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Sermon #3048

Justification Explained

A Sermon on Romans 3:20


Romans 3:20 ESV KJV
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (ESV)

Sermon Description

Imagine that a person was on trial for a crime that they had committed. The odds are all stacked against them and they were pronounced guilty. The law rightly condemns them as guilty. However, when the judge is set to announce the punishment, the judge says that they are free. This is how Paul explains justification. It is a legal term and a declaration that Christ no longer condemns the sinner and now regards them as righteous. In this sermon from Romans 3:20 titled “Justification Explained,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that it is not that Christians are righteous; it is a removal of sin and a pronouncement from the Lord that He considers them righteous. Paul understands that the Jews had fallen into a trap, thinking that they were able to be justified by the law that they were given. However, God gave the law to show how truly sinful everyone is and how they are in need of a Savior. Dr. Lloyd-Jones further illustrates how the word justification is used throughout Scripture and how the Roman Catholics defined the word. He makes interesting points of how the modern day Christian generally does not understand the definition of many key words used throughout Scripture. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also examines the difference between justification and sanctification.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The 20th verse of Romans 3 is an extremely important verse that concludes Paul's argument from Romans 1:18. It must be carefully examined.
  2. The word "therefore" can mean "wherefore" or "because." Here, it likely means "because" and refers back to Romans 3:19, showing why "every mouth may be stopped."
  3. The term "justified" is one of the most important in Scripture. It appears frequently and was key to the Reformation. Many Christians today do not understand its meaning.
  4. To be "justified" does not just mean to be pardoned or forgiven. It is more than that. It does not mean to be made righteous or holy either.
  5. The Roman Catholic view of justification is that it means being made righteous through the infusion of grace and the sacraments. This view is wrong. Justification is not because we are made holy.
  6. Justification is a judicial act of God. It is a legal declaration that we are righteous, not a statement that we have been made righteous. It is God's pronouncement that we are free of guilt and righteous in his sight.
  7. Justification refers to our standing before God, not our inward state. It is not a process but a one-time act. We must not confuse it with sanctification.
  8. Justification is by God the Father as Judge. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. Justification takes place outside us; sanctification inside us. Justification removes guilt; sanctification removes pollution.
  9. The law was never meant to justify or save. It was given to provide knowledge of sin, define sin, reveal sin, and show our need for Christ. The law stops mouths and leaves the whole world guilty before God.
  10. We must understand justification to have assurance of salvation. We will always find sin and darkness in ourselves, but we are justified based on God's declaration, not our inward state. We must look to Christ, not ourselves.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.