With men this is clearly impossible. Man, with all his boasted wisdom, could not devise any plan of effecting this. For instance, a prisoner stands at the bar, really guilty of the crime charged upon him; the judge may forgive, but can he say to that guilty man, you go away from this bar justified; from this time no person can lay anything to your charge?
God alone can justify the guilty, and be righteous in doing it. Romans, chapters 1-8, shows God's wondrous plan of justifying the guilty.
All are guilty, Jews or Gentiles, religious or profane. There is no difference, all have sinned. God says so. Conscience says so. You know, I know, it is so. Guilty! Guilty. "Yes," you say, "that is what perplexes me; I know I am a sinner; how then can I be justified, so that no charge can be laid to me?"
Let us see first how this cannot be done: how you cannot be justified; and then see what God's only plan is of justifying the sinner. "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight." (Rom. 3:20.) In the sight of men the believer is justified by works, as in James 2:24. But in the sight of God it is absolutely impossible to be justified by works of law; still guilty, guilty. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." "For if righteousness come by the law, then is Christ dead in vain." (Gal. 2:16-21.) "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the works of the law is evident," &c. We have broken the law; it can only curse us. We cannot even have forgiveness by all our efforts to keep the law, much more be justified. Do you say, "We must do our best to love God and keep His commandments, and then hope He will for give us and justify us?" Where does He say, if we do our best? or where is the man that does his best? No, on the doing plan no man shall be justified. God hath said it, and it is hard to fight against God.
Let us now look at God's only way of justifying the ungodly. It is Christ that died! Oh, wondrous answer to all my sins! "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in his blood," &c., "who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." It is God that justifies. (Rom. 3:19-28; 5:1; 8:31-34.)
My reader, let your thoughts dwell on the cross of Christ. Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear God's testimony about the death of Jesus, the propitiation for sin. "God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; much more being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Rom. 5:8.) What man could never do God has done. He hath laid our sins on Jesus; they are put away by His atoning blood. God hath raised Him from the dead. He that believeth is justified from all things. And God thus not only is just in forgiving the believer's sins, but is righteous in justifying the believer. Though once guilty, yet justified, so justified by the death of Jesus, that not one charge can be laid to him that believeth. Oh, think of it, my fellow-believer! God hath so justified you by the blood of Jesus, that nothing can be laid to your charge — all, all has been borne by Jesus. Is not this enough to give you peace? Yea, the peace of God is yours. Yes, yours for ever.