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Doctrine of Justification II

March 6, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Romans 4:20, Romans 5

Scripture (Romans 4:20-5)


Last week we started looking at the doctrine of justification.

We began with the definition of justification:

  • Justification means to declare one as just
    • It is a legal act of God by which He declares the sinner to be righteous on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.
    • Justification is a judicial act of God

We said that justification is not a process or change in the condition of man

  • Like regeneration and conversion and sanctification are

We said that justification is a change in the state of man

  • It means that we as sinners have been declared righteous because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ
    • Which satisfies God's wrath
    • Which satisfies God’s justice

We next spoke of the Privileges of Justification:

Justification removes the guilt of sin

  • It restores the sinner the rights of a child of God
  • It restores to the sinner the rights of an eternal inheritance. (Col 1:12-14)
  • But it does not change the inner life of man – only the state of his relationship to God.

Justification is a new relationship, a restored covenantal relationship.

  • There is no longer anything between God and the redeemed

Thus, the justified sinner:

  • has a right and a title to eternal life
  • has a right and a title to the inheritance as a child of God
  • has a right to come before the throne of God through Christ (Heb 4:16)

Let us look at an example that might help us get our mind centered on this subject:


An individual is driving his car while he is intoxicated.

As a result, he has an accident and now has two problems.

The first problem is a "state" problem

  • He has created enmity between himself and the law in that he is a violator of the law.
    • His problem is the state of relationship to the law is violated
    • His problem is that he is a law breaker.

The second problem is condition problem.

  • He is inebriated.
  • He is drunk.
  • As a result of the accident, he is arrested and taken to jail.
  • In court, the judge declares him guilty.
    • There is a penalty for violating the law.
    • Let’s say the penalty is death, or a fine, or jail time
  • Now let’s say someone else comes to the judge
    • This other person says he would like to substitute himself for the penalty and receive the violator’s punishment that he might be just before the law.
    • The substitute has not broken the law
    • But the substitute receives the punishment as if he had broken the law.

This is similar to what Christ does in justification

He says to the Father.

  • These people
    • who are the elect
    • whom thou hast given me
    • who through Adam's original sin and their own sin, are guilty of breaking the law.
  • These people are at enmity with you.
    • I will keep them
    • I will redeem them.
    • I will fulfill all that you have sent me to do through my work as the great high priest of your covenant
    • I will work an act of legal justification in order to restore them to a right relationship to you and the law.
  • They are guilty of sin
  • They are worthy of death.
    • But I am the substitute
    • And I will justify them by my righteousness.

As a result,…

  • The state of the man has changed
    • He is no longer considered as a lawless individual by the court.
    • He is no longer due the penalty for breaking the law.
      • He was condemned but now, he is no longer condemned
    • He is now stands before the courts as a right man.
  • The condition of the man has not changed
    • He is still inebriated.
      • But at the appointed time, that condition will change
      • But at the appointed time, he will become sober.
    • The effects of that condition will be removed from him.
    • This is what happens in the operating work of the spirit.
      • His condition changes through the regenerating and quickening work of the Spirit
    • This is the difference between justification & regeneration, conversion, sanctification

Today, we are going to talk about the meaning of imputation


When a sinner is justified, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him.

Romans 5:19

2 Corinthians 5:21

It simply means the righteousness of Christ is laid, is charged to our account.

Our lack of righteousness is covered by Christ’s righteousness.

It is not infused

  • The sinner does not become a righteous man
  • It does not change his moral character
  • It is only a change of state – a removal of guilt

Justification Only Through Faith

Faith is the instrument in which the work of Christ is given through the renewing the Spirit of God.

This is so frequently mentioned in the Scriptures that it cannot be gainsaid.

  • we are justified by faith, in opposition to works (Rom. 5:2,3)
  • faith alone receives and applies the righteousness of Christ; we are justified freely by grace, and therefore by faith alone—this alone is consistent with its being by grace (Rom. 3:24, 4:16)
  • Abraham obtained the blessing of justification by faith alone, and he was designed as a pattern of the way in which all others, in succeeding ages, were to be justified. (Gal. 3:6-9)

To be clear –

  • We are not justified on the condition of faith
  • Faith is not something that merits justification

Faith is the instrument by which we receive Christ and His righteousness – and are therefore justified.

This faith that justifies is a living and active principle,

  • It which works by love
  • It purifies the heart
  • It excites to universal obedience.
  • It is accompanied with every Christian grace, and productive of good works.

"Works," says Luther, "are not taken into consideration when the question respects justification. But true faith will no more fail to produce them, than the sun can cease to give light."

The Relationship between Imputation of Adam’s sin and Christ’s Righteousness

Romans 5:12-19

  • There is a parenthesis, maybe 2
    • 13-14
    • 15-17
  • “all have sinned” -> aorist indicative; indicates a single event that has occurred in past time
    • This is why death has passed to all men – because all have sinned
    • This is the same sin referenced in verses 15-18
  • v13 – refers to the law at Mt. Sinai and then that there was still a law in effect before Sinai
  • v14 – Since the wages of sin is death, and death reigned until Moses, even over those who did not sin in the similitude of Adam
    • meaning, without the special revelation as Adam received
  • This sin, must then, be connected in some sort of participation with the sin of Adam
    • The sin of all in the sin of Adam
    • In a universal solidarity with the sin of Adam
  • The figure of him to come – we have the connection now between Adam and Christ
    • Those who are justified by Christ are done so in that they have not participated in righteousness after the similitude of Christ
    • Likewise, man is sinful even though they have not, personally, sinned after the similitude of Adam
      • This means that is not deemed guilty and sinful because of sins committed when he is brought into this world but because he is connected to the sin of Adam
    • v15-17 -> discusses the parallels between Adam and Christ
      • by the one death comes
      • by the one, justification comes
    • v18 ->
      • v12 if the comparison had been completed:

“Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death passed on to all men, in that all sinned, even so through one man righteousness entered into the world and life through righteousness, and so life passed on to all men, in that all were accounted righteous”.

  • Corresponding terms
    • One -> one
    • Judgment -> free gift
    • Condemnation -> justification
  • v19 ->
    • Corresponding terms
      • One -> one
      • Disobedience -> obedience
      • Sinners -> righteous
    • v21 ->
      • sin reigns unto death
      • grace reigns unto life

In these verses, we see the need for justification

  • Man is inherently guilty of sin, he somehow participated in the sin of Adam
    • The guilt of Adam’s sin is not simply imputed without the accompanying participatory sin
    • God is an infinitely Holy and Just God
    • Man did not become guilty because of a sin committed after Adam because there was no law until Moses, yet sin still reigned
    • Man did not simply inherit sin as part of natural generation though he does inherit the corrupt nature, his total depravity
    • Man sinned in Adam – though it is a mystery exactly how that unfolded
  • With Christ,
    • The punishment is laid upon Christ on our behalf
    • And we are declared righteous
      • Though we are not inherently righteous
      • Our unrighteousness is covered by the blood of Christ
    • Not only is the righteousness of Christ imputed to our account, but our totally depraved nature is changed to break the bonds of sin through regeneration and conversion

Salvation, therefore, involves both a change in condition as well as a change in state.

  • And all of this originates with the Decree and Active work of God
    • Man is passive and never, could never, initiate salvation
    • Even in the active response we spoke about in repentance and faith is only in direct response to activity of the Spirit

Conclusion & Uses

We should understand the interconnectedness of all these doctrines we have been studying.

  • The Holy Scriptures
  • The Study of God and the Holy Trinity
  • The Eternal Decrees
  • Creation and Providence
  • The Fall of Man, Sin, and the Punishment
  • The Covenant
  • Christ as Mediator
  • Effectual Calling (Regeneration/ Conversion)
  • Justification

Each one of these builds one upon the other.

The Christian life is more than just professing belief.

  • It must be followed with a change in one’s life.
  • It must be followed with a desire to be obedient even when you might desire to follow your own will.
  • It must be accompanied with a wholesale change of being (existence and action)

These studies should raise up within us a deep gratitude and love for God.

These studies should raise up within us a devotion and dedication to Christ.

We should spend more time seeking to root out those areas of arrogance and aversion to obedience and strive to replace those with humility and devotion.

These studies should cause us, when examining our lives, to be in a better position to determine whether we are in Adam or in Christ – which one of these more accurately reflects how we are living?

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