The doctrines of our faith serve the same function for our spiritual lives that the skeletal systems do for our physical lives. So the doctrines of our faith support and protect our beliefs.
The eighth doctrine is that Christians, the "called out" have been acquitted of the crime of sin. We have been justified. Justification is the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal.
It’s the act where God declares sinners “just” or “innocent,” as if they had never sinned. It is more than a pardon. A pardon frees people from the penalty of the sin they have committed, but not from its guilt. Justification takes away all guilt and blame entirely.
To hear an audio of the sermon click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.
Romans 3:21-31 CEV Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn't by obeying the Law of Moses. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life's blood, so by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus. What is left for us to brag about? Not a thing! Is it because we obeyed some law? No! It is because of faith. We see that people are acceptable to God because they have faith, and not because they obey the Law. Does God belong only to the Jews? Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, he is! There is only one God, and he accepts Gentiles as well as Jews, simply because of their faith. Do we destroy the Law by our faith? Not at all! We make it even more powerful.
This is the eighth in our series “The Doctrines Of Our Faith”.
The first doctrine we discussed is that the Bible is divine revelation, or the Living Word. The second is the doctrine that the One we believe in and worship does exist and He is Almighty God. The third doctrine is that God Almighty who we worship and who we know exists took on human form and came to earth and actually lived among his creation as one of us. Almighty God is also the Incomparable Christ. Our fourth doctrine is that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead, or Trinity and that He is equal with God The, Father, and God the Son. He was sent by the Father after the Son Jesus returned to heaven to complete the plan of redemption by seeing to it that every person feels a call toward God's saving grace.
The fifth is the doctrine of mankind from generation, to degeneration, ending with regeneration.
Man was created to live in perfect relationship with God, to be at peace with themselves, and to live in harmony with their environment.
But man forfeited this holy and blessed position through sin.
The sixth doctrine is that sin is the thing that spoiled everything in mankind’s relationship with God. Sin is the thing that caused our degeneration.
Sin resulted in a curse on mankind bringing decay, disease, disorder, and death.
Galatians 3:13 CEV But Christ rescued us from the Law's curse, when he became a curse in our place. This is because the Scriptures say that anyone who is nailed to a tree is under a curse.
Because Christ became that curse for us when a person repents of his or her sins, asks forgiveness and asks Jesus to come into their lives as Lord and Savior God takes that cursed and broken vessel and reshapes it.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
As new creatures with new hearts God calls us us out from the world, which was our seventh doctrine that we the called out are the church, the body of Christ, the Ekklesia.
John 17:14-16 ESV I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Today we'll look at the eight doctrine which is that we the "called out" have been acquitted of the crime of sin. We have been justified. Which brings us to our text for today, which is part of the Scripture that I read in the beginning only this time from the NKJV
Romans 3:21-26 NKJV But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
If I was to put a title on this sermon it would be The Divine Acquittal or Justification.
Let's look at a definition for justification, first.
- the action of showing something to be right or reasonable.
- the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.
Justification is the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal.
Justification is tied to grace because when we are saved we are justified and salvation is a result of God’s grace. And if it’s by grace it’s not earned and we had nothing to do with it.
Romans 8:28-30 NKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Let me tell you the story of a young man with deep religious convictions who was serving as a professor at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He had entered the monastery of the Roman Catholic Church to become a monk and had been made a university professor.
The day came when the young man was sent to Rome to transact some business with the pope. He joyfully began his journey, believing that his church was supreme and that the pope, in his office, was the incarnation of infallibility. When he arrived in Rome, however, he found such corruption in the church that he became deeply troubled. His faith in an infallible church was shaken. Feeling himself to be sinful and rebellious for even thinking these things, he made his way to the cathedral and began climbing the “sacred stairs.” As he climbed the stairs, he kissed each step, as was the custom. In a few minutes, a verse of Scripture began to ring out in his memory: “The just shall live by faith!”
That's the second half of;
Habakkuk 2:4 NKJV “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
After serious consideration and much agonizing in prayer, that young man, Martin Luther, renounced the Roman Church and began preaching the doctrine of justification.
“The just shall live by faith,” he said, “not by works, not by penance, but by faith!” This same doctrine had been preached many centuries before by the apostle Paul.
Ephesians 2:8 CEV You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own.
This truth had been lost in the maze of a ceremonial religion. Now the doctrine began to live again.
Out of Luther’s experience came the Reformation, and Protestantism was born.
I. What, then, is justification?
As the definition of justification from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology said justification is a legal term signifying acquittal.
Acquittal is a term that’s better understood today. It’s the act where God declares sinners “just” or “innocent,” as if they had never sinned.
It is more than a pardon. A pardon frees people from the penalty of the sin they have committed, but not from its guilt. Justification takes away all guilt and blame entirely.
Here’s the problem with that. God is perfect and He is just so He can’t leave sin unpunished.
Genesis 2:15-17 NKJV Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Romans 6:23 CEV Sin pays off with death. But God's gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the Old Testament, the principle of justice had been laid down when God gave the law through Moses. Here's the principal;
Deuteronomy 25:1-2 CEV Suppose you and someone else each accuse the other of doing something wrong, and you go to court, where the judges decide you are guilty. If your punishment is to be beaten with a whip, one of the judges will order you to lie down, and you will receive the number of lashes you deserve.
By this principle, God himself must administer justice, because when we sin it is really against God.
So how could God be just and at the same time acquit the sinners?
Here’s the problem
Romans 3:23 CEV All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.
So judgment for sin is passed on the entire human race. We talked about how that happened when Adam sinned.
Romans 5:12 CEV Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die.
So when God, who is perfect and just sits in judgment to dispense justice, he must pronounce all the world guilty. How, then, could God save anybody? How could he receive sinners into his presence at all?
II. Let’s look at how that can happen How are people justified?
Let’s approach the question first from the negative standpoint. We are not justified by our good deeds. A person may live the best moral life in the world; he may sell all that he has and give his money to the poor; he may “do unto others as he would have them do unto him” and still fall short of what God requires.
This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Second, we are not justified by performing religious duties. We may pray, join the church, be baptized, attend regularly, pay tithes, receive the Lord’s Supper—and still be lost! These are all wonderful things but they must be the outgrowth of the experience of someone who is already justified in God’s sight.
It is difficult for people to understand that salvation costs them nothing. Yet when we say that salvation is free, we are not saying that it didn’t cost anything at all. It cost God his only begotten Son, and it cost Jesus his sinless life! Humans deserved death, but Jesus took humanity’s place before God and took on himself the penalty of sin.
III. How does justification work?
It is an instantaneous act. The moment we surrender our hearts to Jesus Christ we are justified, acquitted of the guilt of our sins. Justification is not a progressive act. The work of the Holy Spirit in convicting us of our sins is often a process, sometimes involving a period of time and a chain of circumstances, depending on the individual.
But it's different with justification! A judge in court says to the defendant, “I declare you innocent of the crime of which you are charged. You are hereby acquitted.” What happens? Does the person stay in jail for another week or so? No! He or she is immediately released! So the worst sinner who repents and exercises faith in Jesus Christ is immediately justified before God.
Justification is not a process.
Romans 10:9-10 CEV So you will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others.
You are justified instantly. Just as the thief on the cross acknowledged Jesus his joining Him in paradise was instant.
Luke 23:40-43 CEV But the other criminal told the first one off, “Don't you fear God? Aren't you getting the same punishment as this man? We got what was coming to us, but he didn't do anything wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into power!” Jesus replied, “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.”
Justification also is an irreversible act. There is a thing in our laws in the United States called double jeopardy. The law today doesn’t hold a person in jeopardy the second time for the same crime. A woman kills someone in self-defense. The jury acquits her of the crime and frees her from all guilt, and never again is that woman in danger of prosecution for the same act. So it is when God justifies us—no one can reverse this great act of justification.
IV. What are the blessings of justification?
It brings full and free pardon from God. It is a pardon that covers all sin—past, present, and future. God doesn’t save us on an installment plan. When we come to him through Christ, we are his, and we are justified eternally. The consequences of sins we commit after we are born again are suffered in this life, but the penalty is covered by the blood of Jesus.
Second, justification produces a perfect standing with God. Sin has marred our relationship with him, but through justification we can stand blameless before God. When God looked at people in the light of his law, he saw the sin that produced a hopeless condemnation. But when he looks at believers through the blood of Christ, he sees them cleansed of their sins and eternally righteous!
Romans 8:31-39 CEV What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won't he freely give us everything else? If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God's right side, speaking to him for us. Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? It is exactly as the Scriptures say, “For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their way to be butchered.” In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God's love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Third, justification brings peace with God.
Romans 5:1 CEV By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, we have peace with God.
And this peace that we have with God transcends all understanding.
Philippians 4:7 CEV Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.
Here is what Charles Spurgeon says in one of his devotions;
"We are now-even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of His people. Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth. Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus."
Venice is a city of waterways. Over one canal is a bridge called “The Bridge of Sighs.” This bridge leads from a courtroom to a dismal prison where guilty criminals are left to rot and die. Written over the door of the prison are the words “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” I can imagine a man being led across this bridge. He has kissed his loved ones goodbye and is looking into the sunlight for the last time. His heart is filled with grief and despair. But when he is halfway across the bridge, a court attendant rushes up to him and cries out, “Halt! I have here an acquittal for you! You are free!” Can you imagine the overwhelming joy this man would experience?
This is an illustration of what happens when, upon one’s repentance of sin and demonstration of in Jesus Christ, he or she is forgiven and justified and the stain is forever removed!
Have you been aquitted? If you are alive you have sinned and are built and deserving punishment. However if you admit it and plead guilty there is someone willing to take your punishment which is death. In fact He has already taken your punishment. If you are willing to accept Him as your Savior by acknowledging Him you will be acquitted instantly.