We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving yesterday. In declaring what I am thankful for, I cannot say it better than A. W. Pink who wrote The Doctrine of Justification. This wonderful book is public domain so many of the words below are based on the wonderful realities he shares.
The word is a forensic term meaning ‘acquit’, ‘declare righteous’, the opposite of ‘condemn.’ This is something a judge does, and from a litigant’s standpoint, to be justified means to ‘get the verdict.’
The Bible teaches that by grace God justifies sinners. This verdict of “justified” is absolute, complete, final. “It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33), and “I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
So absolute and inexorable is this blessed fact that, in Romans 8:30 we are told, “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Notice this is not simply a promise that God “will glorify,” but so sure and certain is that blissful event, the past tense is used. “Those whom he justified he also glorified” is speaking from the standpoint of the eternal and unalterable purpose of God, concerning which there is no conditionality or contingency whatsoever.
To be “glorified” is to be perfectly conformed to the lovely image of Christ — when we shall see Him as He is and are made like Him (1 John 3:2). Because God has determined this, He speaks of it as already accomplished, for He “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17).
This means that our Divine Judge decides, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Once I was under condemnation — “condemned already” (John 3:18); but now faith has united me to Christ there is no condemnation. The debt of my sin has been paid by Jesus Christ; the record of my sin has been “blotted out” by His cleansing blood.
Further, “It is God that justifies (so) who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33-34). Who will reverse His decision! Where is that superior tribunal to which this cause can be carried? Eternal justice has pronounced this decision; immutable judgment has recorded my sentence. God says, “’For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
As a believing sinner, I may now say, “In the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength . . .” (Isaiah 45:24). I am “complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10) because by “one offering” the Savior has “perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). I have been “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), and stand before the throne of God arrayed in a garment more excellent than that which is worn by the holy angels.
Some think, ‘oh, now you can do whatever you please’ but this is not how justification works. I am not left on my own to complete the job, nor does justification mean heaven is certain no matter what I do. God also imparted the me the Holy Spirit and the Spirit works within me the desire to serve, please, and glorify Jesus Christ who has been so gracious to me.
The Bible is clear: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Because of Jesus, sinners can “delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22), and though the flesh, the world, and the Devil oppose every step, and even bring many a sad fall, we repent, confess, and forsake our sin and find that the Spirit renews us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) and leads us in paths of righteousness for Christ’s name’s sake.
Again, sinners whom God justifies are not left in our natural condition under the dominion of sin. We are quickened, indwelt, and guided by the Holy Spirit. As Christ cannot be divided, and so is received as Lord to rule us as well as Savior to redeem us, so those whom God justifies He also sanctifies.
God never designed that the obedience of His Son should be imputed to those who live a life of worldliness, self-pleasing, and gratifying the lusts of the flesh. Far from it: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It is for this that I am deeply thankful!