We now begin the study of the second great division of Romans. The subject of this portion of the book is Justification. We have already seen how all are under Condemnation. Now we will read of God’s wonderful salvation. A salvation that places the sinner, sheltered by the blood of Jesus, beyond condemnation.
This theme is divided into three simple parts
1. The Source of Justification—Ch. 3:21-31
2. The Subjects of Justification—Ch. 4
3. The Blessings of Justification—Ch. 5.
We will notice the lesser divisions as we go but these give us a general view of the new section of the book through which we are travelling together.
We have already learned that all are under sin and all need salvation. We learn now that God not only saves the sinner but that He is doing the right thing when He does it. It would be the wrong thing for any other judge to clear the guilty. Surely it will be interesting to learn how God can be Just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
The dreadful word “Guilty” is still ringing in our ears. The law has spoken, having pronounced condemnation upon all, it can say no more. It stands stern and silent beside the trembling sinner. It cannot allay his just fears, nor clear his debts. It can only point solemnly to the horror of sin and its dread consequences.
We will leave the court room now. The trial is over. As we pass out we expect of course to see the guilty sinner led out to the place of execution. We expect to see the awful doom of judgment fall upon the culprit’s head. While waiting we hear a voice. The Judge is speaking! What will He say? His voice is not stern as we might expect but loving and gracious beyond measure. Can it be that He will pardon the sinner? Is there mercy? Yes there is, and not only pardon but more than that—justification. The sinners have had their sins exposed—now the Judge displays His own righteousness and says, “This is for you if you will have it. I will take your sins and you may have my righteousness. I will justify you freely by my grace.” Surely this is good news to the sinner who “tremblingly had hoped for mercy.” To be justified is to be just-as-if-I’d never sinned.
Dreyfus was an officer in the French army. Being a Jew and of high rank other officers were jealous of him and succeeded in having him unjustly condemned or court martialed and exiled. Interest was aroused in his case and a fresh trial was demanded by the people of France. Dreyfus was offered a pardon by the court. He refused it. “Take me back,” said he, “I will accept nothing less than a justification.” The acceptance of the pardon would have been an admission of the guilt. Dreyfus was absolved from all guilt by the French court. But Dreyfns was not guilty. God justifies the ungodly.
Two little words must be noticed here. They mark the way from the bondage of sin to liberty and joy and all the blessings of the sinner hinges on them. They are the two words that stand at the beginning of this division,
“But now”—vs. 21
‘But’ tells us it is all different now.
‘Now’ tells us of present salvation, the happy now of present fact.
Once we were under condemnation but now we have salvation
Once we trembled at the law but now His words allay our fear
Once we were left speechless but now we praise the Saviour
Once we feared coming wrath but now the storm clouds are behind us
Once we were guilty but now we are justified
Once we faced punishment but now we see our Substitute.
Once we stood in condemnation Waiting thus the sinner’s doom Christ in death has wrought salvation God has raised Him from the tomb.
1. What is the subject of the second great division of Romans?
2. What, that no earthly judge can do can God do righteously?
3. Tell in your own words the difference between a pardon and a justification.