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The Importance of Understanding the Doctrine of Justification

Defending Biblical Justification  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Text: Various
Text: Various

Introduction:

Courtrooms on television
Transition: This is a good example…
Background:
1. Justification is a forensic term.
Note: This term refers to any public court hearing.
2. Justification means to be declared righteous.
Illustration: Guilty in a court of law
Word Study: In fact the words “righteousness” and “justification” have related roots in Greek.
3. In Scripture justification is an act of God whereby He declares a person righteous.
Note: A person must stand in righteousness if he is to stand before God.
Transition: This is the reason we are studying…

Exposition:

I. Let’s view the backdrop for justification.

A. The whole human race has sinned.

1. We sinned through Adam.

Note: In this sense Adam is called our “federal head.”
Word Study: The idea of “federal head,” although not a strictly biblical term, is a biblical concept that says we all sin through Adam as our “representative.” That explains why the Bible describes us as being born with a “sin nature” which comes about because we are related to the “federal sinner,” Adam.
c.f. (NKJV) — 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
c.f. (NKJV) — 1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Note: We are, therefore, born sinners.

2. We sin personally.

Note: However, we cannot claim unfairness on God’s part in this.
c.f. (NKJV) — 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Note: We are still personally responsible for the sin we commit despite the sinful nature contained inside of us.

B. God is perfect.

1. His law is perfect.

Note: To extricate ourselves from this sin nature, we would have keep His law perfectly.
c.f. (NKJV) — For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
c.f. (NKJV) — Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
c.f. (NKJV) — 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
Note: But we are an imperfect unholy people as we’ve already seen.
c.f. (NKJV) — Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law?
c.f. (NKJV) — For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
Note: The point is no one keeps the law perfectly.
Question: What if I could make amends for my wrongdoing?

2. His law isn’t retroactive.

Note: The problem with pleasing God with “perfect” living is that we can never go back and make up for the sins we committed before we committed to keeping God’s law.
Illustration: Done for before we were two years old
Note: In other words we have already accrued a sin debt greater than we could ever repay before we know any better.
Illustration: National deficit ($688,000,000,000) and debt ($20,000,000,000,000) and our sin debt
Note: Even just one sin is an affront to a holy God and a permanent breaking of His holy law.

3. His law demands retribution.

Note: God’s law declares imperfect person guilty of punishment.
c.f. (NKJV) — For the wages of sin is death.

C. The work of Christ fixes it.

1. Christ died for our sins.

c.f. (NKJV) — For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
c.f. (NKJV) — For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
Note: This is apart from works.
c.f. (NKJV) — Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Note: Only Christ’s death can take care of the sin debt we owe God.

2. Christ took our sin on himself.

c.f. (NKJV) — who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

3. Christ absorbed the wrath of God meant for us.

c.f. (NKJV) — Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

4. Christ satisfied all the requirements for us to be saved.

c.f. (NKJV) — 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

5. Christ repaired our relationship with God.

c.f. (NKJV) — For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Point: All this leads to the realization that we are undone and stand guilty before God unless something in us changes.

II. Let’s look at how justification fits into this.

A. Our sins made us guilty before God.

1. According to the law of God, we are guilty.

Note: We’ve already seen this.

2. We are unjust before God.

Note: Because of this we are declared guilty in God’s court.

B. We had to have someone make us just.

1. This is why Christ’s work is so important to the concepts we already looked at.

c.f. (NKJV) — For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
Note: In other words we as unjust and condemned people had to have someone stand up for us so that we could be declared guiltless before God.

2. Christ was the only one who could do this.

c.f. (NKJV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Note: In other words we depend on the work of Christ to find our record wiped clean in the courtroom of God.

C. We are given Christ’s righteous standing before God.

1. We certainly can’t stand in our own righteousness.

Note: As we’ve already seen, our own natural state condemns us.
Transition: Plus…
c.f. (NKJV) — But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Note: Even the best of us isn’t good enough for God.

2. We are given the righteousness of Christ as our own.

c.f. (NKJV) — 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
c.f. (NKJV) — For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
c.f. (NKJV) — But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—
c.f. (NKJV) — and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

3. We lean on Him because He is the only person qualified to justify us.

Note: Because of this He is our only hope of salvation.
c.f. (NKJV) — My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Point: This makes justification the focal point of who we are before God and one of the most important doctrines in the Bible.
Conclusion: We’ll look next week at how this idea is being attacked.
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