The Doctrine of Justification Rom. 3: 26 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The doctrine of justification has been a problem doctrine for Christians and for lost people who don’t understand it. There is a tendency to believe that you must DO something to get saved and thus justify yourself by the deeds of the law. This is wrong and comes from a misunderstanding of the doctrine of justification.
Acts 13:39 shows us plainly that you cannot be justified by the law. You must be justified “by him,” that is, by Jesus Christ. You cannot justify yourself by something that you do.
To be justified, you must appear before God and be judged innocent from any guilt and transgression of the law. God must declare your justification at a judgment. Here’s the problem. There has not yet been a judgment by God of men’s works according to the law. There won’t be until Rev 20:11-15. Therefore, no man can legitimately point to the law and say he is justified. He’s using the law to justify himself. And when a man justifies himself, he is not justified [Lk 18:9-14; Job 9:20; Prov 20:9].
Men that try to use the law to justify themselves end up justifying themselves rather than God [Job 32:2]. Nevertheless, they try it all the time. Often in a conversation with a sinner, he will profess his righteousness by the law in order to justify himself. He’ll say, “I’ve never shot anybody, I’ve never stolen anything, I’ve never cheated on my wife.” This happens nearly half the time. People who talk like this are hoping to be saved by their “good” works, as they see them. It won’t work!! You’re not the judge; God is [Rom 8:33]. If you want to use the law then use it properly. That is, the law should bring you to Christ [Gal 3:24], not to self-justification.
You cannot look to the law for your justification. The law cannot justify a man because the law only points out a man’s sins and condemns him for them. Rom 3:20 says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” You see, the law can only point out your sins; it cannot give you righteousness or declare you innocent. Thus, the intention of the law is that “all the world may become guilty before God,” [Rom 3:19]. The law asserts your guilt, not your innocence.
David was a man after God’s own heart [Acts 13:22] and yet he was not be justified by the law [Ps 143:2]. The law condemned him for, at a minimum, adultery, murder, bearing false witness, coveting another man’s wife, numbering the people without a ransom, and so on. If a man after God’s own heart could not be justified by the deeds of the law, don’t think for a minute that you can.
You must have God’s righteousness to be justified. Rom 3:26 says, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Well, the righteousness of God is Jesus Christ according to Rom 10:4. So, you must have Jesus and his righteousness in order to be justified.
The reason for this is simple. Jesus lived on earth for over 33 years and never sinned one time, not once. He was tempted to sin but he never did [Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 2 Cor 5:21]. Thus he established the law in righteousness as the only man to ever truly keep all of the law. God has already judged him completely righteous and innocent. Even Pilate declared his innocence at his judgment [Jn 18:38, 19:4, 19:6].
Thus, when a man puts his faith in Jesus Christ, God imputes righteousness to him and declares him righteous [Rom 4:5]. Since God judged his Son righteous, then he judges all who have the righteousness of Jesus Christ righteous. And, therefore, they are justified now [Rom 5:9; Is 53:11]. Like Paul said in Rom 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
So complete is our justification by faith that if the law points out sin and transgression against us, the Lord and the Spirit of God point out our righteousness, instead. In 1 Cor 6:9-10, we find a list of horrible sins of which most of us have committed at least a few. Yet, in spite of these terrible transgressions for which the law would hold us guilty and condemn us, the Lord justifies us. 1 Cor 6:11 says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Conclusion: Do you want to be justified before God? Then you must forget trying to justify yourself [1 Cor 4:3-5]. The only way to be justified is to trust Jesus Christ and his righteousness [Rom 3:24]. Then God will judge you to be righteous [2 Cor 5:21], he will make you his son [Jn 1:12] and he will justify you immediately [Rom 5:8-9]. This is the only way you can be justified.