Knowing this 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.
ALBERT BARNES' NOTES ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
.... The object of Paul here seems to be to show, that as they
had believed in the Lord Jesus, and thus had been justified,
there was no necessity of obeying the law of Moses with ANY VIEW
to JUSTIFICATION. The thing had been fully done without the deeds
of the law, and it was now unreasonable and unnecessary to insist
on the observance of the Mosaic rites......
I have stated in various places what I conceive to be the
true doctrine on this important subject. It may be useful,
however, to throw together in one connected view, as briefly as
possible the leading ideas on the subject of JUSTIFICATION, as it
is revealed in the gospel.
(1) Justification is properly a word applicable to courts of
justice, but is used in a similar sense in common conversation
among men. An illustration will show its nature.
A man is charged, e.g., with an act of trespass on his
neighbour's property. Now there are two ways which he may take to
JUSTIFY himself, or to meet the charge, to as to be regarded and
treated As innocent. He may (a) either deny that he performed the
act charged on him, or he may (b) admit that the deed vas done,
and set up as a defence that he had a right to do it. In either
case, if the point be made out, he will be just or innocent in
the sight of the law. The law will have nothing against him, and
he will be regarded treated in the premises as an innocent man;
or he has justified himself in regard to the charge brought
It is not that the righteousness of the Lord Jesus is
transferred to his people. Moral character cannot be transferred.
It adheres to the moral agent as much as colour does to the rays
of light which cause it. It is not true that WE died for sin, and
it cannot be so reckoned or imputed. It is not true that WE have
any merit, or any claim, and it cannot be so reckoned or imputed.
All the imputations of God are according to truth; and he will
always reckon us to be personally undeserving and sinful.
But if justification be none of these things, it may be
asked, what is it? I answer, ***It is the declared purpose of God
to regard and treat those sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of
.....Justification has RESPECT to the law, and to God's future
dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to
treat him hereafter as a righteous man, or as if he had not
sinned. The ground or reason of this is the merit of the Lord
Jesus Christ; merit such that we can plead it as if it were our
own. The rationale of it is, that the Lord Jesus has accomplished
by his death the same happy effects in regard to the law and the
government of God, which would be accomplished by the death of
the sinner himself .....
He has taken our place, and died in our stead; and he has
met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on
our own head if he had not interposed .....
The law has been fully obeyed by one who came to save us,
and as much honour has been done to it by his obedience as could
have been by our own; that is, it as much shows that the LAW is
WORTHY of OBEDIENCE, to have it perfectly obeyed by the Lord
Jesus, as it would if it were obeyed by us. It as much shows that
the law of a sovereign is worthy of obedience, to have it obeyed
by an only son, and an heir to the crown, as it does to have it
obeyed by his subjects. And it has as much shown the EVIL of the
VIOLATION of the LAW to have the Lord Jesus suffer death on the
cross, as it would if the guilty had died themselves.
......And an impression as deep has been made of the EVIL of SIN
by the sufferings of the Lord Jesus in our stead, as if WE had
suffered ourselves. He endured on the cross as intense agony as
we can conceive it possible for a sinner ever to endure .....
He stood in the centre of the universe. The sun grew dark,
and the dead arose, and angels gazed upon the scene, and from his
cross an impression went abroad to the farthest part of the
universe, showing the tremendous effects of the VIOLATION of LAW,
when not one soul could be saved from its penalty without such
sorrows of the Son of God. In virtue of all this, the offender,
by believing on him, may be treated as if he had not sinned; and
this constitutes JUSTIFICATION. God admits him to favour as if he
had himself obeyed the law, or borne its penalty .....
The character of God is thus revealed. His mercy
determination to MAINTAIN his law is evinced. The truth is
maintained; and yet he shows the fullness of his mercy, and the
richness of his benevolence .....
(2) Charges of very serious nature are brought against man by
his Maker. He is charged with VIOLATING the LAW of God; with a
want of love to his Maker; with a corrupt, proud, sensual heart;
with being entirely alienated from God by wicked works; in one
word, with being entirely depraved. This charge extends to all
men; and to the entire life of every unrenewed man. It is not a
charge merely affecting the external conduct, not merely
affecting the heart; it is a charge of entire alienation from God
- A charge, in short, of total depravity. See, especially Rom. 1;
That this charge is a very serious one, no one can doubt.
That it deeply affects the human character and standing, is as
clear. It is a charge brought in the Bible; and God appeals in
proof of it to the history of the world, to every man's
conscience, and to the life of every one who has lived; and on
these facts, and on his own power in searching the hearts, in
knowing what is in man, he rests the proofs of the charge.
(3) It is impossible for man to vindicate himself from this
charge. He can neither show that the things charged have not been
committed, nor that, having been committed, he had a right to do
them. He cannot prove that God is not right in all the charges
which he has made against him in his word; and he cannot
prove that it was right for him to do as he has done. The charges
against him are facts which are undeniable, and the facts are
such as cannot be vindicated. But if he can do neither of these
things, then he cannot be justified by the law. The law will not
acquit him. It holds him guilty. It condemns him. No argument
which he can use will show that he is right, and that God is
wrong. No works that he can perform will be any compensation for
what he has already done. No denial of the existence of the facts
charged will alter the case; and he must stand condemned by the
LAW of God.
In the legal sense he cannot be justified; and justi-
fication, if it ever exist at all, must be in a mode that is a
departure from the regular operation of law, and in a mode which
the law did not contemplate, for NO LAW makes any provision for
the pardon of those who violate it. It must be by some system
which is distinct from the law, and in which man may be
JUSTIFIED on different principles than those which the law
(4) This other system of justification is that which is
revealed in the gospel by the faith of the Lord Jesus. It does
NOT consist in either of the following things:
(A) It is not a system or plan where the Lord Jesus takes the
part of the sinner against the law or against God. He did not
come to show that the sinner was right, and that God was wrong.
He admitted most fully, and endeavoured constantly to show, that
God was right, and that the sinner was wrong; nor can an instance
be referred to where the Saviour took the part of the sinner
against God, in any such sense that he endeavoured to show that
the sinner had not done the things charged on him, or that he had
a right to do them.
(B) It is not that we are either innocent, or are declared to be
innocent. God justifies the "ungodly," Rom.4:5. We are not
innocent; we never have been; we never shall be; and it is not
the design of the scheme to declare any such untruth as that we
are not personally undeserving. It will be always true that the
justified sinner has no claims to the mercy and favour of God.
(C) It is not that we cease to be undeserving personally. He
that is justified by faith, and that goes to heaven will go there
admitting that he deserves eternal death, and that he is saved
wholly by favour and not by desert.
(D) It is NOT a declaration on the part of God that WE have
wrought out salvation, or that WE have any claim for what the
Lord Jesus has done. Such a declaration would not be true, and
would not be made.
End quotes from Albert Barnes' Bible Commentary
And there friends is the truth of the matter on JUSTIFICATION as
taught in the Bible and especially the New Testament, or New
TO BE CONTINUED