Several years ago, I heard a man could say that God now deals with him say over the radio that for him to say just-as-if-he’d never sinned. There is that he was justified means that he truth in that statement. The result of justification is that God deals with us as though we had never sinned. Is that not what Paul wrote in Romans 5:17? There he sates, “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Similarly, although he does not use the word justification in it, he in Romans 8:1 declares, “There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Justification means that there is no condemnation for us.
But justification is more than God’s dealing with us. That dealing is the result of justification, not the justification itself. The word justification literally means made to be just, or, if you will, made to be righteous. It comes from the Latin word which means just or righteous, and from the verb to make. It means that we are made to be just as we ought to be, just as God in the beginning, as far as our legal status is concerned, made us to be. It means then that we are without any guilt. And if you want to use the synonym of just, namely, right, then to be justified means to be made right in God’s sight as far as His holy law is concerned. It means that we are judged to be doing, and always have done what is right in God’s holy eyes.
This justification is an important part of our salvation. It is the legal basis for the application to us of all the blessings of salvation. Behind our justification is eternal, sovereign, unchangeable and unconditional election. Only those eternally predestinated to be the members of the body of Christ, only those chosen eternally in Him can be justified. For Christ satisfied God’s justice by His perfect obedience as our Head, and by His suffering and death in our place. That is why, as I pointed out above, Paul says that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Because He blotted out all our sins, past, present, and future, and we belong to Him, God sees us in Him and says, as He himself stated it in Numbers 23:21, “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel.” Now we know and God’s Word is full of it, that Israel was a very rebellious nation. But those who belong to Christ, have Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, because He paid the fine, and did the work they failed to do. All that work had to be performed. To God had to be brought all the works of love we, as His enemies, failed to bring. Christ did that too. From birth to death He walked flawlessly in love to God. And because He is the eternal Son of God, His works have eternal value. What He did, in thirty-three and one-half years, has eternal value. Christ suffered the punishment, and performed the works of love required. Through this we became righteous in God’s sight. We were made to be just as we ought to be according to the judgment of God’s holy law.
This brings us back to what I said a moment ago. Behind justification is eternal, sovereign, unchangeable and unconditional election. To represent us in that suffering and in those works of the law, we had to belong to Christ. Paul presents that so clearly in Romans 8:29, 30 when he writes, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate them He also called; and whom He called them He also justified: whom He justified, them He also glorified.” There you have it. He justified only those whom He predestinated, that is, chose eternally in Christ, to be the members of His body, the Church.
What we ought to see then is that justification is a gift of God’s grace. As fallen in Adam our works – every one of them – condemn us. By nature, we cannot do one thing that is right in God’s sight. Look up Psalm 14: 1-4. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 8:7,8. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the laws of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Is that not clear enough? Our mind is not and cannot be subject to God’s law. It is not simply extremely difficult for our fleshly mind to keep God’s law. It just simply cannot. As far as our flesh is concerned, we cannot please God, and therefore we may conclude that we never do please Him before He saves us.
That being the case justification will have to be and is a gift of God’s grace. We do not and cannot earn it or buy it. Also over the radio – I do not recall who said it – I heard it stated that you can take the five letters of the word grace as the five letters wherewith the words in this sentence begin and tell us that grace is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That is true, if you bear in mind that Christ by His obedience and death bought our justification. You may also have heard the definition of grace that states: God’s grace is God giving everything for nothing to those who deserve nothing. That can be stated a big more strongly thus: God’s grace is God giving everything for nothing to the good-for-nothings. The idea certainly in God’s grace is that He gives for nothing the blessings of salvation to those who deserve the opposite. By nature we do not merely not deserve what God gives in His grace. We are good-for-nothings. But let us never forget that we deserve the opposite of the blessings of salvation. We deserve the damnation and curse of depraved, rebellious enemies of God.
Truly then, justification is a work of God’s grace. No man can justify himself before God. Paul states it beautifully in II Timothy 1:9 when he writes, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Did you note that eternal, unconditional predestination here? Not according to our works but according to God’s purpose – His eternal counsel – and His grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. And that He saved us certainly means that He justified us. In the work of justification God saves us from our guilt, from our worthiness of being visited in His holy wrath with everlasting punishment.
In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul states this gracious justification very powerfully. He writes, “By grace are ye saved, through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” It is not of our works, Paul declares. And then to state it more emphatically he speaks of us being created unto and not because of good works. Surely believing is a good work. And thus, since we were created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works, all that justified us is a work of God’s grace. We are not justified because we believe. Because we are justified by the work of Christ, we are created unto believing.
The fruit of this justification is, first of all, that we now have the right to all the blessings of salvation. Justification is a God-given right for us to be born again, to be called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, to be engrafted into Christ by faith, and to be able to believe in Him, to be sanctified and to be glorified. That is why Paul says that we must preach Christ crucified. This is our justification. There is the ground for all the blessings we receive.
Then too, there is the fruit in our own lives. We have such rich and precious comforts while we live in this vale of tears and sorrows. Remember the text I quoted at the beginning of this article. In Romans 5:1 Paul says that being justified by faith we have peace with God. We know that He loves us. We have no fear of His holy wrath. And each child of God knows by faith that God deals with him just-as-if- he’d never sinned.
This also enables us to bear the ridicule, mockery, and persecutions which the unbelievers inflict upon us. With the saints, shortly after the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, we rejoice that we are “counted worthy to suffer shame for His (Christs) name.” Acts 5:41.
And finally, we enjoy the blessedness of justification when we die and our souls enter into heavenly glory. And to a great degree even than this, when we enjoy the resurrection of the body, and live with Christ in the new Jerusalem.
Therefore, Young People, give thanks to God for your justification. And fight with all your strength against the inroads of the heresy that we are saved if only we fulfill the condition of believing. Rather we say with Jonah, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Every bit of it is. And faith is His gift to us, and not our gift to Him. We are justified through faith, because God uses it, and not because of our act of believing.