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It is God that Justifies
All the passages below are taken from Charles H. Spurgeon’s book “All of Grace,” published in 1981 by Whitaker House.
It is God that justifieth.
-Romans 8:33 KJV
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 justification, for we would have been just in ourselves. He who has always done the things that he should have done, and has never done anything that he should not have done, is justified by the law. However, I am quite sure that you are not one of that sort. You are too honest 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 fellowmen 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 that justifieth." This is much more to the point. It is an astonishing fact, and one that we should consider with care. Come and see.
A Plan Only God Could Think Of
In the first place, nobody else but God ever would have thought of justifying those who are guilty. They have lived in open rebellion. They have done evil with both hands and have gone from bad to worse. They have turned back to sin even after they have smarted for it and have, therefore, been forced to leave it for a while. They have broken the law of God 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 on them with sorrow rather than with hope. But not so their God. He, in the splendor of His electing grace, having chosen them "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4 KJV), will not rest until He has justified them and made them to be "accepted in the beloved" (v. 6). 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" (Romans 8:30 KJV)? Thus you see there are some whom the Lord resolves to justify. Why should you and I not be among them?
No one but God ever would have thought of justifying me. I am a wonder to myself. I do not doubt that grace is equally viewed as such by others. Look at Saul of Tarsus, who foamed at the mouth against God's 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. (See Acts 8:3; 9:1-22 KJV) God so fully justified him that, before long, this man became the greatest preacher of justification by faith who ever lived. He often must 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 ever would have thought of justifying such a man as Saul the persecutor. Yet the Lord God is glorious in grace.
A Plan Only God Could Fulfill
Even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, no one but God could have done it. It is quite impossible for any person to forgive offenses that 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 God's power to forgive, for the sin is against Himself. That is why David said in Psalm 51:4, `Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight," for then God, against whom the offense was committed, could put the offense away.
What we owe to God, our great Creator can remit if it so pleases Him. And, if He remits it, it is remitted. No one but the great God against whom we have committed the sin can blot out that sin. Therefore, let us 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. Yet even if they were ordained to pronounce absolution in God's name, it would still be better for us to go 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 Christianity involves too great a risk. You had better see to your soul's matters yourself and leave them in no man's hands.
Only God can justify the ungodly, but He can do it to perfection. He casts our sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17 KJV); He blots them out (Isaiah 43:25 KJV). He says that, although they are sought after, they will not be found (Jeremiah 50:20 KJV). 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" (Isaiah 1:18 KJV). He can remove our transgressions from us "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12 KJV). He says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17 KJV). He goes the length of making an end of sin. One of old called out in amazement, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18 KJV).
We are not now speaking of justice, nor of God's dealing with men according to what they deserve. If you profess to deal with the righteous Lord on legal grounds, everlasting wrath threatens you, for that is what you deserve. Blessed be His name, "He hath not dealt with us after [according to] our sins" (Psalm 103:10 KJV), but now He deals with us in terms of free grace and infinite compassion, and He says, "I will receive you graciously and love you freely." (See Hosea 14:2, 4 KJV) 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 always been 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 prostitutes. He carried this so far that the elder brother began to grumble at it, but the father never withdrew his love. (See Luke 15:11-32 KJV) However guilty you may be, if you will only come back 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 clearly bring out what a splendid thing it is---that, as no one but God would think of justifying the ungodly, and no one 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 God's elect? It is God that justifieth" (Romans 8:33 KJV). If God has justified a man, it is well done; it is rightly done; it is justly done; it is everlastingly done.
The Highest Court Can Pronounce You Just
I read a statement in a magazine that is full of venom against the Gospel and those who preach it. It said 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 Christ's 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 that justifieth" the ungodly. He is not ashamed of doing it, nor are we of preaching it.
The justification that 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 will 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 roarings and railings of Satan and ungodly men. With this we will be able to die. With this we will 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 sin's 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" (Matthew 12:31 KJV). Though you are steeped up to your throat in crime, He can, with a word, remove the defilement and say, "I will; be thou clean" (Mark 1:41 KJV). 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 are forgiven; go in peace." 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 if he offended you as you have offended God. However, you must not measure God's corn with your bushel. His thoughts and ways are as much above yours as the heavens are high above the earth (Isaiah 55:9 KJV).
"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 KJV) that we did not look for.
Look To Jesus
I myself was stricken with a horrible sense of guilt that made my life a misery. Yet when I heard the command, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22 KJV), I looked, and in a moment the Lord justified me. Jesus Christ, crucified 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. (See Numbers 21:5-9 KJV) Likewise, I was healed 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. However, when the Lord justified me, I was made equally certain by the same witnesses. The word of the Lord in the Scripture says, "He that believeth on him is not condemned" (John 3:18 KJV). My conscience bears witness that I believed and that, in pardoning me, God is just. Thus I have the witness of the Holy Spirit and my own conscience, and these two agree. Oh, how I wish you would receive the testimony of God on this matter, for then you also would soon have the witness in yourself!
I venture to say that a sinner justified by God stands on a surer footing than even a righteous man justified by his works, if there is such. Yet, if we were in that situation, we could never be sure that we had done enough works. Our consciences would always be uneasy for fear that, after all, we would fall short and have only the trembling verdict of a fallible judgment to rely on. However, when God Himself justifies, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to this fact 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 the calm that comes over the soul that has received the `peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7 KJV). [25-34]
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