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Sermon #3059

Justifying the Ungodly

A Sermon on Romans 4:4-8


Romans 4:4-8 ESV KJV
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the …

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Sermon Description

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks, “Who is the man who can be justified?” He answers that it is anyone that produces no works and is ungodly. In accordance with Paul’s preaching throughout Romans that would be everyone. Paul says this because the act of justification is entirely a work of Christ and no work that we do could ever be part of that process. In this sermon titled “Justifying the Ungodly” from Romans 4:4–8, Dr. Lloyd-Jones also explains that because all are ungodly, justification does not make them righteous: it means that Christ has imputed His righteousness to their account. In this passage, Paul discusses both Abraham and David, both of whom were people of the Old Testament that received salvation by faith. Paul quotes David in this passage and Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that forgiveness is noted as the first step in the process of reconciliation. Christ covers sins, forgives iniquities, and does not impute the sins against the sinner. Instead, God imputed those sins on His Son Jesus, which were then taken to the cross. A Christian realizes that they play no part in this process and salvation is purely God’s work on the cross.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is arguing that justification is by faith alone, not by works. He is addressing possible objections to this doctrine, particularly from Jews who felt it undermined the Old Testament.
  2. Paul aims to show that the Gospel message is consistent with the Old Testament by citing Abraham and David as examples of justification by faith.
  3. Abraham believed God's promise of salvation through Jesus Christ and it was counted to him as righteousness. His faith in the Gospel is what justified him.
  4. To the one who works, wages are not a gift but an obligation. But to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. This is one of the most important verses on justification by faith.
  5. God justifies the ungodly, not the godly. Justification does not make us righteous but declares us righteous while we are still ungodly. This contradicts the Catholic view that we are made righteous through baptism and then justified.
  6. Justification is a legal declaration by God, not a transformation of the person. It puts on us the righteousness of Christ and declares us just, but does not change us.
  7. Justification is by imputation, meaning God reckons Christ's righteousness to us. He does not see us as if we were righteous, but sees us in Christ's righteousness.
  8. David also teaches justification by faith, describing the blessedness of those whose sins are forgiven and not counted against them, and to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.
  9. Forgiveness is the negative aspect, but God always provides full reconciliation and never stops at just forgiveness. Paul interprets David as teaching the positive imputation of righteousness, not just the non-imputation of sin.
  10. The truly blessed person is the one whose sin is forgiven, covered, and not imputed as a crime, and to whom God imputes the righteousness of Christ. This is the doctrine of justification by faith.
  11. God does not impute our sins to us but imputed them to Christ, who bore them in our place. Then God imputes Christ's righteousness to us. This is the wonderful exchange of justification.
  12. A Christian is one who sees this and rests in it, not attempting to do anything to earn salvation but receiving it as a gift. The test of faith is whether one believes they can be saved right now through what Christ has done, not through their own efforts.

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.