JUSTIFIED Romans 3:21-25
PROPOSITION: GOD HAS ACTED IN CHRIST TO MAKE THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE UNGODLY
POSSIBLE IF THEY WILL BELIEVE IN HIS SON.
LEAD PERSONS TO SEEK GOD'S JUSTIFYING MERCY.
Have you been justified by God? Doubtlessly some of you respond, "Preacher, what in the world are you
talking about?" A generation that does not take sin very seriously does not become overly concerned with
being justified by God.
There is plenty of evidence that our generation does not take sin very seriously. Those who do are seen by
the culture as being a lunatic fringe. Sometime ago the New Yorker Magazine had a cartoon that gave us more
than a laugh. In the cartoon there was a beautiful cathedral with people streaming out carrying their priest on
their shoulders with his priestly garments flapping in the breeze. Two men are standing off to the side watching
this amazing sight. "What happened?" one asked. The other replied, "Oh, he just said sin doesn't matter any
I am not sure that you would carry me out on your shoulders if I made such a statement but some of you would
stop coming if I have too much to say about the seriousness of sin.
When he was doing research for one of his books, Chuck Colson made a search for some contemporary
writing on the subject of sin. He could find almost nothing. However, he did come across a piece in a very
unlikely place. It was a piece done by Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes." In this piece Mike Wallace introduced the
story about the Nazi Adolph Eichmann, one of the principle architects of the Holocaust. In his piece Wallace
posed a central question at the programs outset: "How is it possible - for a man to act as Adolph Eichmann
acted - was he a monster? A mad man? Or was he perhaps some¬thing even more terrifying: was he normal?"
Isn't that frightening possibility? The executioner of millions of Jews normal? Most self-respecting people would
be outraged at the very thought.
Wallace presented a very startling answer to this question. It came in an interview with Yehiel Dinur, a
concentration camp survivor who testified against Eichmann at the Numenburg trials. A film clip from Mr.
Eichmann's 1961 trial showed Dinur walking into the court room, stopping short, seeing Eichmann for the first
time since the Nazi had sent him to Auschwitz eighteen years earlier. Dinur began to sob uncontrollably, then
fainted, collapsing in a heap on the floor as the presiding judicial officer pounded his gavel for order in the
Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories? No; it was none of these. Rather as Dinur explained
to Wallace, all at once he realized that Eichmann was not the God-like army officer who had sent so many to
their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. "I was afraid about myself," said Dinur. "I saw that I am
capable of doing this. I am exactly - like he."
In his piece Wallace summed up Dinur's discovery - "Eichmann is in all of us." This is the insight of these first
three chapters of Romans. This is what makes that leveling statement, "For all have sinned, and come short of
the glory of God" such a serious matter. We have not only committed acts of sin, but we are sinners.
The concept of sin assumes that there is an eternal standard of righteousness and that every human being
has accountability to God for living by that standard of righteousness. To not live by that standard of
righteousness, to come short of it, is sin. The consequences for sin includes banishment from the presence of
God for ever. So to raise the question concerning justification is to simply ask, "Has God made a decision about
your sins yet?"
It is the exclamation of the Apostle Paul that those who believe in Jesus Christ have been justified. I want us to
explore that word this morning. What does it mean for me in 1993 to be justified?
I. Your case has been decided by God.
The Apostle Paul borrowed the word "justify" from the court room. The root meaning of the word is "to
declare righteous." It refers to a decision that a judge has made and then his declaration of that decision. This
word indicates that for those who have been justified, God has already decided their case.
I am sure you have set in a court room and felt the drama of that moment when the judge seats himself on the
bench to give his decision. Every eye in the court room will be fastened upon the judge. The prosecuting
attorney and the defense attorney will have eyes and ears only for the judge. The defendant will surely have
no other concern at that moment. His fate is dependent upon the decision of the judge.
We need to be aware that the eternal God of this universe is the judge over every human life. We are
accountable to Him for the deeds and thoughts done in the body. We will be accountable to Him for everything
we do, every decision we make, every word we speak during the years of our lifetime. It is his prerogative to
consign us to an eternal place of damnation based upon the deeds we have done, the attitudes we have
expressed, the words we have spoken, the life we have lived. Some will never know what God's decision is
concerning their life until suddenly they stand before Him in the last day. There He will be in all of His glory, and
there they will be speechless and totally unprepared to stand before Him.
But there are some people in this room this morning who have already received the verdict. God has already
made a decision about their case. If they have a file cabinet in heaven, then on their file will be stamped some
words such as "case settled." God has settled the case in their favor. So to be justified means that your case
has been decided.
II. Your record in heaven has been changed.
Continuing with the imagery of the court room, and justification involving a judicial decision by God, then
justification involves a change in the record of your life in heaven. There are actually two changes made when
God justifies a sinner.
1. The record of guilt has been removed.
Forgiveness is one aspect of justification. Justification is more than forgiveness, but it does include
forgiveness. To forgive someone is to remove the record of the debt they owe or of the wrong they have done.
So, when God justifies a sinner, it is as though the record of that person's life is taken and every reference to
any wrong they have done is removed from the record. So, when they stand before God at the final day, there
will be no problem, because there will be no record of them ever having done anything offensive to God. The
record will be clean - the debts will all be paid.
2. His righteousness has been put on your record.
The New Testament writers used another technical word for this. It is trans-lated in the old versions "impute."
This word was used by David in Psalm
32 and is quoted by Paul in Romans. "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
"Never count" is to impute. God does not "impute" our sins against us but instead as Paul says in the Roman
letter, "We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteous-ness." The beautiful truth is
that when we put our whole trust in Jesus Christ, God gives us credit for all the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It
is as though a heavenly angel writes on my record to my credit all of the positive grace and goodness that was
manifest in Jesus Christ. You will remember that the Father bore witness to that life, "This is my beloved son in
whom I am well pleased." So, since I have been justified I can live with the confidence that when God looks at
my record in heaven He is well pleased. There on my record is the goodness and the righteousness of God
When a person has been justified, the record in heaven has been changed. So the question today is, "Has
your record in heaven been changed?" Only the judge of the universe, the sovereign God of grace and
salvation can ever alter your record in heaven. When He justifies a sinner, He changes the record - removing
the guilt and replacing it with a record of His righteousness.
III. Your present and future have been transformed.
Do we dare accept the implications of this great truth?
1. It transforms the present.
When I become painfully aware that I am a sinner, and that I have broken the law of God, it can become
more of a burden than one can bear. When one is made to anticipate that appointed day when we must stand
before holy God to give an account for the deeds done in our bodies, it can provoke terrible fear, but what a
difference it makes when you can know with confidence that your case has already been decided, and your
record has already been changed. Why concern yourself with that day if you can know already that God has
made a decision in your favor? God has already declared you to be righteous.
Knowing this changes the focus of my concern. Knowing this I am no longer concerned about whether or not I
will go to heaven, the focus of my concern becomes how I will go to heaven. When I stand in His presence, will
He know that I have grateful for what He did on my behalf? Will my life reflect proper gratitude?
Surely, knowing that I have been justified does not cause me to relax in the moral conduct of my life, but rather
it gives me encouragement to seek to become all that God wants me to be: to live free from sin and full of
personal, practical, righteousness.
2. It transforms my future.
When I look toward the future knowing I have been justified, makes all the difference in the world. Instead of
having an unwholesome dread of death, I can anticipate death with peace and joy. The thing that makes death
such a dread is that awareness that we must stand before God. The thing that makes us so fearful of death is
sin. The awareness that I am a sinner grips me with fear when I think about dying but if I can know that my sin
has been taken care of by God Himself forever, then there is no reason to be afraid of death. Later, in this
Roman letter Paul is going to exclaim, "Who will bring any charge against those God has chosen? It is God who
justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died - more than that, who is raised to life - is at the right
hand of God and is also interceding for
us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hard-ship, or persecution, or famine, or
nakedness, or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered
a sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquer-ors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, or any
powers neither height or depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
So, I ask you, "Has God justified you?" You can be sure about this. It is the assertion of this book of Romans
that God justifies those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. I invite you to turn your case over
to Him, so that you can know that you too have been justified.