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.


Proverbs: Wisdom in Righteousness

Part 7 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Over the last seven weeks, we’ve talked about Christ as the God’s wisdom and about wisdom in reproof, stewardship, friendship, and speech.  We could say so much about this wonderful book, but let’s top of our journey through Proverbs with wisdom in righteousness.

We could also call this “Wisdom in Wisdom” (but that would confuse people).  Righteousness is wisdom.  Wisdom is righteousness.  Righteousness in Proverbs is different than righteousness in Romans, however.  Proverbs’ righteousness is practical obedience to God’s word.  It is the righteousness we do that arises from the righteousness we are given. We are made righteous through Christ’s death, and are thus compelled by his love to practice it in our daily living.

Solomon often speaks of the benefits of righteous living.  We need to get one thing straight, otherwise we will have a warped view of God: righteous living does not always equate to reward, benefits, success, or security.  Righteousness is not a lamp that we can rub the right way so God will come to do our bidding.  In fact, the Bible shows that righteousness can lead to trial and suffering.  The fact is that Solomon doesn’t give us formulas like, “Give to the poor and you’ll be blessed.”  Rather, he gives us general principles that we should, by the Spirit, strive to live out.  If benefits do come, they are a blood-bought gift from Calvary, and we should praise God for them.

Solomon says, “Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster” (1:33).  This means that whoever listens to wisdom and obeys will be secure spiritually.  There will be spiritual joy and peace even when the cancer grows, a parent dies, or your wife has a miscarriage.

Chapter 8 is all about the blessings of wisdom (and righteousness!).  Righteous words lead people to knowledge and understanding.  Righteous words lead people to wisdom which is better than jewels (vv. 8-11).  Solomon tells his sons that “whoever finds [wisdom] finds life and obtains favor from the LORD” (v. 35).

A truly abundant life doesn’t consist of how much money we have or how big our house is.  Proverbs 11:4 reminds us, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”  John Piper has written, “There are no U-Hauls attached to hearses.”  Money and possessions won’t do anyone good before God on judgment day.  But a righteous life, by God’s grace, will.

“Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.  Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight” (11:19-20).  Idols of status, praise of man, sex, food, money, technology, education, marriage, children, and so many others will kill us!  Idols are often good things that turn into ultimate things.  When this happens, we are doomed.  How much longer will we continue to pursue evil instead of being steady in righteousness?

This is just the fringe of verses on wisdom in righteous and wisdom from Proverbs.  Solomon gives us the bottom line in his final word of Ecclesiastes.  He says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).  By the Spirit, let’s put to death our pursuit of foolishness and evil.  By the Spirit, because of imputed righteousness, let’s pursue Jesus, our great and only wisdom and righteousness.


Why is Salvation of Grace?

Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: and what motive but grace could move Him to save the guilty?  Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is for ever excluded.

– Charles Spurgeon


A Christmas Verse to Cling To

Though Jesus came as a meek, mild, poor baby born in a smelly, dirty cave, he came as a conquering General and Destroyer.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

It doesn’t get any more clear than that.  Amen.