What is justification? Sadly, there are few today who even know what the word means, and fewer still who know the blessedness of the justified - this, though the doctrine of justification is a fundamental of the faith.
To understand what justification is, we should know first that its synonym is righteousness. To be justified and to be righteous are the very same thing.
Second, we should see that justification is a legal term. In justification we have to do with God as Judge (Heb. 4:13). Justification is the sentence of the supreme Judge, from whose sentence there is no appeal (Job 40:8).
Third, justification therefore involves one's legal status (state, estate), i.e., or one's standing before the law and before God (Ps. 130:3). That legal status or standing determines whether we will enjoy certain rights and privileges or be punished.
When sentence is passed by any judge there are only two possible "standings," guilty or innocent, unrighteous or righteous. In the justification of sinners God as Judge declares them innocent of any wrongdoing or crime (Num. 23:21, II Cor. 5:19).
The wonder of justification is that sinners are found innocent by God. Those who are justified have committed and do commit every sin, and commit their sins against the Judge Himself (Ps. 51:4, Rom. 5:18, 21)!
The sentence by which God justifies them is like the laws of the Medes and the Persians - it cannot be altered, for God does not change. Yet does God lie in passing such a sentence (Num. 23:19). His sentence is true and just.
That means that the sinner cannot possibly be justified and found innocent before God because of his own worthiness or works (Rom. 4:6). The cause (and there must be a cause) is the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ and His suffering and death.
Jesus stands as the substitute for those whom the Father gave him. His suffering and death are the punishment for their sins (Is. 53:5) and by His perfect obedience He makes restitution, "restoring that which He took not away" (Ps. 69:4).
Think of a thief who must atone for his crime, not only by being punished, but by repaying what was stolen. Someone must suffer the punishment for our crimes and repay to God the debt of God-glorifying obedience that we did not pay.
Christ does all this for His own. His obedience, suffering and death are "charged to their account," or as Scripture says, "imputed" (II Cor. 5:19) to them, so that they are before God as though they never had nor had committed any sin.
What a wonderful thing it is, then, to be justified! Nothing can compare with knowing that there is "no condemnation" for us with God. All other blessings and privileges and their enjoyment depend on this. As Paul says, "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 9
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
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