How the Believer Has Been Justified With God: No. 1

Job 25:4  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Listen from:
We now turn to the New Testament. Is it possible that millions in Christendom are as ignorant of the righteousness of God as Job was, or as Israel were? And is it true, that so far as there is any attention to their souls’ interest, they are seeking to attain to a righteousness of their own? One would think that the experience of ages would convince men of the folly of seeking to attain to righteousness or justification by works. Did the teaching of all the schools of heathen philosophy improve man? Let Rom. 1 answer the question. Man sank to the lowest possibility of degradation. Even the moralizers and great teachers, learned and eloquent, “Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Therefore, thou art inexcusable, Ο man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” All ancient histories confirm the awful description in Rom. 1 of human society.
Every scheme of human improvement left man growing worse and worse. Did the law of God improve man? Scripture answers, No. (Rom. 2)
The sure word of God concludes all guilty, the Jew no better than the Gentile. “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3) All are under sin; every one. AH are guilty before God. All subject to the judgment of God. And still much further: “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.”
How then can man be justified with God? God in His word takes pains, if we may so speak, to show that on the principle of works, or law, this is impossible. That is, that which man is still preaching, teaching, trying to do, God says is impossible. Nay, further, if righteousness can be in this way, Christ died in vain. (Gal. 2:2121I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21).) And if it is impossible to attain to righteousness, so as to be justified before God by the law of God—how much more so by the ritual, the mass, sacraments, and works of that vast confederacy of opposition to God’s word, which calls itself “the church?” No wonder that this vast confederacy of rebellion against the word of God swells into increasing millions. It is the principle of every human heart. Oh how your heart and mine have longed to keep the law, to be so righteous by works, that God might approve us!
What unspeakable distress has it given us to find this impossible. The more we have struggled to keep it—yes, the more we have tried to attain to righteousness by works—the deeper we have sunk in the mire and filth. Thus striving, we only found we had no power to do the things we would. Yea, we did the things, the horrid things, we hated. (Rom. 7)
Oh where is Job’s interpreter? May the Holy Ghost now set God before us. Yes, the Holy Ghost is Job’s interpreter; He alone can answer Bildad’s question: “How then can man be justified with God?” Let us recall that all Job’s talk about being clean without transgression will not do. It will not do for you. It will not do for me. Let us then examine the full revelation of God in the New Testament, even in Christ, as to a few things Elihu said to Job in his deep distress.
1St. He says God is gracious to him.
What saith John? “God is love.” His very nature is love. “God so loved.” Such was, is, and forever shall be the unchanging God, against whom we have sinned. The law did not reveal this. Very justly it demanded love to God from us. But when God in man was here, He only found hatred. Oh, my soul, dwell on this: God is gracious to thee. He has shown that love in the gift of His Son for thee.
2nd. God saith, “Deliver him from going down to the pit.”
Is there a pit? Yes. Jesus thus describes it, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” There is a pit, and here we see a departed spirit enduring a foretaste in fearful consciousness of what it will be to be cast into the lake of fire, after the resurrection of the body. (Luke 16:19-3119There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:19‑31); Rev. 20:12-1512And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12‑15).) “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Man may believe the lie of Satan, and be indifferent: he may even deny there is “the pit.” God is not indifferent for poor deceived man. No, God in grace says, “Deliver him from going down to the pit.” Are you on the way to that pit?
Yes, you say, and I deserve it; I cannot deny I am guilty, and I cannot make myself fit for God and heaven. Hearken then to what God says further.
3rd. “I have found a ransom,”—an atonement.
What is this, that God hath found? —that God hath provided? This is the most serious question that can occupy us; for in this atonement, the whole character and righteousness of God, in justifying the hell-deserving sinner, is involved, and revealed. This is the great substance of all revelation of God. Paul takes this ground very distinctly; so that to set aside the atonement, is to set aside God, and His righteous dealings with man. Satan, and his ministers may seek to destroy its whole value by a play on the English word “atonement,” by making it “atonement.” If it be said “atonement” means “reconciliation,” even then let us remember that our reconciliation to God is the effect of the atonement. (Rom. 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11), margin.)
It you take a Hebrew Concordance and examine all the ninety-six places where the Hebrew word occurs, you will not find a single one that can possibly have such a meaning. The word “kᾶh-phar” is used to mean a covering. (Gen. 6:1414Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. (Genesis 6:14).) That is, the ark was covered and made waterproof by pitch. It was God’s purpose to cover man to make him proof against every charge of the enemy. Was not this distinctly seen in the first recorded case of death, since man’s creation and fall? The Lord God made coats of skins and clothed them. There must be death of a victim; blood must be shed, before God could cover the sinner. This is the great truth of scripture. Without shedding of blood there is no remission: no justification in the sense even of forgiveness. Do you not hear in this very verse God saying, “I have found a ransom?” God did not clothe, or cover them with the wool of the living animal. It must die. They also do err, not knowing the scriptures who teach that the living obedience of Christ to the law will cover the sinner for righteousness. Nothing can cover or meet the full need of the sinner, but the atonement which God has found. God in one verse corrects, if we would be corrected by Him, many of the mistakes of men. (Gen. 3:2121Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21).)
God is love: and love in all this, but what meaneth all the thousands and thousands of victims killed, their blood shed for atonement—from Abel to the Lamb slain as the substitute of Israel’s first-born in Egypt—and all the victims slain for 1500 years until Christ came, the Lamb of God? This was all done by the express direction of God, to His servant Moses. It is ever set before us as “atonement,” and is justly translated sometimes, “to make reconciliation for sins and iniquity.” Did they not all point to the Lamb of God drinking the awful cup of divine wrath against sin? As Gabriel said to Daniel, “To make reconciliation for iniquity.” Can this mean that God would by the death of Messiah be at one with iniquity? Oh that every author who has so misrepresented the atonement, would buy up their books, and burn them!
God says, “I have found a ransom or the same word is translated, “atonement.” And for what purpose? That God, in righteousness, may deliver every soul that believes Him, from the pit of deserved everlasting wrath. And, oh, what a Ransom has God found! No mere creature could pay a ransom for man—a mere creature could only die for himself. “My son,” said Abraham, “God will provide himself a lamb.” We now know who that Lamb was. The eternal Son that dwells in His bosom. Such a ransom, such an atonement, fully vindicates the righteousness of God. “Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.” (Rom. 3:2222Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (Romans 3:22).) But this righteousness cannot be of man or his works; “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Now mark, reader, are you a believer? It is not then, How can you be justified, but the most clear explanation how you are justified before God. Let us keep this before us. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
It is one thing for a poor slave, with a deep anxiety, to inquire how he can possibly be delivered from his present hopeless condition; and quite another to hear with joy how he has been delivered. In like manner, it is one thing for a sinner under the just condemnation of guilt and sin before God to inquire how he can be justified. And quite another, to have it fully explained how he has been delivered: for he is justified, and how God is righteous in declaring him without condemnation.
God knows thousands of believers need this explanation. And a knowledge of the love of God alone will not give this explanation. Do you know, clear reader, clearly how God is righteous in justifying you? It is essential you should know this, in order to really have peace with God, and enjoy it. How gracious of God to take such pains to explain this matter. May we be before Him, and sit as it were at our Lord’s feet whilst He by His word makes it plain to us.