What Does Justification Do? (Part 2)

Part 3 in an 8 part series. View series intro and index.

Justification declares us righteous

God not only legally takes away our sin, but he simultaneously declares us righteous. It was as if we would be neutral when God forgave us of our sin. God doesn’t leave us “in neutral,” as it were. Instead, he pronounces us righteous, blameless, and innocent before him. We must remember that “justification” is a legal term and this isn’t something that God makes us, that is, he doesn’t make us perfect in our day-to-day lives. God is a judge, and we can imagine him presiding over a bench in a courtroom, making his judgment and declaring over me, the very sinful defendant, “I pronounce you not guilty—righteous, blameless, perfect in my eyes.”

Romans 8:31-34 tells us that it’s God’s prerogative to justify or condemn:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

This shows us plainly that it is God alone who pronounced the judgment of “blameless” in his sight. Right before this, Paul tells us what “these things” are. Paul puts it this way: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (v. 30). God predestined (meaning before time began) to justify us, that is, he called certain people to himself so that they might be righteous in his sight. Everyone who is called by God in their heart will be justified. Legally speaking, from God’s perspective, they always have been because they have been predestined for it.

At the beginning of Romans 8, justification looks like this, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). No one can bring a condemning conviction against God’s people because they are indeed righteous! God has legally pronounced them righteous and nothing can change that.

Finally, no one can bring a charge against God. God is the one who does whatever he wants (cf. Ps. 115:3; Rom. 9:19-24). Indeed, Paul says, “Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged” (Rom. 3:4). God is justified in his justifying of sinners because of what Jesus has done (which we’ll get to in a bit). In whatever God says or does, he is always justified.

To be continued.