rebuking Peter, Paul
explains that we are justified
by faith and not by the works of the law. The word justified is a well
loved word by Christians, and how a person was justified was
sparked the so-called Protestant reformation of the 16th century. But
does it actually mean? If we are to grasp the significance of
we need to have an understanding of this very basic truth.
a man is not justified by the
works of the
law, but by the
Jesus Christ, even we have
Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of
by the works of the
works of the law shall
no flesh be
1. The Roman
'justified' in its Roman legal sense, so for us to grasp its
significance we need to understand the background to
So how does this apply to salvation and to Paul's
In Roman times, if a man were brought before the
process would go something like this: firstly the accusation
be made, the evidence would then be presented to the court. After that
the judge would have to decide on the guilt or otherwise of the man; if
were found guilty
say that the man is condemned,
condemnation, the prisoner would then have to pay the appropriate
penalty for the
committed. If however he were found not guilty
prisoner would be
and the legal process would stop and the man would be
We then have two words: condemned,
guilty. Neither case
depended on the prisoner's
the pronouncement, either way, was matter of fact; he was either guilty
or not guilty. For example, suppose someone was brought
courts on a charge of theft. After the court's deliberations
the judge pronounces the man guilty (condemned) it does not matter how
loudly the prisoner protests, he is guilty. It's
good saying " I don't feel condemned" for feelings have nothing to do
the case. Similarly, if he were found
guilty then it's no good saying that he felt guilty either. Guilt has
to do with feelings, just facts.
2. God's court
systematically spells out God's plan of salvation, for he
that the epistle is a declaration of such Rom.1:15-17.
first two and half chapters Paul brings the accusation and
judgment of God against the human race. In chapter one he shows the
guilt of the Gentiles, in chapter two that of the Jews, and in the
half of chapter three he concludes everyone is guilty
before God and is condemned.
then? are we better than
no wise: for we have
proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they
are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous,
not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that
seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are
together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not
good saying that we
don't feel condemned, because feelings have nothing to do
a declared fact of God: the whole human race is guilty whether a person
feels like it or not. Now the due punishment is eternal damnation that
is separation from God, yet God in His mercy and love sent Jesus to
pay the penalty for our sin, Jesus was hanged
on a tree to take the punishment that we should have borne.
Surely he hath borne our
our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and
afflicted. But he was
wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are
healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every
his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the
For Christ also hath once suffered
for sins, the
just for the unjust, that he might bring us
God, being put to death in the
flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
for our sin
was paid for by Jesus. And the important thing to note is
Jesus' work at Calvary ALONE
the penalty for
sin so that we could be declared not guilty
- or justified. How we receive that justification we will come to
shortly, but there is one further point to make.
One common phrase Christians come out with is 'I feel
condemned', Now in the light of the above discussion it should be
this is simply not true. As believers walking in the Spirit we are not
under condemnation Rom. 8:1
therefore to talk of feeling condemned is nonsense. If we are justified
then we are not condemned, it is one or the other; if we are condemned
then we are not justified!
What Christians actually mean is
that they are
under accusation in some way. That is not condemnation! Why is this
important to understand? Because if the devil can get our eyes off the
truth then we will be in turmoil and not effective. Once we see this
truth, when accusations do come (and they will) then we can recognise
them for what they are and deal with them and overcome the evil one.
Who shall lay any thing to
of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is
condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again,
who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for
3. Justified, but how?
we receive this justification verdict?
Firstly we will answer in the negative; not by works
The law was the very thing that brought our condemnation, so how can it
pronounce us not guilty?
Now we know
that what things so ever the law
saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be
stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Therefore by the
deeds of the
law there shall no flesh be justified in
his sight: for by the law
the knowledge of sin.
law was given was to show up sin for
what it is; having done that it can't do anymore; it cannot show
us, or God, that we are not guilty when it declares us guilty! Having
brought God's condemnation on us it can't do
anymore, it can't pay the penalty for the sins we've committed, so
basically the law gives us no hope. We can not pay for the
committed by keeping the law because by the law is
Secondly we answer in the positive: since Christ has
for our sin then if we trust in His payment for our sins,
we are declared not guilty- or justified.
note it has to be in Christ and Him alone; we have to abandon all our
own efforts for - as we have repeatedly said- to add anything to the
gospel makes the message invalid, because we are saying that Christ's
work is not sufficient. Hence we are either justified or condemned ,
and we either trust Christ alone
or not at all. There are no in between
alternatives. All the following scriptures emphasise the truth of
by faith alone .
Who was delivered
for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
as it was
sinned, so is
the gift: for
the judgment was
by one to
the free gift is
offences unto justification.
as by the offence of one
upon all men to
condemnation; even so by the
righteousness of one
upon all men
unto justification of life.
alone that we have justification, and to appropriate
to do so by faith, that is abandon our works and efforts and wholly
on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God and as such
it as such, there is no merit of ours at all, if we won't come on that
then we cannot be justified at all.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there
flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge
Being justified freely by his
the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without
deeds of the law.
Much more then, being now justified
by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom
he called, them he also
and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are
sanctified, but ye are
of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
that a man is not
justified by the works of the
faith of Jesus Christ,
even we have
Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of
not by the works
of the law:
for by the
of the law
shall no flesh be
But that no man is justified by the
law in the
sight of God, it is
for, The just shall live
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto
Christ, that we might be
justified by faith.
That being justified by his
we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
many so called
Christian circles justification by faith is
preached and taught, but in practice it has been replaced with other
such as justification by decision, justification by the sinner's
justification by counselling, justification by church attendance,
by signing a declaration of faith, and so it goes on. One only has
to ask the question: 'how
can signing a card, or repeating certain words make us not guilty of
sin?' to see what a nonsense it all is.
these things are works of the
flesh and the sooner this is recognised and repented of the
People may object by stating that they believe in Justification by
faith; but it's not what they practise: in the end we only believe what
we practise, and only practise what we believe, whatever our creeds
Justification then is a Roman legal term,
our legal standing before God: no longer condemned but justified; no
longer guilty; but rather we stand not guilty before God, not
anything we have done, rather because of
one who alone has satisfied God's requirement for
So then we have either justification by faith in
work alone, or doing the works of the flesh that
brings our condemnation; there can not be a mixture, they are
mutually exclusive; it's is either one or the other. Adding to faith
in Christ denies that His death and resurrection
sufficient, and thereby invalidates the message preached. For
example it is useless preaching justification by faith on Sunday
evening, only to baptise infants the following Sunday morning and
saying that by this they become Christians. It is
nonsense. Adding to what Christ did turns us into
No, in God's court - and that's the only one that counts in the end- we
are either justified by faith in Christ alone or we stand
condemned waiting to pay the price of our own sin in eternal
damnation, where the fire is not quenched.