Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

JUSTIFICATION: Part II - A Declaration by God

1) Justification is an act of God – not man!

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith...(Romans 3:29-30)

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." (Galatians 3:8)

Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33)

Justification is an act of God. We do not justify ourselves. God is our judge, and He is the one who will declare us righteous. A criminal does not judge and justify himself, nor can he contribute to the judge's decision in any way - these are the judge's responsibilities.

Remember, the basis of our justification is Christ’s work – His perfect, sinless life and His death on the Cross. This is a free, unearned, unmerited gift to us – that is, a work of God’s grace. And this work is complete – it cannot be added to in any way.

2) Justification is a declaration about a person, not a change of the person’s nature – that is, it happens outside, not within, a person.

If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked (Deuteronomy 25:1, NASB)

Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! (Isaiah 5:22-23, NASB)

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15)

These verses show an essential truth of justification: a man "justified" by men can still be guilty, regardless of his justification. This is because when we "justify" something, we do not "make" it right. We only "judge" or "declare" it to be so. A judge in a courtroom, when he pronounces the verdict, does not cause the accused to be innocent or guilty, he only makes a legal declaration, or judgment, that they are guilty or innocent. Because of this, as is evident in the verses above, human beings who "justify" can be wrong, making false judgments that do not reflect the true nature of the person. This is a very important distinction!

In the same way, when God "justifies" us, declaring us guiltless and righteous before Him, He is not causing or making us to be innocent or holy, in and of ourselves. He is recognizing, rather, that Christ is innocent and that Christ is perfectly holy, and because of this God declares us to be in right standing before Him in spite of our sinfulness. We are righteous in His sight because our sins were laid on Christ, but justification itself does not make us inherently more holy or good - that is a different process, a work of the Holy Spirit called "sanctification" (which I'll deal with later).


Anonymous Nicole said...

I see. Good explaination...waiting for next installment!

2:51 PM  

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