“So through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” (Romans 5:18, New American Bible)This week is Part 2 of our two-part devotional. I’d like you to first get a grasp on some very specific words Paul uses in the first five chapters of the Book of Romans. In order to do this, I have shown below the linguistic origin of the words themselves.
The foundation is the word: Right (Dike, Greek).
On this word, there are three words built: Righteous (the adjective Dikaios), Righteously (the adverb Dikaios), and Righteousness (the noun Dikaiosune).
Then from the adjective Righteous (Dikaios) is built the verb Rightify (or more properly, justify, Dikaioo).
And then upon this verb Rightify (Dikaioo) are built two more Greek nouns: a Decision (Dikaioma) and Acquittal (Diakosis).
Why take the time to trace all these words out? Watch what all this reveals: When Paul uses the verb above Rightify (or more properly, justify), he is referring to a psychological and emotional “making righteous” of the one who has believed. It is a very real experience of one going from a sense of guilt and shame to peace (Romans 5:1), from an overwhelming feeling of condemnation to justification. This is where a person allows God to remove the life-crushing load of guilt from their past mistakes that they’ve been under in their conscience. Before one will ever be set free behaviorally, they must first be set free psychologically and emotionally. But what’s interesting is that this very real experience occurs via faith. But what is this faith built upon? Or rather, what is the person believing that causes them to experience this cleansing of their conscience from sin’s guilt and shame (Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 3:21)?
This is where the amazing news comes in. The answer is found in Romans 5:16-19.
Just as Adam’s sin brought mortality or death upon all of us (see last week’s devotional), from Jesus’ death on Calvary, “The free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.” (Verse 16), This word “justification” is Dikaioma. It’s a decision that God has made concerning every person. And this decision is a gift given to all. What is this decision? Paul goes on to say that this decision is a “gift of righteousness” (Verse 17). But what is the decision? The answer is to be found in Verse 18: “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” The word here for justification is Diakosis or Acquittal. God has made a decision regarding every man, woman, and child—and that decision is acquittal, charges have been dropped! He has “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). There two definitions for Acquittal: One is that a person who is not truly guilt is found innocent and is therefore acquitted. This definition does not apply to us. The other definition is where the prosecuting part simply drops the charges thus the defendant goes free. What Romans 5 is saying is that God has dropped all charges against us. He has relinquished all rights to repayment and has simply forgiven. He has ripped the charges up and nailed them to the cross!
Yet, this decision is a gift. And like any gift, although it has been given to every person, it can be accepted or rejected. His hope is that you receive it (Verse 16) and let this gift of forgiveness remove our guilt and shame and make us psychologically and emotionally righteous (Verse 19).
But before you rush off to go about your week, I’d like you to consider the fact that we are not innocent. We are guilty; the charges have simply been dropped. And as in all cases where the person who has been wronged lets the offending party off the hook, it costs them something to do so. They must choose to rise above the violation and willingly bear whatever loss the offending party inflicted. The forgiver always pays a price to drop the so-called charges. What I would like you to ponder this week is the question of the ages. It is the question that reveals forever what type of a God we worship. The answer to this question wins us at a heart level and truly changes our lives. The question is, “What did it cost God, the one we have wronged, to let us off the hook, to drop the charges, to forgive, to acquit every person who had ever sinned against Him?” The answer can only be found in closing moments of Calvary. Take time to ponder those closing scenes this week, dear reader, and allow them to reveal to your heart what is truly in God’s heart toward you. Having loved you, He loved you till the end.