Justification of Sin

Question from a Site Viewer
Can you steer me to scripture that addresses “justification of sin?” For example, justifying keeping excess change (stealing) from a store because they’ve been known to have overcharged at some point in the past. Or justifying lying to someone, because they have lied to you.

Tim’s Answer
There is no scripture that justifies sin. Probably the most direct and extensive portion of scripture on justification is Romans 3-8. This passage speaks of the justification of people, not of sin. Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin, so that all who believe in Him might be justified before God. But, as Romans 6 points out, if we continue to sin after we have believed and have been justified by God, we make ourselves again slaves to sin. How can we do this if we truly have come to know Jesus? Romans 8 tells us that if we live after the flesh we will die. John says in 1 John 3:7 that whoever practices righteousness is righteous (the word “righteousness” and the word “justified” are simply the noun and verb form of the same word). He says in the next verse that the one who practices sin is of the devil. God never justifies sin. The one who will stand before God is the one who speaks the truth in his heart and does no evil to his neighbor (Ps. 15:1-5). He is the one who does to others as he would have them do to him (Matt. 7:12). He is the one who repays no one evil for evil, but always stays on the high road of righteous living (Rom. 12:17). He is the one who does not lie because he knows that no lie is of the Truth (1 John 2:21). God pronounces a “woe” on those who call evil good and good evil (Is. 5:20). God does not justify sin.

Those who keep excess change in retaliation for past bad conduct on the part of another, or those who lie because they have been lied to, are demonstrating that they are no different than those who did bad things to them. They are just as bad and just as guilty before God. And to the extent that they are doing it deliberately in retaliation, they may be even more guilty before God. This is because they are not simply doing it for personal gain, but also doing it because of personal anger and resentment. Scripture equates anger with murder (Matt. 5:22; 1 John 3:15).

If you have a chance to interact with this person, I would suggest that you help the person see that God has called us to a higher standard of living. God wants us to live out our lives pure and holy, being generous givers, not vengeful thieves (Eph. 4:28), letting our speech always be with grace, speaking the truth (Eph. 4:15, 29). We should follow the pattern set for us in Colossians 3. We should follow the pattern of Christ. God does not want us to wallow in the same pig manure of sin as those who practice greed, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. He did not justify us so that we can sin, but so that we have the power of the Holy Spirit to live lives of blessing to others and holiness before the eyes of a holy God. If we endure suffering because we do the right thing, then we are blessed by God (1 Peter 2:11-12, 19-20; 4:15-16).

Thanks for the question. I hope this is helpful.

May the Lord Jesus guide you in this matter.


2 thoughts on “Justification of Sin”

  1. This is the closest example that I could find:
    Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.
    How I interpret this is that way of man is commonly paralleled with sin. In this it seems to say that man’s sins are justifiable in his unholy…

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