What Does it Mean to be Justified? Part 1


Post Date: April 12, 2019                                                By John Foll

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"Justification has to do with the law. The term means making just. Now in Romans 2:13 we are told who the just ones are: 'For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.' The just man, therefore, is the one who does the law. To be just means to be righteous. Therefore since the just man is the one who does the law, it follows that to justify a man, that is, to make him just, is to make him a doer of the law."

- E. J. Waggoner, from the book: Living by Faith, Chapter: Being Justified. This book was written by both E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones.

Let’s state these propositions again:

For not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.

The just man is the one who does the law.

To be just means to be righteous.

The just or righteous person does the law.

Therefore to justify someone is to make them a doer of the law.

To justify someone is to make them righteous.

 

The term justification by faith is used many places in the Bible, so we need to understand what it really means. It is important since it is used so many times. True faith takes the Bible as it reads and accepts it as the truth, because it is the word of God. Those with true faith believe and trust God and take Him at His word. Therefore the first step in order to get righteousness by faith is to believe the word of God, the Bible. Without the belief that the Bible is the word of God, no one can have the faith that is needed, which Abraham had, to be made righteous by God and be saved. The condition of salvation is to believe – to believe that Jesus and His Father can save you. John 3:16-17. You must also believe their word, the Bible. God doesn’t make mistakes, and you can trust His word, the Bible. This is what we are doing here, taking the Bible as it reads.

Jesus advocated believing the Bible as it reads. Note what He said here: “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?And He [Jesus] said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?’” Luke 10:25-26 NASB. Jesus answered the lawyer with a simple question, ‘What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?’ What Jesus said here is actually quite profound! Is it really that easy to understand the Bible? Is it really just that simple? Surely it can’t be that easy, is it? Yes, you bet it is! How come so many other people have trouble understanding it, with different people teaching this and different people teaching that? It is not hard to understand the Bible if you simply read it and believe it as it reads. It is really just that simple. This is where many of the problems come, because many cannot believe it as it reads - without someone interpreting it with a meaning other than its apparent plain meaning. Jesus’ tells you how you can know what the Bible means, and how you can have eternal life: Read the law - how does it read to you? (And the rest of the Bible too.) Read it with prayer and you can understand what it means. It is really just that simple!

* Note there are places in the Bible that are highly symbolic – in these places you must prayerfully study them, allowing the Bible to interpret itself, and it will if you want to understand it.

Why then do so many people get confused about what the Bible means or want to argue about it? Because many people are used to hearing humanistic explanations of the Bible. Whenever they find texts that trouble them, because it brings them guilt or because it is something they don’t want to do, they may ask their trusted pastor or teacher to explain it to them. This is because they don’t want to accept the plain teaching of the Bible or they don’t want to do it, and there are teachers who will give them their own erroneous ideas on what it means - to calm their fears and quiet their conscience. Or they have tried many times and failed at doing what the text says, so they conclude that it is not possible to obey God or be good. But the truth doesn’t contradict itself. If you read the Bible, after praying and asking the Holy Spirit to give you an understanding of it, wanting to obey God, then you will have no problem understanding it - especially for the things you need to hear the most, when you need to hear them. Pray for understanding and then believe the Bible as it reads.

Now that we have the proper method of understanding what the Bible means, let us go back to our proposition again:

 

To be justified is to be made a doer of the Law.

To be justified is to be made righteous.

Wow! Many people who believe that we are saved by grace alone, which is righteousness by faith, believe that when God justifies someone, that it is purely symbolic - they believe that they are made righteous only in the eyes of God. I.e. they are only righteous in the record books of Heaven. They are not wrong in believing that they are saved by grace or righteousness by faith. But many of them believe that no change is made or needed on the part of the sinner, allowing the person who is "justified" to be stuck in an endless round of sinning and bad habits, or they teach that it is not necessary or even that it is bad to try to be good, saying that this is "works." This is not the gospel message at all, but ‘another gospel.’ Works are bad when they are self-righteous acts, done to earn favor with God or man, without God's help - for those who try to earn their salvation by themselves. But it is clear that to justify someone is to make them righteous as Waggoner stated. Another way of stating this proposition is that only those who are made righteous by God or just are the doers of the Law – only these are just before God.

 

If you have faith you will be made righteous.

If you have faith you will have peace:

Let us take this quote from Paul and run with it:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1 NASB. What does this tell us? If we have been made righteous by faith, then we will have peace. We added the new understanding of what being justified means to bring out its complete meaning.

 

Does our theme text of Romans 2:13, which Waggoner interprets as meaning that the one who is justified is made a doer of the law, contradict Paul’s other teachings?

Some have argued that Romans 2:13 contradicts Galatians 2:16, but is this true?

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16 KJV.

This text on the surface appears to contradict Romans 2:13. But let’s break this down to understand why they are not contradictions of each other.

We have the testimony of Peter that agrees perfectly with Paul’s teaching in Romans 2:13, that it is not the hearers of the Law but the doers of the Law who will be justified: Listen now to Peter’s testimony: “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." Acts 5:32 NASB. Here Peter plainly teaches that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God – this is how we become born again or born by the Spirit, by obeying God. See John 3:3, 5. Here is the testimony of Jesus regarding this: ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.’ John 14:23 NASB. It is clear that if someone loves Jesus, they will keep His word (which is to obey Him), and He and the Father will dwell in them through the presence of the Holy Spirit – This is how you become born again. This agrees perfectly with Romans 2:13, because it is only those who obey God (or those who want to obey Him) and Jesus, who will receive the Holy Spirit and be born again. John 3:3, 5. There is more to this subject, but we will not deal with all of it here. We have already covered many of these concepts in our previous articles and books that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and helps us to obey God (if we want Him too). Only those who choose to obey God (who want to obey Him), will be given the Holy Spirit and be made righteous. But they have not the power to make this choice to obey God, unless the Holy Spirit first convicts them of sin and they want to obey Him. Jesus declared, “And He, when He [the  Helper or the Holy Spirit] comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;” John 16:8-10 NASB.

When the Bible says that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified - what are we to make of it? When we try to do good works or to keep the law we are unable to do it in our own strength, so we cannot be justified or made right by ourselves, because we are never perfectly right or just by ourselves, and never can be by ourselves. – Because Jesus said there is only one who is good: God alone! Matthew 19:16. The second stanza in the song Rock of Ages states this so eloquently: “Could my tears forever flow? Could my zeal no languor know? These for sin can not atone. Thou must save and thou alone.We cannot atone for any of our sins that we have made! No never! But if we are made ‘just’ or ‘righteous’ by God, then we are righteous indeed! This is wholly the work of God, not us.

 

The answer is that Galatians 2:16 does not contradict Romans 2:13.

Galatians 2:16 is talking about those who are trying to keep the law in their own strength (no one is good but God alone - Mark 10:18), while Romans 2:13 is talking about someone who wants to obey God, who makes a choice to want to obey Him, they ask God to give them the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and God gives them the power to obey Him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:32. Thus only those who have faith that God can make them righteous, will be made righteous by Him through the Holy Spirit! So both Galatians 2:16 and Romans 2:13 are about being made righteous by God.

 

When the prophet Habakkuk and the apostle Paul wrote: ‘The just shall live by faith,’ what did they mean?

See Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 8:36; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 4:2.

Habakkuk and Paul meant that those who have faith will live by it and thus will be made righteous.

 

To sum up what we have learned here:

Those who have faith will be made righteous, because they will be given the desire and the ability of making the choice to obey God, and thus receiving the Holy Spirit, because no one is good but God alone. It means that those who have faith will get the Holy Spirit!It is the Holy Spirit alone who can make anyone righteous. And they must want to obey God to get the Holy Spirit in full. Acts 5:32. And they must be born again to be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven, John 3:3, 5, which is to be born of the Holy Spirit. So the only way you can be righteous and saved and enter Heaven, is if you want to obey God and are filled with His precious Holy Spirit! Wow!

You may think that we are reasoning here in a loop, but this is how it is laid out in the Bible. Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? We are putting together texts from the Bible here that you have probably never heard used together before. Have you? We are exhorted by the Bible to put the lines of truth together to get a greater gestalt or a better understanding of it.For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” Isaiah 28:10 KJV. This is what we are doing.

 

Conclusion:

The just shall live by faith.
The righteous shall live by faith.
Those who have faith in God will be just.
Those who have faith in God will be righteous.
Those who have faith in God will be made just.
Those who have faith in God will be made righteous.
Those who have faith in God will have the Holy Spirit.
Those who have faith in God will be doers of the Law.
Those who have faith in God will obey Him.
Those who have faith in God will please Him!
Those who have faith in God will have peace.
Those who have been made righteous by faith will have peace.
Those who have faith in God will be saved!
Those who have faith in God will be born again!
Those who have faith in God will enter the kingdom of Heaven!

Salvation is from the Lord! He alone can save. He must save, and Him alone. So why not trust Him?

Wow! These are powerful concepts here! Think about all of this again and again – let it sink in until you get it! These are most wonderful truths! Fresh! Full of life, love and joy and power! They will impart to you eternal life if you accept and do them.

May the faith of Abraham, the grace of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all! Amen.

 

Now for the song for today: Rock of Ages

By John Foll, written 04/04/2019 to 04/05/2019, 4/12/2019.
© Copyright 2019 John Foll

Part 1, 2, 3

#Justification #Faith #Law #Works #Make #Just #Righteous #Doer #Righteousness #Obey #Eternal #Life #Grace #Alone #God #Bad #Sin #Flesh #Born #Again


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Propositions:

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Therefore to justify someone is to make them a doer of the law.
To justify someone is to make them righteous.

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