"JUST AND THE
by Charles Spurgeon
HAVE SEEN the ungodly justified, and have considered the great
truth, that only God can justify any man; we now come a step further and
make the inquiry; How can a just God justify guilty men? Here we are met
with a full answer in the words of Paul, in Romans 3:21-26. We will read
six verses from the chapter so as to get the run of the passage:
"But now the righteousness of God without the
law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the
righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon
all them that believe: for there is no difference; for all have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to
be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness
for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just,
and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Here suffer me to give you a bit of personal
experience. When I was under the hand of the Holy Spirit, under conviction
of sin, I had a clear and sharp sense of the justice of God. Sin, whatever
it might be to other people, became to me an intolerable burden. It was
not so much that I feared hell, but that I feared sin. I knew myself to be
so horribly guilty that I remember feeling that if God did not punish me
for sin He ought to do so. I felt that the Judge of all the earth ought to
condemn such sin as mine. I sat on the judgment seat, and I condemned
myself to perish; for I confessed that had I been God, I could have done
no other than send such a guilty creature as I was down to the lowest
hell. All the while, I had upon my mind a deep concern for the honor of
God's name, and the integrity of His moral government. I felt that it
would not satisfy my conscience if I could be forgiven unjustly. The sin I
had committed must be punished. But then there was the question how God
could be just, and yet justify me who had been so guilty. I asked my
heart: "How can He be just and yet the justifier? " I was worried and
wearied with this question; neither could I see any answer to it.
Certainly, I could never have invented an answer which would have
satisfied my conscience.
The doctrine of the atonement, is to my mind, one
of the surest proofs of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture. Who
would, or could have thought of the just Ruler dying for the unjust rebel?
This is no teaching of human mythology, or dream of poetical imagination.
This method of expiation is only known among men because it is a fact;
fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it; it is not a
matter which could have been imagined.
I had heard the plan of salvation by the sacrifice
of Jesus from my youth up; but I did not know any more about it in my
innermost soul than if I had been born and bred a Hottentot. The light was
there, but I was blind; it was of necessity that the Lord himself should
make the matter plain to me. It came to me as a new revelation, as fresh
as if I had never read in Scripture, that Jesus was declared to be the
propitiation for sins that God might be just. I believe it will have to
come as a revelation to every newborn child of God whenever he sees it; I
mean that glorious doctrine of the substitution of the Lord Jesus. I came
to understand that salvation was possible through vicarious sacrifice; and
that provision had been made in the first constitution and arrangement of
things for such a substitution. I was made to see that He who is the Son
of God, co-equal, and co-eternal with the Father, had of old been made the
covenant Head of a chosen people that He might, in that capacity, suffer
for them and save them.
Inasmuch as our fall was not at the first a
personal one, for we fell in our federal representative, the first Adam,
it became possible for us to be recovered by a second representative, even
by Him who has undertaken to be the covenant head of His people, so as to
be their second Adam. I saw that ere I actually sinned,I had fallen by my
first father's sin; and I rejoiced that therefore, it became possible in
point of law for me to rise by a second head and representative.
The fall by Adam left a loophole of escape;
another Adam can undo the ruin made by the first. When I was anxious about
the possibility of a just God pardoning me, I understood and saw by faith
that He who is the Son of God became man, and in His own blessed person
bore my sin in His own body on the tree. I saw the chastisement of my
peace was laid on Him, and that with His stripes I was healed. Dear
friend, have you ever seen that? Have you ever understood how God can be
just to the full, not remitting penalty nor blunting the edge of the
sword, and yet can be infinitely merciful, and can justify the ungodly who
turn to Him? It was because the Son of God, supremely glorious in His
matchless person, undertook to vindicate the law by bearing the sentence
due to me, that therefore God is able to pass by my sin. The law of God
was more vindicated by the death of Christ, than it would have been had
all transgressors been sent to Hell. For the Son of God to suffer for
sin was a more glorious establishment of the government of God, than for
the whole race to suffer.
Jesus has borne the death penalty on our behalf.
Behold the wonder! There He hangs upon the cross! This is the greatest
sight you will ever see. Son of God and Son of Man, there He hangs,
bearing pains unutterable, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
Oh, the glory of that sight! The innocent punished! The Holy One
condemned! The Ever-blessed made a curse! The infinitely glorious put to a
The more I look at the sufferings of the Son of
God, the more sure I am that they must meet my case. Why did He suffer, if
not to turn aside the penalty from us? If, then, He turned it aside by His
death, it is turned aside, and those who believe in Him need not fear it.
It must be so, that since expiation is made, God is able to forgive
without shaking the basis of His throne, or in the least degree blotting
the statute book. Conscience gets a full answer to her tremendous
question. The wrath of God against iniquity, whatever that may be, must be
beyond all conception terrible. Well did Moses say, "Who knoweth the power
of thine anger?" Yet when we hear the Lord of glory cry, "Why hast thou
forsaken me?" and see Him yielding up the ghost, we feel that the justice
of God has received abundant vindication by obedience so perfect and death
so terrible, rendered by so divine a person. If God himself bows before
His own law, what more can be done? There is more in the atonement by way
of merit, than there is in all human sin by way of demerit.
The great gulf of Jesus' loving self-sacrifice
can swallow up the mountains of our sins, all of them. For the sake of the
infinite good of this one representative man, the Lord may well look with
favor upon other men, however unworthy they may be in and of themselves.
It was a miracle of miracles that the Lord Jesus Christ should stand in
our stead and
Bear that we might never bare
His Father's righteous ire.
But he has done so. "It is finished." God will
spare the sinner because He did not spare His Son. God can pass by your
transgressions, because He laid those transgressions upon His only
begotten Son nearly two thousand years ago. If you believe in Jesus (that
is the point), then your sins were carried away by Him...
What is it to believe in Him? It is not merely to
say, "He is God and the Saviour," but to trust Him wholly and entirely,
and take Him for all your salvation from this time forth and forever-your
Lord, your Master, your all. If you will have Jesus, He has you already.
If you believe on Him, I tell you you cannot go to hell; for that were to
make the sacrifice of Christ of none effect. It cannot be that a sacrifice
should be accepted, and yet the soul should die for whom that sacrifice
has been received. If the believing soul could be condemned, then why a
sacrifice? If Jesus died in my stead, why should I die also? Every
believer can claim that the sacrifice was actually made for him: by faith
he has laid his hands on it, and made it his own, and therefore he may
rest assured that he can never perish. The Lord would not receive this
offering on our behalf, and then condemn us to die. The Lord cannot read
our pardon written in the blood of His own Son, and then smite us. That
were impossible. Oh that you may have grace given you at once to look away
to Jesus and to begin at the beginning, even at Jesus, who is the
Fountain-head of mercy to guilty man!
"He justifieth the ungodly." "It is God that
justifieth, " therefore, and for that reason only it can be done, and He
does it through the atoning sacrifice of His divine Son. Therefore it can
be justly done. So justly done that none will ever question it. So
thoroughly done that in the last tremendous day, when heaven and earth
shall pass away, there shall be none that shall deny the validity of the
justification. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. Who
shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
Now, poor soul! will you come into this lifeboat,
just as you are? Here is safety from the wreck! Accept the sure
deliverance. "I have nothing with me," say you. You are not asked to bring
anything with you. Men who escape for their lives will leave even their
clothes behind. Leap for it, just as you are.
will tell you this thing about myself to encourage you. My sole hope for
heaven lies in the full atonement made upon Calvary's cross for the
ungodly. On that I firmly rely. I have not the shadow of a hope anywhere
else. You are in the same condition as I am; for we neither of us have
anything of our own worth as a ground of trust. Let us join hands and
stand together at the foot of the cross, and trust our souls once for all
to Him who shed His blood for the guilty. We will be saved by one and the
same Saviour. If you perish trusting Him, I must perish too. What can I do
more to prove my own confidence in the gospel which I set before you?