Posts Tagged 'righteous'

Just and Justifier

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”      – Romans 3:21-26

I want to deal today with mostly that last verse, Romans 3:26.  The Bible teaches that through faith in Jesus we are “justified” before God – “A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ,” Galatians 2:16.  The word justified means to be made right with someone.  It means to have no blame. 

The obvious question here might be, “For what am I justified?” 

“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23  Sin can be defined as a couple of different things.  First of all, breaking God’s laws, of which the Ten Commandments are an example of some of God’s laws.  There are other sins, sins that masquerade as good works as well.  Sometimes even keeping the rules can be sinful.  You can even look at your own goodness as if you are good enough.  Self-righteousness then is a sin.  Because regardless of how good we are, the Bible is clear that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 

If the wages of sin is death, and everyone sins, then we can now understand why we have a need to be justified with God.  Enter Jesus…

Jesus work for us on the cross was two fold.  He substituted his death for ours (God demands death as payment for our sin), and he substituted his life for ours (God legally declares us righteous – through Christ – and treats us as perfect.)  What exactly did Jesus do here?

The Bible says that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless, righteous life.  Because of him perfectly fulfilling the law, he was doing absolutely everything a human being needs to do to be acceptable to God.  Romans 5:19 says, “…so by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous.”  This is an important statement, and we don’t want to overlook at.  It goes right back to the passage we opened with that says God is “both just and justifier…”  Here’s what D.M. Lloyd-Jones has to say on this subject,

“Now the Lord Jesus Christ does not merely ask God to overlook our sin or forget it.  He stands before the Father…as it were, to say to God…”I am here to just remind you that the law has been fulfilled, that the death has been died, that the punishment has been enacted; they are free because I died for them”…I say it with trembling and yet I say it with confidence, God would be unjust if He did not forgive my sin.  Christ has died for me…”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” (I John 1:9).  God’s acceptance of us is now a matter of justice.  It is Jesus who enables God to be at one and the same time just and justifier of the ungodly…”

 There is one last point we need to understand with this doctrine.  If Christ only took our sins, but did not give us his righteousness at the same time, we would not be really any better off today.  This is an amazing truth that I didn’t grasp well until I read the following by J. Greshem Machen:

“The covenant of works was a probation.  If Adam had kept the law of God for a certain period, he was to have eternal life.  If he disobeyed, he was to have death.  Well, he disobeyed, and the penalty of death was inflicted upon him and his posterity.  Then Christ by his death on the cross paid that penalty…but if that is all Christ did for us, do you not see that we should be back in just the situation in which Adam was before he sinned?  The penalty of his sinning would have been removed from us because it had all been paid by Christ.  But for the future the attainment of eternal life would have been dependent upon our perfect obedience to the law of God.  We should simply have been back in the probation again.  As a matter of fact, Christ has not merely paid the penalty of Adam’s first sin, but also he has positively merited for us eternal life.  He was, in other words, our representative both in the penalty paying and in the probation keeping.  He paid the penalty for us, and he stood the probation for us…Christ not only took the punishment by his death, but merited for them the reward by his perfect obedience to God’s law…Those are the two things he has done for us.”

What a powerful truth!  If Jesus had merely substituted for our death, we would be right back in the position of relying on our works to gain eternal life.  Unfortunately, it would clearly be impossible for us to live up to that.  We would go on sinning because of our evil nature, and be right back in the same place we were before Jesus died.  But because he also substituted his righteous life for ours, we are declared righteous by God, and we do not need to earn it as Christ did.  We need to thank God for that today.


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