The Righteousness and Justice of God

What others have said: Charles Spurgeon

Man by the fall sustained an infinite loss in the matter of righteousness. He suffered the loss of a righteous nature, and then a two-fold loss of legal righteousness in the sight of God. Man sinned; he was therefore no longer innocent of transgression. Man did not keep the command; he therefore was guilty of the sin of omission. In that which he committed, and in that which he omitted, his original character for uprightness was completely wrecked. Jesus Christ came to undo the mischief of the fall for his people. So far as their sin concerned their breach of the command, that he has removed by his precious blood. His agony and bloody sweat have for ever taken away the consequences of sin from believers, seeing Christ did by his one sacrifice bear the penalty of that sin in his flesh. He, his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree. Still it is not enough for a man to be pardoned. He, of course, is then in the eye of God without sin. But it was required of man that he should actually keep the command. It was not enough that he did not break it, or that he is regarded through the blood as though he did not break it. He must keep it, he must continue in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. How is this necessity supplied? Man must have a righteousness, or God cannot accept him. Man must have a perfect obedience, or else God cannot reward him. Should He give heaven to a soul that has not perfectly kept the law; that were to give the reward where the service is not done, and that before God would be an act which might impeach his justice. Where, then, is the righteousness with which the pardoned man shall be completely covered, so that God can regard him as having kept the law, and reward him for so doing? Surely, my brethren, none of you are so besotted as to think that this righteousness can be wrought out by yourselves. You must despair of ever being able to keep the law perfectly. Each day you sin. Since you have passed from death unto life, the old Adam still struggles for dominion within you. And by the force of the lusts of the flesh you are brought into captivity to the law of sin which is in your members. The good you would do, you do not, and the evil you would not, that you too often do. Some have thought the works of the Holy Spirit in us would give us a righteousness in which we might stand. I am sure, my brethren, we would not say a word derogatory to the cork of the Holy Spirit. It is divine. But we hold it to be a great cardinal point in divinity that the work of the Spirit never meant to supplant the merits of the Son. We could not depreciate the Lord Jesus Christ in order to exalt the office of the Holy Spirit of God. We know that each particular branch of the divine salvation which was espoused by the persons of the Trinity has been carried out by each one to perfection. Now as we are accepted in the Beloved, it must be by a something that the Beloved did; as we are justified in Christ it must be by a something not that the Spirit has done, but which Christ has done. We must believe, then,—for there is no other alternative—that the righteousness in which we must be clothed, and through which we must be accepted, and by which we are made meet to inherit eternal life, can be no other than the work of Jesus Christ. We, therefore, assert, believing that Scripture fully warrants us, that the life of Christ constitutes the righteousness in which his people are to be clothed. His death washed away their sins, his life covered them from head to foot; his death the sneaky to God, his life was the gift to man, by which man satisfies the demands of the law. Herein the law is honored and the soul is accepted. I find that many young Christians who are very clear about being saved by the merits of Christ’s death, do not seem to understand the merits of his life. Remember, young believers, that from the first moment when Christ did lie in the cradle until the time when he ascended up on high, he was at work for his people; and from the moment when he was seen in Mary’s arms, till the instant when in the arms of death he “bowed his head and gave up the ghost,” he was at work for your salvation and mine. He completed the work of obedience in his life, and said to his Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Then he completed the work of atonement in his death, and knowing that all things were accomplished, he cried, “It is finished.”

Verses to meditate on:

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans3:26

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Questions to consider:

  • What do the words “redemption” and “propitiation” mean? Why are they significant words?
  • Has the reality of Romans 3:23 ever affected your heart?
    • Take some time this week and tell someone about the time when you first came to recognize this truth.
  • How does the death of Christ show the righteousness of God?
  • Through faith one is justified before God. The believer now has a new status, family, and future. Why is each one of these good news to the child of God?