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Surely a phrase that is repeated four times in the Bible must contain one of God's most important teachings. The life God gives is only for the just—but who is just? The Bible leaves no doubt as to the answer: "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl 7:20); "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). God's law demands, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Lk 10:27). By that standard we have all broken God's law repeatedly and are condemned.
Nor is there any way that we, as sinners, could become just. Living a perfect life in the future (even if that were possible) could never merit forgiveness for sins already committed or deliver from the judgment which God's justice righteously demands. Saving a million lives in the future, for example, could never atone for having taken just one life in the past. Only God could declare a sinner to be "just"—but how could He, when His irrevocable law condemns us? For God simply to forgive the sinner would violate His own law and in itself would be unjust.
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