(Article for publication week of 7-11-2012 AD)
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Last week we showed you that it is God Who justifies a poor sinner (Romans 8:33). Justification is an eternal, sovereign, gracious act of God whereby He absolves an elect sinner of all His sins and declares that sinner righteous. Our text today clearly says that God justifies a person by His Own sovereign grace, and not because of any good that He sees in that person.
The word “freely” in our text is translated from the Greek word “dorean.” The Holy Spirit used the same Greek word in John 15:25 that is translated in our translation “they hated me (Christ) without a cause.” Most people hated Christ, just as they do today. Only His elect people loved Him, and only they love Him today. But there was not then, nor is there now any reason why anybody should hate Christ. He was and is “holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners”. People hate Christ without any cause, because they love sin and hate righteousness. So, God justifies a sinner “without a cause” in the sinner! If the Holy Spirit would enable you to believe this you would jump for joy! God saves a person without regard to anything in the person himself.
God does not justify a person because of any righteous act that person performs. God justifies a person “by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). “By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves , it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).We have already seen in previous articles that all our righteousnesses are filthy rags, and there is none good, no not one. God justifies a person by grace through faith, and not because of any act that person performs.
Nor does God justify a sinner because of some goodness He sees in the sinner, for there is nothing good in any person. In us, that is in our flesh there dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18). “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (Isaiah 1:5).
Nor does God justify us because of the act of believing. Now, the scriptures plainly declare that no one can be saved apart from faith in Christ, but that faith is in no sense the procuring cause of our justification. Get it now, “God justifies a sinner, and He does it freely (without a cause in the sinner) by His sovereign grace. We shall have much to say in later articles of the necessity of faith in Christ, but this week I want you to see that if you ever have a righteous standing before God, the cause must be completely outside yourself. You must look to God and the grace that is in His Son, and not to yourself for your justification.
Justification is, again an act of God’s free grace. It is in no sense a cooperative act between God and sinners. I pray the Lord will bless you and gift you with justifying faith that you may believe this glorious gospel. May the Lord bless you all, my dear readers.