Examine the following passages and note what they teach about God justifying the sinner and declaring them to be righteous on the basis of Christ’s atoning work:
The Protestant Reformation that occurred under Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others was waged on the grounds of the doctrine of justification which is an instantaneous act whereby God declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of the blood of Christ. It is the judicial act of God by which He pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eyes of the law and as having conformed to all its demands. In short, because of the sufficiency of Christ’s death, God credits to the believer the righteousness of Christ and views them as if they were perfect like Christ, even though they are not. An earthly judge would never do this for a convicted criminal…he would never declare a law-breaker righteous. But that is what God does for us in Christ. He does not relax His demands on keeping the law, but rather He credits to our accounts the very righteousness of Christ. In the glorious exchange that occurs as a result of the cross, our sin is imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. As a result, God can look upon us as if we are perfect (even though we are not) because He has looked upon His Son as if He was a sinner (even though He was not). In justification, an alien righteousness (i.e. a righteousness that is not ours) becomes ours. Oh what a glorious reality…God declares sinners righteous because of Christ’s sufficient sacrifice!
Consider the following questions:
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 again. How does this verse explain the “great exchange” that occurs on the cross?
- How does Paul describe the wonder of justification in Philippians 3:9? What is the basis for us receiving this righteousness from God?
- Is it really “fair” for God to justify sinners? Write down some ways this truth causes you to respond with wonder, love, and praise toward the Lord.
Tell the Lord how in awe you are of His way of justifying sinners through Christ’s sacrifice and ask Him to help you never take for granted this glorious doctrine.