Imagine this scenario with me for just a moment:
A king was sitting on his throne as the beggar was thrown into the middle court. He had been accused of horrendous crimes, and as fact would have it, he was guilty of all. Hoping for mercy, but knowing he deserved none, he couldn’t even look at the king.
What ending would you give this story?
I ask this question because it’s a real-life scenario between God and people. The Bible speaks of something that intervenes on behalf of one who is guilty. It’s called justification; and it is defined as God’s declaration that the believing sinner is righteous and acceptable before Him. (And to clarify, to be righteous means you have right-standing with God, or in other words, He approves of you.)
To better understand this, let’s look at an Old Testament story about a real king found in Daniel, Chapter Six:
King Darius loved Daniel very much. But Daniel had enemies. The other governors were jealous of his favor with the king. In a plot to get rid of him, they crafted a plan to have all the people of the region bow down before a golden image of the king at certain times of the day to honor him–and any who did not, would be thrown in the lion’s den.
The king agreed to the decree, put it in writing and stamped it with his approval.
When Daniel did not bow down at the prescribed times of day to honor the golden image, the governors turned him over for punishment. As the story goes, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den while the king wept in sackcloth and ashes overnight. But the next morning, God had delivered Daniel and he was alive and well.
Here’s my question: If the king loved Daniel so much, why couldn’t he change his own decree?
The answer is because once the king has made a decree, it CANNOT be changed.
God is our King and when a sinner becomes a believer, God stands up from His throne and declares him righteous and acceptable before Him (no matter who he is, or what he’s done)! This is justification.
“[The righteousness Abraham received] was not written for his sake alone that it was given to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:23-25).
Why did God raise Jesus from the dead? So we could receive grace and justification.
Now for an ending to our original story:
The beggar was shocked. The King didn’t cast him out of His presence, but instead stood up before all of heaven and declared him innocent of all charges. As the beggar looked up at the King, he saw His Son sitting at His right side, compassionately smiling at him because the price for his sins had already been paid.
You and I were that beggar. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).