Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Him who Justifies the Ungodly

This message is for you: “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

I call your attention to the words, “Him who justifies the ungodly.” They seem to me to be very wonderful words.

Are you not surprised that there is such an expression as that in the Bible, “who justifies the ungodly”? I have heard that men who hate the doctrine of the Cross bring the charge against God that he saves wicked men and receives to Himself the vilest of the vile. See how this Scripture accepts the charge and plainly states it! By the mouth of His servant Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, He takes to Himself the title of “Him who justifies the ungodly.” He makes those just who are unjust. He forgives those who deserve no favor.

Did you think that salvation was for the good and that God’s grace was for the pure and holy who are free from sin? Perhaps you think that if you were excellent, then God would reward you. Maybe you have thought that, because you are not worthy, there could be no way for you to enjoy His favor.

You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: “Him who justifies the ungodly.” I do not wonder at your surprise. For, with all my familiarity with the great grace of God, I never cease to wonder, at it either…

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This truth is a very surprising thing—a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. I know that it is to me even to this day the greatest wonder that I ever heard of—that God should ever justify me.

I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin, apart from His almighty love. I know and am fully assured that I am justified by “faith which is in Christ Jesus.” I am treated as if I had been perfectly just and made an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. And yet by nature, I must take my place among the most sinful. Though altogether undeserving, I am treated as if I had been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas before I was ungodly. Who can help being astonished at this demonstration of grace? Gratitude for such favor stands dressed in robes of wonder. 

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, All of Grace, pp 13-14, 15-16 (Scripture updated to ESV)

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  • Don

    I remember once commenting to a pastor, a daughter of whom had gone astray in a big way, that I was surprised that this had happened. After all, I reasoned to him, he had been such a good father and pastor to her. How is it possible?

    This dear man turned to me, putting his hand on my shoulder, and with tears welling up in his eyes, said, “you don’t get it, do you?”

    “We are all miserable sinners. I don’t get a free pass for my kids just because I’m a full-time minister of the gospel. God will forgive my daughter if she confesses her sin to him. He loves her more than I do. She doesn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, I don’t deserve it and neither do you or any of us.”

    “Don, don’t fall into the trap that leads you to believe that any of us are worthy, none of us are more worthy than the other. ”

    I’ve never forgotten this pastor taking a moment to pastor me during his time of sadness.

    • Aaron Armstrong

      That is a powerful and wise statement from that pastor. It’s one of those things that’s really easy to forget as a parent, isn’t it?