How The Believer Has Been Justified with God

Table of Contents

1. How the Believer Has Been Justified With God: No. 1
2. How the Believer Has Been Justified With God: No. 2

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

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. 2:21.) 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 J ob'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 16:19-31; Rev. 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 "at-one-ment." If it be said " at-one-ment" means " reconciliation," even then let us remember that our reconciliation to God is the effect of the atonement. (Rom. 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. 6:14.) 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. 3:21.)
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 f 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. 3:22.) 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.

How the Believer Has Been Justified With God: No. 2

“Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:24) The believer then is justified. This is his actual position before God. God accounts him righteous before Him. This is his unchanging place before God. " Being justified." This is not what has to be done; it is, it exists. " Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God," &c. The great mistake men make is, that they think they have something to do before they can be reckoned righteous. No, “Being justified freely." Does not that word " freely " shut out all thought of human merit? The Holy Ghost uses this word " freely." He explains it thus, that on our part we have done nothing for this great blessing.
And further," by his grace "—the free sovereign favor of God. Oh think of this, thou highly favored child of God. Justified freely by the free sovereign favor of God. It is all of God. It is what God is to us in free undeserved favor. Why should we ever doubt Him?
But by what means has God brought us into this everlasting favor of justification? "Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." How simple and yet how blessed the explanation. It is not through anything we have done. It is through what He hath done, whom God hath sent. And not only what He hath done, but that redemption which is in Him " in Christ Jesus." The ransom price was His own blood. He laid down His life for us, as He said, " I lay down my life for the sheep.". (John 10:15.) " In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Do you notice here " we have." It is not we hope to have, it is the blessed possession of all believers.
There are, then, two parts in justification: what has been done for us by Christ in His death—His atoning death, the ransom price; and what He is to us in resurrection. If Moses had only gone down into Egypt and died there, that would not have redeemed Israel. Nay, more, if the lamb had been killed and its blood sprinkled, would they even then have had redemption? They must be brought out of bondage, out of Egypt, and into the land by Joshua, to complete the picture or type of the purpose of God.
In like manner the blood of the Lamb of God must be shed. His atoning death for our sins must shelter us from divine wrath. But then God brought out His people from bondage. And, dear fellow believer, have you ever seen and understood how God has, in raising Jesus from the dead, brought you and all His redeemed out of sin, death, and bondage, into everlasting life, and holiness, and liberty? If you had a child in cruel slavery in a distant land, gladly indeed would you pay the ransom; but would you not long to see your child not only out of that place of bondage, but also in full liberty in your own happy home?
Now this is just what God has done. He found the ransom, the atonement. The Holy One must lay down His life for us. He has done it. But He is not in death now. He is not in this dark world of sin and death now. God hath raised Him from the dead. God has raised us from the dead, quickened us with Him. What a redemption! " The redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Thus our eyes are fixed on Christ the Lamb of God. Where has God placed Him? In the brightness of the glory. To faith that is now our place, and soon will be to sight, soon to be caught up in bodies suited forever WITH the Lord.
Do not, dear reader, turn your back on Christ, and seek a full redemption in yourself, or in your feelings. Christ descended to where we were; God has raised us to where He is. Do you want a fuller redemption than this? You will never get it.
As we have often said, when a cage is let clown into a pit, and the imprisoned miner is placed in that cage—if in the cage, where the cage is there is the miner. If it is still at the bottom, there is he; if half-way up, there is he; if out in the broad sunlight, there is the miner. It is just so with the believer. If Christ is still in death, so is the believer; if Christ is in the glory, so is the believer in Him.
How great then, how complete, must the justification be of every believer. c- Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Do you say, " If this is so, then justification is always complete, always the same; for Jesus is always seated at the right hand of God "? Exactly so; and this is full, your full redemption. How good of our God to make it all so plain.
There is another thing God would explain to us. His own righteousness in all this, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. " Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Rom. 3:25.) The righteousness of God is what God has done. How gracious of God thus to explain to us how He was righteous in justifying the Old Testament saints, by setting forth a mercy seat through faith in the blood of Jesus. In all the types of the law this was ever before the mind of God, but now declared. God is now glorified by that blood before His eye, once offered on the cross. This equally applies now, "To declare, I say, at this time, his [God's] righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Let us dwell a little on how God is righteous in the matter of our justification. Let us turn to a few scriptures. Jesus said, "I have glorified thee on the earth. I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, Ο Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17) Now, what was that work which the Son had done? And then, did the Father in righteousness answer this claim?
We will turn to the prophetic account. Read Isa. 53:5 to end. Is this the work God gave our precious substitute to do? Yes, when Jesus said, " Lo I come to do thy will," it was to be bruised for our iniquities, as well as for the transgressions of those who were under the law. The whole question of our peace with God was laid upon Him. " The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.... he shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.... he bare the sin of many." This is the work of atonement, of expiation.
And He can say, I have done it," I have glorified thee."
All this is fully confirmed in the New Testament. And in thus dying for us, in thus bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, He was, as Man, the righteous Servant of Jehovah. Oh, my soul, in bearing the wrath due to my sins; in being bruised thus for my iniquities; in being forsaken of God on the accursed tree for me; in doing the will of a righteous God—He bare that wrath for me, the wrath of God against my sins. Yes, for me. This was the work that God gave Him to do, and He could truly say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do..... Glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
Would it be possible for God to refuse this righteous claim; the claim of His righteous Servant, of His only begotten Son, who had met every claim of the righteousness of God? No. Gould the Father leave His Son in death and the grave, and thus our eternal salvation be an uncertainty? Impossible. The righteousness of God is revealed, demonstrated. The Holy Ghost has come to prove this, to convict the world of this, as foretold by Jesus, on the night of His betrayal. " Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." (John 16:10.) He who paid my ransom, who bare my sins, who was made sin for me—a sin-offering for me, who took my place, and met all my responsibility, is gone to the Father; and God has raised Him from the dead for the very purpose, in view of my justification: and received Him as Man, my substitute, in the glory that He had with the Father before the world was. This is how the believer has been justified before, and with, God; and being justified we have peace with God.
Thus you will see, my fellow believer, peace is based on the righteous answer of God to the blessed and perfect claims of Christ. This is the righteousness of God, what He has done in raising Christ from the dead who had perfectly glorified Him, and receiving Him up above all heavens.
And not only so, but as this work of Christ was for all believers (and God raised Him from the dead on their account), the righteousness of God consists in reckoning the infinite value of the work of Christ to them. They are cleared of all guilt, and meet for the same place, the same inheritance in light, in which He ever dwells. Thus the believer in Christ becomes the righteousness of God. The righteousness of the believer is not human righteousness, for there is not such a thing: all have come short of the glory of God. But the righteousness of the believer is what God has clone in raising up from the dead, and accepting Him, the atoning ransom. This God must do in righteousness, and has done. God thus reckons the believer righteous who has no righteousness of his own; and being thus reckoned righteous, he has peace with God for evermore.
What has God wrought? His wrath against my sins is maintained to the utmost; sin in the flesh is fully judged and set aside. The old man, my old self, is reckoned dead. All are closed in the grave of Jesus; and now the resurrection—a new man; a new creation; all of God; and all is the righteous answer of God to the perfect work of Him who came to do His will.
Surely we may say of many, as Paul said of the Jews in his day, " For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:3, 4.) Yes, the work is done, and God has shown His righteous acceptance of that work in raising His beloved Son to glory. The Spirit bears convincing witness, " Of righteousness because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." " Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat. down on the right hand of the majesty on high." (Heb. 1:8.) Thus has the believer been justified from all things. Glory, glory everlasting, be to Him who bore the cross.
C. S.