“Not Guilty” Before God

Salvation has many component parts, but in essence, to be saved means a person is justified before the judgment of God. God is just, and His judgment finds one person right before Him, while another is unrighteous. What determines one’s right or wrong status is justification.

To be justified, one is declared, “not guilty” in the judgment. All have sinned and all are guilty before God (Rom 3:23), so one’s righteousness must come from someone else. That someone else is Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Law (Mt 5:17). He was without sin (Heb 4:15). He earned right standing before God in His active and passive obedience, that is, His life and His death on the cross. His meritorious works to attain righteousness are imputed to those elect He came to redeem (Mt 1:21). This means their debt of sin is cancelled (Col 2:14). The enmity is removed (Eph 2:15–16), for God has reconciled His church to Himself by the redemption of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18–20).

The redemption is God’s ransom buy back of lost slaves (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1 Tim 2:6). The purchase was made in the currency of Christ’s precious blood (1 Pet 1:19), so it is through redemption that we have justification (Rom 5:9). God’s chosen people have been sprinkled with the blood of the New Covenant, whereby the wrath of God has been propitiated (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10). Jesus paid for the sins of His people, and they are forgiven (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7).

God looks at the sins of His elect, and He withholds His wrath against them because He sees the blood of the substitute Lamb (Jn 1:29; Rev 5:6), who endured the punishment in our place and on our behalf (Rom 5:8; 1 Pet 2:24). In this, the Law is satisfied because it has been kept (Mt 5:17). Justice is satisfied because sins have been paid for.

The judgment is issued, “not guilty.” Hence, justification is by His blood (Rom 5:9), but it is also by His grace (Rom 3:24). God has mercy on His holy nation (Rom 9:15–16; 1 Pet 2:9), the church, because our great High Priest has brought His own blood (Heb 4:14–16), at the one time, once for all sacrifice (Rom 6:10; Heb 7:27; 9:12; 10:10; 1 Pet 3:18). He enters heaven itself as the one Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6). The veil of separation has been torn (Mt 27:51), and our access has been granted by the acceptable sacrifice of Himself. Thus, Christians come boldly before the throne of grace and into the presence of the Holy God (Heb 4:16), by virtue of being in Christ Jesus, by His doing (1 Cor 1:30; Col 1:13).

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1) because the just One has died for the unjust many (1 Jn 3:18). God has accepted Jesus’s sacrificial payment, freely offered (Acts 17:31). The Holy Spirit is sent to apply the benefits of Christ’s work to His people (Jn 14:26; 15:26).

Through the redemption of Jesus Christ on the cross, all of God’s elect redeemed are saved (Titus 3:5). These are they who receive the Spirit of Christ at the time of their regeneration (Mt 3:11; Acts 2:38; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). They are born again of God, by His Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3).

It is the Spirit who now indwells the elect soul (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11), and grants the gift of faith (Phil 1:29). Those who have faith, by God’s grace, are said to be “justified by faith (Rom 3:28; 5:1)” This is in contradistinction with works of the Law, which could never take away sins (Rom 3:21, 28).

Faith is the Christian’s wholehearted trust in Jesus Christ, alone, for right standing. The Christian’s sins are imputed to Jesus Christ on the cross (1 Pet 2:24). There, the believer is baptized into Christ’s death (Rom 6:1–3). Paul wrote, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him (Rom 6:8).”

In union with Christ at His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement, the Christian’s life is hidden in Christ in all these movements (Col 3:3). The Christian is so intimately in union with Christ that she is said to be a member of His body (Rom 12:5) and He is said to live in the believer (Gal 2:20). This spiritual union gives the Christian the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), which comes with the Spirit illumining the Word of God, the Bible (Jn 14:26).

Nothing can separate the Christian from Christ because He has promised to never leave nor forsake His beloved people (Rom 8:35–39; Heb 13:5). He is with us even to the end of the age (Mt 28:20). The very hope of eternal life with Christ is living inside us (Col 1:27), and we know all of His promises are “yes” and “amen” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). This is the hope of glory. Today, it is a token (2 Cor 5:5), but soon it will be a full reality (Rom 8:18, 30).

Christian, you have been declared, “not guilty.” Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), we can be sure of our unchanging legal status in Him. Jesus paid it all and it is paid in full (Col 2:14). Here is the joy of our salvation: we have a permanent right standing before God because we have an immovable Mediator, who is seated at the center of the throne of God (Rev 7:17), at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; Heb 1:3; 8:1). We are seated with Him (Eph 2:6)…now and forever.

Glory be to God for such a great salvation. He planned it. He executed it. He will finish it.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

February 21, 2022


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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher