What does it mean to be justified before God?
A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the Judgment of God he is regarded as righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness. In other terms, you are justified before God when, after examining you, God can say that you are righteous, totally without sin and totally good. It is not enough to be without sin and that you don’t ever commit any sin in your life, but you also must always and without interruption do all the good works that God commands you to do and that you are able to do, or else you are not justified, as not doing all the good that you can do is a sin.
There are two ways of justification, and only one of them is the right one:
1. Justified by our works and merits: A man will be said to be justified by works or personal merits, if in his life there can be found a purity and holiness which merit an attestation of righteousness at the Throne of God, or if by the perfection of his works he can answer and satisfy the divine justice.
2. Justified by God: A man is said to be justified by God when, removed from the list of sinners, he has God as the witness and assertor of his righteousness.
Iniquity is abominable to God, and a sinner can’t be called righteous in His sight, so far as he is and so long as he is regarded as a sinner. Wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and vengeance of God. If you have sins, God will not call you righteous, as God does not lie.
So in brief, if you want to be justified before God you must have a righteousness about which God can say that it is perfectly good.
Now, let’s take the points 1. and 2. that we explained above, and examine them, so that we may see which is the right way of justification before God.
HOW TO BE JUSTIFIED BEFORE GOD?
1. Justified by our works and merits?
As we have seen above, to be justified by our works and merits means to have such a purity and holiness all over our life about which God can give an attestation of righteousness. Let’s see if our works and merits can meet this standard of perfect purity and holiness:
a. Our good works
God wants us to do good works. So it is very good to do good works.
But we have not always done good works. Each one of us knows that he has sinned in the past and has not done all the good works that he could have done. This in itself makes justification by works impossible.
But one may say: Why not try to do good works from now on and make a restitution with our works for all the sins that we have done in the past?
Once again, this is an impossible mission, as we cannot do works that are 100% good, without interruption, and without ever doing any sin. While trying to make restitution for our past sins, we will find ourselves more and more indebted with new sins that we commit each day. And as the final account will be that we will have sins, then it is impossible to be justified before God by our good works, as God does not lie. He will not give me an attestation of righteousness, as I do have sins and my works are not 100% good and free of sin.
In brief, it is impossible to be justified before God by our good works.
Repentance is very good! How beautiful to decide not to continue in the bad way of sinfulness and to make a resolution not to break the Law of God anymore!
But the first thing to notice here is that repentance is about how I decide to live in the future. It doesn’t change anything in all the bad things that I have done in the past. My past sins stay there; repentance doesn’t remove them. Repentance says “I will not sin anymore“, but it doesn’t solve the problem of my past sins. Imagine a bad driver who regrets and repents after he ruins his car, and he decides to drive better in the future. Does this repentance and resolution fix his ruined car? Of course not. In the same way, repentance cannot change anything in the sins that I committed in the past. This in itself makes justification by repentance impossible, as God will always see my past sins and will not declare me righteous.
But let us be more realistic and ask: Will we really stop sinning after we repent? It is right that we will sin less, as we will do our best to walk uprightly. But will we really perfectly stop sinning? Any realistic man would answer “no”. It is impossible for a man to live and not to sin “for there is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). So we will continue to sin, although we have decided not to sin. And thus, we will find ourselves indebted again with many sins, and we will need to keep repenting again and again, but we will never stop sinning and we will never be perfectly good. And God will not lie and say that we never sinned. He will declare us sinners and not righteous.
Any honest person will add here that when we repent we don’t perfectly regret for our sins. There will always be an imperfect side in our repentance and sorrow.
In brief, it is impossible to be justified by repentance.
c. Belief in God
Many people fall in the error of thinking that our belief in God may justify us before God, but they forget that even demons believe in God, and yet they are not justified before God by that faith. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) Will demons be declared righteous before God for believing in Him? Not at all!! And yet demons believe in God without having any doubt! Now, imagine what kind of merit can have our imperfect belief. There is no one of us who has such a perfect and strong faith that he never doubts. Besides this, and even if we had a perfect faith, that faith will not change our nature. Demons do not become good angels for believing that God is one. So the sins that we have committed in the past will stay there, even though we believe in one God, and we will continue to sin although we have belief in God. And God will not lie and declare us righteous, as we do have sins. So this belief does not reconcile us with God, as it doesn’t give us a righteousness about which God can say that it is perfect and acceptable in His sight.
If we put our trust in such a variable belief that changes with our mood or experiences, then we will never be justified before God. Many people put their trust on their belief! But our belief in God cannot justify us before Him.
In brief, our belief in God is not so perfect as to deserve justification before God.
Prayers, when understood in the context of our quest for justification, mean one thing: That we are asking God to regard us as righteous. If you pray with the hope that your prayer will justify you, you are actually asking God to declare you righteous although you are not really righteous but you commit sins. But do you really imagine that God will lie and say that you didn’t sin just for the fact that you asked Him to do so? Do you think that you can command God to do things that are not right? God will not lie, even if you ask Him from all your heart to lie!
In brief, your prayers will not justify you before God.
We can think of any merit, and we will find out that our merits do not change anything in our past sins, and that they are not so perfect as to make us deserve justification before God. These merits are not so perfect as to justify us now or in the future, as we keep sinning. As sinners, we can never declare that we arrived to such a time where we are no more sinning. I mean that we will never stand in the presence of God and tell Him “We are not sinners”. And know this, that wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and vengeance of God. So as sinners, in the Day of Judgment we will not be deemed righteous on account of our righteousness. Is there among us anyone who can DESERVE an attestation of righteousness from God who cannot lie? Do you think, dear reader, that your life is so pure and holy and perfect in order to DESERVE an attestation of righteousness from God who cannot lie? If God, on the Day of Judgment, will declare me righteous by myself He will be lying because I am not righteous by myself, but I am a sinner! How can you think that God will reject His Holy Justice in order to declare a sinner like you as righteous? Do you not fear God when you think that He is not righteous in His Judgment?! Because if you say God will forgive you although you are still a sinner, you will be saying that He is unrighteous in His Judgment.
So, we conclude that, with our personal merits, we all deserve to be declared as SINNERS in the Day of Judgment.
Then what is the solution? Is there not a way to be justified before God?
There is! God is love, and He has provided the way to be justified before Him. And this is the Good News! And this is what we will see in point 2.
2. Justified by God or by Grace.
As we have seen above, what lacks in our personal righteousness is the perfection, whether it is perfection in quality or perfection in quantity and in time. I mean, we can’t do 100% good works, and we can’t do them always. We always find ourselves lacking righteousness. We always sin, even if we think we’re not sinning as much as others do… We always find ourselves indebted by our sins, and this debt makes us slaves to sin. The solution will be to have such a righteousness that is perfect, always 100% good, able to replace my past, present and future unrighteousness. As I always find myself indebted to God with my sins, so I need someone to pay my debt. The first thing to notice here is that there is no one among us humans who is able not to sin, so all of us are indebted. Then who can pay my debt? Who is able to pay the debt of his brother? The Word of God says:
“None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him,
(For the redemption of their soul is costly, and must be given up for ever,)
That he should still live perpetually, [and] not see corruption.” (Psalm 49:7-9)
This is one of the glorious characters of the Word of God! It tells you the truth about your condition. It doesn’t lie to you like other books! It doesn’t tell you that you can be justified before God by your works and merits. As we have seen above, justification by merits is just a deception. No one can meet all the demands of God’s holy Law so that he may be justified by it.
If no other mere human can pay my debt, and if I am unable to pay my debt, then what is the solution? Are we all doomed to Hell and without any hope?!…
The Word of God answers that God is love and that there is a sure hope! Let’s see what it is:
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
The Righteousness of God: The first important point in this passage is that this righteousness is God’s Righteousness. That’s the first voice of hope that refreshes the heart of sinners like you and me. Indeed, if God gives me His Righteousness, then that really can replace my unrighteousness, and all my past, present and future sins! And much more! The Righteousness of God is so perfect that it can replace all the sins of all men, and it will still be abundant, as God is Holy and Perfect! And indeed, the Lord Jesus told us to seek the Righteousness of God:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
And what is this Righteousness of God? The above passage of God’s Word (Romans 3:21-26) answers me: GRACE. It is the Grace of God, the free Gift of God that was described by Jesus Himself when He said:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.” (John 3:16)
God’s Gift (“gave”) is His Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. While the Law was given through Moses and we were unable to keep the Law of God 100%, Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ: “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) As “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” so there was a need for someone who never sinned and who has done all the perfect good works of God’s Law. And this someone is JESUS CHRIST. He was born from a virgin and He didn’t take our sinful nature. He became a human like us, and yet without sin, so He could pay our debt of past, present, and future sin and give us His Righteousness. As He is God incarnated, so when He gives us His Righteousness, He’s actually giving us God’s Righteousness. We sinned against God, and the value of our sins is unlimited, as God’s value is unlimited. In the same way, the value of God’s Grace, the value of Christ’s Righteousness is unlimited, as He is not a limited creature but God. Jesus lived a perfect human life in obedience to God’s Law. He was not only sinless, but He also did all the good works that the Law commands. “Jesus who [was] of Nazareth: how God anointed him with [the] Holy Spirit and with power; who went through [all quarters] doing good, and healing all that were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
This is the Righteousness of God, and it is a perfect Righteousness: GRACE in Jesus Christ. It is a free Gift, for that is what “Grace” means. You can’t deserve such a gift, but you need to receive it from God. Your merits and your works cannot deserve this gift.
But how can God give me His Righteousness? Can He just declare everyone righteous, and say that He does that because of His Mercy and Love? If God does that, He will be unrighteous and unjust! He will be lying if He says that sinners are not sinners, unless they are indeed not considered sinners anymore. But in order that God considers them “not sinners” anymore but “righteous”, they should really have that perfect Righteousness that God gives.
How does God give me this Righteousness? Once again, the above passage from Romans 3 answers me:
Redemption with a propitiation: As we all are sinners and we can’t save ourselves from the debt and the slavery of sin, so we needed someone to pay our debt and to redeem us from the slavery to sin. Let’s remember that we have been captured in the camp of the enemy, Satan, after we have put ourselves under the slavery of sin. Our rebellion against God made us go with our will to the side of His enemy, thinking that this enemy is better than God. But that was a deception. Sin deceives and makes you think you are frustrated and separated from something good if you don’t commit it. And thus, we were in the camp of the enemy. But this enemy is not good as we imagined him; he has put us in the prison of sin and we were unable to get out of there and to be able to have a right relationship with God. Even if we tried to do good works, we would always find ourselves unable to do 100% good, and we would always be indebted to God because of our sins.
In order to redeem us from this prison of the enemy’s camp, Jesus had to overcome the enemy who kept us captives, and He had to pay the debt of our sins and thus reconcile us with God. We can’t have a right relationship with God unless the problem of sin is solved, as the Holy God cannot have any relation with sin.
Saving someone from slavery or prison is called “redemption”. And the one who saves from this slavery is called “the Redeemer”. In order to redeem us from the slavery of sin and from the camp of the enemy, the Redeemer Jesus Christ had to pay the debt of sin and to make atonement for our sins, thus being the propitiation by which we can be reconciled with God.
What is the debt or the price that Jesus had to pay in our place? The above passage from Romans 3 says that this propitiation is “in His blood“. Jesus had to die. Why? The Word of God answers:
“For the wages of sin [is] death” (Romans 6:23)
Now, this is much beyond the physical death that entered the world because of Adam’s sin (see Romans 5:12); it is also the spiritual death which is our spiritual separation from God: “we were dead in our transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5). So Jesus had to die physically and to be separated from God because of our sins, and not because of any personal sin in Him, and thus to reconcile us with God. And that’s exactly what He did: “but God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.” (Romans 5:8) His death was not something we deserved with any righteousness in us; we were still sinners when Christ died for us. That’s the Love of God who provided the way to be justified before Him although we are not righteous in ourselves. That’s the unconditional Love of God who provided the way of Salvation although we didn’t deserve it. And on the cross, Jesus paid also the debt of spiritual separation from God in our place and because of our sins: under the judgment of God over our sins, Jesus cried out with a loud voice: “”ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”” (Matthew 27:46) Those who do not understand our need for justification and why Jesus had to be separated from God, are surprised with what Jesus said here and do not understand why He said it! Indeed, God would never and did never forsake His Son, as Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus said: “Behold, [the] hour is coming, and has come, that ye shall be scattered, each to his own, and shall leave me alone; and [yet] I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” (John 16:32) The Father never forsakes Jesus as He is perfectly righteous and has no sin in Him. But as on the cross Jesus was taking our place as our Substitute, so He had on Him all our sins; therefore God turned His face from Him because of our sins that were on Him and not because of any sin in Him, as God hates sin and wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and the vengeance of God (as we said above), even when sin is found on His sinless Son! And thus Jesus completely finished the work of our Redemption, and before He died He said: “It is finished; and having bowed his head, he delivered up his spirit.” (John 19:30) It is finished! The whole work of Redemption is finished. God has offered to us His Grace by which we can be justified before Him. NOTHING can be added to what Jesus did, as all is finished: the debt of sin is paid and the work of Redemption is finished. And God approved of this, and He accepted the Sacrifice of Jesus in our place, and thus we can be justified by what Jesus did. And as the Sacrifice of Jesus for our justification was accepted by God, therefore He raised Jesus from the dead: “who has been delivered for our offences and has been raised for our justification“ (Romans 4:25).
This is indeed the Gospel, the Good News! What we read above is what the Apostle Paul says in a summarized way concerning the Gospel (the Glad Tidings):
“But I make known to you, brethren, the glad tidings which I announced to you, which also ye received, in which also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, (if ye hold fast the word which I announced to you as the glad tidings,) unless indeed ye have believed in vain. For I delivered to you, in the first place, what also I had received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures“ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
This is indeed the Good News: That Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day. This is how the work of Redemption was done, and this is how God gave His Righteousness to be received by us. Indeed, Christ overcame the enemy and paid our debt:
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.
“But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.” (Luke 11:21-22)
“having spoiled principalities and authorities, he made a show of them publicly, leading them in triumph by it.” (Colossians 2:15)
Jesus was found stronger than the devil, the “strong man” of this parable of Luke 11: He overcame and finished the work of our redemption. He took our place as our Substitute, as we were unable to redeem ourselves from the slavery to sin and thus be justified before God.
And this principle of substitution is not new. God always gave us pictures of this Substitution in the old times. Indeed, the propitiation was to be done through a substitute. In the Law we read:
“for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)
When children of Israel sinned, they had to bring an animal to the priest and that animal had to be sacrificed as a substitute in the place of the one who had sinned.
The same thing happened with Abraham. God commanded him to offer his son Isaac to Him, and when he was about to sacrifice his son, God gave him a substitute, a ram which was offered in the place of Abraham’s son:
“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.” (Genesis 22:13)
And the Old Testament is full of pictures of this Substitute.
And yet, an animal cannot really make a propitiation for our sins. As we have seen above, the Substitute had to be a human like us and at the same time God in order to be able to pay our eternal debt and thus justify us. Those animal substitutes were just a picture for this perfect Substitute.
In brief, God’s free Grace of Righteousness was given to us by the death of Jesus Christ in our place on the cross.
Now, how can we receive this Grace of Righteousness? The above passage from Romans 3 answers again:
Faith: “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” As slaves to sin, we are forced to obey the commands of sin. What the Redeemer (the Savior) Jesus Christ did was to pay the wages of sin so that He may redeem us and make us His own. In other terms, if I want to have the Righteousness of Jesus that was offered to me as a free gift (Grace) on the cross, I need to RECEIVE it by faith. I should trust on what Jesus did on the cross for me, and not on any merit in me. This means to put myself under the authority of the Redeemer Jesus Christ, so that His substitutionary Sacrifice be counted for me for justification before God. I should be identified with Christ, i.e. I should be in Christ. I previously was in sin, and now by faith I become in Christ; I belong to the Redeemer. By faith, I put myself under His Lordship. And thus, His Righteousness and not my righteousness is counted for me before God, as He took my place and took on Him all my sins and unrighteousness, and He gave me His Righteousness through faith in His blood.
The Righteousness of God is not something from me; it is not a merit in me. God offers it as a free Grace to me. And Grace means a free gift that no one can pay for, but it is received for free. All what we need to do is to place ourselves under the authority of the Redeemer by faith. Thus His Righteousness is counted for us, and our unrighteousness is counted for Him on the cross by faith. As He paid the wages of our unrighteousness, so we are counted righteous before God by the Righteousness of Christ, as we belong to Him by faith, and He is Lord over us. This is what it means to receive Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. This is what true faith is: trusting this Redeemer alone for our justification before God and putting ourselves under His Lordship or authority. Anything less than this faith cannot justify us, as anything less than Christ’s perfect Righteousness is not acceptable before God. That’s why it is very essential that you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, i.e. as the one who is Lord over you (under whose authority you are), and who has finished the work of your redemption (the Savior).
Now, the first important point to notice here is that this faith is not a head-belief. It is not enough to agree with your mind that Christ died for the sins of all men; that’s a deception. If you don’t put your whole trust on the work of redemption that Jesus did on the cross, and if you don’t put yourself under His authority, then His Righteousness is not counted for you. Such a head-belief cannot justify you before God, as we have seen in point 1. Without the propitiation in Christ’s blood you cannot be justified before God, as all what is in you is always lacking the perfect righteousness about which God can give an attestation of righteousness without being a liar. As we have seen in point 1., a belief in God without a perfect righteousness is not able to justify you before God. Even if this belief in God is from all your heart (something which is impossible, as we all doubt sometimes), and yet you don’t trust on what Jesus did for you and you don’t put yourself under His authority, then you deceive yourself and you are not justified before God. Demons also have a head-belief, as we have seen above. But demons do not trust the blood of Christ for their justification and they do not put themselves under His spiritual authority. So if you put your trust on such a belief, you will find out on the Day of Judgment that you were deceived. As we have seen above, this is a belief that is variable according to your experiences and mood, and it doesn’t provide for you a perfect righteousness that can be acceptable before God for your justification. While he who puts his trust on what Jesus did and receives His Righteousness, is not a person who puts his trust on his belief nor on himself nor on any merit or righteousness in himself, but on the Righteousness of Christ alone. He puts his trust on a sure fact that doesn’t change with his experiences and moods and the strength of his faith. Once he’s under the authority of Christ, the Righteousness of Christ is counted for him. And it is this Grace that strengthens his faith, and not the opposite.
The devil who wants to deceive people has invented many lies to turn the eyes of people from the blood of Christ and to make them concentrate on themselves and on their own righteousness which is imperfect and which cannot justify them before God, as we have seen above. For instance, Satan tells people that they can believe in what Jesus did on the cross, but that this is not enough and that they also need to do good works in order to be justified before God. Thus he makes them distrust the blood of Christ, and once again they put their trust on their imperfect works. We have seen that Jesus said that the work of redemption is finished, and all the debt of our sins was paid fully. If we think that we still need to add our works and merits to this finished work of Christ, then we don’t really trust what Jesus did, and we think that His Righteousness is not able to justify us before God. The Word of God is more than clear concerning the fact that we cannot be justified by our works or by anything in us:
“but to him who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)
In this verse, it is clear that God does not justify someone who is godly and who is walking according to His Commandments. The verse says that God justifies the ungodly by faith. An objection that rises here from the legalistic: “Do you mean that we can be justified without keeping the Commandments of God?! Do you mean we can do all the sins we want, and yet God will justify us?” Such a man does not know what he is saying… My question to him is: “Can you keep the Commandments of God 100% and always? Are you godly?” Well, no one can say that he keeps the Commandments of God 100% and always and that he is perfectly godly. And as we have seen above, there was no way to justify such ungodly people like ourselves other than by the Redemption which is in Jesus Christ. So the ungodly who by faith relies on the Righteousness of Christ, receives the Righteousness of Christ by faith, without any merit in himself. So justification before God is by this faith, and not by any works done by us or by obeying God’s Commandments, as we can’t obey them perfectly. But this faith surely has works of obedience with it, as it is a living faith: “So also faith, if it have not works, is dead by itself.” (James 2:17) James says that those works are the works of faith and not the works of the flesh that is in us. So if we do not have the real faith by which alone we are justified before God, then we will not be able to give the fruit of that faith (i.e. good works), and thus we will not be justified before men as true believers [James 2:14-26 speaks of justification before others -- "show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18) -- while our topic is about justification before God -- "For if Abraham has been justified on the principle of works, he has whereof to boast: but not before God" (Romans 4:2)]. We receive the Righteousness of Christ by faith and not by works, and all good works are the natural result of this Righteousness that we receive by faith. They are the fruit of Righteousness, and not the fruits of our old sinful nature: “being complete as regards the fruit of righteousness, which [is] by Jesus Christ, to God’s glory and praise.” (Philippians 1:11) The fruit of what are these good works? The fruit of Righteousness. How did we receive this Righteousness? By faith. It is by this Righteousness that we stand justified before God, and not by our works. But if our faith does not have good works with it, then we are not justified to begin with, as such a faith cannot save anyone, as we have seen above. Good works are not an optional result of true Salvation. They will surely come as the result of Salvation:
“For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God’s gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
In this passage we see that Salvation is by Grace alone through faith alone, and not by anything in ourselves. But although we are not saved BY our good works, and yet we are saved FOR good works prepared by God, the works of faith. So if anyone has not the Righteousness of Christ by faith, then he will not have the fruit of this Righteousness (i.e. the good works prepared by God), and thus he will find out on the Day of Judgment that he had put his trust on his belief and not on the finished work of Redemption done by Jesus Christ alone.
And Jesus of course told us about this fact in the parable about the Judgment Day and about the sheep and the goats (read Matthew 25:31-46). In that parable, the Lord said that He will be the One who will judge the living and the dead. All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the sheep from the goats. In this article, we are studying the reason for which those on His right are called sheep and those on His left are called goats. Those on the right had received the Righteousness of Christ by faith, and therefore they were considered sheep in Christ, although in themselves they had not a perfect righteousness. And those on the left were called goats as they relied on their own righteousness which is not perfect. In the rest of the parable, you see that these goats didn’t do good works. Of course, these are people who may have sometimes helped others and done some good works, and many of them even did those helpful works in the Name of Jesus (see Matthew 7:22-23), but all those works are not considered as good by Christ as they are not the fruit of real Righteousness, because those goats didn’t put their trust on the work of Redemption done by Christ and thus didn’t have His Righteousness. While the sheep are considered to have done all the good works. Of course, these sheep had sometimes fallen in sins and have not done all the good works that they could have done. None of us is perfect in himself. But as they are not justified by their works but by faith, so their sins are not counted to them, and thus Jesus does not even mention their sins, but He only mentions their good works that are the witness of His Righteousness before others.
So in this article we are studying how to receive the Righteousness of God in order that we may give the fruit of Righteousness, and not about the fruit of Righteousness itself. And we have made a short comment about the non-optional fruit of Righteousness so that none of our readers may be deceived by the lies of the devil. So please make sure not to be deceived. Justification is God’s Grace, and it is free: “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6) You can only receive this Grace by faith, or else it is not Grace: “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace” (Romans 4:16) He who puts his trust on what Jesus did and receives His Righteousness, is not a person who puts his trust on his belief nor on himself nor on any merit or righteousness in himself, but on the Righteousness of Christ alone.
And it is by this faith that God can declare a sinner like me as righteous without being a liar or unjust. Why? Because I have put myself under the authority of Jesus Christ, and thus His Righteousness was really counted for me and my unrighteousness was really counted for Him and paid for by Him on the cross. And God declared His approval for this substitution by raising Jesus Christ from the dead after He paid for my sins, as we have seen above. So now God does not lie when He says that I am righteous, although in myself I am not righteous but sinner. Just as Jesus was counted as a sinner because of my unrighteousness although He is not a sinner in Himself, I am also counted righteous because of His perfect Righteousness although I am not righteous in myself: “Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) And thus God has not lowered His standard of righteousness: He demands from me a perfect righteousness and holiness, or else I cannot be accepted by Him. That’s the justice of God. But at the same time, God is Love. God does not sacrifice His Love for His justice, nor does He sacrifice His justice for His Love. He is perfect in all His Attributes. As I couldn’t meet His standard of righteousness so that I may be justified before Him, He gave me the free Grace of His Righteousness so that I may be justified by it. Without lowering His demand for perfect righteousness, He justifies me by His Love, as Christ has met His standard of perfect holiness in my place. And this is the Righteousness of God, “so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
And now I am under the authority of Christ and I do His Will by His Grace. This Righteousness of Christ that I received by faith will give its fruit of Righteousness in my life.
This is indeed the only way to be justified before God and to be accepted by Him, as God hates sin and His wrath is on all sinners. He cannot accept an imperfect righteousness. Only the perfect Righteousness of Christ is accepted by Him. And we have this Righteousness by faith, i.e. by putting our confidence on what Jesus did on the cross and on nothing in ourselves, and by putting ourselves under His authority as our personal Lord and Savior. And now a man will be justified by Grace when, excluded from the righteousness of works, he comes to God by Jesus Christ and, unworthy, lays hold of the Righteousness of Christ and, clothed in it, appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous! Thus, God, without contradicting His Justice and Righteousness, declares as righteous those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! For in Jesus Christ the debt of our sins is paid and the Grace of God is given to us!
And it is by this faith that we really repent. Indeed, while a repentance without Christ’s Righteousness cannot provide a perfect righteousness by which we can be justified before God, this true faith puts us under the Lordship of Christ who redeems us from the camp of the enemy and of sin, and brings us to the camp of Righteousness. This indeed is true repentance: passing from the camp of sin to the camp of God and His Righteousness. Thus we live a life of Righteousness, giving the fruit of Righteousness in good works, not in order to be saved but because we have the Salvation of Jesus Christ and His Righteousness. He gave us His Spirit who dwells in us and makes us walk in holiness, a life of true unselfish prayer. We don’t try to keep His Commandments in order that we may be saved, but we keep them because we love Him.
It is all of His Grace!
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ