Hidden Treasures: New Testament Word Studies–MADE RIGHT

Cross at Refuge La Flegere above Chamonix Valley, France. Photo by David Robinson

While reading Paul’s letter to the Romans this week, I came upon another hidden treasure, a word that comes up more than a dozen times in this 16 chapter letter: the word, translated into English in the New Living Translation (NLT) is MADE RIGHT, as in being made right with God.

It is found in a variety of phrases and ways, including “making you right with God,” “makes us right with God,” “made right with God,” and “made right in God’s sight.” The Greek verb, δικαιόω, transliterated dikaioó and the Greek noun related to this verb, δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosuné, refer to the character of God, that is righteous, or just. The noun is righteousness or justice. The verb, “to make right,” is God’s work of restoring a person to right relationship, healing an injustice, or reconciling a broken relationship.

The first use of this word in Romans is in 1:17, found in noun form.

This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

The noun, righteousness,” is translated in the NLT as “makes us right in his sight” in this verse. The main work of making right is God’s work occurring within a person’s life. Our part is an act of faith in God, admitting to God that I cannot fix myself, that I need help, that my life is not right with God, and asking God to do God’s work of “making right.”

In Romans 3:24, we find this statement: Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

The phrase “makes us right in his sight,” is a present plural participle, and could be thus translated as “the people God is making right,” or “those who are made right by God.” God does this “making right” through Christ Jesus, freeing us from the penalty for our sins. Our sins are what ruins the right relationship between our lives and God. When our sins are confessed and forgiven, we are then able to enter by God’s love into right relationship with God.

Another classic example of this work in Romans is in chapter 5, verse 1. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

The classic word often used in older translations, is “justified.” The King James Version of Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word “made right” is used in legal connections, such as when a convicted person’s verdict is overturned. We are no longer a convict heading to prison, but are set free, because we’ve been justified, or made right with the law, or in this case, with God, who is the giver of the Law, and our final Judge.

A year ago, Cannon Beach Community Church read and studied through the first five books of the Bible, including a series in the Book of Leviticus. I had never preached through this book before, but I kept coming upon a repeated phrase in Leviticus: making you right with the Lord. The phrase “made right” is found more often in the Book of Leviticus than anywhere else in the Bible, found nearly two dozen times.

Here’s an example of this phrase, found in Leviticus 5:6. Then you must bring to the Lord as the penalty for your sin a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord.

In the Book of Leviticus, we read of a complex system of sacrifices, with people bringing their lives represented by an animal or some of their food crops, bringing these before the priest who offers these sacrifices to God to purify people from their sins, and make them right with the Lord.

Through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the Cross, we are made right with God. The whole sacrificial system from the Old Testament comes to fulfillment in Jesus Christ, in his sacrifice for us once and for all. Here’s how Paul describes the sacrifice of Jesus in Romans 5:8-10.

God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

Here are a few personal questions to ponder in light of this hidden treasure:

  • Has your life been made right with God?
  • How is your life with God today?
  • What keeps you from being made right with God?
  • Are you willing right now to call out to God, and ask God to do what God alone can do, and make your life with God?

Consider praying this simple, childlike prayer: Dear God, I need you in my life. I accept Jesus Christ, your One and Only Son, into my heart as Lord and Savior of my life. Thank you for forgiving me of all my sins, for dying on the cross to save me and for your victory over sin and death through your resurrection. Come into my life. Make my life right with God and lead me all the days of my life by your love and truth. Today, I accept you and choose to follow you as my Lord and Savior. I pray this prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.