Just read this essay (in preparation for a study on Habakkuk) and was struck by the awesomeness of this explanation of justification.
The word, ‘justified’ is a judicial term meaning, ‘just as if I never sinned’. When the judge hits the gavel and says, ‘This man is guilty, but we’ll put him on probation,’ — that is not justification. When the judge hits the gavel and says, ‘This man is guilty, but I forgive him anyway,’ — that is not justification. When the judge hits the gavel and says, ‘This man has never sinned. The charges are untrue. The accusation is unacceptable — that’s justification.
You see, in Christ Jesus we are more than just forgiven — we’re justified. It’s not that God simply says, ‘I forgive you and I’ll put you on probation.’ He says, ‘I pronounce those of you who live by faith to be justified — as if you never sinned at all.’
That’s just a wonderful way of looking at it. Love it.
(p.s. if anyone is keeping tabs on my daily Bible readings, I’m right on pace – in Numbers 28 right now)