Wayne Grudem defines justification this way:
An instantaneous legal act of God in which he, (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ's righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight. (Systematic Theology)The basis of justification is the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived in perfect righteousness and died on the cross for sinners, bearing their sin and receiving the wrath and judgment from God in their place because of their sin. Jesus died, atoning for the sins of his people, and rose from the grave in victory and power. At conversion, the believer receives justification because of Christ, through faith. The guilt of sin is forever removed! And in it's place comes the spotless righteousness of Christ! Hallelujah!
According to Grudem, their are 3 "imputations" in the Bible. First, Adam's sin was imputed to us as our own (because he acted as our representative). Secondly, Our sin was imputed to Christ at the cross, and he paid for it with his death. Finally, Christ's righteousness is imputed to us who believe (Systematic Theology).
Are you a repentant believer in Christ? Are you trusting in Jesus for righteousness, rather than your works? Then God wants you to believe that you have no sin in his sight! It is not God's will for us to think of ourselves as having sin in his sight. To do that would amount to questioning God's declaration of us - and to deny the sufficiency of Christ's work at the cross. Sure, it feels religious to be weighed down with condemnation when we sin, as if we are paying our penance; but what we are actually trying to do is help Jesus bear our sin. He doesn't need our help and it is insulting to imply that he does! We must agree with God's approval of Christ's blood as sufficient payment for our sins (the resurrection and exaltation of Christ proves that the Father accepted his sacrifice as enough). We must also agree with God's legal declaration that we are 'not guilty' of sin and clothed with the righteousness of Jesus. Think of it...as righteous as the Lord Jesus himself - not because of us, but because of his glorious grace!
We still stumble in sin. We don't have our glorified bodies yet; we are not yet with the Lord. But even our sin does not change God's legal declaration! It affects our experience of relationship with our Father, and therefore we must quickly come to him in repentance for our walk with him to be restored. But his legal declaration that we are justified stands forever!
Look at God's word:
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:1; 33-34 (ESV)
- I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness... Isaiah 61:10a (ESV)
- and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith... Philippians 3:9 (ESV)
- Christ Jesus, who became to us...righteousness... 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)
- For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14 (ESV)
Let me leave you with the words of this hymn. Prepare to be blessed!
A Debtor To Mercy Alone
A debtor to mercy alone; Of covenant mercy I sing
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on
My person and offering to bring
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior's obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view!
The work which his goodness began
The arm of his strength will complete
His promise is yea and amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now
Not all things below nor above
Can make Him His purpose forego
Or sever my soul from His love!
My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase
Impressed on His heart it remains in marks of indellible grace
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is given
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in heaven!
(yes, the last line of the hymn is saying that the Christians who are already in heaven are NOT MORE SECURE than I am!!! They are more happy, for they are with the Lord, but I am just as secure in Him!)
Ok, one more hymn!!
Jesus Thy Blood And Righteousness
Count N. Zinzendorf
Jesus thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress
'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head
Bold shall I stand on thy great day
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame!