|All Of Grace|
|Topic: Salvation||Type: Book Chapter||Author: C. H. Spurgeon|
It Is God Who Justifies
It is a wonderful thing to be justified or made just. If we had never broken the laws of God we would not have needed it, for we should have been just in ourselves. He who has all his life done the things which he should have done, and has never done anything which he should not have done, is justified by the Law. But you are not one of that sort, I am quite sure. You have too much honesty to pretend to be without sin, and therefore you need to be justified.
Now, if you justify yourself, you will simply be a self-deceiver. Therefore, do not attempt it. It is never worthwhile. If you ask your fellow mortals to justify you, what can they do? You can make some of them speak well of you for small favors, and others will backbite you for less. Their judgment is not worth much.
Our text says, It is God Who justifies, and this is much more to the point. It is an astonishing fact, and one that we should consider with care. Come and see.
In the first place, nobody else but God would ever have thought of justifying those who are guilty. They have lived in open rebellion; they have done evil with both hands; they have gone from bad to worse; they have turned back to sin even after they have smarted for it, and have therefore for a while been forced to leave it. They have broken the Law and trampled on the Gospel. They have refused proclamations of mercy and have persisted in ungodliness. How can they be forgiven and justified? Their fellowmen, despairing of them, say, "They are hopeless cases." Even Christians look upon them with sorrow rather than with hope. But not so their God. He, in the splendor of His electing grace having chosen some of them before the foundation of the world, will not rest till He has justified them and made them to be accepted in the beloved. Is it not written, Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified [ROM 8:30]? Thus you see there are some whom the Lord resolves to justify. Why should not you and I be of the number?
None but God would ever have thought of justifying me. I am a wonder to myself. I doubt not that grace is equally seen in others. Look at Saul of Tarsus who foamed at the mouth against Gods servants. Like a hungry wolf, he worried the lambs and the sheep right and left. And yet God struck him down on the road to Damascus and changed his heart and so fully justified him that before long this man became the greatest preacher of justification by faith who ever lived. He must often have marveled that he was justified by faith in Christ Jesus, for he was once a determined stickler for salvation by the works of the Law. None but God would have ever thought of justifying such a man as Saul the persecutor, but the Lord God is glorious in grace.
But, even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, none but God could have done it. It is quite impossible for any person to forgive offenses which have not been committed against himself A person has greatly injured you. You can forgive him, and I hope you will, but no third person can forgive him apart from you. If the wrong is done to you, the pardon must come from you. If we have sinned against God, it is in Gods power to forgive; for the sin is against Himself. That is why David says in Psalm 51:4, Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight, for then God, against whom the offense is committed, can put the offense away. That which we owe to God, our great Creator can remit if it so pleases Him; and if He remits it, it is remitted. None but the great God against whom we have committed the sin can blot out that sin; let us, therefore, see that we go to Him and seek mercy at His hands. Do not let us be led aside by those who would have us confess to them; they have no warrant in the Word of God for their pretensions. But even if they were ordained to pronounce absolution in Gods name, it would still be better to go ourselves to the great Lord through Jesus Christ, the Mediator, and seek and find pardon at His hands, since we are sure that this is the right way. Proxy religion involves too great a risk; you had better see to your souls matters yourself and leave them in no mans hands.
Only God can justify the ungodly, but He can do it to perfection. He casts our sins behind His back; He blots them out. He says that though they be sought for, they shall not be found. With no other reason for it but His own infinite goodness, He has prepared a glorious way by which He can make scarlet sins as white as snow, and remove our transgressions from us as far as the East is from the West. He says, I will not remember your sins. He goes the length of making an end of sin. One of old called out in amazement, Who is a God like unto You, Who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retains not His anger for ever, because He delights in mercy [MIC 7:18].
We are not now speaking of justice, nor of Gods dealing with men according to their deserts. If you profess to deal with the righteous Lord on Law terms, everlasting wrath threatens you, for that is what you deserve. Blessed be His name, He has not dealt with us after our sins; but now He treats with us on terms of free grace and infinite compassion, and He says, I will receive you graciously and love you freely. Believe it, for it is certainly true that the great God is able to treat the guilty with abundant mercy; yes, He is able to treat the ungodly as if they had been always godly. Read carefully the parable of the prodigal son, and see how the forgiving father received the returning wanderer with as much love as if he had never gone away and had never defiled himself with harlots. So far did he carry this that the older brother began to grumble at it, but the father never withdrew his love. However guilty you may be, if you will only come to your God and Father, He will treat you as if you had never done wrong! He will regard you as just, and deal with you accordingly. What do you say to this?
Do you not see-for I want to bring out clearly what a splendid thing it is-that as none but God would think of justifying the ungodly, and none but God could do it, yet the Lord can do it? See how the apostle puts the challenge, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods elect? It is God Who justifies [ROM 8:33]. If God has justified a man it is well done, it is rightly done, it is justly done, it is everlastingly done. I read a statement in a magazine which is full of venom against the Gospel and those who preach it, that we hold some kind of theory by which we imagine that sin can be removed from men. We hold no theory; we publish a fact. The grandest fact under Heaven is this: Christ by His precious blood does actually put away sin; and God, for Christs sake dealing with men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them, not according to anything that He sees in them or foresees will be in them, but according to the riches of His mercy which lie in His own heart. This we have preached, do preach, and will preach as long as we live. It is God Who justifies the ungodly; He is not ashamed of doing it, nor are we of preaching it.
The justification which comes from God Himself must be beyond question. If the Judge acquits me, who can condemn me? If the highest court in the universe has pronounced me just, who shall lay anything to my charge? Justification from God is a sufficient answer to an awakened conscience. The Holy Spirit by His means breathes peace over our entire nature, and we are no longer afraid. With this justification we can answer all the roaring and railings of Satan and ungodly men. With this we shall be able to die; with this we shall boldly rise again and face the last great court of justice.
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
While by my Lord absolved I am
From sins tremendous curse and blame.
The Lord can blot out all your sins. I make no shot in the dark when I say this. All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men [MAT 12:31]. Though you are steeped up to your throat in crime, He can with a word remove the defilement and say, I will, be clean. The Lord is a great Forgiver.
"I believe in the forgiveness of sins." Do you?
He can even at this hour pronounce the sentence, Your sins be forgiven you; go in peace; and if He does this, no power in Heaven or Earth or under the earth can put you under suspicion, much less under wrath. Do not doubt the power of almighty love. You could not forgive your fellowman had he offended you as you have offended God, but you must not measure Gods corn with your bushel. His thoughts and ways are as much above yours as the Heavens are high above the Earth.
"Well," you say, "it would be a great miracle if the Lord were to pardon me." Indeed, it would be a supreme miracle; therefore, He is likely to do it, for He does great things and unsearchable [JOB 5:9] which we looked not for.
I was myself stricken down with a horrible sense of guilt which made my life a misery. But when I heard the command, Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else [ISA 45:22], I looked, and in a moment the Lord justified me. Jesus Christ, made sin for me, was what I saw, and that sight gave me rest. When those who were bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness looked to the serpent of brass, they were healed at once; and so was I when I looked to the crucified Savior. The Holy Spirit, who enabled me to believe, gave me peace through believing. I felt as sure that I was forgiven as I had felt sure of condemnation before. I had been certain of my condemnation because the Word of God declared it, and my conscience bore witness to it; but when the Lord justified me I was made equally certain by the same witnesses. The word of the Lord in the Scripture says, He who believes on Him is not condemned [JOH 3:18]. My conscience bears witness that I believed, and that God in pardoning me is just. Thus I have the witness of the Holy Spirit and my own conscience, and these two agree in one. Oh, how I wish you would receive the testimony of God upon this matter, and then soon you would also have the witness in yourself!
I venture to say that a sinner justified by God stands on even a surer footing than a righteous man justified by his works, if there be such. We could never be surer that we had done enough works; conscience would always be uneasy for fear that, after all, we should come short, and we could only have the trembling verdict of a fallible judgment to rely upon. But when God Himself justifies and the Holy Spirit bears witness thereto by giving us peace with God, then we feel that the matter is sure and settled and we enter into rest. No tongue can tell the depth of that calm which comes over the soul which has received the peace of God which passes all understanding.
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This Page Last Updated: 12/10/98 A. Allison Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org