Sin literally means to ‘miss the mark’. In the Christian context, it means disobedience to God’s moral law. The bible makes it clear that we have all failed in keeping with God’s moral standard. Sin brings spiritual death, that is, separation from God. No person on earth is able to perfectly keep God’s moral law.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NIV)
We have all done something wrong at some point in our lives. For that reason, nobody is in a position to please God. Sin is not simply doing something bad. It also includes not doing the right thing in a given situation. This is known as the sin of omission.
Therefore, whoever knows the right thing to do, yet fails to do it, is guilty of sin.
(James 4:17 Berean study bible)
We need someone to pardon our sins for us so that we can be reconciled to God. We cannot save ourselves because as sinners we can never meet God’s requirements. Every person on earth needs salvation.
Salvation means physical deliverance or preservation from evil or danger. It can also mean to be liberated or set free. In relation to Christianity, the term connotes God liberating mankind from sin and its deadly consequences. God came to the world in the person of Jesus Christ to die in our place for the sins we have committed. Jesus is the provider of salvation.
Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone. (Acts 4:12 CEV)
Only people who have received eternal life will make it to heaven when they die. Jesus is the only One who qualifies to save us from our sins.
We have probably watched or read stories about people being taken as a hostage. The evil guys will usually demand a ransom(payment) before they release the hostage. They will only release the hostage when the payment has been made. This is the same as redemption. Redemption is the act of freeing someone by paying a purchase price. Jesus Christ paid the penalty(ransom) required by God for our sins (that is death) by giving His own life on the cross. When we believe, Jesus frees us from sin.
Justification means being acquitted from your sin. It is a legal term that means being declared innocent in a court trial. Let us imagine a scenario where an underprivileged man is taken to court for driving over the speed limit. The judge sentences the man and asks him to pay £10,000 fine. Although the man cannot afford to pay the fine, the judge cannot let him off the hook or he’ll be called unjust. In order to respect the national law and also help the poor man, this fair judge can punish the driver for the crime by fining him and then decide to pay the fine on his behalf. In this way, the judge fulfils the driving laws by punishing the offence and then also shows mercy to the man by paying the fine for him.
This is what God did for us. Although we were condemned because of the sins we committed and were facing the death penalty, God came in the form of a man called Jesus, to die in our place so we don’t have to face the death penalty. God has demonstrated to that He is a fair and merciful judge.
When we hear righteousness, most of us probably think of a good person who does a lot of charitable deeds. This may surprise a lot of you, but we don’t get right with God by doing good works. Righteousness exceeds this common-sense understanding. The word means ‘God’s standard of purity’. God is holy and cannot tolerate sin. It is through Jesus Christ that we become acceptable to God. Jesus grants us His perfect purity. It is through Jesus Christ that we gain God’s approval.
Sanctification means ‘to make holy’ or ‘to set apart’. The word describes dedicating a person to God. Through Jesus Christ, Christians have been delivered from slavery to sin. We have been set apart for God’s special use and His purposes. We have been called to live holy lives, that is separated from sin and dedicated totally to God.
All the acts described above can be summed in one word- grace. Grace means ‘the unmerited favour of God’. It refers to God giving good things to people who don’t deserve it. Our best efforts cannot attain God’s gift of salvation. Salvation is a free gift made possible by Christ’s death on our behalf.