What is justification?
Justification is a forensic, a legal declaration, before the Throne room of heaven that a person is justified, that he is right before God. You see, on the cross, John 19:30, Jesus said says, “It is finished.” He accomplished everything for salvation upon that cross. says, “He who knew no sin,” Christ who was sinless, He knew no sin, “became sin for us.” Obviously that doesn’t mean He sinned, He knew no sin, but He became a sin offering for us. He was sacrificed as a substitute for all those who will repent and trust in Him. “That we might become the righteousness of God…”
This is what theologians call the great exchange. You see, two imputations, two transactions took place their upon that Cross. One, the believers sin, the guilt of the believers sin, the criminal record of the believer, is transferred, it’s imputed to Jesus Christ. You see, suppose I have a fine, of ten thousand pounds or ten thousand dollars. And I go to someone else or somebody else goes to my debtor and says, “Transfer Kevin’s debt to my account.” “Impute it to me.” Now, it was my debt, it was my penalty, it was my responsibility to pay it. From the moment that transfer takes place and my debt is transferred to the other person, then it’s no longer my responsibility to pay it. It is now, fully, his responsibility to pay it. You see, that’s what happen upon that Cross. My sin, the sin of all those who believe on Jesus Christ, who will surrender to Him, who will have Him, save him or her, their sin is transferred, it’s imputed to Jesus Christ. So He paid it upon that Cross. That is the only way someone can be forgiven but not did only Christ take all our debt but also the righteousness of Jesus Christ is given to the believer. You see, Jesus Christ lived the perfect life, He never lied, He never stole, He always did what is pleasing to the Father. What happens when someone truly believes, when someone repents and trusts in Jesus Christ to save them. Not only is their sin gone but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the perfect life of Jesus Christ, is credited to the believer You see, now God looks at me as if I always do the things that please God because He is not looking through me at the lens of myself but through the lens of what Christ has done.
There is an excellent book which I highly recommend by Charles Leiter called, Justification & Regeneration.
He explains these wonderful, these essential truths in there that are such plain-easy to understand language. There, he gives this analogy. He says, three university physics students start a physics course. On the first day of the physics course, the professor says to the first student who walks in the two year course, He says to him, “You got an A.” He says, “I’ve got an A? I haven’t even done any work yet, How can I have an A?” He says, “You got an A.” This guy says, “Yes! Yes! I’ve got an A! You mean we can just study this stuff for fun now?” Now that is true of every true believer. From the moment, they turn from sin and self and trust, put simple child-like faith in Jesus Christ to save them. All of their sin is gone, their own grade, their own pitiful grade of their sin is erased because Christ has paid for it all and the grade of Jesus Christ, the perfect life of Jesus Christ, is credited to that believer.
Now, the second student walks in of the first day of a two year physics course, the professor says to him, “You got an A.” This guy says, “No, I’m not accepting that, I want to earn my own grade.” Now that’s Mr. Legalist, that’s like Mr. Catholic, that’s like Mr. Muslim, that’s like a lot of professing Christians who are not trusting in the finish work of Jesus Christ. The reality is, are own grade will never be good enough. Our own grade will only take us to hell, but the A’s an offer.
Now, the third student walks in the first year of a two year course and the professors says to him, “You got an A.” This guy says, “I got an A? Aw, wonderful!” He goes out the door, throws his physic books straight in the trash. Now that’s the false convert, that’s the one who doesn’t really believe what he says he believes.
He has never really seen Christ, but listen the point of this analogy is that from the moment someone truly trust in Christ, they are justified before the Throne of God forever because of what Christ has done. You see, all of Him, salvation is all of Him or you’ll perish. In Romans Chapter 4 verse 2, this is speaking, Paul here, gives us an example of how Abraham was justified how Abraham got right before God, to show us how all people get right before God, How all people become justified before God. You see, Christ has done all upon that Cross but how is it transferred to the believer? How is this perfect A grade transferred to the believer? The answer is by faith but a lot of people need, be very careful. They say, “Yeah, I believe that Jesus did it all on the Cross” and then they say, “I believe it’s by faith that it was transferred to us” but if you boil it down, what they mean by faith is works. Now James said, “faith without works is dead”. It is true that truth faith will produce good works. – James 2:26 Truth saving faith, real faith always produces good works. “faith working through love” – Galatians 5:6 because what we do reveals what we really believe. Everything else is just vain religious talk but you see faith, although true saving faith will produce good works, faith is actually the opposite of works.
The complete opposite, its by forsaking all trust in our own works. Hebrews says that the foundation of saving faith is “repentance from dead works” – Hebrews 6:1. We must repent from all trust in self and see that Christ has done it all. Believe Him. In Romans 4:2, Paul argues, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” If it was Abraham’s works, if it were by doing something, making good decisions even, getting himself up to a certain level, he had something to boast about. He’d basically be earning his salvation in some sense there but not before God. He has nothing to boast about and he proves this in Romans 4:3, “For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM (it was accounted to him)AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” So from that moment, Abraham first believed God, He believed the Word of God, who we know is Jesus Christ like we believe in Christ. From the moment someone believes on Christ stops trusting in self and realizes that Christ has done it all. It is accounted to that person as righteousness, they become righteous before the Throne of God in heaven. Verse 4, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.” – Romans 4:4 You see, if people were doings something to earn favor with God then it wouldn’t be of grace.
It wouldn’t be gift of salvation. You see, you cannot earn your way to God. You must forsake trusting yourself. Their is nothing you can do to make yourself acceptable to Him. If you’re thinking is like, “You know, I got all these sins but hopefully my good deeds can outweigh my bad deeds,” That’s just like trying to bribe a judge. Saying, “Here Judge, take this brown envelope, full of good works, and overlook those bad works. ” Only a corrupt judge takes bribes God will not take bribes but man is trying to make God the debtor. Man refuses to trust in what Christ has done because they want to feel that God owes them something but God owes us nothing except hell because we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23. “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO NOT EVEN ONE” – Romans 3:10. If you thought life was on TV tonight and people could see the thoughts, your thoughts for the last month. How comfortable would you be? with your children, your mother, your parents, friends, workmates seeing your thought life? Well, your thought life reveals your heart. My point is this… No one can be good enough to stand before God. You have to be perfect, BUT Christ has done it all. He will take your eyes self and turn, look upon Him who has paid for every wicked thought, for every wicked deed, for every wicked word. and If you will rise up and follow him, trusting not in your ability to follow him but trusting in what He has done, He will save you. “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” – Romans 4:5.
Notice the one who does not work, the one who forsakes trust in himself and simply believes on Him, believes on God, who justifies the ungodly.
Believes on Christ. Notice here, it doesn’t say to the one who get himself to a certain standard, the one who cleans up his life, the one who becomes religious and gets to a point where he’s acceptable to God because we’re not invited to come to Christ to that point. It says, “But to the one who does not work, BUT BELIEVES in HIM WHO JUSTIFIES the ungodly”-Romans 4:5. Notice, God justifies, He makes right, before the Throne of God in heaven, ungodly sinners. Isaiah says, “And you who have no money come, buy and eat come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” – Isaiah 55:1 You must come down to the price that you have nothing to offer God. you who have no money, you who have nothing to offer to God. you must realize this that you have NOTHING to offer to God. stop trying to bargain with Him, “I’ll get myself to a certain level then maybe You will accept me” but realize that you nothing to bargain with. You will never be acceptable to Him in and of yourself and just surrender to finish work of Christ. Trust Him on what He’s done. He justifies the ungodly. people while they are still in sin. That’s the only way you’re invited to come to Him. Charles Spurgeon gave this analogy, he said, “There was a painter who was painting a painting of the city of which he lived. There was a notorious street sweeper there who he wanted in his painting. So he told this man, “Come to my studio tomorrow and I will pay you to paint you. I’ll have you in my painting because I want a street sweeper in it.” So the guy went home, he had a bath, he washed and combed his hair, put on his best suit. Went to the art studio and was shown the door (the exit) because he wasn’t invited in that capacity, he was invited as a filthy street sweeper. You’re not invited to eternal life in Christ as a righteous person, you’re invited to come to him for salvation now, at this moment, in all your sin as a filthy, wretched sinner. That’s the only bases He’ll accept you. If you come to Him not by your own merits but by the blood, by trusting what He has done upon that Cross. Look at this beautiful truth here of what Christ has done. “just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works” – Romans 4:6. God gives the believer the righteousness apart from works. He takes away the sin, remember their sin no more because He has paid for it all. and He gives that person the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He pays for the believers sin; past, present, and future So again, the believer has the perfect A in the sight of God from the moment they believe. The grade does not change. “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN” – Romans 4:7. “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT” – Romans 4:8. Notice this, the Lord does not take into account the believer’s sin. He doesn’t reckon against them. Now, there’s a very real sense, of course, that as a loving Father chastens the son in whom in delights when the believer sins God will come and chasten that person, but every rod that is placed upon the believer’s back, it is place there by the hand of love. He brings us under conviction to correct us. From the moment someone believes, God never comes to the believer as a punitive judge again. The wrath is completely satisfied upon that Cross. He doesn’t even account the sins of the believer to him because He has paid for them.
You see, to explain this truth, “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT” – Romans 4:8 That God does not impute the sins of the believer against them. I’ll use other analogy from Charles Leiter excellent book, I really recommend it, Justification & Regeneration. He gives this analogy that a man gets up late from work and he’s running around, burns the toast, and he says an off word to his wife but first, he doesn’t even realize he said this. He goes out the door, he’s abrupt with her. Gets to work and as he’s sitting there at his desk, the Spirit starts to convict him. Now, this is a Christian man, he starts to think, “Was I off with my wife there?” and he gets to the point where he can’t take it any longer. So he calls this wife and says, “Love, I’m just so sorry.” He prays to God and says, “God, I’m so sorry.” Now, what would of happen to that Christian man if he had died before the point he had repented? Would he had gone to heaven or would he had gone to hell? The answer is He would had gone to heaven because if he is a Christian man “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT” – Romans 4:8. Why does the Lord not take into account the believers sins? Because he has paid for it. They’ve been paid in full by Jesus Christ on that Cross, two thousand years ago. Now, same analogy but a little twist to it. The Christian man gets up late for work, he’ running around, burns the toast. He has an off word with his wife, he’s a little abrupt with her but this time, he knows full well what he’s done but he’s being stubborn. He knows he’s been abrupt with his wife, he knows he’s been off but he’s being stubborn and refusing to repent. Goes out the door, gets to work but eventually, the Spirit’s convicting him. He can’t take it any longer, he’s broken, he calls his wife, “O Love, please forgive me.” He prays to God, “Please forgive me.” Now, this time he knew full well what he was doing there. So if he had died before he repented, would he have gone to heaven or would he have gone to hell? The answer is he would had gone to heaven, because “Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them” – Psalm 32:2. Why? Because that sin has been paid for on that Cross.
You see, Believer, you must get out of this Roman Catholic mentality that you go in and out, and in and out of favor with Christ.
Like a little girl picking off flower heads, “He loves me? He loves me not? He loves me? He loves me not?” When someone is doing pretty well and they think, “Yeah, Christ loves me. Christ is happy with me now. ” Then, they’re doing badly and they think, “He doesn’t love me now.” THAT’S PRIDE! That’s taking pride in someone’s performance. The only way we can be accepted is on the grade of Jesus Christ. We can never improve on that grade. We can never lower that grade because it’s all of Him. You see, this doesn’t mean that the believer well then think, “Well if that’s the case then I’ll just go off and enjoy my sin”.
Far from it, the false convert thinks that. The one who’s not changed, but the true convert, this motivates them to want to live for Christ, but Christ justifies the ungodly. The only way you’ll be right before Him is to surrender to what he has done upon that Cross, surrender to Him. The Bibles says, “now is the accepted time” – 2 Corinthians 6:2. When He can accepted you, when He will accepted you. One day it will be too late. If you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart, but come to Him this day. Surrender your life to Him, see that He has done it all upon that Cross.
In the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14) Jesus told a parable of a great King who had prepared a feast and He said, “Go out and invite everyone to this feast because the feast is ready, salvation is ready in Christ.” He has done everything you need to do to get to heaven. So just come, trust in Him, child-like faith in Him. So just turn from self and sin and come to Him and you’ll be saved, but we’re told in that parable that their was a man at this feast, professing to be a Christian who was not wearing a wedding garment and it says, “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”-Matthew 22:13. Now to explain this parable: You see, in those days, the King would provide the garments for people to wear at the wedding. Just like Christ has provided the garment of His perfect righteousness. That is the only righteousness, that is the only robe when we can wear before God. In those days, to not put on the wedding garment provided by the King was to show contempt to the King. Many people are trying to dress themselves up. They still think they clean up themselves, trusting in self, putting a patch there and a patch there, trying to wash. Listen, you must put on the wedding garment of Jesus Christ. You must give up hope in trying to dress up yourself and trying to clean up yourself and just trust in Jesus Christ. Look upon him and live, you have nothing left to do but look upon Christ upon that Cross. See your name written upon His Hands. See those wounds pierced for your sins. He’ll embrace you this day but you must turn from self, you must turn to Him. Trust in Him.
One more analogy from Charles Leiter’s, Justification and Regeneration. You see, sometimes people try to turn faith into a work “If I only had enough of faith, I only could believe a bit more. If I only could repent a bit more.” But listen closely to me now, it is what you have faith in that is important. It is having faith in Christ. Charles Leiter’s, in Justification & Regeneration, he uses this analogy. There are two bridges going across the Grand Canyon. Now if the first bridge is a rickety rope-string bridge which everywhere you put your foot on that bridge, it is rotten and it just goes through. Now, it doesn’t matter how much faith you have on that bridge for it to hold you. You can grit your teeth, you can clench your fist, you can squint your eyes and say, “I believe that this bridge is going to hold me!” The moment you set your foot on that bridge, it’s going to go through and you’re going to fall. Not because your faith in it is weak and rotting, but because the bridge is weak and rotting.
Now, if the second bridge, is like one of those well-made, concrete, iron-structures, then how much faith do you need for that bridge to hold you? All you need is enough faith to step onto that bridge because the moment you put your foot on that bridge, it’s going to hold you not because your faith in it is strong, but because the bridge is strong. All you need is a faith as a mustard seed. Just put your faith in Christ, trust in Him. Take him at his Word, He cannot lie. “it is impossible for God to lie” – Hebrews 6:18.
He says, “him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” -John 6:37. If you truly want him this day then take Him at His Word. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”– John 7:37. If you’re fed up of drinking from the stagnant waters of sin of this life and self. Come to Christ and drink, He promises you there living waters. True satisfaction, true life of knowing him. He doesn’t tell you to come to him if doesn’t want you to come to Him. He invites you to come to Him. So come to Him this day.