Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Apart from the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration and conversion in the heart of God’s elect, man’s natural depravity will always lead him to the conclusion that his justification (his being declared legally righteous) before God is conditioned on what he does or doesn’t do. They think if they can do their best to keep God’s “10 Commandments”, live by the “Golden Rule”, make a profession of religion, be baptized, and join a church, God is obligated to justify them - "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have (lit., that I may gain) eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16)
Instead of being ecstatic over this man’s desire to do some “good thing” to gain eternal life, like most in modern religion today, our Lord carefully pointed out to this man the utter impossibility of him being able to attain eternal life by anything he could do. Christ did this by bringing the weight of God’s Holy Law to bear on this man - "And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS." (Matthew 19:17)
Christ didn’t say to him, “attempt to keep the commandments”, He said KEEP THEM - “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
The requirement of God to justify one sinner or a multitude of sinners is perfect satisfaction to His Holy law and justice. In other words, for me or you to be justified (declared legally righteous and holy according to God’s strict law and justice), we would have to perfectly keep God’s law from the cradle to the grave (which we cannot do), and somehow we would have to make this righteousness have an infinite value or worth.
WHAT A DILEMMA!
You might say: “Who then can be justified?”
Listen to the Apostle Paul: “Being (having been) justified (declared righteous) freely (without a cause) by His grace through the redemption (freedom obtained by the payment of the ransom price required) that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)
God the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, tells us plainly here that the matter of justification (God legally declaring all His elect righteous) was worked out completely through the payment price Christ made at Calvary. Paul tells every sinner who is struggling to be justified by their works that there is absolutely no conditions for them to fulfill in order to be justified, not even the condition of faith.
Oh, God’s elect do believe!
But they believe all of their justification rested solely on Christ’s perfect satisfaction at Calvary to God’s law and justice as their Substitute and Surety. This dear sinner is the good news the Gospel of God so clearly declares - “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Christ alone can promise sinners “rest” because He fulfilled all the requirements of the Father by His obedience unto death. Think about the words of this hymn - “Jesus PAID IT ALL. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stained. HE washed it white as snow.” May you find in Christ that “peace that passeth all understanding.”
By Richard Warmack