"Justified Freely By His Grace Through the Redemption That is in Christ Jesus"
Justified by Blood
"Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him!" (Ro. 5: 9).
The sentence upon sin is death: "For the wages of sin is death" (Ro. 6: 23). When a man sins he becomes spiritually dead. "Death" does not mean ceasing to exist, but instead means a "separation". Physical death is the separation of a man's soul from his physical body. Spiritual death is the separation of spirit of God from a man's soul. On the very day that Adam sinned by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he died spiritually:
"...for in the day that thou eastest therefore thou shall surely die" (Gen. 2: 17). Adam did not die "physically" on the day that he ate from the forbidden tree but instead he died "spiritually". Paul also speaks about being "alive" before he sinned and then says that his sin "slew him":
"For I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died...For sin taking occasion by the commandment, decived me, and it slew me" (Ro. 7: 9, 11).
That is why Paul refers to the law as the "ministration of death":
"...for the letter killeth...the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones" (2 Cor. 3: 6-7).
Therefore, when a man sins the sentence upon him is death. No amount of good deeds can bring him righteousness after he sins. If he is ever to be justified in the sight of God it must be by the penalty being paid. He must be justified by death, "justified by blood" (Ro. 5: 9).
Once a sinner believes the gospel, then, at that time, he is identified with the death of the Lord Jesus. And at the same time when the Holy Spirit baptizes him "into Jesus Christ" (the Body of Christ; 1 Cor. 12: 13, 27) he is also baptized into the death of the Lord Jesus:
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death" (Ro. 6: 3-4).
The sins of the Christian have already been judged on the Cross so now the Lord can declare him righteous despite the fact that personally he is not righteous:
"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet. 2: 24).
Justified by Grace
If no amount of good works can bring about a sinner being made "right" with God then he must be made right by some method independent of himself. The Apostle Paul says that the believer is "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Ro. 3: 21).
One of the meanings of the Greek word translated "freely" means "without just cause" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).
The same word is used in the following verse in regard to the Jew's treatment of the Lord Jesus: "They hated Me without a cause" (Jn. 15: 25).
The believer is justified before God "without a cause". If "works" were required for salvation, then the Lord would indeed have a "cause" for justifying a sinner. But Paul makes it plain that the believer is justified "without cause". That is why Paul can say that the reward comes "to him that worketh not, but believeth" (Ro. 4: 5).
The religions of the world teach that before a man can be "right" with God that he must be worthy by his "works" or "deeds". But the Scriptures declare that the sinner is "without strength": "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Ro. 5: 6).
Since the sinner is without strength then he cannot save himself and therefore if he is going to be saved then salvation must come to him as a "free gift": "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Ro. 6: 23).
Justified by Faith
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Ro. 5: 1-2).
Sir Robert Anderson writes, "But grace implies that there is no merit in him who is the object of it, no reason whatever in him why he should be blessed. How then, if the blessing be not arbitrarily limited, if it be really unto all, can a difference be made? how can one be justified and another not? It cannot depend on merit; it cannot depend on effecting a change in one's self; it cannot depend on doing. It must be simply that one accepts and another rejects a righteousness which is perfect independently of the sinner. How accepts ? how rejects ? accepts by believing, rejects by disbelieving, the testimony of God. 'Unto all and upon all them that believe.' 'It is of faith that it may be by grace:' any other ground would be inconsistent with grace. A sinner must be 'justified by faith.'" (Ibid., pp. 8-9).
There is nothing meritious in believing something that is absolutely true. A man does not "believe" anything through the act of his "will". He cannot will himself to believe something that the evidence tells him in not true. In other words, a man cannot will himself to believe that five and five equals anything other than ten. True "faith" is based on the evidence that comes in the gospel: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11: 1).
Saving faith is not merely a mental knowledge of the gospel. Instead, true faith is defined as believing in one's "heart" (Ro. 10: 10; Acts 8: 37). The Lord spoke of a faith that could not save in the parable of "the sower and the soils": "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended" (Mt. 13: 20-21).
The Lord spoke of those who did not have the gospel "rooted" in their heart. The following men are also exampes of those who those who "believed" in His name but yet their faith was not rooted in their hearts: "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men" (Jn. 2: 23-24).
Theirs was merely a "political" faith that could only see the Savior as One coming to save the nation of Israel from Roman bondage. The gospel was not rooted in their heart and they did not understand that the Savior came to save the people from their sins. Hence, the Lord Jesus would not commit Himself to such men.
The "gospel" comes in the power of the Holy Spirit: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1: 5).
The sinner who does not "resist the Spirit" receives "evidence" that the gospel is true.
"The Christian is not ignorant; neither is he in doubt. We do not think this or that: we KNOW. 'We know that the Son of God is come.' 'We know that He was manifested to take away our sins.' 'We know that we have passed from death unto life.' 'We know that if our earthly house were dissolved, we have a building of God, eternal in the heavens.' 'We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him.'" (Ibid., p.x).
Once the sinner has believed the "evidence" contained in the gospel he has also received an "understanding:"
"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life" (1 Jn. 5: 20).