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What the Bible Teaches--A Guide to Total Christian Commitment 
by Rev. James McRobbie    ©Pillar of Fire, International 
"The pardoned sinner gets the benefit of Christ's obedience and, having met conditions, is fully justified through the righteousness of a substitute."
[Bottom of page] [The Living Word] [Back: Chapter 8] [Next: Chapter 10] [Index]
Chapter 9 Contents: [Justification Ordained of God] [All Stand in Need of Justification] [Justification is of Grace] [Justification by Blood] [Justification is by Faith] [Created Unto Good Works] [Four Justifications] [Justification in Relation to Resurrection] [Imparted and Imputed Righteousness] [Adoption] [One Alone]

[What the Bible Teaches refers to numerous passages from the Bible. Your study will be greatly
enhanced by looking up the verses as you go along. If you want to look up Bible verses online as you study, clicking here will open up "The Bible Gateway" in a new window. You may then use the title buttons on your browser screen to move back and forth between the Bible and this study. All quotations in What the Bible Teaches are from the King James Version [KJV] unless otherwise specified.]

Chapter 9: What the Bible Teaches ABOUT JUSTIFICATION

Justification Ordained of God

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    Justification has its origin in God's sovereign goodness. Man has nothing whatever to do with it. "It is God that justifieth" [Romans 8:33; Isaiah 50:8]. The sinner, guilty and condemned, as no power whatever in the sight of God to deliver himself from past transgressions or to devise a plan whereby he can free himself from the guilt of them.
    Bildad, the Shuhite, pressed on Job the argument that his misfortunes were evidence against his claim to God's favor, and propounded the question: "How then can man be justified with God?" [Job 25:4]. God is so perfect in purity, man so sinful by nature and wholly incapable of holiness, that David pleaded with
God not to enter into judgment with him, for, says he, "in thy sight shall no man living be justified" [Psalm 143:2]. Here is the statement that "no man living," that is, no man in his natural state, can possibly be justified in the sight of God. Paul adds his conclusive word in Romans 3:10-18. Read it carefully; it is the most vivid word picture of fallen, unregenerate man ever painted. Read also the unthinkable delineation that he gives of the natural heart in Romans 1:29-32, of which there are twenty-four awful indictments, against which he adds: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" [Romans 1:18].

All Stand in Need of Justification

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    The verdict of the Scriptures places the whole human race under condemnation in the sight of God. All alike stand in need of justification through His sovereign grace. Even children, of whom our Lord said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven," are no exception, for babies often display anger, revealing the fact of a sinful nature working within them. All have sinned and come short of God's glory [Romans 3:23]. Man, being a sinful creature, cannot attain to justification before God [Job 9:2-3; Romans 9:31-32].
    Not alone is man condemned before God, but he is unable to merit in any degree a standing before his Creator through works of righteousness that he might do. How conclusively Paul argues against this in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. He reasons that one may even suffer martyrdom and yet, not having love, do so in vain. Justification before God excludes human works. Of course, if it were possible for a person to keep God's law perfectly all his life, he would not come under condemnation, for "he that doeth these things shall live by them" [Romans 10:5], but since the law requires perfect obedience [Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:13], no man, except the man Christ Jesus, has ever fully kept the law's strict requirements.
    Man, with a sinful nature, cannot in any way whatsoever be saved by doing what the law says, that is, by obeying the "deeds of the law" [Galatians 2:16]. Indeed, the law, instead of saving or sanctifying those who seek to keep it, pronounces a curse upon them [Galatians 3:10]. One would then ask: If by doing what the law says no mortal can be justified, what purpose does the law serve? or, Is the law imperfect? If God who is supremely good gave the law, it must serve a noble purpose. We find, too, that the law is pronounced holy and just and good and even spiritual [Romans 7:12, 14]. The law, God-ordained though it was, was never designed to save people, to sanctify them or to serve as a mode of worship, but it was given for another purpose altogether, namely, to show him how sinful he is, and that if he is ever to be saved he must come to a sense of his sinfulness. The law, the, is the guiding, restricting element in our justification; it reveals our need; it is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ [Galatians 3:24].

Justification is of Grace

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    Justification is wholly of grace. "Being justified freely by his grace" [Romans 3:24]. It is a river that has its source in the very heart of God; it flows freely in unmerited favor to all men [Ephesians 2:8]. This can be explained only in the light of what God is [1 John 4:8, 16]. It was love that planned our complete redemption even before there was such a thing as sin, before the foundations of the earth were laid [Revelation 13:8; 17:8]. It is free to all, irrespective of degree of guilt. If there is abounding sin there is superabounding grace [Romans 5:20]. "Deep calleth unto deep" [Psalm 42:7] -- the deep of our need calls to the deep of the treasure of His grace.
    With respect to sinful men, in God's sight "there is no difference." God's infinite love was commended to one and all "while we were yet sinners" [Romans 5:8]. If it is of grace, it is not of works lest man should boast of his own redemption, and Christ's death would have been a work of supererogation. The Roman Catholic doctrine that "the good works of the righteous are meritorious" is unanimously denounced as being false by all evangelical denominations, and this is right.

Justification by Blood

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    Justification, of course, must, and can only be through the blood of Jesus Christ [Romans 5:9]. This great fact underlies everything in the Scriptures. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" [Hebrews 9:22; Leviticus 17:11]. Thus the Old Testament slaying of the Pascal Lamb had its beautiful antitype in our Savior, for, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" [1 Corinthians 5:7]. The justification of the Israelites in Egypt against the power of the death angel was the blood -- a sign of death accomplished in the slaying of the lamb. They were delivered by a substitute, who was to die in their place. Nothing but this availed. Nothing but the blood of our Pascal Lamb will avail for us.

Justification is by Faith

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    Our justification, freely given by grace, administered by the blood, is appropriated by faith without works. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" [Romans 5:1]. That none can be justified by his own unaided efforts in God's sight is Paul's unanswerable argument in Romans and Galatians. Justification then is not by the law of works but by the law of faith. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" [Romans 3:28].

Created Unto Good Works

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    The Church Council at Jerusalem [Acts 15:1-19] is proof that the requirements of the law and all human works are excluded in justification.
    So independent and proud is the human heart, however, that it will cling to the last straw of self- confidence. Some have put forward the idea that repentance, restitution, and confession might be classed as good works. These, of course, cannot be dispensed with; they must precede faith; they are preparatory and indispensable to the ingress of God's forgiveness; they put one on believing ground, but instead of aiding in our justification they declare human helplessness.
    James in his epistle argues that a man is justified by faith and works. He cites the instance of how Abraham offered Isaac and was thus "justified by works," and of how Rahab was "justified by works when she received the messengers." James clinches his argument in James 2:24, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." Paul reasons of faith alone; he is teaching how a sinner can be justified. James does not contradict Paul when he insists that works must be done in evidence, but he is exposing religious hypocrisy; he is contending for practical Christianity, and reveals how a Christian is justified. In other words, "By their fruits ye shall know them." Paul says the same in Titus 3:8 and in Romans 3:31. Jesus says the same: "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" [Matthew 12:37]. All who are in Christ become His workmanship; in their justification they are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" [Ephesians 2:10].

Four Justifications

[Top of Page] [Down]     Here at the first part of Christ's second coming, the saints are to be rewarded. "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just," said Jesus [Luke 14:14]. The parables of the talents and the pounds [Matthew 25; Luke 19] confirm the same idea. This will be a justification according to works.

Justification in Relation to Resurrection

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    Christ's sufferings were vicarious. "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He died, the "just for the unjust," that He might "bring us to God." The sins of the world nailed Him to the cross. He was "delivered for our offenses," but it was His triumph over death, the fact of His resurrection -- the proof of the divine sanction upon His life and death -- that availed for the renewing and sealing of our life in Him. So Paul's masterly argument is that He was "raised again for our justification" [Romans 4:25].

Imparted and Imputed Righteousness

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    The pardoned sinner gets the benefit of Christ's obedience and, having met conditions, is fully justified through the righteousness of a substitute. "By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation: even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" [Romans 5:18]. Through Christ's substitutional vicarious atonement we are made "the righteousness of God in him" [2 Corinthians 5:21]. This is imputed righteousness.
    Immediately upon our justification by faith, we are accounted the "righteousness of God" through Christ. If a newly converted person were to die he would enter the presence of God with his sins forgiven, fully justified, clothed in Christ's righteousness. But imputed righteousness is often perverted to mean that one may falsely claim justification and yet go on in overt sin, openly and wickedly breaking God's holy commandments, yet, still claiming imputed righteousness.
    Immediately subsequent to justification the believer enters into a new life in which he definitely lives the Christ life. "Christ liveth in me," said Paul [Galatians 2:20]. This is the overcoming secret of Christian triumph over sin' it is attained by imparted righteousness.
    The believer then becomes righteous even as Christ is righteous [1 John 3:7]. He receives "grace for grace" [John 1:16], and as "he is, so are we in this world" [1 John 4:17]. We are to eat His flesh and drink His blood [John 6:56] which means that His life and moral nature are to become incorporated in us who believe in Him. Synonymous with justification is regeneration, which means that the very life of Christ comes into the heart of the believer. We then become a "branch" of the True Vine which is to bring forth "fruit," "more fruit," and "much fruit" [John 15]. If a person claims the imputed righteousness of Christ through justification, his faith will be revealed by his conduct, and if there is no newness of life, no "fruit of the Spirit," that will be proof of a mistaken assent to a creed. Instead of faith in a Person, faith will be dead. He will be a professor but not a possessor [1 John 5:10-13].


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    Justification is the source of the utmost joy, for it frees the guilty sinner from condemnation [Romans 8:1; Isaiah 50:8-9]. There is no longer a "fearful looking for of judgment" [Hebrews 10:27]. The justified person enters into a blessed relationship with God; he receives the "Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father" [Romans 8:15]. He becomes translated from the kingdom of Satan to the family of God. "As many as received him, to them gave he power [right or privilege, marg.] to become the sons of God" [John 1:12]. Our unthinkable exaltation in Christ can be comprehended only by the foretaste we receive. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be," says John. St. Paul, writing to Titus, said: "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" [Titus 3:7].
    The wicked are excluded from justification [Exodus 23:7]. There shall indeed be a resurrection of the justified and the unjustified [Acts 24:15]; one will arise at the "resurrection of life," the other at the "resurrection of damnation" [John 5:29]. The parting of the ways is marked in this life by the attitude of each and all towards the cross of Jesus Christ -- either as accepted or rejected.
    Can the orthodox, devout Jew be justified apart from Christ? Paul answered that in Romans [3:20], and Galatians [2:16]. Can the beneficent moral man -- the man who "does the best he can," the man who abides by the "golden rule," be justified by trusting in this apart from faith in Christ? There is one answer: "not in yourselves. . . not of works, lest any man should boast" [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Can the heathen in their ignorance and blindness be justified? St. Paul says that they have the double light, that of conscience and nature to guide them and that they are without excuse [Romans 1:19-20].

One Alone

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    There is One alone who is "mighty to save"; One alone who will "save to the uttermost" all that "come to God by him"; One alone who can solve the problem of the troubled heart, of the tangled life, of human guilt -- that One is the man Jesus Christ. "By him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" [Acts 13:39], and he adds that there is no other name given among men

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