though He died and was put in the dirt, He came back to life, rising again for our justification. It is on the hill of salvation that Christ’s righteousness is put on us through faith, as the righteous justification and grace of God hammers down from Heaven, mercifully healing our sin-inflicted wounds. Though we die and are put in the dirt, we come back to life, rising again justified before a holy God.
In the greatest hours of darkness when the Light of the World seemed to be swallowed by death, it may have seemed like any hope for justification by faith was overcome. However, death’s swallowing of Christ was like swallowing poison, or sharp blades – in it’s “overcoming” it was overcome – thus setting in motion evil’s undoing. Condemnation got the word “no” put in front of it for those in Christ; and ever since, they can’t stop us. There is something powerful when someone has their sins forgiven and they feel the burden of sin and the weight of guilt roll off their backs into the depths of the sea to be remembered no more.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10.
This is the power: when a person is saved by grace through the gift of faith and not a result of their own works, leaving them speechless, they go on to walk in good works that God prepared for them to do. In other words, justification by faith is the catalyst that overcomes the world, because justification by faith is the thing that makes Christians be Christians.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” – 1 John 5:4.
Faith overcomes the world. This is not because faith itself is omnipotent, but because the One whom true faith latches onto is. This is the One who was killed on a hill, yet came out of the ground to institute His kingdom that grows into the highest hill, indeed the highest mountain, lifted up above the hills, unto which the nations will flow (Isaiah 2:2). This is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.
Take Abraham for example. Romans chapter 4 is a deafening blow to anything other than justification by faith. Here the Bible tells us that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). Abraham believed that God would bless him and keep His promises to Him. That is faith. It was not through Abraham’s works, circumcision, or obedience that he was justified, but through faith. Thus it was that Abraham overcame the world! “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13). Abraham was a living illustration of 1 John 5:4. The promise to Abraham was that he would be the father to many sons, many nations, and in this way inherit the world. Romans 4 continues in verse 20-25, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’ 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.”
Thus we see that justification by faith through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, is inseparably connected to living by faith, and thus overcoming the world through faith. In this way, by faith, we are Abraham’s sons. We who are Abraham’s sons, are sons because we also believe God will bless us (in Christ) and keep His promises to us (to forgive our sins, give us Christ’s righteousness, justify us, etc.). So we are more than conquerors who overcome the world.
In many ways justification by faith is what is responsible for the reformation. Martin Luther was awakened by that great verse “the righteous shall live by faith.” The world cannot handle a man who has faith. The world cannot overcome a man whose sins have been overcome by the cross. The world cannot condemn a man whom God has told “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). A man who is justified in what he does is an unstoppable man. Justification by faith was the hammer that nailed the 95 theses to the Wittenburg Castle Church door; and it is the hammer that crushes our hearts of stone into a million pieces and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Justification by faith overcame the pope and his false Romish gospel of works. Martin Luther was a living illustration of 1 John 5:4.
The world in every way is opposed to justification by faith, but we have what it doesn’t have – the very thing that overcomes it – faith. The very thing that the world rages against is what overcomes it. So go forth Christian. Be bold. Swing the gospel hammer all around and bring down the strongholds of Satan that are opposed to faith. It’s opposition is futile. Our overcoming is inevitable because Christ has overcome our sin, our arch enemies, and our death itself. For that reason, we are justified. Though we may give our lives dying on the hill of justification by faith, our blood will be fertilizer to grow that hill into the great mountain that will fill the whole earth.