Romans 4:5 NASB is a beautiful verse that I fear at times we glance at just briefly. We read it with such a flippancy that it becomes cold, mechanical even as we come to this portion of Scripture. And perhaps we pray to God often; we read the Word often; we evangelize often. But how often do we go back and marvel at the Cross? Marvel at Christ? We should do this often. So that when we pray to God it is because the very posture of our hearts is surrender and that we may thank God often for the Cross. And we read the Word because we want to know more about this amazing truth. And we evangelize because we believe that the gospel is the power of God to save.
I find this verse to be a wonderful verse. It might be no surprise to us that have been in the church for a while now that such an expression as “justifies the ungodly” is in the Bible. But let’s examine this phrase together. One of the more common things I hear among friends, family, and even the random person off the street is that it is the very fact that God saves wicked men is what they have against Christianity. And the complaint is that many who are good people, doctors that save lives everyday. social workers that look to the interests of children and families in need, will not be saved. All because God did not choose to justify them.
But Scripture accepts this charge and even plainly states it! From the very mouth of the apostle Paul, God “justifies the ungodly”. Those who are unjust, He makes just. Those who deserve no favor, He forgives. Did we think that salvation was for the good and that God’s grace was for the pure and holy who are sinless? So we might be tempted to think that if we have good behavior, and are good to others, that God would reward us. In our heart of hearts we are good and worthy and we somehow believe that there must be something in us that God saw. Something in us that won the favor of God. But Romans 3:10 NASB is quite clear. God sees through all deceptions and knows that there is no good in us. He knows that “all our righteous deeds are like filthy garments” (Isaiah 64:6 NASB).
Jesus Christ did not come to look for those who are good and righteous. No, He “justifies the ungodly”. Mark 2:17 NASB is another verse we may point to. Jesus tells us that He came not for the healthy, but those who are sick. The fact that Jesus Christ came into this this world to save sinners should a thing to be marveled at! It should be, to us, the greatest wonder we ever did hear. Apart from His great love, we are a hunk of sin, a thing of unworthiness. But, to the one who submits himself to Christ. The one who proclaims Christ as risen from the dead. This one is loved with as much love as if they were godly. Who can help being astonished at this? We should never be.
The salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it and have no preparation for it. If in reading this, you grow tired and bored. If this marvelous truth does not cause you to weep over your sins that have been paid for and cry for joy at the One who paid for them, then you are as surely lost as you are alive. Those who are righteous, who see their righteousness as all of their own doing, are either deceivers or deceived. See your own righteousness and flee from it! There is no substance to it. Matthew 7:24-27 NASB.
The only people in need of justification are those who are not just themselves. Something needed to be done for them to make them just before God’s judgement. And that was the Cross. So cling to it. Depend upon it. Lose yourself in it.
There is a man who is owed some money. One person owes him a thousand dollars, and another owes him fifty. In the end, each one of their debts is wiped out. That is what happens to us. Whether we have lived a life of rampant sin, or whether we live generally “good” lives, if we come to have faith in the work of Christ, the debt is paid. The most generous person cannot forgive the debts of those who do no owe him anything. Pardon, therefore, cannot be for those who have no sin. Pardon is for the guilty. Forgiveness must be for the sinful. Do you think yourself lost because you are a sinner? Then call upon the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. Such grace is ordained for one such as you.