IT IS GOD THAT JUSTIFIETH"
by Charles Spurgeon
A WONDERFUL THING it is, this being justified, or made just. If we had
never broken the laws of God we should not have needed it, for we should
have been just in ourselves. He who has all his life done the things which
he ought to have done, and has never done anything which he ought not to
have done, is justified by the law. But you, dear reader, are not of that
sort, I am quite sure. You have too much honesty to pretend to be without
sin, and therefore you need to be justified.
Now, if you justify yourself, you will simply be a self-deceiver.
Therefore do not attempt it. It is never worth while.
If you ask your fellow mortals to justify you, what can they do? You can
make some of them speak well of you for small favors, and others will
backbite you for less. Their judgment is not worth much.
Our text says, "It is God that justifieth," and this is a
deal more to the point. It is an astonishing fact, and one that we ought
to consider with care. Come and see.
In the first place, nobody else but God would ever have thought of
justifying those who are guilty. They have lived in open rebellion; they
have done evil with both hands; they have gone from bad to worse; they
have turned back to sin even after they have smarted for it, and have
therefore, for a while, been forced to leave it. They have broken the law,
and trampled on the gospel. They have refused proclamations of mercy, and
have persisted in ungodliness. How can they be forgiven and justified?
Their fellowmen, despairing of them, say, "They are hopeless cases." Even
Christians look upon them with sorrow rather than with hope. But not so
their God. He, in the splendor of his electing grace, having chosen some
of them before the foundation of the world, will not rest till He has
justified them, and made them to be accepted in the Beloved. Is it
not written, " Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he
called them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also
glorified"? Thus you see there are some whom the Lord resolves to justify:
why should not you and I be of the number?
None but God would ever have thought of justifying me. I am a wonder to
myself. I doubt not that grace is equally seen in others. Look at Saul of
Tarsus, who foamed at the mouth, against God's servants. Like a hungry
wolf, he worried the lambs and the sheep right and left; and yet God
struck him down on the road to Damascus, and changed his heart, and so
fully justified him that ere long, this man became the greatest preacher
of justification by faith that ever lived. He must often have marveled
that he was justified by faith in Christ Jesus; for he was once a
determined stickler for salvation by the works of the law. None but God
would have ever thought of justifying such a man as Saul the persecutor;
but the Lord God is glorious in grace.
But, even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, none but God
could have done it. It is quite impossible for any person to forgive
offences which have not been committed against himself. A person has
greatly injured you; you can forgive him, and I hope you will; but no
third person can forgive him apart from you. If the wrong is done to you,
the pardon must come from you. If we have sinned against God, it is in
God's power to forgive; for the sin is against Himself. That is why David
says, in the fifty-first Psalm: "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight"; for then God, against whom the offence
is committed, can put the offence away. That which we owe to God, our
great Creator can remit, if so it pleases Him; and if He remits it, it is
remitted. None but the great God, against whom we have committed the sin,
can blot out that sin; let us, therefore, see that we go to Him and seek
mercy at His hands. Do not let us be led aside by those who would have us
confess to them; they have no warrant in the Word of God for their
pretensions. But even if they were ordained to pronounce absolution in
God's name, it must still be better to go ourselves to the great Lord
through Jesus Christ, the Mediator, and seek and find pardon at His hand;
since we are sure that this is the right way. Proxy religion involves too
great a risk: you had better see to your soul's matters yourself, and
leave them in no man's hands.
Only God can justify the ungodly; but He can do it to perfection. He casts
our sins behind His back, He blots them out; He says that though they be
sought for, they shall not be found. With no other reason for it but His
own infinite goodness, He has prepared a glorious way by which He can make
scarlet sins as white as snow, and remove our transgressions from us as
far as the east is from the west. He says, "I will not remember your sins.
" He goes the length of making an end of sin. One of old called out in
"Who is a God like unto thee, that
pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his
heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in
mercy" (Micah 7:18).
We are not now speaking of justice, nor of God's dealing with men
according to their deserts... Blessed be His name, He has not dealt
with us after our sins; but now He treats with us on terms of free grace
and infinite compassion, and He says, "I will receive you graciously, and
love you freely." Believe it, for it is certainly true that the great God
is able to treat the guilty with abundant mercy; yea, He is able to treat
the ungodly as if they had been always godly. Read carefully the parable
of the prodigal son, and see how the forgiving father received the
returning wanderer with as much love as if he had never gone away, and had
never defiled himself with harlots. So far did he carry this that the
elder brother began to grumble at it; but the father never withdrew his
love. Oh my brother, however guilty you may be, if you will only come back
to your God and Father, He will treat you as if you had never done wrong!
He will regard you as just, and deal with you accordingly. What say you to
Do you not see - for I want to bring this out clearly, what a splendid
thing it is, that as none but God would think of justifying the ungodly,
and none but God could do it, yet the Lord can do it? See how the apostle
puts the challenge, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?
It is God that justifieth." If God has justified a man it is well done, it
is rightly done, it is justly done, it is everlastingly done. I read a
statement in a magazine which is full of venom against the gospel and
those who preach it, that we hold some kind of theory by which we imagine
that sin can be removed from men. We hold no theory, we publish a fact.
The grandest fact under heaven is this, that Christ by His precious blood
does actually put away sin, and that God, for Christ's sake, dealing with
men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them, not
according to anything that He sees in them, or foresees will be in them,
but according to the riches of His mercy, which lie in His own heart. This
we have preached, do preach, and will preach as long as we live. "It is
God that justifieth"- that justifieth the ungodly; He is not ashamed of
doing it, nor are we of preaching it.
The justification which comes from God himself must be beyond question. If
the Judge acquits me, who can condemn me? If the highest court in the
universe has pronounced me just, who shall lay anything to my charge?
Justification from God is a sufficient answer to an awakened conscience.
The Holy Spirit by its means breathes peace over our entire nature, and we
are no longer afraid. With this justification we can answer all the
roarings and railings of Satan and ungodly men. With this, we shall be
able to die: with this, we shall boldly rise again, and face the last
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
While by my Lord absolved I am
From sin's tremendous curse and blame.
Friend, the Lord can blot out all your sins. I make no shot in the dark
when I say this. "All manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven
unto men." Though you are steeped up to your throat in crime, He can with
a word remove the defilement, and say, "I will, be thou clean." The
Lord is a great forgiver.
"I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins." Do You?
He can even at this hour pronounce the sentence, "Thy sins be forgiven
thee; go in peace;" and if He does this, no power in Heaven, or earth, or
under the earth, can put you under suspicion, much less under wrath. Do
not doubt the power of Almighty love. You could not forgive your fellow
man had he offended you as you have offended God; but you must not measure
God's corn with your bushel; His thoughts and ways are as much above
yours, as the heavens are high above the earth.
"Well," say you, "it would be a great miracle if the Lord were to pardon
me." Just so. It would be a supreme miracle, and therefore He is likely to
do it; for He does "great things and unsearchable," which we looked not
I was myself stricken down with a horrible sense of guilt, which made my
life a misery to me; but when I heard the command, "Look unto me, and be
ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else."
I looked, and in a moment the Lord justified me. Jesus Christ, made sin
for me, was what I saw, and that sight gave me rest. When those who were
bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness looked to the serpent of
brass they were healed at once; and so was I when I looked to the
crucified Saviour, The Holy Spirit, who enabled me to believe, gave me
peace through believing. I felt as sure that I was forgiven, as before I
felt sure of condemnation. I had been certain of my condemnation because
the Word of God declared it, and my conscience bore witness to it; but
when the Lord justified me I was made equally certain by the same
witnesses. The word of the Lord in the Scripture saith, "He that believeth
on him is not condemned," and my conscience bears witness that I believed,
and that God in pardoning me is just. Thus I have the witness of the Holy
Spirit and my own conscience, and these two agree in one. Oh, how I wish
that my reader would receive the testimony of God upon this matter, and
then full soon he would also have the witness in himself!
I venture to say that a sinner justified by God, stands on even a surer
footing than a righteous man justified by his works, if such there be. We
could never be surer that we had done enough works; conscience would
always be uneasy lest, after all, we should come short, and we could only
have the trembling verdict of a fallible judgment to rely upon; but when
God himself justifies, and the Holy Spirit bears witness thereto by giving
us peace with God, why then we feel that the matter is sure and settled,
and we enter into rest. No tongue can tell the depth of that calm, which
comes over the soul, which has received the peace of God, which passeth