Justified Before People
Luke 16:14-15 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.  And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
This dense word is central to the Christian faith, and, as it turns out, central to human existence. We have an insatiable need to feel justified. People will do or say or believe almost anything to justify themselves. Jesus had just pointed out, by means of a parable, that we are only stewards of God’s possessions and must give account for how we use them. He starkly concludes, “You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13) This struck a nerve with the Pharisees who were lovers of money (not a compliment, by the way).
One means of self-justification, wildly popular today, is ridicule. When a fault is legitimately pointed out, we may simply ridicule or make fun of those who called us out. Looking back, the presumption of the Pharisees is astounding—they ridiculed Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But this is the suicidal power of self-justification. They wanted nothing more than to be justified “before men”—proving to others they are on the “right side”—even if it meant ridiculing God himself! But no matter how hard we might try to justify our pride, greed, sexual immorality or any other master we choose to serve, God knows the heart. What might be exalted and praised among people could prove to be an abomination in the sight of God. So, the question is, WHO do we really need to be justified before—people or God?
The fact of the matter is, according to Scripture, our hearts and lives are all “unjustifiable.” No amount of false reasoning, deluded logic, or weak excuses can justify our sin. God sees the heart. We’ve all done things we knew were wrong. We’ve all violated not just God’s commands, but our own consciences. If deep down, our own hearts condemn us, how do we think we can escape the condemnation of God? There is only one way. “[A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:23-24) Through Jesus Christ, God does the unthinkable: he himself “justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5). He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves—gives us right standing before him. A gift of unspeakable grace received by faith. You can be truly justified today—not merely before men, but before God himself as a gift through faith in the Son.