When we study doctrine, we usually study subjects more in isolation. Forgetting that the doctrine is linked and connected with other doctrines which would answer the alleged deficiencies being waged against them. This is especially true of the doctrine of justification.
The doctrine of justification in its purest form as its taught in scripture, shows us outright that we are not saved by any righteous works we have done, but solely on the basis of the righteousness of another. Justification is a legal term that declares the person who puts his sole trust in Christ and his finished work as perfectly righteous in the sight of a perfectly Holy God.
We must be clear that it is not the persons faith that makes a person righteous before God, but it is who and what they are trusting in that makes them righteous. Our justification is not based on anything in ourselves at all! But our justification is found entirely and solely in Christ. In the righteousness of another. If we bring a tiny smidgeon of our righteousness to salvation, then we have failed to understand the foundational doctrine of justification, and we really don’t understand the gospel.
2 Corinthians 5:21 is the key verse of understanding this doctrine. “For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him..”
This was Gods work and Gods solution for the sinner, and this divine way hasn’t been changed at all. First of all we see the Fathers role in the work of redemption, “For He has made Him,” It was God the Father who treated His one and only Son in this way. The Bible is very deliberate in the words it uses, and covers and guards against potential errors on this issue.
In Saying that “He has made Him,” the sinless perfect condition of Christ is maintained all the way, “Him who knew no sin.” Jesus remained sinless throughout the redemption process. Unfortunately there are those around who have falsely claimed that Jesus literally became a sinner in this process, something that is blasphemous and disproved in the very text people use to try and support their argument.
“To be sin for us”, The question remains then, how was Jesus made sin for us? Here rests the whole key of justification. The one who is sinless and perfectly righteous was treated as if He was a sinner. But He was doing this for us, for this was something we should have done. We should have been punished and condemned for our sins and not Jesus, for He did nothing wrong.
God is holy and Just and He certainly wouldn’t be righteous, if He merely winked at our sins, and forgave us by overlooking His Justice. This would be some kind of cheapened form of righteousness that could never be accepted at the throne room of God. The first process in justifying us was dealing with our sins, and He’s already done that by being punished in our place. It was as if we ourselves were hanging on that tree under the wrath of God. When Jesus cried “it is finished!” it really was finished, the wrath of God was satisfied. But it doesn’t end there.
Because Jesus took my sin, He now gives me His perfect righteousness, “the righteousness of God in Him,” The person who puts his trust in Christ alone, is now holy and without blame before the Father. In perfect standing with God, For they are viewed and dealt with by the Father in and through the Son.
Jesus was dealt with as if He was a sinner though He was perfectly righteous, so we could be dealt as if we were perfectly righteous though we are sinners. It is this reality which gives us the courage and grace to repent and believe the gospel. If you are trusting and believing God this morning, know that it is God who has given you this grace to do so. I will discuss some of the confusions and misunderstandings of justification in my next blog.