by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
(A brief but inspiring excerpt from the doctor's
exposition of Romans 8:28-30).
'.....THE next term for our consideration is 'Justified.' This,
as we have seen, is always associated with belief and faith. The
term Thas become familiar--'Justification by faith only.' That
they are in a state of justification, or justified, is true of
all who believe, who exercise faith. Christian people are often
troubled and confused about 'foreknowledge' and about the
'calling'' but no Christian should ever be in trouble concerning
justification, for it is the foundation of our whole position and
standing with God. The first four chapters of this Epistle to the
Romans are devoted to this subject of 'justification by faith
only.' The apostle introduced it in the 17th verse of the let
chapter; but because of the failure of the Jews to see it, and a
corresponding failure on the part of the Gentiles, he had to
argue it out in detail and demonstrate it with a multiplicity of
proofs in those four chapters.
Justification in its essence is a legal or forensic term, a term
that belongs to the realm of the Law Court. It means 'to declare
just,' and 'to declare righteous.' It is the opposite
ofcondemnation. The Christian has moved from a state of
'condemnation' to one of 'justification.' For this reason the
Apostle starts this 8th chapter by saying, 'There is therefore
now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.' He is
taking up again the argument he had left off at the end of
chapter 5, where he had been working out some of the consequences
of justification. His constant emphasis concerning this is that
it is something which is done by God, 'Moreover whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he
also justified.' In other words we do not justify ourselves
before God. God justifies us, and He does it--and this is the
argument of the first four chapters--entirely apart from us and
our works. It is not the result of any merit that is in us. One
verse that states this clearly and beyond any doubt is the 5th
verse in the 4th chapter: 'But to him that worketh not, but
believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is
counted for righteousness.' God justifies the 'ungodly'; not the
'righteous,' but the 'ungodly.'
He argues the same point in chapter 5, verses 6-8: 'When we were
yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure
for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth
his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us.' It is the action of God, and exclusively the action
of God. This is the central argument of this Epistle. It is the
declaration made by God concerning those who believe in Christ.
We are justified in Christ, but through faith and belief. The
belief is the instrument.
Let us emphasize again certain other aspects of this doctrine.
Justification does not merely mean forgiveness. It includes
forgiveness, but it is much bigger than forgiveness. It means in
addition that God declares us to be entirely guiltless; He
regards us as if we had never sinned at all. He pronounces us to
be just and to be righteous. In doing so He is answering any
declaration that the Law may make with respect to us. It is the
judge upon the bench not merely saying that the prisoner at the
Bar is forgiven, but that he pronounces him to be a just and
In justifying us God tells us that He has taken our sins and our
guilt, and has 'imputed' them to, 'put them to the account of,'
the Lord Jesus Christ and punished them in Him. He announces also
that, having done that, He now puts to our account, or 'imputes'
to us, the perfect righteousness of His own dear Son. The Lord
Jesus Christ obeyed the Law perfectly; He never broke it in any
respect. He gave a full and a perfect satisfaction to all its
demands. That full obedience constitutes His righteousness. What
God does is to put to our account, to put upon us, the
righteousness of Jesus Christ. In declaring us to be justified,
God proclaims that He now looks on us, not as we are, but as
clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. A hymn
by the Moravian Count Zinzendorf, and translated by John Wesley,
expresses it thus:
Jesus, Thy robe of righteousness
My beauty is, my glorious dress;
'Midst flaming worlds, in this arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
The Count proceeds in the hymn to defy anyone and anything to
bring a charge against us, because we are clothed and robed with
this 'righteousness' of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such, then, is the
meaning of justification, and it is entirely the action of God.
It is, I repeat, the forensic, legal declaration of God that we
are not only forgiven but guiltless, and that as we are clothed
with the righteousness of Christ we shall continue in that
condition. In other words, we are given a new standing and a new
status in the presence of God.'