BY OUR SINFUL SELVES IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, BUT A RIGHTEOUS GOD HAS MADE IT POSSIBLE.
Introduction of the Lesson
One of the most profound truths a new believer in Christ would certainly never miss, is the fact that God didn’t only save him but God has also justified him. To miss this basic, yet central truth of Christianity would cause a believer in Christ to suffer from spiritual poverty. Yet to know we have been justified through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, we can live a life fully in accordance with the Gospel, that is a life righteous and acceptable in God’s sight. Let us now proceed with our lesson.
Meaning of the Word
In order for us to fully grasp the meaning of the doctrine of Justification, it is better that we dwell in depth in its verb usage than in its other forms i.e. noun or adjective. Simply because in the New Testament, the verb form ‘justify’ occurred 39 times compared with the noun form ‘justification,’ which occurred only twice in the book of Romans. The Greek word for the verb ‘justify’ is “dikaioo” which means, “to deem to be right.” Scripturally, it signifies “to declare to be righteous,” “to pronounce righteous.”
Apostle Paul in Romans 2:13 argues, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Basically, the complete fulfillment of the laws of God would provide a ground for us to be justified. Unfortunately, ever since the laws of God were made known to men, none has able to obey them entirely. Although a few in the past seemed able to reach the verge of fulfilling the entire law, they instead, turned out to be illustrations of our inability to satisfy the demands of the laws of God (Matt. 19:16-23). For Apostle James said, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). Based therefore on our human experience, none of us can really be “justified” (Roma 3:9-20).
The Grounds of Justification
Justification, firstly, is by the abundant grace of God. In Romans 3:24, it says, “And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Also in Titus 3:7, it is crystal clear on what ground we have become “heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Secondly, we were justified through the redemptive and propitiatory work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary (Romans 3:24-25, 5:9). It is “propitiatory” in the sense, Jesus Christ has taken our place in order for him to fully satisfy the requirements of God’s righteousness. Can’t we humans do it by ourselves? Absolutely not! It is clearly stated in Romans 3:20 that, “…no one will be declared righteous in his (God’s) sight by observing the law…” God’s righteousness therefore, requires and approves only that which is found in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this righteousness of the son of God is the very thing which he has ascribed in order that “in him we become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Means of Justification
In Romans 4:5 we read, “However, to the man who does not work but trust God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Notice that “God justifies the wicked, but in Exodus 23:7 as well as in Isaiah 5:22, we see that God doesn’t seem to compromise with sinners. Are we seeing a possible contradiction coming to fore? How can God justify the unrighteous without compromising his own brand of justice?
Let us enumerate each ground from which God has able to justify us, without, in any degree, compromising his righteous justice. First, the Lord Jesus Christ was ‘born under the law’ (Galatians 4:4) in order to bear the penalty of the law in our behalf. Meanwhile his death and through his blood that was shed on the cross, we, being sinners were justified completely before him (Romans 5:9). And finally, by his obedience to the will of the Father, Jesus Christ has gained for all of us who trusts in him the status of law-keepers (Romans 5:19).