Thursday, December 10, 2009
HOW IS JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD ATTAINED?
The Bible is clear and adamant that in the matter of the justification of a sinner before God, our works and efforts to keep the law, deeds of law, anything proceeding from our personal character and conduct, even the work of the Holy Spirit in us, must be totally excluded from the ground of justification (Romans 3:19-20).
The work of the Holy Spirit in a person is as necessary in salvation as the work of Christ for a person but not for the same reason. The work of Christ for sinners is the only ground of justification. The work of the Holy Spirit in sinners is the fruit and effect of the work of Christ for sinners. This is very important if we are to have right views of salvation and of how God is glorified, Christ is exalted, and all boasting is excluded in redeemed, converted sinners.
The Bible tells us that God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
How could He justify the ungodly based on things proceeding from their character and conduct?
If they are ungodly, then everything proceeding from their character and conduct is ungodly. The Bible reveals that before salvation, all of us by nature are guilty, defiled, condemned, ungodly sinners (Romans 3:10-18) who are in need of a righteousness we cannot produce. The Bible reveals that God has chosen a people out of Adam's fallen race before the foundation of the world, and He has promised to save them and give them all the blessings of eternal life and glory. But God could not give them the first blessing apart from His holy law and inflexible justice being satisfied.
God is holy!
Therefore if any of us are to be saved, we need a substitute, a mediator, a surety, a representative. We need a divine substitute who can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves -- produce a righteousness that answers the demands of God's holy law and justice.
The Bible reveals that God's love provided in the Person of His beloved Son what His holiness demanded. In order for Him to be glorified, to be just and the Justifier of the ungodly, God appointed His Son and conditioned all of the salvation of His people upon Christ. He sent Christ to fulfill those conditions by His obedience unto death to satisfy law and justice on their behalf and bring forth a righteousness that equals all the demands of the law. And on the basis of the death of Christ alone, His righteousness alone, the law and justice of God is perfectly satisfied (Romans 3:21-25). As a result, all whom Christ represented in His obedience unto death must be released from the curse of the law and released from the requirements of that law as to the ground of salvation.
In the Gospel, God commands sinners to seek salvation and every part of it based on what Christ has accomplished by way of obedience and death (righteousness), and He forbids sinners to seek salvation or any part of based on anything that proceeds from their character and conduct. God reveals that He can only be glorified in the salvation of sinners based on the righteousness of Christ freely imputed to them and received by God-given faith. He reveals that He cannot be glorified if salvation is conditioned on anything proceeding from the sinner's character and conduct, because that which proceeds from our character and conduct cannot satisfy the law's demands. It cannot satisfy God's holiness and justice. Therefore, to seek to be justified before God based on anything that proceeds from our personal character and conduct dishonors God, denies Christ and His blood and righteousness, and keeps sinners in a state of bondage and cursedness (Galatians 2:21; Galatians 5:2-4).
We must conclude, according to God's revelation in the promise of the Gospel, and according to God's holy law and justice, that the only ground of the justification of a sinner before God is the righteousness of Christ freely imputed and received by God-given faith (Romans 4:6-8; Romans 5:18-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Sinners who come to God seeking salvation upon any other ground, even if they attribute it to God or a work of the Holy Spirit, shall be damned (Matthew 5:20; Luke 18:9-14; Romans 9:32-10:3).
This one ground of justification is revealed in the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17). When a sinner hears and believes this Gospel savingly, he/she will see the futility and wickedness of seeking salvation based on any other ground. This brings true repentance from dead works and idolatry. When we see the holiness of God in light of these blessed truths of Christ and the righteousness He established by His obedience unto death, we also see that all of our efforts to be saved based on any other ground were dead works, evil deeds, and fruit unto death (Philippians 3:7-10). We then become ashamed of ever thinking in our self-righteousness and pride that God could have saved us or blessed us based on anything proceeding from our character and conduct. Consider how highly a person must exalt themselves and their works to think that a holy and righteous God could save them or bless them based on anything other than the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By Bill Parker