Full justification, typographically speaking, is where the lines on a page are flush, each one the same to the margin. As a kid, I’d look at a novel and wonder how they did it. How can the author write so perfectly as to have all the words and the spaces between be exactly what is needed to have the book look professional. I’d think something along those lines. What I didn’t understand is that all it takes is the click of a button. And there you have it. All the lines expand or contract. The words and letters kern in relation to one another and you have a perfectly justified book–ready for press. Brilliant. And it’s that way with God and us. Only for one reason though. It’s because Jesus lived every word, every line perfectly. To where we can now be fully justified without trying. It can be a lifelong struggle to realize this. Because it necessarily boils down to where our will clashes with God’s. Do we let Him live through us? Or, after accepting Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, do we ignore this primal fact, that it’s no longer up to us to “do it right”. Now, we have the privilege of living for God. Nothing we can do will make us any righter, any more justified than what Jesus has already secured for us.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:3-5)
“Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” (2 Corinthians 7:6)
There’s a lot of good stuff in Paul’s letter to Titus. His “own son after the common faith” (1:4), Paul’s letter to Titus is a quick, sharp, black-and-white exposition (a mere three chapters) on what it means to be a Christian and to be placed, by the grace of God, in charge of a community of believers. The above passage lays out the concept of “justification by faith”. Over the centuries, the concept has been parried (Martin Luther, “sola fide”) and fought over and misunderstood by many. The correlation is, not that I have “the. right. answer.” but that, in my opinion, the idea is a simple one to grasp. The believer’s relationship with their Lord is something that spans their entire life, all its constituent parts, as well as the whole of the Bible. Its story is His story is ours. One line, one word at a time.
There’s an ancient writing technique called boustrophedon. It was used in pre-Hellenic (b. 750 B.C.) Greece and literally means “like an ox turning”. It’s a left-to-right, right-to-left method where every other line is mirrored. With reference to that and the concept of an “ox turning”, Solomon says “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4) What Solomon is saying here is that, in order to utilize the “strength of the ox”, you’ll inevitably deal with the waste. Pared down to a simple understanding, it’s akin to being grateful we have a life to live–warts and all. Better than the alternative.
But after the kindness and love of God our Saviour…
This is the bedrock. This is the way God is all the time. It’s when we forget this that we tend to bleed over into thinking that God may be angry with us or that our actions speak louder than, not our words, but the attitude of our heart. Actions certainly do speak louder than words, but it’s the attitude of our heart that God is always interested in. There are times in my day and my life where it takes forever for me to simply tell God I’m miserable. That something’s bothering me or grating on me or even pissing me off. Just because God “sees all and knows all”, doesn’t mean that I don’t need, need to talk to Him. He’s always interested in what is going on in my heart. Maybe because He’s there in my heart with both me and also whatever grit seems to be grinding my gears. “The kindness and love of God our Saviour.” God paid the ultimate price through Jesus in order that I could enjoy myself. Because aside from Him and His (not a simple statement to dismiss), myself–my true self–is the greatest gift He has given to me.
An anopisthograph is a bound book with writing on one side of its pages. This might sound like a bit of a stretch, allegorically speaking, but when we choose to sit out of a life fully lived before God, mistakes and all, it’s like we only have writing on one side of us. God would have us do our best to mirror what He has done for us by, not writing over what He’s done–that’s like trying to earn our own salvation again–but by doing the best we can where we’re at. When we add His words to our story, they fill the page. Then, He gives us the privelege of “working out our own salvation” (Philippians 2:12). God let’s us get in on the narrative after we realize that He’s the one who thought us up.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done…