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Romans 8:31-34 (v33)

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Have we noticed that man is the only being in the world who does not naturally furnish his own clothing?
Every stitch of clothing we wear speaks in one way or another of death.
If you’re wearing leather shoes at church today,
an animal had to die before we could be provided with shoes.
The wool had to be severed from the sheep’s back, to make our garments.
Even the cotton had to be pulled from its place of life if it were to become clothing for us.
The animals and the birds furnish their own clothing, but man is dependent upon others for his.
All animal clothing was put on from within, but man’s clothing comes from without.
The truth I wish to point out is that sin left man naked and he must be clothed by another,
Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1196). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
even in the righteousness of Christ if he is to be fit to appear in the presence of God.
It is God who provides the covering for us, otherwise we stand naked before Him.
v33 is our next verse in our exposition of this beloved chapter of the Holy Scriptures.
Here we run into a very key term in our understanding of salvation.
It’s the term, “justify”. 33 "Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” ()
This doesn’t mean that God infuses His righteousness into us.
But it means that God actually pardons our sin, and
by accounting and accepting our persons as righteous,
not for anything done by them but for the sake of Christ alone.
Not by imputing faith itself, or the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness,
but by the imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto us. Read: (, , ; 4:5-8)
We receive this righteousness of Christ and rest upon Him alone by faith, which faith we have, we have not from ourselves, it is the gift of God.
8 "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 "not from works, so that no one can boast.” ()
All of humanity stands in need of this justification before God because of our sinful, lawbreaking.
We have all transgressed God moral law and we have all failed to live up to God’s requirement in the law.
33 "Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” ()
Here’s the main idea: That no charge or accusation will have any effect or invalidate any of whom God has justified.
Let’s look first off at
1. The ACCUSATION in the question. “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?”
Paul is saying that there is no-one who can lay any charge to God’s elect that will stick.
It is not that no-one will ever lay a charge against God’s elect.
One of the most frequent sins a Christian must endure in this life, at the hands of other people, is that of slander.
In fact, one of the names for Satan means the Slanderer (devil), and as Christians we are constantly exposed to the
criticism, the
insults, the
slanders and the
of those who are hostile toward us.
Remember the words of Jesus in the Beatitudes, His benediction on those who bear the pain of false accusations:
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 156). Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (pp. 155–156). Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.
11 "“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me.” ()
Jesus anticipated that those who follow Him will be the victims of the same kind of false accusations that He Himself received.
Let me show you Satan the slanderer.
Let’s run back to Zechariah chapter 3 please.
Here is a vision that pictures a heavenly court scene where the high priest Joshua is cleansed for service in the new temple (vv1-5).
The divine council is in attendance, and on trial is Joshua the high priest,
the grandson of the final high priest of the temple before its destruction (; ; ).
Playing the part of the prosecutor is the Accuser who is standing at Joshua’s right side ready to accuse him (cf. ).
In Joshua’s defense is the angel of the Lord.
1 "Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 "The Lord said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!....”” ()
Interestingly, the dialogue begins with a rebuke to the Accuser, not with a report of the accusations.
Either the Accuser had already made his accusations before the vision began
or else he is cut off before he can verbalize them.
Nevertheless, we can infer what the accusation would have been.
The Hebrew for “accuse” has the same root as “Satan.”
Presumably the Accuser had come to lay blame on Jerusalem but more specifically on the high priest, Joshua (vv. 1–2).
The accusations apparently were not baseless since Joshua appears in court dressed in soiled garments,
an image of great scandal to those familiar with the sacrificial system.
The angel of the Lord defends Joshua with a declaration of his power to redeem. He points out that Joshua was a “burning stick plucked from the fire.”
2 "The Lord said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”” ()
They were a burning stick snatched from the fire,
Gregory, B. R. (2010). Longing for God in an Age of Discouragement: The Gospel according to Zechariah. (T. Longman III, Ed.) (p. 76). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
pulled out at the last possible moment before being consumed by the flames.
Gregory, B. R. (2010). Longing for God in an Age of Discouragement: The Gospel according to Zechariah. (T. Longman III, Ed.) (p. 76). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
Gregory, B. R. (2010). Longing for God in an Age of Discouragement: The Gospel according to Zechariah. (T. Longman III, Ed.) (p. 75). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
As Jesus answers the accuser, He doesn’t liken Joshua to a mighty redwood or a majestic oak.
No, He says, “See this little twig? I plucked him out of the fire—just like I chose insignificant Jerusalem to be My capital city.”
Our security and significance doesn’t lie in who we are, dear church, but in Whose we are.
Carson, D. A. (Ed.). (2015). NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (p. 1864). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
3 "Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 "So the angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then he said to him, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with festive robes.”” ()
The same is true of us.
We were little sticks headed for the fire of damnation.
But the Lord plucked us out, robed us in His righteousness, and
gave us the garment of praise instead of despair ().
“Look at his sin,” thunders Satan.
“What sin?” asks God. “All I see is My Son.”
There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.
Then what were we doing on our knees this morning, confessing sin?
Confession is the result of conviction, not condemnation.
Conviction is the work of the Spirit.
When He convicts me of sin, I say, “Oh, Father, I realize this is wrong. I agree with You.
And I thank You that I’m forgiven.”
Conviction draws me to the Father.
Condemnation, on the other hand, drives me from the Father.
Condemnation makes me say, “I’m such a wretch. I can’t pray and I sure can’t go to church.”
When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God asked him a simple question.
He didn’t say,
“Where were you?
How could you?
Why did you?”
How could you? Why did you?” No, He simply said, “Where are you?” ().
No, He simply said, “Where are you?” ().
And that’s still the heart of the Father.
And that’s still the heart of the Father. His heart is not, “Where have you been?” or “What did you do? but “Where are you right now? Take off those scratchy fig leaves, and let Me clothe you with My righteousness.”
His heart is not,
“Where have you been?” or
“What did you do? but
“Where are you right now? Take off those scratchy fig leaves, and let Me clothe you with My righteousness.”
The accuser comes but we have the garments that God has provided for us.
2. The ANSWER to the question. “God is the One who justifies.”
Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (pp. 944–945). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Courson, J. (2006). Jon Courson’s application commentary: Volume two: Psalms-Malachi (p. 893). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Gregory, B. R. (2010). Longing for God in an Age of Discouragement: The Gospel according to Zechariah. (T. Longman III, Ed.) (p. 75). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 156). Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.
The ANSWER to the question. “God is the One who justifies.”
The expected answer to Paul’s second basic question is
that no one will be able to bring charges against God’s elect because it is God who justifies.
When God himself vindicates His people, no charges against them can stand.
God will surely justify his own.
The believer might well be concerned about his sins and wonder whether in the end they might prevail against him.
Paul is sure that they will not. Since it is God who justifies, the believer’s justification can never be overthrown.
When God enters into judgment, the outlook for the opposing party is bleak ();
but if God takes the side of the defendant, no amount of evidence for the prosecution can lead to a devastating verdict.
It is God who is their justifier.
If He justifies, who can condemn?
Besides, according to the current representation of Scripture, God is the Judge, not the accuser.
So your accuser could be the law of God.
Your own conscience can accuse you.
The devil can accuse you and accurse you day and night!
Here is your answer to all those accusers! “God is the One who justifies.”
To justify is to declare the claims of justice satisfied.
If God, the supreme Judge, makes this declaration,
it must be true, and
it must silence every mouth.
No rational creature, no enlightened conscience, can call for the punishment of those whom God justifies.
If justice is not satisfied, there can be
no justification,
no peace of conscience,
no security either for salvation or
for the moral rule of God.
The Bible knows nothing of mere pardon.
There can be no pardon except for the reason that justice is satisfied.
It is by declaring a man just that he is freed from the penalty of the law and restored to God’s favor. (SLOW)
But what about when we really do sin and are guilty?
Here is where Satan is most concerned to bring his accusations.
What is the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit for sin and the accusation of Satan for sin?
The Holy Spirit’s work is to convict us of sin and righteousness, in order to lead us to repentance.
The result is that we go to God to confess our sin and ask for his forgiveness.
The conviction of the Holy Spirit is positive, it is redeeming.
The aim of Satan, on the other hand, as he points out exactly the same sins of which the Spirit has convicted us, is to
oppress us, to
paralyze us, to
destroy us with guilt.
Suppose the Spirit has convicted me of my sin, and I have confessed it.
God has promised to forgive my sin, but Satan starts telling me,
‘How can you be a Christian? Look at what you did!’
As he starts taking away my peace, it is at that point I am to say,
‘Satan, who shall lay any charge to God’s elect? Get out of here!
You have nothing to say because I am a justified man.’
It is God who justifies.
That is the point the apostle is making here.
God, the supreme Governor, the supreme Judge, has declared that I am justified.
Think with me about the first moving cause that would ever incline Almighty God to show us mercy.
He showed us mercy in our undone and lost condition.
[1.] God’s grace. God may have justly left us ignorant of our sin and to the curse without any offer of peace,
as he did the fallen angels; but such was His grace, that made and way for us to be
renewed, and
5 "he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 "He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior 7 "so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” ()
Justification is by grace.
[2.] Justified by the blood of Christ.
So the ANSWER of the question is that God is the One who justifies.
Because He is the
[1.] Supreme law-giver. He appoints the terms and conditions upon which we shall be justified.
Once He states them, and declares His will, who shall reverse it or revoke it?
17 "Because God wanted to show his unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 "so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.” ()
God’s ultimate will cannot be frustrated through any defect of power because He is Almighty.
No devils, angels, or man can nullify or frustrate the force of His design.
So, if according to His sovereign will, God has put our justification in such a course, who can reverse it?
God is the One who justifies
[2.] Because the promise of justification is built upon Christ’s everlasting merit and satisfaction and therefore will be hold good for ever.
14 "For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified.” ()
Christ purchases these promises for us. And that by His death they become everlastingly good.
20 "For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. ...” ()
11 "After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied. By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will carry their iniquities.” ()
If Christ bore my iniquities and then I don’t make into eternal glory with Christ, then the cost of Christ’s sacrifice comes in vain.
God is the One who justifies...
[3.] Because of the function of the new covenant.
God has actually given believers this right, because if my sins are actually paid for, then He’s given me the right to eternal life...
9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ()
8 "There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.” ()
He is righteous! He’s given to me the righteousness of His Son!
And by a solemn promise, He has conveyed this right to us by the promises given through His Son.
And when we believe, God, as the supreme judge, actually determines our right.
1 "Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ()
God declares that those who trust in Christ have peace with Himself through His Son.
No one is going to reverse what God gives.
So what’s the use of this sermon?
Our accusers are met with the answer from God, who over rules all.
So what value is this message from the Lord?
[1.] It shows us the misery of the wicked.
Those who are not justified by God and therefore the charge of the broken law lays heaven upon them.
And the weight of their sin will sink them to the undermost hell.
The world may flatter them and applaud them and they may appease themselves about being good enough…“But the wicked are like the storm-tossed sea, for it cannot be still, and its water churns up mire and muck. There is no peace for the wicked,” says my God.” ()
No one is upon sure ground until God justifies them!
Many are as the superficial pharisees who justify themselves and suppose their own goodness.
Or maybe you just sit and weep and cry God mercy.
However you judge yourself today, God is the One who must justify you.
It should be our concern to seek to find out where we stand with God.
Are you troubled in your mind? Or are you at peace?
If your mind is troubled, take God’s remedy in Christ and His gospel.
If you’re at peace this morning. Where does that peace come from?
Is that peace warranted by the covenant of God?
No pardon, no justification, but only to those hat repent and believe.
So this sermon is good in that it reveals the misery of the wicked.
[2.] It also reveals the blessedness of the godly.
It’s absolutely in vain to accuse those whom God acquits.
The justified need not fear any accuser, not because you’re innocent, but because you’re justified.
The world may revile you, the devil would stir up fears of condemnation or even revive your old bondage.
When your hearts condemn you for your many sins and defects, you must stick to this: God justifies!
Here’s what Job says, "Even now my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is in the heights!” ()
We cannot smother our sin or deny the fact that on a daily basis we are all guilty, but we are to appeal to the Highest Court in the universe:
3 "Lord, if you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4 "But with you there is forgiveness, so that you may be revered.” ()
2 "Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one alive is righteous in your sight.” ()
Repent of your sin again and trust God that you’re still in His covenant.
Consider the weighty matter that’s before us in this message.
Fast forward with me to the end of time.
Damnation or salvation is what’s before you.
It concerns, whether you are under the curse or heirs of promise.
And all this is pending before God because it’s His act to justify.
On the last day, there will certainly be a judicial process...
" ...For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” ()
There will be a Judge.
2 "Rise up, Judge of the earth; repay the proud what they deserve.” ()
11 "God is a righteous judge and a God who shows his wrath every day.” ()
The witnesses are Satan and your conscience.
The plea that’s to be negotiated is about our guiltiness.
Will you be judged according to the law of works or grace?
If you’re judged according to the law of works, none will stand in the judgment.
Our plea will be, “Not innocent but guilty.”
Christ can say, “Who among you can convict me of sin?” ()
But for us, it is otherwise:
19 "... the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment. For no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.” ()
No denial. No court higher to appeal to, but as the scriptures says, there are none righteous, none good.
Bruce, F. F. (1985). Romans: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 6, p. 179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Or Christ was made sin for us and underwent the curse for us.
Here is the law of grace. There must be a hearty acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior here on earth.
This comes through true repentance from sin and faith in Christ.
Which results in a changed life.
1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, 2 "because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 "What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, 4 "in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” ()
Do you walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit?
The saved, live as one who been supernaturally turned from the world and the flesh to God.
Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 337). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
Kruse, C. G. (2012). Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (D. A. Carson, Ed.) (p. 362). Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos.
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