If Christians were to view all of the doctrines in the Bible as if they were a beautiful range of mountains, I believe the Doctrine of Justification would be appreciated as one of the few snow-capped peaks that rule the skyline. Its marvelous grandeur would fill all who behold it with utter amazement.
The Motive of Justification
God is moved in His actions toward sinners because of His intrinsic nature of love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16) and grace (1 Pet 5:10). The human race is on trial (Rom. 1 & 2) before God. There is nothing in man to recommend himself to God (in Rom. 3:10-24 see “freely” = without a cause). The standard by which the sinner is to be judged is “the Truth of God” (Rom. 1:18, 25; 2:2), his “deeds” (Rom. 2:6-8), “the Law” (Rom. 2:12-27) and “Paul’s Gospel” (Rom. 2:16), all of which prove him guilty! Only God the Judge has the authority or power to acquit him. Only God can justify and He does it solely on the basis of His love and grace.
Justification is a judicial matter conducted in the Throne Room of God (Gen. 18:25). There God is the Judge. The sinner, upon seeing no other way of escape, accepts the love and grace of Christ’s substitutionary payment for sin and is justified! God’s righteous demands for sin’s payment have been fully satisfied. Now God is at liberty to declare the believing sinner to be righteous! The condition of justification is simply by faith (Rom. 1:17; 3:22, 28). God, nowhere in the Pauline Epistles, asks for the unsaved to confess their sin in order to be justified: “All who believe are justified” (Acts 13:39); “Being therefore justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1). Paul’s Gospel of the Grace of God is the only saving message to lost sinners in this Dispensation of Grace. When this gospel is boldly preached and the Holy Spirit convinces them of their need for Christ, and they trust Him as their personal Savior, they are immediately forgiven and justified.
More Than Just-as-if-I’d Never Sinned
Justification means much more than a pardon being given to the once-guilty sinner. In God’s court, the believing sinner is given a new standing before God – identical with that of our Lord Jesus!
“For He [God the Judge] hath made Him [Jesus Christ, the sinner’s substitute] to be sin for us [the guilty sinner], Who [Jesus Christ, the sinner’s substitute] knew no sin; that we [the guilty sinner] might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
We are “justified from all things by the blood of Christ” (Acts 13:39; Rom. 5:9). The believing sinner is now placed “in Christ” by the declaration and act of God – thus, we read, “Christ was delivered up for our trespasses and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). We have been brought into Heaven’s Court – guilty and condemned before God. God, then, satisfied His righteous demands (“death” Rom. 6:23) against us by laying all our sin upon His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ, thus, made propitiation (to render complete satisfaction) on our behalf before God the Judge (Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2). Since we were united with Christ in His propitiatory work, we are now partakers of Christ’s own standing! We are designated “children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).
Therefore, being justified by God’s grace, there abides in our heart an eternal spring of gratitude to the God Who loved us and the Savior Who redeemed us!
Points Regarding Justification
- Justification is granted freely and at the moment of the sinner’s faith in Christ (Rom. 4:3). The believing sinner is not progressively justified. Paul the Apostle was as much justified when he was saved on the Damascus Road as he was at the end of his life. And so, too, are you, dear believing sinner!
- Justification is granted completely and instantaneously when we put our trust in Christ and His redemptive work on the Cross. There are degrees of growth in the Christian way of life (our state), but not in justification (our standing). The worst and weakest Christian stands fully accepted in God’s provision (Eph. 1:3-6).
- Justification is eternal (Rom. 4:17; 8:29-30). Christ’s righteousness is credited to the believer’s account. The guilt and penalty of his sin is gone forever!
- Justification brings peace and enjoyment (kauchometha – to rejoice out loud), even amidst a variety of afflictions and tribulations in this world (Rom 5:3).