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1.4.2 Justification

1. The Nature of Justification – Divine Acquittal

  • Justification is a state of acceptance entered into by faith. (Rom. 4:2-8; 5:1)

  • Justification is a free gift of God made through Christ. (Rom. 1:17; 3:21,22)

  • Justification is a state of acceptance in which the believer stands. (Rom. 5:2)

  • Justification is a complete and secure position in relation to God. Justified” is God’s verdict. (REMEMBER: Justification is a judicial term.) (Rom. 8:33,34)

  • Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous. (The pardon must be accepted.)

  • Justification places the offender in the position of a righteous man. God justifies the ungodly. No earthly judge can do this. (Rom. 4:5)

  • Justification is two-fold:

the cancellation of sinsthe imputing of righteousness

2. The Necessity of Justification

a. Man is condemned

All men need the righteousness of God, because all men have sinned. (Job 9:2; Acts 16:30)

The Gentiles are under condemnation.

Steps in their downfall:

Once knew God— Rom. 1:19,20
Glorified Him not as God— Rom. 1:21
Neither were thankful— vs. 21
Became vain in their imaginations— vs. 21
Their minds were darkened— vs. 21
Blindness led to idolatry— vs. 23
Idolatry led to moral corruption— vs. 24-31
They are without excuse— vs. 32

The Jews are under condemnation. Rom. 3:19

b. The Law Cannot Save (Rom 3:20)

The Law is only a school master to bring us to Christ. (Gal. 3:24) It is merely a measuring rod that reveals what it is without any suggestion for remedy or change.

1) The law is the knowledge of sin—Rom. 3:20

2) Righteousness is without the law—Rom. 3:21

3) Witnessed by the law

Gen. 3:15; 12:3; 22:4,13,14; Psa. 32:1,2; Gal. 3:6-8; John 8:56

4) Witnessed by the Prophets

Isa. 53:4-6; Jer. 23:6; 31:31-34; Eze. 36:26

5) This was God’s original plan of salvation

The law was added: Gal. 3:19-26.

Rom. 10:3 Ignorant of God’s righteousness,”

Going about to establish their own righteousness.”

Have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

When Christ came they had no need of Him. John 8:32-34

This is the work of God” John 6:28-29.

A train is a means to an end. Christ is the end of the law.” Rom. 10:4

3. The Source of Justification — Grace

a. The Operation of Grace Understood

Grace primarily means favor, or the kindly disposition in God’s mind.

Grace has been called pure unrecompensed kindness and favor” or Unmerited favor.” Grace cannot incur debt. What God bestows, He bestows as a gift; we cannot pay for it. (Rom. 6:23) Christian service is not the payment for God’s grace; service is the Christians way to express devotion and love to God. We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

Grace is God’s dealing with the sinner absolutely apart from the question of merit or demerit. Grace is neither treating a person as he deserves, nor treating him better than he deserves.

Grace is infinite love expressing itself in infinite goodness.

A misunderstanding should be avoided. Grace does not mean that sin is forgiven because God is big-hearted enough to remit the penalty. Redemption is through the blood. (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:6-7) Pardoning sin is based on strict justice. In pardoning sin He is faithful and just” ( I John 1:9) We are justified only because Christ PAID the debt.

Grace is independent of man’s works or activity. Gal. 5:4

When a person is under the Law, he cannot be under Grace. When he is under Grace, he is not under Law.

Pay all.All is paid.
A work to do.A work done.
Restrains actions.Changes nature
Servants work for wages.Sons enjoying an inheritance.

Errors to be avoided

Legalism - Justification based on keeping the law.

Lawlessness - Justification no matter what deeds continue. (Although we are not ’under the law’, we are also not ‘without law.’

Galatianism - Justification initially received by faith but then sustained by keeping the law.

The Word grace” is used sometimes in an inward sense, to denote the:

Operation of the Divine Influence. Eph. 4:7
Effect of the Divine Influence. Acts 4:33; 11:23; James 4:6

b. The Operation of Grace Classified

Prevenient Grace

Drawing Men to God

Prevenient (literally: going before) grace is the Divine influence preceding a person’s conversion, exciting his efforts to return to God. It is the effect of God’s favor in drawing men. If God in His grace did not make the first move toward man, man would never move toward God. Man is too blinded by his sin, but the Spirit of God is at work in the world today drawing the wandering sheep to the fold of God.

John 6:44—No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Striving with the Disobedient

Acts 7:52—Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Even in the lives of the wicked that have desires only for evil does the grace of God work. One example of God striving with the disobedient in his grace is found in the life of the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 2:1,2— And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. 2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

God has a plan and is looking to share His plan with faithful servants. This revelation is through His Spirit and by his grace. Organizations and churches may recognize the ministries of men, but it is only the Holy Ghost of God that can call people. Let us enter in to this experience where not only does the prophet hear the words of the Spirit, but the Spirit enters into him and set him on his feet. This is no time for sitting son; I have a work for you to do.” We must never take the Word of God lying down. Let us stand ready as ministers of the grace of God.

Ezekiel 2:3-5—And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day… I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. 5 And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.

God’s prevenient grace is here at work. Whether Israel was going to hear or not, God was still sending his messenger to them. God is married to the backslider. Jer. 3:14

Effectual Grace

Ephesians 3:7—Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Grace is effectual in producing conversion, if not resisted by the person. John 5:40; Acts 13:46 Effectual Grace” is not equal to irresistible grace.

The fourth point of Calvinism is irresistible grace.’ This view on grace suggests that no one can resist the grace of God, but that every one God ‘chooses’ to save will be saved without any resistance. This concept contradicts the biblical teaching of free-will and choice, and negates any need for the sinner to cooperate in any way with God’s dealing.

Biblical ‘effectual grace’ emphasizes the sufficiency of God’s grace to convert any and every soul that chooses to respond to God’s dealing. God’s grace is irresistible only in the sense that it trumps the power of sin and hell and there is no problem that the grace of God cannot overcome. God’s grace is resistible in the sense that the Lord has set before us an open door and will not force any to walk through it that have not made that choice of their own free will.

John 12:32—And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

If God’s grace was ‘irresistible’ the entire world will be saved, but we know from Scripture that is not the case.

Let us look at a few Biblical examples of how God deals with men. Note that God makes the first move and then requires some kind of action from man before He makes the next:

Romans 10:13—For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Matthew 4:19—And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Mark 10:51—And Jesus answered…, ‘What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?’

Hebrews 10:29—Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Effectual Grace is not an assurance to the wayward that confirms the lie, If God wants me to be saved, He’ll save me.” Effectual Grace is an assurance to the repentant that confirms the truth, If I truly want to be saved, God can and will save me!”

Actual Grace

Grace enables men to live rightly, to resist temptation and do their duty. Thus we speak of praying for grace to perform a difficult task. II Cor. 12:9

Habitual grace

Grace is the effect of the indwelling of the Spirit, resulting in a life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22,23

The Grounds of Justification – Christ’s Righteousness

How can God treat a sinner as a righteous person?

God provides the repentant sinner with righteousness.

c. The Provision of Righteousness

Is it just to give the title of good” and righteous” to one who has not earned it? The Lord Jesus Christ has earned it for and on behalf of the sinner, who is declared righteous through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom. 3:24

What does redemption mean?

Redemption means complete deliverance by a price paid.

d. The Price of Righteousness

Christ earned or paid for this righteousness for us and the price is His atoning death. Romans 3:25 says:

Romans 3:25 —

Propitiation is that which secures God’s favor for the undeserving. Christ died in order to save us from God’s righteous wrath and to secure His favor to us. Propitiation means mercy seat. (Ex. 26:34; Heb. 9:5; I John 2:2; 4:10)

1) The Need of Righteousness

As the body needs clothing, so the soul needs character. As one must appear before the world clothed in proper garments, so must man appear before God and heaven clothed in the garment of a perfectly righteous character. Rev. 3:4, 7:13, 14; 19:8

The sinner’s garment is defiled and tattered. Zech. 3:1-4 And were he to clothe himself in his own goodness and merits and plead his own good deeds, they would be considered as filthy rags”. Isa. 64:6; James 5:2; Jude 23

We need to guard against defiling our garments. Rev. 3:4; 16:15

2) The Provision of Righteousness

Righteousness was purchased by Christ’s substitutionary death. God has provided a garment. Isa. 61:10; Isa. 53:5,11; Rom. 4:6;5:18,19; II Cor. 5:21 His death was a perfect act of righteousness because it satisfied the law of God; it was also a perfect act of obedience. And all this was done on our behalf and placed to our credit. The act by which God charges or reckons this righteousness to our account is called imputation.

Righteousness is imputed to our account. Imputation is the reckoning to a person the consequences of another’s act. For example, the consequences of Adam’s sin are reckoned to his descendants. The consequences of man’s sin were reckoned to Christ, and the consequences of Christ’s obedience are reckoned to the believer. He wore our garment of righteousness. He is made unto us righteousness,” I Cor. 1:30. He becomes the Lord our righteousness,” Jer. 23:6.

Christ expiated our guilt, satisfied the law, both by obedience and suffering, and became our substitute, so that being united with Him by faith, His death becomes our death, His righteousness our righteousness, His obedience our obedience. God then accepts us not for anything in us, not for works—Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16—or merit, but for the perfect all-sufficient righteousness of Christ set to our account. For Christ’s sake, God treats the guilty man, when penitent and believing, as if he were righteous.

Righteousness is imparted to our life.

Justification that saves is something external, and concerns the sinner’s position, but is there no change in condition?

It affects his standing, but what of his conduct?

Righteousness is imputed but is it also imparted?

In justification Christ is for us, but is He also in us?

In other words, it seems that imputation would dishonor the law if it were not bound up with security of future righteousness.

The answer is that justifying faith is the initial act of Christian life and this initial act, when the faith is living, is followed by an inward, spiritual change known as regeneration.

Righteousness is imputed in justification and imparted in regeneration. The Christ who is for us becomes the Christ in us. Christ liveth in me,” Gal. 2:20.

The change of position - Being in Christ

Rom. 8:1; II Cor. 5:17 I John 2:5-6

The change of conduct – Christ in You

Christ being in you Col. 1:27; Eph. 3:17; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 4:13

Being in Christ and Christ in us actually go together John 15:4 John 14:23I John 3:24; 4:13 Real salvation calls for a life of practical holiness. They who wear His righteousness will be careful to purify themselves. I John 3:3

4. The Means of Justification – Faith

Justification is by faith. Since the law cannot justify, man’s only hope is for a righteousness without the law” (Rom. 3:21). This is not an unlawful unrighteousness, or a religion that permits us to sin, but is justification that changes our position with God based on the merits of Christ. This is the righteousness of God” (a righteousness which God imparts), and it is a gift because man lacks the power to develop it or work it out. (Eph. 2:8-10) The three operations of faith are as follows:

1) Faith Appropriates

A gift must be accepted. How then is the gift of righteousness accepted? What is the instrument which appropriates the righteousness of Christ? It is the faith.

Galatians 2:16—Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Faith is the hand, so to speak, which takes what God offers. Faith is the instrumental cause of justification. Rom. 3:22; 4:11; 9:30; Heb. 11:7; Phil. 3:9 Faith lays hold of God’s promise and appropriates salvation.

2) Faith Applies

Psalm 51:7—Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Faith not only takes all that God has to offer, but it applies it to the soul.

3) Faith Activates

Faith not only passively receives, but also actively uses what God bestows. Faith is also an affair of the heart. (See Rom. 10:9,10; Compare Matt. 15:19 with Prov. 4:23.)

  • Faith involves works.

The Scripture speaks of a work of faith.”

Galatians 5:6—…Faith which worketh…

I Thessalonians 1:3—…Work of faith…

  • Faith produces works, James 2:26
  • Faith proved by works, James 2:18
  • Faith protected by works, James 2:22

That is, faith is an energetic principle; as well as, a receptive attitude. Faith is therefore a powerful motive to obedience and to every good work. Faith involves the will and is connected with all good choices and actions. (Rom. 14:23) Faith includes the choice and pursuit of the truth. (II Thess. 2:12) Faith implies subjection to the righteousness of God. (Rom. 10:3)